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Stephen Curry could miss next 2 games

Stephen Curry could miss both games of the Warriors’ trip to Texas because of a leg injury, interim coach Luke Walton said Tuesday, another potential health issue for the team off to the best start in league history.

The specifics of the problem with the lower left leg are not known. Walton said, according to the Bay Area News Group, that Curry seemed to be bothered by an injury similar to the calf strain the MVP sustained in his right leg last week.

The Warriors (29-1) have listed Curry as questionable for Wednesday at Dallas, before the trip concludes Thursday at Houston.

“There’s a chance that he won’t play in one or both,” Walton said. “That’s probably going to be a game-time decision or at least determined on how he’s feeling tomorrow.

“He hasn’t said anything except for he wants to play. Even (Monday) in the game when I saw him in the game limping, and I tried to take him out, he gave the wave-off and said that it was fine.”

Curry played 30 minutes, en route to a triple-double, Monday against the Kings in Oakland.

Also, Harrison Barnes, believed to be close to returning to the Golden State lineup after missing the last 13 games because of a sprained left ankle, did not make the trip. Andrew Bogut had previously been sidelined six games by a concussion.

Reports: Sinking Suns fire two assistant coaches

By NBA.com Staff

According to several reports, the struggling Phoenix Suns have fired assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting, and league sources say head coach Jeff Hornacek’s job may also be in jeopardy.

Wojnarowski says the dismissals were opposed by Hornacek, according to league sources, but he has decided to stay on the job.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Suns are promoting longtime NBA guard Earl Watson and former NBA D-League head coach Nate Bjorkgren to the bench to work closer to Hornacek.

The Suns have lost 10 of their last 15 games, including an embarrassing 111-104 defeat by the 2-30 Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

 

 

 

 

Pistons fulfilled, Bulls foiled, all fatigued after 4OT thriller


VIDEO: Andre Drummond leads the way in the Pistons’ 4OT win over the Bulls

CHICAGO – Andre Drummond was so tired by the end of four overtime periods, he needed to rest up just to answer a question.

Asked about his fatigue after his Detroit Pistons outlasted the Chicago Bulls, 147-144, in quadruple overtime, Drummond paused, smiled and after several seconds said, “I don’t even know, man. I’m more happy than tired right now. But I’m sure when I get on the plane, you probably won’t hear a word out of me.”

The Pistons earned some airborne naps by winning only the 13th four-overtime game in NBA history. It was the second ever for Chicago, dating back to March 1984 – a couple months before the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. For the Pistons, it was their first – and they’ve been league members since 1948-49.

The game ended in a veritable scoring explosion, both sides apparently too tired to play much defense. Detroit won the final five minutes 20-17, those 37 points coming close to the 44 the Pistons and Bulls scored in the first three OT periods combined.

Through rubbery legs and disqualified players (Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson and Drummond fouled out for Detroit), the two teams’ offensive strategies devolved to the most basic tactics, Piston coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Fred [Hoiberg, Bulls head coach] and I didn’t exactly set the world on fire with offensive creativity in the overtimes,” Van Gundy said. “It was [Derrick] Rose or [Jimmy] Butler running pick-and-rolls, and Reggie Jackson running pick-and-rolls. We didn’t trick anybody, they didn’t trick anybody.”

In the fourth overtime, Jackson took six of the Pistons’ 10 shots. Butler launched seven of Chicago’s 10. The starters on both sides logged outrageous minutes, but neither coach was going to risk subbing in backups who had gone long cold.

Despite all that final-session scoring, it was two misses by Pau Gasol at the start that enabled Detroit to grab a margin it leveraged to the victory. Chicago hung tough, but when Jackson drove around Anthony Tolliver‘s screen to shed Rose and then blew by Gasol, his layup again had the Pistons up by six, 145-139, with 54.9 seconds left.

