Paul Pierce has been playing in pain all season.
If you saw the slight downtick in his scoring numbers — scoring 18.5 points a game, one less than last year, shooting 41.5 percent, down from 44.3 percent — you could easily attribute that to age for the 35-year-old who still carries a heavy scoring load for Boston.
But it’s more than that, he’s been playing with a pinched nerve in his neck all season, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com.
“It’s something that’s been bothering me probably like the last two months,” Pierce said after the Celtics 71-69 win over the Chicago Bulls. “It’s getting better, though. The last couple of weeks, it’s been better than it has been.”
Note to Dwight Howard: This is how you handle things. Don’t complain to the media, don’t make excuses, play as hard as you can through everything and let the chips fall where they fall. If you put out the effort, fans are amazingly forgiving.
And Pierce puts out the effort. He has had to take on a larger playmaking and scoring role since Rajon Rondo went down, and he didn’t blink. In fact, the Celtics have won seven of eight.
He will have to put out a lot more effort in the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs if Boston is going to make any kind of run. You know he will give it his all.
Kevin Durant faced tremendous backlash for leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.
But not from NBA rookies.
In the league’s annual rookie survey, a plurality of first-year players voted Durant their favorite player:
1. Kevin Durant, Golden State — 29.7%
T-2. Carmelo Anthony, New York — 9.4%
LeBron James, Cleveland — 9.4%
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City — 9.4%
T-5. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio — 6.3%
Kobe Bryant (retired) — 6.3%
Paul George, Indiana — 6.3%
Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers — 6.3%
T-9. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota — 4.7%
Others receiving votes: Vince Carter, Memphis; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Marc Gasol, Memphis; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
This is the third straight year Durant has claimed the top spot, matching LeBron and Kobe for combined wins in the six years this question was asked of rookies:
This is further evidence: If you resent Kevin Durant for exercising his right to switch employers after nine years with a company that acquired him by producing an awful product, you’re out of touch. Follow the kids’ lead and get with it.
Before signing with the Bucks, Jason Terry said he reached out to multiple contenders.
He also spoke with the Lakers.
Terry tried to leverage his relationship with Lakers coach Luke Walton, who also played at Arizona (though their time there didn’t overlap).
Terry on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
I called my good friend Luke. I told him if he needed any help, veteran leadership, in that capacity – Lakers – with an ability to coach at the end of my deal, then that was something I would be looking forward to. He utterly declined, and I respect him for that.
Gotta love a guy who announces to the world his pitch of providing veteran leadership was “utterly declined.”
The Lakers should be just fine with Jose Calderon and Luol Deng.
The Nuggets already had too many quality young big men who won’t easily mesh in Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic.
Joffrey Lauvergne only complicated the issue.
So, Denver is moving him.
Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:
Oklahoma City already had 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries plus Semaj Christon (who’s likely headed to the D-League). Lauvergne’s salary is only partially guaranteed, but given his ability and cost, the Thunder surely plan to keep him.
The bigger question is how they use him. They’re already loaded with big men: Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, Nick Collison and Mitch McGary – though perhaps McGary, facing a five-game suspension for drugs, gets waived to make room for Lauvergne.
The 6-foot-11 Lauvergne runs the floor well, and he can score in the pick-and-roll and on post-ups. He’s an impressive passer for his size, and he crashes the glass hard. But he’s not much of a rim-protector defensively. At age 24, he should produce well over the next several years – though he’s headed toward restricted free agency next summer.
Depending on the second-round picks, this might have just been a value play by the Thunder. They can figure out the rest later.
The Bucks hope Xavier Henry is just another thing Byron Scott is wrong about.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Henry – the No. 12 pick in the 2010 draft – never found his footing in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets or Los Angeles Lakers. He made some strides with the Lakers in 2013-14, but he tore his Achilles early the following season. That compounded the knee injuries that made Scott doubt Henry could meet the expectations placed on him coming out of Kansas.
Milwaukee now has 15 players, the regular-season roster limit. If Henry’s deal is unguaranteed, he’s obviously not a lock to stick. But the Bucks could use another wing. I’m guessing they’ll add more players to compete with Henry for that final spot.