By Ben Golliver
October 17, 2012

By Ben Golliver

• Tom Haberstroh writes in ESPN: The Magazine that Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden faces a fork in the road with his looming contract negotiations:

Facing the extend-or-else choice, Harden can write his own future. Behind door No. 1 is the route that Joe Johnson took. Behind No. 2? Be the next Manu Ginobili. Johnson, a former Suns shooting guard, blossomed next to Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire on the Phoenix squad that reached the 2005 conference finals. But he ended up landing a max $70 million deal with the 13-win Hawks. In seven years with Atlanta, he made the team better but never great and constantly fought the "overpaid" stigma. Ginobili faced the same fork in 2004. Instead of joining the lesser Nuggets who offered him big money, the young lefty chose to stay with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the team that drafted him -- the Spurs. Two more championships later, he's almost a lock for the Hall of Fame, despite playing half his career off the bench.

• Paul Flannery of documents Kevin Garnett, mentor, and Jared Sullinger, pupil, getting along swimmingly.

• Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald delivers video of LeBron James, alone with a coach in the gym, working on a skyhook. Another club in James' small ball golf bag?

• Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, fresh off receiving a four-year maximum contract this summer, tweeted that he was upset at "sum idiot reporter" who wrote some "crap" about him being "out of shape [and] getting pushed around." James Park of points out that Hibbert puts himself through MMA training sessions.

• Royce Young of picks Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond as the Central Division's most promising rookie, and then immediately second-guesses himself in hilarious fashion.

Zach Lowe gets radical at Grantland in response to the NBA's push to impose a time limit on pregame handshake rituals, arguing that if the league wants to get serious about shortening the length of its games it should consider cutting out eight full minutes.

• Meanwhile, Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie sees the ritual time limit as a misguided, anti-fan David Stern decision.

Kevin Love could miss two months with a broken hand. Say goodbye to his MVP chances, writes Matt Moore of

• The 2012-13 edition of Pro Basketball Prospectus, an annual must-read, is now available.

• Beckley Mason of TrueHoop runs down some players who are ripe for improvement. Paul George, Stephen Curry and Ty Lawson make the list; George gets hit with the burden of pushing the Indiana Pacers over the top.

The New York Times notes that the Nets, now in Brooklyn, are putting up much bigger television ratings than they did in New Jersey last season.

• Don't miss Rob Mahoney's Southwest Division preview, where the New Orleans Hornets climb out of the cellar in Anthony Davis' rookie campaign.

• Michael Levin of writes that he "really hopes that [Evan Turner] doesn't suck" but comforts himself with the thought that the Philadelphia 76ers hedged well against the possibility.

• The Sacramento Kings picked up rookie options on both DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette, decisions that Aykis at sees as a "no-brainer" and "easy," respectively.

• Golden State Warriors guard Jarrett Jack tweeted that he has been officially warned for flopping during the preseason. Watching the response to the league's new anti-flopping penalties will be fascinating. right here if you missed it

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