Ray Allen

Thursday morning And-1 links: Plethora of playoff injury updates


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.

• Ray Allen says he feels good and will practice Thursday. I wouldn’t hold your breath on him playing, however.

• As a side note, Ray Allen may be the most OCD player in the league about his routine. And his ankle injury is throwing that off.

• The Clippers Mo Williams has a forearm contusion and will be evaluated before Game 3.

• Also with the Clippers, Nick Young has a sprained thumb but said he will play Saturday.

• If Young plays, he may start in front of Bobby Simmons.

• Finally for the Clippers, who may need to set up their own M*A*S*H* unit, Eric Bledsoe has a left elbow contusion, but he can play through it.

• The Pacers Leandro Barbosa is still feeling the effects of a sprained ankle.

• Matt Bonner did not play in the second half of Game 2 against Utah due to a quad injury. He will be evaluated again Thursday.

• And here’s a fan touching Marc Gasol’s butt. Don’t ever say PBT doesn’t bring you the most important NBA stories.

• The Suns have a league-high $23 million in cap space this summer, but they may not use it all. You can be sure Steve Nash heard that.

• John Lucas III finds it hypocritical of LeBron James to try and sell a foul on Tyson Chandler with a flop after the pick LeBron set on Lucas that led to a shoving match.

• Why have the Heat looked good so far in the playoffs? Because they have a better supporting cast — and it’s healthier than in the past — to go with the Big Three.

• After they finished the season playing their best ball, should Randy Wittman get brought back to coach the Wizards next season?

• Another report saying that injuries are not up this season, despite the perception (it is behind the ESPN pay wall). Hollinger makes a good point — if you think injuries are up in these playoffs you forgot last playoffs.

• Knicks GM Glen Grunwald was a fantastic high school basketball player derailed by knee injuries.

• Marc Gasol is playing very, very well these playoffs.

• What do the Pistons need in the upcoming draft? How about John Henson out of UNC?

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 NBCSports.com. 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.