Gregg Popovich joked when Spurs training camp opened that he was fining Tim Duncan $2,500 a day for every day he missed, then gave him the title of Coach of Whatever He Feels Like.
Time for the fines to stop, by day two of camp, Tim Duncan showed up.
Expect Duncan to pop in over the course of the season, as a mentor for the young players that need it. Plus Kawhi Leonard will love having him around.
What else does Duncan have to do anyway, other than rebuild some vintage cars and pick the kids up from school?
There have been studies that have shown this, or you can just take the Gregg Popovich eye test, but we know this:
Rested players perform better and are less likely to be injured.
Which is why the trend toward resting players in the NBA is not going away. Enter Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, via Cleveland play-by-play man Fred McLeod.
LeBron James may not like it, but this is the right move by Lue, both in terms of trying to repeat and for future years. The Cavaliers are going to need a healthy LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love if they are going to pass the test the Warriors present again.
The league schedulers have done an impressive job of reducing the four-games-in-five-nights on the road and back-to-backs. However, as long as the NBA plays 82 games, fatigue and rest will be issues — and we know the owners and players are not giving up the revenue to go to a more reasonable 60-game schedule. Which means what you get now is the new reality.
Al Horford is big in his native Dominican Republic.
But he’s no David Ortiz.
The Red Sox throwback slugger is THE MAN in the Dominican — and when Horford needed to get something big done at the last minute on his wedding day, he reached out to Ortiz. Who was the fixer.
As told to Andrew Sharp at Sports Illustrated, Horford was getting married on Christmas Eve in the Dominican, and he needed assistance.
“We’re down there, and I realize I’m supposed to get a limo for [my wife], to pick her up and take her to where we’re getting married,” Horford says. “And then, obviously being in the Dominican Republic, things never go how they’re supposed to. So three hours before the wedding, we find out that there’s no limo….
Eventually he did what one does in the case of Dominican emergencies. He called David Ortiz: “I’m like, ‘Hey man, this is what’s going on. We’re getting married in a couple hours. I need a car. What am I going to do?’ ”
“Don’t worry,” Ortiz said. “I got you.”
Ortiz wasn’t even on the island at this point, but it didn’t matter. He told Horford to send a friend over to Ortiz’s house to pick up his Rolls-Royce Phantom. “I’ll have it there in 30 minutes,” Ortiz said. “I just gotta get it washed.”
Horford was amazed. “He didn’t even know my guy down there,” he laughs. “I sent a friend of mine. And he picks up the Phantom, brings it over to my wife. . . . And you know, that’s a very expensive car. But [Ortiz] tells me to keep it until I leave. So we’re there for a couple more days, and we have the car the whole time. It’s just one of those things, it shows he has a really big heart.”
Ortiz is going to be missed in Boston.
Horford is going to fit in brilliantly — on and off the court.
To call Josh McRoberts‘ time in Miami injury plagued might be the understatement of the decade.
Now with Chris Bosh out, the Heat could really use McRoberts at the four, but “shockingly” he is not healthy. Wednesday he finally admitted the reason he has been limited in training camp with foot issues.
McRoberts run of bad luck continues. And foot injuries — when your job involves running up and down a hardwood floor — are something that has to be taken seriously and allowed to fully heal, lest they become chronic. I’m not sure the Heat can bet on a lot out of McRoberts this season.
With no Bosh and McRoberts, expect Derrick Williams, Udonis Haslem, and maybe Luke Babbitt will get some run there. Coach Erik Spoelstra also likely will have some small lineups where Justise Winslow will play the four.
Consider this a little preview: On Thursday the ProBasketballTalk podcast returns, opening with a discussion of the Lakers and the Pacific division with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. We talk about the young core — D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, etc. — and how Luke Walton fits with them. How this is a team that if handled properly could develop into something of quality in a couple of years as these players come along. Patience is key.
But then we got to what Medina called the “elephant in the room”: Jim Buss’ timeline for returning to contending. He’s the head of basketball operations and vowed to at least make the second round of the playoffs at least by this season. Which is not happening. Will Buss be patient? Is he grounded in today’s NBA reality? Will the woman with the hammer, Jeanie Buss, hold him to that timeline? Does she have the backing of the other Buss children to push him out? (Reportedly she does.) It has Shakespearian drama potential.
Laker GM Mitch Kupchak was asked about that Tuesday and wanted no part of the question. Via Medina at the Daily News.
“I’m not in a position to debate the stuff you talked about,” Kupchak said on Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara. “I’m not sure what was said with certainty. From my point of view, we’ve created a team that has a lot of young talent that can grow into really good NBA players that can leave an imprint on this league. I think we’ve surrounded them with older veterans to help us win games. I’m excited about our coaching staff….
“Wins and losses, I couldn’t pick a number,” Kupchak said. “I could guess. But I would not guess in front of you. That’s not something I would do. That’s something I would stare at for the rest of the year.”
The Lakers should win more than the 17 of last year, maybe climb into the upper 20s, with 30 wins being the goal. That would signify a good season. But what matters is development, and if the Lakers are better at the end of the season, if their young players are on the right track, then that is success for this season.
Everyone around the Lakers understands that.
But is that enough to save Jim Buss’ job? That’s a different question.