We’ll see you over there. Thank you.
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Kevin Garnett returns…to coach? — Just days after announcing his retirement from the NBA, Kevin Garnett resurfaced yesterday at Los Angeles Clippers training camp to impart some of his considerable wisdom, accumulated over his two-decade NBA career. According to Clippers coach Doc Rivers, Garnett’s talents apparently extend to the teaching realm…
Garnett was asked by Clippers Coach Doc Rivers to come to practice to work with big men Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and rookies Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone.
But as it turned out, all of the Clippers were interested in learning from one of the NBA’s all-time greats at the practice in the Bren Events Center on UC Irvine’s campus.
“K.G. was phenomenal today,” Rivers said. “This morning, before practice, he had a teaching clinic that you would pay a lot of money to see. It was great. It was great for Blake and D.J., and the young guys as well. It’s great to have him around. He’s a great teacher. … He’ll be really good for us.”
Over the 21 seasons Garnett played in the NBA before retiring last week from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 6-foot-11 power forward was known for his intense nature, his defense-minded approach, his team-oriented ways and a persona of toughness.
Garnett and Clippers forward Paul Pierce were teammates for six seasons in Boston, winning the NBA title in 2008 with Rivers. Paul Pierce was happy to see his old friend.
“He’s been a major inspiration in this league for a long time,” Pierce said. “A lot of guys look up to him. He has so much to share, and it’s good to see him come here and share some of the things with some of our guys, especially D.J. and Blake. He’s working with them right now. All that helps.”
Garnett’s impressive resume meant all of the Clippers listened when he spoke.
He was the 2004 league most valuable player, the defensive player of the year in 2008, a 15-time All-Star and nine-time All-NBA player.
Jamal Crawford called Garnett one of his “10 favorite players” and said it was “unbelievable” to have the future Hall of Famer at practice.
“That’s one of the best players to ever play the game,” Crawford said. “So every second you’re around a guy like that you’re listening to every single thing that he says. You’re a sponge. You’re like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s Kevin Garnett.’ No matter what, they’ve watched him playing growing up. They’ve seen the highlights.
“He’s one of the best to ever play basketball. He just has a certain aura about him once he walks in that there is a certain respect that he demands. For him to be here and to give them that kind of knowledge, it speaks volumes about him as well.”
No. 2: DeRozan still motivated — Toronto swingman DeMar DeRozan signed a long-term contract extension earlier this summer, a validation of all the work he’s put in thus far in his career. But according to DeRozan, he’s not ready to accept that the work is finished. If anything, he’s still finding motivation to keep improving, as he told TSN Sports…
“Honestly, I don’t think about the contract for motivation or anything like that,” said the Raptors’ guard. “My motivation is knowing what it feels like losing in the playoffs, being two games away from making it to the Finals, knowing how hard we worked to get there, being able to try to be better so we can see that moment again and prevail.”
“Just using all the motivations on a daily [basis] to be there. It’s not about the contract, it’s about everything we do to compete on the court.”
As those that have followed his eight-year NBA career know, DeRozan has never lacked for motivation. Unlike many professional athletes, who claim to avoid or just ignore criticism from fans and the media, DeRozan gets a kick out of reading what’s written about him. He reads it. He listens to it. He remembers it.
Certainly, there hasn’t been a shortage of opinion when it comes to his game and, as a result, most people – fans and pundits alike – are split on his value.
His latest perceived slight came from a familiar source: SI.com’s recent NBA player rankings, which have DeRozan slotted 46th going into the new season. After sharing his disapproval of the ranking on Twitter earlier this month, he doubled down when it came up after practice on Thursday.
“It’s always going to be extra motivation,” said DeRozan following the morning session on his team’s third day of training camp at Fortius Sport & Health in Burnaby, BC. “And it’s things like that that you can use to add fuel to the fire, but at this point I’m so self-motivated that don’t do nothing but make me laugh at it. Whoever came up with that is stupid in my opinion.”
