Thursday And-1 links: Dirk Nowitzki thinks Popovich is the best

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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.

• Tradition says you say your coach is the best in the league, but Dirk Nowitzki thinks it is Gregg Popovich. He’s right. And I doubt Rick Carlisle has a problem with that.

• Dirk Nowitzki says he would love to team up with Deron Williams. Yea, ya think?

• What is the most dominant NBA champion of all time? Neil Paine crunched the numbers at Basketball Prospectus and… yea, it’s who you’re thinking.

• Kobe Bryant was named to the All-NBA First Team for the 10th time, the record is 11.

• Fantastic post: “What I learned from Stan Van Gundy.”

• A fan was arrested trying to run on the court in Miami last night wearing a shirt but no pants? Why? Because Rick Ross has offered $10,000 to anyone who streaks at a Heat game to promote his new record.

• Chris Kaman’s livingroom is very Chris Kaman.

• There had been rumors he was, but Chris Mullin is not in the running for the Trail Blazers GM job. And neither is Shaq.

• North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall is a bubble lottery player in this draft, but is not fully recovered from wrist surgery and may not work out for teams before the draft.

• The Clippers do not expect to have Kenyon Martin back next year.

• However, the Clippers are going to make a push to bring back Nick Young.

• The Lakers are not expected to bring Troy Murphy back.

• As if you expected otherwise, Beno Udrih has now formally picked up his $7.8 million player option with the Bucks for next season.

• Detroit management is ticked that Greg Monroe was left off of the USA Select Team (the young team that works out with the Olympic team). Sorry, but I’d take Hibbert over him, too.

Good stuff on the deterioration of the Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol relationship.

• Metta World Peace wishes he could have done more for the Lakers in the playoffs. So do Lakers fans.

• Lakers coach Mike Brown says he could have done a better job this season. Honestly, I think he did a solid job considering the top-heavy roster and no training camp. What I will lay at his feet is the rough patches for Pau Gasol — Brown’s offense pushed him out of the paint, asked him to space the floor and made him less effective.

• The Wizards Jan Vesely admits that adjusting to life in the NBA was hard.

• Golden State’s plans to leave Oracle Arena in five years move to a stadium on the San Francisco Bay is not sitting well with the team’s fan base in Oakland.

Otto Porter says he’s not bothered by John Wall’s Paul George comments

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John Wall said he wanted the Wizards to acquire Paul George, explaining:

“Look at our team. We are one piece away,” Wall said. “We have the point guard, we have the shooting guard, we have the center, we have the power forward. Our 3-man, [Porter], did great for us. You can’t take nothing away from what he did. But, [George] is a guy that can guard LeBron and go back at LeBron. It’s a piece that you’re going to need to win. If you don’t have a guy who can do that, you don’t have a chance. …

You got to add another star. You got to add another piece. You got to have three guys. And that’s what it’s looking like.”

That’s kind of a slight to Otto Porter, no?

Wall said his words created no problems, but that’s not really for him to say. How did Porter feel about it?

Porter, via Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“We’re talking about Paul George here. If we could get him on our squad? We could definitely contend for a championship,” Porter said after the press conference to announce his new four-year contract worth $106.5 million on Wednesday.

“It’s just motivation. I will continue to get back into the gym. I didn’t take anything personal. I’m just going to continue to go out there and work and play my game,” Porter said.

George is better than Porter. That’s just a fact. So, I have no problem with anyone saying so or proceeding based on that truth.

But I’m also not Porter.

I would completely understand Porter chafing at Wall recruiting George to replace Porter. I’d definitely understand Porter chafing at Wall talking publicly about recruiting George to replace Porter.

Porter so easily moving past this just speaks to his way of quietly contributing. It also doesn’t hurt that the Wizards will pay him about $107 million over the next four years. That buys some willingness to fall in line.

LeBron James denies wanting to fight Kyrie Irving, eagerness for Cavaliers to trade guard

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According to one report, LeBron James wants to fight Kyrie Irving. According to another, LeBron is eager for the Cavaliers to trade Irving.

According to LeBron…

So, maybe there’s a chance LeBron and Irving can reconcile. It’s not too late until a deal is completed.

But it seems Cleveland is moving toward trading Irving, so the clock is ticking.

LeBron might not be inclined to persuade Irving to drop his trade request, anyway. It really seems LeBron wants to stay out of this – or at least give the impression he’s staying out of this. LeBron denying bitterness toward Irving is one thing. LeBron connecting with a teammate who has cited problems with him as a reason for leaving is another.

Report: Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving

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The Cavaliers think they were close to trading for Paul George, a text message away from completing a three-team trade with the Pacers and Nuggets that would have sent Kevin Love to Denver.

But Cleveland could’ve ensured itself George, whom Indiana ultimately dealt to the Thunder. All the Cavs had to do was send Kyrie Irving to the Pacers.

Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:

  • Windhorst: “I know that around the draft and in the Paul George talks, the Cavs were not willing to make Kyrie Irving available for Paul George.”
  • Lowe: “We can say on this podcast: The Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving. That’s a thing that happened, according to people that we’ve talked to.”
  • Windhorst: “Multiple times.”

Even if the Cavaliers knew of Irving’s unhappiness – maybe they did, or at least should have – while George was still in Indiana, this would have been a bad trade for them.

Irving is locked up for two more years, and George is on an expiring contract. That simply makes Irving more valuable than George, who – like LeBron James – could have walked in a year. George is ineligible for a reasonable contract extension, and there’s so much buzz about him joining the Lakers.

Now, if the Cavs were more on top of Irving’s trade request when George were still available, maybe they would have more aggressively tried to bridge the gap. Perhaps, Indiana could have sent another player or draft pick.

But Cleveland shouldn’t be kicking itself over not dealing Irving for George straight up.

Report: LeBron James eager for Kyrie Irving to be traded

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LeBron James reportedly wants to fight Kyrie Irving over the guard’s trade request.

But sometimes, people continue to work with those whom they dislike. LeBron partnered with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert again and again, after all.

Might LeBron realize keeping Irving is Cleveland’s best chance to win another title? Could LeBron put personal feelings aside in that pursuit?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Irving has asked for a trade and James is eager to see him off.

This might explain why the Cavs appear so gung-ho about moving Irving. LeBron usually gets what he wants in Cleveland, especially in a contract year.

It’s not too late for LeBron and Irving to reconcile until a trade is completed, but with LeBron welcoming Derrick Rose, they just move further from that possibility.