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Hornets’ Kaminsky healthy again after ‘miserable process’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Frank Kaminsky never expected to be hospitalized for four days in June of 2016 with tubes running in and out of his chest following surgery to repair an air pocket in his lung.

He never expected to spend two months doing little else than sitting on his couch wheezing because it hurt to breathe. He never expected to lose 20 pounds and have his muscle mass deteriorate. And he never expected it would affect him mentally like it did.

“They said it was going to be this minor procedure and it ended up being this thing where I was in a lot of pain,” Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky is breathing a little easier this year – literally.

He ran through drills feeling healthy and conditioned as the Hornets opened training camp on Tuesday, a far cry from where he was this time a year ago.

“He looks really good now – bigger, stronger and he’s put a lot of work into his skill level,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Tuesday.

Kaminsky is just happy to be healthy – physically and mentally.

Along with the physical pain, the Hornets’ former first-round draft pick said the surgery started to affect his mind knowing the regular season was approaching and he was falling behind his teammates and other players around the league in his conditioning. He’d regularly call his mother and plead with her to hang out with him just to pass the time.

“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,” Kaminsky said. “I didn’t take any of the pain medicine. It was a whole miserable process.”

All the while the season opener in October approached like a ticking clock.

“I was really losing my mind,” Kaminsky said. “I was calling doctors telling them, `I’m ready. I feel fine. I want to go workout.’ They were like, `No, you need to let yourself heal and recover.’ I remember having so many nights where I was worried about getting back into shape that I couldn’t physically fall asleep. All of that caught up to me and I had somewhat of a mental breakdown.”

Kaminsky said he kept telling himself that he would get back to where he was before surgery.

Once cleared to being working out in August, he started an intense regimen designed to get him ready for the season.

He worked hard. Too hard.

He nearly worked himself to the point of exhaustion.

“I tried to put a whole offseason’s worth of work into a month-and-a-half,” Kaminsky said. “It didn’t work out so well.”

The 7-foot, 242-pound Kaminsky did make it back in time for the season opener and had six straight double-digit scoring games, but was feeling worse as the games passed. He spent more time worrying about his chest and his conditioning than rehabbing other parts of his body after games and it affected his play.

It wasn’t until a couple of months into the season that he began to feel normal.

“I remember starting the season not feeling great and waking up in the morning so tired,” Kaminsky said. “I was working so hard to get back to where I was that I was burning myself out day after day.”

Kaminsky still wound up playing in 75 games with 16 starts in his second NBA season with the Hornets. He averaged a respectable 11.7 points and 4.5 rebounds while playing 26 minutes per game, but he shot less than 40 percent from the field. He shot 32.8 percent from 3-point range. But he said he can play much better.

Clifford agrees.

He said Kaminsky looks like an entirely different player this year.

“His body was actually different” last year, Clifford said.

Mentally, Kaminsky is back where he belongs, too – and he feels there are big things ahead of him.

“Having this offseason where I haven’t had a single setback,” Kaminsky said, “I’m excited about what I will be able to do this year.”

 

The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)

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Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.

In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.

Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.

Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.

Via Twitter:

Hmm. 31.

3-1.

3-1 lead.

Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.

Report: Cavaliers ditched Kyrie Irving tribute video idea vs. Celtics

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It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.

Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.

Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.

According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.

Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.

Via Cleveland.com:

According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”

Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.

A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.

The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.

Already a question, Celtics’ depth issues tested by Hayward injury

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Tonight’s game story was probably always going to be about the Boston Celtics’ wing depth. It still is, I guess, but it reads a lot different now that Gordon Hayward is likely out for the season with a fractured tibia and dislocated left ankle.

Hayward, the biggest free agent prize this offseason, signed with the Celtics over the summer as the team moved in a new direction with Kylie Irving. In doing so, the Celtics leveraged a bit of their wing depth by sending Jae Crowder to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons.

Tuesday’s opening ceremony was supposed to give us a better idea of how the Celtics depth would fare against the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart are slated to be a big part of the Boston playoff hopes this year. So too is Marcus Morris once he returns from a knee injury. Of course, that was when we were sure that Hayward would be anchoring the small forward position.

Now, Hayward is out for an undetermined period of time after suffering a catastrophic injury on that fateful alley-oop attempt against LeBron James. With Hayward went Boston’s hopes of a win as the opening matchup of the series went to the Cavaliers, 102–90, albeit with a bit of late excitement as a Irving took the potential game-tying shot as time expired with James guarding him.

Via Twitter:

So here we are, where we originally anticipated to start but with one less star player accounted for. While the Celtics mounted an impressive third quarter comeback, we still don’t have answers to our questions on the Boston depth chart.

It’s true that we saw some impressive play on Tuesday from the guys that were expected to complement Hayward on the way. Brown led the team with 25 points on 11-of-23 shooting in 40 minutes. Likewise, Smart showed some flashes of defensive brilliance even as he went 0-of-4 from 3-point range. Tatum, always expected to contribute the least in his first season, scored 14 points while grabbing 10 rebounds, an impressive double-double in his opening NBA game.

But this still doesn’t account for the fact that the Celtics were outplayed on the wing. The combination of Crowder and JR Smith for Cleveland proved to be too much for Boston to handle when put on the same floor with James. That is to say nothing of Kevin Love‘s performance, which undoubtedly benefited from the defensive rotational differences for the Celtics with Hayward out.

The Cavaliers outflanked Boston on Tuesday despite starting guards Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade combining for 22 points on 24 shots. Crowder himself shot just 3-of-10 from the field, although his contributions elsewhere were obvious. The Cavaliers were able to punch out Boston even as they suffered from subpar performances from major players. No doubt with more time together both sides will solidify, but now without Hayward the young players on the Celtics will have to do much more.

It will be easier for the likes of Crowder, Wade, and Rose to mold around the best player in the NBA than it is for Boston to find a rotation that gets them into the playoffs. And while one game in October won’t tell the story of the season, we had to get a hint of what the Celtics’ young players would look like against top competition. We still got that, and if there is an upside here for Celtics fans it’s that the development of those young players appears to have sparked a flame that should grow all season.

Make no bones about it, the Celtics still have some good players that should be able to shield the younger ones — especially Tatum — from having to shoulder too much of the load. That’s the kind of thing that can stunt the growth of a player. But that doesn’t mean that Celtics fans can’t be disappointed. It was always going to be a stretch to topple the Cavaliers and LeBron in the East, and without Hayward it will be impossible.

From Kyrie Irving to Jae Crowder, no love lost between Celtics and Cavs

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The first night of the NBA is here. Now you can stop pretending that you are going to win your NFL fantasy league and pay attention to something important.

Tuesday night’s opening matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics was of course one of intrigue for many reasons. The teams have new rosters after a trade involving Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder, just to name a few.

The NBA likes to open its seasons with matchups like this, and the crowd at The Q in Cleveland did not disappoint when they saw Irving once more.

There did not appear to be bad blood on the court between LeBron James and Irving, and the two exchanged a friendly fist bump as is customary before the tip.

Via Instagram:

Of course, Cavaliers fans did not hold back once the Celtics won the tip off and Kyrie handled the ball for the first time.

There was also myriad technical fouls, including one on Irving after a timeout and one on Al Horford for clapping at Crowder. The latter gave us this gem:

Is an absolute bummer that the Celtics will be without Gordon Hayward as he recovers from a broken left ankle. But, at least there will be some bad blood remaining between these teams to entertain us over the course of the regular season.