Wednesday And-1 links, where Nets fans want Dwight Howard

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Welcome to our morning 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).

Nets fans started a chant of “we want Howard” at the team’s home opener Tuesday. No, Deron Williams did not start it. As far as we know.

The Raptors have a 1,300-pound rock in their dressing room. Yes, intentionally. (I would nickname the rock Oliver Miller, but that’s just me.)

J.J. Barea tweaked his hamstring in the second half against the Bucks and requested out, then was later seen limping in the locker room. He is officially day-to-day but may miss few. (He seems to have good chemistry with Ricky Rubio, by the way).

Great stat from John Schuhmann of NBA.com: 2011-12 Timberwolves clutch-time shooting – Beasley: 2-for-10. Everyone else: 3-for-7.

Boston’s Chris Wilcox will miss Wednesday’s game against the Hornets due to a sore shoulder.

Boston could use more size up front, Erik Dampier anyone?

You really should consider picking up a copy of Basketball Prospectus for this season.

The Lakers Matt Barnes has a hip injury and did not play against Utah because of it. He may miss Thursday against the Knicks, too.

Talking about the Lakers struggles with the pick-and-roll.

Bethlehem Shoals at GQ wonders if Chris Paul was feeding Chauncey Billups to keep him happy and get him settled, knowing the lobs to Blake Griffin will come later?

DeAndre Jordan wants to be the defensive player of the year. Note to DeAndre: That requires more than just racking up blocks, when you give up rebounding position to go after blocks and your team gets killed on the glass it’s not good defense.

The Cavs top pick Kyrie Irving was 2-for-12 shooting in his first game. The good news was six assists to just one turnover. But Jose Calderon abused him pretty bad. Irving is good but has a ways to go yet.

Joe Johnson says he doesn’t feel any pressure from his bloated contract.

Jan Vesley has the flu and will not be on the Wizards two-game road trip. That following a hip injury. But the rookie will play someday.

The Wizards Maurice Evans had his knee drained. Early in the season for that.

Just a reminder before tonight’s Golden State vs. New York clash that the Warriors went very hard after Tyson Chandler in free agency, but the Knicks had the money.

Manu Ginobili defends the 2-on-1 fast break about as well as you can.

Bucks rookie forward Jon Leuer scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, added eight rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes off the bench on Tuesday. He plays a smart game, stays within himself. Mature game for a rookie.

Manny Harris might have made the Cavs roster had it not been for a new cold-therapy treatment gone too far.

A really interesting discussion of advanced basketball statistics, interpretation and context.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.