Olajuwon says Howard/Lin combo can be “very deadly”

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Let’s remember that big man legend and guru Hakeem Olajuwon is an employee of the Houston Rockets now — everything he said comes with an element of spin.

That doesn’t mean it’s all wrong, either.

After working out with them, Olajuwon is very high on the potential of a Dwight Howard/Jeremy Lin combo, he told a local news station, as transcribed by ESPN.

“Just the little offense I saw, that combination is very deadly,” Olajuwon told Fox 26. “You can see that both of them are very excited, seeing that, ‘Wow, we bring the right ingredients together…’

“To be on the right team, which (Lin) is right now, he can really help and play his role very well and be effective,” Olajuwon told Fox 26. “There’s no pressure on him now. It’s on Dwight and James (Harden). [Lin’s] position is crucial for the team’s success, and he can play that role very well.”

We’ve said this before but it bears repeating (and you can be sure Mike D’Antoni brought this up more than once): Last season Dwight Howard shot 44.5 percent and scored 0.74 points per possession when he got the ball in the post, he shot 79.6 percent and scored 1.29 points per possession when he got the ball back as the roll man in the pick-and-roll.

Howard pushed back with the Lakers about the pick-and-roll, but if he really buys into running it with the Rockets they could have one of the best in the league. “Linsanity” happened in part because Lin is so aggressive as the ball handler running that play (remember D’Antoni was coach), and nearly a quarter of James Harden’s shot attempts last season came off the pick-and-roll last season and he averaged a point per possession.

So yes, there is a lot of potential there, and if the Rockets are starting to unlock it they might be moving more quickly up their long learning curve this year. But I’ll need more than the word of a coach, even a Hall of Famer.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.