Tuesday and-1 links: What would a 1968 Dream Team look like?

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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 like Brazilians love soccer. (Well, not that much.)

• As you can see with the photo to the right, US swimmer Ryan Lochte was hanging out with Ludacris at the USA/Argentina basketball game (via Deadspin). No, this was not photoshopped. Things like this happen. Just not to you and me.

• Forget the weary Dream Team vs. 2012 team debate. Jack McCallum (the Sports Illustrated writer who just finished a book on the Dream Team) and Dan Venedam of Blackboard Analytics asked an interesting question: What if you could pick a dream team from the NBA/College in 1968? And how would that stack up against the Dream Team?

Who would be on a 1968 team: They could have had Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell at center (yes, both on the team), Jerry Lucas, Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Elvin Hayes, Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek and maybe Rick Berry. That would be a heck of a team. I’d probably still take the Dream Team in a game, but it’d be a contest with those centers, plus people forget how special Baylor was.

• Kobe Bryant will not play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he told Marc Stein of ESPN. His knees just breathed a sigh of relief.

A great look at the top 10 players through group play of the Olympics.

Jalen Rose doesn’t like that the fact the American women’s gymnastic’s team has been nicknamed the “Fab Five.” First, chill Jalen. It’s not a big deal. Second, for the record the girls wanted to be known as the “fierce five” or something else, they didn’t ask for “fab five.”

• Another report that Derrick Rose’s knee recovery is going well. Which means another plea from me not to rush it. Get it right before you go back.

• There are rumors out there that Dirk Nowitzki has gotten married.

• The NBA joined every other major professional sports league in America, as well as the NCAA, in a federal court complaint filed against New Jersey state officials seeking to stop the state from implementing sports betting on pro and college games. The state had table/slot gaming in Atlantic City but added sports betting to generate more tax revenue during these desperate economic times for states. The leagues say the move violates federal law.

• Here is a little lesson in sports story spin: First came a whisper that there was not much of a free agent market for Andray Blatche. A day later comes a story on ESPNNewYork with “sources” saying that a few teams had interest including the Heat. I will tell you now that source was Blatche’s agent, someone close to the agent, or someone close to Blatche — they want a positive spin out in the media. Agents can be valuable sources, and can give you accurate information, but they want to spin things in a positive light for their clients. Now comes more news from the Washington Post that the Blatche market is tepid. That’s probably coming from league executives. Just think through what you read right now as we enter the silly season and ask yourself who benefits from any leaked info.

• Could Derrick Favors start and Paul Millsap come off the bench in Utah next season?

• Free agent Donte Greene said he’s talking with the Bulls, Knicks and Pacers. The Kings could have kept him with a qualifying offer but chose not to, so if you’re a fan of wherever he lands realize what you are getting.

Here is a Q&A with Dr. J — Julius Erving, to you — as he teams up with Converse as an endorser. Seems a good fit.

• Speaking of interesting Q&As, here is one with Kerry Kittles.

PBT favorite Jae Crowder is not guaranteed a roster spot with the Mavericks. But they would be foolish to let him go, let the man have a shot.

• Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak sounds pretty “meh” about keeping second-round picks Darius Johnson-Odom or Robert Sacre on the roster. Neither has guaranteed roster spots. Neither blew you away in Summer League, either.

• Older Clippers fans have been burned before. They are a little more hesitant to get pumped up for this season.

• Joel Meyers and David Wesley will be your New Orleans television broadcast team next year.

Steve Kerr “disappointed” in alma mater Arizona; wants to see NCAA follow new model

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Before he was the coach of the Golden State Warriors, before he was a five-time NBA Champion playing next to Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan, Steve Kerr was one of the great players the University of Arizona ever produced. The crowd would echo the announcer after ever made three — “Steeeve Keerrr” — where he was an All-American and helped lead a team (with future NBA players Sean Elliott and Tom Tolbert) to the Final Four.

There is a crisis around Arizona basketball right now. Coach Sean Miller was caught on a federal wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment for star recruit Deandre Ayton (expected to be a high lottery pick in June, possibly the No. 1 pick). Miller did not coach Saturday and changes are coming to Arizona.

Kerr was asked about it before the Warriors took on the Thunder Saturday.

Kerr said he was “disappointed” in his alma mater over the incident. Which is understandable.

Not to completely excuse it, but what Miller got caught doing is commonplace — money is funneled to families or the players of top recruits on a regular basis. What is more troubling (in my mind) is the money paid under the table to AAU coaches, family members, and others close to elite recruits to funnel them to a specific “financial planner” or agent, or a specific university. People in positions of trust with the player are bought and paid for.

Kerr put out one solution that would certainly be a big step forward: follow the Olympics model and let elite players get sponsorships that don’t end their college eligibility.

