All-Star Game

International Notes: All-Star Game, Embiid, Wembanyama, Canada

In an appearance with Gayle King and Charles Barkley on CNN (video link), Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA will consider a U.S. vs. international format to revamp the All-Star Game. It’s one of several ideas that were brought up after last month’s All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, which concluded with the East defeating the West 211-186 in a contest that was low on competitiveness and defensive effort.

Silver called it “a great weekend, but it was not a basketball game,” and said changes to the format are being studied.

“I think maybe as opposed to trying to create a super competitive basketball game, which I am not sure the teams or the players really want, we should do different things and make it a celebration of basketball,” Silver said. “… “We are going to look at U.S. vs. international. I just think maybe we are past that point where we are going to play a truly competitive game.” 

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Joel Embiid opted to join Team USA in the Summer Olympics, assuming he’s healthy enough, but French basketball officials say they had serious discussions with the Sixers center before the decision was made, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Jean-Pierre Siutat, president of French basketball, and former NBA player Boris Diaw, general manager of the French men’s team, contend they had two meetings with Embiid regarding the possibility that he might play for France. “He said, yes, I want to (play), make the (passport),” Siutat said. “So I make the job, with the help of the government, to get a passport for him and for his son. And all the time, he said, ‘I want to play for the national team of France.’” Embiid disputes that version of events through a spokesman, claiming he never asked for a passport, Vardon adds.
  • Victor Wembanyama is setting the bar high as he tries to win a gold medal while playing at home in Paris, according to a Eurohoops story.  “Any other result than the first place would be a failure since we could have done better,” the Spurs rookie said. “You shouldn’t have any regrets, but it’s a very achievable goal”.
  • Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez is looking to fill out his Olympic roster around a core group consisting of Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderLuguentz DortRJ BarrettKelly OlynykNickeil Alexander-WalkerDwight Powell and Dillon Brooks, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Jamal Murray is expected to join them if health permits, and international star Melvin Ejim could get a spot as well. Koreen expects Canada to search around the NBA for the remainder of its 12-man roster.

Suns To Host 2027 All-Star Weekend

MARCH 7: The Suns have been officially selected to host NBA All-Star 2027, according to a release from the league (Twitter link). The 76th All-Star Game will take place at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2027.

FEBRUARY 26: All-Star Weekend appears to be headed to Phoenix in 2027, multiple sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

It’s a huge achievement for new owner Mat Ishbia, who took control of the Suns a little more than a year ago. Ishbia’s Phoenix Mercury will host the WNBA All-Star Game this year.

With a roster featuring Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, the team could be well represented in the 2027 game. Durant has been an All-Star 16 times in his career, while Booker is a four-time All-Star and Beal has been selected three times.

After taking place in Indianapolis this year, the next three All-Star Weekends will be hosted by Pacific Division teams, Charania notes (Twitter link). San Francisco will host next year’s festivities, followed by Los Angeles in 2026.

It will be the fourth All-Star Game in Phoenix and the first since 2009. The city also served as host in 1975 and 1995.

And-Ones: Edey, 2025 Draft, Bronny, All-Star Game, EuroLeague, Hordges

Purdue’s star center, Zach Edey, will not return to college next season, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter told Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

Edey could have stayed for one more season due to the extra year of eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The big man is averaging 23.7 points and 11.8 rebounds and might win National Player of the Year honors for the second straight season.

Edey tested the draft waters last summer before deciding to stay in school. He’s currently listed as the No. 13 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • While there’s still plenty of mystery about this year’s draft class, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has already posted a 2025 mock draft with big man Cooper Flagg, who has committed to Duke, as the No. 1 selection. The No. 39 projected pick is an eyebrow raiser: Bronny James. Givony explained on NBA Today (video link) that Bronny “has not produced like a one-and-done player” at USC.  Givony adds that LeBron James‘ son could be a “completely different player” if he returns to college next season.
  • Major League Baseball experimented with its All-Star Game, giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. Jalen Brunson suggested a similar solution on his podcast to make the NBA’s All-Star Game more competitive (hat tip to Geoff Magliocchetti of Sports Illustated). “I don’t know if baseball does it anymore, but the winner of the All-Star Game (could get) home-court advantage in the Finals,” he said. “That’s cool. I think that’s one way that could at least make it interesting in the fourth quarter.”
  • EuroLeague championships to be decided in Dubai? It could happen. Abu Dhabi is reportedly offering 75MM to host three editions of the EuroLeague Final Four, according to Sportando. Negotiations are reportedly in the advanced stages.
  • Cedrick Hordges has passed away, NBA Alumni tweets. He played 145 games for the Nuggets from 1980-82 before continuing his pro career in Europe for another 13 seasons.

And-Ones: Holland, Toscano-Anderson, All-Star, MVP Race, Reid

G League Ignite forward Ron Holland underwent surgery on his injured right thumb on Tuesday in order to repair a complete tendon rupture, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). Spears had reported over the weekend that Holland would miss the rest of the NBAGL season due to the thumb injury, but didn’t say at that time that the young prospect would be going under the knife.

Based on Holland’s projected recovery timeline, he should be back on the court within six-to-eight weeks, according to Spears, which will allow him to participate in the pre-draft process this spring.

Although Holland’s stock has slipped a little over the course of the 2023/24 season, he still looks like a probable lottery pick if he’s fully healthy, ranking 10th on ESPN’s latest big board.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran swingman Juan Toscano-Anderson, who played for the Mexico City Capitanes earlier in the season, has rejoined the G League club following a stint in Sacramento, per a press release (Twitter link). The Capitanes have a 10-6 regular season record, good for fourth place in the NBAGL’s Western Conference.
  • The NBA has updated its criteria for hosting an All-Star weekend, requiring a city to reach certain benchmarks in terms of hotel rooms, convention center space, and flights, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, one of the league’s smallest markets, doesn’t meet any of the three requirements, making it unlikely that the Thunder will host an All-Star game anytime soon, Mussatto notes.
  • With the schedule set to resume following the All-Star break, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press checks in on the contenders for Most Valuable Player, suggesting that it could be one of the most wide-open MVP races in years.
  • Former NBA wing Robert Reid, who played in the league from 1977-91, passed away this week at age 68 after a battle with cancer, according to Jyesha Johnson of FOX26 Houston. Reid appeared in over 900 regular season games, primarily with the Rockets, averaging 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 27.3 minutes per night. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.

And-Ones: Barton, All-Star Game, Buyout Market, More

Will Barton, who reportedly reached an agreement with CSKA Moscow last month, will return stateside without having played for the Russian club, per an announcement from CSKA (Twitter link). Barton’s contract was terminated via an early exit clause.

An 11-year NBA veteran who appeared in 56 games last season for Washington and Toronto, Barton could be a candidate to return to the league down the stretch. However, Alessando Maggi of Sportando hears from sources that the wing’s departure from CSKA Moscow was related to failed medical tests. If that’s accurate, any NBA teams with interest in Barton will be sure to do its due diligence on his health situation.

CSKA Moscow indicated in its announcement that it remains on the lookout for a player who can help out at shooting guard and small forward.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Ten basketball writers for The Athletic shared their thoughts on how the NBA could improve its All-Star Game. Some of their ideas? Combining All-Star weekend and the in-season tournament final four into one event; turning the All-Star game into a two-on-two or three-on-three tournament; or simply naming All-Stars and not playing the game.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN, Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton take a closer look at what sort of impact the NBA’s rule tweaks have had on the buyout market and consider which player will be the most impactful buyout-market addition this season. Of the veterans who have already found new homes, Pelton views Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie as the player capable of making the greatest impact.
  • Joe Vardon, Sam Amick, and David Aldridge of The Athletic polled several players at All-Star weekend on a variety of topics, including the best player and team in the NBA, whether the league has become too offense-heavy, and what rule changes they’d implement if they had Adam Silver‘s job for a day. The Celtics earned the most votes (five) for the NBA’s best team, with the Clippers (four) coming in second.

