Friday And-1 links: Ramon Sessions trade talk and more

1 Comment

Here is our daily 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).

Ramon Session trade rumors are still a hot topic. It may be close to the deadline when it happens but expect him to be moved.

That in no way means Sessions asked for a trade.

Baron Davis thinks the Knicks will win the NBA championship this year. In other news, I think I will date Kate Upton this year. About the same odds.

Here is a fantastic oral history of the Malice at the Palace, as collected by Jonathon Abrams at Grantland.

Floyd Mayweather was on NBC’s Costas Tonight and in a wide-ranging interview, he also talks about his controversial tweet about Jeremy Lin.

In contrast to fights, here are the Knicks meeting a young girl who has battled back from cancer. Great story.

Lakers fans, this story should scare the crap out of you.

How to quantify and define “clutch” is going to be one of the big topics at the SLOAN Conference in Boston this weekend. It is the one area where often the numbers and perceptions are most at odds. But we can all agree that the 76ers are not good at it.

Really wish I could be at SLOAN, but I can’t do ASG and it back-to-back weekends and still keep my wife speaking to me.

Hakeem Olajuwon is impressed with how LeBron James is playing, particularly in the post, but thinks he can do better.

Players union executive director Billy Hunter frustrated some players and agents during the lockout by not driving a hard enough bargain (there were hardline players as well). Hunter doesn’t care.

An MRI on the knee of Wizards guard Nick Young showed no structural damage. That’s good.

Joel Przybilla had his first action in more than a year with the Blazers Thursday and looked pretty solid.

Stephen Jackson is not traveling with the Bucks right now.

Bismack Biyombo’s left shoulder MRI showed it is only a strain.

Great breakdown of a key Spurs set — this team is the most precise in running their offense in the NBA right now.

Sacramento has released the details of the arena financing plan. As we at PBT have told you, the votes are there to get this passed.

Will Dirk Nowitzki ever play for the German national team again? Maybe not.

Dennis Rodman is going to be part of forming a stripper basketball league. How often do they play “pour some sugar on me” during those games?

NBA players and officials tend to give their money to Barack Obama and Democratic campaigns. Owners tend to go Republican.

The high school where Samuel Dalembert, Al Harrington, Kyrie Irving, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went is about to close down.

The Sixers waived center Francisco Elson.

The Cavaliers are keeoing Manny Harris around with another 10-day contract.

The Clippers are sending rookie Travis Leslie to the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League.

Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan finally buried the hatchet

Getty
3 Comments

Deron Williams or Chris Paul? That was the conversation in the NBA just a decade ago, a conversation that now seems practically ridiculous. I never personally thought it was very close between the two, being an adamant Paul supporter. Now, CP3 is with the Houston Rockets and Williams is out of the league, despite Paul being just 200 days younger than the former Utah Jazz star (but having played more games).

Williams was part of a two-man attack, along with Carlos Boozer, that helped fuel the Jazz during the first decade of this century as they churned through the Western Conference. But Williams played just five-and-a-half seasons in Salt Lake City, traded after a blow-up with former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

Things were unsteady between the two during the 2010-11 season, and Sloan famously decided to retire after a game in February of 2011 in which the Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls. During halftime of that game, there was a disagreement between Sloan and Williams that apparently pushed the legendary head coach to his tipping point.

Sloan retired and Williams was traded on February 23rd.

Now, it appears that the two have at least made amends. In a story of appearing on UtahJazz.com, Williams recently went to Sloan’s house to talk about the divide between the two and what happened some seven years ago.

Via UtahJazz.com:

“He doesn’t forget a lot of things, instances where I pissed him off, things I did to upset him,” Williams said. “He definitely told me about that—and rightfully so. He was great about some other things. It was kind of typical Coach Sloan, really. If you know him, he’s never been one to shy away from telling you the truth and how he feels.”

“Eventually, I think Jerry came around,” [Jazz CEO Greg] Miller said. “He never really said, ‘Let’s put it behind us’ or anything, but maybe in Sloan speak he did.”

“Two strong men said what they needed to say, shook hands and are now moving forward,” [Jazz president Steve] Starks said.

Sloan, 76, is living with Parkinson’s and reportedly not in the best of health. It’s good to hear that Williams was remorseful about how he acted, and that the two great sportsmen were able to come together and at least see each other’s point of view as a sort of armistice.

Masai Ujiri on Kawhi Leonard: ‘He is happy. There is no maintenance with him’

AP
2 Comments

No doubt there are big expectations for the Toronto Raptors this year after trading franchise cornerstone DeMar DeRozan for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. Ever an enigma (and coming off of one of the worst-managed exits from a team in recent memory) Leonard has fans in Ontario biting their nails about whether he will return healthy this season, and happy for the next.

According to Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, Leonard is giving them every indication that he is ready to go heading into the 2018-19 NBA season. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Ujiri said that Leonard is happy.

Via Sportsnet:

“He is happy. From what everybody has told me he is healthy. He spends a lot of time with our coaches,” said Ujiri. “He went to L.A. to meet our guys out there. He will be here shortly.”

“He is just quiet … that’s his nature. We can’t all be the same kind of people. But he is as engaging as he would want to be and he’s very interesting. There is no maintenance with him. There’s nothing. It’s remarkable … His (focus) is on basketball which is what you want. He is a basketball junkie … once you just start to talk about basketball his eyes change.”

We have heard rumors that Leonard has purchased a home in Toronto instead of merely renting. We’ve also seen photos of Leonard happy and working out with players like Kobe Bryant, nearly even smiling. And Ujiri is doing his part here, trying to ease any sentiment around Leonard.

The PR machine is in sixth gear in Toronto, but you can’t really blame them. It’s the first good public relations move we’ve seen from Leonard’s enclave in more than a year, and it helps bolster the team if things go south.

Do I believe anything that is reported about Leonard anymore? No. Not after last season. Unfortunately, the issue with Leonard remains the fact that we will have to simply sit to wait and see what he chooses to do next year.

Raptors fans, who are dedicated and passionate, should be hoping that they finally make a Finals run this year. Just in case.

Report: 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith expected to return around Christmas

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
2 Comments

76ers first-rounder Zhaire Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot last month, leaving plenty of uncertainty about when he’d return.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers expect injured rookie Zhaire Smith to be available to play in a game around Christmas, league sources say.

A rookie on a team with legitimate aspirations of deep-playoff advancement, Smith was already unlikely to crack Philadelphia’s rotation this season. All this lost developmental time makes it even less likely.

But the sooner Smith returns, the better for him and Philadelphia. The No. 16 pick impresses with his athleticism and motor, but he needs time to develop his perimeter skills.

Kevin Love launches “Love Fund” to bring more focus to mental health issues

Getty Images
2 Comments

The NBA is not shying away from the issue of the mental health of its players.

In the wake of All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love coming forward about their mental health challenges, the league and the players’ union combined to tell players to speak out on the issue and take advantage of the services offered.

Kevin Love is doing more than just that, he has formed the Kevin Love Fund to help change the stigma around mental health issues. The fund has partners such as Headspace, with the focus being on prioritizing mental health awareness. He went on the Today Show on NBC to talk about it.

Love has become a leader and spokesman around the issue. Love came forward near the end of last season to talk about his battles with anxiety and depression. That opened the door for others around the NBA to step forward as well, such as Kelly Oubre and Paul Pierce.