Stephen Curry

Western Notes: Curry, Green, C. Johnson, Jazz, J. Hall

Warriors veterans Stephen Curry and Draymond Green didn’t make the trip to Phoenix for Thursday’s game and won’t be available, reports Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s a rest day for Curry, who will be participating in the All-Star Game this weekend. As for Green, he’ll get an extra day of rest for his sore ankle before Golden State gets a week off for the All-Star break.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Second-year sharpshooter Cameron Johnson also won’t play in Thursday’s Suns/Warriors contest, as he’s been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. If Johnson is subject to contact tracing, he could be good to go following the All-Star break, but if he has tested positive for COVID-19, he won’t be available for the start of the second half either.
  • After waiving Shaquille Harrison last week, the Jazz are still about $1.2MM above the luxury tax line, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who suggests Utah could still get out of tax territory by paying a team to take on Juwan Morgan‘s contract before the trade deadline, then filling its open roster spots off-and-on with 10-day contracts for the rest of the season. Of course, a bigger trade that reduces team salary would also work.
  • The Thunder recalled rookie two-way player Josh Hall from the G League bubble on Wednesday, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Hall, who played in just one game for the OKC Blue at Walt Disney World, was listed on Wednesday’s injury report as out due to left knee soreness.

Simons, Stanley, Toppin To Compete In Dunk Contest

Anfernee Simons of the Trail Blazers, Cassius Stanley of the Pacers, and Obi Toppin of the Knicks will compete for the annual Slam Dunk title at halftime of the All-Star game on Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, the NBA announced in a press release.

Simons, a 6’3” guard, is averaging 8.2 PPG in his third NBA season. Stanley is a 6’5″ rookie guard on a two-way contract after being selected in the second round last fall. He recorded a maximum vertical leap of 44 inches in the 2020 draft combine. Toppin, a 6’9″ rookie forward and lottery pick, is averaging 4.6 PPG in 25 games off the bench.

The 3-Point Contest, which will be held prior to the game, has a lot more star power. Suns guard Devin Booker and Warriors guard Stephen Curry, former winners of the long-ball contest, head the list of participants. The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Bulls’ Zach LaVine and the Jazz‘s Donovan Mitchell round out the six-man field.

The Skills Challenge, which will also be held prior to the game, also has plenty of All-Star firepower. Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Suns guard Chris Paul head that six-man listKnicks forward Julius Randle, Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis, Magic center Nikola Vucevic and Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington round out the field.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Wiseman, Looney, Cousins, Lakers, Robinson

The Warriors could have most of the regulars back in action on Tuesday against the Knicks. Stephen Curry missed Saturday’s loss to Charlotte but practiced on Monday and is expected to play Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Coach Steve Kerr also indicated big men James Wiseman and Kevon Looney could play after participating in the practice. Looney has been out since February 2 with an ankle sprain. Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the draft, has been sidelined since January 30 with a wrist injury.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Executives whom Heavy.com Sean Deveney spoke to believe that DeMarcus Cousins would be a bad fit for the Lakers. Cousins is being held out of action as Houston seeks to deal him. Cousins hasn’t shot it well this season and his diminished mobility makes him a liability on defense. The team also has limited salary available to add another player.
  • The absences of Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder are taking a toll on the Lakers and the schedule isn’t helping, Jovan Buha of The Athletic notes. They had lost two straight heading into Monday’s game against Washington while struggling to find offensive answers. They also play four teams with winning records before the All-Star break.
  • Kings swingman Glenn Robinson III is not currently with the team due to personal reasons, James Ham of NBC Sports California tweets. Robinson has appeared in 23 games, averaging 5.3 PPG in 16.0 MPG. Sacramento must decide this week whether to fully guarantee Robinson’s $2MM contract.

