Winderman: Stern shouldn’t blame players for rash of injuries

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For weeks now, as his players have blown out knees like NASCAR cars blow out engines, David Stern, make that Dr. David Stern, has been telling us this has nothing to do with his fiendishly concocted lockout-compacted schedule.

Granted, the players signed off on that very schedule, so it’s not as it there isn’t dual complicity.

But Monday, on Jim Rome’s television show, Stern offered another juicy morsel, one that that may cut to the crux of the issue.

First, to provide context, when asked about a possible relationship between the injuries and the compress schedule, Stern said:

“I think there’s some part of it that may be related to that. Some part of it is luck. Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began. It’s a combination of things.”

Now we break out the telestrator to the circle the juicy bit:

“Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began.”

Hmm, so the players who were given a mere two-week training camp were not in the same shape as when previously given a month to prepare?

But, again, the players are equally complicit there, having agreed to such a timetable.

The lesson, however, is what happened before those camps opened, namely NBA facilities being off limits to players during the lockout.

Yes, there were insurances issues of locked-out players working out in unlocked team gyms. That’s what waivers are for.

But no non-NBA facility comes with NBA-level trainers, NBA-quality physicians.

Based on the single sentence from Stern, the NBA willing facilitated its perishable commodities to rot.

Which is why the next work stoppage shouldn’t be a “lockout,” can’t be something that separates finely tuned athletes from the means that keep them that way.

Or did the NBA think there never was going to be a resumption of play?

Stern’s comment — again, “Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began” — comes off as a condemnation of players not valuing their careers enough to keep in NBA shape.

But NBA shape requires NBA facilities. A league that pampers its players with state-of-the-art training resources should have appreciated as much.

The hindsight is a postseason becoming a battlefield of attrition.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

PBT Extra: Philadelphia has Jimmy Butler. Now what?

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Not long after the trade sending Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia was announced, there were some Sixers fans were on Twitter planning the championship parade route.

Reality, of course, is never quite so simple. The Orlando Magic made that clear knocking off Philadelphia in Butler’s debut.

What should we expect from these Sixers now? I get into it in this latest PBT Extra. Expect exceptional defense. However, are the big three of Buter/Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons willing to make the sacrifices necessary to their game to win at the highest level? We will see.

Reggie Bullock game-winner gives Pistons coach Dwane Casey victory in return to Toronto

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Revenge is a dish best served with two seconds left in a tie game.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey – certainly not thrilled with the Raptors firing him earlier this year – guided his new team to a 106-104 win in his return to Toronto tonight. Detroit erased a 19-point second-half deficit and got the ball with two seconds left, giving Casey and Reggie Bullock chances to shine.

Casey drew up a great play, an alley-oop to Glenn Robinson III. But Pascal Siakam made an even better play to knock the ball out of bounds.

The Pistons’ second play of the possession proved even more effective, as Bullock slipped toward the rim and hit the game-winner.

What a satisfying victory for Casey.

Reports: Steve Kerr chose and Warriors players supported suspending, not fining, Draymond Green

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The Warriors suspended Draymond Green one game for his argument with Kevin Durant during and after Golden State’s loss to the Clippers on Monday.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

Jackie MacMullan on ESPN:

What about an internal fine? And what I was told this morning was that the rest of the players on this team didn’t support that, that the rest of the players on the team felt this had to be to done and that they’re all prepared, on that plane ride to Houston today, to get those guys together and put this behind them for now.

Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

Green was surprised by the heavy-handedness. A fine was expected. Green had just come back from injury, giving him a rest day for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta and a private fine would have been an acceptable rebuke of his behavior. He was fined a few thousand dollars when he went after Kerr in the locker room in Oklahoma City in 2016. He didn’t think this incident was nearly as bad, so the punishment being drastically worse was shocking.

I wonder whether Green will feel as if the Warriors are ganging up on him. Many see his suspension as Golden State’s attempt to appease Durant before free agency, and the original issue escalated because Green thought there was already too much emphasis on Durant’s free agency. This could push a stubborn Green deeper into a corner.

Or he could realize his peers wanted him suspended and see that as a wakeup call. He might put more stock in that than Kerr’s point of view.

It’s too early to determine how this will go, but the starting point is apparently a divide between Green and everyone else.

Kyrie Irving, teammate of 12-year-veteran Al Horford: Celtics need 14- or 15-year veteran for leadership

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The Celtics just had a 1-4 road trip, the lone win coming in overtime against the lowly Suns. Most Boston players (except Marcus Morris and, lately, Kyrie Irving) look out of sorts offensively.

Irving, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a ‘veteran’ as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, a 14-year vet that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do.

Al Horford is in his 12th season. His team, the Hawks then Celtics, have made the playoffs every season of his career.

I’m not sure Irving intended this as a slight of Horford. Irving certainly didn’t forget about Horford, whom Irving mentioned the sentence prior.

But I’d definitely understand if Horford felt slighted. He’s experienced enough to provide that veteran leadership. So is Irving for that matter.

Ultimately, these comments might prove benign, just more weird words from Irving. Still, they’re potentially significant enough to keep an eye on Boston’s leadership situation.