The exiled Knicks center was spotted Saturday night at impresario Jimmy Goldstein’s All-Star Weekend party in Los Angeles, along with Stephen Curry, his wife, Ayesha, Joel Embiid and ex-Knick draft pick Danilo Gallinari. Noah may attend Sunday’s All-Star Game at Staples Center.

Goldstein is an eccentric longtime NBA superfan who is seen at all of the NBA’s big events and is regularly courtside at Staples Center.

“I’ve known [Noah] a long time, I spoke to him last night,” Goldstein told The Post on Sunday before Team LeBron faced Team Stephen. “I asked him if he was going to be all right, that I’m a little worried about you. He said don’t worry about him, everything’s going to be fine.”

NY Post

Koby Altman impressive in reshaping of Cavs

There was no shortage of shock and surprise when Koby Altman, the 35-year-old, first-time GM of the Cavs, reshaped the team’s roster with three major trades on Feb. 8.

It was Altman and his staff who targeted Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance of the Lakers, George Hill of the Kings and Rodney Hood of the Jazz. There was no directive from owner Dan Gilbert, no plea from James, no nudging from Lue, to go and get those players, specifically.

Everyone was wrong about Altman. Everyone.

“I think Koby did a heck of a job of understanding what our team needed,” James said this week, after the rejuvenated Cavs — to use an Altman word — beat Oklahoma City, 120-112.

“It just wasn’t working out for us, and he felt like, obviously you guys saw his quotes, he made the changes that he felt best fits our team,” James continued.

The Cavs enter the All-Star break as the talk of the NBA. They’ve won four straight, tore up half their roster and are being discussed again as a legitimate contender while playing with a renewed sense of energy since Hill, Clarkson, Nance and Hood arrived.

The average price paid for a ticket to Sunday’s festivities at Staples Center in Los Angeles on the resale market has topped $1,800 each ($1,959 on StubHub, $1,895 on Vivid Seats).

The most expensive sale was a pair of tickets that sold on StubHub on Friday. The seats are behind the basket and were bought for $29,510, including fees.

Pistons season has been a roller coaster

This has been a wild Pistons season, first with stretches of success and also plenty of losing, then a huge trade for Blake Griffin, and to make sense of some of this, here’s Michigan Live reporting:

Said forward Anthony Tolliver: “All the years I’ve played in this league this team has been a little bit more roller coaster as far as high highs and low lows.”

The Pistons reached the All-Star break at 28-29, 1 1/2 games behind the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

It’s not where they hoped to be following a promising 14-6 start. But they’ve had issues offensively, have lacked intensity on defense on too many nights, have lost too often to bad teams and haven’t capitalized enough at home (19-12). Losing point guard Reggie Jackson to an ankle injury on Dec. 26 also has hurt.

The Pistons return to practice on Wednesday and host the Boston Celtics next Friday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit). With 15 of their final 25 games on the road, reaching the playoffs for only the second time in nine years will be a challenge.

Klay Thompson wants to stick with Warriors

Klay Thompson’s desires have not changed.

The four-time All-Star does not want to leave the Warriors when he becomes a free agent.

“Playing for one team your whole career is definitely special,” Klay recently told Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group (read the full story here). “Only so many guys have done it in professional sports, so it’ll be a goal of mine. Hopefully it all works out.

“Anything I can do to stay with the Warriors is first and foremost. God willing, it happens. If not, I don’t even think about that.”

NBC Sports Bay Area

Lou Williams essentially accepted a consolation prize from the NBA to participate in the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend at Staples Center.

His stated goal had been to represent the Clippers in the All-Star game Sunday at Staples Center, but Williams was not chosen as one of the Western Conference reserves — to his and his coaching staff’s dismay.

Instead, Williams will lace up his sneakers for the event that will take place Saturday night, his enthusiasm still high for being asked to be in the Skills Challenge along with seven other players.

Williams admitted it would have been much nicer to display his skills in the big event Sunday.

LA Times

The 23-32 Lakers, now with Isaiah Thomas in uniform, look forward to getting Lonzo Ball back as soon as possible. How much they’ll actually play together remains to be seen, but that’s a whole other discussion. Step one is just to get Lonzo back in action. Which reportedly should happen right after the All-Star break. Here’s the Daily Breeze reporting:

As Josh Hart ran off the Pelicans home court on Wednesday morning, he stopped in front of Lonzo Ball, who was chatting with reporters, to tease the point guard about when he would return to the court.

“First game back after All-Star, man,” Ball responded. “I’ll be there.”

Ruled out earlier this week for Wednesday’s contest at New Orleans and Thursday’s game in Minnesota, Ball said he “definitely” expects to play on Feb. 23 against Dallas, 42 days after spraining his left MCL in an overtime win against the Mavericks.

