Friday And-1 Links: Rajon Rondo is better on national television

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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 I like a good IPA. Which is a lot.

• It’s not a myth — Rajon Rondo is verifiably statistically better on nationally televised games than others.

• Speaking of the Celtics, here is a great feature on D.J. White and his path to Boston and the NBA. Which is a heck of a trip.

• It’s not just the Celtics, there are a lot of green NBA St. Patrick’s Day jerseys. The Bulls one is cool. However, if you’re a Lakers fan and buy a green Lakers pullover you need help. And a lesson in history.

• In the first question of his chat, NBA CBA guru Larry Coon gives a great breakdown of teams options with Andrew Bynum. He said Bynum’s contract will be a real test of the new CBA — will a team give him a max deal despite concerns about his knees? I think the answer will be yes, but they can get protections. Coon lays one of those out that makes sense to me:

An Exhibit 3 (prior injury exclusion) that lets his team waive him if he’s unable to play as a result of his (specific) prior injuries. (This is what the T-Wolves have with Brandon Roy.)

• I’m going to be up front here — Adrian Dantley is one of my favorite all time NBA players. The 6’5″ guy who could post up long before some guys like MJ and Kobe made it trendy. Deadspin tells us he’s still working — as a crossing guard. No, not for the money (he has plenty of that still, the man is legendarily frugal) but because it helps cover his insurance. Which brings us to the question of why the league doesn’t have some sort of insurance for former players, but we don’t have time to discuss how that will never get approved even though it would be the right thing to do. Bottom line, Adrian Dantley is a crossing guard.

• Could Deron Williams make the Nets the best team in New York?

Sports fans get the worst tattoos.

• An interesting look at the 2008 Rockets team that won 22 games in a row. The other three teams to break that streak are the title teams of he 1971 Milwaukee Bucks and the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. We’ll see with the Heat. But that Rockets team was just not that good and lost in the first round, they are the outlier.

Box Score Replay is a cool technology.

• You probably knew this, but Magic GM Rob Hennigan and OKC GM Sam Presti are tight.

• Some drat prospects you will not see in the NCAA Tournament, by ESPN’s Chad Ford (behind the ESPN pay wall).

• By the way, March Madness is hard on your company’s computer network.

• The Nets sent Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia to the D-League.

• Finally, LeBron James threw down a few dunks pregame in Philadelphia (he slowed down on that since the silly controversy).

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.

Report: LeBron James not planning to sit for elaborate pitch meetings in free agency

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LeBron James held court in Cleveland in 2010, listening to pitch after pitch as teams flew in to recruit the superstar during free agency. That approach became a model, and Kevin Durant followed it in the Hamptons in 2016.

But maybe once is enough.

Durant announced months ago he’d stay with the Warriors. And now LeBron – who could definitely leave Cleveland – is making clear he doesn’t want the hoopla, either.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams.

league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.

LeBron is still haunted by The Decision. He’s a great player and philanthropist and does plenty to connect with fans. Yet, people still dislike him purely because of how he changed teams eight years ago.

If I wielded as much power as LeBron, I’d want suitors wining and dining me. He wants to avoid more backlash.

This will probably look similar to 2014 – LeBron’s agents hearing out teams then LeBron meeting with only the most serious options, though the final announcement will likely come via Uninterrupted rather than Sports Illustrated.

The Lakers, Cavaliers, Rockets and 76ers are commonly viewed as the favorites for LeBron. This approach makes it less likely for a longshot to emerge – though, for what it’s worth, we don’t know those four teams are his favorites right now.

Report: Nuggets re-signing Nikola Jokic to five-year max after declining team option

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Nuggets are building around Nikola Jokic.

But a second-round pick turning into a franchise player so quickly creates complications. Denver is resolving one by declining Jokic’s team option, which will send him into restricted free agency (as opposed to unrestricted free agency next year) and paying him.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This ought to please Jokic. He would have earned just $1,600,520 next season if Denver exercised his team option.

Jokic is one of the best-passing full-time centers ever. He also shoots and rebounds well, though he must improve his defense to become worthy of this contract. At just 23, he’s worth betting on.

That said, I’m surprised the Nuggets didn’t get him on a slight discount. Though they clearly didn’t want to risk him testing unrestricted free agency next year, they gave him a MASSIVE raise (about $24 million) next season when they didn’t have to.

Jokic’s exact max salary won’t be determined until the salary cap and luxury-tax line are set this month. But this clearly puts Denver in cost-cutting mode now.

As constructed, the Nuggets are in line for about $24 million in luxury-tax payments. That’s without considering Will Barton, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Expect Denver to look to unload Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Wilson Chandler and/or Mason Plumlee.

Jokic was always going to be in Denver next season. The Nuggets have now secured him far longer. It will cost them next year – an important season to them – but they also clearly value a future with Jokic.