Community Shootaround: Fixing The All-Star Game

The NBA continues to tinker with ideas to produce a more competitive All-Star Game, but nothing seems to be working. Scoring records fell Sunday night as the East defeated the West, 211-186, in Indianapolis, but there was little celebration afterward from players, fans or media members following another year of minimal effort and virtually no defense.

As commissioner Adam Silver said dryly at the MVP presentation (video link), “And to the Eastern Conference All-Stars, you scored the most points. Well … congratulations.”

Silver, who had predicted a more watchable contest during his annual All-Star Game press conference, was clearly annoyed by what took place, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Bontemps notes that Silver and NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars have been stressing the need for effort in one of the league’s signature events. Instead, the players produced a lackluster series of dunks and long three-pointers that again raises questions about the future of the game.

LeBron James, an All-Star for the 20th time, summarized the problem of trying to make players care about the outcome when there are no real stakes involved.

“I think it’s something we need to figure out,” said James, who was dealing with a sore left ankle and didn’t play in the second half. “Obviously from a player’s perspective, it’s fun to get up and down. But at the end of the day, our competitive nature don’t like to have free-flowing scoring like that. But I think the good thing that came out of tonight was none of the players were injured, and everybody came out unscathed or how they were before the game started. So it’s a deeper conversation.”

After years of experimenting with having captains choose teams, the NBA went back to its traditional East vs. West format this year. The “Elam Ending” which brought novelty to the game when it was first introduced by setting a target score for teams to reach, has also been dropped.

Several scoring records were set Sunday night, although none of them were all that thrilling to witness, notes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The teams combined for 397 points in the game and 193 in the first half. They also made a record 67 three-pointers on a record 167 attempts. The East made 42 three-pointers and scored 104 points in the first half.

None of it seemed to captivate the crowd or even the players, as Anthony Davis told reporters that he felt the highlight of the night was a dunking exhibition involving hype teams from the Pacers and Bulls before the start of the fourth quarter.

“For me, it’s an All-Star Game, so I will never look at it as being super competitive,” Anthony Edwards said. “It’s always fun. I don’t know what they can do to make it more competitive. I don’t know. I think everyone looks at it … it’s a break, so I don’t think everyone wants to come here and compete.”

It’s not a problem that’s exclusive to the NBA, as other sports have made changes to their All-Star contests over the past decade in an effort to make them more watchable. Some have suggested adopting a U.S. vs. international players format. Some believe the game should be scrapped entirely.

We want to know what you think. Are there changes the NBA can make to improve its All-Game or is the league stuck with an noncompetitive exhibition every year? Please leave your comments in the space below.

Community Shootaround: All-Star Weekend

Two standouts from this year’s All-Star Weekend don’t even play in the NBA.

G League guard Mac McClung defended his Slam Dunk Contest title by beating Jaylen Brown in the final round, while WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu went shot-for-shot with Stephen Curry in a three-point competition before falling on Curry’s final attempt.

McClung needed an inspired finish on his final dunk to capture the title, and he delivered a reverse jam while jumping over 7’1″ Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. The feat earned McClung a 50 from all five judges as he became the first repeat winner since Zach LaVine eight years ago.

McClung didn’t commit to going for a three-peat next year in San Francisco, but he told an interviewer after the contest, “I would never say never. … It’s an honor to be here.”

Ionescu thrilled the Indianapolis crowd with her shooting display, sinking her first seven shots and hitting 8-of-9 money balls while using a WNBA ball and taking shots from the NBA three-point line. She missed five of her last 10, though, which allowed Curry to prevail in the first-ever NBA vs. WNBA Three-Point Challenge by making his last four.