While Ball has progressed to full contact practices, the Lakers will not practice until next Wednesday, by which time Ball expects to be free of the soreness that has persisted.

Full article

Steve Kerr trusts his players. Especially when the Warriors are going against a team they should definitely be able to beat. He recently allowed players to essentially act as coaches during timeouts/huddles. There’s no reason to think he did so to disrespect the opponent. Still, it drew reactions in all directions. Here’s the SF Chronicle reporting:

After turning his team huddles over to players in Monday night’s rout of the Suns, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr drew plenty of criticism. Some viewed Kerr’s approach as disrespectful to Phoenix. Others saw it as demeaning to the coaching profession.

“I heard some things,” Kerr said of such backlash after shoot-around Wednesday. “I don’t care.”

During each huddle Monday, Kerr handed his clipboard to a player and turned away as the team discussed the game plan. It was Kerr’s way of empowering a group that has struggled to focus in recent weeks. Sensing that his players had tuned him out, Kerr figured it was time to let someone else give orders.

The change in approach helped pave the way for Golden State’s most lopsided win ever over the Suns. However, many weren’t so pleased with Kerr’s tactic.

Full article

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat, who recently welcomed Dwyane Wade back and currently have no plans on restricting his play in regard to back-to-backs:

After being put into a “maintenance” program with the Miami Heat during his previous tenure with the team, Dwyane Wade said no such contingencies have been discussed for this reunion tour.

That had Wade again in the rotation in Wednesday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers on the second night of a back-to-back set, after playing 21 minutes in Tuesday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Wade had been held out of games in four of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ back-to-back sets earlier this season before his recent buyout…

The Heat have three remaining back-to-back sets, with coach Erik Spoelstra saying Wednesday a maintenance plan has not been discussed since Wade’s signing.

“Not right now,” Spoelstra said, “no.”

Full article

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed free agent guard/forward Joe Johnson for the remainder of the season. Johnson will wear #7 for the Rockets.

In a related move, the Rockets have waived Troy Williams.

Johnson (6-7, 240) was originally the 10th overall pick by Boston in the 2001 NBA Draft and is in his 17th NBA season. In 1,253 games with 1,090 starts, Johnson is averaging 16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists. He is one of 12 players in NBA history with at least 1,000 games played to have averaged at least 16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 4.0 apg and one of three (Kobe Bryant and John Havlicek) with over 1,200.

Among active players, Johnson ranks fourth in games played, second in minutes played (43,729; 20th all-time), eighth in scoring (20,266), and sixth in 3-pointers made (1,960; 10th all-time). He has also appeared in 112 playoff games with 97 starts, averaging 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Johnson has been to the playoffs in each of the past 10 seasons and advanced to the Conference Semifinals six times over that span.

Johnson appeared in 32 games with three starts for Utah this season. He saw action in 78 games for the Jazz in 2016-17, and averaged 1.4 3-pointers made on 41.1% shooting, marking the second-highest percentage of his career.

The seven-time All-Star is reunited with Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. In his final season playing for D’Antoni in Phoenix in 2004-05, Johnson averaged a career-high 2.2 3-pointers made on a career-best 47.8% shooting.

Amar’e Stoudemire has signed with the BIG3, a 3-on-3 basketball league co-founded by Ice Cube that plays during the summer months. He’ll be a Co-Captain of Tri-State alongside Captain Jermaine O’Neal and Co-Captain Nate Robinson.

This offseason, BIG3 expanded rosters by adding a second Co-Captain to each team.

In recent weeks, Baron Davis (3’s Company), Ron Artest (Killer 3s) Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis (Power), Carlos Boozer (Ghost Ballers) and Drew Gooden (3’s Company) have been announced as high-profile Co-Captain acquisitions.

Stoudemire played 14 seasons in the NBA. He was drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, where he won 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year, and played for eight seasons. In 2010, he signed with the New York Knicks as a free agent. His high-profile signing put an end to the team’s playoff drought and sparked a three-season playoff run. He went on to play with the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat, before signing a one-day contract to retire as a New York Knick in 2016. Following his NBA career, Stoudemire moved overseas and played two seasons in Israel for Hapoel Jerusalem, helping his team win the Israeli Basketball League Cup in 2016 and the Israeli League championship in 2017.

Throughout his career, Stoudemire averaged 18.9 points (15,994 total) and 7.8 rebounds (6,632) in 846 career games. He was a six-time NBA All-Star, and was named to five All-NBA Teams (two first teams, three second teams). He also won a bronze medal with the United States national team at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Stoudemire will join a Tri-State squad that finished sixth in 2017, after falling short to 3’s Company in the BIG3 Playoffs. Tri-State will round out its three remaining roster spots in the BIG3 Draft.

