Kurt Helin

Who should be All-Star Game reserves? Draymond Green leads PBT picks.


You fans did well voting in the All-Star starters. I understand voting in Kobe Bryant, even if his play this season hasn’t merited it. I’ll forgive you for the Dwyane Wade votes. We’ll just ignore the Zaza Pachulia thing and pretend it never happened.

But who should be the reserves?

The 30 NBA coaches — or, in reality, whatever assistant coach/media director/locker room staff guy more than a few pawn the job off on — will have the official votes. They will choose a full second team of two guards and three front court players, then have two wild card spots (bringing the full roster to 12).

Before the coaches get to it, we here at PBT made our picks for you to argue with us about (it’s not easy with those final cuts/picks).


Eastern Conference Reserves good

There were four players we all agreed upon — John Wall, Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap, and Andre Drummond. Here are our explanations for the rest.

Kurt Helin: The last spot in the East was particularly tough. Back when Sean and I discussed this on the PBT Podcast, I had some different answers, but thinking about it over the course of the week led me to change my mind. John Wall has earned a wild card spot carrying the Wizards, and with that final spot I went with the deserving Toronto guy over the deserving Isaiah Thomas or Al Horford or Pau Gasol, any of whom would have been a reasonable choice.

Dan Feldman: My criteria gives the nod to Wall over DeMar DeRozan, who has had a better half season. I’m just not sold quite enough yet on DeRozan, who came close. My system also had Kevin Love in the running with players producing more this season like Reggie Jackson and Isaiah Thomas, two point guards who deserved strong consideration.

Sean Highkin: Nicolas Batum is having a career year and is in large part responsible for the Hornets’ success even in spite of the injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And Thomas has been great since moving to a full-time starting role in Boston. Both deserve their first career nods.


Western Conference Reserves

Again four players are agreed upon by all: Draymond Green, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins. We also were in agreement that Zaza Pachulia should not make the cut.

Kurt Helin: To me, six of these were almost must haves. For the final Wild Card spot, again there were a lot of deserving players, but the Warriors big three needs to be there and be represented.

Dan Feldman: The final spot was wide open with Jordan just edging Damian Lillard, who led a pack that also included Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gobert, Dwight Howard and Klay Thompson. If only Kobe Bryant didn’t occupy a starting spot, Lillard would’ve made the cut. (Ditto DeRozan over Dwyane Wade in the East.)

Sean Highkin: No first-timers here except for Green. I left Blake Griffin off my list because of missed time, but everything else is pretty straightforward. But given the fan voting, the NBA almost has to find a way for Zaza Pachulia to be involved somehow.

Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, LeBron James lead All-Star Game starters


It’s an exhibition — give the people what they want.

And they want Kobe Bryant.

He received more fan votes than anyone — 1,891,614 — and will lead the West All-Star Game starters when they take the court Feb. 14 in Toronto. Here are the five starters for each team as chosen by the fans:


Guards: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook
Frontcourt: Kobe Bryant, Kevin DurantKawhi Leonard

The coaches will vote in the seven reserves from each conference (to be announced next week).

Leonard passed Draymond Green in the final four days to nab the last starting spot in the West. Green actually fell to sixth — Zaza Pachulia of the Mavericks gained a couple hundred thousand in the final days and came within 14,000 votes of becoming an All-Star starter. Credit the Wyclef Jean bump. (If you don’t think things like this can happen, ask the NHL.) The coaches will not be voting in Pachulia, by the way.

Don’t be shocked if Green carries this “snub” over as motivation next Monday when the Warriors face the Spurs.

Anthony Davis not being voted an All-Star starter could be costly. If he does not make the All-NBA team (and he likely will, although there is a lot of competition), he will not qualify for the “Rose Rule” on his contract extension that kicks in next season, costing him $23 million over the five years of the deal.

Chris Paul and Klay Thompson finished third and fourth in the West guard voting, they likely are voted in by the coaches.


Guards: Dwyane Wade, Kyle Lowry
Frontcourt: LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony

LeBron led all vote-getters in the East, the only person in the conference to clear 1 million votes.

Host Toronto got a starter when Kyle Lowry was handed a starting spot in the East, passing Kyrie Irving in the final days. Irving likely is voted in by the coaches to a reserve spot (although he did miss considerable time the first part of this season due to a knee injury).

