Friday And-1 Links: Toronto’s Amir Johnson rides an elephant

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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 Fox News loves blond female anchors…

• That is the Raptors’ Amir Johnson riding an elephant. What more need be said?

• Knicks fans: Would you be willing to part with Iman Shumpert to move Amar’e Stoudemire? Here are some trade scenarios for you.

• While we’re talking Knicks, here is the best spin on Andrea Bargnani: He could be a better version of Steve Novak. Maybe a better version of Chris Copeland. The two caveats there are: 1) He has to hit his threes again, he hasn’t for a couple of years; 2) Bargnani is going to make $11.5 million this season, Copeland $3 million, is Bargs that much better?

• The best case scenario for Pau Gasol is he’s going to have a really good season without Howard clogging the post. Question is, if he plays well there will be interest from other teams and will the Lakers keep him the full season?

Great look from Sean Highkin at the USA Today of every NBA jersey.

Sports Illustrated with a fantastic — and long, and detailed — look at Brad Stevens of the Celtics.

• Interesting stat idea: Total Burden Ratings. The basic idea is how much of an offense does a player take on and how well does he do with it?

• If NBA rookies were on Iron Chef, what would they cook? Not a lot of winning dishes, it seems.

• Negotiations to move a $100 million renovation of the Target Center in Minneapolis are nearly done. The Timberwolves will pitch in $44 million toward the costs.

• Shareef Abdur-Rahim has been named as the general manager of the Reno Bighorns, the Kings D-League team.

• If you haven’t looked yet, here is DraftExpress’ 2014 mock draft.

• Jordan Williams, formerly of the Nets, has signed with Bilbao in Spain. That’s an amazing city, by the way.

• Finally, Jonas Valanciunas and his Kung-Fu defense.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.