“So much credit to them,” commissioner Adam Silver said. “I wish I could say that the league in its lab came up with this idea. This was about Steph and Sabrina, two friends who said, ‘Won’t this be fantastic?’ I know that Steph cares a lot about the women’s game, the opportunity to bring more attention to this fantastic shooting.”

Damian Lillard brought similar drama to the Three-Point Contest, which came down to his final shot before he became a back-to-back winner. Needing to make one shot for the victory, Lillard missed four in a row before sinking his last attempt.

We want to get your opinion on All-Star Weekend. Is the dunk contest still the highlight? Should the NBA vs. WNBA competition be brought back? Did the LED floor enhance the experience or distract from it? Please leave your responses in the space below.

Bucks, Celtics Bidding To Host All-Star Games

The Bucks are hoping to bring All-Star Weekend to Fiserv Forum in either 2027 or 2028, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

If the request is approved, it will be Milwaukee’s first All-Star game in half a century. The city played host to the 1977 contest, which saw Julius Erving capture MVP honors even though his East team lost to the West, 125-124, at the old MECCA Arena.

West Coast cities will host the festivities over the next two years. The 2025 game will take place at Chase Center in San Francisco, marking the first time it will be played in that city even though the Warriors have hosted it twice before. A year later, All-Star Weekend will move to the Inuit Dome, which will become the Clippers’ new home next season.

Bucks officials have been trying to win approval for an All-Star game in Milwaukee for several years, Owczarski adds. They submitted bids for the 2022 and 2023 contests, but those were awarded to Cleveland and Salt Lake City. This year’s festivities in Indianapolis mark a trade-off for 2021, when COVID forced the game to be moved from Indiana to a “bubble” setting in Atlanta.

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reports that the Celtics are making progress in their effort to host the game in 2029. Team president Rich Gotham told Washburn that the franchise is working in collaboration with city and state officials to set up Boston’s first All-Star Game since 1964.

“We’ve had those conversations with both the NBA and the city of Boston and a lot of different constituencies, including TD Garden and Meet Boston,” Gotham said. “We’ve had some preliminary conversations and there’s enthusiasm from all the parties to bring the game to Boston. We’re working at it.”

According to Washburn, the NBA is leaning toward Phoenix for 2027 and there’s a scheduling conflict at TD Garden in 2028, which is why the team is targeting the following year. The Celtics began exploring an All-Star bid before the pandemic, Washburn adds.

Gotham explains that the process is extremely competitive and involves more than just an available arena. The NBA requires host cities to have plenty of hotel space, a convention center for league events, and a secondary arena to hold practices and the celebrity game.

“It’s not a given (to host the game) but we’ve been given really good, positive feedback from the NBA that Boston is a city they feel like can handle an All-Star Game,” Gotham said. “From the Celtics perspective, we’d really love to host it. We think it would be a great thing for the city of Boston.

And-Ones: Holland, 2024 Mock, All-Star Game, Rising Stars

G League Ignite forward Ron Holland will miss the rest of the season to protect his injured right thumb, according to Andscape’s Marc J. Spears (Twitter link). Spears adds that Holland is expected to make a full recovery and will have complete involvement with the pre-draft cycle.

Holland, currently ranked 10th on ESPN’s 2024 best available players list, averaged 19.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals for the Ignite across the regular season and Showcase Cup.

As Spears observes, this case is similar to what happened with Scoot Henderson last season. In his second year with the Ignite, Henderson was shut down in mid-March to protect his health.