The BIG3 previously announced two-year agreements with 22 player captains, co-captains and coaches from the inaugural season, including 2017 BIG3 MVP Rashard Lewis, 2017 BIG3 Champions Trilogy’s Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington and coach Rick Mahorn, Allen Iverson, Corey Maggette, Chauncey Billups, Clyde Drexler, Gary Payton, Brian Scalabrine, Jermaine O’Neal, Charles Oakley, Stephen Jackson, Mike Bibby, DerMarr Johnson, Jermaine O’Neal, Ricky Davis, Josh Childress, Cuttino Mobley, Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams, George “The Iceman” Gervin, and Rick Barry.

Pelicans sign Emeka Okafor to second 10-day contract

The New Orleans Pelicans today signed forward/center Emeka Okafor to a second 10-day contract.

Okafor, 6-10, 252, who was originally signed to a 10-day contract by New Orleans on Feb. 3, has appeared in three games, including one start, for the Pelicans, averaging 5.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 14.3 minutes per contest.

New Orleans’ roster stands at 15, including one two-way player (Charles Cooke).

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox will replace injured Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball on the U.S. Team in the 2018 Rising Stars game, which will take place on Friday, Feb. 16.

Fox, the fifth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 assists in 27.2 minutes while starting 37 of his 49 games in his rookie season. His selection gives the Kings three players in 2018 Rising Stars, with second-year guard Buddy Hield (Bahamas) and rookie guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) representing the World Team.

Ball has missed the Lakers’ last 13 games after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee on Jan. 13. The second pick in NBA Draft 2017 is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 36 games. The Lakers have second-year forward Brandon Ingram and rookie forward Kyle Kuzma playing for the U.S. Team.

The Rising Stars game is an annual showcase of premier young talent at NBA All-Star. For the fourth consecutive year, the game features 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the U.S. against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world.

Past Sacramento Kings All-Star Rookie Game Participants
1994 Bobby Hurley - Honorary Coach
1995 Brian Grant, Michael Smith
1996 Tyus Edney
1998 Michael Stewart
2000 Jason Williams
2002 Hedo Turkoglu
2010 Tyreke Evans (MVP), Omri Casspi
2011 Tyreke Evans*, DeMarcus Cousins
2012 DeMarcus Cousins
2013 Isaiah Thomas
*Evans named to Sophomore Team but due to injury did not participate

Future of Bulls looks bright

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The Bulls are 20-36 this season, a record that is 12th best in the Eastern conference. They’re rebuilding, and little success was expected this season. Their main goal needed to be to find a bunch of young building blocks that have legitimate potential to do big things in the future. That mission has mostly been accomplished. Here’s NBC Sports Chicago on reporting on Zach Lavine and more:

Over his last five games, LaVine is averaging around 25 points while shooting 46 percent from the field and the 3 point line. He also has emerged as the team’s closer, scoring the Bulls’ last 11 points in the thrilling win over Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves last week, then coming up with a late steal and breakaway dunk in the closing seconds to give the Bulls a win over Orlando on Monday.

Clearly, LaVine was the centerpiece of last summer’s draft night trade sending Butler to Minnesota. He was coming into his own as an NBA player in his 3rd season with the Timberwolves before the ACL injury, averaging nearly 19 points a game as the team’s third scoring option, while improving his 3 point shooting to right around 39 percent. There’s no way Tom Thibodeau would have included LaVine in the Butler deal if he hadn’t suffered the injury.

Now, the Bulls are able to center their rebuild around the talents of the 3 players they acquired from Minnesota. LaVine turns 23 next month, Kris Dunn turns 24 on March 18th, and Lauri Markkanen is only 20. Dunn has emerged as a quality NBA point guard whose defensive skills and toughness bring out the best in his teammates and the 7-foot Markkanen could be a future All-Star with his smooth shooting stroke and versatile offensive game.

Still, even after just a 13-game sample size, it’s clear LaVine is the player that figures to shine brightest on the NBA stage. The two-time slam dunk champion hasn’t lost any of that explosive leaping ability and he has the charisma and self-confidence necessary to accept the responsibility of being “the man” in a major market like Chicago. Going head to head with Butler down the stretch of a close game shows LaVine won’t back down from a challenge and isn’t afraid of his team’s fate resting on his shoulders.

With the Eastern Conference struggling to produce 12 All-Star worthy candidates this season, LaVine and Markkanen could inject themselves into that conversation as soon as next year.

Full article

Here’s on LeBron James, whose entertainment company will bring the House Party movie franchise back to life:

As Los Angeles hosts its first NBA All-Star shindig in seven years, LeBron James is prepping a Hollywood bash of his own.

