Greg Oden to start for Heat Monday against former team Trail Blazers

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As you would expect, Greg Oden tried to play down his starting against the Trail Blazers Monday night.

Portland is the franchise that drafted him No. 1, that bet its future on him, and he played well for them until his body betrayed him and he required multiple knee surgeries. Because it was Kevin Durant taken behind him it was a pick that changed the fortunes of two franchises.

Monday night Oden will start for the Heat as the struggling Trail Blazers come to town but Oden played down the reunion, as was reported by CSNNW.com.

“It’s a game we need to win. We’ve been up and down. It’s just about this team and about us getting a win right now….

“Every game I’ve played is basically a circled date. I’m not trying to look at any team just because I used to play for them. I’m happy to be out there playing against anybody.”

This may have some emotion, but there is no bitterness here — even in Portland most people were rooting for Greg Oden to make it back.

He’s a well liked person who had to go through incredible amounts of rehab and effort just to make it back on the court. He could have walked away from the game with a boatload of money but wanted to play bad enough to fight all the way back. He provides some size that Miami needs come the postseason, especially with the big front line of Indiana looming out there.

Miami has struggled of late, going 4-7 in their last 11, finding they can’t just flip the switch like last season. There are a whole lot of factors that play into it — injuries, Dwyane Wade’s maintenance program, trying larger lineups — but it has LeBron James calling his teammates out. Through this, Eric Spoelstra seems committed to giving Oden the starter’s role and building lineups that way (probably largely with Roy Hibbert and Indiana in mind).

La La Anthony: I’m staying in New York, and Carmelo Anthony prioritizes staying close to our son

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Self-serving Knicks president Phil Jackson said Carmelo Anthonywould be better off somewhere else.”

Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony, revealed a different point of view when asked whether she’d divorce the star forward and about trade rumors involving him.

La La on The Wendy Williams Show:

Not right now. I’m not. You know, marriages are tough. And you know that. We all know that. It’s filled with ups and downs. And we’re just going through a time right now.

But him and I are the best of friends, and our number one commitment is to our son, Kiyan. We have to set an example to Kiyan, and that’s what’s most important to me. So, I would absolutely never say a bad thing about my husband. That is my son’s father, and he is an amazing dad. I could not ask for a better dad.

Every day, I see a different team. That’s for sure.

The most important thing with just that is to stay close to Kiyan. That’s my priority. That’s his priority.

So, wherever he ends up, of course we want him to be happy.

I am hood, and I want to stay close to the hood. So, New York is definitely where I’m at and where I’m staying.

The Knicks are lousy, and working for Jackson is no treat. Carmelo knows all that.

But this might reveal why Anthony hasn’t – and, according to Jackson, still won’t – waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal from New York. There are things that matter more than basketball.

Danilo Gallinari: Nuggets aren’t my first choice in free agency

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Pending free agents almost always express loyalty to their current team, whether or not they actually plan to re-sign.

That’s what makes Danilo Gallinari‘s comments stand out.

Gallinari, via Premium Sport, as translated by E. Carchia of Sportando:

“Nuggets are not my first choice but they are exactly at the same level of the other teams. Denver’s advantage is that they can offer me a five-year contract while other franchises can offer me a four-year deal. Nuggets are at the same level of the others” Gallinari said.

One way to look at this: If a player stating a desire to return to his team – even if he plans to leave – is the baseline, Gallinari is definitely gone from Denver.

Another: Gallinari is being exceedingly honest, and we should just take his comments at face value.

Rule change kept Paul Millsap off All-Defensive teams

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Giannis Antetokounmpo made the All-Defensive second team at forward with 35 voting points.

Paul Millsap missed the All-Defensive second team at forward with… 35 voting points

The difference? Antetokounmpo had more first-team votes (seven to zero), and that was the tiebreaker. But not long ago, both would have made it.

The league changed its policy a few years ago to break ties rather than put both players on the All-Defensive team, league spokesman Tim Frank said.

In 2005, Dwyane Wade and Jason Kidd tied for fourth among guards with 16 voting points each. Even though Wade had more first-team votes than Kidd (six to four), both made the All-Defensive second team.

In 2013 (Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah) and 2006 (Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd), two players tied for the first team. So, the league awarded six first-team spots and still put five more players on the second team.

I was definitely against that. A six-man first team should have meant a four-man second team – four guards, four forwards and two centers still honored.

But with a tie for the second team, I could go either way. Having a clear policy in place – and it seems there was – is most important.

It’s just a bad break for Millsap, who, in my estimation, deserved to make an All-Defensive team based on his production.

Kid scores dribbles through Victor Oladipo’s legs to score on Thunder guard (video)

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Tired of those videos where NBA players effortlessly swat kids’ shots?

Victor Oladipo and this kid help provide an alternative: