James Harden, three Hawks players lead list of NBA All-Star Game reserves

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The coaches made good choices.

The problem is, you can also make a case for almost another team of guys left off.

The NBA All-Star Game reserves were officially announced Thursday night. The starters were voted in by the fans and announced a week ago, then this past week the coaches around the league filled out the rosters.

Here’s who they selected:

Eastern Conference

• Jeff Teague (Atlanta Hawks)
• Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
• Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
• Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
• Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks)
• Chris Bosh (Miami Heat)
• Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)

(Starters: John Wall, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol)

Western Conference

• James Harden (Houston Rockets)
• Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
• Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
• Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
• Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
• Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
• LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers)

(Starters: Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol)

There are going to be changes to the rosters in each conference — both Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade are out injured, Kobe certainly will not play and Wade is not expected to.

Meaning at least a couple of the deserving guys left off the roster will get on. (NBA Commissioner Adam Silver picks the replacements, in the case of the West it will be up to coach Steve Kerry to decide who will take Kobe’s starter spot.)

And there are a lot of deserving guys left off these lists.

Starting with DeMarcus Cousins — averaging 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds a game — and Damian Lillarrd out West. Lillard is averaging 21.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. Both of these guys deserved to make the team (both were among my picks) and only one will.

Other deserving guys left off in the West are Mike Conley and Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns. And that list could go on and on.

In the Eastern Conference, if I had to best who gets Wade’s spot, watch out for Kyle Korver of the Hawks. That would mean four Hawks, which seems fair for the best team in the conference. Other guys who out East who missed out include Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brandon Knight of the Bucks, and Andre Drummond of the Pistons. Again, there are others who could stake a claim as well.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.