LeBron James, Kyrie Irving garnered most votes so far from fans in All-Star Game voting

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Apparently, NBA fans love the Cleveland Cavaliers. And the Golden State Warriors.

The first round of results from fan votes for the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 19 in New Orleans are out, and the two top vote getters were the Cavaliers top two stars, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The top vote getter in the West is Golden State’s Kevin Durant, followed by Stephen Curry — the two biggest stars on the Golden State Warriors.

This year, the fan vote will account for only half of the All-Star starter’s vote (in previous years the fans picked the starters). This time around the fan vote will be combined with a selected media vote (25 percent) and player vote (25 percent) to choose the starters. Why the change? Because last year a social media campaign almost got Zaza Pachulia in as a starter (and the NHL did see a journeyman as a starter), so the NBA modified the system.

Here would be the starters, based on the fan vote so far:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:
Guards: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Dwyane Wade (Chicago)
Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cleveland), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Kevin Love (Cleveland)

WESTERN CONFERENCE:
Guards: Stephen Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston)
Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Golden State), Zaza Pachulia (Golden State), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)

I had asked you — the PBT readers — who should be the starters in the Eastern backcourt and you were much smarter, picking Irving and DeMar DeRozan, with a big push for Isaiah Thomas and John Wall. Any of those options are better than Wade, who has had a nice season in Chicago but isn’t what he once was.

There is no way Wade starts once the media/player votes are tabulated, same with Pachulia in the West.

Here are the fan votes, as they stand now (that is the number of votes at the end):

Eastern Conference
Frontcourt
1. LeBron James (CLE) 595,288
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 500,663
3. Kevin Love (CLE) 250,347
4. Joel Embiid (PHI) 221,984
5. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 189,817
6. Jimmy Butler (CHI) 189,066
7. Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 184,166
8. Paul George (IND) 138,332
9. Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 72,628
10. Jabari Parker (MIL) 64,141

Guards
1. Kyrie Irving (CLE) 543,030
2. Dwyane Wade (CHI) 278,052
3. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 253,340
4. Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 193,297
5. Derrick Rose (NY) 129,924
6. Kyle Lowry (TOR) 128,940
7. John Wall (WAS) 87,360
8. Jeremy Lin (BKN) 59,562
9. Kemba Walker (CHA) 52,122
10. Avery Bradley (BOS) 32,822

Western Conference
Frontcourt
1. Kevin Durant (GS) 541,209
2. Zaza Pachulia (GS) 439,675
3. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 341,240
4. Anthony Davis (NO) 318,144
5. Draymond Green (GS) 236,315
6. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 202,317
7. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 125,278
8. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 101,724
9. Blake Griffin (LAC) 100,524
10. Marc Gasol (MEM) 97,370

Guards
1. Stephen Curry (GS) 523,597
2. James Harden (HOU) 519,446
3. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 501,652
4. Klay Thompson (GS) 293,054
5. Chris Paul (LAC) 173,830
6. Damian Lillard (POR) 117,857
7. Eric Gordon (HOU) 76,609
8. Manu Ginobili (SA) 65,832
9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 64,247
10. Zach LaVine (MIN) 53,642

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Kyrie Irving feeling ‘good’ after ankle injury

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BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.

Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.

The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.

Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.

Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.

Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.

Danny Ainge: Lonzo Ball declined to work out for Celtics, who hold No. 1 pick

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LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.

You thought he was bluffing?

Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:

We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.

It’s not ideal.

Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.

Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.

Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.

It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.

Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.

Donald Sterling’s wife petitioning NBA to overturn his lifetime ban

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Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling settled his lawsuit against the NBA and his wife. Reconciled with Shelley Sterling, Donald sounds – in a recent interview with James Rainey of NBC News – ready to move on.

Rainey:

But his wife, Shelly Sterling, also 83, said in a separate interview that she has not let go of at least one formal blot that remains on Sterling’s record: the lifetime ban from the NBA that was imposed on the long-time Clippers owner after his racist remarks against African-Americans attending games.

Shelly Sterling said she personally approached Silver and also had her attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, talk to the league office about lifting the lifetime ban, which prevents Donald Sterling from attending NBA games. Her intention is not to allow her husband to do business with the league, but to clear his record, in consideration of the 33 years he spent as an owner.

“”I couldn’t understand the severity of the ban. It just seemed a little bit out of line,” Shelly Sterling said. “I have talked to [the NBA] several times and I don’t know what they will do. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t [lift the ban]. Maybe it takes a little bit more time.”

The NBA won’t lift the ban for the same reason it implemented the ban: Associating with Sterling was costing the league money.

Time has cooled the resentment toward Sterling, but overturning the ban would return the venom – and much of it would be directed toward the league. There’s no good reason to open that box.

Besides, Sterling – with his lengthy record of racism and sexism – doesn’t deserve clemency. People like him deserve far more comeuppance than they’ve gotten.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

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Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.