Archive for October 7th, 2013

Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller day-to-day with hip flexor strain

Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller experienced a left hip flexor strain during the third quarter of the annual Cavaliers intrasquad Wine & Gold Scrimmage this past Saturday afternoon. Subsequent physical examination and MRI at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed the strain.

He is receiving treatment and participated in select non-contact elements of practice today. Zeller will continue to receive treatment and, as a precaution, is not expected to play in tomorrow’s preseason game at The Q vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.

His status will be updated as appropriate.

Carmelo Anthony

Granted, just one week into training camp, the Knicks haven’t seen it a heckuva lot, but the more they see it, the more they like it.

What is “it?” Their big lineup, with 6-foot-8 Carmelo Anthony and 7-foot Andrea Bargnani as bookend forwards for center Tyson Chandler. Anthony started 56 of 67 games at power forward last season and Sunday after practice, he certainly sounded as if he would grab the small-forward job in a heartbeat.

“That’s what got me here,” Anthony said of playing the three.

But honestly, it doesn’t matter to him: “Just put me out there, put us out there on the basketball court, whoever’s the lineup we’ll adjust to each other.”

Reported by Fred Kerber of the New York Post

Pau Gasol back in action for Lakers

Pau Gasol back in action for Lakers

With Kobe Bryant (temporarily) some 6,000 miles away in Germany and Dwight Howard (permanently) some 1,500 miles away in Houston, Pau Gasol had plenty of room to operate on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Gasol had 13 shot attempts in 23 minutes in the Lakers’ 97-88 loss to the Denver Nuggets. While he didn’t shoot the ball all that well (4-for-13 for 13 points) in his preseason debut and the first organized game he’s played in more than five months, just the sheer amount of touches was a welcome change for the 13-year veteran.

“I think that’s a good indication of how much liberty and how much my teammates also trust me to make plays and make shots and then, when the defense collapses, find them,” Gasol said after the game.

It was also a far cry from last season, when he was often positioned at the elbow to create space for Howard, while Bryant was left cajoling Gasol to buck the system for his own benefit.

Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

Pelicans waive forward Rodney Carney

Pelicans waive forward Rodney Carney

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has waived forward Rodney Carney.

Carney, a product of Memphis, has appeared in 299 career NBA games with the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. The 6’7”, 205 pound forward holds career averages of 5.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.4 assists per game in 15.4 minutes.

The five year pro was drafted 16th overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Wizards rookie Otto Porter still in recovery

Otto Porter Jr. has spent his first week of NBA training camp with the Washington Wizards fulfilling many of his rookie duties, such as collecting Gatorades for veterans and carrying bags upon request. When the team stayed at the George Mason Inn, Porter played highly competitive games of the soccer video game, FIFA ’14, with veteran Nene. And he has shown up to the gym hours after the team practices to work on his individual game with developmental assistant Joe Connelly.

What Porter hasn’t done is practice.

The third overall pick from Georgetown, Porter suffered a strained right hip flexor before the team gathered to begin making preparations for the upcoming season. Porter has been limited to watching from the sideline, riding stationary bikes, stretching with elastic bands and doing flexibility exercises.

“I’m still not in the process of jogging or running. It’s limited. But I’m doing whatever I can,” Porter said. “You definitely want to be out there, but you also want to learn from the side. Cheer them on, tell them to keep on playing, but that’s the best I can do.”

Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post

Jarrett Jack has big goals for Cavaliers

The four-year, $25 million deal [Jarrett Jack] signed over the summer is the most lucrative of his career and comes as he prepares to turn 30 two days before the start of the season. This is around the time players typically begin to decline, but Jack provides exactly what this young backcourt needs and the Cavaliers are confident he’ll maintain his level of production in part because of his proven durability throughout his career.

He averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists last season despite starting just four games for the Warriors. When asked if he would be disappointed if the Cavs failed to make the playoffs, Jack scoffed at the idea of just making the playoffs being the biggest goal of the season. Why bother, he reasoned, if players are happy just to show up and lose in the first round?

“What else are we playing for?” Jack asked. “Who cares if you got a free certificate to the playoffs and you went home with a free T-shirt they handed out for the first round? So what? Nobody cares or remembers that and I don’t think anybody should use that as a stepping stone. If you’re about to take a test, you don’t want to just get a 72, you want to get 100. Who wants to come in fifth place?”

Reported by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal

Jared Sullinger set to return for Celtics

Tonight’s exhibition opener against Toronto at the Garden will be Jared Sullinger’s first game since Jan. 30.

The process of recovering from back surgery has admittedly been slow and debilitating for the Celtics forward. He gained an estimated 15 pounds, and has spent training camp attempting to trim down his 270-plus frame.

There’s no time like now for a fresh baptism.

“Everything feels great, but I have to get in better shape,” Sullinger said after yesterday’s practice. “Being six, seven months off and then coming in and trying to play with these guys who have been working out all summer and played the entire NBA season last year, I’m just a tier under.

Reported by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald

Mark Cuban confident in Mavs as usual

Ever the optimist, owner Mark Cuban believes this year’s Mavs team has some of the same characteristics as the squad that won the 2011 NBA title.

