Bernucca: Who Is On Your Team’s Mount Rushmore?

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rushmoreThis past week, NBA TV released excerpts of an extended interview with LeBron James (airing in its entirety Monday night) in which Steve Smith asked “The King” to name his Mount Rushmore of basketball.

James offered a quartet of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. But it’s really an unfair question, because in addition to those four players, there are at least three more – centers Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell – who are in the “best ever” conversation. And that group doesn’t include active players who eventually will join the conversation as well, like Kobe Bryant and James himself.

A better exercise might be establishing a Mount Rushmore for each team.

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SH Blog: Knicks hoping for Love, Rondo; Aldridge plans to shoot more threes

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JohnWallAll-Star Saturday is one of my favorite days of the NBA season, because it’s the best chance we get to see players just having fun. More than just about any other sports league on the planet, the NBA likes to show off its players’ charisma, flair, and general ability to entertain. And it’s working. Just ask every company that uses an NBA player in their advertising. Any of the twenty or so of them.

I rounded up some NBA players’ reactions to the dunk contest, so click through for that. Personally, I thought the freestyle round was a cool addition, and the East team had some really slick teamwork. The battle format was a little iffy, though, and only getting to see one dunk from each competitor was a bit of a letdown. Ben McLemore’s rumored 720 never materialized, though his dunk was pretty easily the runner-up to John Wall’s runaway winner. He also had my favorite individual dunk of the freestyle round and showcased his ridiculous hops. On the whole, the dunkers (especially the East, who clearly had a game plan, whereas the West seemed a little starstruck) brought it, but the format held them back.

The other great thing about All-Star Saturday is that everyone’s in one place, and that means one-of-a-kind trade rumor coverage. It’s like baseball’s winter meetings, only with dunks also. It’s a pretty great time for the basketball blogger.

Now let’s get to the news:

SH Blog: Chris Paul likely to return Sunday; Knicks still hoping for Rondo

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Andrew WigginsSo the Olympics started today. As a Canadian, this is the one I’m supposed to care about. We may not be the best at swimming and soccer and running fast, but we are good at hockey and skiing, probably.

But my heart is set on the future: 2016. That’s when the everyone will see the basketball talent of Canada on the world’s biggest athletic stage (presuming we qualify, which still needs to happen). And this isn’t Steve Nash and a bunch of stiffs any more, either. There’s lottery pick after lottery pick coming out of the Great White North these days, way more than from any non-USA country.

So Lithuania, Argentina, Spain, France, look out. Canada is coming.

As an aside, writing this intro made me realize that I can only name two people on Canada’s national hockey team, and that’s assuming Sidney Crosby is playing, which I don’t actually know for sure. That’s fewer players than I can name on the national basketball team, even without Wiggins, Bennett, Olynyk and Nik Stauskas. This might mean I’m a bad Canadian.

Bad Canadian or not, I’ve got the latest NBA news here for you to read:

