Tag: Miami Heat

Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls

Report: Joakim Noah’s knee will be an issue all season


The Bulls depended on Joakim Noah last season, carrying them while Derrick Rose missed most of the year and after Luol Deng got traded.

Noah did so much to lift the Bulls to 48 wins, he finished fourth in MVP voting.

But that heavy workload took its toll. Noah played through knee pain the second half of the season, and he underwent “minor” surgery in the offseason that didn’t sound so minor.

Where does Noah stand now?

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Jo’s [left] knee is going to be an issue all season,’’ the source said. “He has played through pain before with the plantar [fasciitis], but this is completely different, a different level.’’

According to the source, Noah entered camp “panicked’’ that he wouldn’t even be able to start the season in the lineup, let alone participate in camp like he has.

I’m not sure we should trust this source.

As the quoted paragraph shows, this source has already overreacted to the extent of the injury once. Noah has played in six of Chicago’s seven preseason games, including a combined 48 minutes in a back-to-back Sunday and Monday. Perhaps, the source is overreacting again.

And the source – described as “a member of the Noah camp” – has incentive to exaggerate the extent of the injury, which the Bulls have downplayed. The more serious of an injury Noah is playing through, the more heroic he seems. Maybe Cowley has developed such a strong relationship with this source that the information is reliable, but the report is hardly infallible.

However, when I asked a doctor about Noah’s “minor” surgery, Benjamin Wedro of MD Direct explained:

The injury can be acute or chronic. In the chronic injury, there is degeneration and wafting away of the cartilage tissue. It is a bigger deal when parts of the remaining cartilage is removed.

It may be relatively minor, but there is no such thing as minor surgery. The risk of developing arthritis later in life increases.

The Bulls – who kept Taj Gibson and added Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic – have plenty of depth at power forward and center. They can ease the burden on Noah – or, if Tom Thibodeau gets his way, play him 48 minutes per game. (I kid, I kid.)

I wouldn’t freak out about Noah’s health right now, but it’s worth monitoring. Consider this report a reason to keep your eyes pealed for further warning signs.

67RIEFNS No. 28: Erik Spoelstra proving his chops

Erik Spoelstra

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

By nature, NBA head coaches face immense pressure.

As the money at stake has increased, job security is down league-wide. Owners no longer see teams as toys, instead looking at them to produce revenue. That trickles down the organizational chart, often landing on the coaches who fail to produce the wins that sell tickets and raise the value of local TV contracts.

But no coach has faced more pressure in the last four years than Erik Spoelstra.

A team with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh faced obvious championship expectations annually. Media descended upon Miami to cover the Heat with unprecedented depth. And to top it all off, his boss, Pat Riley, is a championship-winning coach who once replaced Miami’s sitting coach once the team was ready to win a title.

Not only did Spoelstra have to win, he had to win immediately. Not only did he have to win immediately, he had to win big immediately. Not only did he have to win big immediately, he had to appease a number of bosses.

Riley is the most obvious, but Heat owner Micky Arison could have gotten impatient and ordered a change. What interests me most, though is how Spoelstra won over LeBron, Wade and Bosh.

In a few short years, Spoelstra has gone from the NBA’s youngest coach to the league’s second-longest tenured (behind only the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich). That transformation happened only because LeBron, Wade and Bosh allowed it.

At any moment, the big three could have gotten Spoelstra fired. They obviously carried more cache within the organization than even Riley’s hand-picked successor. But they chose to let Spoelstra coach them.

There could have been only one reason.

Spoelstra did not have an overly impressive resume until LeBron and Bosh showed up. The coach hadn’t even won a playoff series.

He couldn’t use an impressive playing career to impress the big three, either. He played at the University of Portland and a couple years in Germany, and that’s it.

What Spoelstra had was an ability to coach.

LeBron, Wade and Bosh are no fools. They’re smart players, smart enough to recognize when someone can’t do the job. That they let Spoelstra coach them while their championship window was open is quite telling.

