Posts Tagged ‘All-Star Game’

Duncan Out, Newbies In As Reserves

 

Taking a few liberties with the immortal words of the late Pete Seeger, who died this week:

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to become an All-Star, a time to fade away

When Tim Duncan played in his first NBA All-Star Game back in 1998, John Wall and Damian Lillard were 7 years old.  DeMar DeRozan was eight.  Paul Millsap was 13.

NBA All-Star 2014Now, as the Spurs veteran was left off the All-Star team for only the third time in his career, the quartet of newcomers will be making their All-Star debuts a in New Orleans. If it’s the end of the All-Star line for the 37-year-old Duncan, his 14 appearances will leave him in fifth place behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19), Kobe Bryant (16), Shaquille O’Neal (15) and Kevin Garnett (15).

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew

Chris Bosh once again joined teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the East team, making the defending NBA champion Heat the only team with three players on the All-Star rosters. A poll of the league’s head coaches added seven reserves, announced Thursday night on TNT, to each team.

Roy Hibbert of the league-leading Pacers joined teammate Paul George.  DeRozan, Millsap and Wall were added along with Joe Johnson of the Nets and Joakim Noah of the Bulls.

In the Western Conference, the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Rockets had multiple All-Stars selected.  With Blake Griffin voted in as a starter by the fans, the coaches added the Clippers’ Chris Paul for one tandem. Lillard joins Portland teammate LaMarcus Aldridge to make another. And Houston’s one-two punch of Dwight Howard and James Harden made it as reserves.  Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks and Tony Parker of the Spurs complete the West roster.

The 63rd NBA All-Star Game will be televised on TNT from New Orleans Arena on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The All-Star Game, also broadcast live on ESPN Radio, will reach fans in 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.

Eastern Conference

DeMar DeRozan (Ron Turenne/NBAE)

DeMar DeRozan (Ron Turenne/NBAE)

Chris Bosh, Heat — As the condition of Wade’s knees makes the “three-peat” chances seem wobbly, the unheralded and under-appreciated Bosh is recognized by the coaches for sacrificing individual glory for wins. | Highlights

DeMar DeRozan, Raptors — The 24-year-old has made steady progress over five pro seasons to transform himself from flamboyant dunker to all-around player and a real team leader as the Raptors become a legitimate playoff contender in the East. | Highlights

Roy Hibbert, Pacers — In a gimmick-less world without the plain silly frontcourt-backcourt voting, there’d be a place for a traditional low-post center in the starting lineup. Hibbert, the beast of the East and Pacers’ anchor, would be it. | Highlights

Joe Johnson, Nets — As teammate Kevin Garnett says, “Joe Jesus” might not be there when you call on him, but he’s there when you need him.  The seven-time All-Star has hit big, big shots as part of the Nets’ turnaround since New Year’s Day. | Highlights

Paul Millsap, Hawks — After all those years toiling in the obscurity of Utah, Millsap has proven to be the best free-agent purchase of the summer of 2013 and has kept the surprising Hawks in the thick of the playoff race after the loss of Al Horford. | Highlights

Joakim Noah, Bulls — His relentless, frantic, never-quit-on-a-loose-ball attitude and effect on his Bulls’ teammates can hardly be defined by numbers.  But they’re not shabby either — 11.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks per game. | Highlights

John Wall, Wizards — His team is up and down, in and out, always seems ready to disappoint. But he’s been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference this season and the best reason to watch the Wizards play. | Highlights

The lowdown — Based on his play over the last month, it would seem that Kyle Lowry has reason to cry injustice the loudest in an Eastern Conference that has not exactly been a Milky Way of stars.  The guess is the coaches looked at the makeup of the overall roster and decided that it was hard to justify the Raptors getting a second star when the league leading Pacers could manage only two themselves. Which brings up another snub — Lance Stephenson.  The former hot-and-cold wing man has done a great deal to make himself a more consistent player on a nightly basis. It’s quite possible that in late May or early June his omission could look extra foolish if he makes the difference in taking down the Heat. You have to figure that a simple look at the standings, where the Pistons are playing just .400 ball, worked against Andre Drummond.  And no, Anderson Varejao and Luol Deng of the hapless Cavs, once the fans voted Kyrie Irving in as a starter, you didn’t stand a chance, either.

