NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Nash planning to play tonight vs. Wizards — We informed you in this space yesterday that what seemed like a foregone conclusion — Steve Nash‘s season being over — might soon be be completely reversed. That is no less true today as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that Nash should suit up and play tonight for the Lakers’ home game against the Washington Wizards:
After five weeks on the sidelines, Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash is planning a return to the lineup on Friday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Lakers, left with only one healthy point guard, are planning to use Nash as a backup to Kendall Marshall against the Washington Wizards at Staples Center.
Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, participated in a full practice session with the Lakers on Thursday.
After recently ruling out Nash’s return, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni changed course on Wednesday and suggested Nash could return over the final 15 games of the regular season.
D’Antoni informed reporters that guard Nick Young and forward Jordan Hill would return from injuries on Friday, too. The Lakers lost point guard Jordan Farmar to an injury this week.
Nash, 40, has suffered from nerve damage in his back and hamstring injuries this season. Nash, who hasn’t played a game since Feb. 11, has averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 assists in 10 games.
No. 2: Redick, Crawford back at Clippers practice — You’re not that far off in thinking it seems like the Los Angeles Clippers have been dealing with injuries to their backcourt practically all season long. Point guard Chris Paul missed several weeks with a shoulder injury, J.J. Redick has been in and out of the lineup with various maladies and Jamal Crawford (calf) has been the most recent casualty of late. But things are looking up for the Clips, perhaps, at just the right time as Redick and Crawford practiced with the team yesterday, writes Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:
Doc Rivers and his coaching staff had a plan for the Clippers’ practices on Thursday and Friday. They were coming off two days of rest, a rare gift from NBA schedule-makers.
Then, for the best possible reasons, Rivers tore up those plans.
J.J. Redick (back) and Jamal Crawford (calf) were cleared to practice, and with the team still trying incorporate new acquisitions Glen Davis and Danny Granger, Rivers thought better of trying to use the time to add new things.
“There are just too many guys coming back now,” Rivers said before Thursday’s practice. “As a staff, we basically scratched all the stuff that we were going to do. There are too many guys coming back, and we’ve just got to get them back playing basketball.”
Redick hasn’t played since Feb. 3 because of a bulging disk in his lower back. He ramped up his individual workouts in recent weeks in hopes of returning this season.
There’s still no date targeted for when he’ll play in a game again.
Crawford first strained his left calf Feb. 26. He tried to return March 8, but he admitted that was too soon.
After working on strengthening the muscle, Crawford went through an individual workout Wednesday and came through it with confidence.
He said the plan is for him to play Saturday against the Pistons.
“Rhythm, wind and stamina will come back at some point. I just want to make sure I don’t hurt the calf and feel confident.” Crawford said. “I can get in shape fast and get my wind back, but the peace of mind that nothing will happen if I do a certain move or change a certain direction, that’s more important.”
Darren Collison, who missed the last two games with a stomach virus, also returned to practice.
Thursday was the first time this season Rivers was able to hold a full practice with the current roster.
No. 3: Kings’ White ready to make his NBA debut — Royce White, the 16th pick of the 2012 Draft, has experienced a long and winding road in and out of the NBA since that night. White, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, never played in an NBA game with the Houston Rockets (the team that drafted him). He was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason and while he played in the preseason, he was cut before the opener of the 2013-14 season. The Sacramento Kings signed White to a 10-day contract on March 6 and to a second 10-day deal last week. He’s spent time with the Kings’ NBA D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, and was called up to the team and could play in an actual NBA game tonight against the San Antonio Spurs, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee:
Players signing 10-day contracts usually isn’t big news.
But most players who sign 10-day contracts aren’t fewer than two years removed from being a first-round draft pick and have never played in an NBA regular-season game.
White, 22, was selected by Houston with the 16th pick in the 2012 draft. White, however, never played a game for the Rockets. White and Houston never agreed on the best way to deal with his mental-health concerns. White has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, which leaves him susceptible to panic attacks and having a fear of flying.
White said those issues are not a problem with the Kings after his experience with Houston, which eventually traded White to Philadelphia. The 76ers waived him before the the start of this season.
