Monday And-1 links: Derrick Rose’s child in a tux

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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 some misguided fools like to argue college basketball is better than NBA basketball….

• To the right, Derrick Rose’s  child in a tux. Not to rush him back on the court, but if you have time to put a tux on a baby you need something to do with your free time.

• People, Cher is not dead. Relax.

• Gregg Popovich’s home was burglarized while the Spurs were out on the Rodeo trip and among the items stolen was his Air Force class ring. That sucks.

And now for something completely different, let me just use this as my soap box once again to say Popovich needs to be the Team USA coach now that Coach K is stepping away. Best coach in the game, respected by players, Air Force guy, he has a fantastic resume.

• Speaking of Popovich, he’s just making Tony Parker day-to-day for the rest of the season. So stop asking.

• Friend of this blog Rob Mahoney takes a closer look at the weaknesses in the Thunder have shown recently. I think we are overstating those flaws — this is still a very good team, a contender —but the flaws are there.

Westbrook and Durant make for one of the most potent shot creating duos in the league, but should an opponent manage to lock down Durant with any measure of success, it could throw Oklahoma City’s offense off-balance enough to make every game of a potential series winnable. As prolific as the Thunder are, the absence of a third playmaker — and their dependence on individual dribble-driving rather than team-wide ball movement — makes them susceptible to pressure-heavy schemes. If an opponent keys in on Durant and/or Westbrook in the same way that the Thunder once focused on (the Spurs Tony Parker), OKC becomes an imminently beatable opponent.

• The key to the Lakers making the playoffs (and what if anything the do once there) is fully dependent on their defense. And that’s not about Dwight Howard — it’s about the other guys on defense playing the system and not missing plays. We’re looking at you Kobe Bryant. And if you watched what Chris Paul did to the Lakers defense, you have to seriously doubt the Lakers can defend well enough for a full game, let alone four out of seven.

• I just made a defense of Mike D’Antoni. Here is a longer, more thoughtful one from our man Dave McMenamin.

• Some Bucks fans got in a fight with a Lakers fan because he refused to boo his team. By the way, these are some pretty screwed up people in this story.

• Enes Kanter may be shut down for the rest of the season.

• A Q&A with the Knicks‘ Chris Copeland.

• Jimmer Fredette is suing the company that makes Fredette hats (with his approval) over royalties.

• Tom Thibodeau agreed to a contract extension with the Bulls a while ago, but he just now got around to signing it. He’s that busy.

• The Blazers are moving to try to bring a future All-Star game to Portland. The NBA has criteria for who can host and it largely involves convention and hotel space — you need a lot of hotel rooms nearby. Not within 40 miles but nearby. Orlando hosted and did a good job but for my taste it was too spread out. I liked Houston, where you could walk from the arena/Jam Session to the media hotel (about a mile away). For the record, 2014 is in New Orleans and 2015 will be in Brooklyn or Manhattan (they were the two teams to apply). So we are looking at 2016 at the earliest.

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.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

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Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.