Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat

LeBron James planning to play Miami Heat’s final eight games


Since LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003-04, only Andre Miller has played more regular-season games.

Of all LeBron’s achievements, this might the most underrated. The ability to stay healthy is huge, especially for good players. If top  players like LeBron miss games, the dropoff to their replacements is huge and extremely costly to their teams.

So, LeBron’s endurance has been pivotal.

But LeBron also missed his team’s final regular-season game each of the past six years, sitting out more April games half those years. His teams have typically been positioned to rest players, and he has indulged.

That could change this season.

Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel:

James says he plans on playing the remaining eight games as long as he stays healthy. After making that statement, he promptly “knocked on wood” at his locker with hopes of avoiding injury.

“I have no choice,” James said. “I don’t plan on sitting out any of these (eight) games unless something happens. I’m going to be in the lineup.”

“It’s never been part of my DNA,” said James, who has missed just three games this season. “If I feel I can get something, I’ve got to be out there for my teammates. It’s my obligation to be out there for them. I’m dealing with a few things but for me to sit out, I have to be dealing with a lot more.”

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The Heat (52-22) are locked in a battle with the Pacers (53-23) for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, and that very well could go down to the season’s final day.

Dwyane Wade has been hobbled, putting more onus on LeBron to carry Miami. Resting Wade definitely takes priority over resting LeBron.

Plus, the more LeBron plays, the better chance he has of stealing MVP from Kevin Durant.

Durant leads the competition because he’s had the best season and voters have LeBron fatigue, but the race is still too close to call. If LeBron plays well these last couple weeks and Durant slips, it’s at least possible LeBron could overtake the Thunder star. LeBron definitely can’t win if he sits.

There’s a lot more at stake for LeBron than usual at this point in the season, and that’s why he’s taking this unusual step.

Pelicans signing center Jerome Jordan

Marc Gasol, Jerome Jordan
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Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:

Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.