Western Conference

LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers — Making a third straight All-Star team wasn’t enough.  Now Aldridge has pushed himself into the MVP conversation with an even higher level of play and lifted the Blazers into contention for No. 1 seed in the West. | Highlights

James Harden, Rockets — His numbers are slightly down with the addition of Howard into the mix, but The Beard is still virtually unstoppable going to the basket and as good a late-game closer as there is in the game. | Highlights

Dwight Howard, Rockets — Another victim of the “no center” designation, he’s healthy, happy and oh-so-glad he’s no longer in L.A.  Despite critiques by Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, Howard is the NBA’s top big man. | Highlights

Dik Nowitzki (David Liam Kyle/NBAE)

Dik Nowitzki (David Liam Kyle/NBAE)

Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers — How do you pack talent and confidence — cockiness? — so big into such a little package?  The 2013 Rookie of the Year will play in his first All-Star Game. Don’t think for a moment he’ll be shy. | Highlights

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks — After knee problems last season ended his 11-year run, the 35-year-old has returned to his old form and to make it an even dozen All-Star appearances. He looks like he could motor on like a vintage Mercedes forever. | Highlights

Tony Parker, Spurs — Teammates around him keep dropping like flies — Tiago Splitter, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili — and the league’s most under-appreciated point guard shoulders the burden and keeps pushing the Spurs forward. | Highlights

Chris Paul, Clippers — CP3 says he might be recovered from a separated shoulder in time to play in the All-Star Game and defend his MVP award from last year in Houston, then give his Clippers momentum down the stretch into the playoffs. | Highlights

The lowdown: The last time the All-Star Game was played in New Orleans in 2008, the Hornets had a pair of players in the West lineup with Paul and David West.  Of course, that team was on its way to 56 wins and the No. 2 seed.  Six years later, New Orleans’ Pelicans are struggling. That’s likely the main reason that hometown star Anthony Davis wasn’t rewarded by the coaches.  In an era when centers don’t get much respect, that probably cost DeMarcus Cousins a spot, too.  You could also make a good case for Warriors forward David Lee and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan. However, it says here that the biggest snub went to Goran Dragic, who has been the leader of the offense and the steadying force for the Suns, who are nothing less than the surprise of the league.  But it’s tough to be a guard in the West.  Just ask Mike Conley and Monta Ellis.  And just think of how much tougher the backcourt competition would have been if Russell Westbrook were healthy.

Bryant Ruled Out Of All-Star Game

The Lakers said Tuesday that Kobe Bryant continues to be bothered by pain and swelling in his left knee and that he will not even be re-examined for three more weeks, another blow to a team in free fall as well as essentially knocking Bryant from the Feb. 16 All-Star Game.

Bryant was examined by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo before the game against the Pacers in Los Angeles. The update that followed said Bryant “will continue with a program of non-weight bearing exercise, consisting mostly of working out on a stationary bike” and that, under the new timeline, it is possible playing in late-February just became a best-case scenario for a return to the lineup.

Bryant received more votes than any Western Conference guard in fan balloting to determine the starting lineups, more than anyone in the East backcourt as well, and the second-most support in the West behind Kevin Durant. If Thursday’s diagnosis holds and there is no miracle cure in the recovery from the fractured knee, a commissioner, likely the incoming Adam Silver and not the outgoing David Stern, would select the roster replacement for the mid-season showcase in New Orleans. The West coach, Scott Brooks, would decide on the new opening lineup.

The roster will not be filled out until the reserves for both teams, chosen by coaches voting for their respective conference, is announced Thursday. Once it is known who has made the West squad and who was left off, league officials will know the candidates to replace Bryant.

Bryant has played six games, missing the start of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, coming back Dec. 8, and then hurting the knee. The Lakers, 10-9 without him the first time and proud of their resiliency amid a torrential downpour of health problems, have crumbled in their superstar’s second absence, at 16-29 heading into Tuesday against the Pacers and just a half-game ahead of the Kings for last place in the conference.

