Greg Oden is "on schedule to heal"

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

The Oregonian spoke with Greg Oden at a charity event this weekend. And after a season lost to a knee injury, Oden says that he is “on schedule to heal” and be ready for the start of the new season. John Canzano notes that the Blazers aren’t pushing him to get back and are allowing him to go at his own pace, the same way they have throughout his career.

Ah, the familiar stories of a new season.

Okay, enough jokes. Greg Oden went though a lot of pain. Breaking your knee is not only something that hurts like hell when it happens, then you’ve got the months and months of rehab on a body that’s already suffered severe knee injuries. So what Oden’s going through is extremely difficult, and the fact that he’s in a position to return at all speaks to his work ethic.

One of these times, Greg Oden is not going to get injured. He’s just going to be another center in the NBA, with great size and ability, capable of making a significant impact for his team. Are the injuries always going to be a concern? Yes. But the biggest mistake we make is in casting these injuries as something he can control. Oden didn’t ask for this bone structure, nor for the freak injuries that created his particular situation. It’s merely another bad thing that happened to someone.

It doesn’t mean we should hold our breath until Oden’s able to finish a season, till he’s a legitimately dominant center in this league. His body may simply never allow him to get there. As a matter of fact, any setbacks this season, injury-related or otherwise, and the Blazers may very well cut bait on the former Ohio State standout. But the odds are just as good that his knees will hold up, that he’ll be strong enough to recover, that the Blazers’ tactic of being patient, even gentle, with Oden will lead to the best possible result. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Greg Oden is not Sam Bowie 2.0. Nor is he likely to be a superstar from what we know now. But on October 26th, he’ll likely be in uniform as a center for the Portland Trail Blazers. And that’s a start.

Carmelo Anthony predicts Knicks-Bulls on Christmas or opening night

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots over Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.

So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

The storylines are overflowing.

The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.

Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.

Newspaper uses crying Michael Jordan photo with article on his race statement

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Jordan to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame speaks during an induction ceremony on September 11, 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.

That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:

Only in Malawi.

Watch Amar’e Stoudemire’s top 10 career plays (video)

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When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.

Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).

Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: DeMarcus Cousins is ‘most dominant player in the whole world’

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #12 of the United States Men's National Team dribbles the ball up court against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.

So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?

Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.

James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:

He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”

If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t

If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.

There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.

That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.

Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.