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.
Minnesota is everyone’s team to watch this coming season — Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggings, strong supporting cast, now all coached by Tom Thibodeau.
But they already were a lot of fun last season. Check out their Top 10 plays from last season.
This is the clearest sign yet that Chris Bosh is going to suit up for the Miami Heat this season.
The past two years Bosh has missed the end of the season with a very serious blood clotting issue. He has been working out, saying this week he’s hooping. He’s been frustrated with how the Heat have handled his health situation, including leaving this season hanging. But it sounds like the owner wants him to be ready to play — and owners get what owners want.
There are questions still to be answered: Will Bosh still be on blood thinners, and will he come off them on game days? Will there be restrictions on his travel? Will there be restrictions on his minutes?
But Bosh wants to play, and it sounds like the Heat owner is down with that.
The Heat are a much better team with Bosh on the court — he averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, shot 36.7 percent from three and a true shooting percentage of 57.1, plus he had a PER of 20.2. He was an All-Star, but couldn’t play in the game because of the clotting issue.
With Bosh, the Heat are in the mix for a playoff spot this season. The question is, will they have him for the full season.
Carl Landry and Tibor Pleiss are going to get paid this year — they both had fully guaranteed contracts for this season.
But they are not going to be playing for the Philadelphia 76ers this season — both were waived by the team on Thursday. This was not unexpected. Both players salaries will count against the cap for the Sixers (they are still $16 million below the league salary floor).
Once they clear waivers, both players will be unrestricted free agents (Landry likely will latch on with another team for the league minimum, Pleiss may as well or could head overseas).
Landry will still make $6.5 million (fourth highest on the Sixers) but would have been battling for minutes in crowded and young frontcourt with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor (among other potential players, for example the Sixers are high on Anthony Barber).
Pleiss is in the same boat in terms of minutes, he was acquired from the Jazz along with a couple of second round draft picks just a few days back (the Sixers sent Utah Kendall Marshall, who was promptly waived). That trade was really about getting the picks — a very Sam Hinkie move by Bryan Colangelo.
This didn’t move the needle much on the Sixers season.
This is a huge season — a contract kind of season of sorts — for Noah Vonleh in Portland. The team has an option on him next season (the third of his rookie deal), and to impress people he is going to have to earn minutes at the four in front of Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis.
The Blazers have high hopes for Vonleh, he was a central part of the Nicolas Batum trade with Charlotte. However, watching Vonleh at Summer League — 12 points a game on 46.3 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds a game in more than 30 minutes a night — he didn’t show the development anyone had hoped to see. He should have dominated at that level. He didn’t.
Now there another injury setback for him.
He should be good to go around the start of training camp at the end of September.
But he can’t afford a slow start in training camp (that set him back his rookie season). He needs to show what he can do from day one, or Portland is going to move on without him.