Pau Gasol almost was voted in the final starting spot, he was just 350 votes back of ‘Melo (of more than 566,000)

Here are the final vote tallies:

Eastern Conference
1 LeBron James (Cle) 1,089,206
2 Paul George (Ind) 711,595
3 Carmelo Anthony (NY) 567,348
4 Pau Gasol (Chi) 566,988
5 Andre Drummond (Det) 515,296
6 Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 473,579
7 Chris Bosh (Mia) 351,420
8 Kevin Love (Cle) 332,685
9 Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 301,362
10 Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 84,617
11 Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 73,079
12 Joakim Noah (Chi) 48,509
13 DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 46,044
14 Marcin Gortat (Was) 43,496
15 Paul Millsap (Atl) 41,654

1 Dwyane Wade (Mia) 941,466
2 Kyle Lowry (Tor) 646,441
3 Kyrie Irving (Cle) 580,651
4 Jimmy Butler (Chi) 564,637
5 DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 444,868
6 John Wall (Was) 368,686
7 Derrick Rose (Chi) 302,389
8 Jeremy Lin (Cha) 195,920
9 Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 153,642
10 Reggie Jackson (Det) 76,688

Western Conference
1 Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,891,614
2 Kevin Durant (OKC) 980,787
3 Kawhi Leonard (SA) 782,339
4 Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 768,112
5 Draymond Green (GS) 726,616
6 Blake Griffin (LAC) 651,860
7 Enes Kanter (OKC) 534,499
8 Tim Duncan (SA) 431,087
9 Anthony Davis (NO) 400,688
10 DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 364,270
11 DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 269,427
12 LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 268,003
13 Dwight Howard (Hou) 219,761
14 Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 173,317
15 Harrison Barnes (GS) 155,289

1 Stephen Curry (GS) 1,604,325
2 Russell Westbrook (OKC) 772,009
3 Chris Paul (LAC) 624,334
4 Klay Thompson (GS) 555,513
5 James Harden (Hou) 430,777
6 Manu Ginobili (SA) 226,289
7 Rajon Rondo (Sac) 200,518
8 Tony Parker (SA) 195,472
9 Andre Iguodala (GS) 181,142
10 Damian Lillard (Por) 158,360

Former All-Star Cliff Robinson to start marijuana business called Uncle Spliffy

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Step one of opening a successful business: Know your product. Second: Know your market and who you can sell your product to.

An NBA player getting into the legalized marijuana field? That qualifies.

Former All-Star Cliff Robinson  — nicknamed Uncle Cliffy back in his days with the Portland Trail Blazers — will be addressing the 2016 Cannabis Collaborative Conference in Portland in a few weeks. (Remember, Oregon legalized marijuana.) Robinson is also going to go into a marijuana growing business with partners, called Uncle Spliffy. He spoke with the Portland Business Journal about it.

“It’s an opportunity for me to get out there and tell people a little bit about myself outside of basketball,” Robinson said. “People in Oregon know me as a basketball player, but I want to distill the stigma around cannabis, the misperception that athletes and cannabis are incompatible….

“When you talk about guys playing on a professional level, there’s a lot of physical and mental stress that comes with that, and to have something available to you that has health benefits, I don’t see the issue with it myself.”

He didn’t have an issue with it as a player either, having been suspended one time for testing positive for marijuana use.

For the record, marijuana is a banned substance in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and the league. That said, it’s not treated like “harder” drugs — a player has to test positive for marijuana use three times before he suffers a five-game suspension for his use. The penalties are much stiffer for other drugs.

At least he’s found a business to focus on in his post-career days. It would be perfect if Rasheed Wallace opened up a fast food joint right next door to the Uncle Spliffy storefront, but we can only dream of so much.

Report: Pelicans had preferred to move Eric Gordon, not Ryan Anderson

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In a trade market short on sellers, GM Dell Demps phone is ringing in New Orleans because they are looking to deal. It’s been an injury-filled, disappointing season in the Big Easy and they are thinking about potential shakeups to put a better crew around Anthony Davis.

Everyone is calling about Ryan Anderson.

But the Pelicans are more interested in moving the just injured Eric Gordon, something that will be more difficult now, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“New Orleans is widely known to want to shake up their roster. And a lot of teams would love to get their hands on soon-to-be free agent forward Ryan Anderson. But I’ve been told that if New Orleans had its way they were much more willing to give up Gordon in a deal depending on what was coming back in return. Gordon, like Anderson, is going to be a free agent this summer, that means any team trading for him knows there’s a possibility he’s a rental. Which means they do not want to make a move for him and have him sit on the shelf and not know when he’s going to return.”

Gordon is probably back on the court after the trade deadline, which means moving him is unlikely at best.

Anderson may be a rental, but if a lot of teams come calling and a little bidding war starts, the offers may get too good to refuse (especially if there are some parts the Pelicans can rebuild with long term).

PBT Podcast: Los Angeles Clippers talk with Ben Bolch of the LA Times

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The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the five best teams in the NBA. They have won 10 of their last 11 games.

However, for this core group of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, is that going to be good enough? Could they beat Golden State in the second round and advance to the Conference Finals (and beyond)? If the team flounders in the second round again, what changes should be made?

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times joins PBT’s Kurt Helin to break down Los Angeles, and discuss if the Clippers need to be broken up.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.