Cleveland did not look like same team in a loss to Golden State Wednesday as they did beating the Clippers Monday. Because they weren’t.
No Anderson Varejao and his 15 points and 16 rebounds a game so far this season, he tweaked his knee against the Clippers. No backup big man Tyler Zeller and his solid 18 minutes a night, he was out with a concussion and a broken cheekbone. The result was Golden State’s David Lee having his best game of the season and leading his team to a win.
Good news for Cleveland is they should get both of their players back sooner rather than later, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
There is no official timeline for Zeller’s return, although he likely won’t play in Friday’s game at Phoenix…. There remains a chance he could return for Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City….
Varejao collided with Ryan Hollins during Monday’s game, but was able to make it through the rest of the game. The knee stiffened up over the last couple of days, but it isn’t considered serious.
Varejao could be back Friday night, he practiced with the team Thursday.
Zeller is out of the team’s hands — the league concussion policy calls for Zeller to be cleared by a league neurologist after passing a battery of tests. Brain injuries are tricky to predict, he could be back Sunday or it could be two weeks. But neither Zeller nor the Cavs get to make the call. When he is cleared he will wear a mask until his cheekbone is fully healed.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.