PBT Wednesday morning one liners

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It’s cool because he gets to use the phrase “Magic Nuggets.” But Tom Ziller also has an interesting plan — what if the NBA did away with conferences and just took the best 16 teams and threw them in a bracket? Here’s what it looks like. And it looks pretty good.

Eddy Rivera over at Magic Basketball makes the case that Derrick Rose is not the MVP this season (even though he is going to win it). He correctly points out the Rose for MVP debate is shaking out like those baseball stats vs. scouts arguments, which is something the NBA has largely avoided so far.

The case for LeBron James as MVP. (Which was written before but feels a little off after the Heat loss to the Cavs, even with LBJ’s triple-double.)

The NBA confirms the referees got it wrong on LeBron’s three pointer at the end of the quarter against the Cavs. Fortunately, it didn’t end up impacting the outcome.

From our own Rob Mahoney: You hear announcers use the points in the paint stat all the time, but it’s not as important as you think. (Controlling the paint and boards are important, but points in the paint can be a poor measure of that.)

Awesome caricature of this year’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Paul Pierce likes to throw gum when in Indiana.

How hard did the Maloof brothers really work to get a new arena and stay in Sacramento? Not as hard as you think.

The Knicks are slumping, but Carmelo Anthony is getting some nice endorsement deals since coming to New York. Which is what really matters, right?

The Lakers have sent Derrick Caracter down to the D-League, to get some playing time so he can develop.

Jerry West scored a hole-in-one at the Lakers Celebrity Invitational golf event and fundraiser. That’s played at the Riviera Country Club, where the PGA Tour plays when it comes to Los Angeles each February.

Style tips from Zaza Pachulia.

Andre Iguodala is scoring less but he still leading the Sixers.

A conversation with Darryl Dawkins, talking the 1977 NBA finals against the Blazers and more.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.