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NBA All-Star Weekend is over. What happens next?

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By: Mark Bergin

NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone.

For once, there was an exciting All-Star Game. The 3-Point Contest came down to the last shot and the Slam Dunk Contest had a controversial finish.

Here are some of the biggest questions ahead of the last third of the regular season, which resumes Thursday night.

When will we see the Elam Ending again?

The Elam Ending is a rule that removes the clock at the end of a game and replaces it with a target score.

Critics widely mocked the new format before Sunday night’s All-Star Game. It included TNT analyst Charles Barkley.

However, media members widely praised the Elam Ending after a competitive game.

The two teams combined to shoot 36 percent in the fourth quarter after shooting 56 percent in the first three quarters. It got chippy enough that players argued calls with the referees, both teams challenged a few calls and Kyle Lowry took two charges…in an All-Star Game!

Really the only downside of the Elam Ending during Sunday’s All-Star Game is the contest finished on a free throw. Luckily, there appeared to be no injuries either because the players actually played really competitively.

I’d like to see the league try to experiment with the Elam Ending in the Summer League or preseason before implementing it in games that actually matter.

However, the Elam Ending would likely eliminate the late-game strategy of teams intentionally fouling to preserve clock. The intentional fouls and free-throw shooting can disrupt the flow of how basketball is traditionally played.

Perhaps the league would consider adopting the Elam Ending in meaningful games moving forward, but it might take a few years.

I’d imagine the NBA will keep the Elam Ending for the All-Star Game at the very least.

Which team will win the NBA Championship?

Sports betting website Odds Shark released odds Monday indicating there are three heavy favorites to win the 2020 NBA Championship.

Betters can get the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers or the Milwaukee Bucks at -280, meaning a $280 wager wins $100.

The NBA’s other 27 teams are listed at +240, meaning a $100 bet wins $240.

The Lakers are individually listed at +225, the Bucks at +250 and the Clippers at +300, as of Monday night.

The next best team is the Houston Rockets at +1,400. If new acquisitions DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Green play significant minutes, they will become the Rockets’ tallest rotation players at 6’8” respectively. Sorry Rockets fans, but your team isn’t winning an NBA championship on a gimmick.

Barring injuries and despite the illusion of parity at the start of the season, the oddsmakers heavily favor the Lakers, Clippers and Bucks to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in June.

How long will Brett Brown coach the Philadelphia 76ers?

Perhaps the better question is this: Who would the 76ers hire or promote to replace Brown?

Before the start of the season, many expected either the 76ers or the Milwaukee Bucks to win the Eastern Conference.

No one expected the 76ers to be flirting with the six seed.

Someone has to be the scapegoat. Some have already blamed Al Horford and his $27.25 million average annual salary through the 2022-23 season.

Brown has benched Horford for the foreseeable future.

The 76ers’ predicament is a little bit similar to when the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to employ head coach Scott Brooks for a season too long during the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook era.

Will Tristan Thompson get bought out?

The Cleveland Cavaliers suddenly have a glut of big men with Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and Tristan Thompson.

All three are such prolific rebounders that they’ll probably be fighting each other for rebounds:

  • Drummond averages 15.8 rebounds per game
  • Thompson averages 10.3 rebounds per game
  • Love averages 9.8 rebounds per game

Thompson is making $18.5 million this season before becoming a free agent. Love is under contract through the 2022-23 season, and Drummond is on the books through next season.

The Cavaliers (14-40) are a mess, and head coach John Beilein could step down as soon as this week.

Thompson averages 12.1 points per game and shoots 51.2 percent from the floor. Perhaps another team with playoff or title aspirations could use his services.

A buyout occurs when a player and team mutually decide to part ways. The player surrenders an agreed-upon amount of his guaranteed salary, and is released, becoming a free agent.

While the NBA trade deadline has passed, the unofficial buyout deadline is March 1.

Players can still be bought out after that point, but said players are not eligible to play in the postseason for a new team if they are waived after March 1.

However, players who are not under contract with a team before March 1 are eligible for the playoffs as long as they sign before the end of the regular season.

Which team wins the second seed in the Eastern Conference?

The Bucks have the possibility of winning 70 games this season with a 46-8 record headed into All-Star Weekend.

The franchise record for wins in a regular season is 66 during the 1970-71 campaign when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the team.

The Toronto Raptors — the two seed in the Eastern Conference — are 6.5 games behind in the standings.

The Raptors are the defending champions even with the departure of Kawhi Leonard, but you’d imagine they have a ceiling to how far they can go in the postseason.

The Celtics are currently the three seed with a 38-16 record.

The reason the two seed matters is because of home-court advantage: The Raptors are 19-8 on the road this season, while the Celtics are 15-11 away from home.

Mark Bergin is a freelance journalist based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He’s covered the absurdity of Tampa Bay Rays management claiming the team would split the season with Montreal. Mark has also written about Jameis Winston’s struggles leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You can follow his work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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