Short takes


• Cleveland superstar LeBron James made his public plea last week calling for team management to add another playmaker when his defending NBA champion Cavaliers were in the midst of losing six of eight games.

“He says he needs help,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. “He’s the best player in the world. He’s got plenty of help. … They’ve got the highest payroll in the league.”

The Timberwolves visit Cleveland on Wednesday.

• Fans worldwide won’t see Wolves guard Zach LaVine go for a third All-Star slam-dunk title, and teammate Karl Anthony-Towns suggests this year’s version won’t be the same.

“It’s his size that makes him so special,” Towns said. “His stature is amazing. It seems his dunks are more like paintings. A lot of people can try those dunks, but for him to do it so gracefully is what makes him so special, and that’s why so many people levitate toward his dunks. People just are going to miss the swag he brings to it. He has that confidence that he should win this easily.”

• There are always players snubbed and unexpected results in NBA All-Star balloting, particularly this season when fans, media and coaches voted for the game’s starters for the first time. Given the political climate these days, two players responded with these quips:

When the league’s coaches left him off the reserves, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid tweeted, “Once again the popular vote didn’t matter …”

And when players’ balloting included votes for such players as the Wolves’ Cole Aldrich (three of them) and Adrien Payne, James told reporters, “There’s always goofy votes. Donald Trump is our president.”