“The willingness to move the ball — I think that made a huge difference in [2011],” Cuban said. “We pushed the ball to the open passer as opposed to just putting it on the floor, and I think you see a lot of the same similarities here. And I think that’s what fits well with Rick’s offense.”

While there are no members of the media picking the Mavs to win this season’s NBA championship, Cuban knows none of them picked Dallas to win it all in 2011, either.

Cuban also noted that of the eight Western Conference teams that advanced to the playoffs last year, three of them — Memphis, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers — have new coaches this season.

Reported by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

JaVale McGee appears serious about raising his game

Nuggets center JaVale McGee was on his last-one-out grind. On Tuesday: free throws well after most everyone left the Pepsi Center practice court. On Thursday, post-practice offensive work, followed by full-court sprints with assistant coach Patrick Mutombo.

It is all by design.

No one does everything right in the first week of training camp, but McGee is going after it, from improving his skills on the low block to getting a better handle on his conditioning. The seriousness of his approach is in stark contrast to a year ago, when his sluggish training camp cost him a starting job — and ultimately significant playing time — just weeks after he signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension.

This McGee doesn’t resemble that McGee. And for Nuggets first-year coach Brian Shaw, who wants to play inside-out on offense, it’s a good sign. For an organization that desperately wants its faith, and investment, in McGee to be validated, it’s a good sign.

Reported by Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post

george karl

For seven NBA seasons George Karl told TV viewers — in his low-key style — about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat while coaching the Nuggets.

Karl, who recently signed a multiyear agreement with ESPN, will utilize that style as a national NBA analyst, working in a variety of studio shows, including “SportsCenter,” “NBA Coast to Coast” and “NBA Tonight.”

Part of Karl’s job will be assessing the organization that fired him at the end of last season, after he led Denver to a 57-25 record and earned NBA coach-of-the-year honors.

“ESPN contacted me in August,” Karl said from his Denver home. “Obviously, I was intrigued. I’ve spent my life in basketball. I auditioned in Bristol (ESPN’s Connecticut headquarters), and we signed a deal.”

Reported by Dusty Saunders, special to the Denver Post

Detroit Pistons may speed up. Or not.

maurice cheeks

The Palace crowd at the open practice saw Cheeks unleash a quiet wrath early on Saturday, when the players didn’t seem to take a drill too seriously and he made them run wind sprints to get them refocused.

But running as a whole is something Pistons players have privately bemoaned and sometimes publicly hinted at in recent seasons — which Cheeks agrees with in theory, not necessarily in application when having a bigger frontline.

“All players say they want to play fast and want to run, but it’s not that easy to do,” Cheeks said. “Particularly when you have a couple big guys. If you play fast, you have to wait for them.”

Andre Drummond and Josh Smith can fly up and down a floor on a quick turnaround or turnover, and while Greg Monroe isn’t the fastest big man, he’s still mobile enough to beat opposing bigs down the floor for positioning.

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

Brian Shaw

If you’re wondering if the Phil Jackson pupil has sought the advice of Phil Jackson, the answer is yes.

To a point.

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has reached out to the former Lakers coach, a man he played for and coached with during his time in Los Angeles, and the best piece of advice he received from Jackson was patience.

“I’m laid back by nature, anyway,” Shaw said. “Phil had a lot of patience and he allowed for the players to kind of figure some things out on their own. I’ve been kind of trying to do the same thing, not spoon feeding them everything, but just enough and see who has the ability to figure out what they need to do.”

Reported by Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post

Timberwolves want Alexey Shved to show his love of the game more

Riffing off a theme, new Timberwolves center Ronny Turiaf spends his days, among many other things, urging teammate Alexey Shved to smile more.

Last season, TNT’s wired microphone caught Ricky Rubio imploring Shved to “Change your face, be happy, enjoy it” coming out of a timeout in a video snippet that careened around the Internet.

Now Turiaf unknowingly has joined the chorus, encouraging the second-year Russian guard to play with more joy and less concern for his errors while coach Rick Adelman just wants Shved to become more “engaged” when he’s playing off the ball.

“If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,” Turiaf said. “If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.”

Much has changed for Shved since a rookie season in which his ball-handling and playmaking tantalized at times. But as plain as day, he also slammed into that rookie wall in the final months during a year when he played more minutes than anyone imagined.

Now he is a year wiser and stronger — “I make muscles,” he says — even if the wiry 6-6 combo guard still weighs the same starting a season when he no longer has fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko by his side.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Xavier Henry playing through sprained wrist

Nothing appears will stop Xavier Henry from trying to prove he’s worthy of cracking the Lakers’ roster.

The team divulged he suffered a moderately sprained right wrist during the Lakers’ 97-88 preseason loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. But both Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and Henry downplayed the severity of the injury.

D’Antoni revealed Henry had been nursing the injury for “a couple weeks,” apparently hurting the injury during a pick-up game before training cap began eight days ago. Henry said the pain simply worsened because he “fell on it hard” Sunday during an undisclosed play.

“I’m okay,” Henry said.

Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

Wesley Johnson to get MRI on strained left foot

The Lakers are holding out hope that it’s nothing serious, but forward Wesley Johnson will undergo an MRI Monday after straining his left foot in the Lakers’ 97-88 preseason loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Johnson experienced a “burning sensation” in his foot, but it seems unclear what caused the injury.

“He doesn’t know,” D’Antoni said.

Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

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