All-Star Saturday is the best, and this year’s was one to remember. We got the Curry/Thompson showdown in the 3-point shootout, Zach LaVine effectively winning the dunk contest after one dunk, and Chris Bosh’s incredible dominance of the Shooting Stars Challenge.
The main event’s Sunday night, and it’ll be fun, for sure. But nobody’s going to put on a Tune Squad jersey.
There’ll be plenty more recapping the night (and the weekend) here on Sheridan Hoops coming up, so let’s get to what my job is: rounding up the latest news from around the NBA.
COUSINS DOESN’T RESPECT BARKLEY
That headline kind of speaks for itself, but it’s worth noting that this is what Charles Barkley does, and he’s very good at it. Also, the Kings are kind of a trainwreck this season, but Cousins has little to nothing to do with it, which shows that he’s matured a good deal over the last few years.
DeMarcus Cousins responded to Charles Barkley’s criticism of him by saying he simply doesn’t care about anything that comes out of the Hall of Famer’s mouth.
“It ain’t personal,” Cousins said when asked about the TNT analyst. “I mean, I don’t really respect the guy, but at the same time, I don’t really care what he thinks either.
“I don’t respect him and I don’t care what he thinks.”
Barkley recently was critical of the Sacramento Kings’ All-Star center and even used an expletive to describe how disgusted he was when discussing reports that Cousins was consulted by the Kings before they agreed to hire head coach George Karl last week.
“Why are they discussing it with him,” Barkley said during a TNT telecast. “Yeah, I am totally disgusted with that. … He hasn’t done enough to deserve that type of power. [The Kings] stink. Why would you give a guy that young that type of power?
“If you’re a Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon or somebody like that, yeah, you deserved that type of power after you have earned it. Let me just say this either way, that’s just total [garbage]. That’s ridiculous.”
Cousins responded Saturday by saying, “I mean, that’s Charles being Charles.”
PAUL GEORGE THINKS HE’S ALMOST READY
The Pacers’ medical staff might disagree, but if you ask the All-Star forward, he’s just a few weeks away from being back on the court. And once again, I wish I’d never watched that Vine of his gruesome injury. What a mistake that was. It’s never going to stop replaying in my head. Which, I guess, makes it all the more impressive that he could be back within the season.
The All-Star break figured to be a quiet time for the Pacers franchise, with none of the players participating in the competitions in New York City this weekend.
But then Paul George found a way to liven things up.
Speaking with reporters while promoting a line of New Era Pacers caps that he helped design, George spoke more optimistically than ever of returning to game action this season. It seemed impossible on Aug. 1, when he broke his right leg in an exhibition game with USA Basketball, it seemed highly unlikely in October, when the Pacers opened training camp, and it seemed improbable just a week ago, when George spoke with reporters in Indianapolis.
Now, according to George, it seems quite possible.
George said he has “no exact timetable” for a return, but has targeted March 1 as a day to begin practicing 100 percent, with a goal of playing in his first game in mid-March. His comments inspired a quick press release from the Pacers, stating George’s return will be determined by the team’s medical staff.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel, wherever he was, probably executed a 360-degree eye roll when he heard George’s latest comments. Vogel has consistently tried to dampen expectations of a return, perhaps in part because he’s the one who’ll have to answer the daily questions about it as the date approaches. Last week, after team president Larry Bird had thrown out the possibility of a March return and George had cautiously backed that notion, Vogel said he did not expect George to play this season.
BLATCHE CONSIDERING STAYING IN CHINA
Free agent forward Andray Blatche is seriously considering a lucrative contract to re-sign in the Chinese Basketball Association, multiple sources told RealGM.
Blatche has been pursued by several teams in China, and has had progressing discussions to sign a deal there instead of a potential NBA return, sources told RealGM.
After deciding not to commit to an NBA team last offseason, Blatche joined Xinjiang in China and had a dominant season, averaging 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 56 percent shooting from the field.
WHY LEBRON IS NBPA VICE PRESIDENT
The key meeting took place late last year in Cleveland. Roberts met with James, introduced him to her growing executive staff and explained her vision of the union. Also in the meeting were some of James’ closest NBA friends: James Jones, a NBPA executive committee member who played with James in Miami and now is his teammate in Cleveland, and Roger Mason Jr., who was an executive committee member and is deputy executive director of player relations for the NBPA.
Roberts left that meeting with the understanding that James is a union person, not just in the sense of the NBPA but for unions in general.
James has a comfort level with Roberts and a long friendship with NBPA president Chris Paul, who urged James to take a prominent role with union. That will be important after James was elected first vice president of the NBPA in New York on Friday.
“It’s good to be vice president of the players’ association. CP (Chris Paul) is the president and Michele is obviously the commander-in-chief, and we look forward to doing some good things,” James said on Saturday.
James also said he plans to play an important role in helping determine how the league distributes a massive amount of television money to players through the salary cap system starting in 2016-17.
DAMIAN LILLARD IS THE BEST RAPPER IN THE NBA
Dame’s bit starts at 2:45 and goes until about 4:00. Spoiler: he kills it.