“I think (the issues) kind of resolved themselves over time,” White said Thursday after his first practice with the Kings. “Just me being in the league for a year and a half and having things be on the table with the league and the union and discussing it put this organization in a better position to handle things. It’s been so good we haven’t even had a discussion about anything. That’s exciting.”
The Kings went into the first 10-day contract with a plan of how to bring White along, beginning with a four-game stint in the D-League. He spent last weekend working out in Sacramento before signing his second 10-day deal. White said the process of joining the Kings has gone well, and that it began with a workout in late February.
“It happened really quick, but we still did it in a way that was really thought out,” White said. “We took a number of things into account. (General manager Pete D’Alessandro) has been great and understanding with me, where I’m coming from, where I want to go and how that fits into the Kings’ organization and being real flexible with me, and I really appreciate that.”
After White’s first practice with the Kings, coach Michael Malone said he was impressed with his strength, passing and basketball IQ.
Malone said White would be treated like every other player on the roster. When asked if there were any concerns, the coach said, “Not at all.” Malone said if White doesn’t play tonight, he would against Milwaukee on Sunday.
“This whole process between Royce and the Sacramento Kings is about him as a basketball player,” Malone said. “He did everything that we asked him to do up in Reno. He’s been tremendous while he’s been in Sacramento. No problems at all. No worries from our standpoint as a coaching staff. We’re going to expect him to do what everybody else is expected to do. Show up on time, work hard, pay attention, be disciplined and buy in to what we’re trying to do. He appears to be ready, willing and able to do that.”
Regarding rumors and stories that have been written about White and the issues that have delayed his pro career, White said: “Read what you want. There’s nothing I can really say in a sentence. There’s a lot of things I want people to know.”
No. 4: Kerr: NBA teams interested in Cyclones’ Hoiberg — Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has a pretty extensive NBA resume, boasting 10 seasons as a player in the league plus a season as the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. At ISU, he’s led the Cyclones to three NCAA tournament appearances in his four seasons in Ames, Iowa, and, according to TNT analyst Steve Kerr, Hoiberg has a future as an NBA coach. Randy Peterson of The Des Moines Register has more:
Fred Hoiberg’s future as an NBA coach rests with him — and him only — says a former NBA player and executive.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people in the NBA. The minute he says he’s interested, he’ll have some offers,” said Steve Kerr, part of the television crew calling this weekend’s NCAA Tournament for TNT.
Hoiberg has acknowledged that he had head coaching inquiries from NBA franchises that he would not identify. He said he hasn’t let it extend beyond the inquiry stage.
“Nothing got to the point where there was an offer,” Hoiberg, 41, said when his contract was re-worked last summer.
If Hoiberg accepts a head coaching or general manager position in the NBA before his contract expires, he owes Iowa State $500,000. His buyout increases to $2 million if he accepts another Division I head coaching position.
In other words, if he’s ever going to leave Ames, it’d make most sense to go to the NBA.
Hoiberg has an 88-46 record in his fourth season as the coach.
Hoiberg has ties to Minnesota, as a player and front-office administrator for the NBA’s Timberwolves. His family, however, is in Ames.
“It’s been great for me to be home,” Hoiberg told reporters at last season’s NCAA Tournament. “I grew up five blocks from Hilton Coliseum, used to walk to games. I was a ball boy as a kid. I was a ball boy for the football team, and I’ve just always had such a great passion for Cyclone athletics.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Sponsor logos on NBA jerseys are looking more and more like an inevitability … It seems a lot of folks are getting upset over Drew Gooden‘s recent in-game shoulder shrug … Surprising Bucks rookie Nate Wolters was injured in last night’s game vs. Golden State … Kings big man Carl Landry had successful arthroscopic surgery on his knee … Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has high praise for backup big man Robert Sacre … Remember Mickael Pietrus? He plans to make an NBA comeback next season
ICYMI(s) of the Night: Houston was without Dwight Howard last night, so fellow big men Omer Asik and Terrence Jones did their best impression of him in terms of guarding the paint …