HANG TIME, Texas — You certainly can’t blame Byron Scott for keeping one eye on the future.
After all, it’s now less than two years until LeBron James can pull back on that Cavaliers jersey and run the floor on a fast break in the same lineup with Kyrie Irving.
Yes, yes, we know it’s just rank and scurrilous speculation (the best kind) that The King would return to the Cleveland throne he abdicated. But we’re more concerned right now anyway with Irving, the 20-year-old wunderkind and his own future.
After Irving mentioned the other night that the only way his sore right knee could get better was to sit out the rest of the season, the coach caused a stir by saying he’s open to the possibility.
“If Ky is hurting, I have no problem sitting him down,” Scott said.
But team sources told ESPN.com there was a miscommunication between Irving and Scott. The team will continue to monitor Irving’s knee and he’ll continue to get treatment on it, but there are no plans of sitting him down for this injury.
Irving is expected to play against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
The 20-year-old Irving played almost 38 minutes against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, and didn’t seem to be slowed by the knee, which he banged against teammate Omri Casspi’s knee in a practice two weeks ago.
That being said, one does have to wonder if the Cavs wouldn’t be wisest to at least consider putting the 2012 Rookie of the Year on the shelf. They’re a 21-40 team going into tonight’s game against the Grizzlies and going nowhere except back to the draft lottery.
It is understood that virtually everyone in the NBA is playing at this time of the year with bumps and bruises, aches and pains. It is also admirable that Irving wants to be out there on the court every night battling with his teammates, further establishing his credentials as a leader down the line.
But there are times when the head must rule over the heart and competitive instincts and it is a hyperextension of the knee, that most critical body part for any player. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf still shudders at memories of the time back in 1986 when Michael Jordan talked his way back onto the court prematurely after a broken foot. Nothing happened, but it could have. And you can be sure it’s rolling around inside Reinsdorf’s head now about Derrick Rose.
Contrast that with one of the best decisions that Gregg Popovich has made in his illustrious coaching career. After Tim Duncan tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee in the 78th game of the 1999-2000 regular season, he was still champing at the bit to go in the playoffs. The Spurs were defending champs, a 53-win team. They had a chance to go back-to-back. Duncan was running up and down the floor every day at practice, trying to prove that he was capable and ready.
Yet Popovich shut him down and the Spurs were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the Suns. Then, of course, they came back to win three more titles in ‘03, ‘05 and ‘07.
Don’t simply conclude that Scott might have been overreacting. It’s what you do with a franchise player, think long term.
And remember, you’d want Kyrie in tip-top shape when LeBron comes back in two years.
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: Two games on the schedule, but only one of ‘em was a real must-see, making Thunder vs. Knicks our pick this morning. Kevin Durant put in work on basketball’s biggest stage, rolling up 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Russell Westbrook had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists as OKC took a thriller at MSG. Great work put in, too, by the Knicks’ J.R. Smith as he scored a career-best 36 in the losing effort.
Green taking command of bench unit — The transition Jeff Green has faced since coming to Boston in a 2011 deal hasn’t been easy on him or the team. Green had to acclimate himself to a new system in the span of a few months. Then, in the 2011 offseason, Green was diagnosed with an aortic aneurism that wiped out the 2011-12 season. Green then re-signed with the Celtics last summer for four-years and $36 million contract, but he struggled to find a groove in Boston. At last, though, Green is thriving as the leader of Boston’s reserve corps and is loving his role to boot, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:
“The past couple of weeks I just think I was more consistent,” he said. “That’s what (Rivers) sees. But he’s grown to trust my abilities, and allowed me to make mistakes. That being said, we can both see now how I can help this team out. He’s found where he can put me on the floor. He’s feeling more comfortable about it.“I’m just playing basketball,” said Green. “I have a training camp under my belt. I came here first in a trade and I wasn’t familiar with the schemes, nothing. It affected how I guarded at first, but it helped when I was able to have a training camp. It’s a long season, and things are just coming around.”
Green has taken over leadership of the second unit, and is usually on the floor at the end of games. That perpetual pressure Green imposes on himself is paying its highest dividend yet.
“I don’t see it any more than anyone else,” Ainge said of Green’s inner wrangles. “Jeff has opened up. He’s a communicative guy. The Jeff we’re seeing now is a Jeff who is more confident. He knows where he fits in, and as a result of confidence and rhythm you get more aggressive. Doc has been real good for Jeff in that way. He pushes him. His teammates also push him that way.”
Garnett has told him not to be so nice, in language that typically can’t be used here. They’ve all told him to be more selfish. But Green has the critiques covered.
That never-ending gravity was apparent the night of Feb. 20 in a tweet by @unclejeffgreen: “Damn altitude killed me today, tough (loss) but got another one tomorrow.”
Green came off the bench with 15 points that night during a loss to the Lakers in the Staples Center. He also had seven rebounds, four assists and a block. He may have been minus-11, but rare was the Celtic with something to crow about that night.
So Green sent out a modern mea culpa. He tweeted.
Lin returns to where it all really began — When ‘Linsanity’ burst onto the scene last season, most casual fans thought of Jeremy Lin as a solely New York Knicks kind of story. But a deeper look into Lin’s career reveals that his NBA journey actually began in Golden State. It was there that Lin, as an undrafted rookie, played 29 games in the 2010-11 season before being cut by the Warriors. After an appearance in the Houston Rockets’ training camp (where he was cut again), Lin landed in New York , went on his miracle run and parlayed that into a big payday with the Rockets last summer. As Houston plays Golden State tonight, though, Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury-News looks back on Lin’s NBA beginning:
A little more than a year after the birth of “Linsanity,” point guard Jeremy Lin returns to where it almost didn’t begin.
He was buried on the Warriors’ bench for 29 forgettable games two seasons ago. It was during that stretch when an elderly man with a special place in basketball history sat down and wrote him a fan letter.
“I figured he could use a little bit of encouragement,” recalled Wat Misaka, now 89 and living in Salt Lake City. “So I sent him a note that said: ‘Hang in there. It’s sure to get better.’ “
Things got better all right. Lin, now with the Houston Rockets, returns to Oracle Arena on Friday as an internationally known sensation playing on a three-year, $25 million contract.
