NBA Draft basketball

Alex Len harbors no resentment toward Maryland for handling of injury

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NEW YORK – It’s reached the point where I expect so little from major college athletic programs that I hardly raised an eyebrow when Alex Len told Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons he played through the stress fracture in his ankle last season and didn’t have an MRI done until after Maryland’s last game.

But Kudos to Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs for not dropping the issue. Using that video and a USA Today article that confirms Len’s injury wasn’t diagnosed until after the season, Timmons raised the question of whether Maryland acted appropriately.

It’s an important discussion, especially given the claims by the NCAA that its duty is to protect its athletes. Maryland had economic incentive to exploit Len (even more than they already did). He was a top player, and he could help the Terrapins win games and generate fan support. Who cares whether he suffers long-term damage? He was gone after this year, anyway, and wouldn’t be their problem.

Of course, we hope Maryland would act more scrupulously than that, but there should be more safeguards in place – namely a system that gives less power to coaches and administrators and more power to players than current setup does. Players like Len should have greater control of their own medical treatment.

However, while the issue is legitimate and important, Len does not make a good poster child for it. He very clearly said he has no problem with how Maryland handled his injury.

“A stress fracture is hard to discover sometimes,” Len said. “Because we did x-rays when it started hurting, but the doctor didn’t see anything. Sometimes, you can’t see anything. It just shows up after two months.”

Len  came stateside from Ukraine two years ago to decide on a school. But because it was already August, he had just two weeks and looked at only Maryland and Virginia Tech.

Obviously on little information, he picked Maryland, and obviously, it’s worked well.

Even his injury has provided at least one benefit. Len said an x-ray revealed his growth plate is still open and he might grown another inch.

The basketball wasn’t always pretty in College Park, but it proved useful for Len, who grew up – after his famed and short-lived gymnastics career ended – playing international-style basketball.

“Coach Turgeon did a tremendous job helping a lot,” Len said. “He kind of guided me, what I needed to do, because when I came from Europe, I wanted to play outside. He explained to me, on the block, that’s where I’m going to play throughout my career.”

It’s fantastic that Len appreciated his Maryland experience. It’s important these schools are held accountable, so the next athlete feels the same way.

PBT Podcast: Lakers, Pacific Division preview with Mark Medina of L.A. Daily News

Los Angeles Lakers' D'Angelo Russell, left, poses with with Jordan Clarkson (6) during the team's NBA basketball media day in El Segundo, Calif., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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We’re baaaaaack!

The ProBasketballTalk Podcast at NBC Sports is done with its summer hiatus, and there will be a couple of podcasts a week now running through the NBA season, trade deadline, playoffs, and eventually free agency. We’ll talk about it all.

We start with NBA season previews, going division by division, and we start that tour on the West Coast. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News joins Kurt Helin of NBC to talk about the Lakers and their rebuild. From there the conversation goes to questions such as can anyone beat the Warriors? Are the Clippers contenders? Plus we talk about the building processes going on in Sacramento and Phoenix.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

 

Report: Rockets signing P.J. Hairston

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 21:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and P.J. Hairston #19 of the Charlotte Hornets watch a shot during their game at Toyota Center on December 21, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets created a little roster confusion by giving Gary Payton II a fully guaranteed deal, bringing Houston to 15 players (the regular-season roster limit) with guaranteed salaries plus restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas.

This won’t clarify the situation, but P.J. Hairston will give the Rockets another intriguing piece.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Hairston was a first-round pick just two years ago, and at age 23, he still presents upside. He has at least stopped producing negative headline after negative headline after negative

Now, we can focus on just Hairston’s major on-court flaws. He misses a lot of shots and does little else. But he has some raw tools, even if they barely showed with the Hornets and Grizzlies.

If the Rockets make a roster-clearing move, they could take a chance on keeping the talented/troubled wing around. More likely, he heads to the D-League, where Houston can develop him in its system.

Joakim Noah: Jerry Reinsdorf’s ‘frontline’ comment a ‘low blow’

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10:  NBA player Joakim Noah looks on during a game between the Florida Gators and the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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After watching Joakim Noah leave for the Knicks, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said, “We felt Joakim wasn’t going to be a frontline guy anymore.”

Ouch.

Noah, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“He’s entitled to his opinion,’’ Noah said. “I feel I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me that’s all that matters. I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, but at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter of my career.”

Reinsdorf was right. Noah, 31, is on the downside of his career. I wouldn’t want him for $72 million over the next four years.

But Noah is also right. He gave the Bulls everything he had.

Noah didn’t deserve that parting shot, even if it was correct.

I also wonder how much this has to do with Chicago correctly assessing Noah’s value vs. the Bulls losing a player whom they wanted to keep and lashing out about it.

Spurs waive Ryan Richards, open roster spot

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 12: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs waits for the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring the ball down court during the second half of Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 12, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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The Spurs drafted Ryan Richards No. 49 in 2010, and he could’ve signed with San Antonio any year since. To maintain a second-rounder’s rights, a team must extend a required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum. If the player rejects the offer, those rights extend another year, and the team must then offer the tender again the following year.

Richards finally took the tender this year.

Just a couple days into training camp, the Spurs showed how much they value him.

Spurs release:

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have waived forward/center Ryan Richards.

San Antonio now has 19 players and one open roster spot. I know what you’re thinking.