Monday And-1 Links: Kris Humphries vs. Rajon Rondo, who ya got?

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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 Esquire loves Scarlett Johansson

• In the Celtics locker room there is a voting board up with the question: Who would you take in a fight, Kris Humphries or Rajon Rondo? That’s tough. Normally you want to go with the more scrappy guy and that’s Rondo, but he does give up eight inches and 60 pounds and that’s a lot to make up. Tough call. I’ll take Floyd Mayweather.

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw doesn’t expect Kobe Bryant to be ready for the season opener.

• Miami’s Norris Cole says he’s just trying to stay focused and ignore trade rumors. It’s training camp, 300 other NBA players will give you that exact same answer.

• Breaking down how Anthony Davis scored so well in his first preseason game — expect a big jump from him this season.

• Here’s an old photo of Dr. J and John Havlicek wearing sombreros.

• Cleveland’s Tyler Zeller is otu for Tuesday’s preseason game against Milwaukee due to a strained left hip flexor.

• Orlando’s Doron Lamb sprained his ankle Sunday and did not practice on Monday.

• Charlotte’s Al Jefferson missed the end of practice Monday’s due to a sore hamstring, however he expects to play on Tuesday so nothing serious.

• Why Clipper fans should be optimistic about their defense.

• Philadephia inked a one-year, partially guaranteed contract with reserve big man Gani Lawal.

• Chris Bosh was on Parks and Recreation last week.

• Javaris Crittenton murder trial update: He talked about wanting to “beat the s— out of” the prosecutor, you can probably imagine how well that went over with the judge. Enjoy your ankle monitor and curfew.

• Steve Nash and his wife have figured out their custody battle.

• Sergei Belov, the legendary Soviet player who was a key part of the disputed 1972 Olympic win over Team USA, has passed away.

• Finally, LeBron James’ son got an X-Box themed birthday cake which includes his father on the NBA 2K14 cover on it. The lesson here, if you’re LeBron’s son you get cool things.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.