Archive for October 12th, 2013

Kyrie irving

When asked what was next on his to-do list, Irving never hesitated.

“To be the best player in this league,” he said. “That’s it.”

It’s an awfully high expectation, and one he’ll be unlikely to reach this season. Before he can become the best player in the NBA, Irving must first become the best at his position. That’s always a subjective conversation, but he’ll certainly get stiff competition from Chris Paul and guys like Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, if they’re healthy.

That’s part of the irony in all of this. For once, the list of elite point guards either hurt or coming off significant injuries doesn’t include Irving. And if he wants the Cavs to offer him the full five-year, $80 million max contract he is eligible to receive next summer, Irving must manage to stay healthy all season for the first time in his career.

Reported by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal

Celtics: Keith Bogans out indefinitely

Celtics: Keith Bogans out indefinitely

Celtics shooting guard Keith Bogans is out indefinitely with a sprained right thumb, coach Brad Stevens announced Saturday before the Celtics played the New York Knicks in a preseason game at the Verizon Wireless Arena here.

An MRI confirmed Bogans’s sprain, which he suffered in the Celtics’ 97-85 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in a preseason game Friday in Newark, Del. Bogans is scheduled to be re-evaluated Monday at New England Baptist Hospital, so a timeline for return is unclear.

Reported by Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe

Bobcats center Al Jefferson suffers sprained right ankle

Relatively good news for the Charlotte Bobcats: An injury to center Al Jefferson that looked like it had potential for seriousness turned out to be fairly minor.

Jefferson suffered a sprained right ankle in the second half of last night’s preseason game vs. Miami. X-rays taken at the arena proved to be normal.

As a precaution, Jefferson is expected to be in a walking boot for several days in an effort to contain the swelling and not put any pressure on the joint. Once out of the walking boot, he will be re-evaluated and will begin the rehab process.

Perry Jones must fight to crack Thunder rotation

[As] Jones prepares to enter Year 2, the buzz around his potential has quieted. And, still stuck behind a frontcourt logjam of Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison, Jones has become somewhat of a forgotten man.

Will he ever crack the rotation? Does the Thunder even expect or need him to?

“Perry is in a tough position,” coach Scott Brooks said. “This is not a league where everybody shares minutes. It’s a league where you have to be patient if you aren’t getting minutes and if you get minutes, you have to continue to earn those minutes. We won a lot of games, and there are a lot of guys ahead of him.”

But regardless of how deep he’s buried on the depth chart, Jones’ rare physical tools will always make him intriguing.

At a legit 6-foot-11, he’s taller than the Thunder’s entire starting lineup and a handful of NBA centers, listed as the tallest small forward in the league, tied with Washington’s Jan Vesely.

Reported by Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman

Miami Heat start preseason 3-0

heat

It has been nine years since the Heat had a winning preseason, dating to their 4-3 record in 2004-05. Of course the Heat also have won three NBA titles in the interim.

Still, Spoelstra said there is value in the 3-0 start to the eight-game preseason schedule.

“We’ve talked about our habits,” Spoelstra said. “We reveal our character every single night in different circumstances.”

Friday’s 82-75 victory in Kansas City over the Charlotte Bobcats completed a back-to-back sweep that opened with a Thursday road victory over the Detroit Pistons.

“We were a very good back-to-back team last year,” Spoelstra said.

Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Channing Frye not facing roadblocks in comeback

Admittedly, Channing Frye is not good at making predictions.

He predicted he would not do much in training camp, yet he was a full participant.

He predicted he would not play in the intrasquad scrimmage, yet he logged 24 minutes.

And he predicted he would not play in any of the eight preseason games, yet there he was on the court in Portland Wednesday, scoring 14 points in 16:07 against his former team.

So, about that prediction of a regular season return in December?

“Yeah, that’s too late. We’ll cancel that,” he said with a smile Friday. “I’m a little more in shape than I thought I was. I just continue to push myself and here I am. That’s the last time I make predictions.”

Reported by Craig Grialous of Arizona Sports

After a stop-over in Anchorage, the Warriors arrived in Beijing at about 4:45 a.m. Saturday, and they were greeted by a swarm of fans. The team will play exhibition games against the Lakers that will be broadcast in the Bay Area at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and Friday, but this trip could be about bigger things than two preseason games in the middle of training camp.

Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes were treated like rock stars when they visited China this summer, and the entire team is about to witness the potential of the market. Many in the franchise believe that the Warriors are the natural gateway between the NBA and a growing fan base in China, and this trip will be the first step toward that goal.

