Greg Oden wants to return to NBA next season, ideally play more

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Greg Oden has appeared in an NBA Finals game — he played 1:36 at the garbage time end of Game 3, when the Spurs were destined to win.

On one hand, that’s an amazing comeback — Oden had seven knee surgeries, three microfracture, and where most would have given up and just lived the rest of their lives comfortably on the million he made off his rookie deal as the former No. 1 pick, he loved the game enough to fight all the way back and make the Miami Heat.

Still, Oden wishes he got to play a little more. He wants to return to the NBA next season and make that happen, he told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.

“Yeah, I’m sure I’m playing again next year but honestly I haven’t given that much thought,” Oden told CSNNW.com Wednesday after practice. “I’m trying to concentrate on this and getting this ring first and after that, that’s part of the thought process. My body feels good. I can still play.  I’ll be alright….

“It wasn’t what I was hoping it would be,” the big man said. “I would definitely like to have played more but you know, everything that I’ve been through, I’m just happy to be out there and being on a team. Last year  I wasn’t and this year I’m on a team that possibly can win the championship. I’m happy in that, but personally, playing wise, I’m not has happy as I want to be.”

The Heat have succeeded going small but brought in Oden as insurance in case they needed to go big, particularly against Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers. Turns out they didn’t — Indiana still can’t deal with the Heat’s small ball game. So Oden sat.

Still, I’m with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on this.

“Greg Oden is one of the biggest success stories in this league, and unfortunately people are only judging him by the fact of how many minutes he plays,” Spoelstra said during the Finals. “Two years ago people were saying he would never play the game again and he’s available every night.”

Some team is going to take a chance on Oden for next season. Whether or not he gets more playing time remains to be seen, but for his sake I hope he gets the chance. And his knees let him.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.