2014 PBT Awards: All-NBA team

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Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

First team

  • G: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
  • G: James Harden, Houston Rockets
  • F: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
  • C: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Second team

  • G: Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • C: Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets

Third team

  • G: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
  • G: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
  • C: Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats

Forward was just brutal — Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge are not on here for me and if I could find a way they would be. I moved Paul George up to guard just to get him out of the forward slot and get him recognition he deserves. Glad to finally get Al Jefferson some deserved pub.

Brett Pollakoff

First team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: James Harden, Houston Rockets
  • F: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
  • C: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Second team

  • G: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • C: Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets

Third team

  • G: Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
  • G: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
  • F: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
  • F: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
  • C: Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats

The biggest surprise when choosing these teams was how easy it was to leave off players from the two teams that finished with the best records in their respective conferences — the Spurs and the Pacers. Curry and Harden were interchangeable in the final guard spot on the first team for me, and third team features three guys who all had fantastic seasons and were instrumental in their teams’ success in Jefferson, Lowry and Dragic.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • G: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
  • C: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Second team

  • G: Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
  • G: James Harden, Houston Rockets
  • F: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • C: Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets

Third team

  • G: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
  • G: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
  • F: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
  • F: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
  • C: Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats

Slotting all three centers was difficult, and I left out DeMarcus Cousins, who is close but might not get All-NBA credit from anyone. The forwards cleanly broke into two-man tiers. Anthony Davis just missed too many games in a crowded field for third team, and Carmelo Anthony was also a tough cut there. With all due respect to Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge, they didn’t play enough to claim a spot at this position. At guard, Harden stands in a class alone, below Curry and Paul, but above Dragic and Lowry. Separating Dragic and Lowry was difficult, but Dragic gets the edge for producing in the more-competitive West. Lillard narrowly beat John Wall and Mike Conley for third-team guard. None of those three seem All-NBA caliber, but one of them had to be with Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose missing too many games due to injury.

Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball

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When Derrick Rose went AWOL from the Knicks last season for what he called a family issue, rumors swirled that he was contemplating retirement. Rose denied it, but those whispers are reemerging.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.

Before the season, Rose was talking about getting a raise on his next contract. He seemed happy to join a contender and have LeBron James in his corner.

But something is amiss. Hopefully, Rose can find contentment – whether that’s continuing his NBA career or walking away.

Ryan McDonough: Suns want to sign two-way Mike James to standard contract

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Brandon Knight got hurt. Eric Bledsoe got traded.

The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.

Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.

The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, via Scott Bordow of azcentral:

We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.

The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.

The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.

Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.

So, a trade is possible. Greg Monroe never seemed long for Phoenix. Or anyone else could be moved.

If it comes to it, the Suns could send James to the minors to bide time. But they want to play competitive basketball, and he helps. So, expect something else to give within the next couple weeks.

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

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A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.