• California rapper Kendrick Lamar made social media waves Monday night with a verse on Big Sean's "Control (HOF), which is Not Safe For Work. In the song, Lamar calls out a number of fellow rappers and also name-drops a legendary NBA coach: "If Phil Jackson came back, still no coachin' me// I'm uncoachable, I'm unsociable."
• That line prompted a Twitter reply from Jackson... because of course it did.
@kendricklamar it’s okay to be cocky and sure, but we all need somebody to lean on. Let’s just call it mentoring.
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) August 13, 2013
It's almost like Jackson has had to give that advice to someone before...
• Kendrick Lamar's verse also prompted "Dear Kendrick," a rapped reply from Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, which apparently references his coach, Mike Woodson. Shumpert will also be featured on First Lady Michelle Obama's forthcoming hip hop album. Note: Again, lyrics Not Safe For Work. Video via YouTube user Iman Shumpert.
• Brett Koremenos of Grantland.com wonders whether the Rockets should use a Twin Towers approach with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik.
With good feet and excellent anticipation skills, Asik can certainly handle guarding (and maybe even shutting down) the vast majority of opposing power forwards, particularly the ones he’s likely to see in the postseason. As a duo, the Howard-Asik back line would make it a nightmare for opposing offenses looking to get to the rim. No matter what an opposing offense runs, they can expect at least one shot-altering 7-footer to be planted just a few feet from the rim. If paired together for extended minutes on a nightly basis, Howard and Asik could easily vault the Rockets from 16th in defensive efficiency last season to the top five overnight, with the potential, thanks to solid perimeter defenders like Parsons and Beverley, to be the best overall unit in the league.
Any questions surrounding the effectiveness of an Asik-Howard frontcourt would be on the offensive end. It would seem on paper that two traditional big men with little range outside the paint would slow down Houston’s fast-paced, drive-and-kick attack. Yet in the 228 minutes (small sample size alert!) Asik paired with backup center Greg Smith last year, the two put up a 109.0 offensive rating, which would be good enough for third in the NBA over an entire season. It’s a promising number, but not one that provides ironclad proof that Asik and Howard would be destined for greatness.
• Ethan Sherwood Strauss breaks down Michael Jordan's three-point shooting numbers for TrueHoop, noting the impact of the stripe's changing distance during that era.
Of the 581 total regular-season 3s Jordan sank over his long career, 238 of them came in the little more than two seasons he played with the short line (1.3 3s a game with a shortened line, and 0.39 3s with a longer line). Credit the greatest player ever for being savvy. When the 3 point-line retreated, he went on the attack, launching shots from distance more frequently while hitting 40 percent of his treys, like a regular Ray Allen. Jordan knew his strengths and his limits. He knew he was deadly from 22 feet and feebly inaccurate from 23 feet.
“Having these guys in my backyard and have them pushing me to the limit is just going to make me better,” said Howard after his 90-minute workout wrapped up. “It’s not about emulating Dream. That’s the thing. We get caught up in comparing players, trying to do what this guys does just because you work with him. The thing is, when you workout with a guy like Hakeem or Kevin McHale, you take away certain things. You don’t try to do everything they can do. I could workout with Michael Jordan, but I’m not going to be able to shoot the fadeaway like Michael Jordan.
“We’ve been working out for years and I’ve never tried to be Hakeem Olajuwon. We made jokes about the Dream shake – he’d call mine the milk shake – but I don’t want to say I’m going to be like Hakeem Olajuwon. The moves we’re doing and how we’re doing them, it’s not about doing it just like Hakeem or doing them just like McHale. It’s about understanding why and how you do certain moves.”
• Zach Lowe of Grantland.com sums up the Bobcats nicely with this one-liner in an extended analysis of their summer.
Charlotte, in other words, patiently pursued a "one step back, two steps forward" strategy, but lost patience with it right before the draft class that represented pay dirt.
•Beckley Mason of the New York Times' Off The Dribble takes on the Knicks' late-summer addition of Beno Udrih.
Udrih is the consummate backup: a collection of good but not great abilities. He is not a deadly shooter, but he has an above-average career 3-point average and is good enough to make defenders pay for leaving him open. At 31, he has lost a bit of his quickness, but makes up for a lack of speed with size and a veteran’s understanding of how to use his body to create and hold an advantage on drives. He also has several crafty moves that come in handy once he has his defender on the move, including a deft midrange game.
• Matt Moore of CBSSports.com is not a fan of the Blazers' rebranded "Moda Center" arena name.
• Jay King of MassLive.com notes that new Celtics coach Brad Stevens is extending olive branches to the organization's former players.
• Foot Locker's latest commercial stars Stephen Curry, James Harden, and James Harden's terrible singing voice. Video via YouTube footlocker.