Reported by the San Francisco Chronicle (Blog)

Ray Allen

With James gradually shaking off the offseason rust to lead the way with 20 points, the Heat also got a combined 36 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists Friday off the bench from Norris Cole, Michael Beasley and Rashard Lewis. [Ray] Allen was also on the court with those three reserves during some of the more potent and cohesive moments of the game.

There was only one problem. That second unit for the Heat didn’t even include Shane Battier and Chris Andersen, who sat out Friday after playing in Thursday’s win in Detroit and will be vital members of the rotation in much the same fashion they were during last season’s championship run.

Add in the luxury of 11-year veteran Roger Mason Jr. and the possibilities that even a slightly effective Greg Oden can bring to the equation, and Spoelstra could be looking at the deepest and most challenging-to-manage rotation he’s had since Miami began its run of three straight Finals trips.

Spoelstra recounted Friday how the Heat ultimately didn’t have enough quality depth when they were eventually overwhelmed in six games by Dallas in the 2011 Finals. With James having slipped into a slump, the Heat had few reliable or healthy options beyond Wade and Bosh. That was a Miami team that relied at times during the season on the likes of Mike Bibby, Erick Dampier and Eddie House.

Reported by Michael Wallace of ESPN.com

Cavs forward Tyler Zeller sidelined following surgery

Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller was diagnosed with acute appendicitis yesterday in Cleveland and subsequently had an appendectomy at the Cleveland Clinic.

He is now recovering at the Cleveland Clinic after the successful procedure and will undergo a period of additional recovery and re-evaluation before a timetable is established for his return to basketball activity.

His status will be updated as appropriate.

Blake Griffin knee should be fine

Blake Griffin knee should be fine

When Clippers forward Blake Griffin went down clutching his left knee in a scrimmage Wednesday night, he said he “absolutely” feared the worst because he’s had experience with knee injuries before.

But an MRI exam revealed that Griffin had a bone bruise and no structural damage. After team doctors spent time working on his knee, the Clippers’ star realized the injury was “not even really that bad,” Griffin said Friday.

The team said Griffin participated in the full practice Friday after missing practice the day before. He said he hopes to play in the Clippers’ exhibition Saturday night at Utah.

Reported by Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times

DeMarcus Cousins

Scoring around the rim isn’t as simple as telling DeMarcus Cousins to camp out 5 feet away and bully his way to the basket.

For Cousins to work better in the post, the entire offense has to flow, which it did in the Kings’ 104-86 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

Kings coach Michael Malone would like to play inside-out, with Cousins working as a facilitator for teammates in some halfcourt sets, but said it’s not only Cousins’ responsibility to post up and make something happen.

“We have to do a better job of occupying the defense when he does post up,” Malone said before Cousins collected 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Lakers. “We just can’t sit there.”

Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee

Celtics and 76ers both in rebuild mode

That the Sixers and Celtics are on parallel paths back to respectability is nothing more than the reality of the NBA. The league’s salary cap and the impact of even a single superstar often force a franchise to gamble that, by breaking apart its roster and struggling for a season or more, it will increase the odds that it will draft a player who can change everything. (A simpler way to say all this is that the league encourages tanking, but that’s well trod ground.)

For too many years, the Sixers were unwilling to accept this necessary evil. They didn’t want to bottom out, so they lingered on the periphery of the playoffs, sometimes reaching the postseason, sometimes missing it, usually inspiring little more than a shoulder shrug from a frustrated fan base. Everything about them became stagnant and stale. It was only when their attempt to “go for it” - their misbegotten trade for Andrew Bynum - failed last season that they effected the sort of overhaul in front-office personnel and philosophy they needed.

“This year is going to be a lot about development - bringing some of our young guys along, try to change the culture, what hard work looks like, what expectations look like,” Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said. “We’re looking as long-distance as we can, versus next month or next year.”

At least the Celtics got to lengthen their legacy before hitting the restart button. With point guard Rajon Rondo and their trio of eventual Hall of Famers - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen - they won a championship in 2008, then reached the NBA Finals in 2010 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 for good measure.

Reported by Mike Sielski of the Boston Herald

Raised in Senegal and now pursuing his professional life in America, Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng speaks five languages, and another one that Rick Adelman and any other coach understands.

During rookie karaoke night at training camp in Mankato last week, he stood on a chair and sang Happy Birthday to head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam in English, French and his native Wolof without ever demonstrating his knowledge of either Italian or Spanish.

During preseason games against Toronto and Milwaukee this week, he showed, even given his rookie status and late start in the game, he’s fluent in basketball.

“He’s a smart player,” Adelman said. “It doesn’t take long watching him to see that he knows how to play.”

Dieng is just 23 and didn’t seriously start playing the game until he was a teenager, but maybe there’s a reason his given name means “old man” in his native language.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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