NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Pelicans’ Davis medically cleared for start of season — The New Orleans Pelicans haven’t seen their do-everything superstar, Anthony Davis, on the court for them since late March. That’s when Davis was shut down for the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder and tendinosis in his left knee. But things are looking up for the Pelicans and Davis, as he recently took part in the team’s offseason workout in Los Angeles and has now been medically cleared for the start of 2016-17. John Reid of The Times-Picayune has more:
Anthony Davis is expected to be medically cleared to start the season with no restrictions, New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said at a season-ticket event for fans at the team’s practice facility on Wednesday night.
Davis underwent a surgical procedure in March to fix a tendinopathy and a stress reaction problem in his left knee cap. Davis also suffered a torn labrum last season, but he did not require surgery on his left shoulder.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said on the Pelicans’ in-house podcast show last week that Davis is still a little banged up but he’ll be able to play pickup games and do everything in training camp and then will be ready at 100 percent when the Pelicans open the regular season on Oct. 26 against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center.
Davis spent nearly the entire offseason in Los Angeles going through rehab work to prepare for the season. He also participated in volunteer workouts with his teammates in Los Angeles.
Demps also told fans that small forward Quincy Pondexter participated in his first ‘full go’ workout on Wednesday and they are excited to get him back in the fold with training camp opening on Sept. 24.
‘I think with Quincy he’s getting close and I think we’re airing on the side of caution and not jumping the gun at all,” Gentry said on the Pelicans’ in-house podcast.”I think he will probably be healthy and ready to go for us.”
Guard-forward Tyreke Evans will not be available for the start of the upcoming season because he is not fully recovered after undergoing three surgeries on his right knee in a nine-month span. The Pelicans say Evans is still rehabbing to strengthen his surgically repaired knee.
No. 2: Kerr expecting ‘growing pains’ on defense for Warriors — The addition of Kevin Durant has Golden State Warriors dreaming of even more incredible scoring performances from their squad come 2016-17. To land Durant, though, the Warriors had to part ways with a couple of key defensive cogs — particularly Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli — to free up salary cap space. Golden State’s coaches are expecting Durant to deliver on defense this season but overall, they know there will be an adjustment period defensively for the team. Coach Steve Kerr talked about that and more with CSNBayArea.com’s Monte Poole:
The euphoria felt by Warriors fans with the signing of Kevin Durant was accompanied by at least a modicum of anxiety. Yes, adding Durant is an epic move. But, but . . . what about . . .
What about the bench?
Warriors coach Steve Kerr shares some of this trepidation – but only with a specific area, as centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli are gone. Zaza Pachulia was signed to help fill this considerable void.
“The thing that’s different will be a lack of rim protection,” Kerr told CSNBayArea.com. “We had great rim protection from Bogut and Ezeli, and both those guys are gone. Zaza’s a very good defender, but he’s more of a positional guy than a shot blocker.
“So there’s definitely adjustments we’ll have to make, even schematically. We’ll have some growing pains, especially on defense, as we try to make sure we get everything right and comfortable.”
The previous bench crew, also known as The Dubstitutes, were led by Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and often found ways to maintain leads and sometimes even grow them. They got offensive punch from sweet-shooting big man Marreese Speights, who led the reserves in scoring, and quicksilver guard Leandro Barbosa, who was capable of supplying a flurry of buckets in a short span of time.
Speights and Barbosa are gone. So is Ezeli, the big man who was second among reserve scorers. That trio combined for an average of 20.5 points per game last season, numbers that dropped to 15.2 with shortened minutes in the playoffs.
When the Warriors open training camp later this month, Kerr and his assistants will be tasked with finding new combinations.
“The three main guys off the bench are Iguodala, Livingston and (newly acquired forward) David West; that’s pretty good,” Kerr said. “There’s no doubt we’ll miss LB’s speed. We’ll miss Mo’s shooting. We’ll miss Festus’ rim protection. No doubt we’ll miss all of that.
