• Damian Lillard‘s third All-Star Game was his best yet. Alas, it didn’t end in victory. Team LeBron beat Team Stephen 148-145 in a spirited, competitive All-Star Game that came down to its final moments. Maybe if Team Stephen coach Mike D’Antoni had kept the Portland Trail Blazers superstar on the floor, Sunday’s contest would have been over before crunch time.

    Lillard first entered the game with 5:45 left in the first quarter, replacing James Harden as Team Stephen’s primary ball handler. He wasted little time getting involved, hoisting up a deep triple from the left wing that missed everything but the waiting hands of teammate Draymond Green. Fortunately, that ugly airball wasn’t a harbinger of things to come. Lillard first got on the board with a jumper from the elbow, after walking into a long offensive rebound. He finished the first quarter with four points, two rebounds and one assist, helping Team Stephen to a 42-31 lead.

    Lillard remained on the floor for the first few minutes of the second quarter, too. His first triple of the night, a 31-footer, came from the All-Star logo that stretched just past both sides of halfcourt.

    The Blazers’ star mostly played bystander from there, missing another long 3-pointer as Team LeBron made a run. He exited the game with 8:09 remaining before intermission, finishing the first half with seven points, two rebounds and one assist on 3-of-6 from the field, with his squad up 78-76.

    All that rest, which included a lengthy halftime performance on the floor and typical amounts of broadcast commentary, did Lillard well. Starting the second half for Team Stephen alongside Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Green and Joel Embiid, Lillard came out aggressive. After misfiring on a designed triple on the opening possession of the third quarter, Lillard scored seven points and found Embiid for a 3-pointer before Curry subbed in for him with 6:04 left in the third quarter. That was a crucial stretch of the game, too, one that kept Team LeBron’s momentum in relative check despite Team LeBron coach Dwane Casey beginning the second half with his starters.

    Lillard’s new All-Star career-high, which was previously 11 points, came on a mid-range jumper midway through the third period. Starting the final stanza, he pushed it higher and higher – while also padding Team Stephen’s lead. Lillard had seven more points over the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, and gave his squad a 129-120 advantage on another 3-pointer, his third of the night, with 7:52 left.

    His 20-foot jumper less than a minute later extended Team Stephen’s lead to 13 points, its highest since the first quarter. Unfortunately for Portland fans, and those rooting against Team LeBron, Lillard didn’t have the chance to do what he does best late. He exited for good with six minutes and 36 seconds remaining, with Team Stephen up 133-120, a lead it relinquished entirely after late-game heroics from, who else, LeBron James, named MVP after scoring 29 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and doling out eight assists.

    Lillard entered the All-Star break playing the best basketball of his career. After scoring a team-high tying 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and registering an All-Star best plus-minus of plus-18, it’s never been more obvious that Lillard belongs among basketball’s true luminaries. Here’s hoping he not only continues to do so for the season’s remainder, but in All-Star Games to come – perhaps even in Portland come 2022.

Fantasy News

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Dwight Howard has agreed with the Grizzlies on a buyout, and will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers.

    The Lakers are giving Howard an opportunity to be fantasy relevant. When given minutes, Dwight can produce double-doubles with the best of them, but he has been changing teams for years now. He will be worth a gamble at the end of your draft if camp with the Lakers goes well, but this is a non-guaranteed deal, and he only played nine games last season.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Marcus Derrickson
    PF, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.

    It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.

    Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter

  • Marreese Speights
    C, Free Agent

    Marreese Speights will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.

    Speights spent last year playing in China and will attempt his NBA comeback with the Lakers. who are in desperate need of an additional center. He is among three centers the Lakers are looking into, the others being Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Of those three, Speights unquestionably has the best floor spacing ability, which would be his strongest bet to eke out those other two for the job.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter

  • Trevor Booker
    PF, International

    Trevor Booker has worked out for the Nuggets and has workouts planned with the Bucks and Clippers, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.

    Booker was out of the NBA in 2018-19, spending the season in China after he didn't get any offers in free agency. He did return to the US to undergo a procedure on his foot but is apparently fully recovered. The last time we saw Booker he split 68 games between the Nets, Sixers and Pacers in 2017-18. If he does make a successful comeback he'll have no fantasy relevance.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter

  • John Henson
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    In a recent Q & A on Cleveland.com, beat writer Chris Fedor said that the Cavs are "excited" to have a healthy John Henson.

    Henson underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist last November and missed the rest of the season. He was limited to 14 games with Milwaukee before getting traded to the Cavs, averaging 5.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 13.4 minutes per game. The Cavs do have a crowded rotation at center with Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. all candidates to see minutes, but Henson gives them an element of rim protection and could factor in. He's a name to remember for deep-league owners hunting blocks.

    Source: Cleveland.com

  • Robert Covington
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) will reportedly be "good to go" for the start of training camp in October.

    Well, this is good news that we didn't hope we would need. Covington played 35 games last year and couldn't get over the bone bruise injury that kept him out for a majority of the year. We expected him to be ready to go, and the fact that we're even discussing this is slightly less than ideal.

    Source: Dane Moore on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.

    Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.

    Source: Boston.com Celtics News on Twitter

  • Isaiah Canaan
    PG, International

    Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.

    The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.

    The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.

    Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.