Tag: Oklahoma City Thunder

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins one of just four 2014 draft picks on Rising Star Challenge rosters


The NBA shook up the Rising Stars Challenge, making it the U.S. vs. the World.

Each 10-man team had to have at least four guards, four frontcourt players, three rookies and three sophomores.

Here’s how the rosters shook out:

U.S. Team


  • Trey Burke, Jazz (Sophomore)
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pistons (Sophomore)
  • Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers (Sophomore)
  • Zach LaVine, Timberwolves (Rookie)
  • Victor Oladipo, Magic (Sophomore)
  • Elfrid Payton, Magic (Rookie)


  • Shabazz Muhammad, Timberwolves (Sophomore)
  • Nerlens Noel, 76ers (Rookie)
  • Mason Plumlee, Nets (Sophomore)
  • Cody Zeller, Hornets (Sophomore)


  • Alvin Gentry, Warriors

World Team


  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Nets (Rookie)
  • Dante Exum, Jazz (Rookie)
  • Dennis Schroder, Hawks (Sophomore)
  • Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves (Rookie)


  • Steven Adams, Thunder (Sophomore)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (Sophomore)
  • Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves (Sophomore)
  • Rudy Gobert, Jazz (Sophomore)
  • Nikola Mirotic, Bulls (Rookie)
  • Kelly Olynyk, Celtics (Sophomore)


  • Kenny Atkinson, Hawks

These rosters reveal the reason for the format change. The 2014 draft, which could become the most underwhelming of all time, produced just four participants – Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Elfrid Payton and Zach LaVine – in the game once know as the Rookie Challenge.

The other rookies – Nerlens Noel, Bojan Bogdanovic and Nikola Mirotic (read more about him here) – were selected in previous years. The deck has never been stacked like this before.

Still, the Timberwolves scrimmage Rising Stars Challenge could be interesting. The Americans are much more guard-oriented than the larger World Team, which could lead to some interesting matchups (or awful basketball).

No clear snubs, but K.J. McDaniels, Tim Hardaway Jr., Alex Len, Pero Antic and Jusuf Nurkic all got squeezed out.

Kevin Durant out against Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks
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The Thunder, thanks to early season injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are still 2.5 games and two spots outside playoff position.

Most assume they’ll pass the Pelicans and Suns at some point. Meanwhile, the season continues, and Oklahoma City’s margin for error diminishes.

The Thunder beat Minnesota on Monday without Durant, and they’ll again be without their superstar.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

The Thunder’s record with Westbrook and/or Durant in the lineup goes how you’d expect:

  • Both: 14-7
  • Just Westbrook: 5-5
  • Neither: 4-10

But these are the Knicks. With a rusty Westbrook returning from a 14-game absence, Oklahoma City beat the Knicks by 37 in November. There’s only minimal danger of the Thunder losing tonight, even without Durant.

The bigger loss is for New York fans, who won’t get to see Durant as they dream about the Knicks’ Durant-friendly coaching staff luring him to the Big Apple as a free agent in 2016.

Report: Executives have proposed moving up NBA trade deadline

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 19 this year.

Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Timofey Mozgov, Brandan Wright (twice), Iman Shumpert, Dion Waiters, J.R. Smith and Corey Brewer have already been traded since this season began. There have been several smaller deals, too.

How many more players are left to be traded in the next few weeks?

Sure, the Nets probably still want to trade Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. The Hornets should be motivated to move Lance Stephenson. The Knicks want to unload Jose Calderon and Pablo Prigioni. Thaddeus Young and Norris Cole seem available. The Thunder might not keep Reggie Jackson?

So, it’s not as if the trade market is dead. But is there any reason these other trades can’t be made sooner?

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

some executives have already pitched an earlier trade deadline in informal discussions with league officials.

Admittedly, I could be overreacting to a single season. But it seems the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has changed the in-season trade market.

Contracts are shorter, placing less value on expiring contracts. Therefore, teams aren’t using them as the primary selling point in midseason swaps to get better players on lengthier contracts who teams want to dump.

Now, in-season trades are more about talent. And if teams are going to add talent, they’re going to do it sooner – both to increase chemistry-building time and the number of games a new player helps the team win.

But I don’t see a point to mandating the trade market move this direction. The deadline is already early enough to prevent wide-spread dumps by non-playoff teams to playoff teams. Mostly, if not fully, teams completely out of playoff contention by mid-February have already ridded themselves of win-now players in an effort to tank.

I think moving up the trade deadline would matter less now than, say, a decade ago. But what is the benefit?

Doc Rivers calling Western Conference coaches to pitch Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan as All-Stars

The CP3 Foundation's Celebrity Server Dinner, Presented By Apollo Jets

What would have not long ago seemed inconceivable, the Clippers have the Western Conference’s longest active streak of years with multiple All-Stars – three. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have made it each of the previous three seasons.

So far, the only Clipper All-Star this year is Griffin, whom fans elected him a starter.

Doc Rivers isn’t leaving the rest to chance. He’s advocating on behalf of Chris Paul – and DeAndre Jordan.

Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times:

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he’s been making some phone calls to try to get the coaches to vote those guys in as reserves.

When asked how those conversations go, Rivers smiled.

“Well, there’s some begging,” he said. “I offer them food, drinks and all of that kind of stuff.”

I’m not with Charles Barkley on this one. Paul should be an All-Star.

Jordan is having a solid season, and he also deserves consideration, but that should end with him clearly being left off ballots. This Western Conference is far too deep for him to have a realistic case.

Rivers lobbied for Jordan last year, and that didn’t get the center on the All-Star team. That doesn’t mean Rivers failed. He likely succeeded in boosting Jordan’s confidence and loyalty to his coach.

But the stakes are different this year with Paul on the border of inclusion. Paul is competing with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and Mike Conley for just two to four reserve guard spots behind Stephen Curry. An additional guard could be added to the roster as Kobe Bryant’s injury replacement.

Spending time on Jordan’s merits with other coaches would only diminish Rivers’ credibility on Paul.

Rivers is a heck of a coach. His negotiating skills remain questionable.

Paul Pierce on why trash talk is down in league: NBA2K

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Think about the best trash talkers currently in the NBA and you get an older generation of guys: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins. It’s not so much the up-and-coming generation of guys.

Why is that?

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce has an idea, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

I don’t know, my gaming experience suggests you talk a lot of trash to the guy next to you on the couch when you beat him at NBA 2K or anything else. Well, so long as you’re playing with friends.

Or, maybe the decline is because we live in a social media age, and with more media following the sport, so the things said on the court often aren’t as private as they might have been a decade ago or more. So rather than get in trouble guys learned to rein it in.

But Pierce’s theory is as plausible as anything else, if you think there is a shortage of trash talk.