Mike D’Antoni leaned heavily on Steve Nash last season, when he could.
A broken leg and an assortment of other injuries kept Nash down to 50 games last season, but when he did play he averaged 32.5 minutes a game. Up from the season before.
With the Lakers moving this season toward a more pure version of what coach Mike D’Antoni wants to run (after having to modify it heavily due to Dwight Howard and the rest of an ill-fitting roster last season) we could see more Nash.
But with Nash at age 39, turning 40 during the season, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti suggested maybe a reduction in minutes, as he told Mark Medina of the Daily News.
“He might be a guy that would be better off reducing his minutes,” Vitti said of Nash, who played an average of 32.5 minutes per game last season. “Because he wasn’t himself last year, let’s see what he’s like in camp. We’re not going to beat the guy up.”
Vitti even suggested Nash get rested certain games, such as on back-to-backs or four games in five nights.
No doubt D’Antoni has good intentions, but it will really come down to the play of Steve Blake and particularly Jordan Farmer. There is a hope around the Lakers that Farmar could have a good year returned to a system of pushing the ball plus pick-and-rolls that better fits his strengths than other systems he played in around the NBA. (The triangle was an uncomfortable fit for Farmar, for example.) That’s an interesting theory, some guys have thrived in this system, but after the chances Farmar has had we’ll need to see that one in action to believe it.
If the Lakers are going to grab one of those last couple playoff spots in the West, a few things are going to have to break their way. One of the key ones is health — Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are all older, with a lot of miles on them, and guys who have battled nagging injuries for years. If they are slowed this season there isn’t much quality depth behind them. Even if it means sacrificing a game here or there, the Lakers may need to get those guys some rest.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).