Blake Griffin is shooting 45.1 percent this young season, a dramatic drop off from the 54.9 percent of last season. The result is he is scoring 16.3 points per game, down from 20.7 last season, and he is doing it far less efficiently.
After the Clippers loss to the Cavaliers we found out why — he is playing through a burst bursa sac in his right elbow. That’s his shooting arm. Dan Woike at the Orange County Register has the report.
Griffin said the problem happens nearly every year, though “never this bad.”
Before Monday’s game with Cleveland, Griffin showed discomfort on his face as he warmed up, missing his first few shots well short. Griffin shook his right elbow, which was revealed to be heavily taped, and kept shooting.
The bursa sac is a series of small pouches of fluid in the elbow that provides cushioning and lubrication in the joint (they are in the knee and hip as well). Usually there is swelling and pain, and fluid could need to be drained from the elbow, but no surgery is required.
He’s not going to miss time, but it is impacting his game.
It’s not just that he is shooting 4-for-19 beyond 10 feet (21.1 percent, down from a still unimpressive 29.3 percent last season) because he’s only shooting a little more from the outside. It’s also his finishing at the rim — last season he finished 73.7 percent of his chances in the restricted area, this season that is down to a mortal 65.4 percent.
The Clippers need Griffin to be a more efficient scorer, or they are going to lose more games to teams like the Cavaliers.
Draymond Green and Kevin Durant got into a confrontation with each other during a game two years ago. They quickly downplayed the argument and since won two titles together with the Warriors. The incident was largely forgotten.
Green and Durant quarreled on the bench again last night. This time, the surrounding rhetoric is trending the other way.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of ESPN:
An angry late game exchange between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green carried into the Golden State Warriors locker room on Monday night in Los Angeles, where some teammates loudly confronted Green for his decision-making on the final play of regulation, league sources told ESPN.
After the 121-116 overtime loss to the LA Clippers, some witnesses described the closed-door exchange as one of the most intense of this Warriors era. No one had to be separated, no player left his side and no hint of physicality loomed in the setting, sources said.
If harsh words over late-game strategy has been most intense exchange of the last three seasons, the Warriors are incredibly spoiled. Related: The Warriors are incredibly spoiled.
Teams would kill to suffer only this level of drama. Bickering over a November loss is nearly nothing. Green wanted to push the ball. Durant wanted to control it himself. It’s not necessarily a deep issue.
That said, because the Warriors have faced minimal challenge since signing Durant, this can feel more significant to them. They might overreact and let this linger in ways teams with more serious problems might not. So, this can spiral into something bigger.
Big enough to affect Durant’s upcoming free agency? He has the power to leave, and playing with the temperamental Green can be draining.
It can also be rewarding. Green’s attitude helps make him one of the NBA’s top defenders, and he’s a superb playmaker – a reason keeping the ball in his hands, despite the failed result this time, made sense. If Durant leaves Golden State, he might not find a teammate as good as Green (let alone Stephen Curry).
This episode will be one of the many things for Durant to consider next summer.
As if eating Jack-in-the-Box in your car at midnight was not depressing enough already…
That’s when and where DeMar DeRozan learned he had been traded from Toronto — the city and franchise he was all in on — to the San Antonio Spurs. The trade sent DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
DeRozan opened up to Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report about how he learned about the decision that rocked him to his core.
DeRozan found out about the trade after getting out of a screening of The Equalizer 2, featuring Denzel Washington. Upon leaving the movie theater in Los Angeles late into the night, he checked his phone. “[I] was wondering why I was getting missed calls,” he says.
He was hungry, so he went to get something to eat at a Jack in the Box. In the parking lot, he got the call telling him he had just been traded to San Antonio. “It just caught me off guard,” he says. “I sat in the Jack in the Box parking lot for, like, two hours just trying to process it all, like just trying to process the whole thing, and it just tripped me out honestly, just trying to figure it out, but that’s how I found out. Midnight, sitting in the Jack in the Box parking lot for about two hours till I went home.”
It’s a trade that Toronto felt it had to make, in the same way it felt it had to move on from Coach of the Year Dwane Casey. The Raptors were enjoying their best run of basketball success in franchise history, having won 59 games the season before, but come the playoffs their system and personnel were just a little too predictable, and they could not reach the next level. Plus LeBron James was in the way.
Except now LeBron wasn’t in the way, and the Raptors decided to swing for the fences. Early on Toronto looks very good this season, but the real test of Leonard and the new-look Raptors starts in April. We’ve seen the good regular season Raptors before.
DeRozan is averaging 25.2 points per game this season and has been more efficient as a shooter because the Spurs have asked him to play to his strengths — the midrange jumper. DeRozan is taking fewer threes in a league that has gone three crazy. The Spurs are 9.8 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, with most of that help on the offensive end. More than that, DeRozan has found a new home, a new comfort level.
But there are still a few scars from how all of it went down.
Caris LeVert‘s injury last night looked so severe, his Nets teammates cried and the Timberwolves prayed.
Thankfully, that all turned out to be an overreaction. (Or, if you believe, the compassion and prayer worked.)
Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert returned to New York with the team last night and was evaluated today by Nets’ Team Orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Following the evaluation, LeVert was diagnosed with a subtalar dislocation of the right foot.
“Fortunately, tests performed this morning revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage,” said Dr. O’Malley. “While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required. Caris will begin a period of rehabilitation with the Nets’ performance staff, following which he is expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season.”
This is fantastic news. LeVert is one of the NBA’s up-and-comers and well-liked by nearly everyone who knows him. People all around the league wished him well in the wake of this injury.
It’s still unclear how much time LeVert will miss. A dislocated foot is a small matter only relative to the feared severity of LeVert’s injury. This will probably derail his Most Improved Player campaign.
But LeVert returning to the court this season will be a joyous occasion on its own.
Jimmy Butler is in Philadelphia.
Carmelo Anthony is in Houston, but not for much longer.
And the Lakers have Tyson Chandler and a three-game winning streak — there is never a dull moment in the NBA. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports welcomes in Eric Pincus, who covers the Lakers for Bleacher Report plus is a salary cap expert you have seen on NBA TV, to talk about it all. The pair talk about what the Sixers need to do next to capitalize on their window with Butler, are there landing spots for Carmelo Anthony, and then a deep dive on the Lakers: What is the team doing right? Does Lonzo Ball fit with LeBron James? What about Brandon Ingram? And who is the next big star the Lakers will be able to add to their mix?
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