On opening night, after the Lakers put up their banner and get their rings, they are going to have to deal with Yao Ming.
Monday Rockets doctors cleared Yao for basketball activities and Tuesday he was on the court banging bodies with Chuck Hayes and others, according to the Rockets official Web site.
“Yesterday when I heard the news I feel that, not just me, the entire medical staff including Rockets staff, their efforts in last year all paid off,” said Yao. “I’m just looking forward to playing a great season in 2010-2011 and I think I can count on my foot now.”
The last time Yao was on an NBA court was a 2009 playoff series against those same Lakers, when he limped around for a game only to find out he had fractured bone in his foot. It was so serious it required surgery and a year away from the game.
“Conditioning-wise, I’m missing all year from basketball and I’m really not in good shape right now. I’m probably a little bit away from game shape. But the good news is we still have one month to the training camp and 2 months until the season.”
If Yao is back and healthy — and can stay that way — the Rockets become the biggest challengers to the Lakers in the West. But that is a big “if” and a lot of games from now.
Today, it was just about celebrating being back on the court.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.