Will Jared Dudley step into the leadership vacuum in Phoenix?

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Who is the locker room leader of the Phoenix Suns?

Steve Nash and his quiet leader role has gone to a rival (where he will play good cop to Kobe Bryant’s bad cop). Veteran Grant Hill has gone to Los Angeles as well, just to the team in red and white. Much of the roster has turned over as the Suns start to rebuild.

Is Jared Dudley the Suns new leader? It’s not an appointed position, but he seems to have stepped up in workouts as players start to show up to the Suns facilities in advance of training camp, according to the Suns team Web site.

“Being a leader is natural to me,” Dudley said. “Sometimes you can do it different ways. For me I want to be a voice and consummate professional, be in the weight room and stay after practice. When things go wrong, that’s when you show your leadership. It’s easy to be a leader when things are going well.”

Well, better Dudley than Michael Beasley as the leader.

Part of being a leader — being positive. Even when everyone around you may not be.

“We’ve lost a lot of pieces, but we have a lot of talent,” Dudley said. “It’s going to be [Coach Gentry’s] job, with the help of myself and other key veterans, to help mesh it all together. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to bring a positive energy and be a guy to help people fit into their roles. That’s the key to the NBA, everybody finding their roles.”

I’ll admit my bias — I like Dudley. I want this to work out for him. He averaged 12 points a game last year and he’s going to need to do more, but without the advantage of Steve Nash setting him up for a few easy ones.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

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The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.

Watch Kawhi Leonard chop boards ‘karate styyyle’ (video)

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Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.

He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.

But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.

Except we now know he apparently likes karate.

Leonard:

Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.

If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.

Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Kevin Durant brings fan to tears with autographed shoes (video)

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Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.

Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.