No. 3: Joe Johnson looking to contribute in Utah — As he’s become one of the NBA’s most reliable stars, Joe Johnson has started every NBA game he’s played over the last dozen years. But this season in Utah, it looks likely that Johnson may come off the bench, which he says is fine with him as long as it is what’s best for the team. As the Deseret News reports, Johnson believes he can have an impact in more ways than just playing…
“I’m not coming here trying to be a star or starter,” Johnson said. “Me and coach Quin Snyder have talked from time to time through texts or phone calls. He understands where I’m at and I understand what he wants from me as a player and that’s to help these young guys such as Rodney (Hood) and Gordon. I’m here to tell them about some of the things I’ve been through and help them out with their experiences.”
Johnson has played for five other NBA teams, most recently the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat last season. He was acquired in July as a free agent to a reported two-year, $22-million contract by the Jazz, who wanted some scoring punch as well as a veteran leader, something they got in Johnson.
“The fit is a really good one,” said Snyder. “What he brings is a confidence and experience and as much as anything, maturity. This is a player who has started every game for the past 10 years. He knows that the situation here could be different, but that wasn’t a deterrent to him coming here.
“Everything I heard about him has been positive. He knows how much I respect him. I think he looked at this team and said, ‘Hey, this is an opportunity for me to have an impact and help build something.’ That’s satisfying. Credit him, the guy’s got no ego.”
One thing the Jazz like most about Johnson on the floor is his versatility. At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Johnson normally plays small forward but with his shooting ability, he can play the off-guard spot and the Jazz say they can even use him as a power forward when they want to go smaller.
“Joe’s a guy who gives us a bigger wing capable of scoring in the post and is capable of playing the four position,” Snyder said. “The thing that gets lost about him, is he can play a lot of different ways. He’s an excellent passer, he takes pride in his defense.”
No. 4: Brooklyn Nets embrace holistic approach to health — As part of the new Sean Marks/Kenny Atkinson regime in Brooklyn, the organization is embracing a holistic approach to player health, looking at everything from sleep patterns to diet. It’s just another step in looking for any edge possible, although as Brook Lopez notes, he dearly misses his Slurpees…
“I’ve never seen an organization care for their players holistically, from a 24/7 standpoint, versus when we’re on the court or when we’re practicing or at the arena,’’ Jeremy Lin said. “It’s all-encompassing … like the way you sleep or little stuff like how you set up your bedroom and how it impacts your sleep.
“All of that impacts your performance as an athlete. … They’re really trying to do things right, to establish culture not just from when you step on the floor.”
Establishing that culture — especially on a team that won just 21 games last season — means improving not just strength, but agility and mobility, and monitoring everything from sleep patterns to diet.
“The No. 1 thing is buy-in. That’s the biggest thing in the NBA, [if] you get them to buy in, and the performance team has gotten buy-in,’’ Atkinson said. “The players enjoy being in the weight room. … Out here on the court [working on] agility, mobility. That’s part of building the total program.
“It’s such an athletic league, and we feel like it’s a big part of what we do. I was joking with one of the coaches, the performance team is going to move us out of our offices pretty soon.”
That team includes director of player performance Zach Weatherford, who spent the past two years as human performance manager at the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command; strength and conditioning coach Dan Meehan, who had done the same for the North Melbourne Football Club in Australia; athletic trainer/physical therapist Lloyd Beckett; and director of physical therapy Aisling Toolan.
It’s an eclectic mix, but one that has gotten rave reviews.
“I look at the positive feedback I’ve gotten from the players, and just the fact [they’re] consistently coming in on their own and we’re seeing changes in guys’ bodies,’’ general manager Sean Marks said. “They’ve either slimmed down, toned up, whatever. They’re buying into the processes.”
From the slimmed-down like Lopez and Sean Kilpatrick to the toned-up like Chris McCullough, the changes are apparent.
“It’s just changing the way my body moves. We’re looking for any way we can improve,’’ Brook Lopez said. “It’s all across the board, preventing future injury, stamina, diet as well. We have specialized people all across the board, and we’re already reaping the benefits.”
In the case of Lopez, the benefit is he’s seven pounds lighter and clearly leaner, and has better mobility as a result of a better diet.
