Byron Scott defends Steve Nash against critics of his injury-plagued Lakers tenure

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Byron Scott never got to coach Steve Nash. In his first year as Lakers head coach, Nash was ruled out from the start thanks to recurring back and leg injuries, and Saturday’s announcement that the future Hall of Famer was retiring just made it official.

Nash’s absence from the Lakers has drawn criticism from fans who are disappointed that his tenure in purple and gold didn’t go as planned, but Scott spoke highly of Nash after his announcement, saying his critics need to lay off of him.

From ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes:

“He did everything possible to get on the court,” Scott said. “I think [critics] should really take that into consideration. It didn’t work out. But take a look at everything he’s done over the course of his career, and look at him that way — not at what ended up happening here.”

When Nash was declared out for the season, the Lakers gave him space, rather than asking him to be present at games or practices. But his absence still drew the ire of fans.

“I thought he needed time to kind of start really focusing on the next part of his life,” Scott said. “Sometimes guys can’t be around it. It’s that much harder for them. I don’t think anybody here in the organization faults him for not being around because like I said, I think we all understand — especially myself and [Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak], who are ex-basketball players who’ve been in this business for a long time — we all understand that sometimes guys need that peace away from the game to kind of get their head right and just kind of figure out what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives.”

Nash came to the Lakers in the summer of 2012, as part of a planned superteam that involved Dwight Howard. But Howard’s single season with the Lakers was a disaster, and Nash played in just 65 games over two seasons with the Lakers before being ruled out entirely for this year.

Nash’s tenure with the Lakers never worked out as planned, and to some, that’s always going to be a stain on his legacy. But Scott is right: the totality of his career is worth celebrating, and a set of unfortunate injuries in the twilight of his playing days should not overshadow that.

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. guesses Vince Carter’s first NBA season was in 1987 (video)

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Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. insisted he meant no disrespect to Luka Doncic after liking an Instagram comment that called the Mavericks rookie overrated.

But this is darn sure disrespectful toward Vince Carter.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

Carter – who signed with the Hawks for next season – entered the NBA in 1998. He’s old, but he’s not that old.

Hawks rookie Trae Young: ‘I know there is a lot on my plate’

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The Grizzlies plan to bring No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson along slowly.

No. 5 pick Trae Young won’t have the same luxury.

After picking Young, the Hawks traded Dennis Schroder, their incumbent starting point guard. Though Atlanta also dealt for Jeremy Lin, Young knows where he stands.

Young, via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from New Jersey, where he was taking part in the Rookie Transition Program. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate. I’m looking forward to it.”

Unlike Memphis, the Hawks aren’t trying to win now. They can ride through Young’s highs and lows.

Though I’m quite high on Young, I also expect him to struggle next season. Most rookies do, especially point guards. And the small Young could face an especially tough adjustment to NBA size and athleticism.

But he seems to be embracing the challenge with the right attitude, giving himself the best chance of emerging on the other side ready to lead an NBA team.

76ers’ Ben Simmons: ‘We’ve got to get past Boston. Those are the guys at the top right now’

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After winning the Eastern Conference the last eight years, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers has created a power vacuum in the East.

The Celtics, Bucks, Wizards and Pistons have staked their claims as teams ready to fill the void. The Raptors announced themselves with their trade for Kawhi Leonard.

But 76ers forward Ben Simmons isn’t ready to put Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy.

Simmons, via James McKern of SportingNews:

“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said.

“Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.

This is a surprisingly restrained approach by Simmons. Many of his peers are talking bigger.

But the 76ers belong behind the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in the second round last year. The 76ers could pass Boston. They just must prove it. In the meantime, Simmons is paying the Celtics proper deference.

Don’t forget about Toronto, though. Though Boston and Philadelphia were poised to own this next era in the East, Leonard reinvigorates the Raptors. If he’s healthy, they belong at the top with the Celtics.

Report: Jon Leuer expected to return to Pistons by start of season

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Pistons big Jon Leuer underwent meniscus surgery, leaving plenty of doubt about his availability for next season.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

After losing Anthony Tolliver in free agency (to the Timberwolves), Detroit needs Leuer as a stretch big off the bench. Unless Henry Ellenson is ready for rotation minutes, which…

If Leuer isn’t quite ready for the start of the season, Stanley Johnson could play small-ball four, but that weakens wing depth.

The Pistons’ best hope is Leuer getting healthy on schedule.