Looking Ahead: Who makes Western Conference All-Star team?

3 Comments

This summer saw an almost unprecedented shift of All-Star level player talent in the NBA — and a lot of it went from the East to the West, including three East All-Stars from last season. The West is flat-out stacked — and that is before the possible arrival of Kyrie Irving and/or Carmelo Anthony.

It led to the question: What will the All-Star teams look like?

Yesterday we talked about the East. Today, I try to whittle down an insanely deep player pool to the 12-man Western Conference All-Star Team.

ALL-STAR STARTERS (two guards, three frontcourt players):

Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

Comment:
Remember, these are voted on by a combination of fan, media, and player votes. The West is so deep that other guys may well be deserving and could sneak in, but this seems like the most likely five. Curry is arguably the most popular player in the NBA and will likely lead fan voting, and Westbrook will still put up numbers. That front court is just ridiculous.

ALL-STAR RESERVES (two guards, three frontcourt players, two wild cards):

James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Chris Paul (Houston Rockets)
Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)

Comment:
The reserves are selected by a vote of the coaches, and I don’t envy them trying to narrow this group down. How deep is the West? Here is another 12 guys, a full team, I had to leave off who very well could be deserving: Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul Millsap, Mike Conley, Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker, C.J. McCollum, Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gaol, and Rudy Gobert. How guys play in the first half and, of course, injuries, will go a long way to deciding who gets in and who is out. Put simply, there are going to be “snubs” because the West is so deep and there are only so many slots. I went with guys who should put up numbers and be on teams that get a lot of notice because they win, but there are a lot of directions this could go.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

Getty Images
23 Comments

DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.