A possible hiccup in Greg Oden's recovery

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Greg Oden’s rehabilitation isn’t exactly the most pressing thing on the Blazer agenda right now, but his value to the team long-term should be relatively unquestioned. He’ll likely always have the fact that he’s not Kevin Durant thrown in his face by fans ignorant to Oden’s successes, but Portland clearly values Greg not merely as an asset, but as an essential part of the team’s future.

The Greg Oden Tour wasn’t set to resume until next season anyway, but it’s still a bit worrisome to hear a report like this one from Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge:

Greg Oden’s comments during an interview on Tuesday regarding
his current status suggested that perhaps his rehab isn’t going totally
smoothly.  Oden, at home in Indiana, reported that he was mostly
staying off of his leg and icing it as much as possible when, as
recently as three weeks ago, Oden told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune that he was riding bicycles and swimming in a pool.  In that same piece, Oden notes that running on an anti-gravity treadmill had caused soreness and swelling. 

“He’s doing fine. He’s doing fine,”
Nate McMillan told me after today’s practice. “The trainer is in
contact with him, making sure he’s doing what he needs to do. He’s
doing well.”  Asked directly if perhaps there had been some setback or
complication in recent weeks, McMillan shook his head no and said, “Our
trainer is up to speed with where he’s at. And he’s doing good.”

McMillan dismissed the idea, as he probably should. But should fans be worried if Oden’s rehab isn’t going as smoothly as planned?

On the one hand, it makes complete sense. Greg’s injury troubles in his young NBA career have already cost him two full seasons of action, and have rightfully put everyone on alert. He’s either injury-prone or terribly unlucky, and either way people are right to worry about Oden’s future.

Then again, this isn’t the first time that a rehab program hasn’t gone as planned and it certainly won’t be the last. What’s the use of fretting now, with half a year to go until Oden was supposed to make his grand return to the NBA? That’s more than enough time for Greg to get back on track, and to pay too much mind to his progress (or lack thereof) now seems foolish.

Still, we stay plugged into things like this because Greg Oden matters. Quite a bit, actually. Even if this supposed rehab setback is remarkably unremarkable and even though we really don’t have a firm understanding of Oden’s medical profile, we care about Greg not because he’s a convenient punchline, but because he’s still a remarkable talent capable of doing great things for the Blazer franchise.

I know that NBA teams and fans alike aren’t exactly oozing with patience, but that’s exactly what Oden needs.  

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.