Adam Silver talks Anthony Davis, league’s loyalty to New Orleans to kick off All-Star weekend

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NEW ORLEANS — Adam Silver kicked off his first All-Star weekend as commissioner on Thursday, appearing at the NBA’s Jam Session theme-park-like setup at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to make a ceremonial opening statement of sorts to some children’s groups assembled at the event’s Center Court.

Silver won’t be addressing national and more NBA-specific media until Saturday night, but spent a few minutes with local media as David Stern used to in years past. Some of the more interesting answers he gave are as follows:

On the decision to select the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis as an injury replacement to the All-Star team:

“It happened to be that the most deserving player out there happened to be a Pelicans player,” Silver said. “So it worked out really well.”

On what stands out to him about the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis:

“First of all, just physically, obviously he’s really filled out since he first came into the league, and he’s just such an incredibly skilled player,” Silver said. “And he’s a leader. As a great player once told me, championships are won on the bus. And so you need to have the character to be a great player as well, and that’s the kind of character Anthony Davis has.”

On the importance to the league of the city of New Orleans:

“So much credit goes to David Stern and his vision,” Silver said. “I think always throughout his commissionership he said cities that are loyal to the NBA deserve the NBA’s loyalty in return. And New Orleans was one of those cities. It’s been a great experience here for the NBA. We had some rocky times here but the Benson family stepped up to keep the team here, and it means so much to us. It’s a core point of this league to be in New Orleans, to have a team here. We’re excited about the new name of the franchise, and the new ownership is doing a fantastic job.”

On whether or not the league would consider a United States vs. the World format for a future All-Star game:

“We like what we have,” Silver said. “We’ve thought about other formats, and we want it to be a fun weekend. The players are under a lot of pressure and it’s a long season, so we don’t want to put them in a position where the competition is too intense. We want them to have fun at the same time, and I’m not sure that the U.S. versus the rest of the world makes the most sense.”

And most importantly, with Friday being Valentine’s Day, Silver was asked what was the most romantic thing he has planned.

“Actually, my girlfriend is flying in [Friday] morning,” he said. “That’s all I’m saying.”

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.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.