NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Deron Williams to miss next 3 games — A sprained right ankle kept All-Star guard Deron Williams out of the Nets’ preseason opener, a win against the Wizards, and it appears he’s planning to miss more games to heal up. Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com has more on Williams, his injury and what’s next:
Williams said he will not play against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday and the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
Williams could make his preseason debut Oct. 17 against the Miami Heat. The Nets open the regular season on Oct. 30 in Cleveland.
“[My ankle’s] getting better everyday,” Williams said after signing autographs at a Nets community event in Brooklyn. “(We’re) taking it slow, but with the goal of being ready for Game 1 [of the regular season].”
Williams hurt his ankle during an offseason workout in Utah.
Nets coach Jason Kidd said Thursday that Williams is only doing some light shooting. Kidd did not have a timetable as far as when his point guard would return to full-contact practice.
No. 2: Griffin suffers bone bruise on left knee — Breathe easy, Clippers fans. Any concerns about the injury star forward Blake Griffin suffered during practice are alleviated as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports:
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin suffered a bone bruise on his left knee during the team’s scrimmage at USC on Wednesday and was held out of practice Thursday.
An MRI on Grffin’s knee showed no structural damage, and coach Doc Rivers said there’s no timetable for his return.
“It’s nothing bad,” Rivers said. “But he tweaked it.”
Griffin was injured on the final play of the scrimmage when he attempted a dunk over Lou Amundson. Griffin did not speak to reporters afterward but will be appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Thursday along with teammates Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.
No. 3: Bargnani makes return to Toronto tonight — As the top pick of the 2006-07 Draft, Andrea Bargnani never seemed to live up to the expectations the Raptors had for him during his career there. Things for Bargnani went into a tailspin as injuries limited him to just 35 games, he saw his scoring average plummet from 19.5 ppg in 2012-13 to 12.7 ppg and was routinely booed when he did suit up for Toronto. Tonight, he makes his return to Canada as a member of the Knicks and those around the Raptors don’t expect him to get a warm greeting, writes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:
Andrea Bargnani was back in Toronto Thursday, and while Raptors coach Dwane Casey wasn’t there to greet him, he had a suggestion for the new Knick forward.
“He should probably put on ear plugs,” Casey joked with reporters, anticipating plenty of Toronto boo birds at Friday’s game.
“They can boo (Bargnani) all they want to now,” Casey said. “Fans are going to do what they’re going to do.”
The Italian forward’s tenure in Toronto ended badly, as his scoring fell from a career-high 21.4 points per game in 2010-11 to 12.7 per in just 35 appearances last season due to an elbow injury.
“All I’ve got to say about Toronto is that it was a good seven years, I was lucky to play there and that’s really it,” Bargnani said after netting 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting in 19 minutes in the Knicks’ preseason opener Wednesday against the Celtics in Providence. “I don’t want to really talk about fans, what happened and frustration.
“I think it’s an opportunity (with the Knicks) to play on a great team, that’s what it is. It’s not a fresh start. It’s a new team, it’s a great team. And I’m in a good position. I like to be able to play with this team.”
No. 4: Williams embracing new life with Blazers — Roughly a month after the summer’s free agency period began this summer, former Jazz guard Mo Williams was still on the market, waiting for a team. Eventually, he came to terms with the Trail Blazers on a two-year deal and since then, Williams says he’s glad he made the choice to head to Oregon. In an interview with CSNNW.com’s Chris Haynes, Williams is enjoying everything just about being in Portland:
“This organization is great,” Williams told CSNNW.com. “There’s a comfort level I have with [general manager] Neil [Olshey] and [head coach] Terry [Stotts]. I played for both of those guys. If you’ve been around the league for as long as I have, you eventually want to play for an organization that’s committed to winning and where you’re happy with the situation. This is where I want to be.”
Portland has never been a hotbed for free agents. A number of obstacles continue to hamper that. But with Olshey at the helm, who has deep-rooted relationships with high-profile agents and players, gives Portland a fighting chance to lure in such talent.
That was the case with Williams, 30, who holds a player option for the 2014-15 season. It’s quite early to be talking about next year, nevertheless Williams is proactively thinking next year and beyond…in Portland.
“They say the grass is not always greener on the other side, but it’s green here,” Williams said. “So why leave?
“I’m very happy with where I am. And to be honestly with you, you’re the first person I’m telling this to, I like it here so much, I can see myself here for a long time. Hopefully that can work out.”
Williams’ wife, Keisha, and their five boys have found the Pacific Northwest “appealing” and “pleasurable,” making the transition to a different city and team that much easier for Williams.
“They love it,” Williams said. “The wife loves it and that’s a plus. If they didn’t like it, they would have to deal with it, but it helps when they love it. They don’t just like it, they love it.”
In what wasn’t the most pleasant experience last season, Williams, to his credit, has nothing but fond memories of his time in Utah and is looking towards the future.
“Utah is one of the best organizations in the league,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s the best, because I haven’t played in San Antonio or Miami, and I think those two franchises are up there, also. From top to bottom, Utah’s organization is first class. It was sad for me to leave, it was sad that they went in another direction as far as the youth, but I understand that aspect of it and I don’t have any bad feelings.
“Right now, my focus is helping the Blazers win ball games because this is a great organization, too. We got the talent to be special. The front office and coaching staff is great. It’s going to depend on health and chemistry. But I think we’ll be fine.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Pau Gasol is hoping he can stick with Lakers after this season … Eric Gordon will begin full-scale practices next week … Magic to honor Tracy McGrady this season … JaVale McGee‘s positive attitude is paying benefits already
ICYMI of the night: The Heat keep shaking the rust off as the preseason wears on, and this pretty LeBron James dish to Chris Bosh shows that Miami is perhaps finding its form …