PHOENIX (AP) — Neal Walk, a tough center on the early Phoenix Suns teams after they drafted him No. 2 overall in 1969, has died at age 67.
The Suns confirmed his passing, calling him “an integral member” of the Suns in their formative years.
Walk had health problems over the years and his condition deteriorated in recent weeks. He underwent surgery 28 years ago to remove a tumor on his spine.
Phoenix drafted Walk after losing the coin flip with Milwaukee to draft Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor).
Walk averaged 20.2 points and 12.4 rebounds in the 1972-73 season. Charles Barkley is the only other Sun to top the 20-point, 10-rebound average.
Walk also played for the New Orleans Jazz and New York Knicks in his eight-year NBA career.
Paul George still doesn’t like playing the four — he’s not backing down from his opinion, reiterated after he had to go up against Anthony Davis in the Pacers’ preseason opener.
But after a “clarification” meeting with team president Larry Bird and coach Frank Vogel, George now wants to be clear he’s on board with the team’s new direction.
Yes, those two positions seem at odds, but that’s what George said after Pacers’ practice Monday. From Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.
“I mean, there was clarification on what we’re (doing) going forward,” George added later. “That’s what it was, just clarification.”
When asked if the “clarification” meant changes to his role, George said: “We’re going to still stick with it, see how it works.”
Then, when quizzed if he’s OK with that, George responded: “I’m a part of this team.”
The Pacers transitioning to a team that wants to play small and fast — their preseason game against the Pelicans had 109 possessions. That’s going to mean going small a lot and trying to force teams to match up with them, and in the modern NBA that is the right direction to move. Against much of the Eastern Conference it should work well, but against some teams and matchups — say MVP candidate Davis and the Pelicans — George will find himself in a very difficult spot.
George is not comfortable at the four yet, especially with the physical nature of trying to defend and box out some bigger, stronger guys. George has spent his entire career on the perimeter, it’s a tough transition. But he’s going to have a lot of success this season at the four if he can stay healthy and as he adjusts. He just has to fully buy in and do it.
The Pacers play the Pistons on Tuesday, a game where George will be matched up against Ersan Ilyasova. That’s a place George can have a little more success and feel better about this.
How quickly it seems the Warriors went from everybody’s second favorite team, the team you wished your team played like, to “they got lucky.”
A lot of people are down on the Warriors for some reason heading into this season, and I talk about that in the return of PBT Extra for the season. This is the first of 30 “Bold Prediction” previews looking at every NBA team, but Jenna Corrado and I decided to start it all off out West with the defending champs.
Did they get lucky with health? Yes. So did every other team ever to win an NBA title. This was the best team in the NBA last season, they brought back their entire young core, and they are the bar that needs to be cleared if any other team is going to make the NBA Finals out of the West. And I’m not convinced any other team can clear that bar.
(Keep an eye out on for me on Twitter as I ask for your bold predictions on teams for future PBT Extras.)