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Morning shootaround — Oct. 22


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 21

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Davis laments Pelicans’ injury woes | Carlisle hopes Mavs retire Chandler’s number | Walton planning on coaching opener | Porzingis likely to start opener

No. 1: Davis laments Pelicans’ injury woes — One of the first orders of business in the New Orleans Pelicans’ busy offseason was signing superstar Anthony Davis to a five-year, $145 million extension. From there, they re-signed several key players (Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Dante Cunningham) and added some new faces (Nate Robinson, Kendrick Perkins). There was also a new coach in place (Alvin Gentry), starting point guard Jrue Holiday was expected to be healthy for the season and overall, New Orleans had grand plans for 2015-16. Injuries, however, have made that vision a little less clear — especially after news yesterday that combo guard Tyreke Evans will be out 6-8 weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. Davis talked with ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace about the frustration of all these Pelicans injuries piling up:

New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis is concerned his team won’t be healthy and whole for several more months amid a slew of injuries that have already ravaged the roster as the season opener looms.

“It’s tough,” Davis told ESPN.com Wednesday. “Now with Tyreke going down, we won’t have our complete team until January sometime. … It’s tough because you’re coming in with high expectations, thinking everybody is healthy. And then, stuff happens.”

The injuries have been piling up around Davis almost from the moment the Pelicans opened training camp last month at a West Virginia resort. They’ve tempered some of the excitement and energy that surrounded the team under first-year coach Alvin Gentry, an assistant on the Warriors staff during their championship run last season who left to install his up-tempo playing style in New Orleans.

“That’s been the main thing that’s been a little bit frustrating,” Gentry said Wednesday. “I like our team. I think we have depth. We have not been able to put those guys out there together … there’s always somebody missing. We’ll just have to battle until we get the cavalry group back.”

Evans initially aggravated the knee just days into camp after colliding with a teammate. Since then, the Pelicans have lost starting center Omer Asik (calf strain), backup center Alexis Ajinca (hamstring), reserve guard Norris Cole (high ankle sprain) and forward Luke Babbitt (hamstring). Swingman Quincy Pondexter is reportedly out until November as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, and guard Jrue Holiday remains on a minutes restriction amid his comeback from a lower leg surgery.

Gentry does not believe the injuries are the result of players adjusting to his preferred playing style while pushing through camp. “In all honesty, it’s the easiest training camp I’ve ever run,” he said.

The shortage of healthy bodies has forced New Orleans to sign low-level free agents throughout camp, including the recent addition of veteran journeyman guard Nate Robinson.

“It’s basketball,” Davis said. “And we’ve just got to have guys step up and fill those shoes until everybody gets back. I’m going to try to adapt to whoever is on the floor.”

Davis is optimistic the team will come together strongly at some point. Until then, he accepts the added burden of keeping the Pelicans competitive through a tough stretch early in the regular season.

“Being the leader of the team, you’ve got to be able to pull guys in, whether [they’re] your starters or your role players,” Davis said. “You’ve got to be able to contribute some of the same things. And that’s what I’m trying to do, still be aggressive and find guys who can make plays and help us win.”


VIDEO: Anthony Davis put up 33 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in a loss to the Magic

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No. 2: Chandler reflects on leaving Dallas behind this summer — Center Tyson Chandler is entering his 15th NBA season and will be suiting up for his sixth team, the Phoenix Suns. Although he played just two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks — last season and the title-winning season of 2010-11 — he is one of the most beloved players in franchise history. His role in anchoring Dallas’ defense in that championship season is the stuff of Mavs lore. His departure in free agency in 2011 hurt fans deeply and his return last season did the opposite. But Chandler is once again gone from Dallas and opens up about why he and the team parted ways, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:

One thing is certain: Chandler knew early in free agency he was destined to be a former Maverick for the second time in five seasons. They also let him walk after the 2011 championship.

The Mavericks’ recruitment of DeAndre Jordan cemented Chandler’s feeling.

“I didn’t feel like I needed to play second fiddle to anybody,” Chandler said. Wednesday before the Suns-Mavericks game. “I felt like I didn’t deserve that. I felt like I’d accomplished a lot in this league and I wasn’t going to play second fiddle to anybody.”

Chandler said he was caught by surprise with the way the Mavericks played their cards in free agency. But he understands as well as anybody that it is a business and owners can make the decisions they want.

What hurt was the fact that he didn’t get a chance to build on what he’d started in Dallas.

“When all of it was happening, quite honestly, it wasn’t about the money or the offer or anything like that,” he said. “The part I was frustrated with is the legacy I wanted to leave here with this city and organization. At the time, I felt like I was robbed of that. That’s what hurt the most. It took awhile to get over that, to be quite honest.”

Chandler still is a beloved Maverick.

Coach Rick Carlisle said he would never hold that against the best center in franchise history. In fact, Carlisle is an advocate of retiring Chandler’s number some day, even though he only played for the Mavericks in two one-year stints.