A documentary that traces his unlikely rise to fame with the New York Knicks opened to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The 88-minute film, “Linsanity,” makes its San Francisco debut next Thursday at the Center for Asian American Media Festival.
Lin’s global fame means the world to Misaka, who in 1947 became the first non-Caucasian to play professional basketball in the U.S. The Japanese-American was a 5-foot-7, 150-pound point guard for the Knicks, even if his career only lasted three games.
The two finally met face to face in January, one night after the documentary about Lin’s journey from Palo Alto High to Harvard University and from D-League scrub to Knicks phenomenon was greeted by a standing ovation at Sundance. The Los Angeles Times called the documentary an “uber-inspirational tale.”
Misaka was scheduled to attend the Sundance screening but a blizzard disrupted the plan. Instead, he attended the Rockets’ game against the Utah Jazz a night later.
His reaction to finally meeting Lin?
“He was big,” Misaka said of the 6-3, 200 pound guard. “Especially since I’ve shrunk four inches since my playing days.”
The tone of modern media coverage for “Linsanity” could be similarly jarring, as San Francisco-born director Evan Jackson Leong discovered in making his well-received documentary.
Fortunately for him, he had access to Lin long before the cameras began to swarm. Leong began pestering Lin for permission to make a film while the point guard was still at Harvard.
Lin finally consented while with the Warriors, figuring the worst-case scenario would be having some cool footage of his basketball career to look back on later.
“We started it before I had ever gone to New York. That was the coolest part of it. We have the whole journey,” Lin told ESPN.com at the Sundance screening. “We have me being cut, me getting waived, me going to the D-League — the moments when I basically had to be dragged in front of the camera to be filmed, even though I didn’t really want to. Looking back, it was one of the best things ever.”
Leong laughs now when he recalls that he and his producers considered wrapping the project after Lin’s stay with the Warriors.
“We knew we had this great story of this kid who made the NBA, but was kind of a bittersweet for a ‘success story’ because his career wasn’t that great,” Leong said by phone from the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. “It was kind of a sad ending.
“So we were looking for an ending, right? In February, he gave it to us … and then he gave us another. And then it just got really crazy.”
Knee still bothering Cavs’ Irving — Kyrie Irving showed off his All-Star credentials in leading the Cavs to a comeback win over the Jazz on Tuesday night. But he apparently is still struggling with a knee injury that caused him to miss two games in late February. Bob Finnan of The News-Herald has more on Irving’s injury and how the Cavs plan to handle it:
After Wednesday’s game at Quicken Loans Arena, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving admitted his right knee is not 100 percent.
“I’m trying not to let it bother me,” Irving said. “It’s still bruised. The only way it’ll get better is to the sit out the rest of the season, and I’m not doing that.”
Irving played 38 minutes in the 104-101 victory over the Utah Jazz. It was a rough-and-tumble game, and the point guard took several hard falls.
The news caused a furor on Twitter.
A Cavs spokesman clarified the team has no plans to rest Irving.
“If he said it was bothering him again to the point that he can’t perform like I know he’s capable of, yeah (I’d considering shutting him down),” coach Byron Scott said.
Irving missed three games recently with a hyperextended right knee. He said he landed awkwardly in practice on Feb. 7. He played two games on the Florida trip, but things didn’t feel right. He had an MRI when the team got to Chicago. He missed the Bulls game on Feb. 26, Toronto on Feb. 27 and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound Irving had 20 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and two steals against Utah.
Scott said he couldn’t tell if Irving’s knee bothered him against the Jazz.
“In the first half he looked like everyone else — disinterested in the game until the second half,” Scott said.
Scott added he planned on discussing the matter with Cavs athletic trainer Max Benton on Thursday.
“If Kyrie is hurt, I have no problem with sitting him down,” he said. “I want him to go out there and be effective. When I read it (in the clips), I hadn’t heard that. It definitely caught my attention.”
Report: Rockets, Morey agree to extension — The Rockets have a tenuous grasp on the No. 7 seed in the West, thanks in part to a roster that has been built from the mind of their advanced metrics-following GM, Daryl Morey. Although Morey has been on the job in Houston since 2007, Houston has missed the playoffs the last three seasons. The Rockets seem much closer to the postseason than ever before and that progress has led to a contract extension for Morey, reports Mark Berman of MyFoxHouston.com:
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander told FOX 26 Sports on Thursday that he and general manager Daryl Morey have reached a verbal agreement on the key components of a 4-year extension.
Morey has one-year left on his contract, so the four-year extension ties him to the Rockets through the 2017-18 season.
“The reason I extended Daryl, I thought he’s done a terrific job in his tenure with the Rockets,” Alexander said.
“I think he’s somebody we want to keep around for a long time to help construct the team.”
Morey joined the Rockets as assistant general manager in 2006, and succeeded Carroll Dawson as general manager the following year.
Prior to this season Morey traded for guard James Harden and signed guard Jeremy Lin and center Omer Asik as free agents, moves that have propelled the Rockets into the playoff hunt.
Richmond seeking front-office gig with Kings — If you missed it earlier this week, our man David Aldridge had a great recap/update on the goings on with the Sacramento Kings sale. We’ll let you parse through that, but one of the key points of the story is that there are several folks who have contributed $1 million to keeping the Kings in town. One of those contributors is none other than Kings legend Mitch Richmond. Richmond is not only buying in to the Kings’ future to stay in town, but is also seeking a front-office job with the team, too, writes Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee:
The first legitimate star of the Sacramento era is among the investors who each have committed $1 million and are bidding on the seven percent share being auctioned in bankruptcy proceedings.
But that’s not the bottom line. Richmond wants back into basketball, too.
Because uncertainty intrudes into virtually every conversation about the Kings and their future, Richmond declined to elaborate. There is an exhausting list of issues to be addressed and resolved before one city celebrates and the other city slumps.
