Kurt Helin

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans

Jrue Holiday will be back for Pelicans’ training camp. With minutes restrictions.

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Jrue Holiday has missed 90 games the past two seasons due to injury, including replacing a screw already in his lower leg from a previous surgery. If New Orleans is going to take a step forward this season, it has to include Holiday staying healthy. Remember, the Sixers had to pay a $3 million penalty for not disclosing Holiday’s injuries pre-trade, his injuries have been a real issue.

But he’s going to be ready for the start of training camp. Sort of. He’ll be there, but the wisely cautious Pelicans are going to take it slow, something coach Alvin Gentry admitted to the Times-Picayune.

But Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said on Friday that Holiday is likely going to be under restrictions involving practicing just once a day when two-a-day practices are scheduled during camp, which is set to open on Sept. 29 at The Greenbrier in West Virginia…

Holiday has not experienced any setbacks in his rehab this summer, but the Pelicans intend to monitor him cautiously that could include minute restrictions for both preseason and early regular season games.

This is the prudent course of action. The Pelicans need to win games early — they are not the Warriors, they can’t coast for a couple of months — but the goal is to be healthy late in the season and heading into the playoffs. This gets them on the right path.

There is another injury for the Pelicans where the news is not as good: Quincy Pondexter. He may not be ready to go until November, missing camp and the start of the season.

”Just one of those things that’s just takes time, he’s going to be OK,” Gentry said during a refurbished basketball court dedication ceremony on Friday involving the Pelicans and Chevron at Rev. Peter Atkins Park in Covington.

 

Warriors unveil practice facility championship banner (with names of every player)

warriors banner
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On Oct. 27 the Golden State Warriors will unveil a championship banner at Oracle Arena to the deafening roar of Warriors fans that waited 40 years — through some terrible ownership — to see another one of those. All while Anthony Davis glares.

But that’s not the first banner to go up.

The Warriors’ practice facility in Oakland is ringed with banners representing the great players in Warriors history, major milestones of the franchise, and a 1975 championship banner. Now that banner has a twin — the practice facility banner went up Friday.

And it had the name of every player on last year’s Warriors’ team.

You have to be happy for the fan base — they have remained loyal through two decades of ownership that would have been the worst in the NBA had Donald Sterling not set that bar so very low. You have to be happy for Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and the players. It’s just a feel-good story, unless you’re a Cavs fan (and don’t worry, your turn is coming).

Kareem Rush on Lakers during Shaq/Kobe feud: “We had a big man alliance and a guard alliance”

Kobe Shaquille O'Neal Lakers
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By the start of the 2003-04 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were title contenders breaking apart at the seams from the weight of the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant feud. This isn’t new news, both Gary Payton and Karl Malone have talked about it before.

How bad was it? How about “camp Kobe” and “camp Shaq” bad.

Kareem Rush spent his first two NBA seasons in the middle of the Lakers war, for the final two seasons of the Kobe/Shaq era, and he talked about it on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Tom Byrne & Rick Mahorn (you can listen to the interview below).

“Yeah, it was like a real issue. We actually had like a separation of the team. We had a big man alliance and a guard alliance. I had to pick Kobe’s side.”

How deep was that split? For a while Shaq would not let long-time Laker trainer Gary Vitti (who had been with the team since the Showtime era, and is just now entering his final year) tape him up before games because he was allegedly a Kobe guy.

Now for the “what ifs.” As Shaq has said, could the Lakers have won three more titles if that group stayed together?

“Shaq got three Finals MVPs and I think Kobe wanted his, so it didn’t work out for us. We definitely had talent to win more than three titles.”

Of course, now everything is good between Shaq and Kobe, with both regretting their hard-headed youth. But talking about that era is a fun August diversion.

What I still wonder: Despite all the dysfunction, if Malone had been healthy for the 2004 Finals would the Lakers have won the title anyway?

Justise Winslow working on cleaning up jump shot this summer

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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Playing in both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, Justise Winslow showed some flashes of why he felt like a steal for Miami at No. 10. You could see the athleticism on both ends of the floor, he played at pace but under control, he had solid handles, and he knew how to attack the rim and use his body to draw calls.

But his shot needed work. He hit just 34.2 percent overall and 25 percent from three (3-of-12) across the two summer leagues. There seemed to be a little hitch in his release.

That’s what he’s been working on with Heat coaches through the rest of the summer, Winslow told the Miami Herald.

“I definitely feel comfortable shooting from three-point range but it’s working on everything: pull-ups, mid-range, posting up, finishing. There has been a huge emphasis on my shooting mechanics, trying to get everything more fluid and more natural so I can become a better three-point shooter. But there hasn’t been an over-emphasis on three-point shooting.”

 

Winslow shot the ball fairly well at Duke (41 percent from three) and was impressive in the tournament, but he needs to clean everything up now that defenders are faster and longer.

Winslow is should get plenty of run off the bench for the Heat this season, and in a system that suits his strengths. He’s probably not going to get the touches needed to get the numbers for Rookie of the Year (not with Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay getting the keys to their respective franchises) but he’s going to look good fast. And get better from there.

So long as that shot starts to fall.

JaVale McGee says he’s close to healthy, will be ready for season

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee has battled a stress fracture and other leg injuries for a couple of seasons now — he has played just 28 games over two years. When he has gotten on the court, he has not been near the same athletic — and entertaining — player.

Which leads to the biggest question about McGee with the Dallas Mavericks for this coming season: Will he be healthy enough to contribute? Or even make the roster?

McGee told Mavs.com he would be, and that part of the reason he chose to sign with Dallas in the first place was the training staff.

“That was one of the major things about (signing with the Mavericks),” McGee confessed. “With how good the training staff is and all the training materials that they have and other teams don’t have, it’s definitely a good thing.

“I’m definitely getting back to that elite level. The injuries really slowed me down, so I’m definitely going to get 100 percent healthy and come out and give it my all.”

He’s going to need to be 100 percent and show that old form to make the team. Dallas has ZaZa Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert and Salah Mejri all on the roster with guaranteed contracts to play center next season.

Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of those — that McGee would make this roster despite the depth at the five. I hope he makes it, the league is more fun with him in it.

This is a low-risk move for Dallas — McGee agreed to a two-year deal at the veteran minimum (team option in the second year), he doesn’t cost much if he proves to be healthy. If he’s not that McGee, it costs $500,000 to let him go before the season starts (half that if they dump him before training camp even opens).