Thursday And-1 links: Heat arena as homeless shelter?


Here is our daily 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).

Some politicians want to force Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena to house the homeless on non-game nights (that was part of the public financing plan). Feels like an election year, doesn’t it? And no, I’m not making an Eddy Curry joke here, that’s too easy.

Just as a note, Miami has gone 8-1 without Dwyane Wade. They expect to get him back Friday against the Knicks.

LeBron James is offering advice and trying to help out the Cavaliers rookies.

Dirk Nowitzki’s future is not in color commentating. But it is funny.

Dwight Howard is still using the Carmelo Anthony/LeBron James free agency playbook — when asked in any city if you would play there, say you certainly would consider it. Even Boston.

The Magic did not offer a contract extension to Ryan Anderson, who will be a restricted free agent next summer. Smart move. Yes, he’s playing at an All-Star level this season, but do you need a stretch four if you can’t keep Dwight Howard?

In this condensed season, home court advantage matters more than normal.

As they should have, the Bobcats picked up the fourth year option on Gerald Henderson. He’s having the best year of his career by far.

Also from the “as they should have” category, the Knicks picked up the option on Toney Douglas.

GM Darryl Morey talks about the Rockets future and more in a pretty frank Q&A.

Cleveland’s Omri Casspi had to get six stiches on his chin after taking an elbow in Cleveland’s win over New York Wednesday.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis explains whey they fired Flip Saunders. Like the rest of us, he wasn’t seeing any progress.

Andray Blatche talks about his feelings of Saunders being fired. No, he doesn’t say it is his fault.

Unlikely, crazy playoff possibility — the Lakers or Clippers win the Pacific Division but do not have one of the best eight records in the West, then the division winner goes in as the four seed and the eight seed is out.

The Sixers’ Lavoy Allen (who played in town at Temple) talks with

The Kings Marcus Thornton is out for a couple weeks due to a hematoma (which is sort of a really bad bruise). That means more Jimmer Time in Sacramento, he gets the start for now.

The Lakers have sent Derrick Caracter to the D-League as he tries to return from injury.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.