But if things shake out Sacramento’s way? If the Mastrov/Burkle offer is presented and approved by the board of governors during the April 18-19 meetings? If the incoming owners clean out the basketball operations department headed by longtime president Geoff Petrie – who, coincidentally, traded an aging, discouraged Richmond in a masterful maneuver for Chris Webber in 1998? If Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson retains his influence and provides the necessary job references?
Richmond will contact a moving company and pack his bags. Though he has a home in Southern California, where he oversees a foundation (Rock Life) that addresses bullying and other social issues affecting children, he says he has not lost affection for Sacramento or forgotten the best of times with the Kings.
“This is a city that really gave me a lot,” Richmond said. “There was a time when I wasn’t happy about the trade, but this city, this team, the fans stood behind me from Day One. They came out and sold out every night. The (investment) was a good way to try to give back to the city, get involved. The Kings mean a lot to this community. It would just be a sad day if the Kings leave this community.”
ICYMI of the night: Injuries have prevented us from seeing one of the better jack-of-all-trades reserves this season, but now that Wilson Chandler is healthy and doing work for the Nuggets, we get plays like this:
. CHICAGO – No Kyrie Irving. No Derrick Rose. No kidding.
Viewers of NBA TV probably knew they were gambling if their expressed interest in seeing Cleveland at Chicago Tuesday night from United Center had anything to do with a possible comeback by Rose. The Bulls’ electric point guard, unplugged since May surgery on his left knee, had been penciled by some to be ready for action at this point on the NBA calendar — though an equal or greater number of Rose watchers were preaching continued patience, into March and maybe all the way to October.
So Rose — despite what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau called “daily improvement” Tuesday — was a longshot anyway to hook up (in whatever minutes-limited state he might have come back) with Irving, the Cavaliers’ exciting young point guard fresh off a breakthrough All-Star Weekend. Then the Cavs made that doubly official by ruling Irving out too, lost to a hyperextended right knee that might sideline him Wednesday against Toronto as well.
The missed opportunity Tuesday makes it seven consecutive games that either Irving, Rose or both sat out with injuries. Their teams are done for the season as of this one, which means they’ll be pushing 2014 before fans are treated to what could be one of the league’s stellar 1-on-1 matchups for the next decade or so.
Assuming it ever gets started. This is starting to feel like Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao.
Last season, the teams met just three times in the post-lockout schedule. Irving missed the first one, Rose missed the second and both of them sat out the regular-season finale. There was no preseason clash, either, to start Irving’s rookie season due to the limited home-and-home arrangement of the scrunched prep time (the Bulls played Indiana twice, the Cavs hooked up with Detroit.)
This season, of course, Rose has been rehabbing from ACL surgery. Irving missed the second meeting during an 11-game layoff with a fractured left index finger.
In Irving’s three appearances against Chicago across two seasons, he averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 40.5 percent. Rose has faced the Cavaliers 12 times, averaging 18.2 points and 8.0 assists and shooting 41.3 percent.
Chicago has dominated the series lately, winning 11 straight by an average of 17.8 points. But at this rate, Irving will be older than Uncle Drew by the time he squares up against Rose.
It also might raise questions about the long-term viability of leaning on a point guard — who takes the most punishment, pound for pound, of any player — as your superstar, leader and first (and maybe second) option. Rose and Irving have been as dinged up, with multiple ailments, as any All-Stars in the league the past two seasons.
For now, though, we’ll consider it a fluke.
“I don’t know if it’s weird,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott told reporters at Tuesday’s shootaround. “It’s unfortunate. I love Derrick Rose just as a person. He’s an unbelievable basketball player, but he’s one of our best people in this league.
“So for me, it’s unfortunate to have a guy that is as good as he is … off the court not being able to play because of the injuries. I hope he comes back 110 percent and these two guys will be able to get it on sometime next season.”
Considering that Scott earlier this month said he wants Irving to work out with Chris Paul this summer so he “would learn from the best,” that just throws gas on the potential clash of Irving vs. Rose. If they ever manage to strike a match.
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It’s Fan Night on NBA TV, and we have the Cavs and Bulls at 8 p.m. ET from Chicago.
The Bulls need to regain some traction, having spent most of February on the road and having lost six of their last nine games. The Cavs have a chance for a winning month, or at least a .500 month if they can split their final two games (they host Toronto on Wednesday).
Here are some notes to get you ready for this Central Division matchup, courtesy of NBA.com/Stats …
Is Taj Gibson the Bulls’ MIP (Most Important Player)?
Still, Irving has done it in about the same number of clutch-time minutes as Kevin Durant, and far fewer clutch-time minutes than the other guys in the top five. One reason is that Irving has the ball in his hands so much.
Irving has used (via shots, free throws, assists and turnovers) more than half of the Cavs’ possessions in clutch time, a mark that leads the league and is a big jump from his overall usage rate.
Highest usage rate, clutch time
Minimum 50 minutes
Rebounds aren’t enough
While the Cavs have improved offensively in February, the Bulls have regressed. They’ve been held to less than 75 points in three of their last five games, they rank 27th in efficiency this month and actually rank in the bottom four in three of the “four factors.”
Bulls offense, February
eFG% = (FGM + (3PM*0.5))/FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TOV% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA
It’s great that they’re the league’s best offensive rebounding team this month, but you’re still not going to be a good offensive team if you can’t shoot, you can’t get to the line, and you turn the ball over too much.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The NBA trade deadline usually serves as the conspiracy theorist’s Christmas and July 4th all rolled into one. Wicked rumors, wild plots and just about anything the mind can imagine is fair game in the months, weeks and days leading up to the deadline.
It’s a rare occasion that the juiciest plot is saved for the hours and days after the deadline.
But that’s exactly where we are today, with the growing buzz surrounding Miami Heat superstar LeBron James and rumblings that he could return to his North Ohio roots in the free-agent summer of 2014 and conceivably play alongside Cavs All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, the man who succeeded him as the face of the franchise in Cleveland.
There seems to be growing speculation — both inside and outside of respected NBA media circles — that a James-Irving partnership could become a reality should James opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat in 2014 and return to Cleveland.
