Stoudemire said skipping college was hardest choice of his life

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For some NBA players, college was that inconvenient road bump between AAU ball and the NBA. They may like the college life and getting to play in front of large arenas of ravenous fans, but the classes and studying were an inconvenience.

But there are guys in the NBA who would savor the chance to learn and be in an intellectual college environment. You know, what you tell everyone now you miss about college. Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire is one of those guys, one of the more thoughtful guys in the league.

And he told the New York Times that skipping college to go straight to the NBA was no easy call for him.

Deciding to go to the N.B.A. and pass on being a part of what University of Memphis had to offer was the hardest choice I have made in my life. I am not sure if I’ll get my degree or not. I have taken college classes during my summers off, but it’s tough to fit traditional learning into my work schedule so I take classes on the Internet when I can. And I am very focused on continuing to learn new things. My foundation and most of my charitable work focus on creatively inspiring youth to get an education. I think education is the key for people to avoid poverty.

With my children, we talk a lot about what it means to have an education and what they want to be when they grow up. I also try to set a good example and make sure reading is a priority in their lives. Knowledge is power. What you don’t know can kill you.

For some guys like Stoudemire, skipping college seems the right move (he was playing 31 minutes a game as a rookie, starting 71 games that season for the Suns). The problem with the old system was the hangers on who convinced good young ballers they were going to make the high school to NBA jump only to find out that they were not drafted or not mentally ready for the leap. (Well, what the owners hated was the money spent scouting these kids and the risk involved in picking them, but that’s another story.)

I still favor a baseball style system: You can draft a kid out of high school, because there are guys like Stoudemire and LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett who are ready for that leap. But if you are not drafted, you have to spend three years in college. That doesn’t mean that all those kids are going to study hard for three years in school, but some might learn about the world beyond the gym.

In the end, what matters to these youth is what matters in the education of all youth — it starts with parents who value it and encourage it. And it sounds like Stoudemire’s children are getting that. Which matters a lot more than hoops.

Report: Clippers hiring ex-Cavaliers executive Trent Redden

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The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.

Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.

Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).

But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr: I expect to coach all season and for many years ahead

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.

Could those issues derail his career?

Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”

On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.

But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.