Dan Feldman

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Tim Hardaway Jr. returns to Knicks on minutes restriction

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to the New York Knicks on Friday night at Minnesota after missing 20 games with a stress injury in his lower left leg.

New York coach Jeff Hornacek said Hardaway’s minutes would be limited as he builds up stamina and the fifth-year swingman will come off the bench initially. Hardaway last played on Nov. 29 and has been practicing with the team to test his injury.

Hardaway was cleared to return after feeling good after Friday morning’s shootaround.

In his first year back with the Knicks after a signing a four-year, $71 million contract in the offseason, Hardaway is averaging 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 21 games this season.

Kevin Durant: I don’t want to be captain and draft All-Stars

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Kevin Durant narrowly trails Stephen Curry for the Western Conference lead in All-Star fan voting.

If Durant – who led the early returns before getting passed by his Warriors teammate – had his way, he wouldn’t re-claim the lead.

Each conference’s vote leader will captain an All-Star team, drafting his teammates from a pool of other All-Stars.

Durant to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, via ESPN:

“I don’t want to do it,” Durant told The Athletic. “I’d rather somebody else do it. It’s cool to be an All-Star, but all the extra stuff … I just want to go play in the game. [The new format]’s cool, a different way, a creative way that’s good for the fans. But me, I’ll let somebody else pick the teams.”

Durant isn’t just insecure. He’s openly insecure.

If people weren’t so busy being mad at him for signing with Golden State, they might appreciate his transparency (at least when it doesn’t come via burner social media). Durant is protected by the draft not being revealed by the league, but he still explained how he’s uncomfortable with the exercise, anyway. That opens him to criticism for being soft, scared, cupcake – the usual (that doesn’t apply on the court).

Durant’s reluctance probably stems from his high-profile feud with Russell Westbrook. That would only get re-examined if Durant is a captain, and he clearly wants to move on.

This answer is fascinating, if not also foolish. Isn’t Durant implicitly asking his haters – of which there are many – to vote for him and put him in the awkward and unwanted position of picking teams? (Unless he’s conning everyone and wants to win.)

If he wants votes, Curry is taking a much simpler approach when asked whether he wanted to win captaincy.

Curry to Slater, via ESPN:

“Why not?” Curry said. “I’ll be the first to usher in the new system. I used to go to the playground all the time, and you wanted to be the guy picking teams. That meant you were something on the court back in the day. It’ll be a cool vibe to see how it all shakes out and how unique you can make the lineups.”

Curry is fearless and cutthroat, traits too rarely used to describe him because of his diminutive size and polished public persona. He’ll draft who he wants and deal with the hurt feelings.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri responds to Donald Trump: ‘If I grew up in a shithole, I am proud of my shithole’

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American president Donald Trump called African nations “shithole countries,” according to a senator in the immigration meeting and corroborated by other reports.

That didn’t sit well with Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who was born and raised in Nigeria.

Ujiri, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s what inspiring leadership can be. What sense of hope are we giving people if you are calling where they live — and where they’re from — a shithole?

“We have to inspire people and give them a sense of hope. We need to bring people along, not ridicule and tear them down. This cannot be the message that we accept from the leader of the free world.

“I don’t know that just because someone lives in a hut, that doesn’t mean that isn’t a good person, that that person can’t do better, that person isn’t capable of being great. And just because it’s a hut – whatever that means – doesn’t mean it’s not a home. God doesn’t put anyone someplace permanently. I am a living testimony to that. If I grew up in a shithole, I am proud of my shithole.”

The United States should welcome people who embrace our freedoms and opportunities. Whether or not their current country is prosperous (or Norway) shouldn’t matter.

Marcus Morris on altercation with Ben Simmons: ‘He just took a cheap shot. But, s—, it’s alright. I take a lot of cheap shots, too’

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In the Celtics’ win over the 76ers in London yesterday, Ben Simmons lowered his shoulder into Marcus Morris on a screen and dropped the Boston forward to the floor. Morris got up and pushed Simmons. They were quickly separated.

NBC Sports Boston:

Morris:

He just took a cheap shot. But, s—, it’s alright. I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It was good to see that Philly’s got some OK guys, some tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. But it was a good shot. It what it is. Hopefully, I don’t have to get fined for that. That’s what I’m really worried about.

Though he plays for the Celtics, Morris is a proud Philadelphian. He’s also remarkably candid. This answer was so him, though I don’t know what he was promising – he won’t overreact to future fouls or Simmons won’t cross him again?

Simmons received a personal foul and Morris a technical foul – an old-school call. I’m surprised Morris didn’t receive a stiffer penalty. I don’t know if that makes it more or less likely the NBA will grant Morris’ wish and not fine him.

Report: Pelicans’ Tony Allen out another 2-4 weeks

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The Pelicans announced about a month ago Tony Allen would miss 3-4 weeks.

But his return isn’t imminent.

Jennifer Hale of Fox Sports New Orleans:

Pelicans injury problems. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Allen didn’t play a big role before getting hurt, but he came off the bench and played tough defense in spurts. New Orleans could use him at small forward with Solomon Hill also sidelined.

The Pelicans signed DeAndre Liggins to a 10-day contract. He’ll likely fill that role for now.

New Orleans (20-20) has a little margin for error in the playoff race with the Clippers and Jazz suffering from even bigger injury woes. But the burden remains heavy on Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.