Josh Smith

MRI confirms Hawks’ Smith has sprained knee, doubtful for Game 3


The Boston Celtics just won a game in this series without one of their key players, now the Hawks have to try and do it.

An MRI confirmed what has earlier been thought — Hawks forward Josh Smith has a sprained left knee and is doubtful for Game 3 in Boston, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 A person with knowledge of the prognosis for Josh Smith said the Hawks forward is doubtful to play in Game 3 against the Celtics Friday after he suffered a left knee injury in Game 2 Tuesday.

The person said Smith has patellar tendonitis with inflammation in the injured area but an MRI revealed no structural damage. If Smith misses Game 3 he likely would return for Game 4 Sunday in Boston, according to the person.

You know this must be pretty bad, Smith is a guy who has played through a lot of minor injuries this season and suited up for all 66 games. The knee seemed to be bothering him but he left the court with 4:20 left in a close game after he bumped knees with Kevin Garnett.

The Hawks are already without Al Horford for this series and Zaza Pachulia also will not be ready to play. This means a lot of Ivan Johnson and even possibly an Erick Dampier sighting.

Boston won Game 2 without Rajon Rondo thanks to a throwback game from Paul Pierce. Atlanta now has to find some of the same somewhere or they will be in a hole difficult to get out of in this series.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.