Late night And-1 links: A few free agency rumors, more

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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 more than NBA fans love free agency….

• Not long after free agency opened, the Lakers called former Sixer Nick Young.

• Big man Al Jefferson is in Charlotte and will spend a chunk of Tuesday meeting with the Bobcats (via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports).

• The Bobcats also want to re-sign their own free agents Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts.

• With Jefferson clearly bolting Utah, the Jazz would like to re-sign Paul Millsap. The two sides met right after free agency opened. Still no deal in place. The Jazz have the right to match any offer Millsap gets from another team.

• Josh Smith will met with Atlanta on Tuesday.

• Reports are Milwaukee, Portland, San Antonio and Atlanta are meeting with Zaza Pachulia, trying to land him.

• The Bucks, Denver, Memphis are making a run at Tony Allen. At least so far.

• Brian Scalabrine has had conversations with the Bulls about being an assistant coach.

• In news that would shock nobody, the Celtics may look to trade Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.

• This is making a lot of buzz around the league: Bulls GM Gar Forman fired Bulls lead assistant Ron Adams over the objections of coach Tom Thibodeau. In general in the NBA, head coaches get to pick their assistants, the fact that Forman did this speaks to just how strained the relationship between coach and GM is in Chicago.

• Amar’e Stoudemire is part of a group of investors looking to buy an Israeli basketball team.

• In case you missed it (a lot of other things were going on), Malcolm Lee got traded twice on draft night, from the Timberwolves to Golden State then on the Suns.

• Minnesota’s rookie Shabazz Muhammad’s father was a concern for some teams — that he would be overly involved in his career. But Muhammad said his father is not working with him anymore.

• Speaking of the draft, but apparently James Harden mocked the Thunder taking Steven Adams.

• In case you missed it, Shawn Marion opted in with the Mavericks for $9.3 million next year rather than test the free agent market. That was wise.

• Kwame Brown opted in with the Sixers before free agency started, he will be with the team and make $2.9 million next season.

• Lou Williams is apparently doing well in his recovery from ACL surgery.

• New Orleans’ new rookie Pierre Jackson has a left patella injury and may have to skip summer league.

Stan Van Gundy talks up Pistons’ rookie Luke Kennard

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Luke Kennard came out of Duke with one of the best jump shots in the draft — he’s got a skill that translates to the NBA and will help the Pistons. The questions were about his defense and athleticism, but he started to answer those when he averaged 17.2 points a game in the Orlando Summer League. He hit threes but generally just looks like a guy who just knows how to get buckets.

So far, at the Pistons’ training facility and in the Orlando Summer League, coach and decision maker with the Pistons Stan Van Gundy likes what he sees from his rookie, he told the Pistons’ official website.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” Van Gundy said. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball….

“We’ve seen that a lot. He’s got great mental toughness,” Van Gundy said. “The thing I have great confidence in is that as he runs into challenges in the league – and everybody does and he’ll be no exception – I just think he’s a smart guy who’s adaptable. I think he’ll figure out a way to combat it. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to do that….

“The thing I didn’t know that he showed me is he has the ability to move his feet defensively. Now, he’s still got a long way to go in terms of handling some of the other things, rotations and things like that. But he certainly showed that he can get down in a stance and move his feet. I did not have a good feel for that going into the draft, so that was a positive.”

Yes, you should take a coach talking up a rookie before a game is played with a grain of salt.

However, the comment about the potential to defend is good news. SVG is right that mental toughness, and willingness to put in the work, is what will allow Kennard to take steps forward, but he has to have a baseline to get there and Van Gundy thinks he has that. Kennard has challenges ahead of him but if he can keep hitting shots the Pistons will give him time to work out everything else.

Kennard is going to get plenty of run as the backup to Avery Bradley at the two in Detroit. In with a second unit of guys like Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, Kennard is going to get his chances to score. He could put up decent numbers for a rookie.

 

John Wall has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral (VIDEO)

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If the Redskins need a quarterback should Kirk Cousins go down — he has played a full 16-game schedule the past two years, which is pretty remarkable — maybe rather than Colt McCoy Washington should look at the guy who makes the Wizards’ go.

John Wall showed on Friday he has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral, and hit his man.

I love that Wall starts calling out Tom Brady after one good pass.

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.