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Hornets’ Kaminsky healthy again after ‘miserable process’


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.”


Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership


The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.