PBT’s Fast Break news & notes: First black player in NBA deserves a stamp

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Welcome to PBT’s lightning round. Every day we come across some stories that just don’t warrant a full post (even this time of year, when we’re scrape the bottom of the barrel for content) but should be passed along, and we do so in the traditional blog method of bullet points.

• There’s an effort to get Earl Lloyd, the first black player in the NBA, on a stamp. That seems a very good cause to me.

Fantastic story from Gary Washburn about Second Spectrum, one of the premiere NBA analytics companies breaking down that Sports VU camera data. The challenge for teams now is how to pull out the usefull data, put it together, and use it, from the crazy amounts of it they get from the camera system.

• Here’s another great piece, a Q&A, on Second Spectrum. Seth Partnow is a must-read NBA guy.

• The other place the use of analytics is exploding? Keeping players healthy.

• Along those lines, interesting story on the day-to-day life of an NBA trainer. It’s not all the glorious job of taping up grown men’s ankles.

• Another must-read piece from my man Arash Markazi of ESPN (NDHS!) — the impact of Huricane Katrina on Chris Paul and the trajectory of the NBA is several cities.

• Former NBA player, and before that Syracuse star, Pearl Washington is about to undergo brain surgery.

Great breakdown at Basketball Insiders of where things stand with every player eligible for an extension of their rookie contract this summer.

• Hawks big man Al Horford has been working out at times with Mike Scott, who was arrested on drug charges. Horford says the team stands behind him.

• Blake Griffin doing some basketball tricks:

• Steve Nash is going to produce a documentary on the use of Ecstacy and the Rave scene in and around Dallas. No, not from memory.

• Speaking of Nash, he is very high on Lakers’ second-year player Jordan Clarkson. In his rookie year, Clarkson looked like a guy who could develop into a starting NBA point guard. Now we’ll see if he can play next to D’Angelo Russell.

• The Suns have hired Chris Jent to coach their D-League affiliate in Bakersfield.

• The Heat are bringing Corey Hawkins to training camp, one of the better shooters in college last season. He’s camp fodder.

• Finally, easily the funniest tweet of the week.

LeBron James forcefully shoots down idea he came to Los Angeles for showbiz

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LeBron James is a smart man, one who knows what his empire is built upon:

Basketball.

And him being better than anyone else in the world at it.

While his post-career life is in Los Angeles — his production company has “The Wall” on NBC, is in the early stages of putting together an NBC comedy about the family life of Ben Simmons, is producing “The Shop” on HBO, is making “Space Jam 2” with LeBron as the star, and more — do not suggest to LeBron that might get in the way of basketball.

“I’m a basketball player. I play ball, that’s what I do,” LeBron said earlier in his press conference. “That’s what I live by and when I do it at the level I do it at everything else takes care of itself.

“As far as my business, those things have been taking care of themselves long before I came out here to be part of the Lakers franchise.”

LeBron is right about that. His production company — led by Maverick Carter — has been working on Space Jam for a couple of years now, and if LeBron had decided to stay in Cleveland or sign in Philadephia or anywhere else that project would still be going forward. They’d still be filming next summer in the off-season, regardless of where he played.

LeBron is very good at compartmentalizing his life. The great ones are. Kobe Bryant had side projects, but it never slowed down the effort he put into the game. Same is going on right now with Stephen Curry and James Harden. Michael Jordan did it before them, and Magic Johnson before him. Those guys have brands that are empires of their own now, but they all know what the foundation of that success is.

And they don’t let anything get in the way of basketball. Not like that.

Enes Kanter: ‘When I think about playoffs, my nipples get hard’

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The Knicks season should be about laying a foundation. They’ll remain patient with their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, returning from injury. They said they won’t trade draft picks.

But they’ve also paid enough lip service to competing this season to, um, excite Enes Kanter.

SNY:

We’ll be sure to check in on the softness of Kanter’s nipples when the Knicks miss the playoffs by dozens of games.

Tom Thibodeau says he expect Jimmy Butler to report to Timberwolves if not traded within week

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly ordered team president Tom Thibodeau to trade Jimmy Butler, who is excused from participating in media day and training camp (apparently because of his hand injury).

But Thibodeau isn’t rushing to proclaim Butler will be dealt.

Chris Hine of the StarTribune:

Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune:

If Butler isn’t traded in the next week, this could get incredibly awkward. Would Butler report? If he does, how would Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each react?

I expect this to be moot. The odds are stacked highly in favor of Minnesota dealing Butler soon.

But, now, there’s a close deadline with even more drama looming on the other side.

LeBron James: Lakers ‘long way’ from Warriors

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The Lakers’ front office insists they’re trying to beat the Warriors.

Los Angeles’ newest star, LeBron James, isn’t there yet.

“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. “They can pick up right where they left off.

“We’re picking up from scratch. So, we have a long way to go. … Hopefully, someday, we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship, as Golden State has done for the last few years.”

How will LeBron – who has won three titles in the last seven years and reached the NBA Finals the last eight years – react if the Lakers aren’t on that level this season?

“I don’t believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship,” LeBron said. “There’s only one champion. But that doesn’t mean you’re not successful.”

LeBron has made similar arguments before, and I agree with him. Championships are the most important measure of team success, but they’re not the only measure. There are plenty of ways for teams to satisfactorily grow and compete in a season.

But this sure didn’t sound like the same LeBron who said in June of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title, “It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode.” A key storyline in Los Angeles will be whether/when LeBron regains that hunger.