Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like kids love pizza….
• Jason Collins is not on an NBA team as we approach the start of the season. Is that because he provides a limited skill set — defense in the post — as the NBA wants bigs who stretch the floor, is it because he’s older, or is it because he came out as openly gay last summer? In our “if you read one NBA thing today make it this” file is Friday’s post from Kevin Arnovitz (one of the best NBA writers around) at ESPN, the answer is not simple. It’s a little bit of everything.
League trends aside, nearly a dozen execs say privately that the media glare that would come with a Collins signing just isn’t worth the distraction to most teams. Locker rooms are fragile places already and not always receptive to change, and though NBA players as a whole are extremely professional with the media, it’s not their favorite half hour of the day. The easier it is, the better. If he were a rotation player or better, the thinking goes, the cost/benefit analysis might produce a different outcome.
In other words, the market for Collins would be bigger if he weren’t openly gay.
• Andrea Bargnani returns with the Knicks to Toronto on Friday. Raptors coach Dwane Casey’s advice? “Buy earplugs.”
• The latest “Licenced to Lillard” video is out, and Damian Lillard looks back on his rookie season and talks about getting ready for year two.
• Duke has become the first university program to put in the Sports VU motion tracking cameras (which will be in all NBA arenas this year).
• Larry Bird didn’t expect to be back with the Pacers quite so quickly, but he’s glad he took a year off.
• In case you missed it, Portland’s Thomas Robinson was ejected from Wednesday’s preseason game, although apparently it was pretty ticky-tack.
• JaVale McGee was buying Nuggets fans donuts.
• My favorite new tumblr: stories from New York/Times Square hotel concierges.
• Red Auerbach’s daughter says her father would never have traded both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. I don’t know, by all accounts Red was pretty much an old-school hard ass.
• Finally, Yahoo’s Marc Spears swung by NBC Sports Network’s Sports Dash on Friday to talk the upcoming NBA season.
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?).