Wednesday And-1 links: FIBA wants 3-on-3 basketball in Olympics

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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 I love a good IPA.

• Forget the under-23 age limit stuff, what international basketball governing body FIBA wants to see in the 2016 Olympics (or soon after) is a new 3-on-3 tournament. They are promoting 3-on-3 events world wide, are doing rankings and basically want this to be the beach volleyball of basketball. They are pushing this hard. Seriously. And no, we couldn’t just slap some NBA players together last minute, you’d have to qualify at tournaments around the globe. It all sounds a little crazy, but as somebody getting plenty of FIBA material sent to him, trust me they are pushing for this.

• By the way, NBA Commissioner David Stern was awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee. Which I guess is a big deal and all.

• Tim Grover’s gym in Chicago — where Michael Jordan worked out in the day and where Jordan invested $1.5 million later — is headed to foreclosure. The place still draws big name NBA players like Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant to work out there, but that’s not paying the bills.

• Great series of stories looking at the biggest factors in the Warriors upcoming season and what it will take for them to make the playoffs, by Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com. Here are the top three: 1) Andrew Botgut stays healthy; 2) Stephen Curry stays healthy; 3) Mark Jackson really steps up into the role of coach.

• Here’s a good look at what Team USA might look like for 2016 in Rio.

USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo praises Kevin Love, says winning a gold will never get old and he is in for Rio in 2016.

• Danny Granger bought a new home in Los Angeles (where he spends his off-seasons) from Kevin Williamson — the guy behind the “Scream” series and the executive producer of “Dawson’s Creek.” That’s so LA.

• The Jazz have the “problem” of having both Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors to play the four spot. One way that could rectify it, give Millsap some run at the three every night.

• Expect Jason Richardson to start at the three in Philly.

• Byron Scott is saying Tristan Thompson is the most improved Cavalier this summer. Take that with some salt, we need to see him in games before we buy in.

• Kyrie Irving reportedly told just-drafted Cavalier Dion Waiters he better improve his conditioning before training camp.

• The Rhino, Craig Smith told CSNNW.com signed in Israel because he was “tired of being a roster filler.” He wanted minutes he wasn’t going to get in the NBA, so he went to the Holy Land.

• The Rockets waived center Josh Harrellson as part of them picking up Carlos Delfino.

• The Bucks have reportedly lost their interest in unrestricted free agent Mickael Pietrus.

• Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy has requested a judge reduce his 36-month probation term by three months. After he did jail time. But yes, totally use him as the cornerstone of your argument the NBA is fixed. He’s very credible.

• Here is Stan Van Gundy saying the Magic organization handled the Dwight Howard situation poorly and they got what they deserved.

• Bob Ryan will be missed.

Russell Westbrook threw it down all over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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A rough night for the Thunder will not stop the Russell Westbrook highlights.

The Thunder had another poor game and fell to a Hornets. Westbrook tried to push the team back, but the Thunder defense that has kept them in games all season was not good enough against Charlotte, and the OKC offense was once again up and down.

Westbrook had 30 points on 22 shots on the night, and none of them were as impressive as this transition throwdown on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Jahlil Okafor excited about fresh start with Nets

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jahlil Okafor finally got the fresh start he wanted.

Okafor was the consensus No. 1 high school player in his class, won a national championship at Duke, and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then things changed drastically.

Okafor struggled with injuries and a logjam at his position in his second season.

“When I first got drafted there, we already had Nerlens (Noel) there, Joel (Embiid) was there, so we’re trying to have three starting centers on the same team,” Okafor said Monday at his introductory news conference with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets.

“It just never really was the right fit.”

The 76ers traded Okafor along with seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas and two draft picks to the Nets on Thursday. Philadelphia got forward Trevor Booker from Brooklyn.

Okafor also had off-court problems during his time in Philadelphia. He got a speeding ticket for driving 108 miles per hour and was suspended by the 76ers for two games after in an altercation outside of a Boston nightclub with a heckler.

“Speeding obviously is illegal,” Okafor said. “I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do. I guess you just learn how the page can turn on you and how everything can flip. I can’t really say I learned anything, because you know going in that’s not right. You just learn from your mistakes, but (it was) a tough thing that I went through, I got past, and I’m looking to better times now.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, joins D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the same draft class, on the Nets.

“We’re just very excited to get on the court together,” Okafor said. “You never would’ve thought the number two and number three picks would be playing on the same team a few years after, but like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited.”

Russell also had problems on and off the court with the team that drafted him. He was criticized for recording a video of former Lakers teammate Nick Young that aired sordid details about Young’s private life. The Lakers gave up on Russell and drafted Lonzo Ball as his replacement.

“I feel like we’re similar in that we have a lot to prove,” Okafor said. “I know he’s working his (butt) off as well. Right now he’s rehabbing, trying to get back on the court. I think we both have a chip on our shoulder and we have a lot to prove. We’re definitely similar in that regard.”

Okafor understands he has areas to improve, mainly defense and rebounding.

“I’m not a perfect player,” Okafor said. “I’m 21. There are things that I need to work on, that I have worked on and that I’ll continue to work on.”

He’s excited about fulfilling his potential with a new team.

“I feel really motivated right now, but I’ve always been motivated,” Okafor said. “This is the first time where people are against me in a sense because I’ve always been the hyped-up guy. It’s something new for me to experience, so I’m glad that I am experiencing it.”

 

Report: Celtics’ Marcus Morris to miss “extended time” to let knee heal

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Marcus Morris missed the Celtics’ first eight games of the season in an effort to get healthy. Upon his return he’s been solid, first as a starter, then coming off the bench, but his left knee continued to be an issue.

Morris was out Sunday when the Celtics beat the Pistons, and he’s going to miss more time trying to get a troublesome left knee right, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

How much time is “extended time?” Probably at least a couple of weeks.

Morris has averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game this season, with a true shooting percentage of 52.5, which is right around the league average.

This could mean more run for rookie forwards Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis, both of whom have played well in limited minutes.

Tristan Thompson expected to return to Cavaliers Tuesday, come off bench

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could play for the first time since Nov. 1 on Tuesday against Atlanta.

Thompson has been sidelined with a strained left calf. The team initially said Thompson would be out for up to four weeks, but he said Monday that timeline was inaccurate and that his injury was more serious. Thompson did not divulge any other details about the injury.

Coach Tyronn Lue says Thompson will not start when he returns, meaning Kevin Love will remain at center. Thompson says he’s fine with a reserve role and made it clear he’s willing to do whatever Lue needs.

The Cavaliers have won 14 of 15 and their defense has improved dramatically over the past month.

Thompson says he’ll have the same mindset on the floor as always and “just be myself. Being myself has worked out pretty well for me.”