The suspense of Nowitzki being voted a starter by the fans for the first time in his career never materialized. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin quickly filled the void left by Carmelo Anthony’s defection to the Eastern Conference. Starters will be announced Thursday night and the all-Oklahoma City duo of Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and Griffin, an OKC native, have those spots sewn up.
The issue facing West coaches in selecting the seven reserves is what to do with Dirk? The reigning NBA Finals MVP and an All-Star mainstay would typically be a no-brainer selection based on history, even if his numbers aren’t quite up to typical standards.
However, Nowitzki has had a most unusual season that now includes a mid-season, week-long hiatus and behind-the-scenes personal training camp, plus the lowest marks since his rookie season in scoring average (16.7), rebounds (5.8) and shooting percentage, both overall (44.8) and behind the arc (20.0).
Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith indicated Monday that he has no plans to make a major move to alter his team’s roster in the near future.
“If a string of losses causes you to change your plans, then I’m in the wrong job,” Smith said Monday night, before the Magic fell 74-69 to the Philadelphia 76ers to lose their fourth consecutive game.
“I think you look at your team as a whole and understand that we have to fight through whatever we have to fight through and you continue to evaluate everything top to bottom. That’s what you do. When it’s time to make a change, you make a change.”
Smith generally does not like to make trades in-season, but he did so last season after the Magic lost five of six games from Dec. 4-14, 2010.
The retired Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming has been looking for business opportunities in the film industry, but has not entered it yet, Yao’s agent said Tuesday, responding to media’s reports claiming that Yao will set up a film finance fund.
Foreign media report that Jay Cohen, an American film producer, is setting up a film finance fund with Yao Ming, which has caught the attention of China’s media and public.
“Yao Ming and our team has not joined or set up any such organizations as the film finance fund,” Yao’s agent Zhang Mingji told Xinhua, adding that they are open to such kind of business, and are looking for good investment opportunities.
Monday night in the third quarter of Los Angeles Clippers vs Oklahoma City Thunder, Clips forward Blake Griffin caught a perfect pass from point guard Chris Paul and threw down what InsideHoops.com considers the best dunk of the NBA season on the head of Kendrick Perkins.
Here are several video clips of the Griffin dunk on Perkins:
If Magic center Dwight Howard has any reservations about playing for the Bulls, it has nothing to do with sharing the spotlight with Derrick Rose. In fact, the five-time All-Star is open to uniting with the reigning MVP.
Approached Friday night in New Orleans after a 26-point loss to the Hornets, Howard shared his thoughts on a long-shot trade to the Bulls.
“If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen,” Howard told the Tribune. “It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That’s my brother.”
Rubio has been a revelation for the Timberwolves as their rookie point guard, with Lakers coach Mike Brown pointing out that the athletic NBA game with fewer zone defenses to expose Rubio’s shaky jumper is well-suited for him.
Rubio had flashes Sunday night but shot 2 of 13 from the field, finishing with five points and eight assists.
Kobe Bryant has been impressed by Rubio in the NBA.
“He’s fantastic,” Bryant said. “He has great court vision, great poise.”
About Gasol, though, Rubio had this to say to Joan Niesen of Fox Sports: “A lot of people say that Pau is soft. I can tell you, he’s not. I practiced with him a lot this summer, and he’s tough. I mean, he plays hard, and one of the best things is, he’s a leader. A leader can’t be soft because if not we couldn’t win or get to the silver medal in the Olympic Games.”
Charlotte Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin played through three ankle sprains the first dozen games of this NBA season. He knows the difference between a little pain and a debilitating injury.
The right big-toe injury Augustin has suffered is debilitating. So much so that Augustin likely won’t play in any of the upcoming four road games that start Tuesday against the Lakers in Los Angeles. In an exclusive interview Sunday with the Observer, Augustin said sitting out now is necessary, not only to this season, but potentially to protecting his career.
“If I try to come back and play on it too soon, I’ll be right back where I was last week,” said Augustin, who missed the last four games, all losses.