Butler’s desperate 3-pointer cut the deficit to one point and the Bulls sent Jackson to the line for two free throws with 4.4 seconds left. But Butler’s next attempt from nearly the same spot hit the right crotch of the rim.

“When he took the shot, my heart stopped,” Drummond said.

It was pretty much the only thing about Detroit’s bruising center that did. Drummond posted crazy numbers – 33 points, 21 rebounds in 54:12 minutes, the Pistons’ first 30/20 game since Dennis Rodman 25 years ago – but his most impressive might have been the 24 minutes or so he played in the fourth quarter and overtimes with five fouls. He collected 17 points and eight boards while controlling his aggressiveness to avoid fouling out until just 1:07 remained.

“For him to find a way to stay in the game,” Jackson said, “and to stay engaged – not to just be a body out there – to still challenge shots and be vocal out there and give us second changes on offense, grabbing rebounds, that was phenomenal to see.”

Said Drummond: “First of all, my guards did a really good job of stopping the ball and not allowing them to try to attack me. When they did come toward me, I just did a good job of trying to be vertical.”

Jackson finished with 31 points and 13 assists to just two turnovers. In fact, Detroit amassed only 11 in 68 minutes of basketball, including just two in the extra 20 minutes. The flip side for the Pistons were the 19 free throws they missed – they wound up 29 of 46 and already had bricked 14 (20 of 34) through four quarters, when they might have won in regulation.

Butler finished with 43 points. Rose had 34 on 14-of-34 shooting. Gasol scored 30 with 15 rebounds and Taj Gibson doubled up with 14 and 12. Johnson, the Detroit rookie, scored nine of his 16 after the third quarter.

It was a wildly entertaining game, though not everyone saw it that way.

“Maybe for you guys. I think for Fred and I it was excruciating,” Van Gundy said. “It was an epic game. You don’t play too many four-overtime ones. I’ve never been in one. It was incredible. It’s only fun if you’re on our end of it at the end. It’s excruciating if you’re on their end of it and it’s excruciating while you’re going through it. Fun was not part of it for me.”

For the record, Jackson confirmed afterward that the always-vocal Van Gundy did not lose his voice through 68 minutes. “Sometimes you hope he does,” the point guard said with a laugh.

Detroit now gets a little seam in its schedule, nicely timed after a run of 17 games in 29 days. For Chicago, it was a postgame flight to New York to face the Knicks on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. And the loss of more time, flying from Central time to Eastern. Managing minutes and a ground-down rotation will be on Hoiberg and his staff.

Meanwhile, for so many who stuck it out at United Center Friday night, the end result wound up a lot like this:

Gasol talks of chemistry, relationship, respect and success with Kobe


VIDEO: The Starters discuss their favorite moments from Kobe’s career

CHICAGO – Plaudits have rolled in from most precincts in the NBA, rivals and friends celebrating and reminiscing about Lakers great Kobe Bryant as if he’s not going to still be around for another five months. But Pau Gasol shared a special bond with Bryant. The pair teamed for two NBA titles and three trips to the Finals in their time together in Los Angeles, yet mixed at times like oil and water given their very different demeanors.

That’s why Gasol’s thoughts on Bryant’s announcement that this season would be his last were of extra interest to fans of Bryant, the Lakers and the league.

“He’s got that alpha-personality character,” Gasol said Monday evening before his Chicago Bulls team faced San Antonio at United Center. “You just have to understand where he’s coming from and work with that the best you can. Don’t try to bump heads with him. That’s not going to work out really well.

“So I understood. And my personality fit in perfectly with his and the team at the time. I never searched for the spotlight. I wasn’t trying to step on anybody’s toes. I was just trying to do whatever it took to win championships and help the team. And we did it great. I think we developed great chemistry, a great relationship and great respect.”

Gasol said he wasn’t given any heads-up from Bryant prior to his announcement Sunday via the Players Tribune Web site. But like a lot of insiders, putting 2 + 2 together – Bryant’s declining skills and the Lakers’ losing ways – wasn’t exactly calculus.

