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.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.