This system has its flaws as well, but it gets some of the dirty money out in the open. It would be better than the hypocritical facade of amateurism the NCAA has hit behind for years.

Joel Embiid has 28 points, 14 rebounds leads Sixers to Seventh straight win

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers extended their season-high win streak to seven with a 116-105 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

Six 76ers scored in double figures. Ben Simmons had 17 points and seven assists, and 3-point specialist J.J. Redick added 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting – and just one 3-pointer. Marco Belinelli had 15 points, Robert Covington had 12 and Dario Saric scored 11.

Aaron Gordon led Orlando with 20 points, including four 3s, to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. Evan Fournier scored 16 points, and former Sixer Nik Vucevic had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Magic, who have lost five straight.

Philadelphia led 58-40 at halftime and 71-49 in the third when Orlando used an 11-2 burst, capped by Aaron Gordon’s 3-pointer, to close within 13.

But the Sixers put on a show to finish the quarter.

Embiid overpowered a few Magic defenders for a slam, and then gestured to the crowd after being fouled while soaring to the hoop on a dunk attempt. After Embiid and Trevor Booker swatted consecutive shots in the final seconds, T.J. McConnell used a crossover move to finish a drive at the buzzer and give the Sixers an 87-71 lead entering the fourth.

Orlando used a late 15-2 run to get within nine and nearly cut it to six with 1:21 left, but a 3-point attempt by Mario Hezonja spilled out.

Midway through the first quarter, Philadelphia had more turnovers (three) than field goals (two) and trailed 15-6. The Sixers then erupted for a 21-3 run and ended the quarter up 27-18.

E-A-G-L-E-S

Orlando head coach Frank Vogel wore an Eagles Super Bowl champions T-shirt during his pregame media availability. A native of Wildwood, New Jersey, Vogel makes sure to get a taste of home when he returns to the Philadelphia area.

“Cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, Yuengling beer if we beat the Sixers,” Vogel said. “Wawa coffee, but I get Wawa in Orlando now. I did get a cheesesteak today.”

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell before the game.

“I think it’s awesome,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “He can come over and ring as many bells as he chooses.”

 

Report: Jimmy Butler telling people he will be back for playoffs

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We don’t know a lot about Jimmy Butler‘s meniscus injury (other than that it’s not an ACL injury as feared). Because of that, it’s impossible to put a timeline on his return. We don’t know what kind of surgery he likely needs — a traditional meniscus partial removal takes six weeks or so to get a player back on the court (but is harder on the knee long-term as cushioning in it is removed, Dwyane Wade had this), but a repair could take three months or more before he is back on the court. Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said this pregame Saturday:

However, Butler himself is telling people he will be back for the playoffs.

Is that the optimism of a fierce competitor? Players are often the worst judge of their ability to return from injury.

Or, does he know that a meniscus repair is out of the question with his injury, that a partial removal is the only option (as is true in some cases)? That has a speedier return that could have him back for the playoffs.

In the short-term, Minnesota is going to need a lot more out of Andrew Wiggins, and they need to play a lot better team defense, to hold on to a playoff slot in the West. The Timberwolves have been -8.3 per 100 possessions without Butler this season, but went 2-2 in the four games he missed. Minnesota is currently the four seed in the West at 36-26, but just three games from falling out of the postseason in a crowded conference.

Jimmy Butler has meniscus injury, not ACL. Will miss time, return TBD.

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Rarely is a meniscus injury good news, but it is for the Timberwolves.

It looked like Jimmy Butler had torn his ACL in a loss to Houston Friday night, he had to be helped off the court and he could not put weight on it. But instead, he has an injured meniscus in his right knee, an MRI revealed.

Notice the report says meniscus “injury” not “tear.” Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports reported it is a tear.

If surgery is needed and recovery times differ depending on the severity of the injury. Officially, there is no timetable for his return yet — he could be back for the playoffs. Or not.

If it is a tear, as expected, that means surgery. Most of the time a surgical meniscus repair will keep a player out at least three months, which would end Butler’s season (a meniscus removal heals faster, but is rarely done anymore because long-term it is harder for the knee and the player, think of Dwyane Wade as an example).

Butler leads the NBA in minutes played per game, although he had eight days off before Friday’s game. He was selected an All-Star reserve by the coaches but chose to sit out the big game because he said he needed rest for the rest of the season. His coach, Tom Thibodeau, leans heavily on his best players and does not subscribe to the kind of rest we see in Golden State, San Antonio, and other programs trying to keep players fresh.

Minnesota has to hang on for the playoffs, the team is -8.3 points per 100 possessions when Butler is not on the court this season. At 36-26, the Timberwolves are currently the four seed in the West, but just three games from falling out of the playoffs.