John Wall leaning toward declining dunk contest invite, but if other stars join he may change his mind

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The NBA solicits its star players to compete in All-Star weekend’s dunk contest on a regular basis, but most don’t want to be the biggest name associated with the event.

There’s no upside for someone like LeBron James to enter the dunk contest against a field of mostly lesser-known, non-star players. Win it, and that was what you were supposed to do; lose, and it becomes an unnecessary source of embarrassment.

That’s the situation that John Wall finds himself in as he mulls his invite to participate. There is also an injury concern, but that would seem to disappear rather quickly should other star players decide to enter the contest.

From J. Michael of CSN Washington:

When John Wall was named an All-Star for the first time last week, he told CSN Washington that he was considering invitations from the NBA to participate in the dunk contest and skills competition. He’ll make up his mind Monday, but it appears he’s learning towards the latter because of injury concerns.

Wall is dealing with soreness on the heel of his feet and is worried about the extra pounding, though if the competition involves superstars maybe — just maybe — he could change his mind. …

But make no mistake, the dunk contest is tempting. When Paul George of the Indiana Pacers threw down a 360-windmill dunk two weeks ago, in the locker room after the Wizards played, Wall got word of the feat. After seeing the video of it, Wall insisted that he could’ve done it better.

That’s a bold statement there, Mr. Wall, considering the Paul George dunk is a candidate for the best we’ve seen in a game all season.

Wall was dealing with back spasms earlier in the year, so that combined with the heel thing may in fact be a legitimate reason to not try to do too much. But since he may choose to participate based on who else decides to do the same, the injury concerns likely aren’t all that serious.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.