“I had a feeling this was probably going to be his last season,” Gasol said. “I was just hoping he would just have a healthy season, where he could enjoy himself in a situation where, team-wise, it’s a franchise that’s rebuilding with a lot of young talent. They’re probably not going to win a lot of games, so I just want him to have as much fun as possible in his last year.”

#ThankYouKobe

A photo posted by Pau (@paugasol) on

The team at the other end of the hallway Monday night, the Spurs, has more than its share of Bryant-vintage players, including Tim Duncan (39), Manu Ginobili (38), Matt Bonner and David West (35 each) and Tony Parker and Boris Diaw (33 each).

Ginobili’s thought upon hearing Bryant’s news? ” ‘I’m next?’ It’s coming,” the Spurs wing player said. “Of course it happened with Steve [Nash] last year, when he announced it. It surprised me [with Bryant] because it’s so early in the season. I guess he’s going through a tough time, so that’s what made him call it now.”

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich initially didn’t have much to say about the approaching departure of a prime nemesis. “All my Kobe memories are when he beat us somehow or other,” Popovich said. “They’re not very fun.”

But then Popovich’s appreciation for Kobe as competitor kicked in. “Beyond his ability, he’s one of those guys who brought it every night,” he said. “He wanted to destroy the opponent every night. Just a fierce competitor for all those years, night after night after night. Most players don’t know what that is, and he did it.”

Sixers’ Okafor calls nightclub incident ‘dumb, embarrassing’

Jahlil Okafor, the Philadelphia 76ers rookie involved in a fight outside a Boston nightclub early Thursday, termed his behavior “dumb” and “embarrassing” Friday. It’s bad enough when Okafor’s 0-16 team confines those adjectives to its exploits on a basketball court, but much worse when they spill over into real life.

The incident in question produced a video that was acquired and published by TMZ.com. Okafor is seen shouting at several people and shoving one man to the ground. Moments later, he punches possibly the same man and knocks him down. The No. 3 pick in last June’s Draft can be heard in the video shouting, “We got money, you broke-ass [racial slur].”

Okafor, 19, addressed the incident from Houston, where he and the 76ers were scheduled to face the Rockets Friday. No police report was filed because the parties involved had left the scene before law enforcement arrived. Keith Pompey of Philly.com reported:

The incident started because he and teammate Christian Wood, who was present, were being heckled by Boston fans over the Sixers struggles.

“It was definitely dumb on my part,” Okafor said Friday of the incident.  “It’s something that I am embarrassed about. [I am] still dealing with the league and the team. But I’m not happy about it at all. But we are still going through the process of what we are going to do.”

Okafor said he told Sixers coach Brett Brown about the altercation Thursday afternoon when he was boarding the plane to Houston.

The fight took place outside Storyville Nightclub, which is located in Southwest Boston. It occurred hours after the Sixers lost 84-80 to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The altercation began after someone outside the nightclub yelled at Okafor, “The 76ers suck.” The third overall pick out of Duke admitted that the losing is starting to get to him a little bit.

“We are all staying together, working extremely hard,” he said. “We are coming in every day at shootaround, and we keep coming up a little shot. We get close.

“So it does get a little frustrating to hear it all the time that we are 0-and-whatever. So it’s definitely frustrating.”

