Kurt Helin

Jabari Parker

Milwaukee confident Jabari Parker to return in November

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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — As the Milwaukee Bucks wrapped up their final practice ahead of the season-opener against the New York Knicks, coach Jason Kidd expressed confidence that the team will have last year’s first-round draft pick Jabari Parker back in the lineup by early November.

“He looks great. He’s done everything,” Kidd said following the team’s workout on Tuesday. “Hopefully, in that first couple of weeks of November, he can come back and start his process, his journey, of playing 10 to 15 minutes a night and hopefully getting his load bigger as the season goes on.”

The Bucks have been taking a cautious approach with Parker, 20, as he continues to recover from surgery in January to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been practicing with the team.

Milwaukee also will be without another of its young stars, forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was suspended for Wednesday night’s opener for decking Mike Dunleavy of the Chicago Bulls during Game 6 of last season’s first-round playoff series.

“We’ve got to make it work,” guard Michael Carter-Williams said of Antetokounmpo’s one-game absence. “We’ll be ready with whoever replaces Giannis, whether it’s (Chris Copeland) or whoever.”

This year’s first-round pick, Rashad Vaughn, returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday’s workout with a sore right shoulder. O.J. Mayo remained sidelined with an injured hamstring.

The Bucks will open at home for the first time since the 1984-85 season, when the team played at the Milwaukee Arena. The Bucks have played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, now the league’s third-oldest arena, since 1988.

“It’s great for the city. It’s great for the organization and the team. We’re excited,” Carter-Williams said.

Heat’s Bosh returns, not looking back at last season’s scare

Fourth day of Miami Heat camp 10/1/2015
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MIAMI (AP) — Getting a reminder that the looming Miami Heat season debut marks the 13th opening night of his professional career made Chris Bosh pretend to cringe a tiny bit.

“It’s 13?” Bosh asked. “Good grief.”

Make no mistake, he was feigning the disdain.

Bosh insists that opening night – Miami hosts Charlotte on Wednesday in the season opener for both clubs – will not have any overly sentimental feelings attached. Not ever after the 6-foot-11 forward’s season ended and career was essentially threatened last February when blood clots found their way to one of his lungs.

He was suddenly in the health fight of his life.

It will have been 258 days since he played an NBA game, but there’s no looking back for Bosh. He’s full-speed ahead, recovered from the clot scare and expecting that the Heat will be good enough to become a contender again in the East after missing the playoffs in the year that immediately followed LeBron James‘ decision to leave Miami and return to Cleveland.

And teammates say he’s back to normal.

“He’s the same old Chris,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “Defensively, he’s one of the best bigs in the league. And offensively, he’s one of the most dangerous bigs in the league with his ability to knock down shots, the way he moves the ball on the perimeter, to get guys coming off pick and rolls, etc. Same old Chris.”

Wade saw the worst of the worst with Bosh last season. They were vacationing together with their wives after the All-Star Game last February when the pain in Bosh’s side just wouldn’t go away. Days later, Wade saw Bosh in the hospital, tubes in his side, his future most uncertain.

The Heat would play at home later that night. Wade remembers the hospital trip. He doesn’t remember the game.

“That became bigger than the game,” Wade said. “I think we had a game that day I went up to sit with him. Basketball didn’t matter at that moment … no one knew how sick he was and how sick he was going to be. It was scary.”

All is well now.

Miami has a starting five – Wade, Bosh, Goran Dragic, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside – that on paper looks like it can match up with just about anyone in the East. Bosh would have to play a big part if Miami’s hopes for a resurgent season are to become reality; he averaged 21.1 points in 44 games a year ago, a slight uptick over his career average and was an All-Star for the 10th time.

The return to normalcy, Bosh said, happened weeks ago when he officially returned.

“I’m at the gym every day, being around the guys. It happened as soon as training camp started,” Bosh said. “I was probably the happiest vet in training camp, probably in the league. Just to be around the players, be around the guys, be around the coaches … I’m going to complain about something so it may as well be basketball.”

So yes, Wednesday will have that first-day-of-school feeling.

But when the ball goes up, it’ll be back to work for Bosh – just the way he likes it.

“I’m kind of just really appreciating every moment that I’ve been given, really, with this whole situation,” Bosh said. “It’s been back to normal. Wednesday just means they’re actually keeping records now. So I’m excited.”

 

New Nets, YES Network deal shows value of NBA rights

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Last season, on an average night the Brooklyn Nets drew 0.55 percent of the New York market to watch their games on the YES Network. That was the lowest percentage of any NBA team, and it was down 29 percent from the year before. For that, they got $20 million from the network.

Monday, the Nets and YES Network announced reset and reached new terms on their television deal for the next five years — and Brooklyn will get more than $40 million a year now. That figure comes from the Sports Business Journal, and it may be low.

You read that right, the Nets will get at least double the annual local television income next season despite being a struggling to draw fans and being a team that (unless they land an unlikely free agent coup) will be mediocre on the court for the next few years. To be fair, considering the size of the New York market (despite the low ratings percentage the size of the market means a fair amount of eyeballs) and the current demand for sports properties by cable networks, the Nets were likely underpaid on the old deal.

But this massive jump shows just how hot the NBA is right now.

And it doesn’t even factor in the money the Nets will get from the increased national television rights deal that kicks in for next season.

YES maintains the digital rights in this deal — that is big. Streaming is quickly becoming both how many people consume games and a profit center for networks (you can sell ads into a stream).

Owners in every professional sport have to wonder how long the cable rights fees gravy train is going to last. Consumers want to move to a la carte programming — where they can choose whether to pay for ESPN, NBC SportsNetwork, Food Network or any other channel individually — if they are not cutting the cord all together. With that cable fees will dry up for the networks, and so will the money for the splurge on broadcast rights. Things will evolve in a way that is hard to predict right now (although streaming will be a big part of it).

But that day is not today. For at least the next handful of years — five in the Nets’ case — the money will keep on flowing.

 

John Stockton joins Montana St. as assistant women’s basketball coach

Portland Trailblazers vs. Utah Jazz
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BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Hall of Famer John Stockton is joining Montana State as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team for the upcoming season.

Among the players the former Utah Jazz point guard will be coaching will be his daughter, Lindsay, who is a senior guard for the Bobcats.

Stockton said in a statement Tuesday that head coach Tricia Binford “took a flier” and asked if he’d be interested in the position.

He says he’s enjoyed watching the team for the past three years and that it will be a fun group to work with.

Binford says Stockton has coached four current players on the team already and is someone the program respects and trusts.

Stockton previously coached his daughter at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Washington.

Kobe Bryant to play in opener “unless something crazy happens”

Kobe Bryant
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Was there ever any doubt?

Somehow there seemed to be some “will he or won’t he?” drama around Kobe Bryant being healthy enough and ready to play in the Lakers’ season opener Wednesday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves. We’ve been saying for days to expect him to play, and both Kobe and coach Byron Scott made it clear Tuesday he would be out there for the Lakers’ Wednesday night. Here are the quotes of note, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, and Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell.

While there will be a lot of Kobe and Kevin Garnett talk leading up to this game, the far more interesting part of the matchup is the youngsters: D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle vs. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine. Towns looked fantastic during preseason — time to start putting the in your “this guy could win Rookie of the Year” category — while Byron Scott has not yet even committed to starting Russell. He dodged the question completely, although most expect it to be Russell.

This isn’t a knock on Russell — adjusting to playing the point guard in the NBA is hard, and it tends to be a steeper learning curve than for bigs. Russell has the tools and shows the signs of being a quality player, it’s just going to take a little longer to get there, and the Lakers need to be patient. That means you, Kobe.