Eyebrows were raised when photos surfaced of highly anticipated Toronto Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas wearing a walking boot.
The team confirmed Monday morning that he has a strained left calf. Via the Raptors official twitter account.
That fits with what the Toronto Sun reported, which was the Lithuanian big man was not using crutches and was putting weight on the foot. Those were good signs. Walking boots are pretty standard now for foot and ankle injuries in the NBA — team are cautious so guys get them for even relatively minor stuff.
It sounds like he will not miss much, if any, of training camp. Of course, for a rookie missing any part of camp is less than ideal.
Valanciunas, the No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft, has become the face of hope in Toronto — they have some good other players but they need a big man in the middle (and he is 6’11”). After watching him in the Olympics he should help the Raptors defense almost immediately, but is offense was lagging. He played like the game was moving too fast for him, like he was a little overwhelmed. Expect there to be a real rookie learning curve. Give the kid a chance to grow.
Hassan Whiteside recorded a triple-double last night against the Hornets, and his tenth block was particularly impressive. He didn’t so much block Marvin Williams‘ layup attempt as pluck it out of the air with one hand. It almost looks like it should count as a block, rebound and steal at the same time.
The NBA world has taken notice of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In Thursday night’s home game against the Knicks on TNT, Pistons players wore warmup shirts that read “FLINT NOW,” and the organization announced a $500,000 donation towards providing clean water for residents of the town.
Former Pistons great and general basketball legend Rasheed Wallace went even further, according to a tweet from his alma mater, the University of North Carolina:
Sheed obviously has a connection to Michigan, having played in Detroit for six years (including on the 2004 title team) and serving as an assistant coach for the Pistons during the 2013-14 season. This was an incredible gesture by him for the residents of a town that has been without drinkable water for a long time.
The Kings are a complete mess right now. After a loss to the Nets on Friday night, the team is reportedly considering firing head coach George Karl, who has been with the team for just about one year, and DeMarcus Cousins says they have “a bigger issue than the players.”
But, on the bright side, Cousins is still a monster on the court. During the Nets loss, he posted a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, showing why he’s the one thing about this franchise that is going to be worth talking about long-term.
Russell Westbrook has been wearing the new Air Jordan XXX on the court for nearly a month now. Considering he’s averaging a triple-double in his last 10 games — 22 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds — I’d say he’s pretty comfortable in them.
Continuing a trend of using the respected Jordan brand name with modern players to sell the shoes, this latest ad for the Air Jordan XXX shoes features a young hypeman who describes Westbrook as “the new Big Bang,” and asks people to “make room – as the man is about to take off.”
The Air Jordan XXX hit retail stores on Feb. 12. Westbrook will be wearing them next weekend in Toronto for the All-Star Game.