“I don’t like to talk about it, it’s so sad,’’ Lopez said ruefully. “My Achilles’ heel when it comes to my diet are Slurpees, Icees, like Sonic Route 44 slushes with the Nerds or popping candy inside. That had to take a backseat.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Tyronn Lue has a standing invite for Kevin Garnett to join his coaching staff in Cleveland … A rule change will now allow teams to access data directly from the bench … There’s a “better vibe” in Chicago this season, according to Doug McDermott … Cameron Payne suffered a broken foot … Mike Dunleavy loves being with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season … The Rockets have signed P.J. Hairston to a non-guaranteed deal …
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Noah lands in New York — After missing the first few days of training camp for the birth of his daughter, Joakim Noah was finally able to participate in his first practice with his new team, the New York Knicks. And as ESPN.com reports, his new teammates are already raving about the emotional presence he brings to his new team…
“He brings a different dynamic to the court,” Carmelo Anthony said after Noah’s first practice with the New York Knicks. “Mentally, he pushes you; he forces you to compete at a high level every time on the basketball court. Everybody. Whether you’re the 14th, 15th man on the team, or myself, or Derrick [Rose] or anybody else.
“Like, he pushes you to go out there and compete every play. If not, you’re going to hear about. I think that’s something we’ve been missing, this team needed, this organization needed and I like it. We like it.”
The Knicks signed Noah to a four-year, $72 million deal over the summer, in part, because of his leadership qualities.
The Rose trade left a void at center, and Phil Jackson believes Noah can fill it as a backbone of the Knicks’ defense. Only time will tell if Noah can provide elite rebounding, rim protection and pick-and-roll defense over the course of his contract.
But his intense nature — which has its own value on and off the court — was on display in his first training camp practice (Noah missed the first two days due to the birth of his daughter).
“If you’re not on his team, you’re an enemy,” Anthony said. “I think that mentality, that’s going to kind of trickle down to everybody else. It’s a different mindset that you’ve got to have coming into the game, going into practice. Even in practice, if you’re not on his team, if you’re not on the blue or white team with him, you’re an enemy. That keeps the competitive edge for everybody out there on the court.”
The perfect scenario for the Knicks is Noah remaining healthy, productive and being an influential presence in the locker room. “Jo’s [intensity] won’t slow down as the year goes on. We hope that’s contagious for the rest of our guys,” Jeff Hornacek said.
Intangibles aside, there are some question marks for Noah coming into the season. He was limited to just 29 games last year due to a shoulder injury; some observers believe his game had slipped prior to the injury.
Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf added to that theory when he told the Chicago Tribune the following about Noah’s departure:
“What we felt was it was time. We felt Joakim wasn’t going to be a front-line guy anymore. I was pretty confident that Pau [Gasol] was going to leave. So it was important for us to get the center in [Robin] Lopez.”
Noah was asked about the remarks on Wednesday and offered a measured response.
“It’s alright. He’s entitled to his opinion,” Noah said. “I feel like I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me, that’s all that matters. I know that I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, you know? But at the end of the day, I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter in my career.”
No. 2: Rings for everyone — The Cleveland Cavaliers famously broke the city’s 52-year championship dry spell by winning the 2016 NBA Finals. And Cavs ownership is rewarding not just the players on the team, but pretty much everyone involved with the franchise. According to Cleveland.com, more than 1,000 people will be receiving championship rings in The Land…
From LeBron James down to the guy who sold you a hot dog on a Wednesday night at The Q, the entire Cavaliers’ family is getting a 2016 NBA championship ring.
Majority owner Dan Gilbert and his partners decided to present rings to more than 1,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization, employees who’ve been fitted for rings told cleveland.com.
A spokesman for the Cavs confirmed the information but declined to comment.
Of course, not every team employee will get the same, diamond crusted ring that’s going to rest on the fingers of James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and other players from last season, but ticket takers, seat ushers, security guards, Cleveland police officers and all who work behind the scenes at home games will be able to say they won a ring. And they’ll have proof.
The same goes for rings commemorating the Lake Erie Monsters’ AHL Calder Cup victory from last season. Virtually all employees involved with Monsters’ operations, including some who work for the Columbus Blue Jackets (the Monsters’ NHL affiliate) will get rings.
Employees learned about the rings earlier this month at something called the “Spectaculars,” a company-wide (Cavs, Monsters, Quicken Loans Arena) yearly meeting and employee-recognition event. The gesture extends to workers for Aramark, the contractor that supplies food-service workers for Cavs and Monsters home games.
