Both of these were expected, but as tipoff nears in Game 2 they have become official:
The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala are out for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night.
Leonard re-sprained his left ankle in Game 1, first accidentally stepping on the foot of David Lee (who was sitting on the bench) while trying to run up court, then on a controversial play where Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia closed out on Leonard and took away his landing space.
This is a big blow to the Spurs. One one end Leonard is their best defender, on the other he is the focal point of shot creation in their offense. Game 1 made it clear: The Spurs were +21 in 24 minutes when Leonard was on the court and -23 in the 24 minutes he was not.
Iguodala played just 10 minutes in Game 1, all in the first half. He changes up the depth for the Warriors, who have had good play from their bench these playoffs but have yet to see it seriously tested.
Both of these guys had MRIs that found no structural damage.
Also in both cases, missing this game means almost a week of rest before Game 3 on Saturday.
The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.
Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.
Enter Kay Felder.
The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.
Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.
Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)
For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.
Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.
LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.
LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:
No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.
LeBron – he’s just like us!
As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.
Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).
The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.
Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.