Kurt Helin

LeBron James

LeBron still not practicing after back injection

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James has not practiced since getting an injection in his back, but the Cavaliers remain confident he’ll be ready to start the NBA season.

James did “light work” on the court Thursday, with the Cavs gearing up for Tuesday’s opener in Chicago. The four-time MVP has been limited since his anti-inflammatory shot, similar to the one early last season when he was slowed by knee and back issues.

“We’re being very conscientious and cautious with him in terms of his feeling,” coach David Blatt said. “He’s fine and he’s going to be fine. We’re just going slowly and carefully with him. He’ll be out there very soon.”

So will forward Tristan Thompson, who signed his five-year, $82 million contract and is expected Friday to practice with his teammates for the first time since last season. The valuable rebounder held out for a long-term deal. His agent, Rich Paul, and the Cavs reached an agreement Wednesday, ending a months-long standoff.

Thompson gave the Cavs a huge lift when Kevin Love was injured in the playoffs last season.

“He’s a big part of what we do,” guard James Jones said. “Unfortunately, the business aspect of our game slowed us down a little bit. But we have full faith and confidence that knowing the way he works, he’ll get up to speed soon and more importantly, knowing that we have that extended depth because we all know the healthiest teams usually are the ones that are most successful in the postseason.”

James didn’t speak to reporters following the workout at Cleveland Clinic Courts. However, he did throw around some footballs with a few teammates on a field outside the facility before heading home.

The 30-year-old star played in just two of Cleveland’s seven exhibition games, missing the last three after receiving the shot. Last week, James said he would get another injection in his back if needed.

Entering his 13th NBA season, James has said he may play fewer minutes in the regular season to stay fresh for the postseason and a run at a third league title. He has played over 43,000 minutes – he averaged a career-low 36.1 last season – and James has acknowledged his basketball mortality saying “Father Time is undefeated” on more than one occasion.

James missed 13 games last season, the most in his career, and he took two weeks off to rest his back and a strained knee. Blatt said he’s not concerned the time off will affect James’ conditioning.

“LeBron is constantly working and he’s a guy that takes care of himself 24 hours a day,” he said. “I don’t have to tell anybody here what a fabulous athlete he is. He also takes care of himself, so he’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving remains sidelined after breaking his kneecap in Game 1 of the finals. Irving has not practiced, and the Cavs don’t have a timetable for him to play.

“Every day he adds a little bit to his workout regime,” Blatt said. “The idea with him is to go slowly and surely, not to rush anything and make sure he comes back 100 percent ready to play. We’ll continue that as long as it takes. He is making progress, he looks good. His mood is good too because he knows he’s coming along.”

Derrick Rose admits to double vision, still hopes to play Friday

Derrick Rose

I’m no doctor, but if you’re seeing double you shouldn’t play in an NBA game.

So is Derrick Rose — who is recovering from an orbital bone fracture near his eye — still seeing double? From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

When asked by a reporter if he still has double vision, Rose said, “Yeah, yeah. Right now I see two of you. It’s kind of bad, but it’s preseason you know, so it’s all about getting out there and playing, just playing a couple of minutes and seeing how it goes.”

Rose still wants to play in the Bulls’ final exhibition game Friday. Coach Fred Hoiberg would like that to happen, except for that who double vision thing — if he is seeing double, he sits. That said, Rose is practicing while wearing his new mask.

“Derrick participated in a little bit of the contact, not a lot,” said Hoiberg, who wants to see Rose play 5-10 minutes if possible. “But it was good to see him out there. He’s getting more work with Randy (Brown, assistant coach). We’ll see. Maybe see how he feels in the morning. He has a lot of general soreness right now just from picking up the activity after basically not doing anything for two weeks.”

TNT had to be excited to get the Bulls vs. Cavaliers for the opening night game next Tuesday night. Now, with Rose in serious question and Kyrie Irving out for sure (not back from the broken kneecap), this could be a Kirk Hinrich vs. Matthew Dellavedova showdown on opening night. The NBA, it’s faaaaantastic.

Kidd says Giannis Antetokounmpo could play every position for Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine
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The modern NBA is all about versatility — Golden State will be hanging a banner because they have very talented players who can play and defend multiple positions. It gives them the ability to go big, go small (without sacrificing defense), or just exploit matchup advantages. Every NBA team is trying to do that to a degree.

The Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo may take that to another level.

He will start the season at the four until Jabari Parker returns, and then he will slide over to the three. But you can expect him to play every position on the court, Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

“He’s 20 years old and he’s going to play every position for us,” Kidd said. “…He never complains. He just goes out there and plays.

“I think he’s showing he’s confident in shooting the three. He’s confident while he’s on the floor and he’s doing a lot of good things for us.”

Antetokounmpo at the center spot in a small-ball lineup? I can see that. He can easily play either forward spot. As he develops, I can see him as a point forward/guard, and working off the ball like a two.

In a positionless NBA, Antetokounmpo could be the ultimate Swiss Greek Army knife. It’s just another reason to watch the Bucks, who will be entertaining if nothing else this season.

Report: Lamar Odom undergoes two emergency surgeries

Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom is back in Los Angeles, recovering from his overdose and stroke suffered last week, and is doing considerably better each day. His Aunt released this statement, via the Los Angeles Times.

“To our overwhelming delight, Lamar’s courageous improvement continues on the incline in Los Angeles. He is beginning to gradually flourish both mentally and physically,” according to a statement issued on behalf of Odom’s aunt, JaNean Mercer.

However, Odom has a long road of recovery still ahead.

That includes two emergency medical procedures — read: surgeries — in the past couple days, according to TMZ.

We’re told the procedures involved chest issues, but we do not know if it’s connected to his lungs or heart.  Our sources say the surgeries have put Lamar in “a fragile mental state.”  We’re told he’s emotional and at times, very upset.

Difficult to blame him. Longer term he has more surgeries ahead, likely including a kidney transplant, reports  Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Daily News.

Odom will likely need a kidney transplant, according to multiple sources familiar with his recovery. Ever since being hospitalized last week after becoming unresponsive at a Las Vegas brothel, Odom has received daily kidney dialysis treatment….

Odom is expected to need months of dialysis and physical therapy, sources said. But for patients with end stage kidney failure, dialysis does not improve the condition of the actual kidney.

Odom likely also has some level of brain damage from the stroke (or strokes).

This incident — as the latest evidence in a long line of stories about NBA players struggling to adapt to life after basketball — is prompting the NBA players union to consider how it can help the transition, union president Michelle Roberts told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“There has been a dearth of services in terms of adhering to the guys’ needs. One of the things we spend a lot of time dealing with is the complete absence of any type of transition program for the guys. On one hand you would say that’s the responsibility of the [National Basketball] Retired Players Association, but they don’t have the resources.

“We’re sort of deciding how we can fill that space. Technically, our players are paying dues for services of current members. So there will have to be some buy-in. There is also clearly a lot of buy-in from the membership in terms of our operating health insurance for any retired player. The desire to be supportive of retired players is there among the current members. But what we need to figure out and create is a transition program under the auspice of the NPBA with the collaboration of the NBRPA. Lamar is a great example of why it needs to be done.”

Odom — an NBA champion and former Sixth Man of the Year — was found unconscious last week at a Nevada brothel after what had been three days of drugs, drinking and more. He was rushed to a Las Vegas area hospital, where he battled for his life, but after stabilizing he transferred to a Los Angeles area hospital. While he’s making progress, these latest reports are a reminder of just how far he has to go.

Through the recovery, his estranged wife Khloe Kardashian has returned to his side, and the two have rescinded their divorce papers.



Nike opening store with only Michael Jordan items in Chicago

Michael Jordan Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Air Jordan At Palais de Tokyo In Paris
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CHICAGO (AP) — Nike is opening a Michael Jordan-only store in Chicago’s Loop this weekend.

The new Jordan Brand store opens Saturday. The Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/1GrWtmt ) it will sell merchandise with the trademarked Michael Jordan “Jumpman” silhouette. Nike also plans stores in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto featuring the former Chicago Bulls star. Jordan Brand offers basketball, training, sportswear and kids’ products.

Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker says Jordan’s popularity opens up a “world of opportunity” for the company.

Nike also said last week that it will report Jordan Brand financial results separately from its basketball division.

Sarah Mensah is general manager of the Jordan Brand in North America. She says consumers wanted a place to see everything Jordan-related. She says stores also will feature items chosen “specifically by Michael.”