Tuesday And-1 links: Seattle arena takes another step (plus Basketball Prospectus)

3 Comments

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 more than presidential candidates like watering down debates.

• We told you the other day that despite opposition from the Mariners (and a few others), both the city and county councils that govern Seattle were expected to sign off on the next step in the Seattle Arena project this week. They did. There are still a lot of steps to go — like developer Chris Hansen finding and buying a team to move there — but it continues to gain momentum.

• If you want to look smart about the NBA, you should buy and read Basketball Prosepctus. It is simply the best, most comprehensive season preview of every NBA team out there. (And I’m not just saying that because I have a very small part in it. Very small.)

• Another really smart basketball read today is ESPN analyst David Thorpe (behind the pay wall) suggesting our traditional positional definitions — point guard, power forward, etc.. — and the strict definition of those roles are nearly useless with today’s players. He looks at wings and guards — what matters is do they play on or off the ball, are they more playmaker or scorer? Which makes more sense than trying to argue if Chris Paul or (a healthy) Derrick Rose is a better point guard because they are playing very different roles for their team even though they are both “point guards.” (That just really defines what you think a point guard should be.) Kevin Love and Kevin Durant are about the same height, do you want to define their games that way? Go read the entire article.

• While we’re hanging out in the “advanced stats/redefine basketball terms area” note that Kings coach Keith Smart is giving out defensive grades to players after watching the video of each practice and game. I like it. Players often (not always) respond when held accountable.

• The Mavericks brass was supposed to sit down with suspended Delonte West and talk about it Tuesday later in the day. Love to be a fly on the wall for that.

• Welcome to the dog days of training camp: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton all sat out Tuesday’s Knicks practice to get more rest.

Tivo did a viewing study and found Republicans tend to like college basketball, Democrats prefer the NBA (hat tip TrueHoop).

• A fantastic breakdown of how Steve Nash has fit in with the Lakers offense this preseason.

• By the way, Rasheed Wallace didn’t practice with the Knicks again as he works on his conditioning. Stunning, I know.

• Mario Chalmers sat out another practice with the Heat as they bring him along slowly from a hamstring injury. If you’re a Heat fan you’ve watched Norris Cole this preseason, you have to hope it isn’t that slow.

• Royce White talks about his first preseason game with the Rockets.

• This off-season, Devin Harris had platelet-rich plasma therapy on his knee.

• Heads up fantasy players: Golden State’s David Lee said with this balanced team he expects his numbers may drop this season.

• On another Golden State note, Stephen Curry has looked good when on the floor this preseason.

• Utah’s Mo Williams sat did not suit up for Tuesday’s preseason game due to a strained adductor muscle.

• Miami’s Dexter Pittman had sat out for a while with a sore toe, but he was back at practice Tuesday.

• If you want to hear Swizz Beatz’s new Knicks’ theme song, follow this link.

Lakers hire Kardashian trainer Gunnar Peterson

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers’ new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

Report: Bucks interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
3 Comments

The Magic hired Jeff Weltman, and the Hawks are reportedly close to hiring Travis Schlenk.

In other words, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin – who’s still without a contract for next season – lost his leverage with other teams.

But to the rescue are the Bucks, who will not necessarily promote assistant general manager Justin Zanik to replace Orland-bound general manager John Hammond.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.

Griffin and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert have spoken about continuing their partnership in recent days, sources said, though no agreement was reached.

I still think Griffin stays in Cleveland. He helped assemble a championship contender, and he has LeBron Jamesendorsement. Plus, the Cavaliers can afford him.

But whomever gets the Milwaukee job will inherit a roster stocked with promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. The Bucks wouldn’t be a bad fallback option for Griffin – if he can’t use them to get a deal with the Cavs.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Celtics’ sets harder to defend than Warriors’

Jason Miller/Getty Images
2 Comments

With the Cavaliers up 3-1 on the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, most basketball observers are focused on Cavs-Warriors III in the NBA Finals.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue is more concerned with Boston, which scored surprisingly well in Games 3 and 4 after losing Isaiah Thomas to injury.

Lue, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I don’t even think about them,” Lue said of the Warriors to a small group of traveling Cleveland beat writers following the Cavs’ Game 4 win on Tuesday. “We’re just focused on Boston. The stuff they’re running, it’s harder to defend than Golden State’s [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it’s a totally different thing.”

Wait, the Isaiah Thomas-less 53-win Celtics are harder to defend than the Kevin Durant-supercharged 67-win Warriors? Come again, Coach?

“Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s—,” Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens’ schemes. “I’ll be like, ‘F—.’ They’re running all kinds of s—, man. And Brad’s got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It’s tough, you know, it’s tough.”

I think Lue means in a very specific way – getting his players into proper position. And in that regard he might be right.

I also think the Warriors will take this in the broadest, most offensive way possible. That’s just the nature of this rivalry.

Without Thomas, Stevens has been forced to diversify Boston’s offense. The Cavaliers, who prepared for a very different scheme, were caught off guard and are adjusting on the fly.

That’s a real challenge. But framing it as the central issue sells Golden State short.

Even if it’s harder for Lue to get his players into proper position against the Celtics, the Warriors’ surplus talent – including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – more than makes up for it. And it’s not as if Golden State runs a basic scheme.

So why did Lue say this?

He didn’t think the travelling Cleveland beat writers would publish his candid remarks? He didn’t convey his thoughts clearly? He naively didn’t consider how this would motivate the Warriors? All are plausible.

Another theory: Lue is trying to plant a seed that acting Golden State coach Mike Brown, whose known (fairly or not) for his simplistic offensive schemes, is holding back the Warriors. If Steve Kerr doesn’t return, resentment of Brown is one of the few things that could tear apart a dominant Golden State team.

Richard Jefferson: LeBron James was sick during Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
2 Comments

LeBron James was inexplicably bad in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.

Except maybe it was explicable.

Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson, via Fox Sports Ohio

I know he won’t talk about it, so I’ll give my big guy a shout. Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning, because he had like a little bug, just really lethargic, had no energy. And I think that’s what Bron had. And sometimes these little bugs can go around.

When Deron didn’t show up to shootaround, it kind of started clicking in his head. Because for him it was more of like, “I don’t know why I was so lethargic, why I had no energy, I had nothing.” And so, these little things happen. There was no panic.

Look, he was lethargic. They hit a bunch of tough shots. If Marcus Smart doesn’t go 7-for-10 from 3, then we’re not even talking about it.

I don’t know whether LeBron was truly sick or Jefferson is just trying to help a teammate’s reputation. It can be both.

LeBron was better in Game 4, but not quite right.

If he’s dealing with a minor illness, that could clear up by Game 5 tomorrow. It should especially clear up by the Finals, which begin June 1. That’d be great news for the Cavs, who have no chance against the Warriors if LeBron isn’t at full strength.

The uncertainty of why LeBron hit a slump now of all times loomed over Cleveland’s playoff future. But Jefferson provided reason for the Cavaliers to breathe easy.