Kurt Helin

Kemba Walker has knee surgery, expected to return to workouts by July

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It doesn’t sound major, but it’s something to keep an eye upon.

Charlotte’s Mr. Everything Kemba Walker had surgery had surgery on his left knee this week, the Hornets announced Wednesday. From the official press release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Kemba Walker underwent a successful minor arthroscopic procedure on his left knee. Typical recovery time for Walker’s procedure is approximately six weeks.

This was supposed to be something minor to clean up/maintenance thing. It’s a fairly standard offseason procedure for players, and it shouldn’t impact him come training camp in the fall.

The Hornets will go into the offseason looking to get Walker some help as a shot creator, both through the No. 11 pick and free agency. They will not get better if it’s another season of Kemba vs. the world.

Mark Cuban admits it again: Yes, once Dallas was out of playoff chase, they tanked

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The Dallas Mavericks will select ninth in this NBA Draft next month, a spot where they should be able to land a quality rotation player (at the least, many scouts think there are hidden gems down the board in this class).

They got to ninth by tanking, rather than making a push for the playoffs. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had admitted this before but confirmed it on the Dan Patrick show on Wednesday. You can see the clip above, but here is the money quote:

“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything we could to lose games,” Cuban said, referring to roster moves.

That meant moving veterans — trading Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, for example — and playing their young guys heavy minutes. They lost nine of their last 11 games with a lineup heavy on Seth Curry, Nerlens Noel, Harrison Barnes, and Yogi Ferrell.

Which shouldn’t be a shock, here is what Cuban said back in March:

“We obviously haven’t played well enough to be in the playoffs right now, but we’re playing a lot better… Look, if I wasn’t realistic about the value of a draft pick, we would have kept D-Will, we would have kept Andrew. We would be playing an older lineup, but now we’re playing our young guys.

“That supposedly is the definition of tanking: You play your youngest players to give them experience without the expectation you’re going to win. In our case, we’re playing our youngest players, but we’re playing them with the expectation that they’re going to win. I think that’s the best type of experience.”

Cuban is being up front about what most NBA teams do. Few teams ever go all in for the full season tank (ala Sixers for a couple of years, although it has worked out for them as their roster gets stacked), most teams go into the season with optimism, but when that wears off they change plans. Maybe that happens around Christmas, maybe not until the All-Star break, but teams decide “let’s get our young guys experience and lose some games to help our draft stock.”

The only difference here, Cuban is just being honest about it.

I’d be shocked if the league tried to fine him or anything for this. What he often says about officiating boils the blood more at the league office far more than this.

Joel Embiid’s goal next season? “I intend to play every game”

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Yes, but will the doctors and Sixers management let him?

Joel Embiid was unquestionably the best rookie last season when he was on the court. Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction, and he was efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2. When he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions (for comparison, that’s right at the full season number of the Celtics).

But Embiid only played in 31 games, which likely will cost him the Rookie of the Year award. At the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday (where the Sixers got the third pick), he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com that his goal next season is simply to be available.

“[My offseason goal is to] make sure my body’s ready because I think next year I’ll be able to play almost every game,” Embiid said. “Just make sure my body’s ready to take on the toll of the NBA schedule, back-to-backs, but I intend to play every game and we’re going to see how it goes. It’s about getting strong and getting my legs strong and making sure I’m ready for next year.”

That’s a quality offseason plan. He’s not playing in every game, not a chance, but it’s a good goal.

Embiid needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. While that is a different injury than the foot problems that kept him out his first two seasons, it’s safe to say the Sixers are going to approach using him with an abundance of caution again. I’d be shocked if he’s not on some restrictions to start the season — last season it was a 28-minute limit at the end and no back-to-backs, that could happen again. Maybe that loosens up as the season wears on.

He’s not playing in 82 games, but if he can at least double last year’s total or get closer to 70, that’s a huge win for Philly. Especially considering owner wants to see contending for a playoff slot next season.

 

Russell Westbrook new father of baby boy

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It’s been a good year for Russell Westbrook.

Coming off an MVP level season where he was the first person to average a triple-double in 55 years, he broke the news that he is the father of a new baby boy, named Noah.

Noah Russell Westbrook 5.16.17

A post shared by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on

Westbrook had said after the Thunder were eliminated that he was going to focus on the birth of his child and being there for his family, then worry about a contract extension or anything like that later. The Thunder can offer him a super-max, designated player contract this summer and are expected to do so. It’s also expected that he’ll sign it.

But it’s understandable that he wants to focus on family right now. As he should.

Congratulations to Westbrook and his family. Savor the time together.

After Sixers land No. 3 pick, owner shouts “thank you Sam Hinkie”

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Philadelphia may not have stuck with Sam Hinkie, but his process continues to stick with them. And work for them.

The Sixers will pick third in the NBA Draft next month because former GM Hinkie flat-out schooled the Sacramento Kings in a 2015 trade: The Kings got the rights to Arturas Gudaitis (the 47th pick in the 2015 draft) and Luka Mitrovic (60th pick) while the Sixers got Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, and the rights to swap picks this year, plus another future first rounder.

The Kings were set to pick eighth this year, but the lottery was kind to them and they jumped up to third — higher than the Sixers (fifth) so Philly chose to swap. Which led Sixers primary owner Joshua Harris scream out thanks to the man he canned in Hinkie, as reported by CSNPhilly.com.

“Thank you, Sam Hinkie!” he said, again all but shouting for the rooftops. “You set us up well. I’m going to text him tonight, and give him a big kiss over text.”

Sixer fans feel the same way — some raised a Hinkie banner at the Sixers draft party Tuesday.

If you’re wondering why Harris fired Hinkie in the first place, his other comment shows where his head is — and was — at on “the process.”

“I want to be done with this building, man,” the Sixers’ principal owner said after Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery in the Hilton Midtown. “I’m ready to be, like, playing [in the playoffs].”

Whether or not there was pressure from Adam Silver and the league to shortcut the process, Harris could not handle the volume of losing that came with Hinkie’s plan. It’s not that Hinkie didn’t lay out his plan in detail, it’s not that Harris didn’t sign off on it, heck, it’s not even that it wasn’t working. However, understanding it intellectually, seeing it on a spreadsheet or in a cold presentation, is very different from watching your team lose daily. It’s different watching your team draft guys you know have high upside but likely will not play for a year after the draft (Joel Embiid, and it turned out to be two years).

New GM Bryan Colangelo stands to be the beneficiary of the process. The only question is how much of that future might he be willing to move to get veterans in Philly who could help keep Haris off the lottery stage next year? Well, and is that the best plan long term?