Where the heck did Wes Matthews come from?

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Wes Matthews fails to appear on most people’s lists of rookies making an impact this season. But Matthews has moved into the starting role, and shined in the Jazz’ beatdown of the Rockets Saturday night, scoring 18 points. His contributions off the box score are what have put him in this position.

Matthews plays smart basketball in the flow of the Jazz offense. For rookie guards playing at least 20 minutes, he has the third lowest percentage of possessions resulting in a turnover (via Basketball Reference). He handles the ball much less than the other guards on that list (primarily point guards), but his contributions still come with the benefits and without costly turnovers.

Jerry Sloan is notoriously tough on rookies, which makes Matthews development, as an undrafted rookie all the more impressive. Combine that with the work Sloan has given D-League call-up Sundiata Gaines, and you have to ask: Are we seeing the beginning of a new, gentler Sloan?

Players’ union, NBA to set up cardiac screening for retired players

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First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.

Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”

“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”

The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.

It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.

I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.


Stephen Curry drops 30 on Portland in preseason (VIDEO)

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Somebody is in midseason form.

Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.

Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.