2021 NBA All-Star Game Starters Revealed

The NBA has revealed its 2021 All-Star Game starters. Here are those names:

Eastern Conference

After missing all of the 2019/20 season while he recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Durant is making his triumphant return to the All-Star Game. In his first appearance as a Brooklyn player, the 11-time All-Star will captain a team, having led the Eastern Conference in fan votes.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Eastern All-Stars]

This is the seventh All-Star appearance for Durant’s teammate Irving. Antetokounmpo, the reigning two-time MVP, has just made his fifth All-Star game. A frontrunner for the 2021 MVP award, Embiid is appearing in his fourth such contest. Beal will be making his first All-Star start after playing as a reserve in the 2018 and 2019 All-Star contests. The Wizards are the No. 13 seed in the East.

Western Conference

James, who was the top vote-getter in the Western Conference and the entire NBA with 5,922,554 fan votes, will again be a team captain. He will be suiting up for his 17th All-Star appearance, the third-most ever behind only fellow Laker legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19 appearances) and Kobe Bryant (18). James was previously tied for making the third-most cumulative All-Star contests alongside Hall of Fame Nets and Sixers wing Julius Erving, who was selected into five ABA All-Star games and 11 NBA All-Star games.

Jokic, an early top MVP contender along with James and Embiid, will earn his first All-Star start in his third appearance in the game. Curry will partake in his seventh All-Star contest, while Leonard has just been voted into his fifth All-Star game.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Western All-Stars]

Doncic barely edged out Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard to be the second All-Star guard next to Curry among the starters, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Despite extended absences from starters CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Collins, the Blazers boast an 18-10 record, good for the No. 4 seed in the crowded West, largely thanks to Lillard. The Mavericks, meanwhile, are 13-15, the No. 10 seed in the West.

As was the case during the last two years, the top vote-getters of each conference will captain a team, and will be able to draft players from either conference. The “Elam Ending,” which made the conclusion of last year’s game much more entertaining than it had been in recent years, is set to return again this year.

Earlier today, the league officially announced that the 2021 All-Star Game is set to take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, as a one-night event on March 7. The evening will also include its three All-Star weekend mainstay events: the Skills Competition, the Three-Point Contest and the Dunk Contest.

A full list of fan voting totals is viewable at this Twitter link, courtesy of Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. The complete voting breakdown by position and conference, including media and player votes, can be found at the bottom of this press release.

The league will announce the 14 players who will comprise the All-Star reserves on Tuesday, February 22, at 7 p.m. ET, per Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).

Pacific Notes: Curry, Wiseman, Lakers, Bagley

Following the Warriors‘ loss to the Spurs on Monday night, head coach Steve Kerr said he wouldn’t be changing his approach to Stephen Curry‘s playing time, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. Curry, who scored 32 points on Monday and was a plus-three in a game Golden State lost by five points, has been limited to about 34 minutes per game this season in his return from a broken hand.

“I’m into the long game,” Kerr said after Monday’s loss. “We’re counting on having Steph here a long time, many years ahead. … For me, for (the Warriors’) organization, we’re not throwing Steph out there for 40 minutes to chase wins. We got another game (Tuesday). We want Steph to be playing at a high level for many years, so we’re going to stay very disciplined and try to keep him at that 34-, 35-minute mark.”

In the second game of the Warriors’ back-to-back set in San Antonio on Tuesday night, keeping Curry’s playing time in check wasn’t a problem. The former MVP scored 32 points in just 32 minutes en route to a comfortable 114-91 victory.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • While injured Warriors rookie James Wiseman will be formally re-evaluated on Thursday, Kerr was talking on Tuesday night as if the team expects the young center to return from his wrist injury soon, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • The Lakers are only slightly over the luxury tax line this season, but their roster will likely get significantly more expensive in 2021/22. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines how much the team figures to pay in salary and taxes next season, and where there may be opportunities to cut costs.
  • Marvin Bagley III‘s focus this season has been staying healthy and getting comfortable at the four, but the Kings‘ former No. 2 overall pick looked good when forced into action at center on Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, notes Jason Jones of The Athletic. With Richaun Holmes and Hassan Whiteside up for new deals in 2021 and Bagley eligible for an extension, Sacramento will want to determine this season whether having Bagley play more at the five should be part of the team’s long-term plan.

Warriors Notes: Wiseman, Curry, Thompson, Roster

James Wiseman will be reevaluated once the Warriors return home from their road trip, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. The No. 2 overall pick in the draft is recovering from a wrist injury suffered January 30 against Detroit. Coach Steve Kerr said the rookie center is progressing well from the left wrist sprain. The Warriors’ next home game is Thursday against Orlando.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • While the odds are starting to drop, Stephen Curry is a value play for bettors wagering on the Most Valuable Player award, according to Ethan Strauss of The Athletic. Curry currently has the sixth-best odds, but is posting offensive numbers on par with – or better than – any season in his career except for his brilliant 2015/16 campaign, Strauss adds. Curry is averaging 29.4 PPG and 6.1 APG after his 57-point explosion against Dallas over the weekend.
  • Klay Thompson has shed the walking boot as he continues to recover from a right Achilles tendon tear, Slater notes in another tweet“Getting the boot off is a milestone,” Kerr said. “I’m not sure what’s next.” Thompson suffered the injury in November.
  • If the Warriors want to bring in a free agent big man due to their frontcourt injuries, a wrinkle in the COVID-19 protocols could make that happen quickly, Marcus White of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. According to TrueHoop’s Tom Haberstroh, free agents who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days (and are now negative) only require a two-day quarantine.

And-Ones: Vaccines, Ball, Trade Candidates, Defenders, All-Star Voting

In an effort to alleviate players’ – and some coaches’ – fears and skepticism about receiving COVID-19 vaccines, the NBA is arranging mandatory meetings over the next two weeks between its top medical expert and all 30 teams, Sam Amick, Joe Vardon and David Aldridge of The Athletic report. Teams felt there was a need to provide information and insight on this issue to its players.

The NBA wants everyone associated with the game — players, coaches, referees and chief front office personnel — to get the shots, not only for safety reasons but also as part of a national volunteering-public relations campaign.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • LaMelo Ball ranks as the leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The Hornets guard ranks first in assists and steals, second in rebounding and third in scoring among all rookies despite coming off the bench in all but two games. Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton sits in second place for Wasserman, who ranks the rookies from 10-1.
  • With Wizards guard Bradley Beal apparently off the market, there won’t be another blockbuster trade this season to rival the James Harden deal, Tim Bontemps of ESPN opines. Some of the players who could be moved by March’s trade deadline are Lonzo BallJ.J. Redick, P.J. Tucker, George Hill, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, though Hill and Gordon are currently injured.
  • Rudy Gobert‘s contract with the Jazz is a rare case in which a defensive stalwart is compensated like a elite scorer, Aldridge notes in a separate Athletic story. Aldridge takes a closer look at why top defenders are generally not as valued as scorers.
  • Kevin Durant has received the most All-Star votes in the early returns, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Beal is the top vote-getter among Eastern Conference guards. LeBron James has the most votes among Western Conference forwards and Stephen Curry leads all Western Conference guards by a wide margin.

Western Notes: Bridges, KP, Beal, Warriors, Gobert

Suns small forward Mikal Bridges is making the case for an offseason extension with his play this season, Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated contends. A versatile two-way wing, Bridges has improved his scoring output while frequently guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing club.

Bridges described his own prep process for the All-Stars he has had to defend, ranging from Kawhi Leonard to Damian Lillard. “You just gotta know your opponent, lock into the film, their tendencies, and get ready, man,” Bridges said.