For now, James laughs off the notion — as he did after Sunday’s 109-105 win over the Cavaliers when he explained his motivation behind that harmless halftime connection with Irving, one of the NBA’s rising superstars.
“Oh, from Kyrie,” said an apparently fatigued James, who perked up when asked about dunking Irving’s miss. “That was an extension from All-Star Weekend.”
Exactly a week earlier, James and Irving played together on the East team that lost to the West in Houston during Irving’s first All-Star appearance. Whether they’ll establish any meaningful chemistry as teammates on the same roster is an issue James bypassed Sunday like a helpless defender.
“I can’t worry about, you know, speculation or rumors,” James said after the Heat extended their longest winning streak of the season to 11 games. “My only focus right now is to win another championship [in Miami]. What we’re doing on the floor right now is what it’s all about. We’re playing good ball right now, trying to win a championship. So, you know, I can’t worry about what people say.”
How would Miami feel if James opted out and left in ’14? How should we? Would it matter if the Heat collected another title or two this season or next, or would the feelings either way be the same?
I would imagine many fans and likely most would thank James for the thrill ride and the parade(s), understand his desire to return to Cleveland, and wish him well.
I would also imagine many others would be angry and see him as turning his back on the city that embraced him when everyone else hated him. The city where he enjoyed his greatest success.
There would be plenty in either camp whether James left with one championship ring, two or even three, and it’s tough to say where sentiment would mainly fall.
What I mostly think is that I hope we never find out. James is such an extraordinary talent I have no trouble blurring the line between journalist and fan in this case and hoping Miami finds a way to re-sign him. Selfishly, I would love for James to end his career here. I only wish I believed he would.
Sunday will be interesting because both his teams will be on the court when the Cavs visit the Heat: The one renting his services, and the one that still owns his heart.
It feels like it has already begun.
The Long Goodbye.
Heat fans will at least have seen this one coming, if it ever does. Cavaliers fans never imagined James would depart the way he did. And it’s taken the ones who have gotten over it lots of time (and plenty of Kyrie) to steer clear of the primal instincts that accompany a breakup as brutal as the one they had with James.
”I think LeBron is at that stage where he’s challenging himself to motivate him to do something that’s maybe more difficult. I could see him maybe (returning to the Cavaliers). I see (Cleveland point guard Kyrie) Irving maybe being a reason for that.”
James had that classy, if not typical, response mentioned above.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard it,” he said. “My only focus now is to win another championship. I can’t worry about speculation or rumors. What we’re doing on the floor right now is what it’s all about. We’re playing good ball right now. We’re trying to win a championship. I can’t worry about what people say.”
And ultimately, he’s right. He can’t worry about what people say.
That doesn’t mean it’ll slow the tide of conspiracy theorists who watched him react to Irving’s 3-point shooting fireworks in Houston during All-Star weekend or to any other gesture that can be manipulated to support their theories.
The only thing that will silence all of this chatter is the summer of 2014 coming and going without LeBron returning to his roots!
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: What a weekend in Houston — Kenneth Faried showing the nation at large his “Manimal” routine … Kyrie Irvingshowed he’s got an impressive stroke from 3-point range … Terrence Ross dethroned Jeremy Evansfor the Sprite Slam Dunk title … they’re all among the more notable events of the weekend that was in Texas. If you somehow missed last night’s marquee event, the All-Star Game, well, that’s your mistake. Overall a solid game quarter-by-quarter and the West took care of business down the stretch thanks to the exploits of game MVP Chris Paul and it’s near-MVP, Kevin Durant. There’s still time to relive the good times from H-town with all of our All-Star coverage, but if you just want to catch up on the game, well … here you go:
Your daily dose of Dwight drama– Be it as All-Star participants (like Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant are) or as other members of the team, the Lakers got away from L.A. for a few days during the NBA’s All-Star break. But just because Kobe and Dwight weren’t in Lakerland doesn’t mean the constant Dwight will-he-stay/will-he-go? drama was quieted. In the past few days in Houston, we had reports of a Howard-for-Rajon Rondo swap and we had Howard himself piping up on all the latest rumors. And then we have Kobe speaking up after the All-Star Game itself on Sunday, shedding a little more light on his thoughts on what should happen with L.A.’s star big man. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times has more:
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were here, so of course there was going to be drama.
Howard said Friday that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak had told him he would remain with the team through Thursday’s trade deadline.
On Sunday, Bryant said “it doesn’t matter” what his team does with the six-time All-Star.
“I don’t know what they are going to do,” Bryant said Sunday at Toyota Center after helping the West defeat the East, 143-138, in the All-Star game. “But at this point … , it doesn’t matter. what matters to us is what we do on Wednesday [against the Boston Celtics] and go from there.
“That’s the most important thing. That’s my message to the team is that you can’t worry about the future, you can’t worry about the past, you just have to focus on the present and we really have to maximize every single game.”
No minutes restrictions for Bogut — The Warriors got off to an impressive start to the season, racking up a 22-10 record through Jan. 2. But since then, they’ve gone an unimpresive 8-12 and have fallen from a sure home-court seed in the playoffs to No. 6 in the West. Center Andrew Bogut returned to the Warriors’ lineup on Jan. 2 and has been in and out of the mix as he works his way back from his ankle woes. He took some shots at Golden State’s defense of late and hasn’t been able to do much to shore up the interior thanks to a minutes restriction that had him playing about 19 minutes a game when he DID play. Ric Bucher, via Sulia.com, says Bogut is looking ready to bear more of a role and more minutes, though:
Hard as it is for me to believe after watching him last Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, Andrew Bogut says that he expects to play without restriction following the All-Star break, including playing in back-to-back games. We won’t have to wait long to find out if that plan holds — Warriors play at Utah on Tuesday and at home against the Suns on Wednesday.
LeBron glad to see Irving as face of Cavs — We need not detail all of LeBron James‘ rise and fall as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as those of you visiting these parts know well enough about what he did — both good and bad — as a Clevelander. Since he moved on from the Cavs to the Heat in the summer of 2010, Cleveland has been looking for someone to take over the mantle of the franchise that was left in James’ departure. Enter All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who is the reigning Rookie of the Year winner and the newly crowned Three-Point Contest champion, too. Although Cleveland is 16-37 and seemingly on its way to another lottery season, there is hope there and even the former King of Akron can see it:
The business of basketball is booming these days, and the one-man brands of players like Irving are built in times like these. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard thrilled the masses in the Rising Stars game on Friday, won the three-point contest on Saturday and was ready to enjoy his newfound elite status in his first All-Star game on Sunday with 15 points on six of 11 shooting. All the while, the counterintuitive notion that the Miami Heat’s LeBron James could return to Cleveland as a free agent in the summer of 2014 continued to grow, in large part, because Irving’s talent is tantalizing enough to make the Akron, Ohio, native seriously consider going home again.
“He’s unbelievable,” James said about Irving’s coronation as the new king of Cleveland. “He’ll be (among) the top two, top three best point guards in the league. He’s headed there already.
“He’s doing some great things right now. They should be excited about having him in Cleveland.”
Irving came to Houston from Cleveland on Thursday, and the welcome challenge of keeping up with a jam-packed schedule began. The first of 27 items on his four-day itinerary was what’s known in NBA circles as ‘The Circuit,’ a string of media appearances and in-house interviews inside the Hilton hotel that comes in rapid-fire form. And per the NBA-issued paperwork that became his All-Star weekend bible of sorts, this called for a collared shirt.
The Cavaliers jersey came off and the infamous gray T-shirt went back on, and Irving made his way to the ‘Circuit’ that would occupy his next two hours. There was an NBA TV set, an ESPN radio room, an NBA Cares room and a photo studio where shots of players in their off-floor attire were tweeted to the masses and made available to the media. It was inside the Grantland room, however, where Irving struggled to keep up with the dizzying array of names, faces and microphones.
For all the intriguing parts of Irving’s story, whether it’s his love of music (he still sings and played the horn baritone as a child) or the pursuits that go beyond basketball (he takes classes at Duke in the offseason and made a promise to his father to finish his education), the question of whether he would lure James back to Cleveland was the only one that seemed to matter over the weekend.”Right now, I’m just living in the present,” he said during the ESPN radio spot. “All the what-ifs, and what could happen, you know obviously people are going to be — I’ll probably get that question all weekend. But right now it’s just about me and my team getting better.”
The mere fact that Irving is such a significant part of the James story line is as good an indication as any of his rising profile, not to mention the drastic change it represents from the start of his career. When he was drafted first overall by Cleveland, the only James-related question was whether Irving could handle the incredible shadow he had left behind.
“It’s funny how the roles have changed a little bit,” Irving told USA TODAY Sports. “I was replacing him, and now there’s all these rumors that he can come back. But it’s about brushing off that question and just being in the present — just being in the present and trying to develop this core group for the Cavaliers. My eventual goal is to win a championship. And before I retire I just want to win a championship. That’s it. It’s a learning process game to game.”
Winter-weather All-Star weekend? — Not since the 2005 All-Star Game in Denver has the NBA put its midseason showcase in a cold-weather climate, but that might change come 2016. According to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, the Raptors and Maple Leaf Sports are getting the pieces in place to push for the All-Star Game to be held in Toronto. If Toronto gets its wish, the game would be held in the furthest northern city in North America since Minnesota hosted All-Star weekend back in 1994. Here’s more on the proposed bid:
The process of staging the NBA’s all-star weekend is elaborate and time-consuming and it’s impossible for things to happen without a huge amount of lead time.
Three years in the case of Toronto.
According to several sources, Maple Leaf Sports and the Raptors have already begun the process of submitting an official bid to host the 2016 all-star game to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the franchise and to bring one of the league’s most popular events to an international venue for the first time ever.
People with knowledge of the hospitality industry in Toronto say league officials have already been in the city making inquiries about hotel availability and convention space.
League sources said there have been no other expressions of interest yet in the 2016 event; the 2014 weekend is scheduled for New Orleans and NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said here Saturday night that either Brooklyn or New York are odds-on favourites to host the 2015 game.
“There are two (2015) applications in, one from Brooklyn and one from the Garden,” said commissioner David Stern.
The league accepts bids for all-star games from cities interested in hosting them that include specifics on hotel and convention space and arena modifications needed to stage the event. The league does not solicit bids from specific cities.
“We don’t consider anything in a vacuum,” said Stern. “We announce that bids are open for future all-star games.”
The Raptors have never bid for the game, often because of a lack of space for the massive NBA Jam Session that’s part of the weekend; that won’t be an issue for 2016, sources said.
For the departing Stern, the event here will be the last he’ll preside over since he is scheduled to retire weeks before the 2014 game.
Silver, who assumes the commissioner’s duties next February, said the selection process isn’t likely to change and while it might be intriguing to take the extravaganza to neutral cities, perhaps in Europe, that might not be workable.
“We’ve discussed playing internationally. . . . I’m not sure if it will work logistically, but it’s something we’ll continue to study,” he said. “We’ve looked at other neutral cities. We’ve looked at refreshing All-Star Saturday Night and other innovative events for the weekend, and I think we’ll continue to do that, the same way we have under David’s leadership.”
ICYMI of the night: Seeing as how Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday interview on NBA TV (8 ET) is merely hours away, it is only fitting to pick this Jordan-esque reverse layup by Russell Westbrook:
HOUSTON – NBA All-Star Weekend is upon us and it’s time to take a break from the condensed schedule to celebrate the best basketball players in the world. Before we get to Sunday’s game (8 p.m. ET, TNT), we’ll dig deep into each All-Star’s first-half statistics.
You already know the basics (scoring, rebounding, etc). So here are some noteworthy, below-the-surface numbers regarding each of the 13 Eastern Conference All-Stars, coming from the new NBA.com/stats site. Click on the nuggets below to go into even more detail.
All stats are through Wednesday, Feb. 13. Minimum requirements were set at 100 field-goal attempts for shooting stats, 500 minutes for non-shooting stats and 100 minutes for lineup data, unless otherwise noted.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest will be held Saturday night with five stations arranged around the arc and five balls at each spot, the first four worth one point and one red, white and blue “money ball” worth two points. Players will have one minute to try and complete all five locations.
