DeAndre Jordan receives dunk contest invite, but is waiting to see if he’s an All-Star before accepting

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DeAndre Jordan would be fantastic as a participant in All-Star weekend’s slam dunk contest. He’s a big man who also has tremendous leaping ability, and could be the next incarnation of Dwight Howard in terms of entertainment during the midseason exhibition.

The league recognized that fact by approaching Jordan about it before Friday’s game against the Knicks. The answer wasn’t necessarily no, but Jordan wants to be known as more than just a dunker, and is holding out hope that he might have to make the trip to New Orleans anyway as a member of the Western Conference All-Stars.

From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

DeAndre Jordan wants to be in the All-Star game as a participant, not just as a dunker.

So when NBA officials approached the Clippers’ center before Friday’s game about being in the dunk contest, Jordan told them what his true wish was.

“I just told them I wanted to see what happens,” Jordan said. “I’m not trying to disrespect them. But I want to be in the All-Star game as a player and not just as a dunker.”

If Jordan is firm in implying that he won’t enter the dunk contest unless he’s an All-Star, then we can essentially count him out for this season.

Jordan has been elite as a defender for the Clippers, and leads the league in rebounding while being in the top three in the category of blocked shots. But just as the West is very deep in terms of talented teams, the All-Star caliber players run deep, too. The coaches are likely looking at guys like Kevin love and LaMarcus Aldridge for two of the frontcourt reserve spots, and DeMarcus Cousins will be hard to ignore for what’s likely going to be the final All-Star nod for a big man in the conference.

Guards and wings are likely to make up the rest of the roster, but it’s not 100 percent guaranteed that’ll be the case. Jordan may have reason to hold out hope that his defensive effort has been noticed by the coaches in the West, and that an All-Star spot could potentially be in his future. The chances appear to be slim at this point, however, so we’ll have to wait and see if that means Jordan will skip out on the weekend’s festivities entirely, which would include the slam dunk contest.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.