NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: George’s status still uncertain for Game 3 — All the Pacers can do now is watch and see how Paul George fares. Indiana’s All-Star swingman suffered a concussion late in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat and on Thursday, he practiced with the team (albeit in a non-contact, red jersey). Some on the team are encouraged by the progress they’ve seen from George, but as Mark Montieth of Pacers.com reports, Indiana might not know of George’s status until hours before Saturday’s Game 3:
The questions related to Paul George far outnumbered the answers on Thursday.
The status of the Pacers’ All-Star forward remains uncertain for Game 3 of the Pacers’ Eastern Conference finals playoff series with Miami on Saturday, but most of the signs are positive. George participated in the non-contact portions of Thursday’s practice, wearing a red jersey like a quarterback in a football practice who isn’t to be hit. He finished with a reverse dunk after shooting around.
George is in the process of going through the NBA-mandated concussion protocol, and his status might not be determined until Saturday.
While coach Frank Vogel said he had “no clue” if George would play against the Heat, teammate George Hill – a veteran of the protocol – was encouraged.
“I think he’s reacting really well to everything, so we just hope the best for him,” Hill said.
George now must pass a series of six tests and participate in a complete practice before he is permitted to play on Saturday. Hill, who missed Game 5 of the Pacers’ semifinal series against New York last season after being elbowed in the head by Knicks’ center Tyson Chandler, has said he “barely, barely” passed the test, and was fatigued in Game 6 because of the strenuous requirements.
Hill said he had to pass a computer test to check his mental acuity, then six individual exertion and agility drills – each lasting 30 minutes – before being allowed to practice with the team. Those included running, bicycling and treadmill. He had to practice for one hour, non-stop, with the team to complete the test.
Vogel said he is preparing for Saturday’s game with and without George. He did not reveal who would start if George can not play, and used “hodgepodge” lineups in Thursday’s practice.
“We’ve got great depth,” Vogel said. “I think we got guys that can fill in and not play at Paul’s level, but we have to adjust. Teams have to adjust to injuries all the time and I’m sure we would do that.”
Backup point guard C.J. Watson, who was among those working with the starters, said he doesn’t expect to be part of the starting lineup if George does not play. He believes Vogel would go with a taller lineup.
No. 2: KG likely to return to Nets? — The Nets’ season ended a few weeks ago with a Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Since then, Brooklyn has learned that its star point guard, Deron Williams, will have surgery on both of his ankles and that one of their top players, Paul Pierce, is weighing whether or not to play another season or two in the league. What about Pierce’s longtime running mate in Boston and Brooklyn, Kevin Garnett? According to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, it seems likely that KG will play at least one more season:
Garnett declined to talk to reporters both after the Nets’ final loss of the season to the Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and during the locker room cleanout the following afternoon.
Still, all indications have been — despite the drop in production this season — Garnett will be back in Brooklyn for what would be the 20th season of his stellar NBA career. The fact is $12 million is an awful lot of money – no matter how much you’ve made in the past – and after playing much, much better over the final few months of the season, it would be easy to see Garnett agreeing to rejoin Pierce for one final season in Brooklyn before riding off into the sunset next summer.
The bigger question is what role Garnett would play on next season’s squad. This season proved Garnett has outlived the ability to effectively play power forward in the NBA. Having had so much success after switching to a smallball lineup, the Nets are left with a decision to make about how to deploy Garnett – assuming he does come back.
No. 3: Report: Cavs meet with UF coach Donovan — In case you forgot/didn’t know, back in the summer of 2007, University of Florida coach Billy Donovan agreed to a five-year, $27.5 million deal to coach the Orlando Magic … and then, a few days later, backed out of it to stay at UF. Nearly seven years later, is Donovan ready to make a jump to the NBA? According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, the Cleveland Cavaliers have met Donovan to talk about their opening:
Donovan said Thursday that several NBA teams had called him about openings in recent days but that he still plans to be with the Gators next season.
He declined to specify which teams called – Detroit, Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota, New York and Utah also have openings — and jokingly cited his brief stint with the NBA’s Orlando Magic in 2007 as reason for keeping details private.
“I have spoken to a couple NBA teams, and that’s all I’m going to say,” Donovan said. “It’s always flattering, but at the same time, I’ve always said that I’m very happy here and like it here.”
The Cavs, who have been buoyed after winning the draft lottery this week, have been focusing their search on big-name college candidates in the wake of firing Mike Brown. In addition to Donovan, they have tested the interest of Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, sources said. The Cavs also inquired about UConn’s Kevin Ollie before he signed a long-term extension to stay with the Huskies.
The team also has researched several former NBA coaches who are currently available, including Lionel Hollins and George Karl, sources said. The Cavs also reached out to the Los Angeles Clippers seeking permission to interview assistant coach Alvin Gentry, a source told The Associated Press.
No. 4: Noel will make debut in Summer League, feels fine — The Sixers suffered through a rough 2013-14 season, but they had some bright points in it, the foremost being the emergence of Rookie of the Year winner Michael Carter-Williams. Philly was hoping to see some of its other prized 2013 Draft pick, Nerlens Noel, last season, but that never came to pass. Noel has been rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered while playing at Kentucky. Noel never suited up for the Sixers last season, but he is gearing up to make his NBA debut during Summer League, reports ESPN.com and the Philadelphia Inquirer:
As Philadelphia 76ers fans set their sights on the two lottery picks the team has for the 2014 NBA draft, it’s a lottery pick from the past that is also providing some excitement.
Nerlens Noel confirmed to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman on Thursday that he will take part in the Orlando Summer League.
Earlier Thursday, Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie told radio station WIP that he expects Noel to make his NBA debut there.
He was taken with the sixth overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA draft, then shipped to the 76ers in exchange for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: No NBA gig for Kevin Ollie after he inked a new contract with the UConn Huskies … The Nuggets’ president says coach Brian Shaw isn’t going anywhere — least of all to New York … Trading Kevin Love might end up being a great thing for the Timberwolves, actually …