Author: D.J. Foster

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors

Watch NBA players miss a ton of halfcourt shots…except for Stephen Curry (VIDEO)


All-Star Saturday night had its ups and downs.

The three-point contest started slow but ended with some nice drama when Bradley Beal pushed eventual winner Marco Belinelli to a shoot-off. This is the only consistently enjoyable event, and it didn’t fail once again.

As for the dunk contest? It was…interesting? The team format was a little clunky, the dunks themselves weren’t overly impressive and John Wall showed that making a dunk on your first try is the way to go. Why don’t players change the dunk if they miss on the first try, I’ll never know. It’s about the element of surprise as much as the execution.

All things told it was an enjoyable experience as per usual, even if some of the best moments so far have happened outside of the more ballyhooed events.

Like this, for example. Check out Stephen Curry drain not one, not two, but three halfcourt shots in a row as every other NBA player assaults the basket with misses. Maybe Curry should have taken a few steps back in the three-point competition.

Tim Hardaway Jr. starts to untie Andre Drummond’s shoes (VIDEO)

Tim Hardaway Jr
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The thought of Tim Hardaway Jr. learning just about anything from J.R. Smith is a little terrifying if you’re a Knicks fan, but you’ve got to admit: this was pretty funny.

Earlier this season Smith received one of the oddest fines from the league you’ll ever see when he got docked 50 large for “repeated instances” of untying his opponent’s shoes at the free throw line. Guys have long tugged on each other’s shorts and even thrown each other’s shoes to the sidelines in the middle of play, but the NBA drew the line with J.R. Smith, because the NBA usually draws the line with J.R. Smith.

Most had already moved on or forgotten about the whole shoe untying thing, since J.R. tends to give us a lot of fresh material, but Knicks teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. delightfully reminded us of it all during the Rising Stars game last night:

Ersan Ilyasova reportedly wants out of Milwaukee

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls

Ersan Ilyasova is Milwaukee’s longest tenured player. He’s been there for the mediocre times, and he’s been there for the slightly worse than mediocre times.

Over the course of five and a half seasons, the 26 year old forward has had ample opportunity to see exactly how the Bucks operate on every level.

Basically, Ilyasova has seen some real…stuff. Perhaps he’s finally seen enough, in fact, as reported here in the Journal Times.

According to multiple sources, Ilyasova has expressed a desire to be traded, apparently having had his fill of the Bucks’ continual rebuilding project.

Ilyasova downplayed talk about him wanting out of Milwaukee and declined to comment on whether he or his agent, Andy Miller, had requested a trade.

Ilyasova made it clear, though, the Bucks’ revolving door policy with players has irritated him.

“The thing I’m upset about is each year, each season, we go through the same thing,” Ilyasova said. “Last year, we make the playoffs and now we start all over again. That’s really frustrating.

You’ll excuse Ilyasova for not fully understanding what plagues the Bucks. He’s been conditioned to believe that playoff appearances where you get swept by a half-awake Miami Heat team are the goal to strive for.

Milwaukee’s issues don’t stem from “starting all over again”, either. Teams that are starting over don’t sign O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal and Zaza Pachulia to a combined $16.5 million in salary in the offseason with no plan in place. Teams that are starting over don’t trade for the ghost of Caron Butler. The issue isn’t losing guys like Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis; it’s trying to replace them through the free agency minefield.

The Bucks refuse to bottom out and try to acquire any real difference-makers, and this is the result. They’re on the right path (for now) thanks to pure incompetence (thanks pure incompetence!) and injuries, but it’s understandable if Ilyasova doesn’t want to stick around to see how it plays out.

Ilyasova has three years and $24.2 million left on his deal, though, so moving him might not be so simple. Even if Milwaukee is willing to part with him, which they absolutely should be, Ilyasova’s value hasn’t been this low in quite some time, as he’s shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from behind the arc while providing his usual brand of matador defense. Long-term investments are scary, and Ilyasova is streaky, injury prone, and basically all the things you don’t want a lengthy investment to be.

That being said, you have to imagine Ilyasova would benefit from playing anywhere that’s not Milwaukee at this point. Other teams realize this, and it sounds like Ilyasova is beginning to realize that himself.

You’d like to think that someone in Milwaukee’s organization would tell Ilyasova that things have to get worse before they get better, that it’s darkest before the dawn and whatnot, but that would require a certain amount of self-awareness that’s completely non-existent in that organization. Get out now and don’t ever look back, Ersan.

