NBA Rumor: All-Star Selections

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Jason Richardson: Yeah, I think I was a little bit underrated. I feel like I should have made the All-Star team a few times. But the game has changed now; it’s different. Because in my era, even if you averaged 20 points, if you didn’t win, it didn’t matter. I understood that part of it. I had a lot of losing years during those times, so people thought it was just “number chasing.” But if you look at it now, there’s a lot of guys who are averaging a ton of points and their team isn’t doing good, but they still get the accolades and they are on the All-Star teams and stuff like that. I think back in my time, it was more team-oriented and all about, “What are you doing to help your team win games?” And so I see the different eras and I understand how the game has changed in that respect.

Despite putting up potent and efficient offensive numbers, Booker was not originally voted in as an All-Star reserve by the NBA’s coaches. But Damian Lillard injured his groin last Wednesday night, hours before Booker was scheduled to go “off the grid” on vacation. He received a wake-up call from commissioner Adam Silver early Thursday that he was the injury-replacement choice and, after briefly going back to sleep, celebrated with his family in his Phoenix home. The family affair continued throughout a weekend during which Booker, by design, did not partake in many public appearances beyond the league-mandated requirements for every All-Star participant.

Parents Veronica and Melvin and younger sister Mya flew with Devin to Chicago on a private jet. They shared low-key dinners together. Melvin wore a replica All-Star jersey in the hotel room Sunday, marveling that “it’s crazy to see that ‘Booker’ on the back.” When Devin spotted Veronica and Mya in the United Center stands just after halftime Sunday night, Mya expressed her adoration by drawing hearts with fingers. “We all have been together,” Melvin told The Athletic while standing in the tunnel between sections 112 and 113 as Devin went through pregame warmups. “We’ve just been taking it all in as a family, because this is what we worked so hard for. …

Nicolo Melli already had his flight booked to the Bahamas when he found out he needed to tweak those plans. As the Pelicans wrapped up their final shootaround before the All-Star break Thursday, executive vice president David Griffin informed the Italian forward he’d been chosen as an injury replacement in the Rising Stars Game. At first, Melli thought he was kidding. “I thought he was messing with me,” Melli said. “We always make fun of each other for different reasons. Everybody knew I was excited to go on vacation. I was waiting for this day. I thought he was joking.”

Nicolo Melli already had his flight booked to the Bahamas when he found out he needed to tweak those plans. As the Pelicans wrapped up their final shootaround before the All-Star break Thursday, executive vice president David Griffin informed the Italian forward he’d been chosen as an injury replacement in the Rising Stars Game. At first, Melli thought he was kidding. “I thought he was messing with me,” Melli said. “We always make fun of each other for different reasons. Everybody knew I was excited to go on vacation. I was waiting for this day. I thought he was joking.”

With LaVine declining to enter the slam-dunk contest, the Bulls’ only representation all weekend will be LaVine’s participation in the three-point contest Saturday. That’s it. Multiple sources have told the Sun-Times the Bulls are not thrilled with how this has played out, and LaVine hasn’t hidden his frustration, either. “Yeah, it’s upsetting, but you know . . . we see the way it’s got to be,” LaVine said. “We’ve got to be in the [playoff] hunt [to be considered for All-Star invitations]. We’re in the hunt a little bit, but we’re not solidified. We had some ups and downs, had some injuries. But like I told you guys in the beginning, [if] we win, we all succeed. So we’ll get there, I’ll get there, and I don’t have a doubt in my mind about that.”

When asked is he was going to use this as motivation, as a chip on his shoulder, Towns said he didn’t need it and got in a shot at this year’s game. “I’ve had a chip since I came in,” Towns said. “I’m on a journey that goes beyond All-Stars. I’m trying to be the best of the best. I have to go out there and continue to be better and continue to find ways to win for my team and try to build a legacy. “It’s unfortunate that this year’s All-Star Game won’t have the 24 best players in the NBA, but we got to go out there every night and just find ways to win, because it’s not about the All-Star game, it’s about being in the NBA finals, being in the playoffs, about winning games. That’s how you build a legacy. All-Star is cool and stuff for the fans, but I’m here for the people in this locker room.”

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal is clearly miffed by coming up short of an All-Star selection, clearly voicing that anger after the game. He was joined by his fiancée, who complained during the postgame show after the Wizards beat the Charlotte Hornets 121-107, and so did his agent, who was as outraged as Beal. “Inside the NBA” analyst Charles Barkley shot the latter down, saying his agent has no ground to complain or feel upset: “You mean the agent who let hit him take the most money so he can get the biggest cut? He’s not in a position to complain,” said Barkley. “The Wizards are 16-31. Bradley Beal is a good player, but they basically have the same record as the Knicks and the Cavs.” “His agent is in no position to complain. He took the maximum extension, he knew they were gonna stink, so [the agent] took the most money he could get also.”

