Dan Feldman

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Report: Hornets’ Nicolas Batum won’t need surgery

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Nicolas Batum tore a ligament in his elbow, the type of injury that could throw the Hornets’ playoff hopes into peril a year after injuries helped keep them out of the postseason.

The initial report said he’d miss 8-12 weeks. Charlotte said he’d miss at least 6-8 weeks.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

Charlotte Hornets guard Nic Batum got encouraging news from a Dallas specialist, indicating surgery isn’t necessary to heal from the torn ligament in his left elbow, a source said.

That increases hope Batum will return on the near side of projections.

He’s a capable starter and important to the Hornets as a lead playmaker on their second units. Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeremy Lamb can probably collectively pick up the slack among the starters. But when Walker sits, who facilitates the offense? Michael Carter-Williams, who’s battling his own injury issues? Malik Monk, a rookie?

Charlotte will miss Batum – but maybe for not as long as feared.

Pelicans’ Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks after surgery

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Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a sports hernia.

Now, the prognosis is in.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This might actually make the Pelicans better. Jrue Holiday will shift back to his optimal position of point guard, and New Orleans can lean more on E'Twaun Moore, Tony Allen and Jordan Crawford at shooting guard. This will get more shooting around Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

The Pelicans lose point-guard depth, but Ian Clark can fill in behind Holiday. Maybe the new starting lineup will jell so well, Rondo will come off the bench when he returns, the role he should have been given all along.

New Orleans is better with Rondo healthy, but considering the rotation machinations, this might be a blessing in disguise.

Hornets’ Michael Jordan donates $7 million to build medical clinics

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets owner Michael Jordan is donating $7 million to launch medical clinics that he hopes will help at-risk communities in Charlotte.

It’s the largest philanthropic donation ever by the former NBA champion.

The donation will fund two Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics, which are projected to open in 2020.

Jordan’s spokesperson Estee Portnoy told The Associated Press Monday that he “feels so great about being able to impact the Charlotte community and help people who really deserve it. Michael and Novant are really excited about this project.”

Portnoy says Jordan, 54, was motivated by a study that found poor children in Charlotte have the worst odds of those of any of the top 50 cities in the United States to lift themselves out of poverty.

 

Marcus Smart says Celtics haven’t discussed contract extension with him or agent

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Marcus Smart is an excellent defender, capable of guarding all three perimeter positions. He’s also over his head as a lead guard offensively, and his clunky 3-pointer is limiting. Between Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and maybe even Terry Rozier, the Celtics have higher priorities. But Smart still brings plenty of helpful production.

All of this is to say valuing Smart is difficult.

He says Boston isn’t even trying to do so in contract-extension negotiations.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

If the Celtics don’t extend him by the Oct. 16 deadline, he’d become a restricted free agent next summer. It’s not as if they’re at risk of losing him.

Perhaps, they want more time to evaluate him – especially his attitude and conditioning. The specter of a contract year could keep him sharp and in shape.

That delay could last until closer to the start of the regular season or all the way until next offseason. It wouldn’t be surprising if Boston offers him an extension in the next week. I wouldn’t even rule out discussions already occurring but Smart minimizing them in attempt to rally support and gain leverage.

The Celtics could face a sizable luxury-tax bill next season depending on Smart’s contract and other moves. There’s no rush to pay him, but it would be a little odd if they’re not even checking whether he’d lock into a moderate salary now in exchange for security.

Dwyane Wade to start over J.R. Smith for Cavaliers

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Good thing J.R. Smith didn’t get into a “blank-measuring contest” with Dwyane Wade.

Because Wade has taken Smith’s job as the Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Smith is a better 3-point shooter and defender than Wade, making Smith a more natural fit next to LeBron James and a maybe-more-ball-dominant Kevin Love. But Wade has chemistry with LeBron after their time together with the Heat, allowing the pair to mesh better than their styles would suggest otherwise.

Wade is far more accomplished than Smith, and though current ability should matter, so does stature and ego. I also wonder whether the health of the 35-year-old Wade factored. Some players his age have trouble getting loose after sitting to start games.

If Derrick Rose exits early to lead reserve-heavy units (what his role should become when Isaiah Thomas returns) – with LeBron and Wade presumably leading the playmaking between – this might open the door for Richard Jefferson to stay on the team. The Cavs are in a roster crunch, but this rotation would leave less of a role for point guard Jose Calderon. Perhaps, this opens the door for Cleveland to waive Calderon instead of Jefferson, who has been useful on the wing against the Warriors in the Finals.