Avery Johnson said he doesn't really care about being the coach of the Western Conference All-Stars in mid-February other than it means his team would be playing some pretty good ball. But, he did have some thoughts on his players.
"As long as Josh and Dirk are on the team," Johnson said, obviously talking about Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki. "And if Damp [Erick Dampier] was healthy all year, with the way he's played recently, I think we can throw his name in there, too. As long as those guys are on there. Is that selfish?"
Dirk, the reigning MVP, is practically guaranteed a spot. The clubhouse leaders so far in fan voting are Tim Duncan and Carmelo Anthony. If that holds, those two will start. Utah's Carlos Boozer figures to be an easy choice for whichever coach heads the team. Then comes the sticky part, picking another forward between Howard and the Suns' Shawn Marion if only five forwards are selected. Marion has a slim lead on Howard in fan voting, 296,917-258,580.
Howard averages more points than Marion, but Marion has better rebounding numbers. Both are incredibly valuable to their teams.
-- Jeff Caplan