Chase Budinger sprains ankle, will be resting the next few weeks

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cbudinger.jpgNow is the time of year when NBA players are working hard on their conditioning and their game. Training camps open in just a little more than three weeks and players want to come in close to game conditioning.

Chase Budinger is going to miss that target in Houston.

The Rockets are saying Budinger has a moderate to severe left ankle sprain and he will not be training for about three weeks, according to a tweet from Marc Spears of Yahoo.

That’s not ideal but not that big a deal. Budinger should be ready to go and able to resume conditioning right about the start of camp. Better to let it rest and fully recover now than have it linger.

Budinger is going to play key minutes and an increasing role for a Rockets team, providing some scoring punch on the wing behind Shane Battier. Budinger’s explosiveness is what makes his game. So sprained ankles are not ideal, but it could have been much worse.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.