Kevin Love of the Timberwolves, out with a hand injury, will not be defending the title won a year ago in Orlando.
The Eastern Conference lineup:
Paul George, Pacers: Though not known for his 3-point shooting, George is on pace to improve his percentage behind the arc for the third season in a row. That has been part of a climb from 7.8 points a game as a rookie to 12.1 in 2011-12 to 17.5 the first 61 games this season.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers: The escalation from No. 1 pick and Rookie of the Year in 2011-12 to All-Star in 2012-13 includes an improvement from pretty good on 3-pointers to challenging for a top-10 finish. Imagine where his scoring average goes if Irving starts to make threes more of a priority.
Steve Novak, Knicks: A man made for this competition. Novak is a career 3-point specialist, often posting a better percentage from behind the arc than on two-pointers. He was fifth in the league in 3-point accuracy heading into Wednesday’s games.
The Western Conference lineup:
Ryan Anderson, Hornets: The winner of Most Improved Player last season while in Orlando is the ideal complement for Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon after moving to New Orleans in a sign-and-trade. Now Anderson is on pace to finish better than 40 percent on 3-pointers for the first time in his career.
Matt Bonner, Spurs: He is averaging all of 12.1 minutes (11th on the team) and 4.1 points. And he absolutely deserves to be at All-Star weekend. Bonner is second in the league in 3-point percentage and on pace to shoot better than 45 percent behind the arc for the second time in three seasons.
Stephen Curry, Warriors: Barring a late injury on the Western Conference All-Star squad for the Sunday main event, appearing in the 3-point contest will have to do as a consolation prize. It may do very well, though. Curry is third in the league in accuracy behind the arc, making him one of the favorites to win the title.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A mere three or four seasons ago, the best point guard in the NBA debate was divided two or three ways. You were either in the Chris Paul camp, the Deron Williams camp or the someone else camp.
But those first two guys, both products of the 2005 NBA Draft, were staples. You either loved the leadership, craftiness and feisty attitude that Paul brings to the party or the size, skill-set and shot-making component Williams possessed.
All that was before Derrick Rose slugged his way into the conversation, and won a MVP trophy that neither Paul nor Williams has. (Older mainstays like Steve Nash and Tony Parker belong in the conversation but are rarely included in conversations about the future of the position for obvious reasons.) It was also before guys like Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook began to emerge and grow. And since then, All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday have led the youth movement at the position.
Blasphemous as this seems to say out loud, Williams is in real danger of falling behind the pack. His possible demotion is due to a combination of injuries, uncharacteristic play and the fact that his contemporaries seem to be leading rising teams while he’s the bandleader of a mismatched Brooklyn bunch that can’t figure out exactly what they are.
No one is disputing that Williams is one of the best the league has seen during his time in the NBA. But in the what-have-you-done-lately world of the NBA, two seasons of substandard play, as judged by the lofty bar Williams set himself, makes the slippage hard to ignore.
Williams is sitting out the Nets’ final game before the All-Star break, the first he’ll watch from home since 2009, due to synovitis (an inflammation of ankle joint linings) in both of his ankles. He received PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment on both ankles and it scheduled to return next week.
But take a look at his work in the 50 games he’s played this season — averaging 16.7 points, 7.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting just 41 percent from the floor. His scoring average is his lowest since his second season in the league, when he was with Utah, and his assists his lowest since his rookie season. In fact, he’s seen his assist numbers decrease in each of the past two seasons, a decline that followed four straight seasons where he averaged double-digit dimes.
King ratcheted up his defense of Williams when pressed further. .He admitted Williams has “not had the best year,” but attributed that mostly to injuries, exhaustion and a lack of explosiveness.
He compared the circumstances to Carmelo Anthony’s last season, when the Knicks forward struggled with an elbow injury and Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Amid speculation that Williams has also been slowed by weight-gain, King said the three-time All-Star is just one pound heavier than when he was dealt from Utah.
“You’re digging. You’re digging. And you’re asking valid questions, but (the inflammation to Williams’ ankles) is not a concern,” King said. “Kobe’s had the blood-platelet spinning on his knees, and guys have had it. It happens. So let’s not make this a bigger issue than it is. Let’s let him get through this, have a week off and get back to playing basketball. Let’s not put the dirt on him and say his career’s over at 28.
“I think the same questions were asked last year about Carmelo Anthony when they were struggling and people were writing him off, saying is he’s not the same player. I think he bounced back this year.”
… “Am I confident he’s going to get back to being Deron Williams? Yes.”
Williams needs all the believers he can get. Because the Nets, a team that continues to come up in trade talks with the Feb. 21 trade deadline looming, have to get things right as the postseason nears.
They’ve spent boatloads of cash and made a splashy entrance in their new arena in Brooklyn. The expectations rose with each and every headline they made in putting this team together. If they’re going to come anywhere close to realizing those expectations, they’ll need Williams to get back being the point guard we all saw during his Jazz days.
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: How about the Spurs last night? Taking care of one of the East’s elite — Chicago — without any of their Big Three (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker)? Impressive stuff, no doubt. However, our pick this morning is the Nets-Pacers game. Deron Williams sat this one out while undergoing treatment for his bothersome swollen ankles. The Nets could have folded up shop after being down 76-72 with 1:38 to go. But Joe Johnson came up with a big shot to force overtime and Brook Lopez showed his All-Star stuff as Brooklyn won in one of the NBA’s toughest places to do so, Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Media to blame for Kobe-Dwight rift? — Before the 2012-13 season, most of us thought the Lakers might be a daily part of the conversation about a run at the championship. Instead, the Lakers have been a daily part of the conversation as we all attempt to figure out why they can’t even reach .500, let alone talk about a title. From Mike Brown‘s firing to Mike D’Antoni being hired, from Steve Nash‘s injury to Pau Gasol‘s injury and from Dwight Howard‘s back woes to conflicts between Howard, Kobe Bryant, Nash and others on the team, what’s happening off the court has been much-discussed in Lakerland. According to Bryant, though, any drama that exists between Kobe and Howard is something that the media has made up. Ramona Shelbourne of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more from Bryant on this issue and more:
If Bryant wanted to call out Dwight Howard for resting his injured shoulder for three games last week despite being medically cleared to play, he would’ve just done so. Instead, Bryant claimed his call for “urgency” was misinterpreted as a call-out and turned into a “manufactured conflict.”
