Is Denver using Andre Iguodala wrong? Flip Saunders says yes.

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One quarter of the way into the season, ask me my most disappointing team and I’ll say the Denver Nuggets. Sure, the Lakers and Pacers can be on that list too, but I came into this season with high hopes for the Nuggets to be a very entertaining team, only to see them 11-12 and listless.

They are not running teams out of the building with all those athletes like expected and hoped for — Andre Iguodala added to this roster was supposed to improve their defense and let them flourish in transition. Instead Iguodala’s game has taken a step back, their defense has been worse than last season, and teams that don’t defend can’t run taking the ball out of the basket. When they do run, the are 21st in the league in scoring efficiency, reports Synergy Sports. It’s nothing like what was planned.

What went wrong? Well a few things, but former NBA coach and current ESPN analyst Flip Saunders told KFAN 100.3 FM in Minnesota the problem starts with how they are using Iguodala (transcribed by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post).

“Their biggest thing which hurt them was they got rid of Arron Afflalo, who could knock down 3s, gave them a toughness, and they brought in Andre Iguodala — but he’s really not a two, he’s more of a three. So what happened is they don’t have that solid two. I’ve never liked him as a two, I always thought he was better at a three. So they have a little bit of a logjam.”

Afflalo is a glue guy — defends, knocks down threes, efficient. But the Sixers pieces — Iggy, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and so on — should fit together better than they do. Denver is not getting what they expected or paid for out of JaVale McGee for sure, but this is more than that. Iguodala is clearly struggling with his role and being a scorer more than a guy making plays with the ball in his hands.

But for me it all starts on the defensive end — they don’t need to be the Chicago Bulls but they have to get stops and force turnovers or they can’t use all that athleticism and speed in transition. Denver is bottom 10 in turnovers forced per game. If Denver starts to defend better they can start to play to their strengths.

And maybe Iggy will find his footing.

Cornrowed Joel Embiid calls minute limit f—ing BS

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76ers center Joel Embiid made clear yesterday he disliked the minute restriction placed on him, which Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said would keep Embiid below 20 minutes per game.

Today, sporting a new hairstyle, Embiid upped the rhetoric.

Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“That’s f—ing BS,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready for more than I don’t know whatever number they have.”

“I think the concept of minute restrictions is kind of complicated,” Embiid said. “I don’t think there should ever be minute restrictions. I think it should always be about how my body feels and how it’s reacting.”

“They know that I’m frustrated, but once again you’ve got to trust the doctors,” Embiid said. “They care about me. It’s all about the long-term view.”

“Like I always say,” he said, “you’ve got to trust the process.”

We’ve been here before – an injury-prone Philadelphia center rocking cornrows (at least Embiid went all the way with them) and Embiid lashing out at his minute limit.

Embiid is incredibly competitive, and he can’t just turn it off. It’s an attribute that contributes to his on-court excellence.

Embiid appears to have just enough trust-the-process perspective here, but Brown will also likely have his hands full keeping Embiid from getting too frustrated throughout the season.

At least Embiid has his contract extension and isn’t restless to get on the court and earn his big payday.

LeBron James game-time decision for Cavaliers-Celtics opener

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James may miss Cleveland’s opener Tuesday night against Boston because of a sprained left ankle.

James injured his ankle in practice on Sept. 27 and played in just one exhibition game. He participated in the team’s morning shootaround, and a team spokesman said it will be a game-time decision whether he faces the Celtics. James is officially listed as questionable.

James took some outside shots but did very little lateral movement when the media was permitted to watch the Cavs work out.

It’s hard to imagine James missing the first opener of his career and a chance to play against former teammate Kyrie Irving, who was traded this summer to Boston after telling Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out. James and Irving had a sometimes rocky relationship during three seasons together, but they made it to three straight NBA Finals and won the title in 2016.

 

Why did Kyrie Irving request trade from Cavaliers? ‘I will never pinpoint anything, because that’s not what real grownups do’

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Kyrie Irving said he requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he wanted to be happy and maximize his potential.

But why did he feel that couldn’t happen in Cleveland?

Irving hasn’t come close to directly answering that question, saying things like, “My intent, like I said, was for my best intentions.” Returning to Cleveland with the Celtics, Irving was again pressed to explain.

Irving, via MassLive:

Going forward, I kind of wanted to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to figure out and dive in and continue to dive into a narrative that they have no idea about and that probably will never, ever be divulged, because it’s not important. This was literally just a decision I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don’t want to pinpoint anything. I will never pinpoint anything, because that’s not what real grownups do. They continue to move on with their life and and continue to progress, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.

Perhaps, Irving is just following Dwyane Wade‘s advice and taking the high road. But that won’t ease our collective curiosity. Fans will continue to speculate about why Irving wanted out, and reporters will continue to dig into it. Reporting and speculation have both centered on LeBron James.

If Irving eventually wants to set the record straight – and he doesn’t sound interested, lending credence to the theory he wanted to leave LeBron behind – everyone will be all ears.

Cavaliers to honor Kyrie Irving with video during tonight’s game

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Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers, stated no regard for LeBron James‘ feelings about it and slighted Cleveland as a sports city.

Yet, when Irving returns with the Celtics for tonight’s regular-season opener, the Cavs will honor him.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

The Cavaliers intend to honor Kyrie Irving on Tuesday night with a video tribute during Cleveland’s season-opening tilt against Irving’s Boston Celtics.

According to a team source, the video is a “thank you” to Irving intended to show appreciation for all he accomplished in six seasons here.

Irving had a fantastic six-year run with the Cavaliers, and he hit the biggest shot in franchise history to end Cleveland’s title drought in 2016.

But he’s now a sports villain there (not to be mistaken for a bad person). Let the fans enjoy unconditionally booing him for a night. There will be time to honor him when the wounds of his exit aren’t so fresh.

If I were the Cavs, this would be the video I’d show to commemorate Irving’s return: