The Pacers have the best record in the league at 20-3, and they’ve gotten there with two All-Stars in the starting lineup and a much-improved bench unit over the one they had last season.
The available talent is about to get even deeper, as Danny Granger is set to return to the team’s lineup by the end of the coming week.
From Scott Agness of Pacers.com:
“I was waiting for the Danny Granger ,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said more than four minutes into a post-practice interview. “I finally have news on Danny Granger.
“We’re going to target next Friday for a hopeful return to see how this week of practice goes.”
Until now, the Pacers stayed away from publicly announcing a timeline after the initial diagnosis. Now, both Vogel and Granger appear giddy about the possibility of him playing Friday when the Houston Rockets are in town. Coincidentally, the game will be nationally televised by ESPN.
Granger was believed to be physically ready to play sooner, but with the team doing so well, there was no need to rush him back. The hope is that with the extra reps practicing while fully healthy, the amount of time needed to get acclimated to the rhythm and speed of the NBA game will be minimized.
The Pacers will be very interested to see how Granger fits into this team, considering that they achieved last season’s success without him for all but five regular season games. If Granger is able to contribute anywhere near the level he played at before the injuries, he could help bolster an offense that ranks just 13th in efficiency to this point in the season.
There’s also the trade angle to consider. Granger is on the books for $14 million this season, but it’s an expiring contract that will leave him as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Teams that are looking to create cap space may be interested in taking on Granger’s deal, and if he’s just OK in his return, the Pacers may consider trading him before the deadline to gain some additional assets.
The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.
But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.
Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:
I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.
I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.
He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.
I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?
Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.
One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.
Malik Monk‘s game is a perfect fit for Summer League: The tempo is up, the guards have the ball in their hands, the plays are basic, and the defense is inconsistent (to be kind). Monk’s ability to create shots for himself, score in transition off pull-ups or attacking the rim, and his ability to score on spot-up chances coming off screens means he would put up numbers in the glorified pick-up games of Summer League.
Except we’re not going to get to see it this year. Monk will miss Summer League due to a sprained ankle suffered during the pre-draft workout process, the Charlotte Hornets announced. The team says his rehab process is 2-4 weeks, but they are not going to push their new player just to get him in some meaningless Summer League games.
Charlotte was lucky Monk fell down the draft board to them at 11, he was rated higher than that on most boards. He can score at the NBA level, how far his career goes will depend on his ability to do other things, particularly defend. His style of game is similar to Lou Williams or Monta Ellis, both of whom have had long NBA careers because they can just get buckets.
That would have been fun to see in Summer League, but maybe next year.
Self-serving Knicks president Phil Jackson said Carmelo Anthony “would be better off somewhere else.”
Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony, revealed a different point of view when asked whether she’d divorce the star forward and about trade rumors involving him.
La La on The Wendy Williams Show:
Not right now. I’m not. You know, marriages are tough. And you know that. We all know that. It’s filled with ups and downs. And we’re just going through a time right now.
But him and I are the best of friends, and our number one commitment is to our son, Kiyan. We have to set an example to Kiyan, and that’s what’s most important to me. So, I would absolutely never say a bad thing about my husband. That is my son’s father, and he is an amazing dad. I could not ask for a better dad.
Every day, I see a different team. That’s for sure.
The most important thing with just that is to stay close to Kiyan. That’s my priority. That’s his priority.
So, wherever he ends up, of course we want him to be happy.
I am hood, and I want to stay close to the hood. So, New York is definitely where I’m at and where I’m staying.
The Knicks are lousy, and working for Jackson is no treat. Carmelo knows all that.
But this might reveal why Anthony hasn’t – and, according to Jackson, still won’t – waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal from New York. There are things that matter more than basketball.
Pending free agents almost always express loyalty to their current team, whether or not they actually plan to re-sign.
That’s what makes Danilo Gallinari‘s comments stand out.
Gallinari, via Premium Sport, as translated by E. Carchia of Sportando:
“Nuggets are not my first choice but they are exactly at the same level of the other teams. Denver’s advantage is that they can offer me a five-year contract while other franchises can offer me a four-year deal. Nuggets are at the same level of the others” Gallinari said.
One way to look at this: If a player stating a desire to return to his team – even if he plans to leave – is the baseline, Gallinari is definitely gone from Denver.
Another: Gallinari is being exceedingly honest, and we should just take his comments at face value.