Now that Grant Hill has retired and the playing days of Kurt Thomas similarly appear to be behind him, the players whose birthdays are just a day apart no longer top the list of the league’s oldest players.
The honor now belongs to Steve Nash, and if he wasn’t aware of it before, he is now — the NBA sent him a memo notifying him of his official status as the oldest player to grace a roster to start the season.
That fact, along with the way the Lakers stumbled into the playoffs following an injury-riddled campaign that included seeing Nash sidelined for 32 games, has Mike D’Antoni considering ways to preserve his veteran point guard for the duration of the season.
From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:
According to Nash, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is considering adopting a model similar to how San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich coaches Tim Duncan by giving him games off to rest throughout the season even when he is healthy.
“Mike mentioned it to me,” Nash told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday during a sit-down interview on the eve of the first day of Lakers training camp. “I’m open to it. Obviously I’m not the type of guy that’s going to look at the schedule and see which games I can miss — that’s never occurred to me — but if there’s a way that we can make the season better by missing a game here and there, I’m open to it.”
The Lakers added Jordan Farmar this summer, who along with Steve Blake should be able to take plenty of the weight from Nash’s shoulders in terms of capably running the offense while he gets some rest. Managing minutes will be key for the Lakers this season, who appear to be deeper overall even though the talent drop-off is relatively steep once you get past the team’s top-three players.
The Gregg Popovich model of randomly sitting his stars can be frustrating to fans, and may even seem controversial at times. But you can’t argue with the results — his veterans looked as sharp as ever in taking the eventual champion Heat to seven games in last season’s NBA Finals, and while the Lakers have no business with aspirations that high entering this season, they’d still like Nash to be playing at his highest level for as long as possible.
Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:
We likely won’t know more about the extent of his injury until tomorrow, but if it was serious, that would be a major loss for the Hornets. Kidd-Gilchrist is their best perimeter defender and an important piece if they hope to compete for a playoff spot this year.
CHICAGO — Derrick Rose is nearing a return to practice with the Bulls. After undergoing surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured left orbital suffered in practice on Tuesday, Rose’s recovery is going as expected and he’s expected to rejoin the team on Wednesday.
“The follow-up [exam] went very well,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Saturday. “They’ve advised him to continue to let that site heal, and they think the best way for him to do that is to stay at home at this time. We plan on him being back on Wednesday morning.”
Rose won’t be able to participate in practice for another week after that — Hoiberg said the previously announced two-week timetable for returning to basketball activities remains on schedule — but with a radically different offense, there’s a lot to learn, and just being around the team to watch practices and learn the new play sets is important.
“We’re going to actually get over there and watch some film with him today,” Hoiberg said. “Because again, like we talked about [Friday], we’ve added new sets, new things, so we’ll get him caught up by a couple of coaches going over and seeing him at his house.”
The two-week timetable puts Rose’s return to basketball activity around next Wednesday, October 14. From there, it will be a matter of getting him back into game shape before Hoiberg is comfortable playing him in games.
Hoiberg said earlier this week that he is optimistic Rose will be able to play when the Bulls kick off the regular season at home on October 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.