The mask will have to wait, at least for one game.
LeBron James has been ruled out of Sunday afternoon’s nationally televised contest against the Bulls due to the broken nose he suffered in Thursday’s win over the Thunder.
Erik Spoelstra informed reporters of the decision before the game, and also told them who will get the start in his place: Greg Oden.
From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
James, who had his nose repaired Friday and then was limited to light shooting at Saturday’s practice, now will have a full week to recover, with the Heat’s next game Thursday at home against the New York Knicks, the second game in this four-game homestand.
“We understand the big picture,” coach Erik Spoelstra said 90 minutes before Sunday’s game.”The fact that we don’t play until Thursday, it makes the most sense.”
Oden has been intentionally brought along slowly by the Heat this season, only appearing in 10 games to this point and never for more than 13 minutes. He’s averaged 2.8 points and 2.2 minutes in 7.8 minutes per game, but just because he’s starting we shouldn’t assume he’ll get a significant bump in his minutes.
Coaches often times prefer to keep their regular rotation intact when a star player is out with an injury, so a seldom-used reserve gets the nod instead of the next best player off the bench. That’s likely the case here with Oden, although if he is to be a factor for Miami in the postseason, the team will at some point need to get him acclimated to playing on a consistent basis.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.