UPDATE 7.44 p.m. ET: J.R. Smith is now expected to play in Game 3, according to multiple reports, including this one from the New York Post.
1:02 p.m. ET: New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith missed shootaround on Saturday and is questionable for Game 3 against the Pacers, according to the team’s official public relations Twitter page.
The reason given for Smith’s absence was illness, and head coach Mike Woodson told reporters his Sixth Man of the Year was home with a 102 degree fever (via Al Innazzone of Newsday).
But it’s worth noting that Smith has been mired in a dreadful shooting slump, and has gone just 7-of-30 from the field over his last two games. Woodson has said he would consider benching Smith in favor of more productive options should he continue to struggle.
Smith hasn’t spoken to reporters since after the team’s Game 2 win, and the Knicks are famously protective of their players where the media is concerned. In addition to the shooting woes, Smith was seen partying with singer Rihanna this week, and while a majority of players in the league are out late consistently, Smith is under the microscope playing where he does, and his actions are being scrutinized even more closely considering his recent performance.
On a more positive note, the Knicks are expected to see Amar’e Stoudemire return to the lineup for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in early March. He’s expected to play 10-15 minutes off the bench, and if healthy, could be a big help to New York’s chances against the big front line of the Pacers.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.