“But we’ve replaced those guys with some pretty good players.”
The key men behind Iguodala, Livingston and West, for now, are Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo, Kevon Looney and rookie wing Patrick McCaw.
“We like Patrick McCaw quite a bit; I think he can help right away,” Kerr said of the 6-foot-6 guard-forward selected after the Warriors bought their way into the second round of the draft in June.
“This will be a much different training camp than it was a year ago, when we had virtually the entire team back. We were just picking up where we left off. Now we have to really implement some new things and we’re going to have to help half the roster get acclimated to the way we play and our style and culture every day.”
No. 3: Reinsdorf opens up on Rose trade, state of team — Tonight, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2016. Reinsdorf oversaw a dynasty for the Bulls in the 1990s and is trying to get his team back to that championship peak. In the offseason, the Bulls traded away franchise icon Derrick Rose, let fan-favorite center Joakim Noah walk in free agency and signed free agents Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. In an interview with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Reinsdorf shares his thoughts on the team’s 2015-16 season and the season ahead:
Reinsdorf can downplay his Hall of Fame honor all he wants. But his competitiveness couldn’t hide.
“It bothered me a lot,” Reinsdorf said of last season. “Normally, two games above .500 gets you into the playoffs. But we lost a lot of games to some bad teams. That’s what was frustrating.”
And that’s one reason why Reinsdorf, who turned 80 in February, is so excited for Wade’s arrival and this season.
“I thought sure he’d go back to Miami,” Reinsdorf said of Wade. “But it’s great. It’s a tremendous addition, not only as a player but to our culture. Right off the bat, he wanted to know what he could do in the community. He has his own plans. So does Rajon. These guys are going to be a real plus.
“Despite the fact some (media) seem to think we got older, we have a pretty young team. So the older players are going to be great mentors for our seven guys with three years or less of service.
Reinsdorf said he’s confident Wade, Rondo and Jimmy Butler will find chemistry on and off the court.
“Those three guys are all high character guys and they all want it to work out,” he said. “They’ll get along with (coach Fred Hoiberg) and each other. Each guy knows what the other two guys are like. And they want to be there.”
Reinsdorf’s imminent induction stems from the dynasty-era Bulls that won six titles in the ’90s and comes on the heels of another memorable era in franchise history ending. The Bulls traded Derrick Rose to the Knicks in June and then lost Joakim Noah in free agency, two franchise stalwarts.
“It’s disappointing because I had high hopes for the last group. I thought they could contend for titles, maybe win one or more but certainly contend,” Reinsdorf said. “All those injuries to Derrick, it just didn’t work out. But it’s not easy to win championships. Doug Collins always used to say, ‘It’s not solitaire. People are trying to beat you.'”
Reinsdorf, who enjoyed a close relationship with Noah, said the Bulls will miss his on-court leadership and community service but expressed happiness he got paid the $72 million Knicks President Phil Jackson gave him. He admitted the Bulls didn’t know if Rose’s trade would be “the first step of a rebuild” or whether executives John Paxson and Gar Forman would engineer other moves to remain competitive.
“What we felt was it was time,” Reinsdorf said of Rose’s trade. “We felt Joakim wasn’t going to be a frontline guy anymore. I was pretty confident that Pau (Gasol) was going to leave. So it was important for us to get the center in (Robin) Lopez. It was time for Derrick to go on and play someplace else and try to establish himself. Gar and Pax were high on the Grant kid (Jerian). We thought that was the necessary first step no matter how we were going to go.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Great piece from Derek Fisher on what it was like teaming up with Shaquille O’Neal in the Los Angeles Lakers’ heyday … ICYMI, the Minnesota Timberwolves have no idea if Kevin Garnett will play in 2016-17 or not … Veteran forward Charlie Villanueva may end up playing in China next season … Dirk Nowitzki had a little fun with his ESPN scouting report …