“Tyson is one of the most special people I’ve met in my 33 years in this profession,” Carlisle said Wednesday morning after the Mavericks’ shootaround. “He knows how I feel about him and he has every right to feel the way he feels. He truly is one of the all-time great Mavericks, there’s just no doubt about it. And this past summer was the byproduct of the high-stakes things you go through in this league, the risks you take. We attempted to get the team significantly younger. It didn’t work out and he decided to leave, so that was certainly his prerogative.

“We have nothing but the utmost respect for him. It’s my hope – and this of course is not my decision – that one day he will get consideration to have his number retired here. I think he deserves that consideration.”

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No. 3: Walton planning on coaching Warriors’ opener — There have been some signs of progress for Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr as he recovers from offseason back surgery. But he has yet to coach a game in the preseason, leaving those duties to assistant coach Luke Walton. That seems more than likely what will happen come Tuesday when the Warriors host the New Orleans Pelicans (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) to open the season. Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News has more:

Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said Wednesday he was “absolutely” preparing as if he will be the head coach Tuesday for the Warriors’ regular-season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.

As part of his preparation, Walton said he went over the NBA’s timeout rules with Steve Kerr on their way to Tuesday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Hopefully Stevie’s back before then, but you can’t wait until the game time to start preparing,” Walton said. “We as a staff especially this last week will really start prepping as if this is the staff we have going into Game 1. That way at least if that is the case, we’ll be ready for it.”

Kerr did not attend the Warriors’ practice at UCLA in preparation for their preseason finale against the Los Angeles Lakers in Anaheim on Thursday, a game Kobe Bryant is doubtful to play in because of a bruised lower left leg.

There remains no timetable as to when Kerr will return from his leave of absence while he recovers from two offseason back surgeries and deals with headaches.

“He’s not ready to coach yet, which is kind of I think going to be the answer until one day he is ready,” Walton said. “Like I don’t think it’s going to be a gradual thing.”

Walton said he is getting familiar with managing minutes and lineups on the court. And then there are rules on timeouts, such as knowing a 20-second timeout can’t be carried over to the second half.

“As a player, you don’t know that stuff. The coach calls the timeouts. Little things like that I’ll get ready for before Tuesday,” Walton said.


VIDEO: Golden State is pretty psyched for its season opener

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No. 4: Fisher indicates Porzingis will start opener — New York Knicks rookie (and No. 4 overall pick from the 2015 Draft) Kristaps Porzingis has maintained from the outset he is out to disprove doubters about his skills. He won’t have to wait long to do so, apparently, as word is trickling out from New York that coach Derek Fisher will more than likely start Porzingis in the season-opener. Ian Bagley of ESPNNewYork.com has more:

Porzingis will start alongside Jose Calderon, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez in the Knicks’ preseason finale against Boston on Thursday.

Barring something unforeseen at this point, Fisher would like to use that lineup in the Knicks’ season-opening game next Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Overall health should allow us tomorrow to play in a way that would be consistent with how we’ll start the season in terms of rotation,” Fisher said after Wednesday’s practice.

The 7-3 forward has averaged 7.3 points on 34 percent shooting in three games. He’s knocked down 43 percent of his 3-point attempts and grabbed 5.3 rebounds per game.

Porzingis missed several practices and two games due to a knee injury, but the 20-year-old said Wednesday that the injury was no longer an issue.

“I’m getting some work done in the weight room, just working on those things so I can avoid those little injuries,” he said. “I’m totally fine, totally healthy.”

Fisher likes the size of the starting front line of Anthony, Porzingis and Lopez, whom the Knicks signed to a four-year, $54 million deal in the offseason.

“I think the defense has to respect each of those guys for who they are and what they can do on the floor,” Fisher said of the starting five. “Potentially, it’s a group of guys that can be at the end of a game as well. I think it’s really important for us to find five guys that are comfortable with end game situations.”


VIDEO: Kristaps Porzingis talks about starting the preseason finale

 

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Did the Cleveland Cavaliers pay too much to get Tristan Thompson back in the fold? … More than ever, Indiana Pacers star Paul George is ready to lead the team … ICYMI, here’s the latest Hang Time podcast … One man’s list of the top 10 centers in the NBA today … Minnesota Timberwolves have picked up the options on Adrien Payne, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng … Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had some fun last night in unveiling the team’s alternate unis

ICYMI of the Night: Tobias Harris is someone the Magic hope can do it all for them this season, but he doesn’t need to take that notion so literally …


VIDEO: Tobias Harris helps mop up a spot on the Amway Center court

3 Comments

  1. Harriethehawk says:

    The starting lineup for the New York Knickerbonkers is, well, pathetic. LOL

  2. Erwin says:

    If AD remains healthy, he will challenge bron for the MVP

    • Stan says:

      I don’t even think LeBron will be in the running, he’s just going to coast until playoffs again. Need a shorter pre-season and season and longer playoffs imo. That’s when the real basketball starts.


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