In his first seven seasons in the NBA, Dwight Howard never missed more than four games in a campaign. He’s joked about switching from DC to Marvel, changing his nickname from Superman to Iron Man. (I’m not sure Tony Starks is the guy you want to model your life after, but that’s another debate.)
Up until last year Iron Man was appropriate. And while some commentators — and some fans — wanted to tie Howard’s poorly-handed trade demands to him missing a dozen games last season, that didn’t make sense. Not if you had really watched him in previous years. Howard played through back spasms and other pains last season because he didn’t want to be seen as quitting on his team.
But things got too serious. Howard explained just how serious to the Los Angeles Times.
“What a lot of people don’t know is when I hurt my back, it affected my nerves to the point where my whole left leg just went dead basically,” the Lakers center said Thursday. “I couldn’t do a calf raise.”
After undergoing surgery in April for a herniated disk, Howard said it took about two months before he could lift his calf off the ground. He was told he would recover fully in about five months but received solid feedback in August.
Howard seems on a road back for a full recovery, reports out of Lakers training camp is that he is moving well. We will see if the grind of the season changes things.
I think has fans we tend to combine things — we hate how Howard handled getting traded out of Orlando, so we magnify his flaws and issues and make him seem a bigger risk than he really is to the Lakers. While the risk of injury hoovers over every NBA player, Howard’s history should earn him a pass on thinking his back issue is chronic already.
After watching Joakim Noah leave for the Knicks, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said, “We felt Joakim wasn’t going to be a frontline guy anymore.”
Noah, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“He’s entitled to his opinion,’’ Noah said. “I feel I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me that’s all that matters. I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, but at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter of my career.”
Reinsdorf was right. Noah, 31, is on the downside of his career. I wouldn’t want him for $72 million over the next four years.
But Noah is also right. He gave the Bulls everything he had.
Noah didn’t deserve that parting shot, even if it was correct.
I also wonder how much this has to do with Chicago correctly assessing Noah’s value vs. the Bulls losing a player whom they wanted to keep and lashing out about it.
The Spurs drafted Ryan Richards No. 49 in 2010, and he could’ve signed with San Antonio any year since. To maintain a second-rounder’s rights, a team must extend a required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum. If the player rejects the offer, those rights extend another year, and the team must then offer the tender again the following year.
Richards finally took the tender this year.
Just a couple days into training camp, the Spurs showed how much they value him.
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have waived forward/center Ryan Richards.
San Antonio now has 19 players and one open roster spot. I know what you’re thinking.
Just as he was getting back into the flow after fracturing his foot this summer, Thunder point guard Cameron Payne hurt himself all over again.
The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that guard Cameron Payne suffered an acute fracture to his fifth metatarsal in Tuesday night’s Blue-White Scrimmage.
This is a troubling setback for the 22-year-old Payne, whom Oklahoma City drafted No. 14 last year. The Thunder didn’t play him enough last season to maximize his development, and now, they won’t the chance to make amends for a while.
Russell Westbrook will obviously still handle the large majority of point guard minutes, and this sets up Ronnie Price to open the season as the primary backup. The 33-year-old Price can play tough defense in limited playing time, but asking him to run the second unit offensively will likely turn out poorly.
Oklahoma City could stagger Westbrook’s and Victor Oladipo‘s minutes, using Oladipo as the lead guard when Westbrook sits. But Oladipo didn’t take to that role in Orlando.
This could also open the door slightly for Semaj Christon to make the regular-season roster as the third healthy point guard. But the Thunder already have 16 players, one more than the regular-season roster limit, with guaranteed salaries – and that doesn’t count Christon. Oklahoma City would have to drop Mitch McGary and one other player to keep Christon, which seems unlikely.
The Thunder will probably just have to grind it out with Price behind Westbrook.
MVP feels wide open this year.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James have accounted for the last five. But Curry and Durant are now sharing touches with the Warriors, and LeBron is 31 and has coasted in the last couple regular seasons in the midst of so many Finals runs.
That opens the door for new contenders like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard (my pick), Anthony Davis – and Paul George, the Pacers star who’s announcing his candidacy loud and clear.
George on SiriusXM NBA Radio:
I want to be MVP. I definitely want to be the MVP this year. It’s tough, as always. It would be a challenge, but with coach Nate and the guys that I got here, I’m in position to move into that spot as long as I remain being me, being a leader, being aggressive and wanting that. It’s not mine for the taking. I got to go get it. And this is my year to go get it.
The MVP usually goes to a player on a top-two seed, and that’ll be a tough nut for Indiana to crack with the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors standing in the way. But, again, this is an atypical year with most top teams so balanced.
If the Pacers hit the high end of their potential outcomes, George would be a strong candidate. He’s is the second-best player in the East, so most nights, he’ll be the best player on the court. That goes a long way for perception.
The best thing George can do for his case is help Indiana win big. If he does that, he’ll surely impress enough individually along the way to warrant major consideration.