Wednesday And-1 Links: Vote for your favorite new Mavs uniform

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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.

• A while back, the Dallas Mavericks asked fans to submit their own ideas for a Dallas Mavericks jersey design via mavs.com and on crowdSPRING.com. People were into it and they got more than 1,000 responses. Now Dallas says Mark Cuban himself has picked out his 12 favorites (I’m sure he did that all by himself without any help from his minions) and you can vote for your favorite. Whatever uniform wins the fan vote will become part of the team rotation in the 2015-16 season. So Mavs fans go vote for your favorite, Mavs haters go vote for the ugliest one. Your call.

• Don’t think nicknames on NBA jerseys is new — the league did it back in the 1970s.

• Fantastic list of the best twitter follows on each team.

• Great news that NBA TV is bringing back “Inside Stuff.” For those that don’t remember, back in the 1990s/Jordan era NBC’s “Inside Stuff” was must watch for hoops fans, giving you the kind of fun and news now you come to sites like this for. Grant Hill is the new host and there will be a show a week during the season. The show is going to have to evolve — the Internet made highlight shows obsolete — but this could be good, and if nothing else it’s nostalgic.

• The Sixers formally signed rookies Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel this week.

Shaquille O’Neal likes to lift women over his head, apparently.

• No, Jason Collins does not have a training camp invite. I think this is purely a basketball thing and nothing more — Collins is an older center who brings you good picks, some rebounds and defense in the post but little more. Most teams would rather fill one of those last roster spots with a young player they can potentially develop than a situational-use big man.

• Who was the league’s biggest gunner in garbage time last year? Of course it was J.R. Smith. What else did you expect?

• New Bobcats coach Steve Clifford is an old-school straight shooter.

• Remembering Larry Johnson’s legendary four-point play.

• Celtics big man Vitor Faverani is battling some plantar fasciitis, which is not good news before training camp even starts.

• The Wizards have invited Pops Mensah-Bonsu,  Josh Childress, Xavier Silas, and  D’or Fischer to training camp.

• Utah has waived guard Jerel McNeal.

• Utah also invited point guard Scott Machado to training camp.

• Kevin Durant swung by the Dan Patrick Show today and talked about his offseason, how he loved Barcelona, and how Lambeau Field blew him away. By the way, Durant seems himself as a quarterback more than a receiver. I’m not sure he was really gifted with a football build.

Kawhi Leonard to give away 1 million backpacks to kids in Southern California

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Kawhi Leonard is back in his home area of Southern California, and now that he’s a member of the Los Angeles Clippers he’s decided to get into the swing of charitable giving.

Leonard recently decided to team up with the Clippers organization to give out one million backpacks to children in need as a way to relieve some of the pressure from low-income families as students head back to school in the fall.

The Clippers and the NBA star worked with Baby2Baby, an organization that provides for low-income children from ages 0 to 12 for basic necessities. This week, Leonard started giving away backpacks to the Moreno Valley Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Inglewood Unified school districts. Leonard went to school in the Moreno Valley system as a kid.

Via the OC Register and Twitter:

“Going to the NBA, this is what I wanted to do; I wanted to give back to my community,” said Leonard, who started his day in Moreno Valley, where he brought backpacks to Cloverdale Elementary, his old school. “That’s why I’m so happy to be back home.”

“With the Clippers, just want you to know we got you guys’ back, as long as you work hard and have a goal set,” said Leonard, who Tuesday was working to fulfill one of his own.

“That’s a goal of mine for this year, being great on and off the court,” he said. “And I felt like this was a great way to start.”

This is an extremely cool and directly effective way to give back to the community. Helping disadvantaged kids in need directly has a ripple effect on their lives, and anything players like Leonard can do to help is a huge win for the children in these districts.

Clippers reportedly add Tyronn Lue to coaching staff

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Tyronn Lue will be coaching in Los Angeles this upcoming season, but it won’t be for the Lakers.

News broke on Tuesday that Lue had accepted a job on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. Lue is yet another big-name addition to a squad that already added players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason.

Lue was a championship-winning coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and he has an innate understanding about how to deal with star players in the NBA.

Via Twitter:

It’s also important to understand what kind of culture Rivers, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clippers front office is trying to build in Los Angeles. In addition to their proposed new stadium in Inglewood, the Clippers are trying to take over L.A. one big-name at a time. That includes everyone from players to coaches, even ones who won championships as the head honcho.

There’s no doubt that Los Angeles is striving for the Finals this season, and adding a guy like Lue to the bench is yet another reiteration of that fact.

Rumor: Stephen A. Smith is coming to ESPN’s NBA broadcasts

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National NBA broadcasts are about to get a little bit different this upcoming season.

We already got word that Michelle Beadle would not be on NBA Countdown on ESPN for the 2019-20 NBA calendar year. In her place will be Rachel Nichols, a favorite of most thanks to her work on The Jump, and Maria Taylor. And apparently ESPN’s studio show is about to get an analyst boost as well.

According to the big lead, Stephen A. Smith will be added to the analyst panel for ESPN studio show, likely on Wednesday nights. The bombastic First Take host will give his NBA takes either to the delight or dismay of fans nationwide.

Via The Big Lead:

Stephen A. Smith is in ESPN’s plans for NBA studio coverage this upcoming season, The Big Lead has learned from multiple people with knowledge of the situation. An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the news.

Our sources indicate that Wednesday night is the most likely time for him to be involved, but cautioned that plans are not yet set in stone.

People lost their collective minds on Twitter this summer when it was announced that ESPN had given another huge contract to Stephen A. to continue to do… whatever Stephen A. does. Namely, yell and act incredulous in a way so insincere it’s hard to believe anyone is entertained by it, much less could take it at face value.

No doubt Smith will fill the role, aesthetically, that Charles Barkley does for TNT. He’ll talk in big, wild soundbites that get Twitter all riled up, thereby allowing some VP at the network to pitch his superiors about “leverage” and “engagement” from Smith’s appearances.

Good luck to everyone watching the NBA on national TV this year. Maybe locate where the mute button is on your remote now so you know where it is come autumn.

Gordon Hayward says he’s feeling confident in his ankle for next season

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Gordon Hayward still wasn’t particularly good last season. He never really looked all that comfortable playing with the Boston Celtics, and Brad Stevens’ insistence on playing him led to some reported rifts in the Boston locker room.

But Hayward is expected to come back at full strength this year, and it could be just in time for him to shine in light of Kyrie Irving‘s departure to the Brooklyn Nets.

His severely dislocated left ankle is now long behind him, and it appears that Hayward has been putting in the work necessary this summer. Speaking to Mass Live, Hayward said that he is starting to get more confident in his game.

Via Mass Live:

“Reps is what gives you confidence, so being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle’s feeling, or having to be cautious with it, has been really good, especially for my confidence,” Hayward said. “I think last year was a lot of hoping and not really knowing what was going to happen just because I didn’t have the reps… going into a summer training as hard as I want to, it’s a lot better for my confidence this year and expectations-wise as well.”

A healthy Hayward would really change the dynamic of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference this year. Losing Irving is huge, but Boston is going to have a real depth of talent on its hands if it can add Hayward to other wing talent Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart.

It seems cliche to point out at this point, but people have slept on how good Hayward was on both sides of the ball during his time with the Utah Jazz. He’s a complete player at the small forward position when healthy, and bringing back his superstar firepower could ease the pain of losing Irving to Brooklyn.