Results from the first few weeks of All-Star balloting are in and… well, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Pretty boring stuff, really. Lots of Heat, Celtics, Lakers and Chinese voters.
For the Eastern Conference, LeBron James would start at forward in the East with Kevin Garnett (Amar’e Stoudemire is third among East forwards), the guards would be Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (Derrick Rose is third), and the center is Dwight Howard (Shaq is second but well back).
Kobe Bryant has gotten more votes than anyone else with 722,682. He would start at guard for the West with Chris Paul (Manu Ginobili is third ahead of Steve Nash, which shows you guys have been watching the games, bless you). Pau Gasol and Kevin Durant would be the starting forwards (Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki trail them in the deepest position in the balloting, good luck cracking that group Blake Griffin) and Yao Ming would be your starting center, just ahead of Andrew Bynum.
Yao and Bynum have played seven games between them. We would take back what we said about you watching games, but really your other choices don’t impress. Brendan Haywood is third, which proves that medical marijuana prescriptions and voting go hand in hand for some people. Then comes the two guys who have earned consideration so far, Marc Gasol and Emeka Okafor. Vote for one of them. I suppose Yao and Bynum will be healthy by February, but come on, vote for the guys doing it on the court so far.
Voting remains open on line or at NBA arenas. The All-Star Game itself is Feb. 20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.
But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.
Nick Friedell of ESPN:
I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.
LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.
This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.
The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.
Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.
LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.
The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.
But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?
How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?
In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).
Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at email@example.com.
LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.
Paul George never said that, though.
So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.
Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:
Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational
When you were just a kid
In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale
We were dreaming too.
While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival
And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.
Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.
The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too
Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?
My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?
That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?
Sam Amick of USA Today:
As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.
Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.
Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.
Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.