Good morning. Let's basketball.
THE BIRTH OF BRAND MONK: Nice longform by Evin Demirel on the branding of high school phenom Malik Monk.
STAN VAN READY: The Pistons finally look like a Stan Van Gundy team, writes Satchel Price. (I am not totally convinced the Pistons are any good, though.)
DIANA TAURASI! LeBron had an hour-long Twitter Q&A. Here's what we learned. (We didn't learn a whole lot.)
RISING SUNS: Kevin O'Connor argues the Suns are in really good shape even without LaMarcus Aldridge.
SPEAKING OF THE SUNS ... Jonathan Tjarks on how they can find funky T.J. Warren some minutes.
HMM: An argument that LaMarcus Aldridge could help spark Tony Parker's rejuvenation.
ACCURATE: Jonas Valanciunas is the key to the Raptors' hopes.
ACCURATE PART II: There are few good free agents left.
HUH! Josh Smith was one of the most effective playmakers in the NBA last season.
TAMIKA CATCHINGS HAS NEXT: The WNBA star is winding down her career and looking toward becoming a GM. She's been hitting Larry Bird up for advice.
BUT HEY! Andre Miller landed in Minnesota, which is kind of perfect.
AWESOME: How the small Punjabi village he hails from reacted to Satnam Singh being drafted in June.
AWESOME PART II: Nice Ethan Skolnick piece on Luol Deng making history in Africa.
SOUNDS RIGHT: Phil Jackson's transparency is a mixed bag.
WELP: Hornets fans are worried Michael Jordan is slipping into old habits and panicking to get Charlotte back above the water. Zach Lowe goes deep on the team to explain why fans probably should be worried.
BOO THIS MAN: Paul Pierce bounced a first pitch to home plate and got booed by the Dodgers faithful.
GOOD FOR VIN: Vin Baker, whose alcoholism spun him out of basketball, is training to become a Starbucks manager.
Hey. Happy Thursday, my friend. See you next time.