Brooks’ spot was clinched Tuesday when the Trail Blazers lost, eliminating Terry Stotts from consideration and sending the Thunder staff to New Orleans.

Morning Shootaround — Jan. 24


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 23

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Kobe plans to sit out All-Star Game | Ainge: Rondo, Celtics have talked extension | Mozgov’s role on the rise in Denver | Jazz legend Hundley has Altzheimer’s

No. 1: Kobe plans to sit out All-Star Game — In the final voting returns for the 2014 All-Star Game, only Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry received more votes than injured Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. Still, according to the voting totals and the set up for the All-Star Game, Bryant would be a starter in the game — if he were actually going to play. After last night’s Lakers-Heat game from Miami, Bryant told the media he will sit out the All-Star Game because of his injury-shortened season. ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin has more:

Having only played in six of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first 43 games this season, Kobe Bryant does not feel he is deserving of his starting All-Star bid and plans to sit out the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans.

“With all due respect to the fans that voted me in, I certainly appreciate that, they know how much I appreciate that, but you got to do the right thing as well,” Bryant said before the Lakers’ 109-102 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday night. “My fans know you got to reward these young guys for the work that they’ve been putting in.”

Bryant spoke to the media just minutes after the league announced the starters for the 63rd annual All-Star Game next month.

Without naming names, Bryant, 35, said that some of the league’s rising stars — Portland’s 23-year-old guard Damian Lillard (280,966 votes) and Houston’s 24-year-old James Harden (470,381 votes) come to mind — belong there more than he does.

“I think it’s important for them to go in and perform,” Bryant said. “They’ve been playing all season. They deserve to be in there. They deserve to play. So, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be out there doing their thing.”

Some Lakers likened Bryant’s selection to a kind of career achievement award.

“He’s being voted, obviously, in what he’s done in the past. Not what he’s done this year,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Bryant, sidelined since Dec. 17 with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee and averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 42.5 percent shooting this season, has missed the Lakers’ last 18 games. This is, of course, after missing the Lakers’ first 19 games because of a torn Achilles in his left leg.

Bryant will be re-evaluated either Monday or Tuesday of next week when the team returns to L.A. after its current seven-game road trip, according to the Lakers. However, Bryant maintained that his examination will not occur until “February,” effectively eliminating his chances of playing Tuesday against Indiana or Jan. 31 against Charlotte.

He added that his knee injury is not being hampered by his initial Achilles tear.

“I don’t even worry about my Achilles,” said Bryant, adding he is going through vigorous exercise bike workouts to stay in shape. “It’s not even something that’s on the radar anymore. It feels great.”

He said he plans to return to the Lakers’ lineup sometime before the All-Star Game.

“It wouldn’t be enough to have me be deserving to play in the All-Star Game,” Bryant said.

The five-time champion was wary of a stipulation in the league’s collective bargaining agreement that requires elected players to perform in the All-Star Game if they are healthy enough to do so.

“If I played [for the Lakers] before [the All-Star Game], the rule is you got to go in there and play or miss the next two games,” said Bryant. “So, that just means somebody would have to lose a spot, unfortunately and the back-ups would be playing a lot, because I’d go in there and do my two minutes and sit out.”

While Bryant referenced a rule, no such rule is believed to actually be in the NBA’s handbook. A league source said that the automatic two-game suspension that Bryant referred to was “not really true.”

***

No. 2: Ainge: Celtics, Rondo have discussed extension — Point guard Rajon Rondo is finally back in the Celtics lineup after tearing his ACL nearly a year ago. The former All-Star has played in just three games this season, but Boston is well aware of what he provides them when fully healthy and on top of his game. Next season is the last season Rondo will be under contract with the Celts and team president Danny Ainge said Boston is trying to work out an extension with the guard. However, as ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg notes, an agreement on a deal likely won’t come until this summer or next:

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team has talked with point guard Rajon Rondo about a contract extension, but the restrictive nature of the collective bargaining agreement makes it more likely that talks will escalate after this season.

