Monday And-1 links: NBA media day edition

2 Comments

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. Today, we bring you a lot of news and notes out of the various media days across the nation.

• This is huge in the shoe industry — Dwyane Wade  is leaving Nike’s Jordan Brand for Chinese shoe manufacturer Li-Ning.

• The Knicks GM said that letting Jeremy Lin go was a financial decision. That certainly was a big part of it. But what else was he going to say?

• Did you know EA Sports cancelled “NBA Live 13” this year? Did you care might be the bigger question.

• Eddy Curry is in the Spurs training camp.

• Elton Brand is willing to be the enforcer for the Mavericks. Stop laughing Sixers fans, he means it.

• Chris Kaman has a sprained lower back and will be taking it slow in camp for Dallas. But at least Elton Brand has his back.

• While we’re talking Mavericks, forward Brandan Wright is day-to-day with a quad strain.

• Kyrie Irving says his hand is 100 percent, so you don’t need to keep asking.

• More Rajon Rondo love in Boston.

• Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is coming off patella tendon surgery and is now targeting a November return.

• Kings swingman John Salmons says he is still dealing with the hip injury that slowed him last season. Not good.

• Carlos Delfino’s arrival at Rockets training camp has been delayed by visa issues.

• Here are some fun, off-the-wall news and notes from Lakers media day, not involving the big stars.

• Ike Diogu played well for Nigeria at the Olympics, and that helped earn him an invite to Suns training camp. He is not expected to make the roster, however.

• A list of the NBA’s best players when they get the ball at the pinch post. Interesting read.

• The Raptors have spoken to DeMar DeRozan’s agent about a contract extension. That is very different than it actually happening, but they talked.

• Along those same lines, Ty Lawson’s agent has had conversations with the Nuggets about an extension.

• Hedo Turkoglu said at media day he hopes to retire with the Magic. You can bet they hope to have him traded by the deadline.

• Jameer Nelson talks about life after Dwight Howard in Orlando.

• Interesting note in this Mark Cuban interview — he says if someone bought a team and wanted to move it to Seattle, he wouldn’t expect to see any opposition.

• Philadelphia signed Xavier Silas to a non-guaranteed camp contract. That’s a good thing, Silas was the guy who suffered a major fall at the Orlando Summer League and needed multiple sinus surgeries.

Rapper ‘lil B said he was getting a camp invite from the Warriors.

GQ compiled a list of the worst decisions in sports. I’m sorry, I know some New Yorkers loved Jeremy Lin, but there is no way the Knicks letting him go should make this list.

• Jazz big man Enes Kanter, using twitter to get dinner dates. And a massage. But he’s flexible on hair color.

• For the record, Scottie Pippen is not broke. However he is not going to get richer suing all the outlets that reported he was, as a judge threw out that case.

• Countering earlier reports (including here at PBT), the Kings are saying their key sponsors and advertisers are sticking with them.

• Amare Stoudemire and John McCain, hanging out. Well, they ran into each other, anyway.

• Former NBA player and Kings head coach Reggie Theus is going to coach the D-Fenders, the Lakers affiliate in the D-League.

Clippers reportedly plan on playing Kawhi Leonard more than Raptors did last season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kawhi Leonard was the poster child for load management last season.

The Raptors essentially let him set his own schedule in a return from the quadricep tendon issue that cost him the previous season (and, ultimately, helped ruin his relationship with the Spurs). Leonard played in just 60 regular season game — and it worked. He was a force in the playoffs, leading Toronto to its first-ever title and winning Finals MVP again.

So the Clippers are going to follow that same script, right? Nope. Expect to see more Leonard, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

There are likely a couple of reasons for this. One is that Leonard may be feeling a little healthier and that he can take on more now. With a deep Clippers roster (especially once Paul George returns from his shoulder surgeries) it’s also possible the Clippers can limit Leonard’s in-game minutes, he averaged 34 a game when he played, which was top 20 in the league.

The bigger factor is the West is so deep with good teams the Clippers simply can’t have him sit as much and still get a good seed. Toronto could let Leonard rest and still won 58 games and had the two seed. That’s not how the West — with the Lakers, Rockets, Jazz, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, and Warriors — is going to go. The Clippers are going to need Leonard to win games most nights, and they certainly want to get a top-four seed and be home to start the postseason.

Leonard may play more early in the season and get more rest on the back half, once George returns to form and takes over some of the load on the wing. But he’s going to play.

The Clippers simply need him.

Did Hornets GM tell Kobe Bryant on draft night, ‘We couldn’t have used you anyway,’ as Bryant claims?

Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images
6 Comments

Kobe Bryant spent 16 days as a Charlotte Hornet.