According to Spears, Holland injured his thumb on Jan. 31 against Iowa and his plan is to finish the season on the Ignite’s roster as an injured player.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Holland goes fourth off the board to the Hornets in Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report’s latest 2024 mock draft. Holland joins Alexandre Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, Nikola Topic and Cody Williams in the top five of Wasserman’s mock. UConn’s Stephon Castle, Miami’s Kyshawn George and UNC’s Harrison Ingram are some of Wasserman’s top risers while Kentucky’s Justin Edwards, Arkansas’ Trevon Brazile, Duke’s Tyrese Proctor and Santa Clara’s Adama Bal are among the biggest fallers.
  • Despite several changes over the past decade, the NBA’s All-Star Game still lacks real competitiveness, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst opines. Even though the Elam ending helped make things interesting at first, the game has reverted back to players not engaging on defense. Everyone realizes some change needs to come and, according to Windhorst, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander suggested a financial incentive. Regardless of what happens, it’s clear the All-Star Game isn’t a finished product. “We need to make the message clear to players [so] guys come out and say, ‘It’s a game. Let’s go try to win it,’” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
  • The NBA’s next generation are among those who recognize the flaws with the All-Star Game and tried to do their part by putting on a good show in the Rising Stars game, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I think the only thing we can do is just go out there and just play like a real game,” Henderson said. “I think the All-Star Game and All-Star in general is just looked at like fun and games, but I think the fans, they want to see a competitive spirit. And there’s been sparks like that in the game in recent years but I think all that we can do as young guys coming up is try to continue to have that competitive edge.

And-Ones: 2024 Offseason, Vegas, Mudiay, Forbes, More

The NBA had a busy trade deadline, but there were no blockbuster deals completed last week, with role players like Buddy Hield, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Gordon Hayward among the biggest names who were on the move. However, according to Howard Beck of The Ringer, executives around the league are expecting more fireworks during the 2024 offseason.

“There will be a lot of parts moved this offseason,” one Eastern Conference executive told Beck. “There’s going to be some options, some high-level guys that ask to get moved.”

As Beck writes, this spring’s playoff results could have a significant impact on what the trade market looks like this offseason. If a team with expectations of a deep playoff run gets bounced early, rival executives will be watching closely to see if that team’s stars have a wandering eye. The Lakers (LeBron James), Suns (Kevin Durant), and Cavaliers (Donovan Mitchell) are among the examples Beck provides, with one exec predicting that “there’s no doubt” Mitchell leaves Cleveland at the end of his current contract in 2025.

There will also be franchises with increasingly expensive rosters who may begin to feel pressure to make a move to generate more financial flexibility or to avoid committing to a pricey luxury tax bill, Beck notes, identifying the Celtics, Timberwolves, and Pelicans as some of the teams that rivals will be monitoring.

Beck is also the latest reporter to say that executives around the NBA believe Trae Young‘s name will pop up in trade rumors this offseason. One Western Conference exec told Beck, “I think they would love to trade Trae,” while another said the Hawks discussed a potential Young deal with the Spurs prior to last Thursday’s deadline.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN on Wednesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver once again stated that Las Vegas is “definitely on our list” of markets that will receive consideration for the next round of expansion, according to The Associated Press. “We want to figure out what our media relationships are going to look like but then we will turn to expansion,” Silver said.
  • Former NBA lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay has signed with Piratas de Quebradillas, according to an Instagram post from the Puerto Rican team. Mudiay, who also played in Puerto Rico’s BSN league last season for Cangrejeros de Santurce, was the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft and has appeared in over 300 NBA games, most recently with Sacramento in 2021/22.
  • Former NBA sharpshooter Bryn Forbes has been arrested on a family violence charge, per an Associated Press report. Forbes, who was also arrested last February following a domestic incident, was jailed on Tuesday in San Antonio on a charge of assaulting a family member by choking/strangulation, which is considered a third-degree felony. The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the NBA since he was waived by Minnesota a year ago.
  • With G League Ignite prospect Ron Holland unable to participate in All-Star weekend due to a thumb injury, the NBA has announced that Cavaliers two-way forward Emoni Bates will replace him in the Rising Stars game (press release) and that Bulls two-way center Adama Sanogo will take his place in the G League Up Next game (Twitter link).