“We did talk to Rondo about extending him,” Ainge said Thursday during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 the SportsHub. “But that’s all part of the negotiation that will happen again this summer and most likely the summer after.”

Later Ainge added, “In the collective bargaining agreement, there are limits on what can and can’t be done. Really, it’s not that Rondo doesn’t want to accept an extension, as much as it’s just not financially smart for him to accept it right now. We didn’t think he would [sign], but we did try.”

Pressed on the potential parameters of an extension, Ainge backed off, noting as he often has that he preferred not to discuss negotiations through the media and admitting, “I think we’ve said enough.”

“I think that Rondo will demand quite a bit in the open market,” Ainge said. “The competition for Rondo in free agency will be very high.”

***

No. 3: Nuggets’ Mozgov seeing role in offense increase — It’s been quite a career for Timofey Mozgov with the Denver Nuggets to say the least. Since arriving in town via the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011, Mozgov has seen his minutes and role fluctuate wildly from regular rotation player (during the 2011-12 season) to seldom-used reserve (last season). This season, however, Mozgov is tied with teammate J.J. Hickson with a team-best 5.0 close touches per game (per NBA.com/Stats), a number that puts him 25th in the NBA overall. The translation of this stats talk? When the Nuggets play in the post, it is likely going to Mozgov first. And, as Nuggets coach Brian Shaw tells Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post, that’s a trend that’s likely to increase.

Mozgov is Denver’s most improved player. Going into Thursday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the 7-footer was averaging career highs in points (8.7), rebounds (6.0) and blocked shots (1.2). He was shooting 55.8 percent from the field, another career high.

A lot of what he’s done has been done in the low post, and that’s what has caught the attention of coach Brian Shaw, who wants the Nuggets to play inside-out offense.

“We’ve had to evolve into getting away from that,” Shaw said. “We’re actually going to come back around to getting the ball inside, because what’s been a pleasant surprise has been Timo inside. When we do get the ball inside to him, he’s shown the ability to finish and do things with it, with his back to the basket.

“So, particularly for him, we’re starting to diagram, dial in more things for him to get touches and use his size and shooting ability inside to our advantage.”

***

No. 4: Legendary Jazz announcer Hundley suffering from Alzheimer’sBefore they were the Utah Jazz, the franchise had its beginning as the New Orleans Jazz in 1974. From those early days with Pete Maravich and Truck Robinson as the stars, to the golden age of Jazz hoops with John Stockton and Karl Malone on through to the Deron Williams-Carlos Boozer-era squads of the late-2000s, one man served as the Jazz’s play-by-play voice: Rod “Hot Rod” Hundley. The Hall of Fame broadcaster stepped down from his role after the 2008-09 season and has been mostly reclusive since then. But some sad news today via The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Steve Luhm that the announcer is now suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease:

Rod Hundley, the iconic former broadcaster for the Utah Jazz, is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Hundley, 79, lives in Arizona with his partner, Kim Reardon. She told The Salt Lake Tribune this week that the disease has progressed to a “moderate” stage.

Hundley no longer speaks to large groups, Reardon said. But they plan to attend festivities in Utah next week, when the Jazz will honor former coach Jerry Sloan.

He started as the TV and radio voice of the expansion New Orleans Jazz in 1974 after working for the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and CBS.

In 1979, Hundley followed the team to Utah, where he became one of the most recognizable faces of the franchise for the next three decades.

Hundley handed over his TV duties to current play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack prior to the 2005-06 season. But he remained on the radio for another four years.


