Cleveland’s starting center Anderson Varejao tore his Achilles tendon in the third quarter of a Cavaliers win over Minnesota, something first reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN and since confirmed by multiple other outlets.
This is what the Cavaliers feared after the injury happened. Varejao was averaging 10 points a game on 55 percent shooting, plus he grabbed six rebounds a game. He’s often the big setting the pick for LeBron James out high, those two have a strong chemistry.
Varejao landed awkwardly after going up near the basket Tuesday night and immediately went to the ground, where he stayed for several minutes with his teammates around him. He was eventually carried back to the locker room unable to put any weight on his leg, and was seen leaving the arena on crutches an in a boot.
For the 32-year-old Varejao, this will be a very difficult injury to come back from. It could spell the end of his NBA career.
It’s also going to be rough on Cleveland on the court. In the short term expect the Cavaliers to start Tristan Thompson, who has played well of late, in what is a smaller lineup. The only other option right now is to give Brendan Haywood minutes — he has barely seen the court this season (four total minutes in the last seven games) and is really more contract trade bait than player to the Cavs. There is Louis Amundson on the bench, too.
Which means expect the Cavaliers to really step up their efforts to trade for a big man. They have been working the phones all season going down the ladder of potential trade partners, including guys like Timofey Mozgov in Denver, Kosta Koufos in Memphis, and now Brandan Wright in Boston. All to no avail.
That needs to change soon now. The Cavaliers defense already struggled without rim protection in the paint, and while Varejao’s numbers were not great this season — the team is 5 points per 100 possessions better when he was off the court — he was still by far their best option.
Tacko Fall was arguably the most popular player at Las Vegas Summer League (especially since Zion Williamson only played nine minutes). Fans chanted for him to get in games and then chanted “M-V-P” once he was in. Fall averaged 7.2 points a game on 77 percent shooting at Summer League and every play he made became a viral highlight.
But that was Summer League.
Now things are getting real and Fall is trying to make the Celtics’ roster. Fall signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics, which is essentially a training camp invite.
It’s a longshot Fall makes the Celtics’ regular season roster for two reasons. First, Fall needs a lot more development to be NBA ready, both physically and in terms of understanding and reacting to the game and how fast it moves. That was evident in Las Vegas. Second, the Celtics have Enes Kanter starting at center with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams behind him, it’s unlikely they keep a fourth traditional center on the roster. Both of Boston’s two-way contracts are already filled.
If the Celtics cut Fall and he signs with Boston’s G-League affiliate the Maine Red Claws, Fall gets a $50,000 bonus.
However, Fall’s agent Justin Haynes says if Boston cuts Fall he believes another team will sign him, something Haynes told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
“If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed,” said Haynes, Fall’s agent. “I think somebody will take a shot on him because he’s done enough to show he can find a place in the NBA. I’m really hopeful that it’s Boston. I hope they find a way, and they do have a vision for him.”
I could see another team giving Fall one of their two-way contracts, but he needs a lot more development and time on the court. He needs time in the G-League. Maybe a team gives him a roster spot and develops him there, but that seems unlikely. Fall has the potential to be an NBA player, but it’s going to take a lot of work for him to get there.
Work that this year likely will take place in the G-League.
This is where you insert your “if one more player drops from USA Basketball” joke…
Team USA has flown to Australia for a series of FIBA World Cup tuneup games — two against Australia, one against Canada — and they are practicing there for a few days prior to those games. At one of those practices, USA (and Spurs) coach Gregg Popovich showed off a little behind-the-back dribble and midrange game, and Donovan Mitchell caught it on his camera and posted it.
Just as a reminder, Pop did play. Never in the NBA, but he was one of the last cuts of the 1972 USA Olympic team.
That said, I think the coaching gig worked out pretty well for him.
Team USA will play Australia on Aug. 22 and 24, then face Canada on Aug. 26. From there the USA flies to China where its first game is Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.
Trae Young. John Collins. Kevin Huerter. De’Andre Hunter. Cam Reddish.
The Atlanta Hawks have quietly built one of the more intriguing young teams in the NBA the past couple of years, trading up and down in the draft to compile a young roster with a lot of potential. They moved on from Mike Budenholzer (he landed on his feet just fine, thanks) and brought in player development specialist in Llyod Pierce as coach. All that has yet to translate to a lot of wins, but it will — the trajectory of the Hawks is going to take off like a rocket.
Travis Schlenk, the Hawks general manager and architect of all of it, earned the contract extension and new title he was given, something announced by the team on Monday. Schlenk is now Atlanta’s President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.
“We are extremely pleased with the direction that Travis and our entire basketball operations team has us heading as a franchise. He has used the draft to build an impressive young core, hired one of the NBA’s top young coaches in Lloyd Pierce and positioned us to have the cap space, draft picks and financial flexibility needed to have long-term success in the NBA,” Hawks Principal Owner Tony Ressler said in a statement announcing the move.
Schlenk had been an assistant GM in Golden State before coming to Atlanta, and also had spent time in the Miami and Orlando organizations. He’s been in the NBA front office game for a couple of decades.
This is a smart decision by the Hawks. When things are going well, when you have good people in place, keep them there and get ownership out of the way. Let the basketball people do their jobs. Atlanta has figured that out.
The Hawks won 24 games during Schlenk’s first year and 29 last season, but expect that number to jump as the young talent on this roster continues to mature and get added to.
WASHINGTON (AP) Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is helping Howard University launch a Division I golf program.
The Golden State Warriors star guard and the school announced the six-year partnership Monday.
The specifics of his contribution were not disclosed.
Howard officials say they plan to have women’s and men’s golf teams for the 2020-21 academic year.
The school had a Division II golf program in the past, along with intercollegiate and intramural club teams.
The 31-year-old Curry, who has won three NBA championships with the Warriors, says he decided to get involved after meeting a Howard student who had been trying to get the university to have a golf team.
Curry says “it’s tough” to hear about students “who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game.”