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Three things we learned Wednesday: Knicks saga just gets weirder and weirder

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If you tried to pitch this New York Knicks season as a reality television show, would the executives laugh you out of the building because it’s unrealistic? Just a thought as we break down the takeaways from last night around the NBA.

1) Just when you thought things couldn’t get stranger with Knicks, Charles Oakley gets ejected from MSG, arrested.
Well, at least you can’t blame Phil Jackson or Carmelo Anthony for this part of the saga. However, the downward spiral into madness that has become the Knicks season picked up serious momentum Wednesday night.

Former Knicks enforcer Charles Oakley may be loved by the team’s fans, but he has had a rocky relationship with the franchise itself over the last decade plus — he has criticized the organization publicly, particularly owner James Dolan. So when Oakley got a ticket and showed up to Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers, sitting just a few rows behind Dolan, it raised some eyebrows. From there the official account (via the team and NYPD) is that Oakley was verbally combative and insulting to Dolan, security showed up, Oakley resisted and even shoved a security guard, and at that point he was thrown out of the building and arrested, all while Phil Jackson tried to calm him. Oakley was charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal trespassing.

Oakley’s version of events is that he bought a ticket and was just sitting there quietly when security came up to him and asked him why he was there — that Dolan wanted him thrown out for no reason. That’s when the confrontation started, and things got physical, because he refused to leave a seat that was his.

This part of the saga isn’t over as Oakley will have court dates coming up soon, he will have lawyers, and James Dolan will have his name back in the paper for something other than his band again.

Also, the Clippers (still without Chris Paul) beat the Knicks, while more Jackson/Anthony drama filled the air with Anthony not wanting to be forced out of town. Oakley is just a part of the spiral down this season has become in Madison Square Garden.

2) Cavaliers’ “remember we own the East” tour continued with win over Pacers (while Raptors, Celtics lose). The Indiana Pacers had won seven in a row and were one of the hot teams in the East. They had done that thanks to very good defense — best in the NBA over the seven games of the streak — and the one thing they were doing better was defending the arc, taking away three-point chances for opponents.

Enter the Cavaliers, who got 36 threes up as a team, led by Kyle Korver who was 8-of-9 from deep. Throw in 29 from Kyrie Irving, 25 from LeBron James, and the fact as a team the Cavaliers shot 62.9 percent between 3 and 23 feet from the rim, and you get a 132-117 win where the Cavs offense overpowered that Pacers defense.

Adding to the reminder the Cavaliers own the East, the Celtics fell to a Sacramento Kings team playing without the suspended DeMarcus Cousins 108-92, and the Toronto Raptors lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-109 behind 31 points from Andrew Wiggins.

Interesting test for the Pacers on Friday against the hot Washington Wizards.

3) Injuries piled up: Bucks’ Jabari Parker, Nuggets Kenneth Faried join the list. A couple of what could be critical injuries came up on Wednesday night around the league. Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker has been having a borderline All-Star season averaging 20.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game went down with what appeared could be a serious knee injury. If he’s lost for any stretch of time it’s a real blow to a team currently two games behind Detroit for the final playoff slot in the East.

Elsewhere, Denver big man Kenneth Faried rolled his ankle, left the game, then was seen leaving the arena on clutches. Faried has played well for a Nuggets team trying to hold on to the final playoff slot in the West.

Knicks’ Joakim Noah has expected shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff

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NEW YORK (AP) — Knicks center Joakim Noah has had right shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff, a procedure that could sideline him until training camp.

The Knicks say Noah had the surgery Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed by Dr. David Altchek.

The team didn’t give a timetable for Noah’s recovery, but coach Jeff Hornacek said late in the season that if Noah had the operation, the recovery time could be five months.

Noah had an injury-plagued season that ended early when he was suspended 20 games by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. There are still 12 games remaining on the penalty that he will have to serve next season when healthy.

Noah had surgery on his other shoulder last season, limiting him to 29 games in his final season in Chicago before signing a four-year, $72 million deal with New York.

PBT Extra: Pacers offseason moves starts with Paul George question

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Larry Bird, when not delivering All-Star Game bids, should be spending his time lighting candles and praying in churches all over Indianapolis that Paul George makes an All-NBA team.