Carmelo Anthony says that “without a doubt” he’d accept less money to help Knicks

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony has been making the rounds during All-Star weekend, and as you’d expect, the focus of the questions are primarily on his pending free agency decision.

But to Anthony’s credit, he hasn’t shied away from it or been vague. Instead, he’s cleared the air on why he’s entering free agency, he’s stated what his personal priorities are and he’s said what he needs to see from the Knicks going forward.

And when Anthony says he wants to remain with the Knicks, it’s easy to believe him. Pushing all of the dysfunction aside, he’s the biggest star in one of the biggest cities in the world. The Knicks are his team, ran by his agency. If he wants a player out (cough, cough Jeremy Lin), the player is out. He’s the man there.

Wanting to make it work in New York is perfectly logical, even if there’s a degree of difficulty thanks to James Dolan and company.

Anthony sounds open to working on solutions wherever he can, though. Here’s what he told reporters yesterday, as transcribed by Ian Begley of

Carmelo Anthony says he is willing to accept less money to re-sign with the Knicks if it helps the team attract big-name free agents, according to published reports.

“Without a doubt,” Anthony said Friday while in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend. “Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, always say, ‘If it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying take my money and let’s build something strong over here.'”

While that’s all well and good, Anthony giving up money in his next contract won’t help the Knicks — at least right away. New York will be over the cap in 2014 thanks to the giant expiring deals of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, and that’s even without Anthony’s deal altogether. Anthony taking less money won’t create any more flexibility for next season.

Down the road for the highly anticipated 2015 offseason, however, Anthony could certainly help the Knicks clear some more space for a max player (and additional players) by taking less than the max amount he can receive.

Anthony will be due $24.1 million during the 2015-16 if he accepts his full max contract, which is based on a percentage of his old deal.

Has the success of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami set in with Anthony, making him realize that a paycut might be worth it for the chance to win titles?

It’s certainly possible, but ultimately, it’s going to be much tougher for Anthony to just leave money on the table without any stars joining him immediately. Since New York is capped out and lacking major trade assets, it’s tough to see how another star joins him this year.

I’m not saying it was easy for James, Bosh and Wade to take less money, but they were guaranteed to be a championship contender when they did it. The trade off was right in front of them to see. Anthony has no such guarantee. Really, all he has to work from is what he’s seen management and ownership do since he’s been in New York, and that’s rarely been pretty.

But again, the Knicks are Anthony’s team. If he stays, he’s assuming some ownership in his own right. Part of the responsibility to build a winner certainly falls on him, and the Knicks should have a better chance to do that with more room under the salary cap.

That being said, Anthony shouldn’t be criticized or begrudged if he takes the full max. Turning down millions of dollars sounds really easy until, ya know, you actually have to turn down millions of dollars. You’re worth what you’re worth, and if New York is willing to pay Anthony the full max to keep him, so be it.

Either way, it will be interesting to see which ways the narrative twists and turns this offseason when Anthony makes his decision. The basketball world will certainly be watching.

The Extra Pass: Predictions for All-Star Weekend

NBA All-Star Game 2013

All-Star weekend is upon us. While the rest of the PBT crew gets to eat beignets and earn beads for showing a little skin (that’s how that works, right?), some of us will be stuck at home watching the celebrity game and reevaluating our life choices. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Not at all.

If we’re going to be watching anyway, though, we might as well make some predictions for all the weekend’s festivities. Feel free to leave your own in the comments section so you can probably gloat at a later juncture. Ready? Here we go.

All-Star Celebrity Game, Friday, 7pm ET

Winner: Arne Duncan’s team. I’m not sure what team that is, or who is even on his team, but the Secretary of Education can HOOP. He’s a former professional basketball player in Australia, and he takes this game entirely too seriously. He’s liable to take a charge on Nick Cannon and not even feel bad about it.

MVP: Michael B. Jordan. Duncan is great, no doubt, but Jordan has been rumored to have serious game on the hardwood. That makes sense because his parents, ya know, named him Michael freaking Jordan.

I’m obviously not picking against the man who played Vince Howard in Friday Night Lights, either, as he was one of the most convincing TV or movie quarterbacks ever. What’s the basketball equivalent of a last second 60-yard touchdown run? Mark MBJ down for whatever it is. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose (unless he’s not on Arne Duncan’s team).

