You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to the latest installment of our twitter mailbag, where we answer your questions. Any questions.

You have to date a girl that looks exactly like Joakim Noah or Tyronn Lue. Who do you date, and why? (@adonismuir)

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this. A disturbing amount. Obviously, if faced with this choice, the correct answer is “I’ll become a priest.” Beyond that, if you look at pictures of Noah and Lue, Noah has the potential to be a prettier woman, but he has that little mustache and beard that throw the whole thing off. As for Lue… didn’t work for me on the court, doesn’t work for me as a date.

I needed a woman’s opinion. Not my wife, because explaining this then trying to sleep in the same bed with her was not going to go well. So I turned to Holly McKenzie of The Basketball Jones and other places (you have to follow @stackmack on twitter). Her first answer was it has to be Noah because of the hair. Then she made the best point — have you seen Noah’s sister? The model? Basically, Noah has the genes of a beautiful woman in him.

So Noah. That or the priesthood.

• Which team will be hurt most by the NBA lockout and which team benefits the most from the lockout? (@marvin_is_joe)
• Does a shortened #NBA season help or hurt older teams like my #Celtics? Fewer games, but played more often in a shorter time (@PowerForward44)

I’m combining these questions into one because, well, it’s my column and I can do anything I want. I have the power.

The answer to this question depends on how long the lockout lasts. If training camps are shortened (almost a given) and there are between 60-70 games on a pretty normal schedule, then veteran teams benefit. For the Celtics, Spurs and Mavericks it means less wear and tear on older bodies before the playoffs and they should do well in the regular season because they come in knowing who they are and what they want to do. (The Lakers lose that benefit with the coaching and system change.)

But if the lockout drags on and this is 1999 redux — 50 games crammed into a short schedule with some back-to-back-to-back games scheduled — then those veteran teams suffer from the wear and tear. They don’t have the fresh legs come the playoffs. That benefits good but younger teams — the Thunder, Bulls and Heat come to mind. They have legs that will bounce back from the condensed schedule faster.

How long before JR Swish commits a felony in China and ends up in secret Chinese prison? (@djbrnz)

Not going to happen — he’s going to be so sick from trying to eat what passes for food in China he’s not going to have time to get in trouble. He’s going to be lying in bed with a bucket beside him Googling McDonald’s locations.

By the way, if one guy will get an “under the table” deal to be cut from a Chinese team when the lockout ends, it’s Smith.

are the sixers an Iguodala trade away from being contenders in the East? (@jutmcquaid)

Why all the Iggy hate in Philly, people? It’s not like he’s Santa Claus. If you trade him you lose a quality perimeter scorer and more importantly your best perimeter defender by a mile. Yes, he is overpaid for what he delivers, but he does deliver something and if you trade him you create a new hole to fill. I think you live with him. The Sixers need a true superstar to take the next step forward, but that guy should be paired with Iggy. If the Sixers can run more and get Iguodala more transition opportunities, it will be best for everyone.

Why can’t Sam Presti properly evaluate college big men? #bjmullensproblem (@nick_van_hexel)

I would like to introduce you to the fans of 29 other teams, who would love to trade you Sam Presti’s list of draft picks in the last five years for their team’s. Sure, B.J. Mullens has not worked out (the next two guys picked after Mullens were Rodrigue Beaubois and Taj Gibson) but Presti has built a winner and he made a good trade for Kendrick Perkins (which just was a bad matchup with Dallas). Nobody hits all their picks. Nobody. Cut the guy some slack, would ya.

Who do you believe is the best basketball player in the world? As of right now. (@kaycgee)

I don’t see how you can argue anyone other than Brian Cardinal. It’s not even close.

(Okay, it’s LeBron James. And frankly that’s not up for debate.)

Will Norris Cole be the point guard the Heat need in order to focus on finding a true center? (@GeeYo)

When did finding a center and finding a good point guard become mutually exclusive? I’m confident Pat Riley has the skills to do both at the same time.

The real question is, when was the last time a rookie point guard played a key role on a title team? Magic Johnson? So sure, count on Cole to solve your problems. Point guard is an issue for the Heat but not the biggest one. The Heat need a real center far more than they need another good perimeter player. Miami needs its own Tyson Chandler to dominate the paint on defense and grab rebounds. That is their key to a title.

Shouldn’t Allen Iverson be picked up by the Lakers? (@The_Hawk_13)

So you think the Lakers need to get an old point guard who can’t defend and would take shots away from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol? The only way the Lakers want Iverson is if the deal includes a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back so they can go grab the 2001 Iverson.

The Lakers need a starting PG, Iverson is a backup right now. At best.

How long before the Grizzlies move to Seattle? (@jbunkis)

Right about when Kurt Cobain buys the team. About the same odds.

