Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Random NBA observations

  • Injuries continue to be unkind to the NBA. We got Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook back, ever so briefly, because they were injured again on December 19 and December 27, respectively, and will both miss approximately six or seven weeks. Nets' center Brook Lopez (fractured foot) and Hawks' big man Al Horford (torn pectoral muscle) will miss the remainder of the season. Marc Gasol, J.J. Redick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Javale McGee, Larry Sanders and Steve Nash have yet to return. Danilo Gallinari, who suffered an ACL injury in June, still has no timetable for his return.
  • And the bad news just keep coming: both Kyrie Irving (knee) and Nikola Vucevic (ankle) look like they have sustained serious injuries. Stay tuned.
  • Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has also not returned to action yet. His ACL has reportedly fully healed, but he is not satisfied with his stamina, and he will not return until his endurance improves. Rondo may play some games with the Maine Red Claws to get his feet back under him. If he is not traded, that is. In recent weeks, Rondo has been linked to the Sacramento Kings (for Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson, and two first-round picks), Indiana Pacers (for Danny Granger, George Hill, and a first-round pick) and New York Knicks (for wishful thinking).  
  • Curiously, Rudy Gay is no longer a Raptor, but somehow Omer Asik is still a Rocket. The Rockets' self-imposed deadline to deal Asik has come and gone, and the Turk is still on their roster. Don't think for a minute that Houston intends to keep him, though. Asik was nearly sent to Boston (for Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, and a first-round pick), and teams like Cleveland (Anderson Varejao), New Orleans (Ryan Anderson), and Milwaukee (Ersan Ilyasova) have interesting pieces, too. The Rockets reportedly offered Asik and Jeremy Lin for Deron Williams, but Brooklyn quickly shot that down.
  • The 12th-placed Nets (10-20) and 14th-placed Knicks (9-21) continue to suck. And that probably won't change. The Nets, who were desperately shuffling their lineup even before Brook Lopez's season-ending injury, are still committed to first-year coach Jason Kidd, and it's becoming painfully clear that the answers will not come from him. Knicks owner James Dolan has told the team that he is not planning any trades or coaching staff changes, so jot that down. Knickerbocker fans better hope that Carmelo Anthony's sprained ankle isn't as bad as it looks.
  • The draft lottery, which certainly is not without faults, may in 10 years or so be replaced by The Wheel. Or not. The heinous act of tanking, which of course no team does, ever, might be a thing of the past if the proposal is accepted.
  • So that appears to be it for Andrew Bynum's redemption story in Cleveland. The creaky-kneed center, who averaged 8.4 PPG and 5.3 RPG in 24 games, is no longer welcome with the team and will be bought out or traded before January 7. If the 26-year old big man is still with the Cavaliers beyond then, they owe him the second half of his $12 million salary. Nobody really knows why Bynum has been excused from basketball duties, but, at least according to this sparsely-sourced report, it could very well be because he had sex with an assistant coach's wife. Yikes.
  • Are the Portland Trailblazers for real? It sure seems that way. Some big-man insurance behind goofy-haired center Robin Lopez (9.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG) should probably be considered, but, at 25-7, I understand why they're not looking to shake things up. Reigning ROY Damian Lillard and two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge are both playing out of their minds and form perhaps the most exciting point guard/power forward combo in the NBA behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
  • It appears that Josh Smith and Maurice Cheeks don't get along. The former Hawk, who has so far attempted 130 three-pointers this season, was (unfairly?) benched against the Wizards on December 28 and stated afterward that it was difficult for him 'not to feel singled out'. 
  • As it stands now, LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving start for the East, and Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul for the West at the All-Star Game. Only 19 more days left to cast your vote!

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