Winderman: NBA has its own one-and-done players

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So just over a year after arriving, Ron Artest apparently is having issues with the Lakers. Does this surprise anybody?

Or could it be that Artest becomes just the latest one-and-done example in this league, a player who is everything as advertised upon arrival in terms of basketball skills and then becomes everything as advertised after a welcome is worn out?

No, no one is saying Artest should or will be gone, but his situation is not unlike several others in the league, past and present, where the going gets to be not so good after a one-season honeymoon period.

A look at a few potential current one-and-done types with their current teams, for a variety of reasons:

Shaquille O’Neal: The first year always is the honeymoon, then came the ugly ending in Miami and Phoenix. And after one season in Cleveland, enough was deemed to be enough. Yes, Shaq has been wonderful this season in Boston. And he’ll probably be a hit next season in Atlanta, as well.

Stephen Jackson: Before he was booted, there were rumblings that coach Larry Brown wanted Captain Jack gone. Just as with his arrival with Golden State, Jackson was exactly what Charlotte needed last season upon his arrival. Now? Apparently not so much. With the Mavericks’ loss of Caron Butler, Dallas could be the next stop.

Samuel Dalembert: This primarily was a rental, anyway, but based on festering differences between the Kings and the shot-blocking center, an offseason free-agent departure appears to be inevitable, if he even makes it to one season and done.

Tracy McGrady: Last season, the comeback began in New York. Now there are signs of life in Detroit. But with the Pistons not going anywhere, might T-Mac prefer the big stage one more time, somewhere with a more legitimate shot at the playoffs? New York last season. Detroit this season. Where next?

Eddie House: Last season was split between the Celtics and Knicks, for a player who has been on the move plenty of late. Now there is nothing but bench time in Miami. So far he has been a willing spectator. But as the career clock winds down, might there be one more reach for one more relocation?

Andres Nocioni: This never was the best fit with a young, rebuilding roster in Philadelphia. Surely a contender could put the scrapper who arrived from Sacramento in the offseason to greater use. He probably doesn’t even have his bags unpacked from Chicago yet.

Tony Allen: Does a young roster need this type of headache? Yes, O.J. Mayo might be gone before Allen, but Tony could wind up as this season’s Javaris Crittenton, ancillary damage, if you will, shortly after his arrival.

Luke Ridnour: The assumption is that Jonny Flynn will be moved to make way for the arrival of Ricky Rubio. The Timberwolves, however, might find greater interest in a player who certainly seems like he hasn’t been able to stay in one place very long recently.

Brendan Haywood: He arrived last season amid fanfare. Then Tyson Chandler arrived to his full potential this season. Now making it through a calendar year in Dallas is not a certainty.

Chris Duhon: Because eventually each suitor recognizes he, uh, is Chris Duhon.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Pistons play recording of Aretha Franklin’s national anthem while spotlighting open microphone at center court (video)

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Pistons legend Isiah Thomas eulogized Aretha Franklin – a proud Detroit native – last summer and concluded with a message to the deceased singer:

I want you to know, I love you. The world loves you. And most importantly, Aretha, Detroit loves you.

Detroit showed its love for Aretha before the Pistons’ opener yesterday. Thomas again spoke kindly of her then asked for a moment of silence. The arena went dark and quiet.

Then, a spotlight shined on an unattended microphone at center court as a recording of Aretha’s national anthem played. While this video shows the powerful rendition of the song, by focusing on the images of Aretha shown on the scoreboard, it doesn’t even capture the full feeling of the moment.

Seeing that open spotlighted microphone throughout the entire anthem was hauntingly beautiful and a great tribute to the Queen of Soul.

NBA’s minor league to offer $125,000 salaries to not-yet-draft-eligible 18-year-olds

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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The NBA will lower its age limit to 18, effectively ending the one-and-done era.

Eventually.

In the meantime, the best option for most top players leaving high school is college basketball. But while the NBA takes its time changing a rule (that it never should have implemented in the first place), the NBA’s minor league will offer an alternative route.

G League release:

The NBA G League today announced a Select Contract as part of a comprehensive professional path that will be available, beginning with the 2019-20 season, to elite prospects who are eligible to play in the NBA G League but not yet eligible for the NBA.  The contracts, which will include robust programmatic opportunities for development, are for elite players who are at least 18 years old and will pay $125,000 for the five-month season.

NBA G League Select Contracts are designed for year-round professional growth and will include opportunities for basketball development, life skills mentorship and academic scholarship.  These offerings are slated to include basketball workouts during the summer months through existing NBA infrastructure like NBA Summer League and NBA Academies, year-round education programs designed to increase players’ ability to personally and professionally manage their careers, and a scholarship program for athletes who want to pursue higher education after their playing days.  Additionally, the NBA G League will further enhance player experience through existing partner relationships and NBA player development programming.

The $125,000 salary is nice and a sizeable jump from the standard minor-league salary, which these players were already eligible to receive. Select Contract players can also sign endorsements and receive loans from agents while remaining eligible to play, unlike in the NCAA.

But it’s not as if college basketball players aren’t compensated. Though their compensation is limited by the NCAA cartel, players still get tuition, room and board and cost-of-living expenses. And of course many get under-the-table money, too. The value of that compensation – particularly the tuition – varies by person.

Access to NBA infrastructure could swing some players, but that also comes with risk. Older professionals could expose younger, even more talented, players. Experience and physical advancement matter.

So does the stage. Top college-basketball players are nationally recognized stars who appear regular on television and are revered on campus. Minor-league players are relatively anonymous and play in mid-sized cities away from much fanfare.

There’s still plenty to sort out, and the details could affect how many players enter this new program out of high school. But it’s nice they have another option.

It’d be far better if they could just declare for the NBA draft if they feel they’re ready.

Anthony Davis challenging Michael Jordan as best opening-game player on record

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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Anthony Davis called himself the NBA’s best player.

He sure backed it up last night.

Davis posted a 32-16-8-3-3 to lead the Pelicans to a 19-point win over the Rockets, considered by many to be the NBA’s second-best team. The performance immediately vaults Davis to the forefront of any MVP discussions.

But for him, it was just par for the course. Davis has repeatedly dazzled in season openers. When 18-6-2-3 qualifies as the dud, you know Davis is doing something right.

Davis’ box scores in New Orleans’ first game each season:

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That makes Davis’ average season-opener game score 24.1, one of the best ever. Only Michael Jordan has a higher mark on record (since 1983, as far back as Basketball-Reference records go; minimum: three games).

Here are the leaders:

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Obviously, Davis cares more about how he finishes than starts. The Pelicans have made the playoffs only twice with him, getting swept in the first round in 2015 and falling in the second round last season.

But it should be clear by now: Davis comes to play as soon as the season tips.