Kurt Helin

Maurice Ndour

Mavericks’ rookie Maurice Ndour out with stress reaction in leg

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Maurice Ndour, the rookie out of Ohio, turned some heads at the Summer League with his play for the Knicks. Some of those heads belonged to decision makers with the Mavericks, who signed him to a guaranteed contract for this season.

Ndour looked good through the four preseason games, but he could be out a while according to this report from Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Stress reactions mean the player is feeling pain due to the stress and load on the leg — look at it as him being is on his way to a stress fracture (if not there already). There is pain, and he needs time off the leg, and then he may be on a minutes limit when he returns (at least for a while). This could mean a few weeks, a month, or a few months off, just depends on the severity of the injury, the location, and how it heals.

This could cost Ndour a roster spot.

Dallas is going to have some interesting decisions as they cut players over the next week. Ndour is one of 15 players with a guaranteed deal on the Dallas roster, but that does not include JaVale McGee (likely to get a roster spot), Jamil Wilson, and Dwight Powell. If Dallas wants to keep any of them, they have to waive and pay a guy with a guaranteed deal, a guy like Ndour (or Salah Mejri or Samuel Dalembert). Dallas has liked what Ndour brings, but it’s a numbers game and they have some tough decisions to make coming up.

Lakers may shut Kobe Bryant down for final two preseason games

Kobe Bryant
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Kobe Bryant played in the first four Lakers preseason games and showed some strong moments and some others where he was clearly trying to shake off the rust of having missed far more games than he played the past two seasons.

Then, in game five, he suffered a bruised calf, he’ll have missed two games by the end of Monday night and that may be the end of his preseason as the Lakers take the cautious approach. But he’ll be ready to roll when the games matter. That’s what Laker coach Byron Scott said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“To be honest with you, [Bryant] probably won’t play [Monday],” Scott said after practice Sunday. “I’d rather get him close to 100 percent as possible. These games don’t mean anything right now. It’s really giving me a chance to look at these young guys anyway.”

Scott said Bryant might not play again this preseason. The Lakers have two games left: Monday and Thursday against the Warriors. “There’s a chance,” Scott said. “I’m not going to put a percentage on it, but there’s a chance….”

But Scott said he is confident that Bryant will “absolutely” play in the Lakers’ regular-season opener Oct. 28 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.

Shutting him down is the smart thing to do, a lot of teams are are sitting stars for the rest of the preseason to keep them fresh for the start of the season. LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers is the best-known example.

What matters is that Kobe will be playing once the games have some meaning in 10 days. We hope. If there is one thing I want for Kobe Bryant this season it is just to stay healthy, starting with getting his calf right.

Expect trade talk to pick up this week as roster cuts loom

Stan Van Gundy
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The easy example of why trade talk will ramp up some this week — and there are likely a couple small deals — can be found in Detroit. The Pistons have 17 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster right now, and by next weekend Stan Van Gundy has to cut that number down to the 15 they can carry into the regular season — he is going to have to pay two players their full year’s salary to go away.

Unless SVG can find a trade partner to take on one or two of those salaries.

Some teams will be looking to make moves, something former Nets executive Bobby Marks laid out on twitter (this guy is a must follow).

There likely will be trades, and while exceptions are possible, these tend not to be guys who will see heavy minutes during the season.

It’s just something to keep an eye on this week.

Deron Williams will miss all of preseason, opening night in question

Deron Williams
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Deron Williams‘ fresh start in Dallas may not begin when the season does.

Williams suffered a calf strain back before the start of training camp and at media day coach Rick Carlisle called it “minor.” His definition of minor and mine may be a little different, especially after this latest update from the coach via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Williams has battled injuries the past couple seasons in Brooklyn and one of the concerns in bringing him to Dallas was that injury bug could follow him.

The Mavericks have Devin Harris and J.J. Barea who can play the backup point guard spot, plus Raymond Felton is healthy again and played in the last couple preseason games. Dallas has the bodies to fill the position, but none of those players is as good as D-Will, they need the starter back.

In a ridiculously deep Western Conference where Dallas will be battling a few teams for the final playoff spots, they cannot afford a slow start to the season due to injuries.

Lamar Odom update: He continues to improve but remains in ICU

Lamar Odom
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The good news keeps on coming for Lamar Odom in his recovery. He remains in the ICU, and there are still a lot of questions ahead about his health and ability to function, but more and more it looks like he will survive this health crisis.

Here’s the latest on his condition, via E! News (part of the NBC Universal family):

E! News has exclusively learned that Odom passed a swallow test, a promising sign of neurological function and an important step because doctors took out his breathing tube and needed to ensure he could swallow on his own.

We’ve also learned that Odom was helped out of bed for the first time since being hospitalized Tuesday night. He was moved with assistance into a chair and his breathing showed no signs of distress. He continues to wear a mask to aid the flow of oxygen but he’s breathing on his own….

Overall, however, the former L.A. Lakers star is communicating mainly with hand signals, thumbs up or thumbs down. We hear he’s attempting to communicate with words but his speech is more or less limited to mumbles at this point.

Odom — who had been in a downward spiral of addiction for a few years that friends around the NBA tried but could not pull him out of — was found Tuesday passed out at a brothel outside Las Vegas, where he had been for several days reportedly doing a variety of drugs (and spending $75,000). Odom has slowly showed signs of recovery, but he remains in the ICU and there are reports that not all his organs are healing as fast as his heart, and doctors have yet to assess the level of brain damage from the stroke (or strokes) he suffered.

Odom’s estranged wife Khloe Kardashian has been by his side and is making medical decision for him.

Kim Kardashian had been to see him as well and posted this on Instagram over the weekend.