Who should be the All-Star Game reserves? Here’s our picks.

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Now we know the starters for the All-Star Game in New York Feb. 15.

We also know that Mike Budenholzer and Steve Kerr will be the coaches. We know that Ariana Grande will be the halftime entertainment. We know that some confused out-of-town fans will take the train to Penn Station then still ask someone how to get to Madison Square Garden from there.

What we don’t know is who will be the reserves for the All-Star Game. With the starters in place the coaches from around the league vote to round out the rest of the field. Those reserves will be announced officially Jan. 29. But we’re not that patient, so we’re giving you our picks today. The entire team at ProBasketballTalk — Kurt Helin, Brett Pollakoff, Dan Feldman and Sean Highkin — have made their selections, and while we agree on some we also discuss below where we disagree.

Like the coaches do, we picked two backup guards, three backup front court players and two wild cards.

(For the record, we are not dealing with the Kobe Bryant injury in this post, nor potentially LaMarcus Aldridge. It is very likely Kobe will be out of the All-Star Game, at which point Commissioner Adam Silver gets to pick his replacement on the team, while Steve Kerr would pick who will start in his place.)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

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Kurt: This is just a brutal set of choices — it’s not that just there are guys like Klay Thompson, Mike Conley, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki who just missed my cut, it’s that guys like Tony Parker or Monta Ellis are deserving and can’t even get close to serious consideration. The West is just overloaded with talent. The hardest call for me was whether or not to include Kevin Durant on the team — he’s been amazing when he’s played but missed a lot of time. In the end, I just can’t keep the second best player on the planet off the squad if he’s healthy, and clearly he is.

Brett: The West is just too stacked this year, which means plenty of deserving players will end up getting shut out. Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins are the biggest snubs, and of course, guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan would get in if the talent pool was more diluted. I don’t see Klay usurping any of the guards, and if Cousins gets in, it may be at Howard’s expense. But I simply couldn’t justify leaving any of the guys I selected off of the roster.

Dan: With my criteria, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were slam-dunk choices, where others might debate whether they’ve played enough. Very little separated DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard (in) and Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge (out). Because I’m not worried time missed, I also gave serious to Kawhi Leonard, whose impact on the Spurs in limited action is unquestioned. Klay Thompson wasn’t too difficult an omission, which says a lot about the West. And if Thompson didn’t come that close, other seemingly reasonable candidates like Mike Conley, Tyson Chandler, Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Favors, Goran Dragic and Draymond Green didn’t have much of a chance.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

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Kurt: Finding enough representation for the Hawks was the challenge, because you can argue they should have four guys. I couldn’t select Kyle Korver over Jeff Teague and I couldn’t leave off any of the other guards — Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler have been fantastic and deserved their spots, and without LeBron in Miami Wade has stepped up his game this season.

Brett: You could make a case for the Hawks getting four players in — I mean, the team has won 27 of its last 29 games. But Bosh is worthy, so Horford (regrettably) just misses the cut.

Dan: Kyrie Irving vs. Jeff Teague was my toughest decision in this process. Teague has been better this season, but I pick All-Stars based on which player I believe is best at this moment. That’s still Irving, who has a stronger track record but has been (somewhat fairly, somewhat unfairly) tainted by the Cavaliers’ early struggles. By the same logic, I wasn’t going to punish Kevin Love for Cleveland marginalizing him.  Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Korver, Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond also drew consideration.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”