Wednesday And-1 links: Cuban is still spending on something

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Welcome to our look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Mark Cuban is going to spend about $1.4 million on Mavericks championship rings. He’ll do it without blinking. He’d gladly do it again next year, but that appears not to be a concern.

When Dwyane Wade is out, LeBron James and Chris Bosh put up bigger numbers (as they did against the Spurs Tuesday). Don’t confuse that with the Heat being better.

Expect Gregg Popovich to sit Tim Duncan for a game soon. To rest him.

Boston Celtics ticket prices are suddenly much more affordable.

Rumor is the Knicks want to get J.R. Smith when the Chinese season ends. I bet they would. But they are over the salary cap and are very limited in what they can offer, so unless Smith isn’t concerned about the money it’s a tough sell.

Just a reminder, the post Carmelo Anthony trade Knicks are a below .500 team.

Richard Hamilton returned to the Bulls lineup Tuesday and had 11 points.

Martell Webster is back in the Timberwolves’ practices. He may return to games soon.

Al Horford’s surgery was successful on Tuesday, but he is pretty much lost for the season to the Hawks.

Vince Carter will be out Wednesday against the Clippers with what is described as a sprained foot (suffered on that final play against the Lakers, a missed three to tie the game). Expect him to miss a couple more.

The NBA is going to celebrate the Chinese New Year with special events this year. Globalization, baby!

The Hornets hope to get Eric Gordon back on the court next week.

Memphis officials were “encouraged” by the results of Zach Randolph’s latest MRI. Take that with a grain of salt, but it’s a good sign.

Kevin Love says all the right things about his potential contract extension with the Timberwolves.

Jeff Foster will be out a couple weeks for the Pacers.

Lakers rookie Darius Morris has looked decent after being forced into action. He’s way more athletic than anyone else in their backcourt not named Kobe.

The Nets waived Dennis Horner to clear a roster spot for Larry Owens.

The Knicks have sent center Jerome Jordan and guard Jeremy Lin to the Erie BayHawks of the D-League.

The Nets have sent Jordan Williams to the Springfield Armor of the D-League.

The latest State of Nate video, chronicling the life of Nate Robinson.

Richard Jefferson: LeBron James was sick during Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3

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LeBron James was inexplicably bad in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.

Except maybe it was explicable.

Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson, via Fox Sports Ohio

I know he won’t talk about it, so I’ll give my big guy a shout. Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning, because he had like a little bug, just really lethargic, had no energy. And I think that’s what Bron had. And sometimes these little bugs can go around.

When Deron didn’t show up to shootaround, it kind of started clicking in his head. Because for him it was more of like, “I don’t know why I was so lethargic, why I had no energy, I had nothing.” And so, these little things happen. There was no panic.

Look, he was lethargic. They hit a bunch of tough shots. If Marcus Smart doesn’t go 7-for-10 from 3, then we’re not even talking about it.

I don’t know whether LeBron was truly sick or Jefferson is just trying to help a teammate’s reputation. It can be both.

LeBron was better in Game 4, but not quite right.

If he’s dealing with a minor illness, that could clear up by Game 5 tomorrow. It should especially clear up by the Finals, which begin June 1. That’d be great news for the Cavs, who have no chance against the Warriors if LeBron isn’t at full strength.

The uncertainty of why LeBron hit a slump now of all times loomed over Cleveland’s playoff future. But Jefferson provided reason for the Cavaliers to breathe easy.

Michigan’s D.J. Wilson staying in NBA draft

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Michigan bigs D.J. Wilson and Moe Wagner declared for the NBA draft in similar situations – coming off breakout seasons, particularly excelling down the stretch, and sitting on the first-round bubble for the NBA draft. Neither hired an agent, leaving their options open.

But this is where their paths diverge.

Michigan releases:

University of Michigan junior forward D.J. Wilson announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and submit the necessary paperwork to remain as an early entrant into the 2017 NBA Draft.

University of Michigan sophomore forward Moritz Wagner announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will return to the Wolverine basketball program after removing his name from consideration for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Wilson and Wagner both said they’d stay in the draft only if they’d be first-round picks. I wonder whether Wilson got a first-round promise or is just confident enough he’ll get picked there. The latter wouldn’t be a bad bet. Even if the 22-year-old Wilson slips into the second round, this might be the peak of his draft value.

At times, it’s easy to forget Wilson is a 6-foot-11 big man. He shoots 3-pointers, dribbles and moves like a wing. He also too often shies from contact, which particularly hurts his rebounding.

But he’s a big. Those perimeter skills wouldn’t shine quite as brightly if he were matched up with opposing wings. Wilson has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and he also protect the rim. However, his shot-blocking relies on a bounciness that’s not as effective when pressed into more physical matchups. He needs some space to launch – but when he has it, it also pays off in quality finishing at the rim.

Wilson has the tools to be a good NBA power forward, but he’s still a work in progress. In other words, he still looks like a borderline first-round pick.

Tyronn Lue imitates LeBron James’ criticism of reporter (video)

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After the Cavaliers Game 3 loss to the Celtics, LeBron James accused reporter Kenny Roda of showing up/asking questions only when Cleveland loses.

Questioned by Roda after the Cavs’ Game 4 win, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue lightheartedly lobbed the same criticism at Roda.

Coaching LeBron can be tricky. Lue must both challenge the greatest player of his generation and handle LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness. Lue can neither let LeBron walk all over him nor bark orders at him.

In this case, it seems Lue is trying to diffuse LeBron’s pettiness before it turns into something bigger. Considering how silly LeBron’s initial comments were, I bet the star is on board.

Tony Bradley becoming North Carolina’s first one-and-done in nearly a decade

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North Carolina hasn’t had a one-and-done player in eight years.

Since Brandan Wright declared for the 2008 NBA draft after his freshman year, the Tar Heels have emphasized player development over multiple years. That practice has yielded two national titles, including this year’s, in that span.

It also limited freshman center Tony Bradley’s playing time this season, as he was stuck behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

But Bradley shined enough in 15 minutes per game to follow Wright as one-and-done from Chapel Hill.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

Bradley is a borderline first-round pick, though this late decision when many expected him to return to school indicates he believes he’ll go in the first round. There’s certainly logic in turning pro before scouts pick apart his game over a larger sample.

Bradley is huge – 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan – but he’s not explosive. The hope is someone in the Rudy Gobert mold.

Whomever drafts Bradley will hope his elite offensive rebounding is a harbinger. But why is his defensive rebounding and rim protection so forgettable?

He moves and passes fairly well for his size, but considering he’s so big, those aren’t necessarily skills for him to hang his hat on. If a teammate sets him up, he uses his size to finish well at the rim.

Beyond his size and offensive rebounding, Bradley doesn’t set himself apart one way or the other. Whether that’s good or bad depends how deep in the draft it is.