It takes a certain confidence for an opposing player to snipe at the indisputable Western Conference favorite Los Angeles Lakers, and something between arrogance and complete stupidity for an opposing player to take a shot at Kobe Bryant. If that’s not a cue for the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith, then I don’t know what is. Here’s what Smith had to say about Kobe on Twitter (via the OC Register):
“Dont get me wrong kobe is great but not when he play me”
Not only is Kobe one of the best players in the league, but he’s competitive beyond belief and just about the last guy on the planet that you’d want to give bulletin board material to. Considering the Nuggets and Lakers could very well have a date in the Western Conference Finals, I wouldn’t say it’s the smartest thing in the world to give Bryant extra motivation…especially considering Smith’s fleeting interest in defense.
And for the record, Kobe is averaging 26 points (46.2% FG, 45.5% 3FG), six rebounds, and an assist against Denver. That’s technically a notch below his season averages of 28.0 points (46.5% FG, 35.5% 3FG), 5.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game, though Bryant is averaging three less shot attempts per game against the Nuggets.
The two teams — plus Smith and Bryant — meet in a nationally televised game Sunday.
Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.
What next for Boston?
In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.
Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.
What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.
At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.
And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.
Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).
But good news could be on the way.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.
Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.
John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.
Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.
It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.
But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.
Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.
This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.