Kurt Helin

Utah starts Joe Johnson at small forward with Gordon Hayward out

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Who plays where during an NBA preseason game usually matters as much as a Family Guy cutaway, but there was an interesting one Monday night:

What would the Jazz do with Gordon Hayward out? Go with the veteran.

This is not a lock for the regular season, but it also makes the most sense. Joe Johnson gets the start with Chris Johnson and Alec Burks (in small ball lineups) behind him. It’s Utah’s best option.

It’s also a step down. None of those guys are the shot creators and threat that Hayward has become. The Jazz added depth at point guard with George Hill (plus getting Dante Exum back from injury), plus adding veterans like Boris Diaw to the lineup. But it’s going to take a lot more to make up for Hayward, who was the best shot creator on the team.

Check out Tobias Harris’ daily routine as he got ready for training camp

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Tobias Harris knows he’s in a great spot — the athletic wing on an up-and-coming team in the East. A guy asked to create shots for himself and others. A man asked to play strong defense. A man who was traded for and a lot is asked of.

How does a guy like Harris get ready for the season, and for training camp?

Eating right. Working out. Getting on the court and pushing himself.

You know, the things you say you’re going to do but then go have a bacon cheeseburger.

The above video — courtesy his agent and handlers — is a bit of a PR piece, but it also gives real insight into the lifestyle of an NBA player. It’s worth watching to see what NBA players see as their daily routine leading into camp. At least this is what is like on successful teams.

One of Kobe Bryant’s 2012 masks goes up for auction


Kobemania has not gone away.

Kobe Bryant has retired, but one of the future Hall of Famers’ masks worn in 2012 after suffering a broken nose in the 2012 All-Star Game (thank you Dwyane Wade) will be auctioned off. We’re not sure who is doing the selling, but there are details in the sale.

A letter from a member of the Los Angeles Lakers training staff accompanies this lot that states the following:

“In order to make the mask, a molding of Kobe’s face had to be made. Kobe had to sit for several minutes while the mold was applied and hardened. Once the mold was created, the mask was formed.

There are more details on the mask. One of these previously sold for $67,000 and no doubt the owner is looking for similar money. Not to insult Kobe, but I have no idea why someone would pay that much for a mask. However, if you have that kind of disposable income it can be yours.

Pistons’ point guard Reggie Jackson out 6-8 weeks with thumb injury (in addition to knee)


Already we knew Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson was out to start the season due to tendonitis in his right knee, and he had platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to treat it.

But that wasn’t even the worst of his problems.

He also had PRP treatment on his right thumb, which should keep him sidelined 6-8 weeks according to the team.

This is a setback for a Detroit team with playoff aspirations. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of the Pistons’ offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. It’s not going to be the same with Ish Smith and Lorenzo Brown handling the ball.


Andre Iguodala pumps up JaVale McGee with Warriors

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The question with JaVale McGee has never been the physical skill — good luck finding an NBA 7-footer with his level of athleticism. There have only been a handful through the NBA’s history.

The mental aspects of the game, however… you’ve seen the videos.

McGee is in Warriors camp and is trying to earn the 15th and final spot on a contending roster (he has averaged 10 minutes a game through the preseason). If you ask Andre Iguodala he should get it, as reported by Ethan Sherwood Straus of ESPN:

Iguodala on JaVale’s value: “Talk to some different people, GMs, front office people. He’s so much better than a lot of these guys who got paid this past year. Like, so much better.

No doubt that’s true, but the reason McGee isn’t on a roster has less to do with physical skill and more to do with fit and injury potential. With a non-guaranteed contract, the Warriors could take a gamble .

Will it pay off? The Magic 8 Ball says to check back in a few weeks.