NBA announces All-Star Three-Point Shootout lineup

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The NBA has just announced the lineup for this year’s 3-point shooting contest at All-Star Weekend in Orlando. It is part of the Saturday night events Feb. 25 (along with the Dunk Contest and the tedious Skills Contest). Here are your contestants:

James Jones: The defending champion. Jones has seen his minutes go way down this season thanks to the Heat’s signing of Shane Battier and Mike Miller getting healthy again, but the 3-point specialist will get the chance to defend his title.

Kevin Love: Last season, Love had one of the best rebounding/3-point shooting seasons of all time, averaging 15 rebounds per game while shooting 41.7% from beyond the arc. This season, Love is shooting 36% from deep while making 1.6 threes per game.

Anthony Morrow: Morrow has been considered one of, if not the best, spot-up three-point shooter in the league since his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors. This season, the undrafted Georgia Tech product is shooting 42% from beyond the arc while making 2.2 threes per game for the Nets, and is nearly automatic when given an open three-point look. Morrow isn’t the biggest name on this list, but he’s a good bet to win the contest.

Joe Johnson: The do-it all Atlanta swingman is currently making 1.8 threes per game while shooting 35.6% from deep. Johnson hasn’t been one of the best three-point shooters in the league this season, but he’s a big name.

Mario Chalmers: Miami’s mercurial point guard has been doing an exemplary job of stretching the floor for the “big three” this season, making 2.0 threes per game while shooting a blistering 46.3% from deep. Chalmers may be a good sleeper pick, but he also might find a way to foul the other contestants while they’re taking their shots.

Ryan Anderson: Once upon a time, Anderson was considered a throw-in in a trade that sent Courtney Lee to the Nets and Vince Carter to the Magic. This year, he’s leading the NBA with 2.9 threes made per game while shooting 42.1% from deep, and making teams pay dearly every time they try to double down on Dwight Howard. He’ll also enjoy a home-court advantage, as this year’s All-Star weekend will take place in Orlando.

There’s your lineup. My money is on Morrow and his silky-smooth stroke, but I’m also disappointed that Ray Allen, who leads the NBA in career three-pointers made and is shooting a career-high 49.5% from deep this year, won’t be making an appearance. Anyways, it should be a good shootout down in Orlando.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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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.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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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 pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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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

The text:

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?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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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.