Monday And-1 links: Cavaliers to target Tony Allen this summer

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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 Mario Batali loves orange clogs.

• The Cavaliers need to improve their defense next season — 26th in the NBA in points allowed per possession — and that has to include some roster changes. So they are already looking to target free agent Tony Allen of the Grizzlies. They are not alone. After these playoffs Allen is going to get a nice payday.

• Andray Blatche will be a free agent this summer after his best season as a pro. He hinted where he signs may be tied to playing time. I say the answer is who pays him the most.

• The Clippers are not going to rush any decision about Vinny Del Negro as coach. But I think we all know how this movie ends. And before you tell me how he turned the Clippers around, look at their record before Chris Paul arrived.

• Speaking of the Clippers, this feature by Ramona Shelburne on Blake Griffin is a must read. Especially for those of you who think he doesn’t work on his game.

• The Grizzlies turned to Instragram to poke a little fun at Blake Griffin after the Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs.

Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri confirmed the obvious: Denver would like to keep Andre Iguodala long term.

Apparently the Suns search for a GM is down to two: Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman and Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough.

• Denver’s Kenneth Faried won this year’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award from the league for his work in the community off the court. It’s well deserved.

• This is already on my reading list and it’s not even written yet — Jonathan Abrams of Grantland (and the New York Times before that) has gotten a book deal to write “Boys Among Men: How a Generation of High Schoolers Chasing Their NBA Dreams Changed the Game and Themselves.” It’s the story of the guys who jumped from high school straight to the NBA, starting with Moses Malone. (Great trivia question, who was the last guy to do it? Amir Johnson.)

• LeBron James pitched in $1 million to build a new gym at his high school, St. Vincint-St. Mary.

• Vegas, baby. I am pumped as always for Summer League in Las Vegas, starting July 12. I will be at the Cox/Thomas & Mack center ready for the rookies.

• The Bucks John Henson will be in Vegas for Summer League, too.

• Nets GM Billy King says the team may sign swingman Bojan Bogdanovic out of the Europe for next season. That should solve everything.

• Speaking of Euro signings, don’t be shocked if the Rockets ink Turkish forward Furkan Aldemir for next season.

LeBron James on 1-16 playoff seeding: ‘Let’s not get too crazy’

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The NBA’s first newly formatted All-Star game went well (especially for LeBron James). It’ll probably go even better next year when the All-Star draft is televised.

Adam Silver also discussed breaking from another tradition – playoffs divided by conference. The NBA commissioner said 1-16 seeding has gotten “serious attention” from the league office.

LeBron, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

“I would disagree with that,” James said Wednesday afternoon following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first practice since the break. “I think our league has been built the right way as far as when it comes to the postseason.”

“It’s cool to mess around with the All-Star Game, we proved you can do that, but let’s not get too crazy about the playoffs. You have Eastern Conference and you have Western Conference. You have Eastern Conference champions, you have guys from the Eastern Conference that win the big dance and sometimes you have it from the West as well.”

LeBron has won seven straight Eastern Conference titles, usually traversing an easier road to the NBA Finals than the Western Conference champion. With the West projecting to remain better for the foreseeable future, does this hint LeBron plans to stay East and wants to keep his advantage? Remaining with the Cavaliers seems slightly more likely now, though maybe LeBron will leave for the 76ers or some other Eastern Conference team. I doubt he knows yet, but I also think he cares about his conference-title streak for legacy reasons – to the point it could affect his free agency. So, this could be preemptive lobbying.

In the past, LeBron has had Silver’s ear. But Silver specifically said in Los Angeles he wasn’t concerned with the tradition issues LeBron raises.

I’m not either.

The NBA has always split the postseason by East and West, but teams have been too fluid between the conferences to feel beholden to the current setup. Current Eastern Conference teams Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic have all been in the Western Conference while in their current locations. And vice versa with the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. (The New Orleans Hornets were in the Eastern Conference before they became the Pelicans and surrendered their history to Charlotte, and the Pelicans are now in the West.)

To Silver, the obstacle is travel. Concern is frequently raised about the possible effects of cross-coast playoff series.

I’m more concerned about the regular season.

Right now, teams play 52 intra-conference and 30 inter-conference. To most logically implement 1-16 seeding, the NBA would have to balance the regular-season schedule. That not only means more travel, it means more awkward start times due to time-zone difference. East Coast fans don’t want to stay up until 10 p.m. to watch their favorite team tip off during Western Conference road trips. West Coast fans don’t want to rush home from work or school to see their favorite team tip off at 4 p.m. during Eastern Conference road trips.

And then there’s the biggest and maybe only real issue: It’s virtually impossible to see enough Eastern Conference owners, who benefit from the current format, voting to change it.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.