Candace Buckner: Bradley Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein rips Eastern Conference coaches for the all-star snub. Bartelstein: “I think they’ve sent a horrible message.” Mark Bartelstein, Bradley Beal’s agent, on Beal being left off the all-star team: “It’s unprecedented for a player to have the type of season that Brad is having to not be in the all-star game. And I think the Eastern Conference coaches, I think they’ve sent a horrible message. I think the Eastern Conference coaches have become robotic in thinking they just have to reward players that are on the winningest teams. The idea of the all-star game is to reward the very best players and Brad made a decision this summer to be loyal to a franchise, to be patient with a franchise and to go through the rebuilding. He could’ve made the choice to be a bandwagon jumper and just go on and join a higher-level team and he would’ve been guaranteed in the all-star game. But he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to be loyal to his organization and the coaches in the NBA are holding it against Brad that he was loyal to his organization.

Mark Bartelstein: “There’s a reason why the players voted him No. 2. The players know and these coaches — if they’re being honest, there’s nobody in the Eastern Conference, other than Giannis, that they game plan for harder than they game plan for Brad. That’s the reality of it. They game plan so hard to try to take him away. The Wizards are in a rebuilding situation and this wasn’t going to be a year where they were going to be a playoff team, and everyone knew it. Yet, he has gone and played his heart out every single night to try to make them as competitive as they can be and coaches have held it against him that he decided to stay the course with the team instead of jumping ship and joining someone’s bandwagon and I think that’s a terrible message.”
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September 28, 2020 | 5:11 am EDT Update
Then there are the other members of the Best Five. Hayward won’t be opting out of his contract unless he has a long-term extension in place, which will be hard for a 30-year-old with a concerning injury history. Indiana is still home for the Haywards, and with Victor Oladipo looking to move on this offseason, according to sources, and Myles Turner possibly in the same boat, there could be an opportunity for Ainge to move Hayward and the abundance of draft picks in his war chest in a mutually agreeable way. Boston won’t have cap space again with three stars locked up long-term, so moving Hayward or Marcus Smart presents one of the few opportunities to get back a player making starter-caliber money.
Last year, Ainge passed on cashing in early on Terry Rozier, which worked out well as he was able to use Rozier to execute a double sign-and-trade for Walker. The move could have enabled Boston to retain Al Horford. Though it’s unlikely Horford would have struggled in the same way he did in Philadelphia if he stayed in Boston, the 34-year-old is starting to show his age. The Celtics likely will want to do the same with Hayward, who was exactly what they hoped for this season. Even with the COVID-19 recession, there should be cap space when Hayward’s deal expires, so the sign-and-trade option might not be as feasible as it was a year ago. Either way, there does not appear to be an impetus for Ainge to make an immediate move with Hayward.
The biggest move Boston has in front of it is whether to offer Tatum a max contract extension, which the team is expected to do. Tatum, though, said that wasn’t what he was thinking about right after his season came to an end. “That’s a tough question to answer,” he said. “I haven’t even thought about that yet. I was just focused on this season. “The front office and my agent gotta talk about it. But I’m not thinking about that right now. We just lost a series. Just thinking about the guys in the locker room and the games. That’s what I’m thinking about. Stuff like that, going to happen, if it happens, [is] not really my concern. I’m not even thinking about that.
Storyline: Jayson Tatum Extension?
The Miami center turned in a near-perfect game: 11-for-15 from the field, 10-for-11 from the foul line for a playoff career-high 32 points plus 14 rebounds as the Heat topped the Celtics 125-113 on Sunday, winning the Eastern Conference finals in a close series. “Bam is one of the great competitors already in this association,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s going to become one of the great winners in the history just because he’s so competitive. He moves the needle in every single day. You can’t put an analytic to his game and that’s probably why he was overlooked in college. “He competes every single possession. He’s really going into a leadership role. Way beyond his years. His offensive game is just growing daily. And he wants the responsibility, and he wants the accountability, and he isn’t afraid of putting that responsibility on his shoulders, and that’s what he did the other night.”
“Adebayo deciding he’s just going to drive the ball put us in a real bind with the shooters around him,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “And their physicality is something that I’m not sure that we probably talked about it enough. They’re strong, they’re physical, they’re tough and, him in particular, dominated that fourth quarter. Even the plays where he didn’t score, his presence was so impactful and it put us in a real bind with the ability to guard him.”