Blogtable: What are you thankful for at this point in 2015-16?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Slowing the Warriors? | On Budenholzer’s fine … | What you’re thankful for this season



VIDEORookie Kristaps Porzingis has given Knicks fans something to be thankful for

> One month into the season, what are you seeing in the NBA that you’re most thankful for?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com I’m thankful that Charles Barkley still laughs loudest and longest at his own expense when his studio mates (and the rest of us) poke fun at him. I’m thankful that – in a league that can admirably come together for the likes of Lamar Odom and Flip Saunders – there still are guys like Draymond Green, Matt Barnes and Jimmy Butler who bring the “we don’t like them, they don’t like us” attitude that keeps game night from becoming one big ice-cream social. Mostly I’m thankful for current labor peace and the possibility that NBA commish Adam Silver and union chief Michele Roberts might nail down the next CBA in 2017 without games-lost rancor. Nothing would look sillier than two sides, used to divvying up a Large pizza, sharing an XXL and still fighting over the last piece.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comDo you mean beside the Blogmaster? It’s easy to say I’m thankful for any night that I can turn on my TV and see the beauty, joy and sheer fun of the Warriors. On an individual basis, I’m thankful that we’re getting a chance to see Paul George pick up his career right where he left off prior to breaking his leg. He might be having the best season of his NBA career and that possibility had some serious doubt when crumbled to the floor in Las Vegas.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com For long memories, so we can remember the previous Kobe Bryant, the old 76ers and the one and only Flip Saunders, the best memory of all. For the memories the established Warriors and the mostly un-established Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis are creating. For Gregg Popovich’s long-term commitment to stick around the Spurs and USA Basketball. For still having Lamar Odom.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Personally? That LeBron James keeps avoiding injury, that Kevin Durant is back on the floor after a brief brush with the trainer’s table and Steph Curry’s ankle issues are far behind him. The game is only as healthy as its stars, and one month into the season, these three are upright. Also, the next generation is off to a decent start with Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Kristaps Porzingis, et al.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Paul George playing the best basketball of his life. Given what he’s been through, it doesn’t get any better than that. And holy cow, is he killing it.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Obviously, the Warriors make tuning into their games a Christmas present every night. But I’m most thankful for the bountiful rookie class. From the big cats, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor, to the surprising Kristaps Porzingis, Justise Winslow and Stanley Johnson and, really, all over the place, these youngsters have impressed. That’s always a good sign, when the rookie crop comes in and has multiple players making an immediate impact wherever they are. It strengthens the overall talent base of the league and provides some fresh faces and storylines for us to focus on.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: For the competition and its ongoing unpredictability. Every season the NBA race becomes more wide open. The Warriors, as good as they are, will be facing many obstacles and threats over the next seven months.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogI live in New York City, and for the last 15 years I’ve had to watch as the Knicks continually attempted to rebuild on the fly, constantly sacrificing their future to get incrementally better in the moment. Which didn’t work, and it didn’t feel like the turn around really started until Phil Jackson stripped the thing down to its bones and hung onto a lottery pick and drafted young Kristaps Porzingis. Now the “Porzilla” has stormed Gotham, and Knicks fans finally have what looks like a young superstar who can be a long-term pillar of the franchise. For once, it’s sorta nice not to have a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Morning shootaround — Oct. 31


VIDEO: Top plays from Friday’s action

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Joakim Noah said he never asked to come off the bench | Brook Lopez is strictly a post player but an all-around person | Billy Donovan finds the right fit in OKC | A Q and A with Gordon Hayward

No. 1: Joakim Noah said he never asked to come off the bench — The Bulls are looking a bit different under new coach Fred Hoiberg than they did under Tom Thibodeau. Specifically, Joakim Noah isn’t starting. As the Bulls try something new, there was a bit of a mixup. Did Hoiberg tell Noah to be a sixth man, or did Noah volunteer? The center set the record straight, when asked if he took himself out of the starting lineup: “No.” Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago has further details:

The topic has been hovering around the Bulls since training camp, as Hoiberg explored all his options and ultimately decided to insert second-year big man Nikola Mirotic into the starting lineup on opening night instead of Noah. The story line came back to light on Thursday when a Hoiberg Q-and-A with Grantland’s Zach Lowe was posted. In the exchange, Hoiberg said Noah was the one who started the conversation about coming off the bench this season.

