Kurt Helin

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Hawks’ All-Star Paul Millsap undergoes minor knee operation, will miss at least half of training camp

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The word the Hawks used was “preventative.”

As in, this could have been much worse if we let it go, so we’re getting it done now.

Atlanta’s All-Star forward and best player Paul Millsap recently had a minor knee surgery that will keep him out for three weeks, through at least the first part of training camp and a couple of preseason games, the team announced Thursday.

“After reviewing the options with Paul to treat his knee and provide him the best long-term care, we agreed, largely due to the time of year, that this was the best method and time to ensure his complete readiness for the start of the regular season,” said team president of basketball operations and head coach Mike Budenholzer in a statement.

Millsap is one of those players that coaches and other GMs love and fans often underestimate. He averaged 17.1 points and 9 rebounds a game, he’s versatile on offense with the ability to score inside and hit threes, plus he’s a good passer who finds the open man (Kyle Korver has benefited). Millsap is also a good defender who gets steals playing the passing lanes.

Millsap, new starting point guard Dennis Schroeder, and new Hawks center Dwight Howard need to develop chemistry this season for the team to become a real postseason threat. Having Millsap out for a few weeks may set that process back a little.

Bryan Colangelo denies reports he’s aggressively shopped Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor

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We have been having this discussion all summer. The Philadelphia 76ers have a loaded and young front court with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, and don’t forget Elton Brand is around. The Sixers have other needs. So, the team has tested the trade market for both Noel and Okafor. However, despite some ridiculous (and not close to true) rumors, they have not been close to a deal.

Part of the issue is leverage. Every team in the league knows the Sixers are looking to make a deal, so the offers coming through the door are lowball ones from teams trying to steal a player on the cheap.

Which is why while on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski, Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo denied aggressively shopping the two young bigs (who have shown they don’t play well together).

“Making a statement that absolutely something will be done is not necessarily the case. I think what I said over the course of the summer is there is no doubt that we got three talented players. It’s a high-class problem to have…

“But I never felt compelled that we have to do something, because it will work itself out over the course of time. Some of it will work itself out with contract negotiations and free agency. There’s different things that are staggered in terms of timeline.”

Noel’s rookie contract reaches its third year this summer, when the Sixers must either offer an extension or give him a qualifying offer, keeping him for another year on rookie scale then letting him become a restricted free agent. Embiid comes up the summer after that. Then Okafor the next summer.

Colangelo doesn’t want to lose Noel and Okafor for nothing in restricted free agency — or be forced to match a big offer from another team to keep them — so he will continue to look for a suitable deal. But he also has some time, all of this season and into next summer and beyond. He will keep talking to teams as everyone moves through training camp, and a few teams start to deal with injuries, and maybe the offers improve.

Colangelo doesn’t want to seem desperate. He’s got to be able to wait for a deal that feels like a win for him and the team.

But that deal is coming.

 

Kevin Durant blows off narrative that he’s weak for choosing Golden State

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Kevin Durant earned the right to be a free agent. He fulfilled his contract, he spent nine years in Oklahoma City. Durant wanted a change, and he found a working environment he wanted more in Golden State, so he jumped at it. He made a change we all have the right to make.

But the spin that came out of it — from Oklahoma City, from fans around the nation that have never met Durant — was that he was weak. That he was easily influenced by the people around him. That he was taking the easy way to a title. As if there is an easy way to a title. Like LeBron James going to Miami, it’s amazing how some people flip out when players use their power and assert control over their own destinies — nobody complains about the superteams that were the Showtime Lakers or Michael Jordan’s Bulls because white guys in suits put those teams together, but if players do it…

Durant was on Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons on HBO this week and pushed back against the narrative that he is weak, saying it was a no-win situation for him to try and fight it, he’d get called thin-skinned if he did. Durant knew he’d just have to roll with it. Watch the clip with him and Nas above to hear it in KD’s words.

Thunder GM hopes OKC players don’t protest national anthem, but team will respect their rights

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With a push for more social activism among NBA players, with the situation they want to talk about not getting any better, you can be sure that some NBA players will follow the lead of the 49ers Collin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem.

You can be just as sure the NBA league office and teams have discussed how to handle all of this.

Thunder GM Sam Presti was asked Wednesday about his team’s response to potential protests, and his answer likely echoes what the entire league will say when games start. Via Royce Young of ESPN:

“Our viewpoint on it is obviously we’ve had players and staff stand for the national anthem over the past eight years. We’d love to see that continue. At the same time, our players have the opportunity and ability to express themselves as people, and we respect that above all.”

Politically, the NBA is the most progressive of the major sports leagues in this nation, and it’s core demographic — younger and more urban than other leagues — is more sympathetic to the cause kneeling players want to discuss than those others. Which means it makes more sense for the NBA to stand back and let the players do what they want than other leagues — the NBA faces less of a backlash.

This issue is not going off the front burner for professional sports anytime soon. Certainly not in this election cycle.

Chris Bosh calls process getting cleared to play by heat “difficult,” “frustrating”

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Earlier on Wednesday, Chris Bosh kept up the public relations end of his campaign to get the Heat to clear him to play again by releasing a self-directed video talking about his love of the game and how the blood clots that ended his last two seasons have rekindled that. He also said he felt like the Heat had written him off.

Later in the day, Bosh took to Facebook for a live video streaming event where he again talked about his situation with Miami. Here is what Bosh said, via Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel:

“It’s been a very, very difficult time,” he said on the webcast. “It’s been long, it’s been tedious, and I think that’s kind of the part of the process that makes it special and frustrating. It’s just this huge emotional rollercoaster.”

There also was a telling comment about the ongoing uncertainty.

“Really,” he said, “we’re just in the process of making sure that I can get back on the court.”

While Bosh is invited to the Heat training camp that opens next week, he has not yet been cleared to play by team doctors. Bosh underwent a physical with the team in the past 48 hours, but no results or details of those are yet available.

Bosh missed the end of the last two seasons with a blood clot issue that can be life threatening if untreated. The traditional treatment — which includes a regular dose of blood thinners — would make it impossible for him to play professional sports. Bosh is proposing a specific drug and regimen that would have the medication out of his system by game time. On top of all this Bosh is owed $75 million and, if the Heat can get an independent doctor to say he is permanently disabled and unable to play, they could petition the league to take that money off the books. (Two notes on that last strategy idea: First Bosh would still get paid, the money just wouldn’t count against the salary cap; second this backfires on the Heat if another team signs him and Bosh proves he can play — then the money counts against their cap and they don’t have the player.)

One way or another, this is all coming to a head in the next week or so as the Heat get ready to head to camp.