Dan Feldman

Cristiano Felicio knocks Miles Plumlee out of the way for putback dunk (video)

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The Bulls made their big run in the fourth quarter of their preseason win over the Bucks.

Before that, Cristiano Felicio provided a spark with this brutal putback dunk over Miles Plumlee.

6-foot-nothing Will Bynum makes fantastic chase-down block on D.J. Augustin (video)

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Will Bynum #6 of the Atlanta Hawks poses during media day on September 26, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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Will Bynum is on the Hawks on an unguaranteed contract, so I don’t know whether he’ll make the regular-season roster.

But he’s at least making an impressive effort.

At minimum, this is a little revenge for Bynum, who lost his backup-point guard job on the Pistons to D.J. Augustin a couple years ago.

Augustin, now with the Magic, doesn’t know what hit him:

51Q: How many Warriors will start in the All-Star game? Make the team?

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Kevin Durant #35 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors joke around while they pose for NBA team photographer Noah Graham during the Golden State Warriors Media Day at the Warriors Practice Facility on September 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season.

The Warriors just signed someone who finished eighth among all players in All-Star votes last season.

No, not Kevin Durant.

Zaza Pachulia.

Thanks to excessive voting in his native Georgia (the country, not the state) and a video by Wyclef Jean, Pachulia finished a mere 14,227 votes from starting in the 2016 All-Star game. Joining the star-studded Warriors probably won’t hurt his cause this season.

Golden State could have five All-Stars between Stephen Curry, Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Pachulia. Heck, all five could start.

Curry and Durant started last season, and the other three weren’t behind. Here’s 2016 Western Conference voting:


1. Stephen Curry, 1,604,325

2. Russell Westbrook, 772,009

3. Chris Paul, 624,334

4. Klay Thompson, 555,513


1. Kobe Bryant, 1,891,614

2. Kevin Durant, 980,787

3. Kawhi Leonard, 782,339

4. Zaza Pachulia, 768,112

5. Draymond Green, 726,616

6. Blake Griffin, 651,860

Curry and Durant are clearly deserving of All-Star status. If Green plays as well as he did last season – and there’s no reason to believe he won’t other than we haven’t seen him at that level for an extended period – he should also make it. The best argument against Thompson is the abundance of star guards in the West. Pachulia is a starter or bust, but the fan vote makes him a real possibility.

We’ve seen super teams before, and it doesn’t even take one to get four All-Stars. Seven teams have done that:

  • 2015 Hawks: Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver
  • 2011 Celtics: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo
  • 2006 Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace
  • 1998 Lakers: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel
  • 1983 76ers: Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney
  • 1975 Celtics: John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, Paul Silas
  • 1962 Celtics: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn,  Sam Jones

The Warriors threaten to reach another level. They were already so good, winning 73 games and reaching the NBA Finals last year, and Durant is exceptional even when compared to other stars. Golden State might not care to challenge its own record, but this team would have to work hard not to be really good.

Five All-Stars? All five starting? It’s  one of the ways these Warriors could make history.

Report: Rudy Gobert most likely player left to receive rookie-scale contract extension

Rudy Gobert
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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C.J. McCollum and Giannis Antetokounmpo have signed rookie-scale contract extensions.

Will any other members of the 2013 draft class join those two by the Oct. 31 deadline?

When looking for candidates, apparently start in Utah with Rudy Gobert.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Most league insiders agree that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert remains the most likely candidate, of the 2013 first-rounders still on the board, to land an extension by month’s end.

Gobert is an excellent player who helps define the Jazz’s identity. At just 24, he should remain in peak form for the entirety of his next deal.

The difference between Gobert’s cap hold if not extended ($5,303,218) and starting salary in an extension (projected to be a max of about $24 million) might be the largest in NBA history. If the Jazz wait to ink Gobert, they could spend that $19 million-ish difference next offseason then use Gobert’s Bird Rights to exceed the cap while re-signing him.

If I were the Jazz, I’d need Gobert to sacrifice a large amount of money over the life of the extension to justify losing so much 2017 flexibility. And if I were Gobert, I’d want a full max or pretty close to it.

So, waiting makes a ton of sense.

But some players value security, and some teams value certainty. There’s room to reach a deal.

However, with a revised Collective Bargaining Agreement reportedly near completion, that could cool extension talks. Teams and players might want a clearer picture of just how everything will work. If the CBA isn’t done before the extension deadline, Utah and Gobert could always strike a deal. But I’d guess they’ll wait longer for CBA terms before jumping into an agreement now.

Report: ‘Only a matter of time’ until Smith starts looking elsewhere

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 22: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates with the fans during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

J.R. Smith was rumored to be looking at only the Cavaliers in free agency.

But both sides remain in a stalemate not even LeBron James can break.

What’s next?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources say it’s only a matter of time before Smith starts engaging with other teams.

Smith still remains likely to re-sign with the Cavs. He’d help immensely with their title defense, and if they lose him, they wouldn’t have cap space or resources to adequately replace him. But this could force them to increase their offer sooner.

The 76ers, Nets, Nuggets, Suns, Timberwolves and Jazz have enough cap flexibility to make realistic offers for Smith. That none have yet is telling, though that could be because he has signaled such a firm intention to stay in Cleveland. If Smith appears serious about leaving – and this report doesn’t mean he is – that could generate more meaningful outside interest.

The Celtics are reportedly interested in Smith, but they have neither the cap space or regular-season roster vacancy to sign him. As the up-and-comer in the East, they also have an interest in tying up the Cavaliers as much as possible in future years.

But, with so many teams holding cap space, there’s the possibility of a team – including Boston – trading away salary to clear space for Smith. If he explores the market, who knows what he’ll find?

Maybe even a better offer from the Cavs.