VIDEO: Rod Hundley talks with NBA TV in 2009 as his career with the Jazz nears its end

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Mark Cuban is convinced the Mavs are worth at least a billion dollars … Native Wisconsinite Caron Butler says he wants to be a long-term part of the Bucks’ rebuild … Great read about Magic center Nikola Vucevic and his experience during a train crash in Montenegro eight years ago that killed 47 people … Which team is the third-best squad in the East? … Clippers forward Antawn Jamison brought the boys basketball team from his old, Charlotte-area high school to the Clips-Bobcats game

ICYMI of The Night: We like a strong take to the rim around here as much as anyone, and Damian Lillard certainly provided that last night against Denver. But what we like even better? Multiple views of a monster jam like Lillard’s:


VIDEO: Get an all-angles view of Damian Lillard’s monster dunk on the Nuggets

Curry Vote Important To Warriors


VIDEO: Stephen Curry is nominated for the Kia January Player of the Month award

OAKLAND – Thankfully, the grating references about a perceived lack of respect, an unfortunate, and untrue, Warriors party line last season, has fallen away. Unlike the small-town feel of the inferiority complex, Golden State circa 2013-14 knows it is feared by opponents and appreciated by fans.

But if Stephen Curry holds his lead over third-place Chris Paul when the final results of fan balloting are announced Thursday and a Warrior is starting in the All-Star Game for the first time since Latrell Sprewell in 1995, the significance will be impossible to miss. Curry will have a deserving recognition, sure, but the franchise will be able to claim a unique level of popularity, certainly around the country and maybe, considering the global voting, around the world.

That’s a big development for an organization that had exemplary fan support in the Bay Area during the many bad seasons but was not more than a casual watch around the league, and even then only because they played pedal to the metal while speeding toward the lottery. Finishing in the top two among Western Conference guards, if the order of the previous update holds, would be another sign of what has transpired since 25-41 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12.

“For sure,” Curry said. “When you win, granted it’s been for a year and a half now. It’s not just an exciting brand of basketball. The results are more heavily in your favor when we’re winning games. It has definitely changed. Obviously going to China this past preseason was big exposure for the whole franchise. Any time you make the playoffs and make noise, you’re going to try to change how people view your team. That’s kind of the mission we’re on, to back that up this year.”

So it’s not a big deal, except that it is. Curry will play Feb. 16 in New Orleans no matter what, an automatic to be picked as a reserve by West coaches if fans don’t send him as a starter, but the statement of making the opening lineup is important in many parts of the organization. Just as the exposure of going to China in October for a couple preseason games against the Lakers was a big deal, Curry doing so well in the popularity contest leading to the midseason showcase will be celebrated as an accomplishment of performance on the court and marketing off.

In the final update, released Jan. 9, Kobe Bryant had a clear lead with 844,538 votes despite encouraging fans to back someone playing, with Curry second with 677,372 and Paul third with 651,073. Given the health uncertainties of the players on both sides of him, Curry could be named a starter at a later date even if he is third in the Thursday announcement, except that would not go on the books as being voted to the first five in New Orleans.

“Last year we got an All-Star, so we won’t act like it’s different territory,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I thought David Lee being an All-Star last year made a statement. For Steph to be an All-Star, for him to be a starter, I think it’s another win for the good guys. It definitely does say something, because I would imagine the difference is starting and getting the fan vote. I’d be very pleased because here’s a guy that came in when people raised the bar for him after last year, and he has not disappointed.”

Matching the expectations is an accomplishment, but Curry has done it while seventh in the league in scoring (23.5) and second to Paul in assists (9.2).

Paul’s MVP Signifies Something Greater for Clips

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HOUSTON – The moment was Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers winning All-Star MVP on Sunday night, getting 20 points, 15 assists and four steals in the West’s 143-138 victory at Toyota Center and then getting eight of 12 votes for the top individual award.

In other news, the moment doesn’t matter.

It was fun and even a little historic, Paul becoming the first Clippers player since Randy Smith of the franchise’s Buffalo Braves era to grab an MVP at the midseason showcase. But the best sign about the Clippers at the break is that they have a chance to render an award from an exhibition game close to meaningless. They don’t need Paul beating out Kobe Bryant (two votes) and Kevin Durant (one each) for a credibility boost. The Clippers have the same Paul to thank for that, the way he moved an entire franchise forward just by signaling his intention to stay long term if management brought him in from New Orleans.

Paul is entirely a big-picture topic, down to how he has successfully muted any potential distraction over his free-agent future by strongly indicating at the start of the season he would re-sign in the summer 2013. He is leadership and superstar play.