“I didn’t say anything wrong. I didn’t say anything to hammer him over the head or take a run at him,” Bryant said before the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice Monday. “That was actually manufactured. I’d own up to it if I took a run at somebody.
“Urgency is something we’ve been trumpeting, we’ve been beating that drum since the beginning of the season when we started struggling.”
The comments Bryant is referring to came from an interview he gave to ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan before the Lakers played the Boston Celtics last Thursday. Howard had sat out the previous three games, and the Lakers had just learned they would be without injured forward Pau Gasol for at least six to eight weeks.
Bryant did not say the quotes in the story were taken out of context. Rather, he took issue with the controversy that spiraled from them and the perception of a rift between himself and Howard.He said that he reached out to Howard to make sure he understood it wasn’t his intention to call him out.
Bryant has been with the Lakers for 17 seasons and has grown somewhat immune to the noise generated by Los Angeles’ media. But even when he hears it, Bryant said he’s learned it doesn’t have to be a negative thing.
“It actually helped us keep our edge, keep our intensity,” Bryant said of the controversy that always hovered over his championship runs with Shaquille O’Neal. “It gave us something to kind of build towards. But like I said, there was actual conflict though.
“At least the Shaq stuff was actually warranted. This is just comical.”
The situation escalated over the weekend, however, when Howard’s father took exception to the comments, as well as coach Mike D’Antoni’s handling of the the issue.
Asked Monday whether he could’ve done a better job handling the situation, D’Antoni said:
“We’re not going to play out what we do in the locker room or how I should coach in the media,” D’Antoni said. “That’s been our problem. Everybody wants a story. Everybody wants to give a story. The story is whether we win or lose and how we play.
“We will sit down with a player, we sit down with players all the time. I’m not going to play it out through the media. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think any team I’ve been on has ever done that, and I’m really surprised here in L.A. that seems to be the norm. … That’s not good.”
D’Antoni bluntly stated that he doesn’t believe the Lakers have a “communication problem.”
“Most of the time when there’s a communication problem, it’s because the message being received is not the message you want,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not that they don’t know what they need to do, how we need to act as a team, whatever. If you don’t like the message, then you go say there’s a communication problem.”
If the Mavericks don’t make a trade before the Feb. 21 deadline, Mark Cuban insists it won’t be due to a lack of effort.
President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle have both gone on the record recently with predictions that the Mavs will stand pat. Cuban acknowledges that could be the case, but he continues to actively search for opportunities to upgrade the roster of a 22-28 team while keeping the Mavs’ future in mind.
“It takes two teams to trade,” Cuban said Monday evening. “There’s a lot of deals we would make [laughs], but nobody seems willing to do what we want to do. You never know, but nothing imminent. The bank’s still open.”
The bank is still open, but Cuban will be very judicious when determining whether a deal is worth sacrificing space under the salary cap this summer. Tampering rules prevent Cuban from coming out and saying it, but the Mavs aren’t bowing out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes unless they can acquire a building block in the next week and a half.
“It’s gotta be something really, really, really good,” Cuban said. “It’s got to be a futures type player that we can build around or really adds a lot.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean an established All-Star. It just has to be a player the Mavs project to become an All-Star, or at least one of their top three players. Cuban points to the Mavs’ acquisition of Steve Nash back in the day as an example.
“There’s been lots of players we picked up over time that weren’t All-Stars that turned into cornerstones,” Cuban said. “We’d take those. They don’t have to be proven. They’d have to be someone we think it’s just a question of time or system or coaching or whatever.”
Bynum switches timetable on return — The Sixers have done an admirable job of hanging around the Eastern Conference playoff picture (they’re three games behind Milwaukee for the No. 8 seed) despite not having Andrew Bynum all season and recently losing Jason Richardson for the rest of the season. Hope had come to Philly once Bynum finally started working out with the team recently and going through some drills. A post-All-Star break return was penciled in just a few weeks ago. But Bynum’s return is apparently being pushed back — again — as pain in his left knee is growing, writes Jason Wolf of USA Today:
Andrew Bynum has eased up on his workouts after experiencing “a lot of pain” in his left knee and is unsure if he’ll make his Philadelphia 76ers debut this month.
“I think I worked well for two days on the court and then I got a lot of pain,” Bynum said Monday, “so we backed down a little bit today. I’ll probably go on (the anti-gravity treadmill) tomorrow.”
There is no official target date for Bynum to join full-team practices, or for him to play in a game. But earlier this month, the one-time all-star center told reporters that he was hoping to appear in his first game with the Sixers “around the all-star break.”
Bynum was asked Monday whether he was still planning to play in a game this month.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “It’s all going to depend on if we get a setback or not. Right now, I think things are going well. I’m losing weight and staying on the court for as long as I can.”
But he also said the pain in his left knee “limits me from continuing to go.”
“I don’t know if it’s normal soreness, or if I’ll have to play with it,” Bynum said. “I don’t know what it is. It’s not anything that I haven’t felt, so it’s not new. And it continues to kind of go away over time, so it’s all good stuff. No swelling.”
Pacers can’t wait to see Granger again — Indiana is in the thick of the upper half of the Eastern Conference thanks to a 13-8 stretch since Jan. 1 and the emergence of Paul George as an All-Star. Still, Indiana has fallen on a little bit of hard times, losing two straight and seeing its 15-game home win streak come to an end after an upset loss to the Raptors on Feb. 8. Good news is on the horizon with Danny Granger expected to suit up for the first time this season on Wednesday. He’s expected to resume his role as a starter, displacing Lance Stephenson. While there’s a tendency among Pacers fans to not upset the apple cart, writes Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, this is the best move for Indiana long term:
This idea that Granger should be a high-scoring sixth man, this notion that the Pacers shouldn’t mess up a good thing by moving Lance Stephenson back to the benchd…
An hour before the Pacers’ 89-84 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets Monday night, Vogel said he’s initially going to use Granger off the bench in order to get his legs back under him, but once he’s in basketball shape – that should take a week – he’ll be back in the starting lineup.