A conservative cost for distributing rings to employees is more than $1 million.
The Cavs declined to say whether or not former coach David Blatt — who was fired in January — or former center Anderson Varejao (traded in February) were getting rings. But Gilbert is obviously in a mood to be inclusive.
Varejao, who played for the Warriors against the Cavs in the Finals, told reporters out West the Cavs had offered him a ring. Anderson, who played for Cleveland from 2004-16, said he was unsure if he would accept.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that Blatt would get a ring, but both Gilbert (through a spokesman) and Cavs general manager David Griffin would not confirm the report.
No. 3: Mavs hope for big impact from Curry — The Dallas Mavericks made some big moves this summer, adding a couple of former Warriors in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. But they’re hoping another new player with Golden State ties has an equally large impact. Seth Curry, brother of Stephen Curry, drew raves in last night’s open scrimmage. And Dallas coach Rick Carlisle says it’s not really fair to compare Seth to Steph…
Curry is an intriguing newcomer for the Mavericks. He can shoot. The bloodlines guarantee it. But he needs to do other things to prove he can be a contributor this season.
What he did in the open practice Wednesday before a nice crowd at American Airlines Center was have 15 points and a couple of assists. He hit 3-pointers when the defense left him. He has all the looks of a young scorer at the combo guard spot.
It’s no surprise he can shoot. His father, Dell, and his brother are two of the best shooters in NBA history.
But the question remains: is it hard to be your own man when you have such strong ancestry?
“Not for me,” he said. “I don’t know how other people look at it, but I know my potential and that’s what I base myself on, not what my brother does or what my dad did.”
As for comparisons to his brother, coach Rick Carlisle said it’s about letting Seth Curry be Seth Curry.
“Let’s leave that alone,” he said. “This kid is a terrific player in his own right. To me, it’s a disservice to get into all that stuff. Let this kid be himself. He’s unique in his own right.”
No. 4: Stockton to Kidd? — As coach Jason Kidd works on changing the culture in Milwaukee and making the Bucks contenders, he called upon a fellow NBA legend for some help. Kidd asked legendary Jazz point guard John Stockton to spend a few days with the Bucks, bringing the top two assist-givers in NBA history together…
“If you want to help your guys at some of the positions, you find the best and I got very lucky John could join us these next couple days,” Kidd said.
Stockton teamed with Karl Malone in Utah to form one of the top tandems in league history. The point guard played all 19 seasons with the Jazz and his team made the playoffs every year. Stockton was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
“He gave me a hard time for not saying he was a great athlete,” Kidd said. “You’re not (Russell) Westbrook or someone who is touching the top of the backboard.
“But you know how to play the game. Probably everyone counted him out, but him. Just running the show. We have Malcolm (Brogdon) and Delly (Matthew Dellavedova). I see like they have some of him. And I told him we have a pretty big point guard, too.”
Asked if Stockton could help teach a few things to 6-11 point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks coach said, “We’ll see.
“You talk about the best player at his position to be here. We’re very lucky.”
Kidd was one of the all-time greats at the position and played 19 seasons, so it’s a point guard heaven at Bucks camp. Stockton and Kidd also rank 1-2 in steals.
“Very cool,” Bucks forward Steve Novak of seeing Stockton on the sideline. “He’s a legend. He’s a Dream Team guy. He’s one of the greatest players in NBA history.
“It’s just awesome to have someone like that who you looked up to so much.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: DeMarcus Cousins says he’s “excited” about the Dave Joerger era in Sacramento … Tim Duncan showed up at Spurs practice as a spectator … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says he spent the summer working on his shot … Darrell Arthur took less money to stay with the Denver Nuggets … Anthony Carter is back with the Heat, this time as a D-League assistant … NBA team owners continue buying esports teams …
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The wait is finally over.
The 2016-17 NBA season is upon us, complete with the headlines from training camps around the league and drama in places like Miami, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Oakland, all before a single game (preseason or otherwise) has been played.
— Pat Riley says Chris Bosh‘s Heat career is “probably over,” bringing an official end to the Heat’s celebrated Big 3 era in crushing fashion.
— Russell Westbrook says he hasn’t spoken to Kevin Durant since his former Thunder teammate bolted for Golden State in free agency, signaling that perhaps they were never as close as we were led to believe.
— LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers are already dealing with great (repeat) expectations from fans and pundits alike.
— Draymond Green is already doing his best to temper similar expectations in the Bay Area, now that the Warriors boast two KIA MVPs (Durant and Stephen Curry) on the same roster.
And all this came after Kevin Garnett announced his retirement after 21 seasons, cementing the Hall of Fame Class of 2021 (KG, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan will all be eligible) as one of the best in history.
On top of all that, we go a few rounds with the man himself, Ronnie2K, about the unveiling of NBA 2K17, which is always one of the highlights of a new NBA season.
You can get all of that and more on Episode 250 of The Hang Time Podcast featuring Ronnie2K.
As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com, Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand.
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Curry confident he’ll remain a Warrior — Now that one offseason is over, the questions about the next one will begin. And apparently, it’s Stephen Curry‘s turn to answer them. So, on the first day of practice, Curry was asked about his “impending” free agency, which is only nine months away. ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss has the story…
Stephen Curry indicated Tuesday he’ll likely re-sign with the Golden State Warriors after this season.
“Yes. Yes,” Curry replied to questions whether he’s optimistic about returning to the Warriors. Next offseason will be the two-time reigning NBA MVP’s first time as an unrestricted free agent.
Curry re-signing would be in contrast to decisions made by the other two most recent MVPs, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who both went elsewhere after their rookie extensions expired. Durant decided to join Curry with the Warriors, while James jumped from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat, only to return to Cleveland in 2014 after four seasons in Miami.
Asked if he’ll consult with Durant on contract matters this season, Curry said, “Maybe, but I’m not going to let it distract me at all.”
“I want to be back here. I like playing here, and that’s it,” he said.
As far as this season goes, you know that Curry will use the end of last season as motivation, as Michael Lee writes for Yahoo…
Curry never used any excuses for his poor performance on the game’s biggest stage, never sought sympathy for his struggles – even as the Finals version of Curry rarely, if ever, came close to resembling that euphoric, fun-time version of Curry that challenged our definitions of heat checks and deep range before that unfortunate slip on a sweaty court in Houston derailed a dream season.
As he drifted into an offseason filled with the disappointment from surrendering to James an NBA title and his brief hold on the title of the game’s best player, Curry said he wouldn’t allow himself to wallow in the what-coulda-beens related to being at full strength. The Golden State Warriors lost. He lost. And that was enough to keep him motivated and focused on trying to avoid duplicating those feelings next June.
“That was the situation,” Curry said Tuesday about playing with knee and ankle injuries last postseason. “There are certain situations that everybody has to deal with and whoever is at the end … there is no need for any other storylines. I hated that I was asked about it that much, because at the end of the day, I was on the floor playing. If we would’ve won, the situation would’ve been different. Obviously, the question would’ve been a little different: ‘How did you overcome such a catastrophic injury and win a championship?'”
No. 2: Hornets looking for a revitalized Hibbert — Roy Hibbert was the anchor of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the league for two straight seasons, making “rim protection” a permanent part of the NBA lexicon. But, looking to get better offensively, the Indiana Pacers decided to move on last year and Hibbert fell off the map in one season in L.A. In fact, he was the center on three of the league’s four worst lineups that played at least 100 minutes last season. Now Hibbert is in Charlotte, looking to resurrect his career, as Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer writes…
The Hornets got Hibbert for less than a third of what he was paid last season — he’s on a one-year, $5-million deal. He and Cody Zeller will mostly man the center position for the Hornets, with Zeller likely starting but Hibbert playing significant minutes. Hibbert will give Charlotte something the Hornets have lacked since they let Bismack Biyombo walk in 2015 — an imposing presence at the rim on defense.
But does that even still matter in today’s NBA? The Hornets obviously think it does.
Said Ewing, a Basketball Hall of Famer who was one of the best big men to ever play the game: “One of the first things I told Roy when we signed him was ‘Look, no more negative things about how the game has changed.’ Forget that. Forget it!”
“I may not have used those exact words, though,” he said, leaving no doubt some of his initial speech to Hibbert wasn’t suitable for a family newspaper.
