Monday And-1 links: Andre Drummond to work out with Hakeem

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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 Chicagoans love to boo LeBron James…

• Detroit rookie big man Andre Drummond is going to work out with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer. I LOVE this. Drummond and Anthony Davis are going to be battling for who is best out of this draft class three years from now (sorry Damian Lillard, you’ll still be very good). The pre-draft questions about Drummond were focus and intensity, but he has shown he does have that. And this is a sign of maturity and wanting to develop.

• In what seems to be an annual report: The Celtics will consider trading Rajon Rondo “for the right deal.” Of course, that deal means Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose or some other trade that would never happen.But we pass along the note anyway.

• Marc Gasol is the most interesting basketball player in the world.

Why Memphis is better without Rudy Gay.

• The NBA players union is not going to meet until August and seems to be in no rush to find a new executive director.

• Pablo Prigioni will be a restricted free agent this summer (once the Knicks make the expected qualifying offer), and there will be interest  around the league, but he says he wants to come back to New York. If he plays anywhere.

What is the best of the available coaching jobs? Ben and I disagree here, I think expectations and reality are way out of line in Brooklyn, and that Detroit is a potentially very good gig with a solid front line in place.

• Along those lines, here’s a good look at some of the top assistants who could be head coaches by next season.

• In a surprise to nobody the Rockets will not pick up the $6.4 million option for Francisco Garcia (but they could re-sign him for less).

• Russell Westbrook talks about his injury and his recovery.

• After a few adult beverages, a random fan just decided to declare for the NBA draft… and got a great response from the league.

• For his first move, Flip Saunders is remaking the scouting department with the Timberwolves.

• Spike Lee couldn’t get the seats near the Pacers bench like he wanted, despite a $40,000 offer.

• How the Warriors rebuild worked better than the Kings rebuild (when the Kings consistently have better draft picks).

• GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, announced it will give Jason Collins its Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards in New York on Monday, May 20.

• One-time NBA champion and the worst dancer in NBA history Mark Madsen is now the head coach of the D-League’s DeFenders (the Lakers affiliate).

• There is a Basketball Time Machine app.

Russell Westbrook calls Oklahoma City “the place where I want to be”

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has yet to sign an extension, but the reigning league MVP says Oklahoma City is where he wants to be and he is “happy” about the offseason additions of superstars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.

Westbrook complimented Thunder management for making the deals.

The unsigned deal has tempered some of the excitement building around the team. He has until Oct. 16 to ink a contract that would be worth more than $200 million. Westbrook says he hasn’t signed because of the birth of his son and a busy travel schedule.

Westbrook’s former teammate Enes Kanter, who was sent to New York as part of the deal that brought Anthony to Oklahoma City, also says he expects Westbrook to sign the deal.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Paul George says OKC feels like “Somewhere I can call home for years”

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All we have heard about all summer is that Paul George is definitely going to the Los Angeles Lakers. Heck, we’ve heard about it earlier than that.

That’s what forced the Indiana Pacers to make the trade to send George to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he is now teammate of both Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.

But NBA Media Day was on Monday, and with it brought not only first interviews of new players but the platitudes that fans want to hear as well.

Speaking to reporters in Oklahoma City, George said that he thought the Thunder had done much that they had needed to do to show him they were a place that he could stay.

Via USA Today:

“Honestly, I’m happy,” he said. “The only thing I wanted out of Indiana was a chance to win my whole career there…That’s really what I want out of this, out of the league. I’m not looking for money. I’m not looking for stats. I want to win, and (to) be able to win at a high level.

“It’s Year One, and (the Thunder have) proven – and I haven’t even gone through a season yet – and they’ve already proven everything on my check list (that) I can check off. That’s what feels good. That’s what makes me feel like, ‘Hey, this can be a landing spot for me, and somewhere I can call home for years.’”

George also told USA Today that winning was above anything else, including joining his hometown team in the Lakers. We’ve heard this from players before, so take it with a grain of salt, but it does appear that the Thunder have a shot of keeping the former Pacers star if George is to be believed.

Of course, Oklahoma City still has some work to do in terms of winning games. There are some serious doubts about the roster they have now with three high usage players that will struggle to find a way to share the ball efficiently.

The Western Conference got a lot tougher this offseason, and both Anthony and George were a part of that. But the other teams have stiffened and appear to have better roster fit at the moment. Thats before we even get to the 2017 NBA Finals champion Golden State Warriors.

LeBron James says that he is going to be finishing his career in Cleveland. George says that the Thunder have a real shot at keeping him. We will have to play out this season to see if either of those things come true.

LeBron James says he still plans on finishing his career with Cleveland

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There has been significant talk around the NBA about the possibility of LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer.

Specifically, there has been in a lot of chatter about James leaving his home state and heading to be in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

But during NBA media day on Monday, LeBron said that he still plans on finishing his career with Cleveland. What wasn’t explicit is whether that means he will take his next contract elsewhere, or if he simply means to return at a later date.

Via Cleveland.com:

“It hasn’t changed,” James said, when asked. He also nodded when asked, directly, if he intended to finish his career in Cleveland.

“And that’s why I sit up here today, still in this uniform, still ready to lead this franchise to a championship, put us in a position where we can be successful.”

“Anytime I’m able to be free agent or my contract ends, I’ll approach that when the summer comes,” he said. “At the end of the day I have a contract and I will fill out that obligation, which I’ve always done.

“And if you guys know me, I don’t know if you know me as much, but I’ve always handled it in the most businesslike way. And I will do that with my team, and we’ll handle that in the summertime, as we always have.”

So you there you have it. He is definitely planning on staying. Although he isn’t going to make that plan until the summer.

Should be an interesting one in Cleveland this year.

LeBron, Gregg Popovich among NBA heavyweights to comment on Trump at Media Day

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Monday was NBA Media Day and it could not get here soon enough. Yes, the offseason has been an incredible one with many players changing places. But the start of football season always means something important for the NBA diehard: basketball is coming.

Media Day comes with new questions for new players, along with hope that franchises will be able to right the wrongs of seasons past. Plus, we get to see new jerseys on stars. Yet as it always seems these days, the story of the afternoon was gathering how players had reacted to Donald Trump’s recent comments.

Specifically, Trump mentioned that he thought that players who knelt for the national anthem in the NFL were “sons of bitches”. Trump also rescinded a potential offer for a visit to the White House for the Golden State Warriors after Stephen Curry said he would vote “no” on going during a team meeting.

NBA reporters could not help but ask about the comments by Trump and the impact it had on the players, coaches, and executives during their first full scale opportunity to see players in a team setting.

Everyone from LeBron James to John Wall and Gregg Popovich had something to say.

We will be entering our first full season of the NBA with Trump and given how the first eight months of his tenure have gone, it will be interesting to see how the most socially conscious league in America responds moving forward.