Will LeBron James get booed at All-Star Game? (And other things to watch)

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Every road arena LeBron James has stepped into this season, he has been booed. Sometimes loudly, sometimes as a token, but always.

Will the All-Star Game be any different?

Fans — well, not fans in Cleveland but fans in most cities — seem to be moving on from the drama of the summer. And, this is an All-Star Game, an exhibition that James would be at no matter what decision he made over the summer. So maybe not.

There will be boos. Celtic Paul Pierce has been getting them all weekend, at public practices and at the Three-Point Contest — he is the face of the Celtics in the middle o Lakers Country. (Which is odd just because Pierce was born in Los Angeles and played his high school ball just miles from the Fabulous Forum where the Lakers held court in the ‘80s.)

But James? Will he be booed again? Or have the fans, at least the ones at this game, have moved on?

It’s just one thing to look for at the All-Star Game. Some others:

• Will Doc Rivers play his four Celtics together? He hinted he would, and they would have some advantages of familiarity for a stretch. They could run actual offensive sets (not that you need to, nobody is defending anyway). If the East needs to make a little run, don’t be shocked to see this.

• Who plays how much? West coach Gregg Popovich joked he was going to play Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki more than 30 minutes each while resting Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But the point of not letting anyone get to many minutes is a good one, it’s interesting to see who gets the run in this game. And if it is close, who gets the run in crunch time.

• Who gets MVP? This is usually the guy that wants it most. Frankly, you’re not on the All-Star team if you can’t just take over a game. Guys here are elite. So the question becomes who woke up this morning and said “I really want to be MVP” and starts demanding and controlling the ball. With the game in Los Angeles Kobe is always a safe bet. My guess? Look for Derrick Rose to try to establish himself and take it.

And if you’re rooting for Blake Griffin, don’t bet on it. The vets will freeze the rookie out in a heartbeat if he tries to take over.

• Don’t expect defense. Just don’t. People get frustrated because this does not feel like an NBA game. Because it isn’t. It’s an exhibition. And as much as these guys can, they turn off the competitive switch for a night. They know it’s a show, so they put on a show. Nobody is giving Chris Paul a hard foul when he goes to the rim. Accept it and move on.

Sit back and just enjoy the game. Oh, and come by PBT for our Live Blog during the game. Where we will mock guys for not playing defense anyway.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.