Long enough to develop resentment for the Hornets.

Charlotte drafted Bryant No. 13 in 1996 to trade him to the Lakers for Vlade Divac. Divac threatened to retire, but eventually relented on joining the Hornets. After the moratorium, Bryant went to Los Angeles, where he had a Hall of Fame career.

He hasn’t let go of draft night, though.

Bryant on the Knuckleheads podcast:

You get drafted, you get on the phone with the GM of the team that drafted you and all this stuff. So, I get on the phone with the Charlotte GM. He just tells me, “Hey, you know what’s going on.” Like, “Yeah. Yeah, yeah.” And you’ve got media in front of you and all that. And he goes, “Well, it’s a good thing we’re trading you, because we couldn’t have used you anyway.” You motherf. OK. OK. Alright. So, that’s what happened on draft night. So, I was already triggered. I was triggered. I was ready to go to the gym. Like f— the media. I don’t want to do any more interviews. I’m trying to – what are you telling me that for? I’m 17. What are you telling? OK. Alright.

The Hornets’ general manager was Bob Bass. He died last year, so he can’t tell his side of this story.

However, in previous tellings, Bryant said Charlotte coach Dave Cowens delivered that message. Cowens denied it.

Did Bryant forget whether he talked to the general manager or coach? Forget which position Cowens held? That’d be perfectly understandable decades later.

Or maybe both Bass and Cowens were on the call. Perhaps, Bryant initially thought Cowens said it and more recently learned it was Bass. That could explain Cowens’ denial.

But…

Stephen A. Smith of The Inquirer at the time:

On Wednesday, the Hornets took Bryant with the 13th pick of the NBA draft. Within minutes, there was talk of Bryant’s going to L.A. Dave Cowens, the Hornets’ new coach, was among those who raised the possibility, dismissing Bryant as “a kid” who would have a hard time playing for Charlotte.

That was a reasonable expectation. Bryant was just a teenager. Charlotte had veteran wings like Glen Rice and Dell Curry.

But Bryant was that special. He quickly became a contributor with the Lakers then developed into an all-time great.

In part because he fanned his competitive fire with perceived slights like this one.

Bryant is right: Who would say that to a 17-year-old? It just sounds cruel. Of course, Bryant would want to avenge being treated that way.

Here’s my guess: Someone from Charlotte – either Cowens or Bass – tried to comfort Bryant in a chaotic situation by saying the trade would work out for the best because the Hornets wouldn’t have played him much. It was supposed to be nice. Bryant took it as an insult.

But that’s just a guess. It was a private conversation many years ago. We’ll probably never know exactly what was said, let alone what was intended.

Report: Rockets signing Thabo Sefolosha

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
2 Comments

The Rockets’ minicamp has produced a signing – Thabo Sefolosha.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This is surely for the minimum. It’s unclear how much is guaranteed.

Houston has just 10 players with guaranteed salaries, including Nene’s dud of a deal. So, there’s room for Sefolosha to make the regular-season roster.

Sefolosha should fit well in Houston. He’s a smart, versatile defender and can knock down corner 3s. James Harden and Russell Westbrook will allow Sefolosha to concentrate on his strengths in a limited role. The biggest question is how much the 35-year-old Sefolosha has left in the tank.

NBA to better define traveling rule, increase enforcement, explain rule to players, fans

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
9 Comments

Gather and two steps.

That is how the NBA has defined the traveling rule for many years now. A player can take a step if he is in the process of “gathering” a dribble or pass, then has two steps. Players such as James Harden have stretched that to the limit, frustrating opponents and non-Rockets fans, but it’s legal.

Now the NBA is looking to better define that “gather” step, then crackdown on enforcement of the rule. With that will come an education program for everyone from players to fans. All of this was approved at the NBA’s Board of Governors’ meeting in New York on Friday.

“One of the most misunderstood rules in our game is how traveling is interpreted and appropriately called,” Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations, said in a statement. “Revising the language of certain areas of the rule is part of our three-pronged approach to address the uncertainty around traveling.  This approach also includes an enforcement plan to make traveling a point of emphasis for our officiating staff, along with an aggressive education plan to increase understanding of the rule by players, coaches, media and fans.”

That “aggressive education plan” should be interesting.

At the meeting, the owners also made gamblers everywhere happy by saying that starting lineups now need to be submitted by coaches 30 minutes prior to the start of the game. In past years that had been only 10 minutes (and road teams complained that was not evenly enforced between home and road teams all the time).

This is a good bit of transparency by the league, as have been some of the recent changes in requirements of announcing injuries. But make no mistake, this rule change is all about gambling.