Be sure to come back at 9 p.m. (Eastern, 6 on the West Coast) for our live blog from tonight’s game.
Robin Lopez will start for the Phoenix Suns in the only real bit of pregame news from players and coaches before Game 1 at Staples Center.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he wasn’t expecting big minutes out of Lopez, who has not played in a game since March. If the Suns can get 15-20 out of him, they should be happy.
There also is a rumor here at Staples that Lopez will guard Pau Gasol, while Amare Stoudemire will by on Andrew Bynum. If Bynum were healthy that would be a big size advantage for the Lakers, but he is not. Watch to see if the Lakers can exploit that matchup.
With a week between series, there was little new to find out, no new angles to talk about before this game.
I his pregame press conference, Phil Jackson said he was not thinking about retirement and was not leaning either way.
“I’m leaning on this podium, that’s it,” Jackson said.
Jackson again dodged talking about the immigration issue as well, refusing to discuss the issue.
The coolest thing seen pregame: TNT studio host Ernie Johnson got a ball during warm-ups, walked to the corner three and — in full tie and dress shirt — missed the first shot. Lakers assistant Chuck Person challenged EJ with a “that’s all you got?”
Johnson coolly drained the next one, then went back to his set.
Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are just like the rest of us.
The Thunder players sit around and belt out the Backstreet Boys’ “I want it that way.”
John Salley has said becoming a vegan sooner would’ve enhanced his NBA career.
Now, the former Piston has another idea for improving player health.
Salley, via TMZ:
I am a proponent and I believe in the advocacy of medical marijuana. We see football players in Alabama getting busted. We see – we need to get it out. We need to move it and realize that is something that can help the human body.
It helps athletes. I didn’t start smoking until my last two months before I was a pro. And I believe if I would’ve smoked while I was playing, I probably still would be playing.
Marijuana is already legal in Colorado (where the Nuggets play), Oregon (where the Trail Blazers play), Washington and Alaska. Medical marijuana is legal in numerous other states. The nation is definitely trending toward legalization.
If that continues, why shouldn’t NBA players be permitted to use the drug? It can be an effective method for treating pain – which is quite common in a profession that requires such intensive physical labor.
The 52-year-old Salley is obviously exaggerating about still played today if he smoked weed, but maybe his career would’ve lasted longer. Shouldn’t players determine for themselves what legal methods they can follow to manage injuries?
Perhaps, they’re already taking Salley’s advice.
John Wall and Bradley Beal admitted they clash on the court.
That caused controversy as the outside world expressed dismay at the Wizards guards’ attitudes.
Paul Shirley – who played for the Hawks, Bulls and Suns from 2003-05 – shrugged.
Paul Shirley on NBA.com:
What I learned, when I got to the NBA, was that my dreams of fraternity were naïve ones. I sat in locker rooms where players barely spoke to one another. I endured team plane rides where one guy stared daggers at the next because of a contract dispute.
Consequently, I barely batted an eye at the recent “revelation” that Bradley Beal and John Wall don’t much like one another.
Of course they don’t like each other, I thought. That’s just the way it is.
This is a secret of the NBA: Not all teammates get along. Some are friends, but many are just coworkers – and consider your relationship with your coworkers. Frequent travel for work and the closed-off nature of locker rooms can push players toward forging bonds – but those conditions can also magnify any rifts.
In theory, Wall (a slashing passer) and Beal (an outside shooter) should complement each other well. But it’d be hard to find a team where each of the top two scorers doesn’t believe he should get more shots.
The successful teams manage that tension productively. They can convince each player to accept a role, sacrifice and contain his displeasures.
Maybe the Wizards can get there.
But that – not a fantasy friendship between Wall and Beal – should be the goal.
Two years ago, Lance Stephenson was 23 years old and nearly an All-Star.
Now, he’s stuck trying out for a team without an open regular-season roster spot.
Brett Dawson of The Advocate:
The Pelicans have 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries plus Chris Copeland, Robert Sacre and Shawn Dawson on unguaranteed deals.
In other words, Stephenson is trying out just to enter a competition for a roster vacancy that doesn’t even exist.
New Orleans has taken major steps to add perimeter help this summer, drafting Buddy Hield and signing E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway and Solomon Hill. If he somehow makes the team, Stephenson likely wouldn’t make the rotation, even with Tyreke Evans injured.
Still, Stephenson is just 25, and he showed major talent with the Pacers just two years ago. He made positive contributions to the Grizzlies last season, too.
But a disastrous stint with the Hornets and an underwhelming run with the Clippers weigh down his résumé.
Stephenson probably did enough in Memphis to prove he still has NBA-caliber ability. More than anything, he’ll have to convince the Pelicans – and other potential suitors – he has the right attitude to work in the league.