“Jo actually came to me and talked to me about that,” Hoiberg told Lowe. “He said, basically, ‘I’ve always played well with Taj [Gibson].’ He said he thought Niko and Pau played very well together, so let’s go that route. It was actually Jo that started the whole conversation. He came to me. That says a lot about him.”

Before the Bulls’ 98-94 overtime loss at Detroit on Friday, Hoiberg said he didn’t feel a need to clear the air with Noah.

“Did he specifically say I want to come off the bench? No. Nobody wants to come off the bench, but it’s the decision that we came up with,” Hoiberg said. “He’s been great. He’s been as enthusiastic as anybody over there on the bench when he’s not in the game, and he’s always going to bring it when he’s on the floor, so no, things are fine.”

For his part, Noah has never seemed outwardly angry about what’s going on and doesn’t want to rock the boat as a team leader.

He has struggled in his first two games off the bench to find his rhythm, though, failing to register a point. Noah does have 15 rebounds and six assists in his first two games and appears to be feeling good after struggling with the effects of offseason left knee surgery a year ago.

“I just want to do what’s best for the team,” Noah said. “I think we’re 2-0 right now. We still have a lot of room for improvement. What I said doesn’t matter. I think right now we’re doing what’s best for the team, and we just got to keep building off that.”

***

No. 2: Brook Lopez is an all-around person — The Renaissance man of New York works in Brooklyn and stands over seven feet tall. They don’t come more educated or diverse than Brook Lopez, the Nets’ center who might be one of the bright spots for the rebuilding team this season. The former All-Star opened up recently about his upbringing, his twin brother Robin (who plays across town with the Knicks) and his passion for many things. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York was there to write it all down:

He reads. He writes. He sketches. He loves Batman comic books, Disney movies and Michael Jackson’s music.

He already has pitched an animated television pilot, politicked to play a Wookiee in a future Star Wars picture and hopes to pen an action-adventure novel someday.

Oh, and you likely didn’t know, Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez is also learning to play the piano and speak Japanese.

Yes, Japanese.

“I always go to Japan in the offseason, so I’m trying to get better at it,” Lopez told ESPN.com recently, noting that he’s also working on learning “the Kanji,” Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese writing system.

“I know some words. I’m getting there.”

Basically, if Lopez isn’t the most fascinating man in the NBA, he’s certainly up there. His best competition might be his own 7-foot twin brother Robin, who now plays for the rival New York Knicks.

Brook Lopez made up his mind pretty early on — he was going to follow in his mother’s footsteps.

“I can remember in second grade coming back from school and telling my mom, ‘You know what, before I play in the NBA, I want to go to Stanford,'” Lopez said. “Because of her, I had everything figured out.”

To her comic book aficionado sons, Deborah Ledford might as well have been Wonder Woman, raising the four of them — Alex, Chris, Brook and Robin — as a single mother on a high school mathematics teacher’s salary.

“She sacrificed so much for us,” Brook said. “She’d always be driving Alex and Chris around, getting them to basketball practice, and then she’d go pick them up and get Robin and me to wherever we needed to be. She was constantly chaffeuring us around. And then she’d get groceries for us and come back with bags upon bags upon bags, just loads and loads, and they’d last for like…two days.”

At 6-feet, Ledford had flirted with swimming in the 1968 Olympics before not making the squad and eventually attending Stanford herself.

“Our mom used to read to us every night,” said Chris, who has lived with Brook in New Jersey ever since he was selected by the Nets with the No. 10 overall pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA draft.

“And she just went through a plethora of children’s books and stories, so that was instilled in us from an early age.”

The Lopez’s maternal grandmother, Inky Ledford, had a massive library of children’s books at her Fresno, California, home — and the boys were frequent visitors.

***

No. 3: Billy Donovan finds the right fit in OKC — Well, here we are, one week into the NBA season and Billy Donovan hasn’t changed his mind and gone back to the University of Florida. That’s what happened years ago when he took the Orlando Magic job and then called it quits just, oh, 10 seconds later. Anyway, you can hardly blame Donovan for waiting until the right gig opened up. And when you have the chance to coach Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in their primes, that qualifies as the right gig. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has more:

 He was hired to lead an even stronger NBA club — the Oklahoma City Thunder. This time, he’ll coach three players with All-Star Game credentials: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.

