Dwyane Wade hasn’t had to often rely on Eastern Conference coaches. Carmelo Anthony never has.
Now the coaches could be the only way the two veterans participate in the All-Star Game.
Neither was voted a starter and both face tough odds to get picked as reserves this week for next month’s game in New Orleans.
Anthony had been elected a starter in all five full seasons with the Knicks, part of his eight starts among his nine All-Star appearances. But the fan support wasn’t there this season and he didn’t get any help from the media or fellow players in the first season they were included in the voting process.
He might get some from coaches, who still praise him as a dangerous scorer at 32 years old.
“I would love to be a part of that weekend, represent not only the Knicks but represent New York as a city down there in New Orleans,” Anthony said. “So if I have the honor to do that I’d accept that with open arms, but we’ll see what happens.”
Reserves will be revealed Thursday after voting by head coaches in each conference, who will select three frontcourt players, two guards and two players regardless of position.
Wade has been a starter 10 times in his 12 All-Star appearances, and both numbers would have increased this year in the old voting format. He finished second among guards in fan voting but only sixth among media and players. Now he’s in the guard mix with Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Washington’s John Wall and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker.
“He got my vote. I will tell you that,” Jimmy Butler told reporters of his Bulls teammate.
Now Wade needs some from coaches.
MILD, MILD WEST
Alvin Gentry, like many people, thought the Pelicans’ playoff hopes were over before they really started.
After all, teams don’t usually climb out of 0-8 holes in the Western Conference.
But neither the Pelicans nor anyone else is out of it this season in a horrible year at the bottom.
“I’ll be honest with you, in 28 years I’ve never seen it like this,” the New Orleans coach said.
Eight teams could be battling for the final spot, and it might not take much to get it.
In 2013-14, the Phoenix Suns went 48-34 and they couldn’t. Now 35 wins is on pace to get it done.
“Timing is everything I guess,” said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who coached that Phoenix team.
Portland has surprisingly struggled after a second-round appearance last season, Dallas and New Orleans have battled injuries, and Minnesota, the Lakers and Phoenix might be too young.
That might leave Denver, which leads the race for eighth at 18-25.
But if one of those bunched at the bottom can get hot — or even just lukewarm — it might be playing in May.
“You think 1-8 you got to make up seven games to just get back to .500, but it’s just been kind of a strange year in that … the last six, seven spots in the West everybody has an opportunity still I think,” Gentry said. “With a couple of win streaks and a couple of things you feel like you’re right there.”
COMING THIS WEEK:
SHINING STARS: Before heading to New Orleans for the All-Star Game, starters LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, plus likely reserves Russell Westbrook and John Wall visit the Big Easy this week as the Pelicans host Cleveland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Washington.
CURRY’S LONE HOMECOMING: With the All-Star Game moved from Charlotte to New Orleans, the Warriors’ game Wednesday in North Carolina will be Stephen Curry’s only chance to play at home this season.
GOING FOR 14: The Washington Wizards try for their 14th consecutive home victory on Tuesday against Boston, their lone game in the nation’s capital in a six-game span.
MVP VS. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR? Joel Embiid is the heavy favorite for the first-year award and James Harden a leading contender for the top individual award. Their teams play Friday when Houston visits Philadelphia.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: 15 of 30, 41 points in 118-115 overtime victory over Cleveland. With the highest-scoring game of his career, Leonard became the first Spurs player with six straight 30-point games since Mike Mitchell in 1986.