LaMarcus Aldridge’s x-rays negative after hard fall lands him in wheelchair

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LaMarcus Aldridge landed hard on his back after colliding with Spurs big man Aron Baynes in the third quarter of San Antonio’s win over Portland on Wednesday. Aldridge laid on the court in visible pain until a couple teammates helped him off.

The Trail Blazers are labeling the injury a back contusion.

Peter Socotch of CSN Northwest:

Aldridge remained unable to walk under his own power and seen being wheeled around in a wheelchair during the 4th quarter.

LA had x-rays on his back, which came back negative, according to Trail Blazers PR.

The Trail Blazers, who’ve slipped to fifth in the Western Conference, probably can’t afford to lose Aldridge for long if they’re going to have any chance of securing homecourt advantage in the first-round of the playoffs or even avoiding a more-difficult matchup.

Portland is so much better when Aldridge, who averages 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, plays. The Trail Blazers’ offense is just built around his mid-range offensive game, and they’re a completely different team – a bad team – when he sits.

Aldridge on:

  • Offensive rating: 110.3
  • Defensive rating: 103.9
  • Net rating: +6.3

Aldridge off:

  • Offensive rating: 104.0
  • Defensive rating: 106.6
  • Net rating: -2.6

But when Aldridge missed five games last month with a groin injury, the Trail Blazers turned to a lineup they hadn’t used all season. Dorell Wright joined Portland’s other starters – Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez – and the Blazers went 4-1 in that span.

Though that lineup has played in just two other games since, including Wednesday, its 70 minutes are the most for any lineup that includes the other four starters but not Aldridge. And the results have been solid.

Starters with Aldridge:

  • Offensive rating: 111.5
  • Defensive rating: 103.9
  • Net rating: +7.6

Starters with Wright:

  • Offensive rating: 104.0
  • Defensive rating: 97.3
  • Net rating: +6.6

That defensive rating might be unsustainable, but it at least hints the Wright will help the Trail Blazers trade water until Aldridge returns. Really, that’s all they can hope for.

Report: First-round draft prospect says Phil Jackson fell asleep during his workout

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.

Jay Williams of ESPN:

A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”

Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.

Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.

O.G. Anunoby invited to NBA draft, Harry Giles declines

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.

The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.

Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.

Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?

Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?

I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).

Report: Knicks’ asking price for Kristaps Porzingis ‘massive’

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What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.

At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.

Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.

Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.

But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.

There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.

Lonzo Ball recruits LeBron James to Lakers (video)

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Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.

But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.

The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.

Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?

Ball on ESPN:

LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.

Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.

Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.