Alex Len says he has ‘no pain’ following surgeries to both ankles, will be ready to start the season

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The Suns selected Alex Len with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft fully aware of an ankle injury that would keep him out of action all summer long.

But once examined by team medical personnel, it was determined that he should undergo a second surgery to the other ankle as a precautionary measure.

Obviously, this isn’t exactly what you want to hear about such a high pick in the draft before he ever puts on a uniform for your favorite team. But all appears to be well at this point, and Len, appearing at the Suns’ uniform unveiling in Scottsdale on Thursday, says he should be ready to go by the time training camp begins.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

Len, 20, has been out of the boot for a week and is on schedule to be ready to participate when Suns training camp opens in Flagstaff in late September. He lost weight after his surgery but has gained back 10 pounds during his rehabilitation work in the past month.

“I’ve got two more weeks of rehab and then I’ll be back about 85-90 percent,” Len said. “I’ll be back for training camp and be ready for the season. The ankle’s feeling great. I have no pain.”

Players like Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore were still on the board when the Suns drafted Len, and the pick was new GM Ryan McDonough’s first important decision with the team — one that will be scrutinized even more closely considering how long McDonough has been scouting him.

But for now, it looks as though Len is on track to be fully recovered and available for the start of the regular season.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.