Andrew Bynum is going to give it a shot in game one, and Phil Jackson is going to start him, he said in his pregame press conference.
“Andrew is prepared to play…” Jackson said. “If he’s limited in what he can do. His ability to run, pull out, if it’s something that’s going to hamper him we’ll have to measure that.”
Meaning, he’s going to go and will play unless he sucks. And Jackson will try to limit his minutes, if at all possible.
Jerry Sloan said that Deron Williams will start and is fine. And he said it in Sloan’s classic old-school way:
“If he can pull on the jersey he is 100 percent.”
Some other pregame notes here from the bowels of Staples Center.
Phil Jackson is concerned that without a dominant scorer to cover, Ron Artest’s mind will wander to… well, wherever it is that Ron Ron’s mind goes. Not sure it’s a place I want to visit. But because Pau Gasol gives Carlos Boozer trouble, Artest will start the game on CJ Miles and may get some Wes Mathews time. Also, look for Jackson to match Artest up on Millsap.
Sloan said the key for his team is shot selection. He said that the Laker length provides problems and the Jazz have responded with bad shots, which fuels the Lakers in transition. He wants the team to focus on getting good shots.
There’s something majestic about the ball floating through the air on a long shot headed toward the rim, especially when it splashes through the net.
Enjoy the top 50 of those baskets from last season.
Kevin Durant is long and thin, a combination that has inspired two great nicknames: “Durantula” and “Slim Reaper.”
Durant has already disavowed “Slim Reaper.”
Now, he’s professing his dislike for “Durantula.”
Henry Wofford of CSN Bay Area:
I see Durant is embracing his role as villain. This is a terrible opinion.
That leaves just loathsomely boring “KD” as a nickname, which is unjustifiable with such better options on the table. Durant might just have to buck up and accept “Durantula” and “Slim Reaper.” At least neither rolls off the tongue easily enough for people to address him that way in person.
The Knicks have held training camp at West Point the last few years, and last night, the team dined with Army cadets:
But Joakim Noah didn’t participate.
Noah, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“It’s hard for me a little bit – I have a lot of respect for the kids here fighting — but it’s hard for me to understand why we go to war and why kids have to kill kids all around the world,’’ Noah said. “I have mixed feeling about being here. I’m very proud of this country. I love America. I don’t understand kids killing kids around the world.’’
Noah received permission from Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek to skip the team function. He was the only member of the team not in attendance. Noah said his decision to skip the dinner and speech was not intended as a form of protest.
“It’s not my way of saying anything – I was not comfortable,’’ Noah said.
Noah has dual citizenship in the United States and France, the home of his father, Yannick Noah, the former tennis star. Noah admitted he’s “not very patriotic,’’ believing people should respect people more than “flags.’’
Noah’s view will be unpopular, but he has every right to hold it. There’s a growing current of people asking for more athlete activism, but people better realize: You might not always like the stance players take. For those who claim to value politically minded players, this is part of what you get.
Personally, I disagree with Noah. The Revolutionary War helped him secure the right to speak out on this. World War II kept his beloved France from being run by a tyrannical Nazi regime. Just because some wars are unjust doesn’t make all wars unjust. I also believe in honoring American soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.
But I also respect Noah’s right to seek a comfortable situation for himself. Some people can be anti-war and easily separate the soldiers as individuals. For others, apparently including Noah, all war machinery is intertwined.
Keep in mind, Noah didn’t actively disparage any soldiers. He’s not seeking supporters for a cause. He just chose not participate in an event he never asked to be apart of.
LeBron James has implicitly loomed over contract negotiations between the Cavaliers and J.R. Smith. LeBron shares an agent – Rich Paul, whose clientele (including Tristan Thompson) LeBron considers to be family – with Smith.
Now, LeBron is getting more explicit.
Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:
LeBron has frequently praised Smith, including this offseason. If the Cavs haven’t gotten the message by now, it ought to be clear: LeBron values Smith and winning and believes the former will help the latter.
This doesn’t mean LeBron will leave in free agency in 2018, but with a rumor that LeBron believes delivering a title to Cleveland frees him to bolt if he so chooses, do the Cavaliers really want to test him? Do they really want to restrain a team capable of defending its championship?
I respect the Cavs’ desire to sign Smith to a sensible contract, and LeBron is well within his rights to advocate for a fellow player (and himself getting a better supporting cast). These negotiations are all about leverage – and LeBron is using his.