• In the next version of whatever basketball video game the kids are playing these days (not “Double Dribble,” I guess?), users will be able to play as the original 1992 Dream Team — but without Scottie Pippen. Michael McCann, who writes about legal issues in sports for SI.com, explains Pippen’s omission and why the Dream Teamers involved can make money in a way most former college athletes cannot.
• Michael Jordan was involved with Tuesday’s press blitz for the game, and as SI.com’s Sam Amick recounts here, Jordan remained as steadfast as ever that the 1992 team would beat the version of Team USA that just won gold in London.
• Greg Oden opens up about possibly coming back to the NBA, his use of alcohol during his years in Portland, the stem cell procedures he underwent recently on both knees and the possibility of being a gym teacher. Lots of good stuff here.
• Speaking of post-NBA careers: Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD interviews Antoine Walker about life after the NBA. Scroll down for Kyler’s take on whether the lockout did much to accomplish the NBA’s stated goals of increased “competitive balance.”
• Richard Sandomir of The New York Times with a wonderful piece on Sandy Koufax’s basketball career. You read that correctly.
• Greg Monroe on whether it makes a difference that he’ll play more power forward next season in Detroit.
• One benefit of the much-derided isolation plays and especially the isolation pull-up jumper: a team that uses a lot of such plays will rarely turn the ball over. An NBA offense, within a 90-possession game, has room to incorporate just about every sort of play, lineup and shot. Moderation and optimal use of available personnel matter more than aesthetics.
• A really interesting interview with Nets GM Billy King, who talks about a possible political career (a subject he has addressed lots of times), what it’s like to work for Mikhail Prokhorov and his own soap opera addiction.
• Who played the most minutes over the last calendar year, between the NBA regular season, the playoffs and the Olympics?
• If the NCAA does end up ruling Shabazz Muhammad ineligible for his freshmen season at UCLA, Scott Schroeder, writing at SB Nation, suggests Muhammad spend a year in the D-League before entering the NBA draft.
• Of course, the NBA’s age limit — collectively bargained for with the players union in 2005 — is the only reason Muhammad plans to attend UCLA at all. Tom Ziller of SB Nation takes issue with the age limit and says it’s unrealistic to think Muhammad will play in the D-League if the UCLA thing doesn’t work out:
Beyond continuing to provide the NBA option, Stern could have developed a real alternative, one that players might actually consider. The current D-League path to the NBA for high school prospects is a joke. The D-League itself does great work in providing a place for young and veteran players to get or stay on NBA teams’ radars. But that hasn’t translated into a single marquee prospect taking the route. The money isn’t competitive with Europe (see: Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler) and the platform isn’t remotely competitive with even mid-major colleges. That’s all pretty weird, considering that the NBA, which funds the D-League, mints money and has an incredible array of platforms. The NBA’s leadership, with Stern at the very top, has not tried to make the D-League a legitimate alternative to the NCAA for prospects like Muhammad. If it had, we would be reading stories about Shabazz talking to the D-League about spending the 2012-13 there. We aren’t.
• Suns GM Lance Blanks talks candidly with Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic about the team’s offseason, Blanks’ vision for the franchise and how Luis Scola fits that vision:
“Scola gives us a griminess and a crustiness that we need,” Blanks said. “He’s what I call an example. He’s a good guy and a good example for young guys to be around and observe. We lost maturity (with Steve Nash’s and Grant Hill’s departures).”
Great quote. Scola is as tough as they come.
• Beckley Mason of ESPN.com goes deep into the film room on Andrew Bynum, and comes out with a must-read analysis of his strengths and weakness in the post.
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who once worked as a personal coach of sorts for Bynum, knocks the big fella on his way out of L.A. in this interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times:
“Dwight [Howard] is very committed to playing and winning,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Andrew has been up and down on that issue. There are times he wants to play, do a great job and he goes out and does it. Then there are other times where it seems like he’s not focused.”
This isn’t the first time Abdul-Jabbar has called out Bynum, and there has been some iciness to their relationship ever since Bynum stopped using Abdul-Jabbar as a coach a couple of years ago. (There is some iciness to Abdul-Jabbar’s relationship with the Lakers, too, including an ongoing spat over why the Lakers haven’t erected a statue in Abdul-Jabbar’s honor).
• Denver GM Masai Ujiri on what he expects from Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee’s field trip to Camp Olajuwon.
• Want to better understand how the NBA salary cap works? Read stuff like this, from Jason Calmes of Hornets 24-7, on the mechanics behind New Orleans’ offseason moves.
• Speaking of CBA complexities: If you’re wondering how the Magic generated a massive $17.8 million trade exception in the Dwight Howard deal despite the fact that incoming and outgoing salaries weren’t nearly that far apart, Eric Pincus of HOOPSWORLD has a stab at the ultra-complicated answer.