Tuesday And-1 links: Dennis Rodman is heading back to North Korea

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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.

• It’s his life so I pass this along without comment: Dennis Rodman has plans to return to North Korea.

Chris Andersen with a very Birdman quote: ““I just come in, take care of business. Taking care of business is what Birdman does.”

Mike D’Antoni admitted he was wrong — Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard can play together and succeed. That said, I still think the Lakers trade Gasol this summer, the Lakers need some more roster pieces and he is the one player the Lakers have they are willing to move and has good trade value.

• By the way, there is zero chance the Lakers amnesty Kobe Bryant people. Some of you keep talking about it. Stop. It will not happen. There is a better chance Chumbawamba has another hit.

• The Miami Heat are clearly tempting fate here. From a press release I got Tuesday: “Moet & Chandon – the world’s most iconic Champagne – has just announced its partnership with the hottest team in the NBA, the Miami HEAT. Moët Ice Impérial is now the Official Champagne of White Hot: The 2013 HEAT Playoffs!”

• It’s not a surprise but it is official: Brandon Roy will not play for the Timberwolves this season and will not be back with the team next year.

• Miami’s reserves cared about the game Monday night, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers didn’t play like a team that cared at all. Not so subtle lesson there for Kyrie on his way to stardom.

• Here are some interesting regular season grades for all 30 NBA teams from our friends at SI.

• I am leaning Jamal Crawford over J.R. Smith for Sixth Man of the Year (it’s very close), but I’m worried about what that says about me.

• Joakim Noah has helped put together a documentary on Lenny Cooke — a one-time can’t miss prospect who is now one of basketball’s legendary what-if stories. Noah and Cook played AAU ball together. The documentary will make its debut at the Tribeca film Festival.

• Speaking of documentaries, tt’s a little early to set your DVRs but in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Philadelphia 76ers’ 1983 title, Julius “Dr. J” Erving will be the focus of a new NBATV documentary, set to air between Games 2 and 3 of The NBA Finals on Monday, June 10, at 9 p.m. ET.

Magic Johnson’s son EJ talks about being gay. A lot of people care about this, apparently.

• Finally, a look back at the best flops this season. Below is Chris Paul, who had the best one of all.

LeBron James says he has scratched cornea, could sit Saturday vs. Wizards

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With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.

It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.

 

 

That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.

James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”

He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.

The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.

And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.