  • Big news: Chris Paul is back. Via Eric Patten of Clippers.com: “Chris Paul’s return to the lineup may be imminent. After missing the past 18 games, Paul is expected to play Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Head Coach Doc Rivers. Prior to the Clippers practice Saturday, Rivers said there was a “50-50” chance Paul would suit up against Philadelphia, but following the workout he re-assessed the situtuion. “He looked great [in practice],” Rivers said. “We plan on playing him.” The Clippers did not undergo a great deal of full-contact activity Saturday, but Rivers said they did “some 3-on-3 stuff just to try and get him out.” Paul was originally injured on Jan. 3 when he landed awkwardly on his right shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks. Rivers said Paul was pining to play within a week of being hurt. “That’s what players think and you want players like that,” Rivers said. “They’re delusional sometimes, in a good way, in a very good way.””
  • rondoUSA Today’s Sam Amick has some interesting thoughts on what could be in store as the trade deadline approaches. Here’s what he had to say about the Knicks: “With all due respect to Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony, her recent proclamation that her husband was “definitely” going to re-sign in New York wasn’t enough to allay the Knicks’ concerns. They know full well that making roster improvements sooner rather than later would increase their chances of Anthony re-signing, meaning the Knicks are known to be on the lookout for a blockbuster-type deal and still are hoping against hope that it involves Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Despite the consistent claims from Celtics general manager Danny Ainge that Rondo isn’t available, the Knicks have a strong belief that he can be had if – in a nod to another show – the price is right. They can offer the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire (one season remaining after this one, at $23.4 million) while taking future money back (such as Gerald Wallace and/or Jeff Green) and helping Ainge clear the way for the summer of 2015 that is known to be a priority of his. (That summer is a major priority for the Knicks, too, but it appears the Rondo scenario is one of the few, if not the only, where they’d consider the impact of his addition great enough to justify taking on some money from that point on.) The Knicks can include Raymond Felton (a much cheaper point guard option) or Iman Shumpert (rookie contract) and even discuss beloved rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. Yet what they can’t do is offer the sort of draft-pick haul that Ainge covets and that could come his way from somewhere other than New York before the deadline passes.”
  • Carmelo AnthonyHere’s more on the Melo and the Knicks, from the New York Post’s Marc Berman: “Anthony praised Woodson, who again is on thin ice. Anthony indicated the players have to stop squawking about game plans, and start executing them and playing harder. “We got to help him, too,’’ Anthony said after the Knicks crushed the Nuggets at the Garden, 117-90. “He’s the coach. He has his focus, his game plan and schemes. We got to go out there and execute that. We can’t fight that. We have to do that. Sometimes our inconsistencies come from not playing hard. Not bringing the energy and the little things on the basketball court to win. Some nights we do. Some nights we don’t.’’ Dolan could be swayed by Anthony’s feelings. One source familiar with Anthony’s thinking said he still likes Woodson as the team’s head coach and feels he did a lot for his game across the last two-plus seasons, particularly on defense. If he expressed those feelings to Dolan, it would likely weigh in his decision.”
  • Also from Berman of the Post, Metta World Peace is open to leaving his hometown team: “Metta World Peace is in Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s doghouse and he’s unsure why. After returning from a blood-spinning procedure on Jan. 24, World Peace has seen little time in the rotation and now is open to getting traded, according to a league source. After spending his career wanting to be traded to the Knicks, the defensive forward, who has been in and out of the rotation since December, wouldn’t mind being traded from the Knicks. “He didn’t sign up for this,’’ one person close to him said. When asked about whether he wanted to get dealt at the Feb. 20 deadline, World Peace said: “That’s up to my agent. I don’t worry about it. I’m optimistic about my future. … I’m not going to complain.’’”
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  • Still more on the Knicks, and possibly Rondo: Adam Zagoria of The Knicks Blog says New York really needs PG help, because Raymond Felton just isn’t cutting it: “Raymond Felton may have had a decent game against the Denver Nuggets Friday night, but he isn’t viewed favorably around the NBA. And that’s putting it politely. “Felton is the worst starting point guard in the NBA,” one NBA executive, whose team recently played the Knicks, told SNY.tv. “I’d take 10 college point guards and about 30 NBA backups over him right now.” The Knicks traded their first-round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft to the Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony deal. Ironically, DraftExpress.com currently has the Nuggets selecting Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis at No. 9 with that pick. Syracuse is currently 22-0 and No. 1 in the nation. “[Ennis] is better than Felton,” one NBA scout said.”
  • Bojan_Bogdanović'13Across New York, the Nets are in a similar situation, with an aging and underperforming roster and not many assets stockpiled to make trades with. But the Wall Street Journal’s Alex Raskin writes that they do have one significant player available: “”I would say 20 out of 30 teams have interest in him,” a league source said of sharp-shooting forward Bojan Bogdanović, whose rights are currently owned by the Nets. The 24-year-old Croatian nearly came over to the Nets last summer, but was ultimately prevented from moving to the NBA because of an expensive buyout in his contract with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahçe Ülker. (NBA teams are limited in what they can spend on foreign buyouts.) Next summer, however, Bogdanović will be a free agent and the Nets could offer him as much as the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, which is slated to start at $3.278 million for the 2014-2015 season. The question is, do the Nets want to cash in the rights to Bogdanović now, or would they prefer to sign him over the summer? Waiting until the off-season is a risk, because even though the Nets the only NBA team that could bid on his services, European teams assuredly covet a 6-foot-7 swingman who averaged 18.1 points while making 40.9% of his three-point attempts during the Euroleague regular season.”

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Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

SH Blog: Marion wants age requirement to be higher to enter NBA, Boozer unhappy with role

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SteveBlakeNashSH1The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the unluckiest teams in the league in terms of having to deal with an endless number of critical injuries, particularly to their list of point guards.

It’s one thing to miss your starting point guard. It’s another to then lose your backup point guard and your third string point guard. That’s precisely what happened to these Lakers, with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all going down with significant injuries. They became desperate and picked up Kendall Marshall from the D-League, which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both parties. Fortunately for their list of injured guards (not so fortunate for Marshall), they are all looking to make a comeback as soon as Tuesday night, from Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all practiced Monday and will be available to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, barring any setbacks.

“They’re good,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I think they’re all ready to go.”

D’Antoni made sure to hedge a bit on the status update, however, and with as snake-bitten as his team has been, one could hardly blame him.

“It’s possible,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see how everybody wakes up, but there is a possibility all three could play.”

The coach said he wondered if Nash, out since Nov. 10 with nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, would ever make it back to the court.

“With the age and how his back is, yeah, I definitely [wondered],” D’Antoni said. “Again, it just shows his perseverance to overcome whatever just to play. He wants to play, obviously. And he’s done an unbelievable job to get himself ready up to this point and we’ll see how it goes.”

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SH Blog: David Stern Retires, Passes Torch to Adam Silver; Pacers Want Bynum; Taj Gibson on the Trade Block? Rondo Interested by Free Agency

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SternNewserSaturday marks the end of one of the NBA’s most profound era’s.

Not the “Jordan” era.

Not the “LeBron” era.

Saturday, February 1st marks the end of the “David Stern” era. 

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