Houston Rockets Media Day

Friday And-1 Links: James Harden sued for allegedly punching a Lakers fan

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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. 

• James Harden is being sued for allegedly punching a Lakers fan. First off, I know how annoying Lakers fans can be but you still can’t just haul off and slug them. It’s the law. Anyway, his alleged incident happened outside an LA nightclub when the Harden was in an SUV, rolled down the window to greet fans, the heckler says he yelled that Kobe owned him, so Harden punched the guy. There were no criminal charges, just a lawsuit from the alleged victim. Take this with a whole lot of salt, who knows what the reality is.

How little Div. III liberal arts school Pomona College came to rule the NBA — that is where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer and Grizzlies GM Jason Levien are from. So is Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard who wrote this story. So is my wife, who found me this story… but that’s not why I’m running it. Well, not the only reason. It’s a really good story.

Great bit of work by Tom Haberstroh at ESPN — while Andrea Bargnani’s shooting numbers are not terrible, the team’s defensive numbers and really just about every measurable stat falls off the chart when he is in the game. That includes Carmelo Anthony’s shooting — when Bargs is off the court Anthony shoots as well as he did last year.

• If you haven’t heard Brian Shaw tell the story of the car accident that changed his life, you need to.

• How the Memphis Grizzlies got their grit and grind back, via Sam Amick at the USA Today.

• There may soon be a new basketball league out there, made up of recently retired NBA players.

• Jerry West, in praise of Oscar Robertson.

• Danny Green loves snakes.

• Leandro Barbosa has signed to play in his native Brazil, but his deal does have an NBA out.

• Former players union head Billy Hunter used to invest union money with a company called Prim Capital, the owner of said company has now pled guilt to defrauding the union.

• The NBA is now partnered with Diageo — the makers of Ciroc and Crown Royal — for a sponsorship deal. So expect to see a lot more of those brands’ ads during games (among other places).

• The NBA is working in Nigeria with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as Africare and ExxonMobil, to create a program called “Power Forward” — a youth engagement initiative that will use basketball to develop health, leadership and life skills in Nigeria. Sounds like a good cause, I hope it finds success.

• If you ever wanted to own socks with images of Allen Iverson, Dominique Wilkins, Shawn Kemp, or  Anfernee Hardaway/Shaquille O’Neal on them, well, just follow this link.

Report: Warriors to replace Luke Walton from outside the organization

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 12: Interim Coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors talks on the sideline during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 12, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.

Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.

Report: Luke Walton’s Lakers contract is for 5 years, $25 million

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Interim head coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors leads the team against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 112-110. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.

This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.

Luke Walton says he won’t run the triangle as Lakers coach

at American Airlines Center on December 30, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.

But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.

Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:

Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.

Steve Kerr: “Not going to rule out” Stephen Curry for Game 2 vs. Blazers

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 27:  Injured Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts on the bench with Shaun Livingston #34 and Anderson Varejao #18 during their game against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 27, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/status/726489715398991872

Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.