HOUSTON — When NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest participant Eric Bledsoe was asked about his favorite dunk contest dunk he didn’t hesitate.
“I think that dunk contest where Vince Carter did the 360,” Bledsoe said.
That same answer came up over and over with young players — to them the legend of Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins dunks were something they saw on YouTube. Vince Carter was the guy they grew up watching and being amazed by.
“To be honest, I don’t think nobody here (in the BBVA Rising Stars challenge, the rookie/sophomore game) saw Michael like that because we were all born in the 1990s,” said Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson. “We were too young to watch him on TV.
“For me personally it was Vince Carter, me being from Toronto, Canada. Vinsanity was my Michael Jordan. I looked up to him.”
And as it was for Kobe Bryant growing up idolizing Jordan and then getting to play against him, Thompson and this generation now get to face and older but still dangerous Carter on the court, just now with the Mavericks.
Thompson has a special connection with his idol.
“I actually went to his camp when I was younger, so he remembered me from when I was in ninth grade,” Thompson said. “So he and I chit-chatted and had a couple jokes. But Vince was one of the great players for (Toronto) and one of the great players of this league.”
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There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.
Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.
If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.
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This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.
Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.
The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.
O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.
How much is that player worth?
It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.