And now there is this: On the same weekend he was winning MVP honors and Blake Griffin was putting together a dunk highlight reel en route to 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting, sources said the Clippers are not expected to make a deal before the Thursday trade deadline. Certainly not a major one, of the Kevin Garnett variety, as has been speculated.

That could obviously change – they fell into Nick Young at the 2012 deadline when the Nuggets and Wizards needed a third team to complete the Nene-JaVale McGee exchange. But every indication at the moment is that the Clippers are moving forward with who they have.

Their best player had already re-established himself as the premier point guard in the game, whether or not he played well Sunday. That Paul did adds another positive layer to the season, though, and there is never anything wrong with that around a franchise that for too many years had been dragging itself through the gloom. Having an All-Star MVP means something more to them.

“Pretty special, pretty special,” Paul said afterward. “It’s something I’ve never done. And it’s something that definitely coming into the game I wasn’t trying to achieve or thinking that it might even be possible. I told KD [Durant] early in the first quarter, I said, ‘Man, if they score anything, you run. I’ll get you the ball. You score. I want to be the one to give it to you.’ In games like this, it’s so up-tempo and fast-paced, a guy like me that’s a facilitator, I enjoy [it].”

It was a good moment, even if it didn’t matter. One of many that have come this season for Paul and the Clippers. Possibly, they hope, one that will be pushed to the background by what comes next.

All-Star Rosters, Game Clock Overdue For A Dose Of Modern Inflation

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So many deserving players, so few roster spots.

Depending on your sense of history and your definition of “All Star,” that statement about the NBA’s All-Star Game and selection process either is painfully true or a little snarky.

Every year at this time — the day the reserves for the Eastern and Western Conference squads are announced, as chosen by the coaches (7 p.m. ET on TNT) — someone (or some two or three) who played well enough in the season’s first half to earn an invitation instead gets snubbed. Then again, by the time you get to the 12th man on each side, the step down from the starters generally is evident and a pecking order seems clear.

Mathematically and historically, however, one can make a solid case that 12 is an insufficient number of All-Stars for the modern NBA.

allstar-13-200In the game’s infancy — which also was the league’s relative infancy — All-Star rosters went 10 deep. Back then, the NBA was an eight-team league. Later, the rosters bumped up to 12 players per side, which became the standard, mirroring the NBA roster limit during the season.

Actually, there were a few years in the 1970s when All-Star rosters were increased to 14 as the league’s membership expanded to 17 franchises, then 18.

Even with the absorption of four ABA franchises in the late 1970s and the expansion into Dallas, the All-Star rosters dipped briefly to 11, then settled back at 12. And that’s where they have been ever since. Through the addition of Miami, Charlotte, Orlando and Minnesota in 1988 and 1989. Despite the creation of the Raptors and the Grizzlies and, after the Hornets relocated to New Orleans and the NBA’s return to Charlotte.

For the past two regular seasons, sparked by the post-lockout scramble in 2011-12, teams have been permitted to carry 13 active players. So let’s do the math:

  • 17 teams (12 players each) / 24 All-Stars = 1.41 All-Stars per team, with 11.8 percent of the league’s players classified as “All-Stars.”
  • 30 teams (13 players each) / 24 All-Stars = 0.8 All-Stars per team, with 6.2 percent of the league’s players classified as “All-Stars.”

Clearly, All-Star-ness hasn’t been keeping pace with inflation.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau talked with reporters Wednesday about the difficulty of filling out his ballot for the seven East reserves. “There are a lot of guys who are deserving, and you hate to leave anyone off,” he said. “It’s unfortunate there are limited spaces.”

What if, though, the NBA increased the size of All-Star rosters to 15? That would alleviate some of the tough calls and bruised feelings that follow each time a worthy candidate gets snubbed. It would get the per-franchise representation up to 1.0 All-Star per team. And conveying the status on 7.7 percent (30 of 390) of the league’s player population hardly would cheapen the designation.

One hitch: Some guys wind up with their feelings bruised not by being snubbed but by sitting too much on All-Star Sunday. They give up their one shot at extended rest or recreation during the grind of the season, then make only a cameo appearance in the big game.

