After a little hiatus, here is our regular 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.
• As you can see from the photo to the right, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant and James Harden went tooling around Barcelona on Segways. Even they cannot look cool riding a Segway. And how tall does this make Durant?
• Yao Ming things Jeremy Lin landing in Houston is a great fit.
• The Grizzlies want to bring back Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi and are working to re-sign him.
• How consistently you drain threes depends on arc and form. But arc is key.
• The Celtics have signed Dionte Christmas to a partially guaranteed contract (which means they can cut him and not pay him everything, consider this a camp invite).
• We showed you earlier why Raptors fans should be pumped, but just a reminder that they inked Jonas Valanciunas to his rookie contract.
• NBA stat heads are going to love what is coming to NBA.com. You can bet you’ll be seeing some of that here.
• Want to have dinner with Magic Johnson then head to courtside seats for a Lakers game? You can do it, it’s the prize in an online charity auction to support RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s (which works to bring New York City’s underprivileged children access and exposure to the arts). So, it’s going to cost you a few bucks. But, it goes to a good cause. You can bid now through Aug. 8.
• Or man Rob Mahoney breaks down why Dallas bringing back Delonte West was a very good thing.
• O.J. Mayo could have selected a lot of places to play, but he wanted Dallas to be the spot.
• Grant Hill is happy to be a Clipper. Three years ago we never wrote that sentence about anyone.
• This is what Rockets GM Daryl Morey sounds like when testy in an interview.
• Jerry West talks Steve Nash to the Lakers and Dwight Howard.
• This is a little old, but Josh Smith is pumped about the upcoming season in Atlanta — and thinks Dwight Howard would be, too.
With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.
It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.
That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.
James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”
He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.
The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.
And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.
Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.
The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”
NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.
Booker himself responded this way.
There was no hesitation. None was expected.
After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.
Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.
Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.
The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.
And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.
Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”
Jerry West said he loved him like a son.
Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”
The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.
Check out the highlights above.