Monday And-1 links: NBA Grateful Dead T-Shirts? Better than a “box of rain.”

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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 I love fried chicken and waffles….

• I know what T-shirt Luke Walton will be wearing all summer — Sportiqe and the NBA have teamed up to make Grateful Dead NBA T-shirts for a number of teams. To the right, you see the Clippers one but there are Lakers, Heat, Celtics and others. My guess is every guy you see wearing this shirt will have a “touch of grey.”

• Are the Denver Nuggets serious contenders to come out of the West? They would be an unconventional contender but Rob Mahoney at Sports Illustrated won’t rule it out.

• One of the reasons the Nuggets are succeeding (and may be contenders) is they are still getting it done in the paint.

• Speaking of Denver, here is a Q&A with Corey Brewer.

• At the end of games you can defend the Lakers because their offense is predictable — Kobe Bryant isolation, or maybe he’ll get a high pick set. If the Lakers want to have more success at the end of games they need to find more balance (something our own Darius Soriano pointed out).

• A lot of casual basketball fans think this Spurs team is the same as the last few — regular season beasts who are not as big a threat in the playoffs. That, of course, ignores they went to the conference finals last year. Or that thanks to their defense they are better this year.

• Miami’s LeBron James and the Houston’s James Harden are last week’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week. LeBron averaged 30.8 points (on 59 percent shooting), 10 assists, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game as the Heat have not lost since Woodrow Wilson was president. Or something close to that. Harden averaged 26 points, 4 rebounds and 3.7 assists as the Rockets went undefeated and created a little space between themselves and the eight seed Lakers.

• Spencer Hawes is a Seattle native who played at the University of Washington, so when he was in Sacramento and was asked about the Kings maybe moving back to Seattle, what did you think he would say? Kings fans booed him all night long Sunday.

• Another request for Ricky Rubio to spend his summer working on his jump shot.

• It’s a little old, but here is Dwight Howard talking about his relationship with Kobe Bryant.

• Portland’s Joel Freeland is playing through a torn ligament in his finger.

• Because Michael Jordan remains one of the most marketable NBA names, Upper Deck trading cars has released a new Michael Jordan University of North Carolina Master Collection set. There are a limited number and they included signed hard cards.

Where do high school All-Star players come from, and where so they go to school? Your answers in a pretty picture.

• Finally, we end with Anthony Davis’ talking unibrow (in an ad):

Report: Celtics focused on adding All-Star-caliber frontcourt player

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Isaiah Thomas said he he’d happily forgo a renegotiation-and-extension if the Celtics use their cap space to upgrade their roster.

Where are they looking?

A. Sherrod Blakey of CSN New England:

Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.

In the last three years, 22 frontcourt players have been All-Stars. Boston already has one: Al Horford. Could the Celtics land any of the other 22?

Almost certainly unavailable

Free agency

Trade

Free agency or trade

  • Pau Gasol (Though Gasol said he’d opt in, San Antonio might try pushing him out to pursue Paul. If Gasol opts in, the Spurs could also trade him to clear space for Paul.)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (The Mavericks have a $25 million team option on Nowitzki for next season. Nowitzki going to Boston, via trade or free agency, would probably require a mutual agreement between Dallas and him that pursuing a title elsewhere is the right way for him to end his career.)

Report: Spurs exploring Chris Paul pursuit

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The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.

And apparently so are the Spurs.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.

San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:

  • Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
  • Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
  • Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.

The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.

But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.

Detroit’s Van Gundy honored for cooperation with media, fans

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.