Rising Stars Challenge, Friday, 9pm ET

Winner: Team Webber. Damian Lillard is barely going to play in this one, so Team Hill will be relying on Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters to bring up the ball. It doesn’t really matter all that much because no one plays defense anyway, but I’m picturing Waiters taking 40 shots and never passing to poor Jonas Valancuinas (or anyone else), while Jonas has flashbacks to playing with Rudy Gay and finally freaks out. Good for you, Jonas. Let it all out.

I can’t believe I’m picking against Giannis Antetokounmpo right now, but he’s going to get iced out like Isiah Thomas by all the sophomores. I’m pre-angry at Team Hill.

MVP: Anthony Davis. He’ll win even if he shouldn’t because he’s playing in front of the Smoothie King faithful. That said, he’ll probably deserve to be MVP because he’s better at basketball than everyone else in the game, and the crowd will yell at anyone who doesn’t give him the ball enough. I’ve thought about this way too much.

NBA D-League All-Star Game, Saturday, 3pm ET

Winner: One of the teams, probably.

MVP: Pierre Jackson. He’s been absolutely destroying the D-League this year (29.1 points a game!), but the Pelicans haven’t called him up to the NBA because Austin Rivers exists and life isn’t fair. Anyone in New Orleans who wakes up before noon will be in for a real treat watching Jackson do his thing.

Shooting Stars, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

Winner: Steph Curry, Dell Curry and Becky Hammon. This is a father/son battle against Tim Hardaway Jr. and Sr., but then there are two other teams that don’t have father/son combos. I don’t know, just roll with it.

This is basically picking which team you think can hit halfcourt shots first. It really has very little to do with actual shooting ability, because that would be too much fun. This would be All-Star weekend’s worst event if it weren’t for…

Skills Challenge, Saturday, After Shooting Stars

Winner: No one. The person that created this just said, hey, you know the obstacle course at dog shows? What if we did that, but — wait for it — with basketballs? Someone said yes and now we’ve done it every year since.

At least they changed the format this year and made it teams of two, maybe figuring that two half-hearted performances would add up to one full-hearted performance.

I guess I can make amends for my earlier betrayal and go with team Giannis/DeRozan as the winner here. I’ll be rooting for Goran Dragic to either take this way too seriously and set a course record or lay down and take a protest nap.

Three-Point Contest, Saturday, After Skills Challenge

Winner: Steph Curry. Sorry. I’m just never going to pick against him in any sort of shooting contest. Here’s how I think the field will shake out:

1. Curry – Quick release, probably the scariest “streak” shooter of the bunch.
2. Irving – Returning champ, heavy favorite to emerge out of the Eastern Conference quartet.
3. Lillard – Would be getting more attention for his prolific three-point shooting if it weren’t for Curry.
4. Love – Former winner, has the advantage of a good beard.
5. Belinelli – No Spur has ever won the three-point contest, but this feels like one of those times Wikipedia is being a liar.
6. Beal – Has about one full season of really good three-point shooting on his resume.
7. Afflalo – Amazing from the corners, not so hot from everywhere else.
8. Johnson – A serious threat to run out of time.

Slam Dunk Contest, Saturday, After Three-Point Contest

Winner: Eastern Conference. If this is what it takes to get big names back in the dunk contest, it’s probably worth it to not have guys like Fred Jones bringing home the title.

Out of Paul George, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard and Ben McLemore, I like Terrence Ross to have the best dunk of the night. He’s the most acrobatic of the group, and there’s always the chance he gives a nod to Vince Carter. Playing on memories always helps in this event.

McLemore is the wildcard who could help the West win, but Barnes is just a little too stiff of an athlete and Lillard might not be able to do some of the crazy dunks we’ve grown accustomed to. So long as Paul George doesn’t go all glow-in-the-dark again, the East should be able to win this.

2013-14 All-Star Game, Sunday, 8pm ET

Winner: Western Conference. It’s been by far the superior conference during the real games, and the East likely being down Dwyane Wade won’t help. The East has a lot of good players that don’t necessarily translate all that well to the All-Star style (Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah), and the West is far more balanced with scorers like Kevin Durant and Curry in addition to table setters like Chris Paul.

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony make for a tough tandem, but the West is deeper and more explosive. Here’s guessing the West makes it four straight over the East.

Score: West 144, East 139

MVP: Kevin Durant. We know LeBron and Durant are going to go at it, as the battle for MVP won’t take a break. Here’s giving Durant the slight edge, as he’s more likely to be on the winning team and have the game’s most points. That’s usually enough to win MVP, but either way, this should be good.