If PG13 makes the cut, Bird’s job this summer becomes more clear: Offer George the designated player max extension, get him to sign the deal, then get back to building a contender around him.

If George doesn’t make the cut, things get much tougher for Bird. I discuss all of it in this new PBT Extra.

Fans to vote on “Best Dunk,” “Best Assist,” other categories handed out at NBA Awards show

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Fans are going to get their say at the NBA Awards Show, coming June 26 on TNT. Drake will be the host, and we to come up with an under/over on the number of players Drake gives a bro hug to during the ceremony.

That’s the night the NBA will hand out its Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and every other major postseason award — except for All-NBA Team, which has to come earlier. The media have already cast their votes for these awards.

Where the fans get to come in is the fun awards, categories created just for this event:

• Dunk of the Year
• Best Style
• Block of the Year
• Assist of the Year
• Game Winner of the Year
• Top Performance of the Year

The NBA already narrowed down the list of choices for each category to three, and voting opens tonight. Just go to  www.nba.com/nbaawards and cast your ballot, or on Twitter or Facebook just post the #AwardName and First/Last Name of their winner (for example, #DunkOfTheYear  Larry Nance).

These awards should add some energy — and good highlights — to what has the potential to be a stuffy event. It’s a bunch of NBA players in suits in a ballroom in New York, this is going to feel like a branding event at times. The NBA is hoping the fans can liven it up.

Here are the categories, with the hashtags for voting:

#DunkOfTheYear
• Los Angeles Lakers’ Larry Nance, Jr. vs. Brooklyn

• Minnesota’s Zach LaVine vs. Phoenix

• Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo vs. Atlanta

#BestStyle
• Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert
• Chicago’s Dwyane Wade
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook

#BlockOfTheYear
• San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard vs. Houston
• New York’s Kristaps Porzingis vs. Brooklyn
• Miami’s Hassan Whiteside vs. Toronto

#GameWinnerOfTheYear
• Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving vs. Golden State
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook vs. Denver
• Phoenix’s Tyler Ulis vs. Boston

#TopPerformanceOfTheYear
• Phoenix’s Devin Booker 70-point game vs. Boston
• Houston’s James Harden nets 53-16-17 triple double vs. New York
• Golden State’s Klay Thompson scores 60 in three quarters vs. Indiana
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook with most points in a triple-double, 57-13-11, vs. Orlando

#AssistOfTheYear
• Golden State’s Draymond Green to Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant
• Denver’s Nikola Jokic with no-look pass
• LA Clippers’ Chris Paul with wraparound pass

Report: USC’s Elijah Stewart intended to declare for NBA draft, forgot

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Declaring for the NBA draft is like declaring bankruptcy: You can’t just bellow it and expect it to take effect. You actually have to fill out the paperwork.

That’s why USC’s Elijah Stewart wasn’t among the 192 early entrants to the 2017 NBA draft.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Stewart:

Givony’s report will do little but embarrass Stewart. It’s unlikely Stewart would’ve been drafted, and he likely would have withdrawn to return to USC for his senior season. Perhaps, he would’ve gotten helpful feedback from the NBA before that point, but that’s minimal.

The real problem, though, isn’t Stewart’s inattentiveness, to whatever extent is exists. It’s that the NCAA won’t allow players to maintain eligibility while having an agent.

If Stewart had proper representation, there’d be no questioning whether he intended to declare for the draft. His agent would’ve handled it, one way or the other.

If the NCAA were truly about educating players, it’d allow them to have guidance from experienced professional agents. Agents don’t have to conflict with amateurism (not that amateurism is a worthy goal, anyway).

But teaching players is not the NCAA’s true goal. The NCAA prioritizes keeping its cartel in tact and money flowing to coaches and administrators.

Agents might steer players from that corrupt system entirely or at least help them leverage their immense power to gain better compensation than a wage-fixed scholarship.

This incident should spark discussion about the unseemly lengths the NCAA goes to to protect its money-makers from its revenue-generators. Instead, it’s much easier to make Stewart a punchline.