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Rising Stars Challenge Players Announced

The NBA announced the rookies and sophomores who will be participating in the Rising Stars Challenge during the 2014 All-Star Weekend.

Basketball Insiders

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The Philadelphia 76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams, the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard headline the list of 18 players selected for the 2014 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge to be played Friday, Feb. 14, in New Orleans during NBA All-Star 2014.

Carter-Williams, the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in October/November, leads all first year players in scoring (17.4 ppg), assists (6.7 apg), rebounding (5.6 apg) and steals (2.41 spg). Davis, the league leader in blocks (3.27 bpg), is averaging a double-double with 20.4 points and 10.4 rebounds. Lillard, the 2012-13 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year has the Trail Blazers near the top of the Western Conference standings thanks to averages of 20.6 points and 5.6 assists.

»In Related: NBA Team Salaries

The BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge — televised live nationally on TNT at 9 p.m. ET and broadcast live on ESPN Radio, with live audio also available on NBA.com in multiple languages — features two teams each consisting of nine rookies and sophomores mixed together, drafted from a pool selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches.

Joining Davis and Lillard among sophomores selected to participate are the Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes, the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond, the Houston Rockets’ Terrence Jones, the Boston Celtics’ Jared Sullinger, the Toronto Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dion Waiters.

Carter-Williams is joined in the player pool by fellow rookies Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Atlanta Hawks’ Pero Antic, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Utah Jazz’s Trey Burke, the New York Knicks’ Tim Hardaway, Jr., the Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo, the Boston Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, and the Brooklyn Nets’ Mason Plumlee.

»In Related: NBA Rumor Round-Up: Suns Are Buyers

This marks the third straight year rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams. The BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge Draft is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6, televised exclusively on TNT at 7 p.m. ET. General Managers for the teams will be announced at a later date. Last year in Houston, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried scored 40 points (18-of-22 field goals) and added 10 rebounds en route to MVP honors as he led his team to a 163-135 win.

Following the announcement of each team on Feb. 6, fans will be able to vote online from both their computer and mobile device for the starters of each team. The starting lineups will be determined by the players garnering the top votes for their respective positions, with two backcourt and three frontcourt spots for each team. The announcement of the starting lineup will be made in broadcast and in-arena on the night of the game.

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Sources: Mike Budenholzer Withdraws from Suns Head Coach Search

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Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Phoenix Suns head coaching job, league sources tell ESPN.

Sources: Among the coaching candidates the Suns are still considering: Interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale, Frank Vogel.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

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Sources: Lakers Expected to Pursue Kawhi Leonard in Offseason

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Former Lakers coach and star Byron Scott, for one, said this week that he believes the team has targeted this summer for a quick jump-start rebuild, suggesting that LA will wind up with both Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James this summer.

Around the league, front-office sources agree with at least half that assessment.

“I think they go in hard for Leonard once the season is over and once the dust settles in San Antonio,” one executive told Sporting News. “[Leonard] wants to go to LA. There probably won’t be public demands on that, but he has leverage. He is going to be a free agent [in 2019]. He’s an LA guy and he can just let teams know he won’t re-sign next year with anyone but the Lakers.”

Source: Sean Deveney of Sporting News

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Sources: Stan Van Gundy to Meet with Pistons Owner to Discuss Future

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Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy have set a meeting for next week to discuss Van Gundy’s future with the franchise, league sources told ESPN.

The two had initially planned to sit down late this week, but the meeting was pushed back, leaving the Pistons organization to await word on how, if at all, the franchise’s structure could be altered.

Most of Van Gundy’s front-office staff, including general manager Jeff Bower, are in the final year of their contracts and are operating without clarity on whether they’ll be employed beyond the spring.

The Pistons were 39-43 in an injury-plagued season that ended with Detroit missing the playoffs for the third time in four years under Van Gundy’s watch. Nevertheless, Van Gundy inherited a franchise stranded in the lottery with few assets on the roster. He is 152-176 with Detroit, where he was hired after eight seasons as head coach of Orlando and Miami.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

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