Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets

Brook Lopez ‘fully cleared’ to play after missing most of last season due to injury


Brook Lopez began last season playing at an All-Star level for the Nets, averaging 20.7 points, six rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 31.4 minutes per game.

But he only managed to make it through 17 appearances, before suffering a foot fracture that prematurely ended his season.

The good news is that Lopez has fully recovered, and has received clearance to resume basketball activities with training camp still two months out.

From Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York:

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, who has been rehabbing after undergoing foot and ankle surgery, told reporters in Russia that he has been “fully cleared for play.”

“I was fully cleared for play and everything about a week and a half ago now,” said Lopez, who is visiting the country with his twin brother, Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez. “… Now it’s time to get back in shape.”

It’ll be interesting to see if the latest iteration of the Nets under new head coach Lionel Hollins will choose to feature Lopez as much offensively, considering the fact that Brooklyn ended up playing much better as the season went on while Lopez was out.

The Nets were just 7-10 in games Lopez played last year, though some of that could be related to so many new pieces being in place on the roster, all of which were being guided by a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd, who took a few months to find his way. Even so, it’s hard to view Lopez being back healthy again as anything but a positive for Brooklyn’s chances of improving next season.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.