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 Stanford loves beating USC.
• MaShon Brooks keeps talking about being Sixth Man of the Year this year. It’s a good if lofty goal. My preseason guess on that one, Jason Terry again, rejuvenated in a new city.
• Today’s “wow he looks great heading into training camp” report goes to Anderson Varejao. Congratulations.
• Along those same lines comes the report Detroit’s point guard Brandon Knight has gained 10 to 12 pounds of muscle this offseason. Take this report with a grain of salt, especially if you think it makes him instantly better.
• The second most efficient shot in the NBA is the corner three (after a dunk/layup). Here is a really great graphic showing where the pass to that corner three comes from.
• Shaquille O’Neal bought and runs a movie theater in New Jersey now. Insert your own “Kazaam” jokes here.
• We can rule out Miami now, but free agent Louis Amudson is reportedly “talking to a number of teams.”
• I know people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but this is just funny.
• The Lakers signed second-round pick Darius Johnson-Odom but I wouldn’t bet on him making the roster.
• Swingman Alando Tucker tweets he will work out for the Bucks this week.
• The Nets have signed three guys to be training camp fodder: guard Stephen Dennis, and forwards Carleton Scott and James Mays.
• The Grizzlies are bringing in five guys to training camp not on guaranteed contracts: Flip Murray, Ronald Dupree, Jerome Jordan, Michael Dunigan and Jarrid Famous.
• Pooh Jeter tweets he has signed with the Shandong Bulls in China.
Kevin Durant has been working out on the court before the last couple of Warriors road games, and people watching have taken note — he was moving well, shooting, and generally looking healthy for a guy coming off a grade 2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise.
Reports were out that Durant was on target to return before the end of the season.
Wednesday the Warriors confirmed that.
Teams are vague, realistically what is that timeline?
Durant likely would be on a minutes restriction for those game, but just getting to shake the rust off and work on his conditioning in a real game would help Golden State heading into the playoffs.
Not that they need much help, having won eight in a row. The Warriors have a 2.5 game lead over the Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference heading into the game between the two Wednesday night.
The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.
But that young Lakers core also has its moments.
Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.
After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.
What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.
Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).
That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.
Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.
The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).
Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.
Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.
It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.