Tuesday And-1 links: How good can Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson be together?

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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 like you love Girl Scout thin mint cookies.

Charles Barkley says that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can’t really play together. Your first reaction to that is probably like mine — they’re doing a pretty good job this year. When Curry and Thompson are on the court together this season the Warriors are +2.6 per 48 minutes over their opponents. Their offense is improved from the team average and while the team defense is a little worse the Warriors are 2.4 points per 100 possessions better than their opponent. But CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Steinments agrees with Barkley — no they are not terrible together but how good can they really be? Can the Warriors really thrive — and by thrive I mean improve, someday challenge the Thunder — with two pure shooters on the back line? Do they need a more traditional playmaker?

• I was on the ProBasketballDraft.com podcast this week talking top teams in the game, trade rumors and a little bit of everything NBA. Check it out.

• Stan Van Gundy was on CNN, on a roundtable talking about matters of actual importance (meaning not basketball). He comes off pretty well. Thanks to Orlando Magic Daily for the heads up.

• Kobe Bryant says NBA stars need to take a bigger role in the players union. He may have been channeling Derek Fisher at the time.

• Dwight Howard’s fake gmail inbox. It’s pretty funny.

• A great breakdown of how Metta World Peace’s shooting problems could be symptomatic of other big problems for the Lakers. Because they need more of those.

• Kyrie Irving says his tweaked ankle is just fine.

• Josh Smith talks about staying in or being traded from Atlanta.

• It will not be official until closer to gametime, but it looks like Danny Granger will return to the Pacers Wednesday.

• The Piston’s Andre Drummond is rehabbing his back with… drumming. I’m not making that up.

• Remember the Pistons fan in the Tayshaun Prince jersey who was frustrated the night of the trade sending Prince to Memphis, and he took the jersey off (and said move was all over ESPN)? Well, the Grizzlies brought him down and he got to meet Prince.

• A report the Heat have pulled out of their pursuit of Greg Oden. Which really just means they realized the Cavaliers are going to win the race for him.

• In case you missed it, Miami’s LeBron James and the Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week. James was a no brainer, he averaged 31.3 points on .738 shooting plus had 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. He’s been on amazing streak, even for James. Westbrook averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.0 rebounds a game.

Dennis Rodman talks children’s books and how to build a team to win a ring.

Tom Thibodeau on Timberwolves not getting first-rounder in Jimmy Butler trade: ‘Getting good players was a priority’

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The Heat offered Josh Richardson and a first-round pick. The Rockets offered four first-round picks or Eric Gordon, Nene and two first-round picks. The Pelicans reportedly offered Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected first-round pick.

But the Timberwolves traded Jimmy Butler to the 76ers for Robert Covington and Dario Saric in a deal that included no first-round picks and Minnesota getting only one second-rounder.

Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau:

We wanted quality players. I think that that was important for us.

When you look at, to get two starters off a team that won 52 games, and they’re both young, and they’re going to get better, and they’re both very good defensively. They both shoot the 3, so we think they fit well with the guys that we do have.

And so once we once got to that point where felt we were getting multiple rotational players, then we felt it would be time to execute the deal.

It was what was best for the organization. Obviously, getting good players was a priority. But the pick part is important, and we felt we got a good pick from Philly.

It was what does it mean for the team? If you get two rotational players, that’s good. And then if you can get a pick, that allows you to do more things. And so I think that’s all part of it. You always try to think about what the possibilities could be.

Thibodeau might have taken the best offer for the the Timberwolves by the time he actually accepted a deal. Miami pulled the Richardson offer after his strong start to the season. Getting four first-rounders from Houston required taking Brandon Knight‘s negative-value contract, and it’s unclear exactly how the picks were protected. New Orleans has the best record of those three teams, so an unprotected pick carries less value.

But it’s also impossible to overlook Thibodeau’s present-minded attitude. That’s how he already approached everything. Now, he appears to be coaching for his job this season. Nobody ever expected him to prioritize long-term assets.

Covington and Saric are good players, but Minnesota was also 4-9 at the time of the trade. Are Covington and Saric good enough to lift the Timberwolves out of this hole and into the playoffs? It’s a tough ask. In 2020-21, Saric will be up for a big raise, and the Timberwolves already have a lot of money committed. They might have to downgrade the rest of the roster to keep Saric and avoid the luxury tax. This is a narrow window for Minnesota to get value from this trade.

That said, blame Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor for creating this situation. By allowing Thibodeau to remain in charge without much job security, Taylor is practically demanding Thibodeau emphasize the present. If Taylor wanted draft picks, he should have fired Thibodeau earlier.

Caris LeVert suffers injury so horrific, it brings teammates to tears and opponents to prayer (video)

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Caris LeVert has been one of the Nets’ biggest bright spots. The hard-working 24-year-old was a Most Improved Player candidate, and he seems well-liked throughout the organization. He’s even already hit a couple gamewinners this season.

But LeVert’s breakout campaign hit a devastating snag tonight, as he injured his leg.

The reactions of both his Brooklyn teammates and the Timberwolves say everything. This is a tough one.

Markelle Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.