Reaction from ‘Melo, Lakers players to D’Antoni hiring

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And the reactions are pouring in to the Lakers hiring of Mike D’Antoni… except from Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. You know, the two guys you most want to hear from.

Neither of them spoke to the media today. Nash because he got treatment on his injured leg and left the Lakers facilities before media was let into team practice.

But Kobe had a way better excuse — he was using his private helicopter to take Steve Blake to a specialist in Orange County to get an ultrasound on Blake’s strained abdomen. Seriously. Blake was riding shotgun in Kobe’s copter.

So how about some other guys…

Carmelo Anthony — the Knick that was the thorn in D’Antoni’s side — said all the politically correct things about D’Antoni to ESPNNewYork.com.

“I knew he was trying to take some time off and get healthy and things like that,” he said. “I was with him this summer. He didn’t really know what was going to happen as far as getting a job this year or next year.

“Obviously it worked out this summer with him and Kobe. Maybe they had something under the table, I don’t know. But it’ll be fun. I know Kobe’s excited about that, so we’ll see what happens.”

As for the Lakers who did speak to the media it was all puppy dogs and rainbows. Everybody was happy. Not sure what else you expect — if you want minutes you don’t slam the coach on the way in the door.

Dwight Howard addressed the defensive concerns. (via the Lakers twitter account):

“You’ve got guys on this team that love to play D & he’s an offensive coach. We’ll find a balance… it’ll be great.”

Antawn Jamison spoke on the Phil vs. D’Antoni talk.

“You can’t go wrong either way. The fans wanted Phil. But Mike has a good resume, a great offense and he will let us play freely,”

Metta World Peace talked three-pointers (after going 4-of-8 from deep Sunday against the Kings. He also said he’d lock down the defense with Howard.

“I think it’s a great system. Lotta open 3s.”

Finally, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak also released another statement on how the team came to its decision.

“After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike (D’Antoni) was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward. Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach.”

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic undergoes surgery to repair leg, full recovery expected. Eventually.

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As expected, Jusuf Nurkic underwent surgery on Tuesday repair the frightening leg injury he suffered on Monday night, a fractured left tibia and fibula that left his leg bending in a way that no leg should ever bend.

The good news is the surgery went as well as could be hoped, according to the team and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Even with a successful surgery, this is going to take a long time to come back from.

As Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes noted, the only comparable injury like this in the NBA was Paul George‘s frightening leg injury with Team USA. George made a full recovery, but it was eight months before he got back on the court and much longer until he was comfortable enough to be the MVP candidate he is this season.

Nurkic had made a leap this season, averaging a career-high 15.4 points per game this season on 50.7 percent shooting. The advanced stats loved him — his PER of 23.1, true shooting percentage of 57, value over replacement player of 3.5, and other advanced stats are all career bests. He was the anchor in the middle of the Portland defense, using his big body to cut off drives on pick-and-rolls. He was serving as a playmaker on offense: When he’d set a high pick for Damian Lillard, teams would trap the guard, Lillard would pass to Nurkic, and the Bosnian had become a good passer or he just take it in and scores himself

All of that came after Nurkic signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension last summer.

His injury also devastates the Blazers heading into the postseason, where they could have been a tough matchup but have now lost a key piece of their puzzle.

 

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving to rest against Cavaliers, his former team

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving said returning to Cleveland tonight won’t mean anything to him.

He won’t even play.

The Celtics will rest rest the star against his old team, the Cavaliers.

Irving is averaging 23.8 points and the Celtics want to keep him as fresh as possible going into the postseason.

The Celtics have lost four straight and are fifth in the Eastern Conference entering Tuesday night’s game in Cleveland.

Irving played his first six seasons with Cleveland. The six-time All-Star demanded a trade following the 2016-17 season and was dealt to Boston. He hasn’t played in Cleveland since the 2017-18 opener.

Celtics center Al Horford (sore left knee) and forward Jayson Tatum (back contusion) could return Tuesday. Coach Brad Stevens said both were “questionable to probable” at the team’s shootaround.

Kris Humphries retires

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At one point, Kris Humphries was one of the NBA’s most-hated players. Because he married Kim Kardashian, I guess. I’m not sure his critics could articulate precisely why they loathed him.

Now, two years after last playing in the NBA, Humphries is retiring.

He announced his decision in The Players’ Tribune, also elaborating on his relationship with Kardashian:

Look, I should have known what I was getting into. I was definitely naive about how much my life was going to change. But the one thing that really bothers me is whenever people say that my marriage was fake.

There’s definitely a lot about that world that is not entirely real. But our actual relationship was 100% real. When it was clear that it wasn’t working … what can I say? It sucked. It’s never easy to go through the embarrassment of something like that — with your friends, with your family…. But when it plays out so publicly, in front of the world, it’s a whole other level. It was brutal.

I didn’t know how to handle it, because I never thought I was going to be famous in that way. I remember having this moment when I was getting booed so hard in Philly, and I thought to myself, “Why exactly are they booing me, though? Is it just because I’m That Guy from TV? Do they think I was trying to be famous? Is it because they think I disrespected the game of basketball?”

The last one killed me, because all I’ve ever wanted to be known for was basketball.

Humphries’ playing style was built for anonymity. He was a rebounding journeyman who spent 13 seasons with the Jazz, Raptors, Mavericks, Nets, Celtics, Wizards, Suns and Hawks.

But he had a knack for drawing attention.

As a kid, he swam faster than Michael Phelps. As he shifted attention to basketball, he tried to take on Michael Jordan’s persona (as detailed in his essay) and came across like a jerk. Then, he hooked up with Kardashian.

Their 72-day marriage will be the lasting memory of his career. It’s what exposed him to a far wider audience.

Maybe that’s not what he wanted, and he still had a successfully long NBA career. But that’s what he got.

D’Angelo Russell gets ball snatched from his hand in backcourt while not paying attention (video)

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D'Angelo Russell has had an excellent season. He became a first-time All-Star. He’s a Most Improved Player candidate. He put himself in line to earn a lot of money.

But this wasn’t his finest moment:

CJ Fogler:

The Nets lost to the Trail Blazers, who were boosted this Maurice Harkless steal (but suffered a much bigger loss in Jusuf Nurkic).