It’s official: Toronto to host 2016 NBA All-Star Game


We told you this was coming last week but now NBA’s commissioner in waiting Adam Silver and the league have made it official:

Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

The announcement came on the 20th anniversary of Toronto being awarded an NBA franchise.

“We are thrilled that Toronto is hosting our first NBA All-Star Game outside the United States,” Silver said in a released statement. “As the site of the first game ever in the NBA, Toronto is an ideal location for this global basketball celebration.”

This came together because of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (which owns the Raptors) CEO Tim Leiweke. He is connected and respected in the league office. Leiweke was the guy who helped get the Staples Center built in Los Angeles (when he worked for AEG) and brought two All-Star Games to Los Angeles. He thanked his predecessor Bryan Colangelo for planting the seed, but he got it across the finish line.

“This will be the first time we played the All-Star Game outside of the United States,” Leiweke said at the press conference, then he turned to address Silver. “We appreciate that you have a vision like we do of the greatness of basketball in Canada and if you look at where we are headed as an organization we are going to help take this sport in Canada… we are blessed the sport is growing like it is in Canada.”

The 2014 NBA All-Star Game will take place in New Orleans, then in 2015 the Knicks and Nets will share the event in New York City.

By 2016 the Raptors will have a new look — not a new name, something Leiweke said, but he added they were teaming with Drake to help give the team a makeover. It could use one.

The goal is to make the 2016 All-Star Game a celebration of Toronto, all of it, both Drake and Leiweke said.

It could use one on the court as well, that job falls to new GM Masai Ujiri. He has already rid the Raptors of the anchor contract and PR disaster that was Andrea Bargnani, which was a step. Now he has to put a team together that can win. No pressure, but you need an All-Star by 2016.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”