Omer Asik

Thibodeau defends Asik’s play


After Chris Bosh got injured in a collision with Chicago Bulls forward Omer Asik during Saturday’s game, he was critical of Asik after the game for diving after a loose ball that was close to Bosh’s legs. Asik didn’t come all that close to the ball, but he did end up making contact with Bosh’s leg and causing the Heat forward to sprain his ankle. After the game, Bosh was of the opinion that Asik should have stayed on his feet instead of laying out for the ball:

“C’mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen,” Bosh said. “You’ve got to watch people’s legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job.

“We all want to be healthy and that is very important,” Bosh said. “If it is by somebody’s leg, don’t dive for the ball, it’s too close.”

Like Bosh’s “coach wants to us to work, we want to chill” quote from earlier this season, Bosh’s comments are both completely understandable and demonstrate a remarkable ignorance of what sports fans want to hear from professional athletes. Bosh is a skinny guy, his ankles and knees are the most vulnerable part of his body, his teammates are counting on him, and it only takes one awkward collision to end his season or keep him from ever being the same player again. Given all that, it’s understandable for Bosh to be a little mad at the guy who collided into him. But to saying that you are, in essence, of the opinion that NBA players should hustle less is never, ever going to go over well with the fans.

Even though most fans and media members were already on Asik’s side in this little “debate,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau made it clear that he doesn’t think Asik did anything wrong on Saturday during a pre-game media session on Monday. ESPN Chicago’s Nick Fridell has the report:

“I didn’t see it that way,” Thibodeau said of Bosh’s comments. “I saw it as a great hustle play. Omer’s not that type of guy. He’s not going to ever try to take somebody out. He plays hard, he plays clean. He wants to win. Sometimes people say things [in the] heat of the moment after a game so … And Chris is a tough player. Actually, he hit the floor in the first half in a similar play with Derrick, so I didn’t see it that way.”

Good of Thibodeau to stick up for his rookie center, and to give Bosh something resembling the benefit of the doubt regarding his comments. Once Bosh has had some time to heal his ankle and think about his comments, I’m sure there won’t be any lingering bad blood between Bosh and Asik over the collision.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

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.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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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.