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.
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.
He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.
In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.
Rudy Gay expressed displeasure with how the Kings were handling trade rumors. Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac retorted that Gay had his phone number.
Apparently, Gay found it.
Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:
Following those comments, Gay told ABC10 on Thursday afternoon that he had since spoken with Divac.
“I have talked to Vlade,” Gay said from his Nike Skills Academy at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin. “I can’t say since Monday stuff has changed, but I just feel like we have a little bit of time to start changing things.”
Gay, who will be entering his 11th NBA season, has insisted he hasn’t demanded a trade and should he remain a member of the Kings by the time training camp opens in October, he says he’ll report and be ready to go.
“At this point in my career I just want to be happy,” said Gay. “I talked to Vlade and we’re trying to make that happen.”
Even if he hasn’t demanded a trade, it sure sounds like Gay would welcome one. I doubt the Kings would mind moving on, either.
But it takes another team to trade for Gay, and so far, one hasn’t emerged.
In the meantime, tensions appear to be eased. Open communication usually helps.