Wednesday And-1 Links: Adam Morrison retires, joins Gonzaga staff

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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 more than we like to debate In-n-Out vs. Five Guys (it’s In-n-Out, obviously)….

• Former No. 3 overall pick Adam Morrison, considered one of the great draft busts (he was a great college shooter who never adjusted well to the longer, more athletic defenders and contested shots of the NBA) has retired from professional basketball and is joining the Gonzaga coaching staff as a student assistant. Morrison still made $16 million and he owns a championship ring, so don’t feel too bad for him.

• That 2006 draft was the one with Andrea Bargnani at the top, LaMarcus Aldridge two, Morrison three, Tyrus Thomas four and Shelden Williams five. Farther on down the board: Rudy Gay (8), J.J. Redick (11), Rajon Rondo (21), and Paul Millsap (47). Talent evaluation is not an exact science.

• Shaq’s Beverly Hills mansion, most recently owned by a Japanese pop sensation, is back on the market. It has a basketball court out back with a Superman “S” on it.

• Working as an NBA writer desensitizes you to tall people, suddenly a 6’9″ guy doesn’t seem all that big. A handful of guys still have you shaking your head saying “people can be that large?” Yao Ming was one of those guys. Here he is in a collection of photos making even tall people look short.

• Why did Mike Miller choose Memphis over OKC? He’d loved his previous time in Memphis.

• The Bucks have waived big man Bucks Gustavo Ayon. Don’t be shocked if another team picks him up.

• New coach Brad Stevens parroted Danny Ainge with the “Celtics do not tank” line. As I’ve said, it comes down to how you define tanking.

• Here’s a good recap of where Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant and the other injured stars of the NBA stand in their recoveries.

Charles Barkley, dancing with an old lady, at Ray Allen’s birthday party.

Shawn Kemp thinks Seattle is going to get an NBA team. I think they are at the front of the line, but there are no teams on the immediate horizon to move.

• Samardo Samuels has signed with Olimpia Milano in Italy for next season.

• Pelicans guard Pierre Jackson will play with ASVEL Basket in France next season.

Lance Stephenson on why he blew in LeBron’s ear: “I was really trying to get him mad”

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Lance Stephenson and LeBron James are teammates with the Lakers.

It’s not something anyone would have seen coming back in 2014 when Stephenson blew in LeBron’s ear, creating a meme for the ages and adding to the legend of Stephenson. From the moment it happened, people have asked: “What was Stephenson thinking?”

“I was really trying to get him mad, really trying to win the game, get him unfocused,” Stephenson told The Score in an interview (video above). “And I was trying anything, and for you to do something to somebody and they don’t respond, they keep continuing playing hard, it’s like: ‘yo, how do I…’ I was just trying to find stuff… LeBron was such a good player, you know, I was trying to do anything to get him frustrated. It’s going to be different, being friends with LeBron, you know what I mean?”

We do, because Stephenson did other stuff over the years, like tap LeBron on the face, trash talk LeBron, and kicking him in the “groin,” and those antics occasionally worked.

LeBron has said before he could put that behind him and play with Stephenson, but of all the signings the Lakers made this summer this was the one that left people around the league scratching their heads. In part because of the history between the two, but more because of Stephenson’s history outside of Indiana — he’s struggled. Badly. Now he’s going to be put in a tight role on a team with high expectations and ridiculous levels of scrutiny. Is this really going to work?

It’s just a one-year deal, the Lakers set themselves up to chase another star (via trade or free agency) and that remains the priority. Everything else is just window dressing. But man, there could be quite a show in that window with the Lakers this season, that’s a lot of big personalities in one space.

 

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. guesses Vince Carter’s first NBA season was in 1987 (video)

Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport
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Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. insisted he meant no disrespect to Luka Doncic after liking an Instagram comment that called the Mavericks rookie overrated.

But this is darn sure disrespectful toward Vince Carter.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

Carter – who signed with the Hawks for next season – entered the NBA in 1998. He’s old, but he’s not that old.

Hawks rookie Trae Young: ‘I know there is a lot on my plate’

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The Grizzlies plan to bring No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson along slowly.

No. 5 pick Trae Young won’t have the same luxury.

After picking Young, the Hawks traded Dennis Schroder, their incumbent starting point guard. Though Atlanta also dealt for Jeremy Lin, Young knows where he stands.

Young, via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from New Jersey, where he was taking part in the Rookie Transition Program. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate. I’m looking forward to it.”

Unlike Memphis, the Hawks aren’t trying to win now. They can ride through Young’s highs and lows.

Though I’m quite high on Young, I also expect him to struggle next season. Most rookies do, especially point guards. And the small Young could face an especially tough adjustment to NBA size and athleticism.

But he seems to be embracing the challenge with the right attitude, giving himself the best chance of emerging on the other side ready to lead an NBA team.

76ers’ Ben Simmons: ‘We’ve got to get past Boston. Those are the guys at the top right now’

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After winning the Eastern Conference the last eight years, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers has created a power vacuum in the East.

The Celtics, Bucks, Wizards and Pistons have staked their claims as teams ready to fill the void. The Raptors announced themselves with their trade for Kawhi Leonard.

But 76ers forward Ben Simmons isn’t ready to put Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy.

Simmons, via James McKern of SportingNews:

“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said.

“Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.

This is a surprisingly restrained approach by Simmons. Many of his peers are talking bigger.

But the 76ers belong behind the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in the second round last year. The 76ers could pass Boston. They just must prove it. In the meantime, Simmons is paying the Celtics proper deference.

Don’t forget about Toronto, though. Though Boston and Philadelphia were poised to own this next era in the East, Leonard reinvigorates the Raptors. If he’s healthy, they belong at the top with the Celtics.