We should just name one of these stars after LeBron at this point. Aside that, the story of the night was the Knicks dramatic comeback win, so the two guards that led that charge are getting stars tonight.
Third Star: Jason Kidd(14 points, 4-of-6 from three)
His line isn’t that impressive, but it’s really about when he got them — he was 3-of-4 from three in the fourth quarter when the Knicks made a 25-6 run to steal a game the Spurs thought they had locked up. Oh, and if you didn’t notice the Knicks are 6-0. Kidd’s not the player he once was, but he can shoot the rock and when he is on the floor the ball just seems to move better.
Second Star: LeBron James(27 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds)
We could put him up here any night he plays, he is on a different level than anybody in the Association right now. He could get away with anything short of Andrew Bynum’s haircut. With Dwyane Wade out and Mario Chalmers getting injured mid-game, LeBron put up 15 points and 7 assists in the second half and the Heat get a win in their fourth game in five days, winning on the most brutal back-to-back in the league (from Los Angeles or Golden State up to the mile-high air of Denver).
First Star: Raymond Felton (25 points, 7 assists)
He led the team in scoring in a big win in San Antonio and is a key reason the Knicks are 6-0, but like Jason Kidd it’s really about when he made his mark — Felton and Kidd scored 15 of the 23 points in the fourth quarter Knicks run that won the game. Felton has been a steady presence at the top, getting the Knicks surprisingly efficient offense going. He also runs a mean pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler. After a terrible year in Portland he has found his footing again in New York.
Report: 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith expected to return around Christmas
The 76ers expect injured rookie Zhaire Smith to be available to play in a game around Christmas, league sources say.
A rookie on a team with legitimate aspirations of deep-playoff advancement, Smith was already unlikely to crack Philadelphia’s rotation this season. All this lost developmental time makes it even less likely.
But the sooner Smith returns, the better for him and Philadelphia. The No. 16 pick impresses with his athleticism and motor, but he needs time to develop his perimeter skills.
Kevin Love launches “Love Fund” to bring more focus to mental health issues
The NBA is not shying away from the issue of the mental health of its players.
In the wake of All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love coming forward about their mental health challenges, the league and the players’ union combined to tell players to speak out on the issue and take advantage of the services offered.
For @TheAthleticNBA and @WatchStadium: NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michelle Roberts co-authored a preseason letter obtained, encouraging players to utilize increased resources for personal development and newly-enhanced mental wellness programs.
Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michelle Roberts tell all players in letter today: "It’s the power to make a difference that’s long been part of the NBA and the Players Association and that matters now more than ever." https://t.co/8TV9VOnghD
Kevin Love is doing more than just that, he has formed the Kevin Love Fund to help change the stigma around mental health issues. The fund has partners such as Headspace, with the focus being on prioritizing mental health awareness. He went on the Today Show on NBC to talk about it.
“We’re beating down the stigma as much as we can.”-@kevinlove dropped by to tell us about his new initiative to help people improve their physical and emotional well-being, the Kevin Love Fund pic.twitter.com/NRSH2CIccZ
Filling the 76ers vacant general manager position dragged out all summer for one main reason:
They liked what they already had in-house. The Sixers were an especially collegial and collaborative group with their decision making, and if they brought in a big name from the outside — former Cavaliers’ GM David Griffin, or the two guys who went deep into the interview process Utah assistant GM Justin Zanik on Rockets VP Gersson Rosas — it would change that dynamic.
There were other title changes within the organization as well.
Beyond promoting Brand to GM, Sixers are elevating Alex Rucker to Executive VP of Basketball Operations, Ned Cohen stays assistant GM and Marc Eversley SVP of Player Personnel, sources said. https://t.co/XL9Ij5U4zV
What this means on the ground is don’t expect any significant changes with the Sixers’ plans — nor should there be. They are banking on Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz — now with a functional jump shot, they hope — to be at the core of a contending team, then next summer they will go big game hunting again for an elite free agent. (There is more pressure to get a deal done this summer before the big extensions for those young stars start to really kick in.) That said, this is a team poised on the brink of a great run.
And if things are going well, why make a dramatic change? Brand can help them on the course already set.
Pat Riley: Dion Waiters not recovered for start of training camp, “unlikely” for start of season
When Dion Waiters had ankle surgery 30 games into last season, the hope was that he would be healthy for the start of this season and return to the post All-Star form of 2017, when his hot play (15.6 points per game, 41 percent from three and carrying a heavy offensive load) led the Heat to offer him a four-year contract.
Turns out, that’s not going to happen.
Heat announce that Dion Waiters, still recovering from ankle surgery, will not be ready for start of training camp and is "unlikely" to be ready to start the season. pic.twitter.com/Mx5zts1dsR
Waiters being out also is bad news for the player but could save the franchise money on another front: Waiters receives a $1.1 million bonus if he plays in 70 games this season. If he misses the start of the season, he becomes far less likely to make that threshold.