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PBT Podcast: Toronto Raptors talk with Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

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The Toronto Raptors are the second best team in the East. They are led by gold medalists and All-Stars in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the team is on pace for 51 wins and have to be the favorite to reach the conference finals against the Cavaliers.

The Raptors also have lost four in a row heading into Wednesday night, and their offense has fallen off a cliff. It stirs memories of 2015, when a good Raptors team slumped into the playoffs and lost to the Wizards.

Which are the real Raptors? Is there a step they need to take to threaten the Cavaliers? We discuss all that and more with Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. We throw in a little “what is LeBron complaining about?” talk, too.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Report: Knicks tried to pitch Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love trade, Cavaliers shot it down

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Of course they did, the only question is did David Griffin laugh so Steve Mills could hear him before hanging up the phone?

As discussed before, the Knicks trying to trade Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love never made any sense from Cleveland’s perspective — why would they want to swap out 28-year-old and at his peak Love for the 33-year-old and declining, ball-stopping, worse defender in Anthony? LeBron James and Anthony are friends, but LeBron isn’t stupid — he wants to win another ring and Love gets him much closer than Anthony right now, and for the coming years.

But the Knicks tried, according to a report from Marc Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN.

The Knicks have tried — unsuccessfully — to engage the Cavaliers in Carmelo Anthony-for-Kevin Love trade talks in advance of the league’s Feb. 23 trade deadline, ESPN.com has learned.

League sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Knicks have approached the Cavaliers to gauge their interest in swapping All-Star forwards but were told that Cleveland is not interested in such an exchange.

Why would they be?

Certainly, LeBron wants the Cavaliers to add another playmaker, and Anthony can create shots for himself and get a team buckets. However, right now Love is the better fit, plus Love is five years younger and a few million less expensive (remember, the Cavs already have the highest payroll in the NBA). Love is no great defender, but he’s far ahead of Anthony right now. Love has made the not-so-easy adjustment of playing next to LeBron and is having his best season — you think Anthony will blend in smoothly working off the ball and being expected to move it quickly rather than pound the rock and survey the defense?

I guess the Knicks had to try, just like they will call Doc Rivers and ask about Blake Griffin. But no team is going to trade an All-Star, borderline All-NBA player in their prime for Carmelo Anthony at 33.

Warriors: Jerry West doing well after brief hospital visit

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Golden State Warriors say Hall of Famer and team executive board member Jerry West is doing well after a brief hospital visit following a fall.

Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder was in touch with West’s wife and provided the update Wednesday morning, a day after West was taken to a Southern California hospital for observation and tests.

The 78-year-old West, in attendance during the Warriors’ recent long homestand this month, fell on Tuesday.

TMZ.com first reported West’s hospitalization.

Embiid, Towns, Porzingis to headline All-Star Friday Rising Stars Challenge

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Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, and Karl-Anthony Towns would much rather be playing on the Sunday of All-Star weekend, taking part in the big show. That’s also unlikely.

But both will be in New Orleans for the Friday night festivities, on Feb. 17, when first- and second-year players get the stage for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.

Once again it will be a USA vs. the World format for the event, and here are the rosters:

U.S. TEAM ROSTER

Devin Booker (Suns)
Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks)
Marquese Chriss (Suns)
Brandon Ingram (Lakers)
Frank Kaminsky (Hornets)
Jahlil Okafor (76ers)
D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
Jonathon Simmons (Spurs)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves)
Myles Turner (Pacers)

WORLD TEAM ROSTER

Joel Embiid (76ers)
Danté Exum (Jazz)
Buddy Hield(Pelicans)
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Trey Lyles (Jazz)
Emmanuel Mudiay (Nuggets)
Jamal Murray (Nuggets)
Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
Domantas Sabonis (Thunder)
Dario Saric (76ers)

Towns/Turner/Okafor vs. Embiid/Jokic/Porzingis up front? Sign me up.

Of course, like any pickup game, the guards will have the ball in their hands, they have to feed the big guys, and they will determine the course of the game. Jamal Murray and Jonathon Simmons may well decide which team gets the pick-up game W (and gets to stay on the court… no, I guess not in this case).

The game takes place at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, and for those that love to see the future of the NBA play no defense the game will be broadcast on TNT at 9 p.m. ET (it will also be available on the Watch TNT App and on TNT Overtime).

Report: Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III to compete in All-Star Dunk Contest

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Glenn Robinson III seems to have found a spot in the NBA as part of the Pacers’ bench, playing 22 minutes a night and getting more run from Nate McMillan than any previous NBA coach he had.

Robinson also seems to have found a spot in the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, via Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Suns lightly-used rookie Derrick Jones (played in just two games) may also be taking part.

It’s going to be hard for this year’s dunk contest to live up to the Zach LaVine/Aaron Gordon spectacular from last season, but make no mistake Robinson can get up and throw it down.