Thursday And-1 link: News, notes from around NBA camps

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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.

• It was news when Kobe Bryant said this was the most talented Lakers team he’d ever been on. When Steve Nash says the same thing… yup, that’s pretty much true. Can’t really argue it.

• Stephen Jackson, sixth man? Maybe. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the season will start that way.

• DeAndre Jordan has reported to Clippers training camp 30 pounds lighter than he finished last season. Which is good for the Clippers, he is a huge key for them this season, they can’t bench him in the playoffs like they did for Reggie Evans last season.

• Since we’re talking Clippers, here is Blake Griffin talking about how the team has become a free agent destination.

• Here’s the story of how Boyz II Men helped Michael Jordan and Nike sell a lot of shoes.

• Jason Kidd compares Carmelo Anthony to Dirk Nowitzki. I’m not even going to waste the bandwidth to shoot that one down.

• George Karl said Thursday that Kosta Koufos had been the best big man in camp. That would not be JaVale McGee.

Scott Brooks is saying the backup point guard battle between Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson is wide open.

• Goran Dragic’s ankle injury will keep him out of the team’s scrimmage Saturday.

• The Toronto Raptors are going to take it slow with bringing back Jonas Valanciunas. But he could be playing by this weekend.

• After missing a day, Andray Blatche is back in practice.

• J.R. Smith showing up in a hip-hop music video as the love interest. So, be prepared to suspend your belief in reality.

• If you didn’t see the ESPN 30 for 30 production “Broke” about pro athletes who burn through their earnings, find it and tune in. It’s really fantastic. But I’m not sure Delonte West really got the message.

• Along those “Broke” lines, here is Antoine Walker talking on ESPN about how he burned through $111 million in career earnings.

• So who is the Magic’s new starting center? For the first exhibition (in Mexico City), Gustavo Ayón will start.

• No shock here, but starting at the point for the Bulls will be Kirk Hinrich.

• I am seriously excited to see the new “Lincoln” film.

• The Timberwolves held Malcolm Lee out of Thursday’s practice because of a mild groin injury.

• Forum Blue & Gold is looking at the greatest Lakers role players in history.

• Ernest Hemingway talks flopping in the NBA.

Watch the top 60 clutch shots from last NBA season

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It’s that time of the year when there is no basketball, so we fill the time with idle Kyrie Irving speculation and video highlights of last season.

Along those lines, above you can out the top 60 clutch shots from last season, as determined by the folks at NBA.com.

The great thing about the clutch shot list is the ball is in the hands of stars at the ends of games, so there is plenty of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LeBron James, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and more. Personally, I would have switch No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, but it’s all fun to relive.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert: Pacers ‘could have done better’ on Paul George trade

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Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. LeBron James could leave next summer. The Cavaliers keep churning through general managers, the newest – Koby Altman – the reason for today’s press conference.

But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert looked past his own team’s turmoil and potential turmoil to take a shot at the Pacers, who traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

“I will say Indiana could have done better than they did,” Gilbert said after Altman refused to directly address a question about George trade talks and shifted the discussion elsewhere.

This didn’t strike me as Gilbert trying to distract from Cleveland’s troubles. He just seemed to want to take a shot at a foe, something he’s no stranger to doing. The Cavaliers are particularly salty about their trade offer for George, which included Kevin Love, not being accepted.

For what it’s worth, Gilbert is right. The Pacers should have done better. Oladipo is now on a lucrative contract extension, and Sabonis spent his rookie season showcasing the reasons people doubted him the draft. That’s a piddling return for a star, even one on an expiring contract with dreams of joining the Lakers.

Report: Kings meet with former Magic GM Otis Smith about front-office job

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The Kings lost Scott Perry to the Knicks, so Sacramento is seeking someone else to aid Vlade Divac in the front office.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise’s vacant vice president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.

Smith has plenty of experience, which Divac lacks. But it’s not all good experience.

Running the Magic, Smith made numerous errors – including drafting Fran Vazquez (who has never played in the NBA) No. 11, overpaying Rashard Lewis and then trading Lewis for Gilbert Arenas’ even worse contract. If Smith’s Orlando tenure is predictive, he’ll indulge the Kings’ worst tendencies to mortgage the future for the present.

That said, Smith might have learned from his time with the Magic (though working under Stan Van Gundy with the Pistons the few couple years isn’t exactly the best place to hone long-term-planning skills). What amounts to an assistant general-manager role might be a better fit for him, too.

Usually, this opening wouldn’t garner so much attention. But Perry was lavished with praise for Sacramento’s offseason, raising the profile of this job – which already carried relative prominence. The No. 2 in the Kings’ front office is now perceived, somewhat fairly, as more important than the typical assistant general manager.

Lakers sign Tyler Ennis to minimum contract

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Jut before the trade deadline, the Lakers took a flier on Tyler Ennis, who had struggled in two-plus seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets.

The former No. 18 pick finally looked like an NBA player in Los Angeles, so he’s returning.

Lakers release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Tyler Ennis, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

This is fantastic value for the Lakers. Ennis is probably worth a minimum salary, and if he is, they have him for two years at that price. If not, they can drop him for no cost next summer, when their cap room will be at a premium. This is the type of bet smart teams make, which bodes well for the Magic Johnson regime.

Ennis’ productivity in Los Angeles might not be sustainable. He shot well above his career marks on 3-pointers and free throws in a small sample. But he looked more comfortable on the court, showing some of the savvy he was expected to bring from Syracuse. He’s also just 22, and point guards tend to develop later than other positions.

The Lakers still have their room exception, which they could use on another point guard. So, it’s uncertain whether Ennis will back up Lonzo Ball or fall to third string. I’m not sure any remaining free-agent point guards – Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Ramon Sessions – will command more than the minimum or playing time over Ennis, though.