Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets

Paul Pierce practiced Monday, could return vs. Celtics Tuesday

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Tuesday night the Nets could get Paul Pierce and Deron Williams back on the court. Which would be a nice first step toward turning Brooklyn’s tire fire of a season around.

Both Pierce and Williams went through practice on Monday, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

We knew Williams was close to returning, however Pierce was expected to be out at least two weeks when it was announced 10 days ago he broke the third metacarpal bone in his right hand. He said his decision to play will be based on how his hand feels Tuesday after going through a full practice Monday.

D-Will, who needs to be the guy with the ball in his hands controlling the Nets offense, hasn’t played since Nov. 20 due to a sprained ankle. Injuries had also sidelined him for most of training camp.

While the Nets looked the worst they have this season in their 30-point loss at home to the Knicks over the weekend, which dropped them to 6-14 on the year, management is being patient with coach Jason Kidd because injuries have riddled this team and destroyed any chance at building chemistry. That includes a sprained ankle for Brook Lopez that kept the Nets’ best player on the sidelines for seven games.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday night’s games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Getting Pierce back to play the Celtics would have all kinds of significance for Boston (even though the game is in Brooklyn) but mostly it’s just a chance to start to see what this Nets team can be. In the sad Eastern Conference the Nets are not close to out of the playoff hunt — they are just three games out of the Atlantic division lead.

However Brooklyn is going to have to turn around what has been the league’s worst defense and find some improved offense behind Williams and Lopez to make their not-so-lofty goals of a playoff slot a reality.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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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.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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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.

Brilliant.

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.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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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.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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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.

By anyone.

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.