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.
Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.
So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.
LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.
When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.
At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.
The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.