Monday And-1 links: Royce White joins Rockets; more camp notes

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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 men love Mila Kunis.

• Rookie Royce White joined the Houston Rockets training camp Monday, with an agreement sort of in place to deal with his anxiety disorder (he’ll be taking a bus to most team road games). It’s good to see him there and the organization trying to accommodate him not just look past a talented player because things might be a little harder. Feel free to draw your own life/business conclusions from that.

• J.J. Hickson is your starting center for the Portland Trail Blazers, at least right now through the preseason. Yes, that J.J. Hickson.

• It’s not really a surprise, but the Clippers confirmed Chris Paul will not play against the Heat in preseason games in China due to his thumb surgery recovery.

• DeJuan Blair is having trouble finding a defined role on the Spurs this season, and he’s a little frustrated with that. If you’re looking for guys to put near the top of your “I bet they get traded” list, Blair would be a good choice.

• Rasheed Wallace is getting in shape for the Knicks by boxing. There’s a joke there but I just can’t find it.

• The Washington Wizards are concerned about the point guard position, particularly after John Wall. They should be.

• The Hawks Anthony Tolliver scratched a cornea during Sunday’s preseason game and he could miss some camp time.

• Suns guard Shannon Brown needed stitches after bumping heads with a teammate in practice.

• There are some Celtics fans who, after Jared Sullinger had a couple good preseason games against Euro teams, are thinking he should start over Brandon Bass. I think those fans need to get back on their meds. But Sullinger can be important for the Celtics.

• Eddy Curry may not make the Spurs roster, but if he doesn’t the Bucks, Trail Blazers, Hornets and Bulls may have interest in him, reports Sam Amico of Fox Sports Florida.

• Bradley Beal is doing an online rookie diary.

• Kobe was asked about Shaq cracking on Dwight Howard (and Howard defending himself) but decided not to really play along.

• Here is a full transcription of a radio interview with Phil Jackson, where he says among other things it is not going to be easier for LeBron James to win another title now that he has won one.

• Speaking of radio interview transcripts, here is Magic coach Jacque Vaughn dodging the word rebuilding but basically saying just that.

• Things went off without much of a hitch at the new Barclay Center in Brooklyn for the recent run of Jay-Z concerts, but there were issues with the first basketball event (a Harlem Globetrotters event).

• And we close tonight with Scott Machado’s sweet no-look alley-oop pass.

Kevin Durant responds to school handout telling kids to avoid being like him

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Kevin Durant is having a pretty good summer. He is obviously in a full on “I have a ring now” mode and is just battling everyone he can set his sights on. He’s confident, as he should be.

Durrant responded to critical comments conservative commentator and ex-ESPNer Britt McHenry made about the Golden State Warriors forward not wanting to visit the White House should an invitation come for the team.

Now, Durant has seen a handout that a teacher gave to kids in school comparing him and Michael Jordan. In the handout, it asks kids to refrain from being like Durant, asking them not to take the easy way out by cheating in class. Instead, it asks them to be more like Michael Jordan and not take shortcuts.

That’s not even a correct interpretation of the facts, much less a very good analogy. Nevertheless, when SB nation published an article on an image of the handout on Twitter, Durant responded.

Via Twitter:

Firing might be a little harsh but perhaps the person who wrote this handout could put their hardcore sports allegiances away for a minute? Things like this and up on the Internet, you know?

Stan Van Gundy talks up Pistons’ rookie Luke Kennard

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Luke Kennard came out of Duke with one of the best jump shots in the draft — he’s got a skill that translates to the NBA and will help the Pistons. The questions were about his defense and athleticism, but he started to answer those when he averaged 17.2 points a game in the Orlando Summer League. He hit threes but generally just looks like a guy who just knows how to get buckets.

So far, at the Pistons’ training facility and in the Orlando Summer League, coach and decision maker with the Pistons Stan Van Gundy likes what he sees from his rookie, he told the Pistons’ official website.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” Van Gundy said. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball….

“We’ve seen that a lot. He’s got great mental toughness,” Van Gundy said. “The thing I have great confidence in is that as he runs into challenges in the league – and everybody does and he’ll be no exception – I just think he’s a smart guy who’s adaptable. I think he’ll figure out a way to combat it. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to do that….

“The thing I didn’t know that he showed me is he has the ability to move his feet defensively. Now, he’s still got a long way to go in terms of handling some of the other things, rotations and things like that. But he certainly showed that he can get down in a stance and move his feet. I did not have a good feel for that going into the draft, so that was a positive.”

Yes, you should take a coach talking up a rookie before a game is played with a grain of salt.

However, the comment about the potential to defend is good news. SVG is right that mental toughness, and willingness to put in the work, is what will allow Kennard to take steps forward, but he has to have a baseline to get there and Van Gundy thinks he has that. Kennard has challenges ahead of him but if he can keep hitting shots the Pistons will give him time to work out everything else.

Kennard is going to get plenty of run as the backup to Avery Bradley at the two in Detroit. In with a second unit of guys like Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, Kennard is going to get his chances to score. He could put up decent numbers for a rookie.

 

John Wall has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral (VIDEO)

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If the Redskins need a quarterback should Kirk Cousins go down — he has played a full 16-game schedule the past two years, which is pretty remarkable — maybe rather than Colt McCoy Washington should look at the guy who makes the Wizards’ go.

John Wall showed on Friday he has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral, and hit his man.

I love that Wall starts calling out Tom Brady after one good pass.

Michael Beasley had his truck stolen out of his driveway

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Michael Beasley will be getting buckets, shooting long twos, and playing inconsistent defense for the New York Knicks next season (the analysis is just based on recent history).

But first, he’d like to find his truck. Which was stolen.

Well, I did see a Dodge Ram 1500 on the road today, but since I’m on the West Coast and I have no idea what color/year Beasley’s truck is, I’m going to assume the guy I saw didn’t perpetrate the heist.

Still, that sucks for Beasley, even if he can easily afford to replace it.