“This opportunity came across that was very unique in my opinion,” he said. “If it didn’t, I’d still be at Florida.”

Donovan, who won back-to-back national championships at UF, said other NBA teams had reached out in the ensuing years. Reportedly, Cleveland (pre-LeBron’s return), Minnesota and Detroit were among the suitors.

He insists that there was no grand plan to leave the Gators for the pros.

“I’ve always believed you wake up and where you are that day, you do the best job you can,” he said. “Then if opportunities open up, they open up. It wasn’t anything about having a plan.”

The OKC job surprisingly opened after Scott Brooks was fired with another year on his contract.

Donovan was lucky because a lot of terrific college coaches – from Rick Pitino to John Calipari – usually are stuck with bad teams.

“The one thing for me..I knew it was a good team, but you have to feel good about it. Happiness inside a job has to do with the people you work with everyday,” Donovan said.

Especially if those people are named Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka.

Donovan’s no dummy. He’s also aware of the pressure coaching the contending Thunder, particularly since Durant can become a free agent this summer.

Durant says he “enjoys” being around Donovan, who seems to be adjusting well to life as an NBA coach.

“I’m working equally as hard or harder as I was in college,” he said. “It’s just things are a little bit different.”

***

No. 4: Gordon Hayward opens up with Q and A — The Utah Jazz are off to a decent start, which includes a blowout victory in Philadelphia, and one of the intriguing players is Gordon Hayward, naturally. After having his big contract matched by the Jazz two summers ago, Hayward was a borderline All-Star last season and hopes to take the next step this season. He discussed that and more when he sat for a quick interview with Scoop Jackson of ESPN:

Scoop: How big of an adjustment can it be to inherit that “No. 1 option” role for a franchise?

Hayward: It’s just a learning curve, honestly. I think it’s one of those things where, you know, if you play one way probably the first three years in the league and then you are asked it do something different. It’s just a role change, something you have to get adjusted to. You know, defenses are now keying on you and playing things differently to where you are at all of the time. That’s a huge step and something, like I said, that I was able to kind of learn and do for two years.

Scoop: Have you ever walked into an opponent’s locker room before a game and seen your name at the top of the white board just to see their defensive strategies they have planned for you?

Hayward: I have not [laughing]. I’ve never seen that. Or a scouting report on me or on our team.

Scoop: You have to sneak and do that. It’s one of those “No. 1 option” things.

Hayward: I should definitely do that.

Scoop: Do the media and other players underestimate you?

Hayward: I don’t think they do anymore. I think they probably did when I first came in the league — 100 percent did. But this is my sixth year, and I think they definitely respect me as a player now.

Scoop: I’ve heard you referred to you as “the Jazz’s version of LeBron James” in that you do everything for the team. When you hear that, how does it make you feel?

Hayward: It’s definitely pretty humbling to think that someone would say that, but I think it’s just something where I just try to be an all-around player and try to do a lot for the team. And yeah, I think LeBron’s a guy that obviously does that for his team no matter which team he’s on, and he’s probably one of the best ever to do that. So, but for me, if I’m not scoring I need to be assisting or making plays for other people or rebounding or just doing whatever I can to get guys in position where they can be successful.

Scoop: Do you think of yourself in that vein? In that, you “have to be LeBron” for this franchise?

Hayward: I think so. I think that it is a lot of responsibility but something that they have trusted me with and I definitely have to be active and have to affect all parts of the game in order for us to be a successful team. I’ve never been a guy that’s going to go out and just affect one part of the game. I think that I’ve always been somebody that tries to affect multiple parts of the game, and I think we have a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things, so it’s not just me. We’re a versatile team. I’m excited about where we can go.

