Looking Ahead: Who makes Western Conference All-Star team?

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This summer saw an almost unprecedented shift of All-Star level player talent in the NBA — and a lot of it went from the East to the West, including three East All-Stars from last season. The West is flat-out stacked — and that is before the possible arrival of Kyrie Irving and/or Carmelo Anthony.

It led to the question: What will the All-Star teams look like?

Yesterday we talked about the East. Today, I try to whittle down an insanely deep player pool to the 12-man Western Conference All-Star Team.

ALL-STAR STARTERS (two guards, three frontcourt players):

Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

Comment:
Remember, these are voted on by a combination of fan, media, and player votes. The West is so deep that other guys may well be deserving and could sneak in, but this seems like the most likely five. Curry is arguably the most popular player in the NBA and will likely lead fan voting, and Westbrook will still put up numbers. That front court is just ridiculous.

ALL-STAR RESERVES (two guards, three frontcourt players, two wild cards):

James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Chris Paul (Houston Rockets)
Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)

Comment:
The reserves are selected by a vote of the coaches, and I don’t envy them trying to narrow this group down. How deep is the West? Here is another 12 guys, a full team, I had to leave off who very well could be deserving: Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul Millsap, Mike Conley, Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker, C.J. McCollum, Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gaol, and Rudy Gobert. How guys play in the first half and, of course, injuries, will go a long way to deciding who gets in and who is out. Put simply, there are going to be “snubs” because the West is so deep and there are only so many slots. I went with guys who should put up numbers and be on teams that get a lot of notice because they win, but there are a lot of directions this could go.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.

Report: 76ers focused on Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni in coaching search

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The 76ers appeared focused on Mike D’Antoni in their coaching search.

Then, Doc Rivers surprisingly became available.

The former Clippers coach met with the 76ers and is now in the center of the conversation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

For the Sixers now, the focus is on Rivers and D’Antoni, a source told ESPN. A decision is expected this week.

Rivers would be an easier fit with this roster than D’Antoni, whose style doesn’t appear to work as well with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Rivers also looks like he’d help Philadelphia take the next step.

But that seemed like it’d be true with the Clippers and wasn’t.

Tyronn Lue’s candidacy with the 76ers has clearly faded. Could he join the Clippers, Rockets or Pelicans? If Philadelphia hires Rivers, maybe D’Antoni still lands with the Pacers?

Rivers’ availability has definitely thrown a wrench in the coaching carousel.

Victor Oladipo denies trade rumor he wants out of Indiana

Victor Oladipo
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It was a trade rumor that kind of came out of nowhere — maybe more as a thought exercise for Celtics fans hoping to move on from Gordon Hayward — but it got traction: Victor Oladipo reportedly wanted out of Indiana.

Not true, Oladipo said.

Oladipo jumped on Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe and shot down the rumors (hat tip Clutch Points):

“I’m a Pacer. I’m a Pacer…

“Those rumors on the internet, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I’m just focused on getting my knee right for next year.”

He said later in the interview he wants a ring, he wants “hardware” because that is needed to show you are one of the greats, and he would consider leaving the Pacers to get it. But that wasn’t a short-term thing. (Also, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and a lot of other guys would like to talk with you about that attitude.)

Oladipo returned mid-season from his knee injury to a Pacers’ team that finished as the four seed in the East but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

Oladipo never quite returned to his All-NBA form after coming back from injury and averaged just 14.5 points a game in the 19 regular season games he did play. Oladipo is owed $21 million next season, the last year of his current deal.

Whether he wants out of Indiana or not, at $21 million and with questions about just what level of player he is post-injury, there is not much of a trade market for Victor Oladipo. Indiana more than likely runs it back under a new coach — who has yet to be chosen — and banks on a healthy Oladipo helping the team make the next step.