J.R. Smith hopes to be ready for Knicks’ season opener

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There are obvious goals ahead: First the start of training camp, then at the end of October the start of the regular season.

For players such as J.R. Smith who had offseason surgery — to his left patella tendon, and to fix a tear in the lateral meniscus of the same knee — the goal is to be ready by those dates.

But the Knicks the reining Sixth Man of the Year healthy in April, May (and they hope June), not Oct. 30 to take on Milwaukee (the Knicks season opener). So they don’t want to rush him.

Still, Smith wants to be back when the season tips off and hopes he can make it, he told ESPNNewYork.com.

“It’s still too early to tell from what I hear — from the doc and all that,” said Smith, whose current rehab consists of pool workouts and riding the exercise bike. “I hope so. I want to be there opening night. I want to start the training camp off with my team and with my teammates.”

That timetable is on pace with what the doctor said after the surgery.

Remember Smith signed a new three-year, $17 million deal with the Knicks this summer (the surgery was announced days later).

Smith will play through pain — he did it last season, which is why the major knee surgery was needed. Smith started feeling knee pain last training camp but kept playing all season.

“I hate sitting out and I hate to be the guy in the gym watching everybody else play. So I wanted to play through it no matter what,” he said. “The doctors told me to sit out and wait, sit two, three games during the season last year, and I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to play as many games as I could. I ended up playing 80 out of 82, which isn’t so bad.”

The Knicks are going to need a repeat season out of Smith (maybe even more consistent) if they are going to live up to their goals of being a contender in an East that got better around them.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on resting players: “It’s complicated … kind of like healthcare”

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, along with LeBron James, has been at the center of the discussion about resting players in the NBA. The legendary coach has been credited with the idea to rest star players en masse during the season to save them for the playoffs. Meanwhile, after the Cavaliers sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love during a primetime matchup on ESPN, the team received a call from the league.

Commissioner Adam Silver has been active in talking about the issue as of late, and has even issued a memo to team owners to be considerate about resting players.

Popovich, meanwhile, thinks the issue isn’t quite as easy to clear up. Speaking with ESPN, the Spurs coach noted that each party in an NBA team has a different role and goal, and that sometimes those goals pull opposite each other.

Additionally, Popovich said asking owners to step in to make a decision over a coach or GM could be a serious issue.

Via ESPN:

But we all have different roles, different jobs, and different goals. We can’t satisfy everybody. But I think that every owner’s gonna be different. I think it’s a slippery slope, and makes it difficult to keep trust, and camaraderie to the degree that I think you have to have to be successful in this league if owners get too involved in what coaches and GMs are doing.”

“I think keeping owners informed about what’s going on is mandatory, and having input is fine,” Popovich said. “But I think there has to be an understanding that coaches and GMs have brains also, and we know who pays the bills. It’s a slippery slope, I think, if owners got too involved in that process. That trust relationship in those three areas is really important in creating a culture and making something that can be long-lasting.

What Popovich is basically pointing out is that GMs and coaches are hired to be the basketball minds for a reason. Having owners meddle in day-to-day decisions like resting players could muddy that relationship.

The San Antonio coach did concede that the best idea might be to rest players when they are at home, in front of home crowds who are more likely to have already seen their top players that season simply due to repetition. But Popovich isn’t in favor of broad, sweeping mandates on resting players from the league since that wouldn’t always be prudent.

“That’s why no basic rule has been written, so to speak,” said Popovich. “Because you can’t write a rule that covers everything. It’s complicated … kind of like healthcare.”

Chicago does humor with “Beauty and the Bull” snapchat musical

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The Beauty and the Beast movie is both a hit and ripe for satire. Or just amusing spinoffs.

Enter the Chicago Bulls, with Benny the Bull mascot and Robin Lopez pitching in on a musical takeoff of the film promoting the team.

Well played Bulls.

LeBron James drives through Wizards defense, dunks on

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Even when they are getting beat — and the Cavaliers have some issues to shake out before the playoffs start — there are a couple times a game that LeBron James makes a play that is stunning.

For example, splitting defenders out high with his dribble then going in and dunking on Ian Mahinmi. LeBron did that Saturday night.

The Wizards beat the Cavaliers and Cleveland has issues that are bigger than LeBron’s goggles (Boston can tie Cleveland for the top spot in the East with a win Sunday), but never doubt LeBron’s explosiveness.

Raptors’ Patrick Patterson taunts Mavericks’ bench after three, Rick Carlisle talks back (VIDEO)

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Toronto handed Dallas its 41st loss of the season Saturday night, which means with the Mavericks’ next loss their streak of winning seasons will come to an end at 16.

Toronto was talking a lot of smack while getting that win. At least Patrick Patterson was when he was draining corner threes in front of the Mavericks’ bench. On the one above, Patterson chirps and coach Rick Carlisle goes back at him verbally. They both pick up technical fouls for their trouble.

I’m surprised this doesn’t happen a little more during games, there’s a lot of talking down there