Friday And-1 links: NCAA makes players draft decision harder

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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) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• To make things easier on their coaches and universities, the NCAA is screwing over players thinking about declaring for the NBA draft by giving them little time to make a decision. DraftExpress lays it all out, there is no real chance to “test the waters.” The issue is less the lottery guys and more the players who might go undrafted, get bad advice and now will not have time to reverse the decision.

As we said would be happening, the Celtics have officially signed Ryan Hollins as a backup center, waiving Chris Wilcox.

• Dallas has signed a deal with Kelenna Azubuike, which could be a great find if he really can bounce back from a pretty severe knee injury. He will start his comeback in the D-League.

• The Nets are holding Brook Lopez out a couple more weeks after a scan revealed a “line” where his foot had been fractured (and reportedly healed). The Nets should be in tank mode anyway.

• A fascinating note about crunch time statistics from John Hollinger at ESPN — crunch time defense may be a better way to tell who succeeds at the end of games than who does better on offense.

• Speaking of stats, they show Jeremy Lin is doing just fine under Mike Woodson, thank you very much.

• Why did the Lakers trade Derek Fisher? For them he would not have been the same leader on the bench.

• A good look at the problems Vinny Del Negro faces with the Clippers.

• Clippers fans have a right to be mad at Jason Smith — that was a cheap shot Thursday night — but they should also know they might not have Chris Paul without him.

• Allen Iverson’s ex-wife wants a list of every woman he’s slept with. Have fun with that one, the jokes write themselves.

• A good look at why the Clippers are not contenders right now, thanks to Zach Lowe from Sports Illustrated. To sum it up in a word – defense.

• DeMarcus Cousins and Devin Harris will not be sending each other Christmas cards.

The Clippers also have let Bobby Simmons go. Not really a shock after they brought in Nick Young.

• Ramon Sessions talks about adjusting to life with the Lakers.

• Iowa State power forward Royce White has declared for the 2012 NBA draft. DraftExpress has him going No. 18 right now, he appears solidly in the first round.

• Reports are Memphis’ Will Barton will declare for the draft as well. That’s a bigger risk, DraftExpress has him going in the second round — which means no guaranteed contract.

A Q&A with a guy I really enjoy talking to, Tristan Thompson of the Cavaliers.

The Warriors really had an eye on Joel Embiid’s trash talking (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid has a reputation around the league already, and for good reason.

The man who continuously lobbied Rihanna to give him a chance for a date has other NBA players hoping they beat the Philadelphia 76ers just to avoid Embiid’s trash talking.

Indeed, the Golden State Warriors beat Philly on Saturday night, 124-116, thanks in part to a huge rally in the second half. A 22-point deficit had to be overcome for Golden State, and not just to add to their win column.

The team also wanted to sidestep Embiid’s silver tongue:

Both Draymond Green and Kevin Durant said they wanted to keep Embiid at bay. Durant’s comment was particularly funny, and can be seen in the video at the top of the article (fair warning, Durant used some NSFW language).

The Process is now The Reputation.

Former Knicks, Warriors F David Lee announces retirement from NBA

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One of the NBA’s more under appreciated forwards has announced his retirement from the NBA.

David Lee, who spent time in his career with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs, told the NBA world about his retirement via his Instagram page on Sunday.

Lee, 34, played last season with the Spurs. He averaged 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for Gregg Popovich’s team.

Via Instagram:

Lee played 14 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which came with the Knicks. During his time in New York, Lee was seen as an unsung hero, nabbing rebounds and doing yeoman’s work from the power forward position.

The Knicks traded Lee to Golden State in the summer of 2010 for Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and two second round picks. He was part of the Warriors’ 2014-15 NBA Championship before eventually being traded to Boston in 2015.

Sixers say injured Markelle Fultz will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks

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We were all waiting for supposed “good news” about injured Philadelpia 76ers guard and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. And it looks like we’ve got it? It’s hard to tell with this one.

On Sunday, the Sixers announced that Fultz — suffering from a sore right shoulder — would be re-evaluated in two to three weeks.

That’s at least some kind of timeline, which is more than we got when Fultz was originally ruled out indefinitely at the end of October.

Here’s the announcement from the Sixers.

Via Twitter:

Fultz has reportedly been working out and shooting left handed, which one can only hope is adding to his dexterity.

No doubt Sixers fans just want to see him on the court again as quickly as possible. The saga of the imbalanced shoulder has been a strange one, we’ve all got our fingers crossed that it settles normally.

Damian Lillard defends Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts on Instagram

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It’s far too early for panic in Portland. This is a team most outside Portland thought would finish a little above .500 and maybe grab one of the back-end playoff spots in the West, and at 9-7 they are on that pace.

But after an ugly Portland loss to Sacramento (just a few games after a loss to Brooklyn where coach Terry Stotts benched center Jusuf Nurkick for most of the fourth), Trail Blazers fans were restless and started to slam coach Stotts on the Trail Blazers’ Instagram page.

I doubt Stotts noticed, but Damian Lillard did and jumped in to defend his coach.

Lillard added this (hat tip Mike Richman at the Oregonian).

“Because people think they know more about what it takes to get things done at this level … For our team than they actually do,” he said. “We’re in this position for a reason. And coach Stotts had two 50-win seasons here and four straight years in the playoffs for a reason –because he knows what he’s doing. They mention … our record is 8-7 and we’re having breakdowns late in games. Well those breakdowns are a missed shot here, a turnover there, a defensive breakdown here, giving up extra possessions, missed free throws. It’s things that players control. If we were down 30 every game, that’s different. But we’re in position to win games. And when it’s time to win games, that’s the players’ job. “

Lillard is loyal to those around him and has had the back of teammates and his coach before.

Lillard and his teammates went out Saturday night and got some revenge on the Kings, winning 102-90.

Portland’s defense has been surprisingly good this season, second best in the NBA. It should have been better with Nurkic in the paint, but this has been a radical turnaround for a team where that end of the floor held them back in recent years. While that lofty ranking may not stick all season, the Blazers are defending.

Now the Blazers are just having trouble scoring efficiently (18th in the NBA), which is a little about a less-efficient Lillard and a rough start on that end for Nurkic.  That end of the court should come around, Lillard and C.J. McCollum are too good for it not to.