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Report: Pistons’ Reggie Jackson not yet cleared for basketball activities

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With six weeks to go until the NBA season tips off, there is plenty of time for a player to get healthy, cleared by doctors and be ready for tip-off on opening night.

But after Reggie Jackson missed the start of last season in Detroit, was not himself when he did return, and that set back the entire team, and it never recovered, this news from Stan Van Gundy is a bit concerning.

Here’s a longer quote, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“He should be good to go for the start of camp,” Van Gundy said after the Little Caesars Arena ribbon-cutting ceremony today. “I don’t think on the days we do two-a-days that we’ll have him do two (practices), but other than that, the hope is he’ll be ready to go.

“You never know, but he should be.”

Jackson has battled knee tendonitis for a while, and it kept him out the final nine games of last season as well. The Pistons are understandably not going to push him hard on the return, trying to keep Jackson healthy for the long term. And there is time before camp for him to get healthy.

Make no mistake, the Pistons need Jackson. Ish Smith played fairly well behind him last season and is back this year, and Langston Galloway provides some depth, but if the Pistons are going to make the playoffs in the East they need a healthy Jackson for most of the season.

Danny Ainge says Kyrie Irving will be better playmaker in Boston

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Kyrie Irving is unquestionably an All-Star, one of the biggest names in the game, and an elite scoring machine.

But is he a franchise player? Can he set up teammates and defend well enough to the best player on a title team?

Celtics head man Danny Ainge is betting big that he is.

Ainge praised Irving speaking to the media in Boston.

If you prefer the written to the video, here is the core of his comments:

“You’ll see that he’s a better passer. I think people that watch Kyrie play a lot can see his passing and his potential there as a passer. LeBron was pretty much the point guard in Cleveland and Kyrie was a point guard often when LeBron wasn’t on the court. I think that he’s a fantastic passer and I think that defensively he’s got to improve and I think he will in Brad’s system”

Certainly, if you watch a lot of Cavaliers games you see the nights Irving sets every up, and he can rack up 15-20 assists in a game without blinking. He has that in him. Just like Irving can play good defense when focused. The question is will Irving do that night in and night out, because we’ve heard his comments from him in the past about needing to just do what he does. He broke out of sets and went into isolation plenty in Cleveland. He didn’t focus on defense in the last NBA Finals, is he going to care in November and December now?

If Irving buys in, if he is willing to move the ball and be more of a playmaker — and maybe see his scoring numbers drop a little — for the betterment of the team, he can thrive in Brad Steven’s system. Stevens loves plays where a ball handler gives it up, makes a cut and gets it back, and dribble handoffs with him and Al Horford could be devastating. It’s about commitment.

The question with Irving is not does he have the talent and potential to do all this and take his game to the next level. The question is will he make that commitment night in and night out? That’s what he has to prove, and Ainge has bet he will.

Former Rocket Tracy McGrady hosted barbecue for 800 Harvey victims

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Tracy McGrady is one of the greatest players in Rockets history. He loved the city, and after his playing days he retired in the greater Houston area.

Which means he felt the wrath of hurricane Harvey, which has devastated the region. On Labor Day weekend, McGrady did what he could to help out some of those feeling the brunt of the storm, reports the Washington Post.

The ex-NBA player, who now lives in the Houston suburbs, made things just a little better for people living in Houston’s heavily flooded Third Ward and Sunnyside neighborhoods when he and his wife, CleRenda, decided to host a Labor Day barbecue for them…

“We wanted to be able to give back,” CleRenda McGrady, who works as a life coach at Project P.U.S.H., told the Houston Chronicle on Monday…

“There are a lot of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. What was important to us was to serve an area that already needed an extra boost,” CleRenda McGrady continued. “That’s why we decided to come to this particular area: to show them some extra love. Labor Day is all about barbecue, so we wanted to bring the barbecue to them.”

Well done McGrady.

For the record, McGrady and his wife live in an area of high ground on a hill and did not suffer much damage from the storm.

Jimmy Butler knows he is confrontational. Fred Hoiberg… not so much

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Jimmy Butler came into the NBA under the old school, hard-line tutelage of Tom Thibodeau — and that fit Butler’s personality. Coach and player got each other.

Coach and the front office did not, so Thibodeau was shown the door and Fred Hoiberg was handpicked out of the college ranks. He was supposed to bring a more modern, motion offense and a more player-friendly style. That didn’t mesh with Butler, who asked Hoiberg to coach him harder and the two had their conflicts (that were part of the chemistry issues with the Bulls).

In a fantastic interview with Michael Pina for Vice, Butler talks about his differences with Hoiberg, and says they were just different people.

“I’m confrontational. I feed off of confrontation. It makes me go. Not everybody’s like that. [Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg] is not that coach, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are different coaching styles and people are gonna say—which is what they did say—’It’s gonna be Jimmy’s team or it’s gonna be Fred’s team.’ Two total opposite ends of the spectrum. They’re either gonna try to win it now or they’re gonna go young. And you see which way they went with it. Completely fine. Yo, it’s y’all’s business. It’s y’all’s organization. It’s cool. And now I’m in Minnesota and couldn’t be happier.”

This summer the Bulls decided to rebuild — Butler was out, Hoiberg is still there. Butler was shipped to up-and-coming Minnesota — coached by Thibodeau.

Hoiberg’s player-friendly style may work well with a veteran team where the players are already proven and driven. Whether it will work with a young team is another question. Whether the GarPax front office can execute a rebuild is the biggest question.

Butler will be fine, paired with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on a team that will make a leap this season. And in his new home, confrontation will not be a problem.

Mark Cuban takes exception to C.J. McCollum’s trolling of Mavs

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C.J. McCollum — and the people around him — have had a little fun putting together a “Law & Order” style “victims” video series he has released on Twitter. Each one shows a victim of a great play by McCollum from last season (so there is a long list of potential targets — McCollum had a monster year).

The “victim” in the latest video? Dallas’ Wesley Matthews.

Mark Cuban was not going to let his guys get trolled.

Cuban has a point. In four games against the Mavericks, McCallum averaged 20.5 points per game (down from 24 for the season), shot just 29.5 percent from three (42.1 percent) and had a true shooting percentage of 55.9 (58.5). The Mavs kept him in relative check.

McCollum knew it was all in good fun.