Most pundits (myself included) expect a big drop off in Denver this year. Gone is the glue of Andre Iguodala to hold the defense together, gone is the veteran coach George Karl (replaced by the capable but untested Brian Shaw), and they are without Danilo Gallinari, who is key to their offense. It was obvious how much Gallinari mattered to the Nuggets offense during the playoffs.
If Denver is getting back to the postseason, they need Gallinari. He has spent his summer rehabbing his knee in Italy (because if you can choose any place on the planet to rehab, why not Italy?) trying to get right and return to Denver.
So when do they get him back? Probably around Thanksgiving, Gallinari told Sportando.
“I’m very happy with how things are going even if the path is still long. It ‘been a summer of hard work. Eight hours a day. You see the ball just in picture and the time never passes. But I can see the results of the hard work and according to the doctors I should be ready for the end of November.”
The Nuggets are likely to end up in a struggle with the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Mavericks and even Pelicans (don’t sell them short) for one of the final couple playoff spots in the West. They can’t start slow and dig themselves out of a hole this season.
So if they get him back around Thanksgiving, meaning he is there for most of the NBA season, Denver’s chances improve.
Gallinari also said if healthy he plans to play for Italy in the World Championships next summer. That is, if FIBA grants a wild card berth to Italy, which finished eighth and without an automatic bid at EuroBasket. Good chance they get one of FIBA’s four wild cards (expect China and Brazil to get them, too), but nothing is a lock.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.