“It’s very difficult to get playing time for 12 guys,” said Thibodeau, who served as East coach last February in Orlando. “You’re trying not to offend anyone in those games. You wish the game was a little bit longer so everyone could get an equal amount of time. But it doesn’t work that way.”

Well

How ‘ bout a proportionate increase in the game itself? Boost the quarters from 12 minutes each to 15 — same as the rosters — for a game that lasts 60 minutes rather than 48. That would keep the per-player average at 20 minutes, same as now.

“I thought maybe a shorter game, to be honest with you,” joked Detroit coach Lawrence Frank, who also has worked the All-Star sideline.

Frank’s barb speaks to a coach’s concern for undue wear and tear on his players, along with the lackluster play of many All-Star Games. The defense and intensity that serve the NBA so proudly during the season and playoffs is largely absent until the final minutes or maybe the fourth quarter of a close All-Star contest.

Still, lengthening the game with deeper rosters wouldn’t boost anyone’s workload. Nor would it markedly hurt the quality. We’re still talking about the 13th-, 14th- and 15th-best players in each conference. And a 25 percent boost in game clock to enjoy them all.

Obviously it’s not going to happen this year. So players already secure on the East and West squads, and those added tonight via the coaches’ picks, should take a little extra pride in how select the status really is. They’re all part of the elite 6.2 percent.

As Frank said: “It just puts that much more value on it. Look, there are going to be times you get snubbed. It happens all the time. And there are going to be times when a guy gets voted in who maybe shouldn’t get voted in. But it’s an All-Star Game.”

Hang Time Vlogtable: Lakers, Knicks, All-Stars And A Bunch of Talk (VIDEO)

NBA.com staff

In our first video blogtable of the season, NBA.com writers from California to New Jersey discuss the problems with the Lakers, the stunningly good Knicks, why no one is paying attention to the Heat (or the Spurs), who belongs in the All-Star Game (and whether it really matters) and lots more.

Some of their thoughts on the Lakers’ woes …

Scott Howard-Cooper: “I don’t think this is a Mike D’Antoni issue. This is a player focus issue … What’s going wrong now [with the Lakers] is not about coaching. It’s about the players.”

Sekou Smith: “I didn’t think Mike D’Antoni was the best choice for the job in the first place … I thought they needed a coach who was more a people manager than a game manager or a massager of minutes and that sort of thing. You need someone to manage a locker room  with a lot of egos.”

Fran Blinebury: “I think a lot of us thought they needed to hire Phil Jackson back … but, look, these guys are going into the fourth quarters, at home, and completely falling apart against teams like Orlando and Indiana. The players have to bear some of the burden for this.”

Jeff Caplan: “You do have to be concerned with D’Antoni’s comments … He seems to be getting extremely defensive very short into his tenure.”

John Schuhmann: “They’re in a pretty big hole right now … I look at it this way. You have a top 5 offense and a mediocre defense, you’re maybe, over 82 games, a 50-win team. If you take that pace over their final 59 games or so, they’re going to win maybe a total of 45, 46 games. And I don’t think that makes the playoff in the Western Conference. So I think there has to be some sort of change … for them to be anything better than a sixth, seventh team in the West … I don’t see them getting out of the first round, at best.”

More in the video, above.

NBA Centers Feel Caught In ‘Frontcourt’ Squeeze

Roy Hibbert didn’t have to think about his answer. This wasn’t anything to ponder, like choosing between Schnauzers at the Westminster Dog Show or swirling a fine wine across one’s palate one more time before rendering judgment.

This was instant and heartfelt, Hibbert’s answer when asked about the new NBA policy of voting for “Frontcourt” on the All-Star ballot.

“It’s bull!” the Pacers’ center said.

Hibbert, naturally, has some skin in this change. He was in Orlando last February for All-Star Weekend, a member of the East squad as his reward for a strong first half in the frenzied post-lockout season. It was a proud moment in his young career, it was fun (despite his 10-minute appearance in the game) and Hibbert probably imagined making a few more trips to the annual showcase.