The megastar and his SpringHill Entertainment partner, Maverick Carter, are producing a new House  Party, which will revive the Kid ’n Play–fronted New Line comedy franchise that started in 1990 and was followed by sequels in 1991 and 1994. Atlanta’s Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori will pen the screenplay.

“This is definitely not a reboot. It’s an entirely new look for a classic movie,” James tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Everyone I grew up with loved House Party. To partner with this creative team to bring a new House Party to a new generation is unbelievable.”

Full article

Rockets sign Brandan Wright

Rockets sign Brandan Wright

The Houston Rockets today signed free agent forward/center Brandan Wright for the remainder of the season.

Wright joins the Rockets after appearing in 27 games for Memphis in 2017-18. He will wear #32 for Houston.

Wright (6-10, 235) was originally the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and is in his 10th season. In 427 career games with 62 starts, Wright is averaging 7.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and nearly a block per game, while shooting 60.7% from the floor. He would have the second-highest field goal percentage among active players if he had enough attempts to qualify.

Dating back to 2012-13, Wright is the only player in the league to have averaged at least 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.00 blocks while playing fewer than 18.0 minutes per game. Wright is also averaging 1.5 offensive rebounds per game over that span and 3.0 orpg per 36 minutes played.

Wright is a former McDonald’s All-American and was named Second Team All-ACC and ACC Rookie of the Year in his only season at North Carolina.

Sixers sign Marco Belinelli

The Philadelphia 76ers signed guard-forward Marco Belinelli.

Belinelli appeared in 52 games (one start) with Atlanta this season, averaging 11.4 points and 2.0 assists in 23.3 minutes per game, while shooting .372 from three-point range on a career-high 4.8 attempts per contest. His .927 free-throw percentage ranks fourth-best in the NBA. He has scored in double figures 31 times this season and has five 20-point performances.

In his 11th NBA season, Belinelli has played in 696 career games (217 starts) with Atlanta, Charlotte, Sacramento, San Antonio, Chicago, New Orleans, Toronto and Golden State. All told, he holds averages of 9.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 23.2 minutes per game. A career .377 three-point shooter, Belinelli has connected on 945 threes over his 10-plus NBA seasons.

In 2013-14 with San Antonio, the Italy native enjoyed his most successful season from beyond the arc, finishing fifth in the NBA, shooting a .430 clip from long distance. At State Farm All-Star Saturday Night that year, Belinelli won the 2014 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.

That season was capped off with a playoff run that would end with the Spurs defeating Miami in the 2014 NBA Finals. Belinelli appeared in 23 playoff games for San Antonio, posting 5.4 points per game, while shooting .421 from three-point range. In his career, Belinelli has appeared in 48 total playoff games (13 starts) with San Antonio, Chicago and New Orleans.

Originally selected by Golden State with the 18th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-5 guard-forward played professionally in Italy before entering the NBA.

Belinelli will wear No. 18 for the 76ers. He will be the first native Italian to play for Philadelphia.

On J.R. Smith and the trade deadline

Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal on Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith, who surely had an interesting experience on the day of the NBA trade deadline, as his squad made a dramatic shakeup that could very well have included him as well:

J.R. Smith said he had never heard his name mentioned so often before the NBA trade deadline.

But it wasn’t just the rumors leading up to Thursday that weighed on the 32-year-old Cavaliers guard. The final hour or two as the clocked ticked down to 3 p.m. may have been the most stressful.

“My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve wracking for sure,” Smith said after Sunday’s 121-99 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.”

But after three trades involving four teams as general manager Koby Altman orchestrated a total roster makeover, Smith survived.

After Smith scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in Sunday’s rout of the Celtics, friend and teammate LeBron James observed, “J.R. gave us something tonight to let us know that he’s still here.”

Full article

Wishing all the best to Nick Gilbert and the Cavs family. Here’s reporting:

Nick Gilbert, the 21-year-old son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, is scheduled to undergo major brain surgery at a Detroit-area hospital this week, according to a team spokesman.

Gilbert’s son was born with neurofibromatosis, commonly referred to as NF, a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time. One out of 3,000 people on average is born with NF.

Full article

Here’s an update on the Warriors that sports business-minded people would be interested in, from the San Jose Mercury News:

After stockpiling their staff in recent years, the Warriors have lost one of their top executives to another team. Warriors chief marketing offer Chip Bowers plans to take a job with the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball, Bay Area News Group confirmed. Bowers will serve as the Marlins’ president of business operations and report to part-owner and Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter. Bloomberg first reported the news.

It is not immediately clear when Bowers will make the transition. Bowers was currently in his sixth season with the Warriors, where he has overseen broadcasting, marketing and corporate partnership sales for the organization.

Full article

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