Spoelstra didn’t simply roll out the ball and let them play. He made small ball the team’s identity. He created an offense that incorporated both LeBron and Wade, two players with similar skill sets who too often butted heads on the court their first year in Miami. Spoelstra designed a defense featuring aggressive trapping that took advantage of the Heat’s athleticism.

Simply, Spoelstra coached at championship level.

Now, with LeBron in Cleveland, the challenge changes. Expectations are lower, but so are the resources. Spoelstra must adjust his style to fit a new team.

Spoelstra, who has coached two NBA champions, has been described by some as a Hall of Fame lock. That’s really not a certainty, though. Rudy Tomjanovich, who led the Rockets to titles in 1994 and 1995, is not enshrined.

Tomjanovich won just four playoff series outside his championship years. Spoelstra has already won six in non-title years, so his résumé is already looking better.

But he hasn’t won any without LeBron, the greatest player of the generation. That, fairly raises, questions.

Spoelstra can’t rest on his two titles and call it a legacy. It doesn’t sound as if he’s interested in doing that, anyway.

I think Spoelstra, still just 43, will remain successful, even without LeBron. But he must prove it.

67RIEFNS No. 27: Chandler Parsons in the spotlight

Preseason - Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Here’s a list of everyone who has posted as many win shares as Chandler Parsons during the last two seasons:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Chris Bosh
  • Mike Conley
  • Stephen Curry
  • Anthony Davis
  • Goran Dragic
  • Tim Duncan
  • Kevin Durant
  • Marc Gasol
  • Paul George
  • Blake Griffin
  • James Harden
  • George Hill
  • Dwight Howard
  • Serge Ibaka
  • LeBron James
  • Al Jefferson
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • David Lee
  • Damian Lillard
  • Robin Lopez
  • Kevin Love
  • Kyle Lowry
  • Joakim Noah
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Tony Parker
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Chris Paul
  • Dwyane Wade
  • David West
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Deron Williams

Let’s narrow that list by eliminating anyone who has made an All-Star game or All-NBA team in that span:

  • Mike Conley
  • George Hill
  • Serge Ibaka
  • Al Jefferson
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Robin Lopez
  • Kyle Lowry
  • Chandler Parsons
  • David West
  • Deron Williams

Finally, let’s trim it to players 25 and under:

  • Serge Ibaka
  • Chandler Parsons

No, Parsons is not a star on the level of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh or Dirk Nowitzki – players the Rockets chased this summer. But Parsons fits into a sub-group of definitely productive and potentially overlooked players, and he’s young enough that it’s still possible for him to develop into an All-Star. Ibaka is certainly not bad company.

I don’t blame Houston for pursuing upgrades over Parsons. He’s not infallible. And that the Rockets failed to land anyone better than Trevor Ariza does not prove they took the wrong strategy. Sometimes, playing the odds correctly renders a bad result.

But once the chips were on the table and LeBron (Cavaliers), Melo (Knicks), Bosh (Heat) and Nowitzki (Mavericks) had all chosen their teams, Houston still declined to match the Mavericks’ offer sheet to Parsons. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey explained it’d be easier to get a third star by saving that money now.

Morey might be right.

But he might not be.

Two years ago, Parsons was the second best player (to James Harden) on a playoff team. Last year, Dwight Howard pushed him to third banana, though Parsons played even better than he did the previous season.

Parsons is a quality shooter who can get to the basket and either score or distribute, a skill set that does wonders for floor spacing. Parsons will allow the Mavericks to overcome their downgrade at point guard from Jose Calderon to Jameer Nelson. Defensively, Parsons is only passable, but Rick Carlisle can make that work.

Parsons could become Dallas’ second-best player behind Dirk Nowitzki, even though Houston never saw him as a good-enough third option.

There’s a chance Houston uses the freed money to acquired a third star. There’s also a chance Parsons becomes that third star. I would have bet on Parsons, but it’s a close call.

In Dallas, Parsons has a chance to prove himself.