Los Angeles Lakers Steve Nash of Canada intervenes as Kobe Bryant berates Metta World Peace for committing a foul during their NBA game in Los Angeles

Wednesday And-1 links: Do the Hawks, Lakers struggles with playoff teams matter?


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 Jack Bauer loves danger (sorry, got sucked into a “24” rerun the other day)….

• The Lakers and Hawks are the two playoff-bound teams that have struggled the most beating other playoff teams this season. In the Lakers case, it’s hard to read much into that because they are playing with a better sense of identity and health lately. As for the Hawks… they’re still the Hawks.

• Houston’s Thomas Robinson talks about how he puts his family before everything else.

• Pau Gasol could be back practicing with the Lakers next week.

• Dennis Rodman was in Vatican City for the papal conclave. I’m sure Rodman believes that’s why they got a selection done so quickly.

• Caron Butler starts for the Clippers at the three, but they are better when Matt Barnes plays. That makes Barnes the potential key to any long Clippers playoff run.

• Brandon Bass has been the whipping boy of some Celtics fans, but he’s played well for a few games and they are going to need him come the playoffs.

• The Blazers Nicolas Batum is playing through a lot of wrist pain.

• Kentucky’s star center Nerlens Noel underwent knee surgery Tuesday. That’s not going to impact his draft status much if at all — this was a fairly routine knee surgery and you’re drafting the player for who he will be three years from now, not who he is draft night.

• Speaking of surgeries, Austin Rivers had his wrist surgery this week and according to reports it went well. He is done for the season but he should be ready to go for Summer League.

• A lot of people wondered exactly what the Jazz were doing not moving Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson at the deadline. Zach Lowe at Grantland has a good explanation.

• Sixers coach Doug Collins met with new Eagles coach Chip Kelly. And didn’t try to talk him out of the job.

• Chris Kaman doesn’t like his lack of playing time in Dallas.

• Up in Seattle, Chris Hansen (the guy trying to buy the Kings and move them north) is compiling a potential season ticket holder list to impress the league.

• Here’s some thoughts on who future top-5 pick Cody Zeller could have as an agent.

• Aquille Carr is a potential future NBA player and is going the Brandon Jennings route of skipping college ball (Seton Hall) to play overseas for a year.

• The Cavaliers assigned Kevin Jones to the D-League.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.