Zion Williamson’s attorneys work to avoid him answering questions about improper benefits at Duke

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MIAMI (AP) — Attorneys for NBA rookie Zion Williamson seek to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils.

In a Florida court filing last week, Williamson’s attorneys say those questions are “nothing more than a fishing expedition aimed at tarnishing Williamson’s reputation” and designed to “maximize potential embarrassment and media coverage in an attempt to improperly gain settlement leverage.”

“Plaintiffs’ irrelevant and invasive requests are designed to harass and not calculated to lead to discovery of relevant evidence,” Friday’s filing states.

It is the latest exchange in the fight over the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick’s endorsement potential.

Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford filed her lawsuit last summer in Florida, accusing Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Williamson filed his own lawsuit a week earlier in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

Ford’s attorneys had submitted questions this month asking whether the New Orleans Pelicans rookie or anyone on his behalf sought or accepted “money, benefits, favors or things of value” to sign with Duke. Those filings – offering no evidence of wrongdoing by Williamson or his family – sought answers within 30 days to establish facts under oath in the pretrial discovery process.

Williamson’s attorneys seek a stay while appealing the December denial of their motion to dismiss the Florida case based on lack of jurisdiction, or a protective order as an alternative.

At the heart of the dueling lawsuits over Williamson’s marketing rights is this: Williamson says the contract he signed with Prime Sports is illegal under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act (UAAA) because Ford was not registered with North Carolina to negotiate with amateur athletes (which Zion was at the time, having just played for Duke). Ford and Prime dispute that, saying this was a legal and binding negotiation.

One key reason NBA may return with 22 teams: Players want regular-season games

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Nothing is set in stone about an NBA return — at least not until next Thursday — but momentum seems to be building behind a plan that would bring 22 teams to the Orlando bubble.

That plan brings every team within six games of the playoffs when the season was halted into the competition, a total of 22 teams (13 from the West and nine from the East, the playoff teams plus Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Washington). There would be some regular-season games played, likely five to eight, followed by a play-in tournament for the final playoff seeds, then the playoffs with full seven-game series each round. Exactly what that play-in tournament would look and if the NBA would stick with the conference playoff alignment or seed 1-16 is up in the air (although the conference alignment seems to have more backing).

Why that plan? For one, it gets more cities and more fan bases involved — and it happens to bring Zion Williamson and the Pelicans into the mix, a big television draw. It also could help a few teams reach a 70-game broadcast threshold with local broadcasters.

Mostly, however, the players want it because they get some games under them before the playoffs start, something Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported on at ESPN.

Regardless of how many teams are ultimately included in the playoffs, the National Basketball Players Association has consistently stressed that it wants several regular-season games to be played prior to the start of the playoffs, sources said. That has been a prevailing sentiment among several contending teams that prefer a tuneup before beginning the postseason, sources said.

A lot of players — influential players — have pushed for some regular season or meaningful games before the playoffs start. It’s about health, as trainers told us at NBC Sports, go from zero to 100 jumping straight into the playoffs and teams are asking for injuries. Players understand that.

Maybe only 20 teams end up in Orlando, that plan is on the table as well, but either way expect some regular-season games before the playoffs start. If the powerful players want it to happen, it will.

PBT Podcast: 2020 NBA Mock Draft crossover podcast, Part Deux

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We’re back at it… and not just drinking beer during a podcast. Although we do that, too.

For the third consecutive season, Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk and I collaborated for a first-round mock draft. Rob knows the prospects better than anyone; I provide some knowledge about what the teams might be looking for. The result is a unique listening experience breaking down who will be picked where based on fit.

The first ten picks can be found over on the College Basketball Talk feed.

Here we finish off the lottery and run through the entire rest of the first round.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant make top 10 of Forbes highest-paid athletes list

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LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant make more money off the court in endorsements than they do in salary from their teams. Which is not a surprise.

It’s enough money to vault them into the top 10 of FORBES Magazine’s list of highest-paid athletes for the last year.

LeBron is fifth at $88.2 million, of which $37.4 million is salary (although Forbes lists it as much less). Stephen Curry is sixth at $74.4 million, and Durant is seventh at $69.3 million.

Rounding out basketball players in the top 20 are Russell Westbrook at 12th ($56 million), James Harden at 17th $47.8 million, and Giannis Antetokounmpo at $47.6 million. Overall, 34 NBA players are in the top 100, including rookie Zion Williamson at 57th ($27.3 million).

Tennis legend Roger Federer topped the list at $106.3 million, and he was followed by soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, before we got to LeBron.

Despite all the work that goes into them, these Forbes estimates have a reputation for being off the mark. That said, it makes for a fun debate and ranking, and we could all use that right now.