Sounds like Dwight Howard has to win James Worthy over

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Lakers legend James Worthy will be the analyst on the Lakers next season, expanding a role he had before as Los Angeles moves into its massive new cable deal on Time Warner Cable SportsNet in Southern California.

But while most Lakers fans were ecstatic at getting Dwight Howard, Worthy said he was not that impressed during a conference call with the media about his new gig Thursday. Quotes via the Los Angeles Times.

“I wasn’t a fan of Dwight Howard,” Worthy said … “there was too much conversation.”

“Who said this, I don’t like this coach. To me, that’s nonsense,” Worthy said. “Your job is to come in and play and deal with the situation that’s there.”

Then there was the whole thing where Howard didn’t want to come to Los Angeles at first and basically had to come around to the idea as other options dried up.

“I was a little bit taken back. I think I heard him say … if the Lakers drafted him, he wouldn’t take it,” Worthy said. “I knew that was gibberish.”

No doubt, Howard handled his exit from Orlando about as poorly as he could have. But this is more than that. This is a generational thing, in the same way Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan piling on LeBron James after the decision was in part generational. Things were very different with the media and NBA coverage when Worthy came out of college.

Plus, Worthy was fortunate, drafted on to a championship team already that had Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not to mention a strong supporting cast. It’s as cushy a landing spot as a No. 1 overall pick has ever had. He didn’t need to find other guys to team up with to win, he walked right into that situation.

To suggest that players in the past didn’t try to force team building is to ignore reality back to Abdul-Jabbar forcing his way out of Milwaukee and back before that. It happened. It just didn’t get the 24/7 coverage of every detail (thanks to blogs like this one) that Howard’s exit did. Our perceptions of everyone — Magic, Worthy, Jordan — would be different if they were under the current media microscope when they played.

But in the end, Worthy is a company man. The Lakers insist upon it with their broadcasters. So when he takes to the air, expect him to talk about what a great addition Howard is — which certainly is true on the court — and how he can be a part of the Lakers family. This will be about as negative as it gets.

Stephen Curry back in full practice mode for Warriors

AP
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night against New Orleans.

Curry looked strong as he practiced Thursday wearing a protective brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since the injury March 23 – the same day he returned from a six-game absence because of a hurt right ankle.

Coach Steve Kerr is calling Curry questionable for Saturday. That could change if the two-time NBA MVP still feels fine Friday and is fine after one more day of full practice before the Pelicans visit Oracle Arena to begin the best-of-seven series.

“Steph practiced at 100 percent, he did everything, he looked good,” Kerr said. “What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day, put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together two good days but it was very positive today. … I think it’s been coming along pretty well. When we were in San Antonio and I was asked a question about how he was doing, I think I was able to give an answer, `He’s doing great but we haven’t ramped him up yet.’ I think today was an important day because it’s the first time he’s actually gone live action and he was allowed to go through practice. And he appears fine.”

Curry went through his usual shooting work with Kevin Durant from various spots after practice, cutting and exhibiting his fancy footwork and dribbling skills. The Warriors have played well without their floor leader, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the first-round series with a 99-91 win Tuesday night.

The Pelicans will present a different, faster pace for the Warriors, so getting Curry back to push the ball and direct the offense would be important. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, started in the first round in his place while Quinn Cook handled point guard duties late in the regular season with Curry out.

“We’re excited. I know he’s very eager to play,” said Klay Thompson. “He’s a competitor, so sitting out I know kills him. We can’t wait for him to get back whenever that is.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

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Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.