San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns

Steve Nash suffers thigh bruise at the end of Suns’ win over the Grizzlies

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It’s probably nothing that will hinder Steve Nash for very long, if at all. But on the last play of the Suns’ 86-84 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday, Nash collided with Marc Gasol, causing him to limp off the floor after Mike Conley’s three-point attempt at the buzzer to win it fell short.

“It was just frustrating,” Nash said afterward. “Another thigh bruise. Hopefully it’ll settle down for Monday. I’ll just try to ice it and keep it moving a little bit.”

Monday is when the Suns play next, at home against the Dallas Mavericks.

Nash missed a game earlier this season with an injury to his right thigh. When asked if Gasol’s knee caught him in the same one that was injured previously, Nash feigned enthusiasm while responding, “No, it’s a new one.”

It’s easy to keep your sense of humor when you’re winning, especially when doing so after such a dreadful performance in Portland the night before. The Suns’ 38-point defeat led to the coaching staff switching up the starting lineup, as well as changing up the team’s rotations.

Phoenix went back to the starting five it used to begin the season: Nash, Grant Hill, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley. Nash subbed out earlier than usual in the first quarter (easier to do when you have a seven-point lead), and came back with eight minutes to play in the second with the advantage still intact. Nash also came back earlier than normal in the fourth, playing the game’s final 10 minutes.

Shannon Brown and Robin Lopez were the odd men out in the team’s latest lineup experiment, while Michael Redd, Ronnie Price, and Josh Childress all played less than eight minutes.

Jared Dudley seemed to benefit the most, playing almost 42 minutes and scoring a season-high 20 points. He was also key down the stretch, drawing fouls on Gasol and Conley to earn four free throws, which he had no problem knocking down to score the Suns’ final four points of the game.

“I haven’t shot free throws like that since the BC days, playing Syracuse beating Hak,” Dudley said, referring to his time at Boston College and teammate Hakim Warrick. “It was big. It feels good to help your team win the game. Hopefully we can start building some confidence, we have Dallas coming up who’s had our number for the last couple of years. We owe ’em one.”

The Suns’ chances against Dallas will obviously improve dramatically with a healthy Steve Nash in the lineup. It’s anyone’s guess how much the bruise will limit him over the next couple of days, but as usual, Nash is choosing to keep things positive.

“I’m optimistic that I can play Monday,” he said. “You never know, but hopefully it’ll be fine — good enough to play.”

Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager talks with Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Sager is on a one game assignment for ESPN. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.

Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.

This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.

Report: With Joffrey Lauvergne trade, Mitch McGary likely done with Thunder

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 16:  Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center on March 16, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.

Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.

McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.

Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke

Dwight Howard
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If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?

Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.

It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.

The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.

The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.

But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.

Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15:  Jason Thompson # 34 of Sacramento Kings in action during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. 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 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.

Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.