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 kids love pizza.
• Knicks coach Mike Woodson was wearing a T-shirt with his face on it. That may be the best coach shirt ever.
• Here is your Greg Oden update, from long-time NBA writer Shaun Powell: Agent Mike Conley says Greg Oden will not decide on his next team until July. Cavs, Heat and Celtics in running.
• I’d still bet on the Cavaliers winning that. Oden is in Ohio right now plus they can offer more money than those other teams.
• If you watch one player interview today, it should be Kenneth Faried — the Nugget forward who has two moms — talking homosexuality in sports with friend of this site Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN.
• A great look at Daryl Morey in Houston by my man Zach Lowe at Grantland, where everybody was frustrated with Morey but now the Rockets look good — they are playoff bound, they have James Harden, they just nabbed Thomas Robinson and they have enough cap space to offer a max deal to someone this summer. I’m looking at you, Dwight Howard.
• My guess is that the Rockets will not sign anyone this summer, they will carry over that cap space and look at the 2014 and 2015 classes. But as the Rockets win they will get attention from free agents. When LaMarcus Aldridge was asked what he told potential free agents to get them to Portland, his response was “We have cap space.” Guys will play where the money is.
• Former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw has been indicted in a shooting incident with her girlfriend.
• If you want an early look at how the NCAA Tournament brackets will break out, here is the current CollegeBasketballTalk thinking.
• I’m not sure he stays this summer, but Al Jefferson has a soft spot for Utah: “Utah’s been the best thing that ever happened to my career. This team has been the best thing that ever happened to me.”
• For masochistic Magic fans, J.J. Redick reflects back on the whole “Dwightmare” situation.
• Michael Jordan purchased a new $2.8 million home in North Carolina. I bet it’s nicer than mine.
• Finally, Sixers coach Doug Collins says his team being young is no excuse for playing like…. fertilizer.
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HAMBURG, Ark. (AP) — Authorities in rural Arkansas are investigating the theft of more than $50,000 worth of equipment from a farm owned by former NBA star Scottie Pippen.
Investigator Mark Griever of the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office says two tractors were stolen from the farm in Hamburg, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Pippen’s family is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Griever says Pippen owns the livestock farm with his brother.
Pippen, who now lives in Florida, is a native of Hamburg. Pippen won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s.
In the first two games against Boston, Jabari Parker is 1-of-7 shooting, has grabbed 15 percent of the available rebounds while on the court (low for a big expected to board), has more turnovers than assists, has been exploited on defense by Boston, and is -29. All in just 25 minutes.
Parker is also frustrated he isn’t getting more minutes and more of a chance to prove himself. From Stephen Watson of WISN News 12 in Milwaukee:
While there are questions about how Joe Prunty has handled the Bucks and their rotations in this series, more Jabari Parker is nobody’s answer. Except Parker’s. And Celtics’ fans. Parker can be as frustrated as he wants, he hasn’t played his way into more minutes.
Parker returned to the Bucks in January after rehab on his second ACL surgery and averaged 12.6 points per game. He showed some value, with an ability to score efficiently inside and shooting 38 percent from three, averaging 12.6 points per game. But he remains a below-the-rim player who struggles to defend, and in the playoffs that gets a guy a seat.
It’s going to be an interesting summer. Parker is a restricted free agent this summer and the Bucks do not see him as a core part of their future next to Giannis Antetokounmpo anymore, they are not going to come in with a big offer to keep him. However, his play (especially in the postseason) and injury history, combined with a tight free agent market, means he may not have many suitors at all. Is it possible a rebuilding team willing to take a chance — Phoenix, Atlanta, etc. — would come in with an offer higher than the Bucks would match? Yes, it’s possible. But it won’t be for a lot of years, just one or two as teams want to see if he can get right and become the player he once projected to be.
Everything you saw in the first two games of this Miami/Philadelphia playoff series you can throw out in the trash.
Joel Embiid is back and is now “probable” for Game 3, the Sixers announced, upgrading his status from “doubtful” earlier in the day. Embiid had been out with a concussion and orbital bone fracture.
Embiid will go through warmups — trying out both a mask and goggles — then will make a formal decision. However, he is expected to go. He certainly wants to play. And he is expected to start. How many minutes he can go remains to be seen.
This changes the Sixers and the series. Yes, Philly has likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and high quality role players such as J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, however, is Embiid that makes it all work. Put simply, when Embiid is on the court the Sixers are 15.2 points per 100 possessions better — their defense is elite and their offense is outstanding.
The Sixers will be better with their best player back in the fold, but don’t think this makes the series a cakewalk for Philly. It changes everything about matchups, but things are not all positives. When Embiid is on the court, the up-tempo, ball-movement style that the Sixers built around Simmons slows down and stops at points. The Sixers have played Hassan Whiteside and his rim protection off the court with floor spacing shooting bigs, now he has a place to be in the matchups. There are things the Heat can do now that may work for them.
It just may not matter — Philadelphia just got a lot better.
LeBron James‘ Cavaliers looks to be in a battle royal in the first round — and they could lose to Victor Oladipo‘s Pacers.
Miami’s defense and versatility is challenging the Sixers and shaking the faith of all those that just jumped on the bandwagon.
Utah stole a game in Oklahoma City showing great grit and resolve, not to mention a lot of Donovan Mitchell.
Anthony Davis has done everything but walk on water for the Pelicans.
The first round of the NBA playoffs has been filled with fascinating storylines — and we are just two games into each series. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all eight first-round series in this podcast, starting in the East and the tight races there, then move into the West. There’s even some “who wants to pay Jabari Parker this summer?” talk thrown in.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.