Wednesday And-1 Links: Cavaliers pick up options for Irving, Waiters, Zeller, Thompson

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It’s time for 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 Skittles…

• If you are rebuilding with youth, rule one is to keep those youth around. That’s what the Cleveland Cavaliers did on Thursday, picking up the options on Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson (fourth year for those two), plus Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller (third year options for them). While they have picked up the option, you can expect a max five-year extension offer to come to Irving next summer.

• Celtics GM Danny Ainge again makes it sound like he has no intention of trading Rajon Rondo (of course, what else can he say?). Here is the money quote, via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

“It’s my job to build the Celtics, and Rondo is a big part of that. Will everything be as perfect as he would like it? I don’t believe so, but it’s not perfect for us, either, the fact that he can’t play. I think Rondo is with us. I think he likes a lot of the core guys on our team now, and I think he is optimistic and looking forward to a new chapter.”

• Over at ESPN (Insider, so you have to pay), salary cap guru put together his annual list of the most underpaid and overpaid players in the NBA. Top three most underpaid: LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It’s obvious why Irving on his rookie deal makes the list, as for LeBron and Durant the money they generate for their teams far outstrips even a max NBA salary. The most overpaid? Kobe Bryant (his $30 million salary does him in), Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson.

Zach Lowe’s 32 predictions for the NBA season over at Grantland are a great read.

• Another great read: Sports Business Journal profiled Adam Silver.

• At Sports Illustrated, Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney make a stab at predicting the All NBA Team at the end of the season. They predict a logical first team: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.

• Jazz coach Ty Corbin said he is still trying to see if Lester Hudson or Scott Machado can run the point. Which doesn’t sound good for John Lucas III (while everyone waits for Trey Burk to return).

• Chris Paul and Stephen Curry picked up a new endorsement deal — partnering with Kaiser Permanente to promote its #OwnNow program, which encourages young adults to live healthy and active lives — and to get health insurance.

• Stan Van Gundy was on NBCSN’s Sports Dash Wednesday and talked the GM poll, plus who could knock off the Heat or deny LeBron another MVP.

• Miami Heat draft pick and PBT favorite (Long Beach State!) James Ennis is tearing it up in Austrailia.

• Finally, here is seven minutes of J.J. Redick talking about fancy watches.

Draymond Green goes down, Rockets rally to spoil Warriors ring night 122-121

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Draymond Green is not the best player on the Warriors. He’s third or fourth best, depending on what you think of him vs. Klay Thompson.

But Draymond Green is the most important Warrior — what they do defensively does not work without him (and their small ball playmaking suffers as well). Without him, the Warriors are not the same.

That was on full display Tuesday night in the season opener — the night the Warriors got their 31-diamond rings and the latest banner went up at Oracle Arena. Green tweaked his knee in the third quarter landing off a shot and did not play in the fourth, and that’s when the Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 to come from behind and steal a win, 122-121.

Green was diagnosed with a “knee strain” and was walking around after the game without a cast/boot/crutches, although with a slight limp according to reports. He said this is nothing serious, although don’t be shocked if the Warriors give him another game or two off to rest it.

Kevin Durant almost saved the day for Golden State with a baseline jumper as time expired — the referees called it good, but an official review showed the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer went off.

James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists to lead the Rockets. However, the real story was their revamped bench outplaying the Golden State bench — Eric Gordon looked like the sixth man of the year with 24 points, P.J. Tucker had 20 and shot 4-of-6 from three, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14.

The Rockets made their final push with Chris Paul sitting on the bench. CP3 sat the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Rockets thrived with Gordon, Harden and an old-school (meaning, like last season) offense. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said that Paul was out there “playing on one leg” due to his knee problem, and Paul could miss more time.

Golden State was also without Andre Iguodala, who tweaked his back lifting weights over the weekend, according to coach Steve Kerr. Not having Green or Iguodala hurt the Warriors defense, especially against an elite offensive team.

Surprisingly, Nick Young led the Warriors with 23 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-7 from three. Stephen Curry added in 22, Kevin Durant scored 20 and Klay Thompson 16. However, in the fourth quarter the Warriors big three of Durant, Curry, and Thompson were 5-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-7 from three. Curry could not find the range.

Last season the Spurs blew the Warriors out by 29 on opening night, and the Warriors bounced back to win 67 games and the NBA title. Nobody should read too much into an opening night win. But for a Rockets team with dreams of challenging these Warriors in May, this is a good confidence boost to start the season.

Kevin Durant’s game winner waived off, he didn’t get shot off in time

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With Draymond Green sidelined after tweaking his knee in the third quarter, the Houston Rockets were able to make a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback and upset the Golden State.

But Kevin Durant almost saved the game for the Warriors.

Down one with 10 seconds to go, the Warriors were able to get Stephen Curry a good look at a three but he missed it. The ball was volleyballed around a little, and Durant got a hold of it and took a 15-footer along the baseline that the referees on the court ruled a game-winner — but when reviewed it left his hand a fraction of a second too late.

It was the right call. And this is a big boost for the Rockets as they try to find their identity going into a long season.

 

The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)

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Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.

In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.

Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.

Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.

Via Twitter:

Hmm. 31.

3-1.

3-1 lead.

Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.

Report: Cavaliers ditched Kyrie Irving tribute video idea vs. Celtics

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It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.

Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.

Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.

According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.

Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.

Via Cleveland.com:

According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”

Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.

A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.

The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.