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Morning shootaround — Jan. 14


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Jan. 13

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Dragic out at least 3 games, perhaps longer | Colangelo: Sixers could be better ‘sooner rather than later’ | Vitti wants to rest Kobe 1-2 weeks | Mavs’ Matthews miffed over rest day

No. 1: Dragic out three games (and perhaps longer) — Injuries haven’t made as much of a mess of the Miami Heat roster as it did a season ago. To date, the team’s most-used lineup of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside has logged a team-high 332 minutes together. Last season, that crew played didn’t play a single minute together. However, that continuity was disrupted last night as Dragic missed Miami’s game in Los Angeles against the Clippers. He was sent home from the team’s road trip due to a calf injury and things may be a little bleak in terms of his injury. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has more:

Amid a stretch when he had been playing his best ball of the season, guard Goran Dragic has been lost to the Miami Heat for at least three games and possibly longer.

Coach Erik Spoelstra announced after Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Santa Monica High School that his starting point guard was being sent back to South Florida due to a strained left calf sustained in Monday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

Spoelstra termed the injury “a slight calf strain” and added, “it’s not a tear.”

Dragic, however, said a doctor in Los Angeles termed it “a bad strain” and Dragic he is anxious for the results of an MRI scheduled for his Thursday return to Miami.

“We don’t know yet for sure,” Dragic said. “We’ll see when I’m going to have the MRI and we’re going to know a little bit more. We don’t know. We cannot do the timetable.”

“I mean, it’s a frustrating, of course,” he said. “I want to be here with the team. It’s part of the game. Now the only thing I can do is do my part of the job, and try to get healthy as fast as possible.”

“I don’t know which move it happened,” Dragic said. “It started hurting.”

Spoelstra said the team’s training staff has narrowed the injury down to Monday’s second half.

“We looked a couple of different plays that happened last game,” Spoelstra said, “but it could have been on either one of them in the second half, one of them where he slipped on the baseline, another one where he took off. But it started to tighten up during the game.”

Dragic said treatment began immediately.

“After the game we did some ice. We did tests,” he said. “And just said as soon as we got to L.A. we were going to go and see the doctor for the ultrasound and we did.”

Dragic said it is the first time in his career he has sustained this type of injury.

“We did some treatments with ultrasound and tried to get the swelling out,” he said.

Now the question becomes whether the comfort built with Dragic will be lost, with the Heat to utilize Tyler Johnson and Beno Udrih in the interim.

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No. 2: Colangelo: Sixers could be better ‘sooner rather than later’ — Two ideas — GM Sam Hinkie‘s notion of ‘The Process’ and hope in the future overall — have been the driving forces behind the Philadelphia 76ers seemingly endless rebuild strategy. At 4-36 this season, few would look to the current product and see a lot of either of Hinkie’s ideals in place. Yet new chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo sees a lot of hope in Philadelphia and is throwing out the idea that the Sixers may be good a lot sooner than people think. Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com has more:

Just over a month after being named chairman of basketball operations for the Sixers, Jerry Colangelo believes the team is on a faster track to success than some may think.

“[2016] is the year,” he said following practice Wednesday. “It’s a big year.”

One of the main elements in Colangelo’s outlook is the Sixers’ stockpile of draft picks. They have potentially four first-round selections this June. Colangelo credited president and general manager Sam Hinkie for compiling the picks over the years. These chips can be used to facilitate deals around the league. While the Sixers have used them in the past to select and keep first-rounders, they could package them to land more established players and fast-track their growth.

Another factor is the potential of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. The Sixers drafted both in 2014 and neither has played in an NBA game. Embiid is recovering from his second foot surgery while Saric is competing overseas. If they live up to their projected talent level, the Sixers’ roster would be boosted without the need to acquire outside players.

“The reality is, and I’ve come to understand this, that Sam has really done a great job of accumulating assets,” Colangelo said. “If you look at the trades, you look at the draft picks that’ve been accumulated, it’s all there in place. Now it’s a matter of when do you pull the trigger on using all those assets, or any of those assets. So as I look at the board, if you will, I see some things that could happen sooner rather than later.

“That’s because if somebody gets healthy, if the player from Europe comes in and is part of the rotation, and we will have a very high draft pick and then using some of those assets to do other things to consider, be it free agency, be it a trade, whatever, this thing could flip a lot sooner than people understand. So I think this is not a situation where, gee, when are we going to come out of this or when are we going to be able to compete? I think that could be sooner than later.”

If Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor are all healthy next season, though, that could mean the possibility of new trade avenues with a logjam at the five spot. That’s where the bevy of draft picks could come into play, as the team could potentially pair picks with a player for a larger deal.

“That’s a high-class problem, that’s the way I would look at that,” Colangelo said. “That would be a great problem to have and primarily because of Embiid. If he’s healthy, he’s a got a chance to be a real difference maker in my opinion. That’s the upside talent that’s there. Then you have to look at different pieces and how they complement one another and what you need, and you don’t get anything for nothing. If you want to go out and be active, you have to give up something.”

The Sixers have their own assets to offer, then it comes down to what other teams could swap in return. Colangelo believes if all the pieces match up and the Sixers find the right suitors, they could make deals to move the team in the right direction in a shorter span of time.

“There’s one way to go here and that’s up,” he said. “I’m very optimistic that if — you’ve got to be a little bit lucky too in terms of all the things I’m talking about. I use the expression, the stars have to be aligned and if we have a good alignment it could happen in ’16. So we could have a turnaround in one year that would surprise people. But the assets are in place to potentially make that happen.

“There’s no guarantee, but the thing you have to do is give people hope that, listen, this isn’t like … let’s look down the road five years and see where we are. No, I don’t see that at all. I see the opportunity here to get some big things done over the next year.”

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No. 3: Vitti wants Kobe to rest for 1-2 weeks; Scott thinks that is unlikely — To date, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has appeared in 32 of the team’s 40 games, putting him on pace to play his most games since the 2012-13 season (when he played in 78 games). Yet for all the forward progress health-wise Bryant has made on the court in his farewell season, he’s still missing games here and there to ensure he makes it to the end of this season. Given his druthers, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti would like to shut down Kobe for a few weeks to rest him. But as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports, coach Byron Scott doesn’t see that happening for a myriad of reasons.

There have been interesting developments regarding Kobe Bryant and the injury to his right Achilles’ tendon that forced him out of Tuesday night’s game late in the second quarter.

Lakers Coach Bryon Scott said after practice Wednesday that Bryant said he was “feeling better” and that Scott would list his small forward as questionable, probable and a game-time decision for Thursday night’s game at Golden State.

Then Scott raised some eyebrows when he said Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti wants to shut down Bryant for a week or two to let the injury heal, but Scott said Bryant would be against that idea.

Bryant didn’t practice Wednesday, but he got treatment and will fly with the team to Oakland for his final appearance against the Warriors in a Lakers uniform.

“I know him and I know he wants to play,” Scott said. “If that’s the case, I’ll wait until tomorrow to see how he feels. Then if he says, ‘Coach, I want to play,’ then we have to have another discussion on how long he can play, how many minutes. I’m just going to wait until tomorrow and see how he feels and go from there.”

Vitti “would love to shut him down,” Scott said of Bryant. “But that ain’t probably going to happen. He [Bryant] doesn’t want to shut it down.”

Bryant, who was getting a haircut in the media room Wednesday, was asked about Vitti wanting him to rest for a couple of weeks.

He smiled and just laughed and laughed and laughed before walking away.

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No. 4: Mavs veterans miffed over rest day vs. Thunder — The Dallas Mavericks have a solid core of players featuring Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons and stalwart Dirk Nowitzki. Aside from some of them being former All-Stars, the other thing the players share in common is they are seasoned veterans looking to go on a lengthy playoff run come April, May and June. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle chose to rest that foursome for last night’s game in Oklahoma City, which didn’t go over well with Matthews. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports, though, Carlisle isn’t particularly concerned with what his players think about rest days:

OK, so Rick Carlisle vs. Wesley Matthews didn’t really happen. But Matthews was definitely in a fighting mood when informed Wednesday morning that he wouldn’t be suiting up against Oklahoma City.

“I saw red,” Matthews said before watching the Mavs’ bench players get blown out 108-89. “I did a lot of cussing, but I don’t think it was at him. I think [assistant coach Jamahl] Mosley intercepted me before it got to that.”

Matthews, who earned the nickname “Iron Man” in Portland, wasn’t the only mad Maverick the morning after Dallas’ overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carlisle also made the call to rest three other starters – Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams — and none of them was exactly thrilled.

They shouldn’t have been surprised. Carlisle made a similar call a week ago, sitting all the starters except for Parsons in New Orleans the night after Dallas’ double-overtime win over the Sacramento Kings. The Mavs still managed to beat the Pelicans, but the Thunder represents a quantum leap up in competition.

Carlisle is as competitive as anyone, but it’s part of his job description to consider the grand scheme during the course of an 82-game regular season, especially with 18 games on the schedule this month for the Mavs, who are in the midst of playing five times in seven nights.

Carlisle consults with head athletic trainer Casey Smith, but it’s ultimately the coach’s call on which regulars will rest and when. Feedback from the players isn’t part of the decision-making process, to put it politely.

“Hell no. No,” Carlisle said. “I’ll say this about our guys: They always want to play. They really do. Wes Matthews, he’s difficult when it comes to this stuff. He and I have been close to a couple of fistfights, but hey, that’s all right. I like guys that are battlers, but we have a big picture to consider here.

“With this hectic stretch, I’m a moment-to-moment person, but you’ve got to look at larger compartments of time to be prudent with how to approach this.”

Carlisle figured that he’d give his starters a game off, whether they liked it or not, at some point during this five-game stretch. That was before the “red flag” of an overtime game, which resulted in Nowitzki playing 38 minutes and Matthews, Parsons and Williams all playing more than 40.

“If guys had played their normal minutes, the conversation may be way different,” Carlisle said.

In Pop-like fashion, Carlisle pulled the plug on those four in the morning — and center Zaza Pachulia was a late scratch due to a sore right Achilles — but the sitting starters didn’t get a day off. These aren’t really rest days as much as they are opportunities to get in strength and conditioning work that’s too strenuous to do on a typical game day.

That quartet went through an intense workout with Mavs athletic performance director Jeremy Holsopple in the Skirvin Hilton Hotel weight room. Williams and Matthews played a relatively intense two-on-two game against Mosley and assistant coach Darrell Armstrong before the game. Parsons and Nowitzki competed against each other in several pregame shooting contests.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The NBPA has reportedly filed a grievance filed to get Matt Barnes‘ two-game suspension without pay rescinded … Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers says the team shouldn’t look for Blake Griffin to be back ‘anytime soon’ … Speaking of the Clippers, a bout of pneumonia ended center DeAndre Jordan‘s run of consecutive games played at 360 last night … How the NCAA’s rule change regard player draft eligibility will affect the actual Draft, if at all … According to a report, the Chicago Bulls are gauging interest on trades for Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol

One Comment

  1. The 76ers are putting way too much stock on Embiid. The guy hasn’t played in 2 years and who knows what kind of playing form he will be in when he does actually return.


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