Keon Clark smiles

Wednesday And-1 Links: Former NBAer Keon Clark sentenced to 8 years in prison

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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.

• Former NBA player Keon Clark has been sentenced to 8 years in prison, as reported by the News Gazette out of Illinois. Clark “faced 10 weapons, drugs and driving-related charges stemming from one 2012 case and four 2013 cases” according to the report. He is going to spend that time in a Department of Corrections-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility near Chicago as part of his effort to kick his additions. Clark was the No. 13 pick out of UNLV and played six seasons in the NBA with Denver, Toronto, Sacramento and Utah.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report wrote about Derrick Rose and said “the surgeon was able to preserve “100 percent” of the torn meniscus in his right knee.”

• If you’re a team that is only going to pay the luxury tax for a couple of seasons when you can make a run at a ring, when do you pull that trigger?

An appreciation of Jeff Teague’s game. He is having his best season as a pro by far.

Are the Trail Blazers for real? (This is behind ESPN’s pay wall.)

• Carmelo Anthony’s high school coach talks about his former star.

• Updated odds on the NBA championship from bovada.lv showed a few interesting things. The Indiana Pacers were 9-1 before the season but are 4-1 now and the second choice on the board. The Thunder are third at 6-1 and the Spurs have gone from 14-1 before the season to 7-1 now. On the other end of the spectrum, the Clippers were 9-1 to win it all before the season and they are 14-1 now. The thing that didn’t change is Miami is now and remains at 2-1 and the favorite to win it all.

• The Bulls let Mike James play on a sprained knee, which is kind of a trend with the Bulls team doctors. And you wonder why Derrick Rose took his time getting back.

• The Bulls have sent Marcus Teague to the D-League for seasoning.

• Will Forte has a really gross Clippers superstition.

• When asked about George Karl’s comments that he was doing some bush league things during the playoffs last year, Jackson took the high road.

• One of my favorite tweets of the season from Tuesday night:

• The Hawks have sent rookie point guard Dennis Schroder to the D-League. I think Schroder could be something special, but he needs time on the court and he can get that in the D-League.

• Former Suns point guard Kendall Marshall is now a member of the Delaware 87ers of the D-League draft.

• Finally, Grant Hill talks about the potential of Duke freshman phenom Jabari Parker.

Damian Lillard added to Team USA Olympic roster pool

Damian Lillard
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If you’re looking for a point guard who can flat-out score the rock, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many better than Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers’ guard is averaging 24.2 points and 7.3 assists per game, with an above-average true shooting percentage of 54.6 percent, and a very high usage rate of 30.9.

He’s the kind of guy who might have a place on the Team USA Roster.

Which is why USA Basketball has added him to the pool to be considered for the Rio Olympics summer. The reason for the change is both Lillard’s level of play this season, and the fact he called USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo to ask for a spot, as reported by Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Lillard deserves consideration, but there are two key reasons he likely doesn’t make the team:

1) He is still a terrible defender.

2) The list of guards for the USA Roster is ridiculous: Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Klay Thompson, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook. And now Lillard. That’s 10 guys for likely five spots. It’s hard to see Lillard making that cut.

But he deserves consideration.

Kings co-owner Shaq: Vivek Ranadivé told me George Karl would coach rest of season

Shaquille O'Neal
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Kings general manager Vlade Divac said keeping George Karl as coach was right move “for now.”

How long is “for now”?

Shaquille O’Neal, a Kings minority owner, shares insight.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

This would mean a little more if Vivek Ranadivé weren’t prone to wild swings. Remember, the Kings said Tyrone Corbin would finish last season as coach before firing him for Karl.

Divac also said in November that Karl would coach the rest of the season, and that came up for debate fewer than three months later.

Shaq’s revelation is as likely to embarrass the Kings in a few weeks as it is to signal Karl’s job security.

Chauncey Billups explains why not every player wants to go home

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets
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LeBron James did it and shook up the NBA — he returned home to Cleveland. That has led to fantasies other players want to do the same thing: Kevin Durant back to Washington D.C.; DeMar DeRozan or Russell Westbrook back to Los Angeles; Blake Griffin back to Oklahoma. And the list goes on.

Not every player wants to do it.

Chauncey Billups did. Billups is a Denver guy who returned to play for the Nuggets — he gets his number retired Wednesday night in Detroit, a much-deserved honor — but in a letter to his young self at the Players’ Tribune Wednesday he explained that going home is fraught with peril.

“But in reality, playing at home as a 23-year-old professional is going to be less blessing and more curse. (There’s perception, again, for you.) It’s as simple as this: you’re just not going to be ready for Denver to be Your City. You’re going to think you’re ready — and they are too — but, trust me, you won’t be. You’re still going to be so young. You’re still going to be hanging out with your boys, doing your old thing. There are going to be those … hometown distractions. And those distractions will add up.”

“And you have to understand, Chaunce: It’s not just that you made it. It’s that your whole neighborhoodis going to feel like they made it. All of Park Hill is going to feel like they made it. And don’t get me wrong — that’s special. But at the wrong age, it can also be tough. It can be a lot to handle. And you’re going to be at that wrong age. You’re not going to be mature enough yet, or developed enough yet, to take on that mix of environments, those responsibilities, that role.

“You’re not going to be ready to lead.”

There are plenty of guys around the NBA who understand those distractions and how those can get in the way of off-season workouts, of time spent shoring up a weakness or developing a new shot, and how during the season they can be another thing that wears the body down.

Some guys can handle it. Some can’t.

Go read the entire letter from Billups. He talks about getting traded from the Celtics his rookie season, about playing for Mike D’Antoni, about how very rarely do veterans want to mentor younger players because they are fighting for the same piece of the pie.  Billups is honest.

And it’s great that Detroit is rewarding him as they should.

Did Marcus Thornton steal free throws from Rockets teammate Clint Capela?

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Leandro Barbosa – guarding Marcus Thornton and fighting through a Clint Capela screen – was called for a foul in the first quarter of last night’s Warriors-Rockets game.

Thornton went to the line.

Should he have? Or should Capela have?

Perhaps, Thornton and Barbosa tangled, but it certainly appeared the contact primarily occurred between Barbosa and Capela. It looks like Barbosa tries to ram through Capela.

It also appears Capela thought he drew the foul. Watch him step toward the line before seeing Thornton there and taking his spot along the paint.

So, why would Thornton step in? He’s making 89% of his free throws to Capela’s 40%.

I’m honestly surprised players don’t try this maneuver more often. Refs have so much to keep track of. The worst consequence would be the refs shooing away Thornton and bringing Capela to the line.

Thornton made both free throws, but it didn’t matter. Houston was playing Golden State, which rolled to a victory.