Archive for September 27th, 2009

Jameer Nelson returns

Jameer Nelson returns

The Orlando Magic aren’t really themselves anymore with Hedo Turkoglu gone and Vince Carter in his place. There are other changes too, of course, like rugged forward Brandon Bass coming on board.

But despite reaching the NBA Finals last season, the Magic weren’t truly themselves because point guard Jameer Nelson was injured.

Although the team will be different this season, fans should get to see the old Nelson again.

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reports:

Is Jameer Nelson back to being his old self?

“I feel good — normal now,” he said. “I worked harder this summer than I did any summer ever because I had to. I wanted to get back to the level I was at. I didn’t want to become just one of the guys.”

Nelson concedes that the little guy running around in the NBA Finals against the L.A. Lakers, making a surprise return just four months after major shoulder surgery, was an imposter.

“I was nowhere near 100 percent,” he said after a recent workout at RDV Sportsplex. “I’m not sure of where I was at. Because of who I am, I was really confident out there. I didn’t play with any lack of confidence. It was just me knowing the reality of the situation, knowing I couldn’t do certain things.

“I had to tone things down a little bit.”

The Magic will be interesting to watch in 2009-10. Even with Nelson playing like his old self, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll take a step backwards this season.

Welcome party for Shaq in Cleveland

shaq joins cleveland

Shaquille O’Neal is old but still good (and big) enough to contribute positively to a team. I worry that he’ll throw Cleveland Cavaliers chemistry off a bit this season, though.  Even if he’s more effective than Zydrunas Ilgauskas for stretches, Big Z can hit open mid-range jumpers that Shaq can’t make.

Anyway, Cleveland welcomed Shaq to town in style. The AP reports:

Shaq got in one last party before training camp.

Shaquille O’Neal, the big man Cleveland is counting on to deliver this championship-starved city a title, was welcomed to town Sunday with a star-studded party that included sports celebrities and Average Joes looking to rub elbows with them.

Fashionably late, O’Neal arrived in an SUV at 11:15 p.m. as fans, one of them holding a life-size cardboard cutout of O’Neal in an Orlando Magic uniform, cheered on the sidewalks and took pictures of the town’s newest superstar, who will be teammates with reigning league MVP LeBron James.

O’Neal has had a good first impression of Cleveland.

”It’s a nice town,” he said. ”The entertainment is already here. Everything is here. The Browns are here, LeBron is here and now I’m here.”

NBA preseason begins this Thursday.

Jazz injuries start early

minor andrei kirilenko injury

Tim Buckley of the Deseret News reports: Three Jazz players — all small forward/swingmen types who are rotation regulars for the club — were injured at training camp this morning. Andrei Kirilenko (strained left quadriceps muscle), C.J. Miles (strained left hip flexor) and Kyle Korver (inflamed left knee) all did not take part in tonight’s second session of two-a-days. Usual backup shooting guard Korver underwent an MRI exam, results of which were not immediately made known.

Jazz hope to avoid injury woes

On paper, last season’s Utah Jazz were a very good team and while not necessarily a championship contender they appeared to be as good as anyone on that next level down. But the  injury bug big hard, keeping them at a constant disadvantage. Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

More than anything, the Jazz are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season, when they lost players to injuries for a combined 149 games, forcing them to use 20 starting lineups.

“I thought it definitely put a damper on our season,” said Deron Williams, who suffered a sprained left ankle in the preseason and missed 13 games before returning for good.

“We never got comfortable, we never got continuity with each other. It was just a tough adjustment for everybody to go in and out of different lineups and play with different roles. Nobody had a defined role for a whole season.”

Although the Jazz dropped seven of their final nine regular-season games, including a crushing home loss to a seven-man Golden State team, general manager Kevin O’Connor opted to keep together the roster.

The Jazz continue to have a talented, very good, scary team, on paper at least.

Anderseon Varejao in a good place

Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center Anderson Varejao is in a good place right now as far as his basketball life both home and abroad is concerned. Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

anderson varejao overpaid

Not only is Varejao sporting a new contract, he’s also got his national hero status back.

Healthy and with a new six-year, $48 million deal, he was able to play to Brazil in the FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico. He played well, averaging 13.6 points and 8.4 rebounds, and the Brazilians won the gold medal and qualified for next summer’s world championships. Team USA didn’t take part.

“It was a good summer for me, it was good to be able to play for Brazil again,” Varejao said. “When I was at the airport in Sao Paulo on my way back, there were people who wanted to take their pictures with me now.”

Varejao said it helped that the team’s performance in Brazil got excellent television coverage at home. But what he did after he came back didn’t hurt his reputation, either.

The Cavs remain one of several favorites in the Eastern conference to reach the NBA Finals.  The team is playing Varejao more money than what a role player expects to make. I’m not sure how much he can improve.

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