By the end of the 2008 playoffs, Tyson Chandler had firmly cemented himself as a sidekick to Chris Paul and one of the premier defensive centers in the league. He was young, athletic, an established part of a growing core on a hot young team, and making a boat load of money.
Then everything collapsed. Or, more accurately, Chandler’s knee, ankle, and foot did. He was limited to just 45 games last season before being traded to the Charlotte Bobcats over the summer, and he’s only played 28 out of a possible 56 games for the ‘Cats this season. To make matters worse, even the court time Chandler has seen over the past two years has been limited, and Tyson seems like a shade of his former self.
Luckily for Charlotte, Nazr Mohammed has stepped into the starting role at center and played the best basketball of his career. And unluckily for Charlotte, Nazr Mohammed is currently out of the lineup due to a back injury. Mohammed’s back-up, DeSagana Diop, is nursing a knee strain. The time has finally come for Chandler to shine once again, and the struggling Bobcats need him now more than ever.
So naturally, despite returning to action on February 9th after a month and a half of rest and rehab, Chandler is again on the shelf. He’s missed four straight due to lingering pain in his foot and ankle. According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Tyson will head to the Big Apple to consult with the specialist that performed his surgery almost a year ago. It’s good news that Chandler is seeking professional care for his injury, but bad news that the state of his injury dictates it.
League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant
Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.
However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.
“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”
“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”
One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”
Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.
But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.