And that’s that.
Because the stats here don’t lie: Once George Hill took over the point guard spot late last season, the Pacers had the most productive starting five in the NBA. They’ve been very good with Stephenson – check out my new favorite website, 82games.com, to see the numbers – but they were the best in the league with the old starting five.
“Obviously, there’s some merit to having one of those guys coming off the bench, much like with San Antonio and Manu Ginobili or Oklahoma City when they had James Harden, but that (original lineup with Granger) was dominant,’’ Vogel said. “That’s something we’re looking forward to getting back to.’’
Pacers fans should be forewarned: It’s going to take some time. For one thing, Granger hasn’t played in months. He is a notoriously slow starter, even when he’s healthy, and it’s going to take a couple of weeks before he’s fully re-acclimated back into the team. My guess is, as soon as Granger struggles – and he will – there will be a hue and cry to restore Stephenson to the starting lineup and relegate Granger to the bench.
And no, they won’t.
For two years, Stephenson looked like a lost cause, an immature kid with little hope of finding his way. He wasn’t getting it done on the court, and he was no treat as a teammate in the locker room.
Then, the light came on.
And just in time, given Granger’s injury. Would the Pacers be where they are now without him?
“He was finding his way early in the season and finding it well, but I’m not sure if he really understood he belonged,’’ Vogel said. “When he struggled a couple of games on the West coast, we sat down and I reiterated and illustrated to him how important he is to being a big part of our success. That may have been the moment when the light came on for him, and he’s been on a tear since then.
“I think he’s being smarter with his passing. He’s a homerun passing kind of guy. That’s his DNA, that’s what his instincts are. But now, more than in the first two years, he’s reined it in and kept it under control. If he makes a fancy pass, it’s a safe, fancy pass, which is something we welcome. And defensively, he’s continuing to grow. He’s staying disciplined in our defensive scheme. He’s chasing guys, he’s negotiating through screens; he’s still a work in progress, but he’s much better than he was the first two years.’’
Granger can’t return quickly enough. After a nice run of 15 straight home victories, the Pacers have now lost two straight home overtime games, the latest one to a Deron Williams-less Nets team playing the back end of a back-to-back. Paul George and David West, their two best players, shot a combined 3-for-21. This was the kind of game the Pacers couldn’t afford to lose, not with so many Eastern Conference bunched up around the 3-4-5 seed.
Irving gets first Three-Point Contest challenger — Cavs All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is going to be mighty busy during All-Star weekend. He’s not only in the league’s showcase event, but he’s on Team Shaq in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday evening and will also participate in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest on Saturday evening. Irving’s coach, Byron Scott, wants to get a preview of sorts of how Irving will do in the Three-Point Contest, so he’s challenged him to a post-practice 3-point shootout, writes Bob Finnan of the News-Herald:
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said he challenged point guard Kyrie Irving to a 3-point shootout after practice on Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Scott wouldn’t say if the media would be invited to this must-see event.
Irving has been invited to the Three-Point Contest during All-Star weekend in Houston. Scott competed in the event twice — a last-place finish in 1987 and a third-place performance in ’88.
“I challenged him today,” Scott said. “We’ll go around twice. He’s talking a lot. I think I have a good shot at (beating him). My only problem is if I get tired.”
It’s almost turned into an endurance test. Sixty seconds of constant shooting is more than people realize.
“We’ll have fun,” Scott said. “Basically, it’s to show him how the contest is done.”
Irving said he read where Scott challenged him.
“That’s something a third-place winner would do, go behind my back and challenge me,” he said. “The challenge is supposed to be tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. I’m getting up early and doing my pushups.”
They have nothing riding on the contest — yet. By the time they get to the end of practice on Tuesday, trash talk could escalate. Don’t be surprised if some cash is bet.
Pistons get creative with Drummond’s rehab — Detroit’s standout rookie, Andre Drummond, is going to be out a month after suffering a back injury. Leave it to Detroit’s longtime trainer, Arnie Kander, to come up with an innovative way to get the Pistons’ big man back on track. The method of choice? Beating a drum during practices, which will serve a two-fold purpose, writes Terry Foster of The Detroit News:
Andre Drummond beat the drum slowly and softly Monday before the Pistons game against the Charlotte Hornets at The Palace.
And that wasn’t good enough for strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander.
“You got to work now,” Kander told Drummond. “Let’s go.”
Drummond saw that Kander was serious and pounded on his drum a little quicker. But he was not the second coming of Buddy Rich.
The Drummond drum beat served two purposes. It is helping his sore back get better and it also is a way for Drummond to keep connected with his team. He will be with teammates every day during his rehabilitation. Step one was beating on a drum that he carried with him throughout the game-day practice.
The idea is to strengthen his core by keeping his back straight while he taps on the drums. Drummond injured his back last week and is expected out four to six weeks.
“He is our Ringo Starr,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “I think it is very important that when you are injured in all professional sports to remain engaged. Sometimes in sports when you are injured, you become invisible. I think it is important that we integrate him in everything we do and he integrates himself. Mentally you are preparing like you are playing, but physically you can’t play. So you prepare yourself as best you can.”
Drummond’s spirits were up Monday. He joked with teammates in practice and poked his head in during a media scrum with guard Will Bynum. He also participated in a simple drill that helps stretch teammates.
Frank said the injury is especially rough on Drummond because it is his first injury — and he might not be able to handle things as well as a veteran who has been injured before.
“This is his first time going through anything like this,” Frank said. “A veteran guy kind of understands the nature of it. But when you are 19 years old and this is your first injury you can become invisible sometimes. You know that happens sometimes. You not only can become invisible but it is easy to not just take care of yourself 100 percent. When you are young guys don’t know.”
ICYMI of the night: So many great dunks by the Clippers last night … thankfully, we’ve got them all in one tidy highlight that is a must-watch: