2011 NBA All-Star Game

The other way LeBron James helped the Cavaliers trade for Kevin Love

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LeBron James helped the Cavaliers land Kevin Love in the most obvious ways.

By signing in Cleveland, LeBron turned the franchise into a desirable destination for star players. He even personally coaxed Love into coming. (Yes, the Timberwolves could trade Love wherever he wanted, but for the most part, teams weren’t going to make quality offers without knowing Love wanted to join them.)

But LeBron also helped the Cavaliers’ Love bid in more subtle ways.

When he left in 2010, LeBron set up the Cavaliers to be bad enough to win the lottery three times in four years. Two of those No. 1 picks – Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett – will go to Minnesota in the trade, and the other – Kyrie Irving – helps make Cleveland appealing to Love.

LeBron also went to the Heat via a sign-and-trade. It got him more money, something not possible under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. It also netted the Cavaliers two first rounders and two second rounders.

One of those first rounders – top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016, unprotected in 2017 – is still pending. It just won’t be going to Cleveland anymore.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

That has to rub salt in the wound of already-salty Heat fans.

Cleveland also has the Grizzlies’ first-round pick (top-five and 15-30 protected in 2015 and 2016, top-five protected in 2017 and 2018 and unprotected in 2019) and the lesser of its own and the Bulls’ 2015 first rounder (if the Cavaliers make the playoffs; otherwise they keep their own pick).

The Cavaliers/Bulls pick clearly has the lowest value, and depending how you evaluate Memphis, the other two are close. Based on how these negotiations went, I bet Flip Saunders got his choice.

With Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng, the Heat should avoid one of the NBA’s 10 worst records, meaning they’d send their pick to Minnesota this season. But Miami also shouldn’t be too good to avoid that pick falling into the late 20s.

LeBron leaving the Heat made that pick more valuable – just valuable enough to land him a star teammate in Cleveland.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.