Steve Nash suffers thigh bruise at the end of Suns’ win over the Grizzlies

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It’s probably nothing that will hinder Steve Nash for very long, if at all. But on the last play of the Suns’ 86-84 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday, Nash collided with Marc Gasol, causing him to limp off the floor after Mike Conley’s three-point attempt at the buzzer to win it fell short.

“It was just frustrating,” Nash said afterward. “Another thigh bruise. Hopefully it’ll settle down for Monday. I’ll just try to ice it and keep it moving a little bit.”

Monday is when the Suns play next, at home against the Dallas Mavericks.

Nash missed a game earlier this season with an injury to his right thigh. When asked if Gasol’s knee caught him in the same one that was injured previously, Nash feigned enthusiasm while responding, “No, it’s a new one.”

It’s easy to keep your sense of humor when you’re winning, especially when doing so after such a dreadful performance in Portland the night before. The Suns’ 38-point defeat led to the coaching staff switching up the starting lineup, as well as changing up the team’s rotations.

Phoenix went back to the starting five it used to begin the season: Nash, Grant Hill, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley. Nash subbed out earlier than usual in the first quarter (easier to do when you have a seven-point lead), and came back with eight minutes to play in the second with the advantage still intact. Nash also came back earlier than normal in the fourth, playing the game’s final 10 minutes.

Shannon Brown and Robin Lopez were the odd men out in the team’s latest lineup experiment, while Michael Redd, Ronnie Price, and Josh Childress all played less than eight minutes.

Jared Dudley seemed to benefit the most, playing almost 42 minutes and scoring a season-high 20 points. He was also key down the stretch, drawing fouls on Gasol and Conley to earn four free throws, which he had no problem knocking down to score the Suns’ final four points of the game.

“I haven’t shot free throws like that since the BC days, playing Syracuse beating Hak,” Dudley said, referring to his time at Boston College and teammate Hakim Warrick. “It was big. It feels good to help your team win the game. Hopefully we can start building some confidence, we have Dallas coming up who’s had our number for the last couple of years. We owe ’em one.”

The Suns’ chances against Dallas will obviously improve dramatically with a healthy Steve Nash in the lineup. It’s anyone’s guess how much the bruise will limit him over the next couple of days, but as usual, Nash is choosing to keep things positive.

“I’m optimistic that I can play Monday,” he said. “You never know, but hopefully it’ll be fine — good enough to play.”

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.