No. 3: Parker hopes to create change — Jabari Parker is only 21 years old and doesn’t have the kind of profile that Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James have. But Parker isn’t going to take a backseat in regard to having his voice heard about race and inequality issues in his home city of Chicago and across the United States. Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel spoke to Parker about his efforts to make a difference …
While at times he can be reticent to talk to the media in basketball settings, Parker said Monday at Bucks media day that speaking out this summer wasn’t a challenge. It’s something he said he’s done at some level since high school and feels strongly about continuing now that he has a larger platform as a professional athlete.
“It’s been easy as me being a pro trying to create change, trying to help my neighbor, trying to help my community because honestly if I don’t stand up for something I know nobody else will,” said Parker, whom the Bucks drafted in 2014 out of Duke with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA. “It’s part of my responsibility to come back and create awareness and create change.”
Parker took action this summer to back up his words. On Aug. 26, he hosted Pickup for Peace at Quest MultiSport in Chicago, an event featuring some Chicago AAU teams as well as a pickup game with Parker and other notable basketball players from Chicago, including Shawn Marion and Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley.
He called that event the most rewarding thing he did over the summer.
“That can make a lot of difference,” Parker said. “(It’s) three hours away from the streets. I just wanted to do my role, do what I know to do and that’s to play basketball and that’s what I’m going to do for a long time.”
Though the decision to add his voice to the discussion was a simple one, Parker noted he has received backlash for sharing his views. He’s heard criticism, especially on social media, from people saying he should stick to playing basketball and stay out of the social and political discussion. That’s something he won’t do.
No. 4: Jazz looking to pick up the pace — The Utah Jazz led the league with 3.79 passes per possession last season, but that was in part because their possessions took so long. The Jazz ranked last in pace and only 35 percent of their shots came in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock, the lowest rate in the league by a wide margin (the league average was 51 percent). League-wide, field goal percentage drops as the shot clock goes down, so the Jazz can improve an offense that ranked 17th last season just by getting more shots early in the clock. And that’s what Quin Snyder‘s plan is, as Tony Jones writes in the Salt Lake Tribune…
Snyder would like to see his team play at a faster pace this season, especially with the added depth. Added pace means added possessions, which leads to added depth coming more into play, which Snyder hopes can lead to his team wearing the opposition down when it matters.
As such, much of the scrimmage portion of Tuesday’s morning practice was played with a 14 second shot clock, instead of the normal 24 second clock. That forced quicker tempo and reactions from his team. Snyder said he wants to run more initial pick-and-roll sets out of transition, and forcing his team to shoot the ball within 14 seconds was a way to get the players into that mindset.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Tyronn Lue stole a page from Doc Rivers‘ coaching book during The Finals … Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak isn’t concerning himself with VP Jim Buss‘ timeline for contending for a title … Isaiah Thomas is sleeping more and eating McDonald’s less … Mike Krzyzewski was at Wolves practice … Fred Hoiberg says that there will be an open competition for the Bulls’ starting power forward spot … and there’s a similar situation at small forward with the Clippers.
No. 1: Miami moves on from Bosh — Pat Riley, Miami Heat president, went so far as to mention Magic Johnson‘s stunning HIV diagnosis. That’s how seriously and emotionally Riley and his organization were reacting to what they consider to be the end of Chris Bosh‘s NBA career in south Florida. The latest chapter in Bosh’s ongoing health concerns, stemming from blood clots that have snuffed the second halves of his past two seasons, came Monday as Riley confirmed the Heat no longer are open to bringing the All-Star power forward back. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel had the details:
President Pat Riley said Monday that the team views Chris Bosh’s career with the team as over, that the team no longer is working toward his return.
“We are not,” Riley said in his office at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I think Chris is still open-minded. But we are not working toward his return.
“We feel that, based on the last exam, that his Heat career is probably over.”
Asked if he felt Bosh’s NBA career was over, as well, Riley said, “that’s up to him.”
Bosh has been sidelined for the second half of each of the past two seasons due blood clots, recently failing the Heat’s preseason physical.
“It’s pretty definitive from us, in our standpoint, that this is probably going to be a time where we really have to step back,” Riley said
“His health, playing and economics — it’s been health, health, health,” Riley said before the start of the team’s media day at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Whatever the cap ramifications are, they are there, but we never ever thought about that.”
Of going forward, Riley said, “This one is cloudy, the environment, because of the C.B. situation, and we have to deal with that.”
The Heat would receive salary-cap relief going forward on Feb. 9 if Bosh is ruled medically unable to play by an NBA specialist.
Bosh said over the weekend he planned to continue his comeback attempt, posting on Twitter, “Setbacks may happen, but my intentions remain the same. Thank you all for the warm wishes and support.”
He then on Monday released the latest chapter of the video series chronicling his comeback attempt on the Uninterrupted digital-media platform.
“I put in all the work, so let’s see where I’m at,” Bosh said in the piece, which apparently was completed before his failed Heat physical. “I’m still hoping to have my moment.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra said the situation with Bosh has been emotionally grueling.
“I love C.B. dearly,” he said. “It was tough to watch C.B. and his family go through this the last couple of years. Your heart just goes out to him.”
NEWS OF THE MORNING
Rivers, Clippers ready to challenge Warriors | Questions abound for new-look Hornets | Pistons open camp in much better space | What’s next for KG?
No. 1: Rivers, Clippers ready to challenge Warriors — They can’t hide from it, the expectations or the obstacles. And Doc Rivers knows as much, has prepared for as much heading into the 2016-17 NBA season with designs on taking the Los Angeles Clippers to places they haven’t been before, even with the Golden State Warriors and their superstar-studded roster (Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green) standing in the way. Rivers insists his Clippers are ready to challenge the Warriors, no matter what the doubters think. Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times breaks down the challenges facing the Clippers with training camps set to kick off around the league:
Last season the Clippers had another successful regular season (53-29) and had high hopes going in the playoffs. But that quickly evaporated when they lost a first-round series to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Paul broke his right hand and Griffin reinjured his left quadriceps tendon in Game 4, forcing both to miss the last two games of the series.
Once again there were complaints that the L.A. Clippers still had never made it past the second round of the playoffs.
“You should never run from the truth. That’s true,” Rivers said. “But getting past the second round is such a [expletive] goal. That’s not my goal. My goal is to be the winner. So, to be the winner, part of that is getting past the second round. The second round talk does nothing for me. The endgame is being the winner.”
Rivers quickly pointed out that “we’re not” one of the favorites to win the 2017 NBA championship.
Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has the Warriors as the title favorites at 5-7 odds, with defending NBA champion Cleveland second (5-2), San Antonio third (6-1) and the Clippers fourth (20-1).
“We’re in the conversation,” Rivers said.
So much of the Clippers’ success will be determined by the health of Paul and Griffin, both of whom Rivers said are 100% healthy based on how well they have looked while playing in pickup games at the practice facility.
But Griffin has another cloud hovering over him. He broke his right hand in a fight last January with then Clippers assistant equipment manager Matias Testi.
Griffin penned a letter to Clippers fans on the Players’ Tribune Friday, apologizing for last season.
“It’s been a hard year for Blake – from the knee injury to the Matias thing,” Rivers said. “Blake had a year of life lessons. And that’s OK. I don’t have a problem with that. We all have them. I actually will say Blake is in the best physical and mental place he’s been in since I’ve been here.”
The Clippers will gather together for media day Monday and open their training camp Tuesday at UC Irvine.
In recent weeks Rivers has watched as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken a knee during the the national anthem in his quest to raise awareness about racial injustice.
“When I hear people say, you have to stand with your team, that’s true. But there are certain issues that transcend everything,” Rivers said. “This is a very serious problem we have. And to me, none of us are smart enough to know the solutions. But what we can do is start the debate and the talk.
“And usually when enough people get to talking, there are usually results in some type of action. To me, whether you like what Kaepernick did or not – and it’s not for me to tell you if you should or shouldn’t – the fact that you’re reading about a statement that I’m making about it means what he’s doing has had an impact. Now we have to get to the endgame and that’s the hard part.”
On the basketball court, the hard part for the Clippers and the rest of the league will be getting past the Warriors with Durant and two-time MVP Stephen Curry as the expected super team of the NBA.
“There’s always going to be a competitor in our league. There’s never going to be one team that wins it every year,” Rivers said. “There’s always going to be someone that’s standing in front of you and our job is to stand directly in front of them and block their way.…
“But that’s fine, if that’s what people want to believe [about the Warriors]. We’re just not going to believe that crap.”
HANG TIME, N.J. — The Philadelphia 76ers are holding Media Day on Monday, but Nerlens Noel didn’t want to wait to get some of his thoughts on the record.
The Sixers are finally looking to take a step forward after three years at or near the bottom of the standings. But there’s an imbalance to all the young talent that Sam Hinkie accumulated before stepping down as general manager in April.
And now, with Joel Embiid finally ready to play more than two years after being drafted, there doesn’t seem to be enough playing for Embiid, Noel and Jahlil Okafor at the center position.
Noel could conceivably play power forward, but the Sixers were terrible (outscored by 20 points per 100 possessions) with Noel and Okafor on the floor together last season, and rookies Ben Simmons and Dario Saric need minutes as skilled four men.
New Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo has acknowledged that the Sixers can’t go on forever with all three of Embiid, Noel and Okafor. But in a recent podcast with Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Colangelo said that he’s not compelled to make a move right away.
Noel doesn’t want to be so patient, as he made clear to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey…
The 76ers center wants clarity about his future. He loves Philadelphia and his Sixers teammates. But after three years of watching his team tank, after years of wondering how he fits in, Noel said Sunday he needs for his current situation to change.
“I think it’s just silly . . . this situation that we are in now with three starting centers,” Noel said on the eve of the Sixers’ media day. “With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.”
Noel said he wasn’t speaking negatively about the team’s other starting-caliber centers, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. Nor was he speaking for them.
“Don’t get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court,” Noel said. “But at the end of the day, it’s like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn’t make any sense.”
However, he was adamant that his feeling would not affect his performance.
“I’m here to do my job and play as hard as I can play for the city of Philadelphia,” Noel said. “I’ve always love the fans from the jump. It’s probably one of the realest cities in the country with just genuine passion and love for the sport.”
HANG TIME, N.J. — In news that doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced Sunday night that center Nikola Pekovic will miss the entire 2016-17 season with “recurring right ankle pain.”
Pekovic averaged 16.9 points and 8.7 rebounds over the ’12-13 and ’13-14 seasons, but played just 12 games last season and has missed an average of 34 games per year through his first six seasons in the league. That average will increase to 41 games after this year. He has one more year on his contract after this one.
With Kevin Garnett‘s retirement and Pekovic’s health issues, the Wolves are down two big men. But they clearly planned for this scenario, signing both Jordan Hill and Cole Aldrich this summer. Reigning Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns leads the frontline that also includes Gorgui Dieng, Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne.
NEWS OF THE MORNING
Bosh won’t surrender | Davis feeling explosive | Shot changed Kyrie | Clips wanted K.G.
No. 1: Bosh says it’s not over — He may have flunked the training camp physical. The Heat may be doing everything they can to keep him at a distance. Friends may be whispering that it’s time to move on to a life after playing in the NBA. But veteran Chris Bosh says the latest “little setback” is only motivating him to keep moving forward in his quest to return to the court. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel has the story:
“That doesn’t stop me from wanting to share my creative side with you guys and hoping that you want to come along on the journey with me,” he said of his failed physical in his video post. “So, just because the journey has ups and downs doesn’t mean that I will stop sharing with you guys. So I will just continue to share, despite what’s going on.
“Little setbacks happen, but that doesn’t change my intentions and what I want accomplish. So, I hope you continue to watch. I hope you continue to really just take in my journey and just come along with me, with the ups and the downs. So it’s a down moment right now, but everything’s going to be all right.”
With that, Bosh went ahead with the online release of the second chapter of his documentary “Rebuilt” that is featured on the LeBron James-operated digital outlet Uninterrupted, a chapter titled “Renewal.”
Among the references in Bosh’s documentaries have been ones to former Florida Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann, who has pushed past similar issues with blood clotting to return to the NHL. On Friday, however, Fleischmann failed his physical amid a tryout with the Minnesota Wild, leaving his career in doubt, as well.
Bosh’s latest documentary installment was updated to include the statement, “On the eve of the 2016-17 season, the Miami Heat have not cleared Chris to play. It is Chris’ hope that he can return to playing basketball.”