Warriors may shut down Stephen Curry, can look forward to questions about tanking if they do

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Stephen Curry has had a hard time staying healthy. He’s tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle more times this season than we’d like to count, including in Phoenix back on Feb. 22, and most recently in a win over the Mavericks on March 10.

With the Warriors making the deal Tuesday that sent Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh to Milwaukee in exchange for an injured Andrew Bogut who isn’t likely to play this season, my man Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com says the team may considering shutting Curry down for the rest of the season to see if some rest can heal that ankle more permanently.

When Curry was asked about his status for the rest of the season, he responded: “I’m just trying to get healthy. I’m getting fed up with dealing with the same thing over and over again and trying to push through it and not being able to produce like I want to on the floor.

“That’s my main goal, to get healthy. What that means I’m not sure yet. I’ll continue to do my rehab and my treatment and listen to the (training) staff. I’m sure we’ll have a better idea what we’re going to do going forward later.”

Trading Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh – two starters – to the Bucks indicates that the Warriors have given up their pursuit of the playoffs. If that’s the case, it likely also makes sense for the Warriors to shut down Curry.

If the Warriors no longer have a legitimate shot at making the postseason, then it makes sense to take their time with Curry’s injury, and sitting him the rest of the season might even be the smart decision. But there is one other component to this, and it involves Golden State’s draft pick for 2012, and whether or not they get to use it.

The Warriors traded the rights to this year’s pick to New Jersey back in 2008, and the Nets flipped it to Utah last season in the Deron Williams deal. The pick is protected, and the Jazz only get it if the Warriors’ draft position is eighth or worse.

If Golden State should suddenly start to slide in the standings, and ends up as one of the seven worst teams in the league, their chances in the draft lottery would be pretty strong of getting to pick no lower than seventh — which would mean they’d get to keep that 2012 draft pick for themselves.

Curry’s injury history with that ankle is legitimate, of course, and it probably won’t be too difficult to find multiple medical professionals to sign off on the organization’s idea to sit him for the rest of the year. But questions of tanking are sure to arise if this is the course that Golden State decides to take — not only from crazed fans of the Utah Jazz, but maybe from some front office executives around the league, as well.

Brandon Jennings no fan of the NBA’s new Awards Ceremony event

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Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)

The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.

Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:

Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)

There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).

It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.

Portland GM makes it official, Festus Ezeli will not be back with team next season

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This season the Portland Trail Blazers found their center of the future (and the present) in Jusuf Nurkic.

Which makes the next step fairly obvious: Portland will not pick up the option on Festus Ezeli for next season, GM Neil Olshay confirmed at the team exit meetings Tuesday.

Portland signed Ezeli on what they thought was a great contract (one-year, $7.4 million, with a team option for the second year) because he was coming off knee surgery last summer. However, Ezeli was never healthy, needed a second surgery, and never got on the court. After taking it slow over last summer he practiced with the team twice in mid-October, there was more swelling, so he pulled back.

This summer Ezeli will not draw any guaranteed money from teams, but some teams may take a look at him. Athletic bigs get a lot of chances in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward will play for Jazz in Game 5 without minutes restriction

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Gordon Hayward has averaged 20.5 points a game in these playoffs — and that includes a 40 point outburst in Game 3 — but what has been more impressive is he has done it efficiently, with a true shooting percentage of 61.1. While Joe Johnson and others have stepped up, Utah will need Hayward’s shot creation if they are going to win this series.

They will have it Tuesday night in Game 5.

After missing the second half of Game 4 due to food poisoning (he tried to play but was ineffective in the first half), he is back and ready to go this time around.

So is Rudy Gobert. The Jazz will be at full health, while the Clippers remain without Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs.

Having those two back is a boost for the Jazz, they need to score more consistently against the Clippers, but the bigger key will be defensively trying to deal with Chris Paul on the pick-and-roll. He has been masterful this series, and the Jazz need to keep him in check to give their offense a chance.

When NBA switches to Nike uniforms next season, Hornets will move to Jordan Brand

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There are not going to be dramatic changes to the look of the NBA when Nike takes over the apparel contract for next season, replacing Adidas. Instead of the Adidas logo, there will be a swoosh, sleeved jerseys will fade away, and some teams will modify their alternate jerseys, but the league is not getting a total uniform makeover next season. Things will look basically the same.

Except in Charlotte — they will not have a swoosh, they will have the Jordan Jumpman logo.

The why is obvious — Michael Jordan is the primary owner of the Hornets and, obviously, the guy the Jordan brand was named after. The Jordan Brand is part of Nike. The Hornets made the announcement this week buried in a press release about moving the fan shop at the arena, hat tip to Sole Collector for finding this. Here is what the release says:

The re-opening of the Hornets Fan Shop will coincide with the launch of the team’s new Jordan Brand uniforms as Nike becomes the NBA’s uniform provider beginning this season.  The Hornets will be the only team in the NBA wearing Jordan Brand uniforms, and with the agreement taking effect, the Hornets Fan Shop will have even more of the popular Jordan Brand Hornets merchandise than it has had previously.

While it’s not like the Lakers or Celtics are going to be changing up their traditional uniforms, even teams like the Hornets will keep a similar look under Nike.

What should be interesting to see is what the Christmas Day and All-Star uniforms look like under a Nike touch.