Kurt Helin

Utah Jazz look to future without injured Gordon Hayward


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz began life without Gordon Hayward on Saturday with the first practice since the franchise player broke a finger on his non-shooting hand. There is no set timetable for his return.

Hayward went down Friday when his finger got caught in another player’s jersey during practice. Coach Quin Snyder was already tinkering with lineups with the addition of veterans George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw and now must be even more creative.

Snyder explained that everyone and everything can be impacted, from Rodney Hood to Johnson to Dante Exum. How Snyder can put together situation-specific lineups, such as small-ball, will also be affected.

“You don’t want to wallow over things you can’t control,” Snyder said. “More than anything I feel bad for Gordon. It’s not a pity part for the team. Guys have to step up. We’ve got good players and they’re capable of picking up the slack collectively and individually.

“But that doesn’t change the fact that Gordon’s been our best player.”

The ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft led the team with a 19.7-point average and 3.7 assists last season. Hayward also averaged 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 2015-16.

The 26-year old missed just two games in 2015-16 and total of 13 in the last three seasons combined. Hood may be most affected as the team’s second-best perimeter scorer. He could slide to small forward in the starting lineup with Hill and Exum starting at the guard positions. Johnson could start at small forward with Hood remaining at shooting guard. Either way, Hood will likely need to pick up some of the offensive load.

“I’ve got to be more aggressive, I think that’s obvious for our team,” said Hood, who averaged 14.5 points in his second season. “Everybody’s got to do more on both ends. We’ve got some time to figure out before the actual season hits.

“Scoring is not really the focus. … It’s about defense and scoring off our defense and doing the little things.”

Injuries are nothing new to the Jazz in the last 12 months. The team lost starters Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Exum and top wing reserve Alec Burks for long stretches last season. Favors is currently dealing with knee soreness and missed the last preseason game. Burks still hasn’t returned from arthroscopic surgery to his knee and ankle in June.

Fortunately for the organization, the Jazz have four more preseason games and don’t start the regular season until a road game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 25.

Hill played the last five seasons with the Indiana Pacers and was on the roster when their franchise player, Paul George, missed most of the 2014-15 season with a broken leg. Hill averaged a career-high 16.1 points that season.

“It’s just a feel thing,” Hill said. “You don’t try to come in and say, hey, I’m going to do this or that because someone went down. You take what’s there. If the feeling’s there that they need you to step up and score some more points, then that’s what you have to do.

“But it gives everybody a good opportunity to come out and improve their game a little bit more and expect a lot out of other players. … It’s going to take a group effort.”

Entering 17th NBA season, Metta World Peace says he wants to play 20

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Metta World Peace is a longshot to make the Lakers roster this season. Los Angeles already has 14 guaranteed contracts plus the very team friendly deal of Yi Jianlian, who has looked good in camp and will almost certainly make the roster. That makes 15, the max the Lakers could carry into the season. Meaning World Peace only sticks with the Lakers if there is a trade or the Lakers cut someone with a guaranteed deal to keep him.

But World Peace wasn’t expected to make the Lakers roster last season and did. If he sticks, this would be MWP’s 17th NBA season, and he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News the real goal is 20 years.

World Peace, 36, enters his 17th NBA season and 18th playing professionally overall hoping he can log at least three more years on the hardwood.

“I want to finish off strong,” World Peace said. “It’s not about what it will mean to me. It’s about, ‘Can I get there?’”

World Peace said he isn’t worried about making the Lakers’ roster.

“My concern is having a good time. There’s nothing to overcome,” World Peace said. “I’m a hell of a basketball player. That’s the hard part, becoming a good basketball player. Once you do that, you don’t have to worry about nothing else.”

That’s one less thing to worry about.

World Peace got in just 35 games for a 17-win Laker team last season. He did start the first last Laker preseason game with Luol Deng out but didn’t score in limited minutes. One way or another I expect World Peace will get paid to play basketball this season, just not sure it’s with the Lakers. Or maybe in the NBA (remember he did spend a season overseas before the Lakers brought him back last season).

But if he’s not in the NBA the league is less interesting, so I’m rooting for him to stick around.

Pistons’ Reggie Jackson to get platelet-rich plasma therapy on problem knee


Reggie Jackson has been here before.

Jackson is out to start the season due to tendonitis in his right knee, and once again the Pistons’ point guard will have platelet-rich plasma therapy to treat it, reports Aaron McMann of MLive.com.

The Detroit Pistons point guard will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection Monday in New York, coach Stan Van Gundy confirmed, the same non-surgical procedure he underwent while dealing with knee tendinitis in 2011.

The procedure culls blood from the body, spins it and injects it into the affected area to help relieve pain. There is no word yet on a timetable for Jackon’s return, but Van Gundy said last week it could be up to six to eight weeks.

“It’s a significant amount of time,” Van Gundy said. “He’s played a lot of games and a lot of minutes. He has a good confidence in (this procedure) – nothing is forever, but that’s something that worked really for him before. I think he feels good about it.”

Traditionally with this therapy, Jackson would be on crutches for 7-10 days after the treatment, followed by rehab. Timetables are never perfect, but this could be closer to six weeks than eight.

The sooner he returns the better for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of the Pistons’ offense. It’s not going to be the same with the ball in Ish Smith and Lorenzo Brown‘s hands. This is a setback for a team with playoff ambitions this season.

As a good coach should, Jason Kidd comes to defense of Michael Carter-Williams


Reports surfaced Friday that Milwaukee had spoken with Sacramento trying to push a Ben McLemore for Michael Carter-Williams trade, one the Kings had no interest in. Rumors about Michael Carter-Williams availability have been swirling since this summer. That there have been no takers led to a discussion of MCW’s flaws and game (including by myself), something Carter-Williams seems to have taken as motivation.

Like a good coach should, Jason Kidd came to Carter-Williams’ defense, in an interview on Sirius XMNBA Radio.

“Rumors are just part of this business. We’re happy with Michael (Carter-Williams). He’s had a great summer and has worked extremely hard and it showed in the first game in Chicago. He came off the bench and I think he led us in rebounds. He can be one of the best wing defenders in this league. He helped us late in the game running the team at the point guard position. There’s always speculation around different guys, but I think Michael is going to help us win.”

Kidd is right about that — speculation and trade rumors, not to mention trades themselves, are just part of the business. Nobody says it is easy, but most veterans get a thick skin and learn to deal with it. Same with criticism of their game — everybody in the NBA is an amazing player, one of the 450 best in the world, and that shouldn’t be forgotten. The critiques of players games are in the context of the NBA — and those can feel harsh in that small window.

None of that changes the fact MCW is available via trade and that is an open secret around the league.

Andrew Wiggins wants to posterize Joel Embiid

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Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid were teammates at Kansas who went No. 1 and No. 3 in the 2014 draft — then have not played one game against each other in the NBA. Foot injuries have sidelined Embiid for two full seasons, he finally has gotten on the court a little this preseason.

Embiid already has a target on his back — Wiggins wants to dunk on him. From an interview on Fox Sports where Wiggins was asked who he wants to posterize:

My boy JoJo Embiid from the Sixers. I never got him (as teammates) in college; time to get him now.

Embiid is out there to protect the rim, which means he’s going to get dunked on now and again. Happens to everyone who actually tries on defense. Wiggins puts people in posters. This could happen.

If it does happen, the Sixers may be okay with it — that means Embiid is healthy, playing, and trying to protect the rim.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)