• The oh-so-close Phoenix/New Orleans/Minnesota three-way deal centered around Robin Lopez, Wesley Johnson and Brad Miller’s partially guaranteed contract still hasn’t happened. The Suns-themed blog Bright Side of the Suns explains part of the reason talks have hit a snag.
• Philadelphia fans are learning about former Portland higher-up (and Memphis exec) Tom Penn, currently an ESPN employee and a candidate to replace Rod Thorn after next season.
• Mark Haubner and Jay Aych of The Painted Area with a team-by-team preview of Group A – Team USA’s group — in the Olympics. I love it when these guys write about international ball. One snippet from the Team USA section, in which the authors discuss coach Mike Krzyzewski’s use of super-small lineups with LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony as the nominal center:
It really can’t be overstated that this is boldest experiment yet in basketball’s positional revolution. Are Team USA’s lineups of all points and wings – with overwhelming athleticism meant to compensate for traditional interior play – a glimpse into basketball’s future, or are they a folly of positional revolution gone too far, which ends up backfiring spectacularly on a global stage?
• Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus separates the Olympic teams into tiers, and he has this to say about Spain:
Aside from an easy win at home against Argentina, Spain’s performance over the last month has been underwhelming. The Spanish beat Great Britain by just four and won a pair of six-point games against Australia at home that were essentially ties when adjusted for home court. Even their loss to the USA, which started so well, ultimately rated no better than average. The Spanish reserve backcourt will have to play better to match the American second unit. Still, Spain has proven too much over the last six years to slip out of second, and the return of Marc Gasol (who has sat out with a shoulder injury) will strengthen the world’s best post rotation.
The next teams on his list: Brazil, Russia and Argentina. Everyone wants to talk Spain-Team USA for the gold, but Spain especially has to watch its back.
• Mark Deeks of Sham Sports on the teams that paid the luxury tax last season, and the teams that have paid the most in tax since the league created it. Great stuff.
• Deeks also explains why the trade exception Orlando received as part of the Ryan Anderson sign-and-trade was smaller — and thus less useful in netting an impactful player — than savvy fans might have expected.
• Joshua Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel catches his readers up on Jacque Vaughn, now a candidate for the Magic’s vacant head-coaching position.
• More interesting stuff from Mark Cuban on the impact of the new CBA’s spending restrictions. Cuban, in so many words, says he’s not worried about the stiffer luxury tax, but rather about the ways being too far over the tax restricts teams from upgrading their rosters. I’ve written plenty about this here, but it’s interesting to hear the guy holding the purse strings for one of the league’s best franchises talk so openly about this stuff.
• Matt Moore, writing at Pro Basketball Talk, with some advice for Dwight Howard.
• Danny Ferry with some candid words on the state of the Hawks team he inherited, and whether his continued remaking of that team might include a Josh Smith trade.
• It looks almost certain now that the Boston will start the season without Avery Bradley.
• Shannon Brown explains why he re-signed with the Suns, and emphasizes that he wants to start. Brown points out that his numbers were much better last season as a starter, but that of course had a lot to do with the fact that starting meant more minutes with Steve Nash — one of the league’s all-time greatest offensive players.
• Zach Harper analyzes all the moves the Wolves have made, almost made or might make in the near future.
• The crew at Forum Blue & Gold is counting down the championship teams in the Lakers’ Los Angeles history form “worst” (No. 11) to “best.” They’re at No. 10 today.
• Back-up point guard battle in Washington: A.J. Price vs. Shelvin Mack.
• Jonathan Tjarks, writing at RealGM, on the Lakers’ new-look offense and Kobe Bryant’s best place within it.