There are a whole lot of people rooting for the Lakers to suck this year after forming their own West Coast superteam with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
Mark Cuban is just the most prominent of them. From Mark Medina at the Daily News (hat tip to SLAM):
“I don’t care,” Cuban said before the Lakers’ season opener Tuesday against Dallas at Staples Center. “I just hope they suck….
“They’re like any other team,” Cuban said. “Obviously Nash is great. Kobe’s phenomenal. But it takes a team. They have to come together and play as a team. Hopefully they don’t figure it out.”
It’s safe to say they haven’t yet — Cuban’s Mavs outworked and outplayed the Lakers to win the opener 99-91.
Steve Nash deferred a lot, floated around the perimeter off the ball and generally didn’t impact the game as Kobe had the ball in his hands a lot. Dwight Howard couldn’t hit a free throw and looked a little slowed by his back. The Lakers bench and defensive rotations were unimpressive.
It’s one game. Remember the first game of the Heat’s big-three era? They lost by 8 to the Boston Celtics, but it didn’t feel that close at all. LeBron, Wade and Bosh looked confused playing together.
The older Lakers with their shorter contracts don’t have a couple of years to figure it out like the Heat, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
Smart Lakers watchers realized it. Lakers radio play-by-play man John Ireland was doing his local radio show and predicted the Lakers would start the season 13-6 and had caller after caller (not to mention his radio co-host Mychal Thompson) come on and say “no, they are going to be 18-2.” Because that’s how fans view the world.
But they learned a hard lesson Tuesday. You can’t rush chemistry.
Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:
Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.
He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.
Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:
“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”
Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.
“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”
At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.