Scoop: Utah went 19-10 after the All-Star break while holding opponents to a league-low 94.8 points per 100 possessions. Was that just a good two months or was that indicative of what this team had become?

Hayward: Yeah, I think that’s definitely our identity and definitely what’s going to have to be our identity moving forward if we want to be successful, especially in the West. Defense is something that can go with us wherever we are at. We are going to have times when people’s shots are off and we’re just not feeling it offensively, but if we continue to play defense like we did at the end of the year — something that I think we are very capable of doing — we can always stay in games and give ourselves a chance.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Jodie Meeks will be out for a while in DetroitSteph Curry is about to be immortalized in wax … The Suns were “equipped” to show their respect for Steve Nash, whose jersey has been retired … There was a Mother Nature problem in San Antonio so Tony Parker had an excuse to miss practice.

Report: LeBron expected to play in the Cavaliers’ season opener


VIDEO: James talks with media following Friday’s practice

Cavaliers coach David Blatt already has said he absolutely expects LeBron James to play in the Cavaliers’ opening game Tuesday in Chicago (8 p.m. ET on TNT). No one else in the Cavs camp has said anything to contradict that. And James, according to reports noting his skipped practices after his recent anti-inflammatory injection to his back, has sounded no alarms either.

But sports media being what it is these days, maybe the “anonymous sources” stuff carries more weight. So with that in mind, here’s a report from Yahoo! Sports affirming what most everyone has believed anyway:

LeBron James is expected to play in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ regular-season opener next week despite his recent back problems, a league source told Yahoo Sports on Saturday. James received an anti-inflammatory injection in his back on Oct. 13 and has played in only two preseason games. James, however, has been working out daily and his back is improving, the source said.

James and the Cavaliers open the regular season on Tuesday on the road against the Chicago Bulls. James, 30, received a similar anti-inflammatory shot last season because of back pain and a strained left knee. He recently said he would be open to receiving another shot in his back if necessary.

James is entering his 13th NBA season and has averaged 39.1 minutes over 911 career regular-season games.

Pelicans’ wings clipped again with Evans sidelined 6-8 weeks

The hits just keep on coming to the New Orleans Pelicans. And even if it’s not franchise guy Anthony Davis suffering the physical damage, it’s naïve to think that Davis’ psyche and development might not sag a bit with so many fallen teammates.

After the Pelicans announced Wednesday that guard Tyreke Evans would be sidelined for an estimated six to eight weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Davis and the remaining New Orleans players still standing had to deal with yet another setback.

Already in the preseason, centers Omer Asik (calf) and Alexis Ajinca (hamstring) have missed time, as have guard Norris Cole (ankle) and forward Luke Babbitt (hamstring). Reserve Quincy Pondexter still is recovering from offseason knee surgery, while point guard Jrue Holiday is playing on a minutes restriction that could linger deep into the regular season.

Now it’s Evans, the latest bit of bad news. Davis, a likely candidate for Most Valuable Player this season, sounded rightfully glum, as reported by ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace:

“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 Pelicans enter the season looking to build on Davis’ first trip to the playoffs last spring. New Orleans is widely projected to again contend for one of the final spots in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Davis, who finished fifth in MVP voting last season at age 22, was voted in a poll of NBA general managers entering this season as the player they would chose first to build a franchise around.

But the Pelicans are already struggling to maintain a healthy supporting cast for Davis, who signed a five-year, $145 million extension in July to remain the franchise cornerstone. 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.”

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.

And now, probably, the gimpiest.

For Evans, this most recent knee surgery is his second since May and third dating back to the 2014 offseason. The versatile 6-foot-6 wing player averaged 16.6 points and a career-best 6.6 assists last season, and had even greater value revealed by more advanced metrics:

John Reid, beat writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, shared on social media some background on Evans’ resiliency. Meanwhile, the player himself went glass-half-full for Pelicans fans.

Blogtable: Carmelo a Knick for life?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Paul George the PF? | Do you believe Carmelo? | Is it time to deal D-Rose?



VIDEOCarmelo Anthony chats during training camp

> Carmelo Anthony says if things don’t work out in New York, he wouldn’t ask for a trade. Do you believe him? Where would you trade Carmelo if he and the Knicks can’t get on track?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Believe him? Today yes, tomorrow not so much. Four more years is an eternity, especially for an aging drama king who is out of sync with New York’s current rebuilding initiative. His and the Knicks’ arrows are trending in opposite directions and, at some point, it isn’t going to be pretty. If I needed to trade Anthony, I’d labor mightily to make it Brooklyn, where it wouldn’t disrupt his lifestyle and all the other ancillary stuff that was so important to him when he re-signed. Or Philadelphia, just because.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Actually, I think I do believe him. Anthony has demonstrated that he’s mainly interested in being the big Broadway star with his name getting top billing on on the marquee while taking most of the shots. He can only do that by remaining in New York. Ka-ching!

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comOf course he should be believed! How dare you suggest people ever say something for public consumption and something different behind closed doors. The fair answer is that I believe him at the moment. There is no way for anyone — including Melo — to know what he will be feeling in a year. So much can change. Maybe the team is still losing. Maybe the team is going in a positive direction but with Anthony in a supporting role he does not want. But I believe he wants things to work out in New York. It’s where he wanted to be, twice.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: He won’t ask for a trade perhaps because Mrs. Melo doesn’t want to live anywhere else, and neither does Carmelo. There are too many external factors (endorsements, visibility, social ramifications) at stake. He wants his identity tied to NYC and if he didn’t, he would’ve signed with the Bulls a few summers ago. From the Knicks standpoint, regarding a trade, I’d never elevate a player above the team. If shipping him makes sense, I’d ship him.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Believe him? Yes and no. He fought hard to get to New York and probably wants to give it as much time as he can possibly stand. Still, it’s hard to imagine the Knicks being a very good team anytime soon and Anthony could certainly change his mind in time. If he were to be traded, I’d guess that Chicago and L.A. (Lakers) are the most likely destinations, because his no-trade clause gives him the right to choose exactly where he’d go. Dark-horse pick: The Wizards if they miss out on Kevin Durant next summer.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Careful Carmelo. Your words now, when the season is still young enough that the Knicks can dream a little dream about being a playoff contender, could come back to haunt you if things go awry again this season. It doesn’t matter whether I believe him or not, because if things get ugly Carmelo won’t have to ask for a trade. The pressure will be on all sides to do something, either with Carmelo or someone else. As far as trading him, I can think of a team on the other side of the country that could be in desperate need of a player with Melo’s abilities. But I can’t imagine who or what the Lakers would have that the Knicks would want in a trade …

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comI believe the future is unpredictable. Who knows how the Knicks will develop cover the next couple of years? I also believe that Anthony went through a trade demand once before, in Denver, and it was not a happy year for him, so he would probably like to avoid the same predicament as he approaches the back end of his career. Bottom line is that I just don’t see the Knicks trading Anthony – if they did, their next move would be to find another star of his caliber, and good luck there. They know the supply is scarce.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogWell, he can’t ask for a trade without getting fined, right? At least not publicly? Carmelo may never actually “ask” for a trade, but I suppose he could strongly suggest the Knicks move him, or just straight-up privately ask for a trade. Anyway, this is just semantics. He clearly could see what was on the horizon when he re-signed with the Knicks, so to suggest now that he’s unhappy or surprised by the direction of the team would seem disingenuous. It’s like a time-share presentation: He knew what he was getting into when he signed up. And there’s no easy way out of it now. Go see a show in midtown, have a nice dinner downtown, ride your bike along the West Side … New York is a pretty great pace to live, regardless of how good the Knicks are.