After an entertaining (DeAndre Jordan), perplexing (Tristan Thompson) and rich-getting-richer (San Antonio Spurs) summer, training camps begin this week for every NBA team, putting to rest the chatter and noise and hyperbole.
The good news is the return of Chris Bosh. Sidelined by a blot clot and on blood thinners as his treatment regimen, Bosh has been cleared for training camp and with no restrictions. The Heat power forward can turn the page on what was a shocking turn of events last season that cost the Heat a playoff run and sent Bosh into recovery. Blood clots as a condition, if not treated, is life threatening; the clot travels to the heart and brain. The Heat are one of the more interesting teams in the East. Their talent is undeniable with Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng, Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudamire and rookie Justise Winslow. But talent is never the answer to the question. Can Eric Spoelstra fit everyone in, make it work? The return of Bosh is a good start.
Paul George returns too with the hopes that he can put behind him that gruesome injury that occurred in the summer of 2014. Missing most of last season, George’s absence cost the Pacers a trip to the playoffs and it revealed fractures. David West didn’t like the comment Bird made about Roy Hibbert. Hibbert felt isolated. Bird didn’t like the slow offense. The team as constructed was ordinary so the team was blown up. George’s return as the only star with good but not great players around him is not a recipe to win in the NBA. But George has bigger issues than his supporting cast. He is being asked to play a position, power forward, that isn’t in his comfort zone. Guarding bigger, stronger more physical players on one end and then being asked to score on them on the other over a long season is a recipe for fatigue. George can see the writing on the wall, perhaps another one of those injuries that nag and nag until you overcompensate and something major happens to his body. To be blunt: he’s not happy about his role.
Derek Fisher asked Phil Jackson to be more active with the team and Jackson said yes so this year he will be intimitaely involved in the Knicks day to day, not necessarily coaching from the front, but doing the Pat Riley thing, doing it from the back of the room, what Jackson calls “suggestions” and what the rest of us call making sure Fisher does things Jackson’s way. Jackson was right to back off last year and let Fisher sink or swim; he sunk and now Jackson can follow his own mythology and be the savior of Fisher. But will it help the Knicks any? Doubt it.
Jackson, calculating as always, threw out a little nugget that this won’t be Kobe Bryant’s last year in the NBA but may be his last year with the Lakers. It’s not much of a secret that the Lakers want to funeralize and bury the Kobe Bryant era and start over with a bunch of young kids no one gives much of a damn about. They’ll push Kobe out the door by offering a measly contract offer and a move to the bench, playing 15 minute a game. He’ll balk. Phil Jackson will give him what he wants (sort of) and then he’ll finish his career in Madison Square Garden, or so Jackson fantasizes.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been intentionally quiet after Chris Broussard incorrectly (surprise, surprise) said Tristan Thompson had accepted a 3 year, $53 million dollar deal. Truth: the Cavs made no such offer. Thompson is suddenly balking at accepting the $7 million dollar qualifying offer which follows logic. $18 million > $7 million. The Cavs though are willing to make Thompson sweat even though the new offer coming from Thompson’s camp is better because it gets the Cavs off the hook earlier, if and when, they discover Thompson isn’t worth that much cash. It’s one of those Dan Gilbert mind games he’s playing with everyone. The Cavs would be stupid and bad businessmen not to accept this new offer. Unless they are calling Thompson’s bluff. Take the $7 million and leave like you threatened to do.
The Clippers are back at training camp and their entire media day was an attempt to present an image of togetherness after the DeAndre Jordan summer theater project. Every Clipper was talking about how they loved every other Clipper but you see this is the thing. Actions speak louder than words. The Spurs don’t lose players. They generally care about each other, enough so, to shed money off of contracts to keep the team in tact and not enter in a summer charade/farce. So no one’s buying this sudden infusion of brotherly love the Clippers are yelling from the rooftops but keep at it Clips. On the basketball side of things, Doc Rivers claimed this is the best team, talent wise, that he has every had in Los Angeles and it’s tough to argue with him. Rivers challenge is getting it all to fit in a short window in a conference that has talented players everywhere.
Charlotte Hornets big man Al Jefferson lost 25 pounds in an effort to save his knees and joints. Copying the Tim Duncan 2011 recipe for rejuvenation, Jefferson cut out his favorite snack of all, Popeyes chicken, and writing that makes me want to cry; I feel Big Al’s pain. Jefferson also worked out three times a day. Lighter, more agile, plus with more shooters around him, the Hornets are trending and can make a realistic push for the playoffs. As for Jefferson, he’s not buying this small ball era. He’s a 20 and 10 player who will always have a place in the league. But as a winner? The jury is still out.
Metta World Peace is back in the NBA. The often volatile, often humorous, often unpredictable fan favorite who championed mental health treatment and who, by the way, is a NBA champion, signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Lakers to provide Julius Randle with mentorship and Kobe Bryant with another old guy to talk to on the bus. Who cares what Metta can bring at the age of 35? He’s a breath of fresh (crazy) air in a league that often takes itself too seriously.
Does anyone besides Mike Dunleavy, his family and the Bulls care that Dunleavy had a back procedure and won’t return until Christmas? Dunleavy experienced back pain over the summer that worsened. He missed 19 games last year and the Bulls went 9-10 so there is mild concern in the organization, particularly since they signed Dunleavy to a new deal, 3 years, $14 million.
photo via llananba