There’s more out of the West:

  • During this young season, Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis has yet to recapture the tantalizing play he flashed during the 2019/20 season, his first full year in Dallas, per Drew Maresca of Basketball Insiders. Maresca notes that Porzingis, who rejoined the Mavs last month after an offseason knee surgery, has not been able to replicate the long-range shooting touch he exhibited last season.
  • The Warriors could provide an appealing trade package in a hypothetical deal with the Wizards for Bradley Beal. In a deal that would probably have to include both 2020 lottery pick James Wiseman and the Timberwolves’ top-3 protected 2021 draft selection, the Warriors would be perhaps sacrificing their future for their present. The big question, were a trade to happen, is how long Golden State star guard Stephen Curry can remain a core part of a title club, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert recently sat down for an extensive interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, addressing the Jazz’s hot start to the 2020/21 season, his relationship with All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, his relationship with former Jazz star center Mark Eaton, and a host of other topics. Utah, currently the No. 1 seed in the West, is 9-1 in its last 10 contests and 16-5 overall. “We all realize that winning a championship would be something that’s never been done before in this franchise, so we all realize that if we all give a little more of ourselves to the team and we all sacrifice a little more, we have a chance to hopefully be in a position to accomplish that,” Gobert said.

Warriors Notes: Starting Five, Wolves’ Pick, Mannion

The Warriors suffered their second consecutive loss on Saturday in Utah, dropping to .500 (8-8) on the season. In the wake of that blowout, head coach Steve Kerr left the door open to the possibility of making changes to his struggling starting lineup, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“It’s going to take us 20 games to figure out where we really want to be with our rotation,” Kerr said. “We’re at 16 now, and I think getting a pretty good look at everything. We just had two bad losses in a row, so we have to assess everything. No doubt.”

Kerr has suggested that Golden State’s starting five – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre, and James Wiseman – has the highest upside of any of the team’s lineups, but the results haven’t been there so far. That unit has played 161 minutes together, while no other five-man group has played more than 37. In those 161 minutes, the Warriors’ net rating is -20.3.

The team will have a good opportunity to turn things around this week, with home games against the 4-11 Timberwolves on tap for Monday and Wednesday.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Nearly one year after the Warriors and Timberwolves made a blockbuster trade involving D’Angelo Russell and Wiggins, Anthony Slater of The Athletic explains why he thinks Golden State has gotten the better end of that deal. As Slater outlines, neither Russell nor Wiggins has been a major difference-maker, but the Warriors were able to avoid the tax last season by dumping salary in that trade and are still owed a Wolves first-round pick that will likely land in the lottery.
  • Within the same story, Slater says that – while the 2021 Timberwolves first-rounder owed to Golden State is top-three protected – the Warriors shouldn’t worry about Minnesota finishing with a bottom-three record. Even in that scenario, there’s still about a 60% chance that the Wolves’ pick will land in the No. 4-7 range and will change hands.
  • The Warriors have discussed the possibility of sending rookie guard Nico Mannion, who is on a two-way contract, to the G League bubble at Walt Disney World next month, tweets Slater. I haven’t played a full game since March 12,” Mannion said. “Going down there, getting into a flow, would be good for me.” The Santa Cruz Warriors are one of 18 teams participating in the revamped NBAGL season.

And-Ones: G League, Allen, Harden, Icons

The G League draft will be held on Monday at 1 PM ET, Adam Zagoria of The New York Times tweetsMichael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Muhammad, Quincy Pondexter, Lance Stephenson and Allonzo Trier are among the NBA veterans who will be eligible for the draft, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. The full list of draft eligible players can be found here. The G League season will begin in Orlando next month.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Former Knicks player Kadeem Allen has departed JL Bourg, according to the French club’s Twitter feed. Allen agreed to join the French team over the summer. The 53rd overall pick of the 2017 draft, Allen had been on a two-way contract with New York before being cut earlier in the summer. In two seasons with the Knicks, Allen saw limited action, averaging 8.2 PPG and 3.3 APG in 29 total games (18.4 MPG).
  • What are the pros and cons for each Eastern Conference contender to acquire James Harden? ESPN’s Insiders take a closer look at what each of those teams might have to surrender in order to trade for the former Most Valuable Player and whether Harden would be a good fit.
  • Which current players are the biggest icons for their franchise? Eric Koreen of The Athletic uses a numerical system to rank those players, with Stephen Curry of the Warriors coming out on top.