According to a league source, the Sixers have inquired about Amar’e Stoudemire, though it was categorized as “due diligence.” Nothing is said to be imminent or even in the early stages other than just talk, the source said. Nevertheless, in past seasons the Sixers were reportedly discussing trade scenarios with the Phoenix Suns in order to acquire Stoudemire. Whether or not the Sixers can afford Stoudemire, of course, is an issue too. Stoudemire is the ninth-highest paid player in the NBA after signing a five-year, $100 million contract before the 2010-11 season. He earns $18.2 million this season, $19.9 million next season and approximately $45 million between 2013 and 2015.
Incidentally, the Knicks are also paying a similar five-year deal out to forward Carmelo Anthony, a player whose arrival in New York snubbed out those M-V-P! chants for Stoudemire.
The Los Angeles Clippers today recalled guard Eric Bledsoe from the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League. Bledsoe, 22, appeared in two games with the Jam as he continues his rehabilitation from surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. Bledsoe is with the Clippers in Denver and will be available for tonight’s game against the Nuggets.
In two games with the Jam, Bledsoe averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 assists in 21.0 minutes per game. The second-year player was 9-of-18 from the field.
The New Jersey Nets have recalled rookie forward Jordan Williams from the Springfield Armor, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.
Williams appeared in six games with the Armor, all starts, and averaged 10.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 32 minutes. He shot .451 (23-51) from the field and .531 (17-32) from the line. He tallied three double-doubles.
In six games with the Nets this season, the former Maryland Terrapin is averaging 1.0 point and 1.5 rebounds in six minutes.
The owner of the reigning NBA champions will not be the next owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mark Cuban was eliminated from the Dodgers’ ownership sweepstakes Friday, along with baseball executive and former agent Dennis Gilbert, according to two people familiar with the process but not authorized to discuss it.
At least eight bidders advanced to the second round Friday, including a group led by Magic Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten and another headed by local developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre.
East Coast hedge fund giant Steven Cohen, former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke also are believed to have advanced, as well as a joint bid between investor and civic leader Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney.
The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived guard Mike James.
James (6-2, 188) appeared in three games with Chicago, and averaged 4.0 ppg, 3.7 apg and 1.0 rpg in 8.4 mpg. He signed with Chicago on January 11.
Chicago’s roster now stands at 13.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “this could pave the way for the Bulls to add a reserve big man, which general manager Gar Forman has alluded to as far back as training camp. Leon Powe and Joel Przybilla are two players with whom the Bulls have had conversations to bolster a frontcourt which currently has Luol Deng out.”
The Bulls are currently 17-4, which is the best record in the Eastern conference, and second best in the league behind the 16-3 Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Los Angeles Clippers today waived guard Courtney Fortson. Fortson was signed by the Clippers on Jan. 16 and appeared in four games, averaging 4.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 11.2 minutes. Fortson scored a career-high 13 points on Jan. 17 vs. Utah.
The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have requested waivers on guard Trey Johnson. Johnson appeared in 11 regular season games this season, averaging 1.9 points and 1.1 rebounds per game in 5.5 minutes. The Jackson State University product has appeared in 23 career NBA games in three seasons of play with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers and Hornets. He has career averages of 2.6 points and 0.9 rebounds in 7.3 minutes of play.
Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond announced the following update on the injury to Andrew Bogut (7-0, 260):
“This morning in Milwaukee, Andrew had additional diagnostic tests performed on his left ankle. The results of the testing confirmed a left ankle fracture which will keep Bogut sidelined for a period of 8-to-12 weeks.”
The seventh-year center was injured in Wednesday night’s win at Houston (January 25) when his left foot landed awkwardly on a Rockets player’s foot after attempting to block a shot in the first period. In 12 games this season, Bogut averaged 11.3 points, a team-high 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steal and a team-high 2.0 blocked shots (T-7th in NBA) in 30.0 minutes per contest.