Los Angeles Lakers' Bryant brushes past Los Angeles Clippers' Paul during their NBA preseason game in Los Angeles

Thursday And-1 links: Comparing Kobe and CP3


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.

• Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, compared by their fellow Olympians in Beijing and coaches. My takeaway is guys love playing with CP3, which is great news for the Clippers.

• Mohammad El Akkari scored 113 points in a Lebenese league game. Jim Buss now wants to draft him.

• The Bulls have signed Mike James for the rest of this season.

• Dennis Rodman may play in the Bulgarian All-Star game. No, sadly we are serious.

• John Calipari went to the Spurs at the Celtics game last night. Don’t read anything into that — if he does come to coach in the NBA next season it will not be because he deposed Doc Rivers or Gregg Popovich. My guess, he was coming to see if Rajon Rondo had any eligibility left.

• The Rockets have inked Earl Boykins to a second 10-day contract.

• Metta World Peace said after the Lakers win that he is playing through some minor ankle pain suffered in the OKC game.

• Happy birthday Matt Bonner. Today your sandwich is on me.

• NBA agent Aaron Mintz resigned from Priority Sports & Entertainment (Mark Bartelstein’s group) and signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA). And now Mintz has filed a lawsuit against his former employer.

• How James Harden could end up a Wizards next summer. (Not going to happen, but here’s how it could.)

• Gerald Wallace said he was surprised Portland traded him at the deadline.

• Al Thornton is working hard to get healthy and get back to the NBA.

• Trey Burke, the small and quick Michigan point guard, has declared for the draft after his freshman season. He’s strong and has some skills but is considered a second round pick right now by most scouts. Going to need some monster workouts to change that.

• Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month for March Pierce averaged 22.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the month. This is two in a row for Durant.

• Magic Johnson talks about the NBA, but also about this cool new toy he bought.

• Justin Dentmon could get a call up from the D-League by the Raptors.

• Check out this video of an artist painting a portrait of Jeremy Lin while dancing during the halftime of a Knicks game. (Hat tip to IamaGM.com.)

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.