NBA FrontPage: Odom’s Awake, LeBron’s Sore, Thompson AWOL

The NBA has been overwhelmed this past week by the tragic hospitalization of Lamar Odom who was unconscious for three days then woke up in a Las Vegas hospital room, still in critical condition, his family at his bedside.  Odom was given a “swallow test”, an indication he could breathe on his own. The ventilator was then replaced by a breather mask. Odom’s heart was exmained and was functioning with no damage. His blood pressure was good. He said a few words but since then his language consists of mumbled words. The doctors are evaluating Odom for any brain damage that may have occurred in the time his brain was deprived of oxygen. He has limited movement. He is sitting up in a chair and mostly communicating with hand signals. The state of his kidneys are why Odom is still in critical condition. They have to function properly and on their own. So far, they are not.

A stream of NBA players have been in to visit him. Kobe Bryant left a preseason game in Las Vegas to be at his bedside. Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin arrived from China and upon entering the states made a quick detour to Vegas to see Odom. Odom, a beloved figure in NBA circles, particularly with players who had dominant careers in the 1999-2008 glory years, has been the persistent focus of prayers, with the hope he somehow recovers from this medical ordeal, that a miracle is granted.

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LeBron James may indeed have played his last preseason game. He is having issues with his back. He received an anti-inflammatory injection, nothing new for James, he had one last year, but this early in the year, before the season has even started, has made the Cavs extremely cautious. James is going to have a heavy burden the first few months because of injuries. No need to overload him now and create a bigger situation than it already is. However, he still may play on Monday against Dallas. Kevin Love will be playing and coach David Blatt wants the two of them on the court at the same time.

It’s been a disastrous preseason for Blatt. The Cavs are the only team in the Eastern Conference to not win a preseason game. That wouldn’t matter much except Blatt is still trying to get as much experience as possible, especially since he won’t have a full roster until January. Having James and Love on the court together will be helpful but not worth it in the long run if LeBron James’ health is at stake.

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All still quiet on the Tristan Thompson front. He still is a hold-out. There isn’t much movement and won’t be until the Thompson people reach out to the Cavs with an offer that is under the 5-year, $80 million, the Cavs first put on the table this summer. The Cavs have the luxury of being able to wait it out, let Thomspon get desperate because they don’t need him right away. They can wait a couple of months for Thompson to see reason, accept defeat.

This was always going to be a Thompson losing proposition because the only hold-outs that matter are stars. Thompson isn’t a star. He is a complimentary piece and honestly his talent is not singular. There are other players who can do what Thompson can do so in that way the Cavs don’t, and haven’t treated Thompson, as if he is special. They have treated him as if he is the first man off the bench.

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We have been here before with Derrick Rose. We have waited on Derrick Rose. We have watched injuries delay Derrick Rose. There is nothing new here. Derrick Rose will most likely miss the opening game of the season because of an injury, this one to the orbital bone that was cracked because of an elbow. The eye is not healing as quickly as thought; there is still swelling. He is unable to be fitted for the mask. The Bulls have a heavy early schedule, four games in six nights, and Derrick Rose has not played in the preseason so he is not in game shape. It makes sense to hold him out the first week and then ease him back in when the schedule has a little bit of a break for the Bulls. Even then, given his injury history, Rose should be on a minutes restriction until the Bulls medical staff is confident he can play 35+ minutes without harm.

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This is a new one: a player wants to be criticized. Carmelo Anthony has told coach Derrick Fisher that he wants Fisher to criticize him in team meetings so the rest of the players will see Anthony being held accountable; then they have to take responsibility too.

It was refreshing on the one hand to see that Carmelo has matured. But on the other hand, is that something you should have to tell a coach? Shouldn’t a coach, by the very nature of his position, hold a player accountable because, well…that’s his job? The fact that Carmelo had to say something to Fisher at all is reflective of Fisher as a coach but it also tells you everything you need to know about the culture that was created in New York since the Carmelo Anthony trade: don’t make the superstar look bad in front of his teammates. Finally, at the age of 31, Carmelo understands how this whole thing works. Leadership begins with him.

photo via llananba