More Trail Blazers join All-Star Game festivities, impact of fan-less arenas, bad contracts, another COVID-19 cancellation, aging gracefully: NBA news and notes

The hoopla surrounding the NBA All-Star Game will, it turns out, have a heavy dose of Portland Trail Blazers flavor.

Anfernee Simons is expected to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest and Robert Covington will take part in the Skills Challenge, according to published reports. They will join Damian Lillard, who has been selected as an All-Star reserve and, reportedly, chosen to compete in the 3-Point Contest, giving the Blazers three representatives in four events.

All-Star Weekend, which normally takes place over two days, will be scaled back to just one night this season — March 7 in Atlanta — due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest will take place before tipoff and the Slam Dunk Contest will be held at halftime.

Simons is expected join Indiana Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley and New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin in the dunk contest, according to ESPN, as the league continues its trend of featuring younger players in the event.

Covington, meanwhile, will take part in the Skills Challenge, according to The Undefeated. He’s the only player in the league who hails from a Historically Black College and University — Covington went to Tennessee State — and the league is highlighting HBCUs throughout the day of All-Star events.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the NBA:

• Fourteen teams are now allowing fans inside arenas for home games, up from five teams at the start of the…

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