John Wall, LeBron James

John Wall: People see me as a No. 1 pick who hasn’t done anything

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Professional athletes love to talk about all the people who don’t believe in them, even if everyone believes in them.

Some get creative. Throughout his NBA career, Michael Jordan referenced a high school coach cutting him. That was because nobody really doubted Jordan during his time at North Carolina and with the Chicago Bulls.

But most athletes don’t get as deep as Jordan. They just imagine the haters or embellish the voices of a small minority of Twitter followers.

However, when John Wall says people don’t properly recognize his accomplishments, I actually think he has a point.

Wall, via Chris Miller of CSN Washington:

I think they still still see me as a skinny kid from Kentucky that got drafted No. 1, that hasn’t done nothing or proven nothing in this league. I think just making this first All-Star Game still doesn’t get me a nod.

I think I respect the coaches and those guys that give me the the credit for seeing I worked on my game and I’m getting better.

But until I make it to the playoffs and win a series and keep improving, I haven’t done nothing in this league

Wall, despite having the most-honored rookie year in his draft class, got off on the wrong foot for a No. 1 pick. The two No. 1 picks preceding him (Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose) and one proceeding him (Kyrie Irving) won Rookie of the Year.

Why didn’t Wall win the award? Griffin was injured and missed what would have been his first season, delaying his rookie season a year. Had Griffin not got hurt, Tyreke Evans – not Wall – would have been without a Rookie of the Year trophy, and Wall would have immediately been recognized as a budding star.

I’m not sure Wall – in perception – has ever recovered from the absence of that award on his resume.

Wall, who’s still just 23, has gotten better each season of his career. Yet, he’s still criticized for stagnating – most notably with his jumper. But Wall has made 37.1 percent of his shots between 16 and 24 feet this season. That’s better than Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson and Jarrett Jack.

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Wall’s All-Star appearance should change the narrative a bit, but he knows what it will really take: winning.

Asked about his greatest accomplishment so far, Wall said getting above .500. That was a real and justified moment of pride for the Wizards, who hadn’t even momentarily possessed a winning record in years. But for the best accomplishment of a career, it’s just sad.

Wall is on the right track – improving as a player and leading his team to its best record in years. The Wizards should make the playoffs, and as long as they get a top-six seed, they’ll have a coin-flip chance of winning their first-round series.

That would drastically improve the perception of Wall, at least temporarily. Then soon enough, people will be asking why the max-contract player hasn’t won a championship, and the cycle will begin anew.

Watch DeMarcus Cousins swat James Harden in his first game with the Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins answers questions from the media as the New Orleans Pelicans announce that they've acquired him along with forward Omri Casspi during a news conference on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 in Metairie, La.  Cousins maintained  that he liked Sacramento and initially wasn't happy about being traded Sunday night, but added he'd become frustrated with the lack of another elite talent on the Kings' roster.  (Ted Jackson /NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)
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DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and the New Orleans Pelicans will take some time to mesh together. In his first game with New Orleans, Cousins saw a difficult opponent and massive deficits against the Houston Rockets. But there was some glimmers of hope.

Cousins, for example, had a productive statistical evening. The former Sacramento King put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 4 blocks — just one swat shy of the rare 5 x 5.

Plus, he had this sweet block on Rockets star James Harden:

The Pelicans lost to the Rockets, 129-99, but it’s going to be fun to watch New Orleans battle it out for the 8th seed in the West.

Kristaps Porzingis injures ankle, leaves Cavaliers game in walking boot

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New York Knicks star big man Kristaps Porzingis left Thursday night’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a sprained right ankle. He could be seen limping back to the locker room late in the second quarter, and reports after the game saw Porzingis in a walking boot.

That’s a major bummer for Knicks fans.

Porzingis, 21, dealt with a left Achilles issue earlier in the season and no doubt would like to remain on the court for the Knicks full-time to close the season.

Then again, it’s important to keep in mind that walking boots can be precautionary, especially as a team plays away from home. New York heads back home tonight and will play Philadelphia on Saturday, so there should be plenty of time for the Knicks to get their full medical staff working on assessing and treating Porzingis.

It’s not as though the Knicks were primed for a late-season run at just 23-35, but there will be less for New York fans to watch for with their best player off the floor.

After trading for DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans release Terrence Jones

AUBURN HILLS, MI - FEBRUARY 01: Terrence Jones #9 of the New Orleans Pelicans gets off a shot next to Aron Baynes #12 of the Detroit Pistons during the first period at the Palace of Auburn Hills on February 1, 2017 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Terrence Jones is no longer a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. The University of Kentucky product was removed from the team roster on Thursday after head coach Alvin Gentry said there just wasn’t enough minutes to go around after the team traded for DeMarcus Cousins.

The Pelicans roster now houses a frontcourt with most of the minutes going to Cousins, Anthony Davis, Donatas Motiejunas, Dante Cunningham, and Solomon Hill.

Gentry, via Nola.com:

“We released him because, obviously, if you look at the bigs situation we have now and there was not going to be a whole lot of minutes,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. “He wants to play. Obviously, he’s going to be a guy in a contract year and things like that, so we thought it was best to let him go.”

Jones, 25, was playing nearly 25 minutes per-game for New Orleans. While he was having a productive year, he wasn’t close to the kind of efficient numbers he put up early in his career with the Houston Rockets.

That said, Jones could be a potential candidate to bolster the frontline of a playoff team, so look for some action around him sooner rather than later.

Charles Barkley swears on live TV, says Spike Lee is “dying to get kicked out of the Garden”

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Charles Barkley has a tendency to say some pretty wild stuff, but he’s typically guarded as a TV professional when it comes to swearing. Apparently the heat of the moment got the better of him on Thursday night as he was talking during the matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.

Speaking about New York, Barkley accidentally let fly with a not-for-primetime word on live television as he discussed Spike Lee and the overall mood around the team.

Via Twitter (NSFW obviously):

In case you can’t hear that, Barkley said (in part):

“I was talking to Spike Lee at All-Star Weekend, he’s dying to get kicked out of the Garden. He don’t wanna watch this s–t.”

The TNT crew then razzed on him for committing the cardinal sin of live TV.