Monday And-1 links: Looking at the Lakers offense with Howard

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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.

• With all the hits Dwight Howard took on the public relations side lately, we tend to forget the guy is a damn good offensive player — 20.6 points per game on 57 percent shooting last season, and that was down from the year before — and here is a fantastic breakdown of he does well and why it should fit in with what the Lakers want to do.

• Another great post looking at the Lakers and how they might work in some Princeton offense sets — it will be a hybrid — by our man Rob Mahoney.

RIP to Simon Gourdine, the former NBA and Players Union executive.

• If you ask Chris Paul who the best player in the NBA is, he will say Chris Paul. Which is pretty close, he’s up there, but probably not who most of us would pick.

• Dwyane Wade talks about his knee, says he’ll be ready to go.

• If the Bucks are going to make the playoffs this year, it is because Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis played good defense. (Great stuff from Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie.)

A look back at the career of Sixers great and coach Billy Cunningham.

• There are reports Yi Jianlian wants a two-year contract totalling $5 million from Real Madrid. Which is a lot considering the time he could miss with the knee injury suffered in the Olympics.

• That might explain why Real Madrid has interest in Darko Milicic, although he has said he wants to stay in the NBA.

• If you are looking for a $4.7 million home in the Atlanta area (and I know that’s most of you), Joe Johnson’s is for sale.

• Roy Hibbert is hosting his Area 55 tryouts — his special group of fans in the Indiana arena. If the Pacers are going to be the third seed in the East and threaten the big boys Hibbert is going to have to win about 15,000 people a night over into his section with his play.

• Could Kim English work his way into the Pisons’ rotation?

• Morris Almond has signed with Red Star Belgrade in Serbia.

• Former Pistons second round pick Vernon Macklin has signed with Turkish team Gaziantep BSB.

• Former NBA player Anthony Parker has joined the Magic as a scout.

• Pau and Marc Gasol’s younger brother Adria Gasol is going to be a walk-on freshman at UCLA next season. But don’t expect much, Bruins fans.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.