Thursday And-1 links: Kobe talks about passing Shaq

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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).

Kobe Bryant on passing Shaq on the all-time scoring list (he’s just 69 points back): “It was inevitable.” Sorry, but that feud was more than just Phil Jackson.

A big part of the problem in Orlando — Stan Van Gundy doesn’t have a lot of good players to coach.

DeShawn Stevenson will be out at least a couple weeks for the Nets due to knee issues.

The New York Times did a fascinating in-depth look at the NBA and China. The league is losing its grip a little.

The 76ers need some depth along the front line, but they are not going after Chris Kaman.

Steve Nash just became the Suns all-time assists leader Wednesday. My first thought: He wasn’t already?

Monta Ellis for Joakim Noah? This rumor is out there in the Bay Area, but there is no chance — zero, nada — that the Bulls would do it. Dr. Who couldn’t find a world where that trade happens.

Paul Pierce tells Kevin Garnett he should shoot more threes.

The Magic have waived Larry Hughes. He’s free to sign with anybody… if they want him.

Thinking, Fast and Slow, about the NBA. (Really interesting read about how we view players.)

Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and the Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio are your Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month for January (and December, they threw those five days in). The Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau and the Thunder’s Scott Brooks were named the Coaches of the Month.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman complains that his young team does not get a fair shake from the referees. He’s right to a degree, the Wizards are a young team and so tend not to get calls. More importantly, that’s not really the problem in Washington.

Tickets are on sale for the Broadway production of Magic/Bird.”

Casey Jacobsen writes for SLAM about his best and worst teammates in the NBA (and more). Chris Andersen comes off well, Darko and J.R. Smith not so much.

Speaking of the gunner. J.R. Smith hit 14 threes and dropped 60 points in a game in China. And no, his family did not get into any fights in the stands.

The Cavaliers recalled Luke Harangody from the D-League.

The Magic are about to call up Ish Smith from the D-League to provide some help in the back court.

RIP well known D1 college coach Charlie Spoonhour.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.