So, the league’s announcement that centers would henceforth be lumped in with forwards on the fans’ ballots hit Hibbert where it hurt. Mind you, this conversation took place late in the preseason, soon after the decision was made public. The man’s feelings were raw.

“It’s making it harder for true centers,” Hibbert said. “It makes the pool a lot bigger. It’s whatever the people want. Last year, I wasn’t going into the season saying, ‘Hey, I want to be an All-Star.’ It kind of happened. I just played my game, so whatever happens this year happens.”

With the initial returns of fan balloting due out Thursday, it was going to be interesting to see how centers were faring. The change was made for several reasons. The one most often cited by the NBA was an evolution in today’s style of play away from traditional centers, driven by a scarcity of the dinosaurs who once ruled the hardwood. When long-but-lithe forwards such as Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh willingly shift to the middle for Boston and Miami, respectively, it’s pretty clear the ranks of bangers have (literally) thinned.

Another suspected factor is the shortage of legitimate stars at the position – even teams that play with a quote-unquote true center often go with a grinder there, not some future Springfield enshrinee. That might not mesh so well with a game that is all about highlight plays and shadow defense.

“I understand that the NBA is getting smaller,” Chicago center Joakim Noah said. “I understand the fact that maybe having centers on the court in an All-Star Game, it’s less flashy. They want people to drive it into the paint and shoot it.

“For the show of it, it’s probably better not to have a center in there. Opening up the court makes it better for the more athletic players, and I think the NBA cares about that a little bit.”

Fine. But guess what? Rounding up 12 legitimate candidates per conference wouldn’t seem like such a chore this season. And sending a couple from each side to Houston wouldn’t require reaching down for a 2012-13 version of ex-All-Stars Jamaal Magloire or Brad Miller, who logged a combined 31 minutes in 2004 at the glamorous Staples Center.

For the West, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Utah’s Al Jefferson and the Lakers’ Dwight Howard wouldn’t have to apologize to anyone. Out East, just going with the traditional types and disregarding teams’ records, there’s Noah, Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao, New York’s Tyson Chandler and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez, among a few possibles.

It still might work out for some of them. If they aren’t voted in as starters by the fans, getting snubbed in a crush of forwards, the backup spots on each roster still are selected by the conference coaches. Those guys might not worry about showbiz or trends.

“At the end of the day, [earning the coaches’ votes is] the biggest honor to me,” Noah said. “If you’re a center and you deserve to be in it, you’ll be in it.”

But if not? Hibbert shrugged off the question. “Who said, ‘The times are a-changin’?’ ” he wondered. “Bob Dylan? The times are a-changin.’ “

K. Love Shines On The Campaign Trail

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you’re going to wage an All-Star campaign folks, Timberwolves’ double double machine Kevin Love shows you how to do it.

Rudy Gay might be the most interesting man in the NBA, but Love takes the title as the smoothest man in the business. And he’s got the NUMB#RS to back it up!

“Who has the NUMB#RS? You tell me!”

The All-Star Debate: Love v. Griffin

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Blake Griffin will be in Los Angeles for All-Star Weekend, of this we can all be sure.

The Clippers’ power forward is the headliner in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest and the odds-on favorite to take home that crown. But his weekend should be busy with more than just the dunks and the Rookie Challenge.

But there’s a bigger question lingering as we get closer to February: Should Griffin be playing Sunday in the All-Star Game?

He’s already among the most feared players in the game and he has the numbers — 21.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 23 straight double doubles –to back up any All-Star campaign.

We asked a veteran league observer this morning if Griffin deserves to be an All-Star this season and before we could get the words out, he cut us off.

“Yes, yes he should be an All-Star,” he said. “Blake Griffin has come in as rookie and become the most exciting player in the league, playing for the Clippers, which is pretty hard to do. Other players look for Clippers games. That’s how nice he is. They’re like, ‘let me watch the Clippers tonight and see what this beast is going to do.’ Who wouldn’t want to see that man in the All-Star Game?”

The knock most traditionalists will bring up is the Clippers’ ugly 13-24 record. It’s the same argument some people will make to squash the All-Star candidacy of Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love.

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