Take this report with a handful of salt for two key reasons:
1) Whenever a player is going through rehab and workouts to get back the teams are generous with compliments, to encourage the steps.
2) Knicks GM Steve Mills is not exactly the power broker in the Knicks front office. Nice title but he’s not the guy making the call.
That said, after the Derek Fisher introductory press conference broke up, Mills was interviewed on a variety of topics and was asked about Lamar Odom, who is supposed to be working out with the Knicks this summer and getting back in basketball shape. Odom is technically under contract for next season with the Knicks but that is not a guaranteed deal.
Mills said he liked the track Odom was on and expected him to be part of the Knicks team next season.
We’ll see. Odom has a lot of personal things to get over to get his head right enough to get back in the league. If he can do that, can he get a body that will turn 35 early next season into a condition well enough to play in the NBA again?
Here is what Jackson said about Odom a few weeks back when asked:
“We know he’s a really good basketball player. If he wants to put himself back together in a basketball life, he’s got a chance to do this by having a whole summer to work at it and get himself back in basketball condition so he can play. He’s told me that’s what he wanted to do. Having a relationship with him, I figure this is a pretty good risk/reward situation for us.”
The Knicks could use a guy like Odom, at least the old Odom. First off, his point forward skills are difficult to find in this league. Second, the Knicks could use guys that know the triangle offense because that is what Fisher suggested he would run, and it’s an offense that takes a while to really grasp because it is read and react, not traditional set plays. Tom Thibodeau brought Brian Scalabrine over from Boston to Chicago as a player, not because Scalabrine was phenomenal at his defensive schemes, but he understood them and could almost serve as a second coach when teaching the system. Odom could serve that kind of role.
If he is ready.
Boston came in on a 10-game winning streak where they had played well on both ends of the court, but they also got some lucky rolls of the basketball.
With Boston down one, Marcus Smart put up a floater as time expired in Sacramento, it looked like the shot would fall, and…
Give the Kings credit, at a rough start they have gone 5-2 in November, and that despite injuries to Marvin Bagley Jr. and De'Aaron Fox. Buddy Hield had 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three.
The Celtics had a balanced attack with six players in double figures, but their offense was not as sharp as it has been. This was the first game it looked like they missed Gordon Hayward, who is out with a fractured hand.
Aron Baynes has been critical to the Suns racing out to a 7-4 start with the fourth-best net rating in the NBA. When Deandre Ayton was suspended for 25 games (after testing positive for a diuretic, a banned substance), Baynes has stepped up and been exactly what the Suns needed. He is scoring 15 points per game, shooting 46.5 percent from three (which is opening up the floor for guys like Devin Booker), and providing a big body defensive presence in the paint.
You can see why the Lakers and other teams were hoping Baynes would hit the market this summer. From Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Suns center Aron Baynes has emerged as a cornerstone piece for Phoenix early this season, supplying defense, leadership and, yes, shot-making. Phoenix acquired Baynes on draft night, and in the weeks to come contenders such as the Lakers hoped Baynes would reach a buyout with the Suns to hit the open market, sources said. Suns general manager James Jones and new head coach Monty Williams wanted Baynes — and are now receiving the rewards for the offseason move. Through 11 games, Baynes is averaging 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 46.8 percent 3-point shooting (two 3s made per game). Baynes will enter free agency next July, and as one team executive said, “He is positioning himself for well over $10 million per year.”
Smart move by Phoenix’s management to hold on to Baynes as an Ayton insurance policy (one they ended up needing). Plus, when trying to change a team’s culture (as Jones and Williams are working to do in Phoenix), you can’t have enough hardworking professionals in the locker room. Baynes brings that.
The Lakers thought they would have DeMarcus Cousins in the paint, but he tore his ACL over the summer. The tag team of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee has worked surprisingly well for Los Angeles to start the season.
In what will be a down free-agent market next summer, Baynes is going to be in demand. His payday is coming.
Dion Waiters has yet to set foot on the court for the Miami Heat this season and is currently sitting out a 10-game suspension by the team for “conduct detrimental to the team.” He is not suspended for the gummy bears incident, but rather a series of team infractions (remember he was suspended for opening night, too, after a run-in with coach Erik Spoelstra). However, the fact this suspension came after that well-publicized disruption to the Heat is not a coincidence.
With his time off, Waiters went back to Syracuse, where he played in college, to talk to his old coach Jim Boeheim, someone Waiters sees as a father figure.
While there, Waiters talked about his suspension publicly for the first time, speaking with Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com.
“I just wanted to come up and talk to Coach,” Waiters said. “I know that’s a person who will always be there for me if I ever need anything. It’s a chance for me to come up, be around, talk to the coaches, things like that. And that’s important….
“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m in a great place,” he said. “I can only control what I can control at the end of the day, so some things you just can’t allow to take your head the other way, some things happen for a reason. If you stay locked in, if you believe and trust in yourself, trust in the work you put in, you know, it’s a minor setback. It happens. It’s life. You learn from it. The only thing I can do is move forward. Stay focused. Stay even-keeled. Let everything else take care of itself.”
Some will want to read that as Waiters being dismissive, but in reality this is the attitude Miami wants Waiters to have — that he can move on, get past whatever issues are going on between him and the team, and come back to bolster the Miami rotation.
That said, thanks to the impressive play from rookies Kendrick Nunn — a Heat-style player right out of central casting — and Tyler Herro, Miami hasn’t been hurting for quality guard play. Waiters, when he returns, is going to have to earn his spot in the rotation.
Paul George is back.
Not that he really went all that far away, the man did finish third in MVP voting last season, but he faded at the end of that campaign due to shoulder pain, which led to both shoulders being operated on during the offseason. That delayed his entry into the 2019-20 NBA season by a few weeks.
He has come back looking smooth: He scored 37 points in 20 minutes against Atlanta, the most points scored in fewer than 21 minutes played in NBA history. PG13 has scored 70 points in 44 minutes across the two games with an 80.9 true shooting percentage, hitting 56.3 percent from three, and he scored the most points in a Clippers home debut (37).
How is he doing it?
“I got new shoulder. I can’t say nothing else to that, I got new shoulders. And they haven’t been this healthy in a long time.”
George has looked fluid on the court, playing great defense and clearly just having fun out there.
The Clippers have yet to play George and Kawhi Leonard at the same time because pain in Leonard’s knee has kept him in street clothes the past two games.
The Clippers have George on a minutes limit right now and are letting Leonard have all the time off he wants (George will ultimately get some load management nights, too). While that’s led to pushback from some fans — and LeBron James, trying to score some PR points on the other team in town — the Clippers shrug it off. They don’t have their sites set on November wins, they are targeting April, May, and they hope June.
George already looks in peak playoff form.