Kurt Helin

LeBron James gets up for two-handed slam vs. Pacers (VIDEO)

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If there are no bodies between a cutting LeBron James and the basket, the only question is how he will dunk the ball.

Wednesday night against the Pacers, LeBron went with the two-handed flush. Impressive. Not exactly a dunk contest winner, but impressive.

Just a couple of minutes later, LeBron tweaked his ankle when in transition he stepped on Jeff Teague‘s foot.

But he stayed in the game and not much later did this.

In least surprising news ever, Magic Johnson says “yes I do want to” head Lakers basketball operations

In this Aug. 23, 2016, file photo, former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for a stadium which will be home to the Los Angeles Football Club in Los Angeles. Johnson is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers organization as an adviser to owner Jeanie Buss. The Lakers announced the reunion Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, with Johnson, one of the most beloved players in franchise history. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
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Magic Johnson’s campaign to get Jim Buss’ job as the head of Lakers’ basketball operations has all the subtlety of a Donald Trump tweet.

Magic was brought on by Jeanie Buss — the CEO of the Lakers and controller of the business side — as an “advisor to ownership.” But the way Magic has been critical of Jim Buss in the past it seems the writing was on the wall, and if that wasn’t clear enough Magic said the Lakers didn’t seem headed in the right direction and that he wanted the job to right the ship.

But if all that was too subtle for you, here is Magic went on ESPN’s “First Take” and was more direct (transcribed by Tania Ganguli on Twitter), saying he would want a “Phil Jackson” kind of role.

“If I took on the role, and yes I do want to do it. If I took it on, I would definitely give 150 percent because I have other people to run my businesses. We’re at a place now where I don’t have to be there. But I would have to be with the Lakers every single day. We’ve gotta come up with a strategy that will help us get back in the next three to five years.”

Lakers fans should hope he does a better job than Jackson has in New York. Although saying the Lakers are still three to five years away is spot on and a sign that he seems to understand the task ahead — there is not a quick fix in Los Angeles. Superstar free agents are not going to flock to the Lakers right now just because they are the Lakers, as the Celtics did the Lakers need to build a strong young foundation, then the stars (Al Horford) will take the team seriously. Right now, even if Magic gets a meeting with an elite free agent, it’s out of courtesy.

This can work, but it’s going to take more than just effort. While his first call may be to Kobe Bryant, Magic’s second call should be to one of the good up-and-coming potential GMs in the league (there are a number of guys considered ready for the job) and install him as the GM. Magic is not going to be the day-to-day guy dealing with agents, and he needs somebody who knows the salary cap and its many nuances well. He needs a right-hand guy who gets the details of the job, someone who can execute Magic’s vision.

All that said, it’s hard not to see Magic getting the job this summer. The only question is how bloody the coup will be.

 

Knicks’ Willy Hernangomez replaces Emmanuel Mudiay in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Willy Hernangomez #14 of the New York Knicks reacts after a foul against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Madison Square Garden on November 9, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will sit out his sixth consecutive game Wednesday night with back issues, he tweaked it against the Spurs back on Feb. 5.

Mudiay, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was slated to play Friday night in New Orleans in the Rising Stars Challenge, where first- and second-year players from the USA take on their counterparts from around the world. The Nuggets and Mudiay have decided he can’t suit up.

So the Knicks Willy Hernangomez will take his place on the World team, the NBA announced Friday.

Sure, that’s replacing a point guard with a center, but it’s as meaningless an exhibition as you can find so why worry about positions? This is the second roster replacement for the world as Thunder guard Alex Abrines will suit up for the injured Sixers center Joel Embiid.

Hernangomez, from Spain, is averaging 6.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a game for the season, however, his run has increased of late and in his last seven games he’s averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds in 24.9 minutes.

The Rising Stars Challenge will be broadcast on TNT starting at 9 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

PBT Extra: Serge Ibaka trade good for Toronto, but how close does it get them to Cleveland?

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There is a reason the Raptors front office has long coveted Serge Ibaka, Toronto’s weak spot is the four and Ibaka perfectly fits what they need in that role.

The trade of Ibaka from Orlando to Toronto was good for both sides, but for the Raptors it was their big move. Ibaka is a free agent this summer, and what it’s going to cost to keep him and Kyle Lowry (also a free agent) is going to send the Raptors deep into the tax. This is basically their roster for the next few years, the core of it anyway.

The Raptors got better, they got closer to Cleveland with this move. I just don’t think it’s enough if the Cavs are healthy.

Lakers’ rookie Brandon Ingram airballs a free throw (VIDEO)

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Brandon Ingram is no candidate for the “hack-a-” strategy, he’s hitting 65.8 percent from the stripe as a rookie.

But he looked bad on this shot. Ingram airballed a free throw during the second quarter Tuesday night. Ouch.

The Lakers made the interesting defensive decision to single cover DeMarcus Cousins most of the night, and the result was 40 points — 16 in the fourth — plus 12 rebounds from the big man to lead the Kings to their fourth straight win, 97-96 over the Lakers.