NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Second opinions are always scary because they suggest a player didn’t like what he heard from the initial opinion. So owners should be breathing a sigh of relief now that Larry Sanders (back) remains day to day following another round of tests that came back negative.
Given that the Bucks don’t play again until Tuesday, we can tentatively expect Sanders to be ready to rock after the All-Star break. The question now is what will happen to Samuel Dalembert, who is averaging 16.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.2 steals over the last five games.
Well, simply put, it won’t be good. We can throw out any idea of Dalembert and Sanders playing next to each other as their skill sets are too similar. We can also dismiss the notion that Dalembert can hang on to the starting gig. He’s a 31-year-old veteran that was on the trading block a week ago and isn’t a part of the Bucks’ future. On the other hand, the 24-year-old Sanders established himself as a dominant defender and led the NBA in blocks at 3.15 per night before going down.
Expect Sanders to settle back into his 24-28 minutes per night and Dalembert to stick around 15-17.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
There were a lot of doom and gloom headlines around the internet Thursday regarding Derrick Rose and his ongoing recovery from ACL surgery. Most of them read something like “Rose may sit out season.” That’s only slightly misleading.
What Rose has been saying this week is that he won’t play until he’s 110 percent. He’s admitted that is “far away” and that he “doesn’t mind missing the year.” He’s also conceded that he can’t even dunk off stride yet, which is obviously concerning for a player that isn’t a shooter.
Credit Rose for taking the long-view with his career. He’s not Adrian Peterson and it appears he isn’t even Iman Shumpert – who tore his ACL on the exact same day last year and has been back (yet struggling) for a month.
If Rose does play this year, he’s unlikely to get a full complement of minutes or play on back-to-backs. When deciding whether to hang on, stashers just need to be realists about their place in the standings and the state of their team.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
James Harden warmed up for Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers, but decided to sit out due to his sprained right ankle. The good news for owners is that he’s saying all the right things now.
Harden will only play in Sunday’s All-Star game if he’s confident it won’t affect his status for the rest of the season. The Rockets are currently in the West’s No. 8 spot.
“The swelling has definitely gone all the way down,” Harden said. “I can walk normal again. It’s just a matter of me cutting and making plants and really using it with force. Today’s Thursday, so I still got some time to ice it and rehab and do what I need to do.”
Harden will continue to be fantasy’s No. 3 player, just as he has been all season.
TRADE DEADLINE CHATTER
* There’s been speculation that the Sixers are trying to get into the Josh Smith fray by offering Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner, but that’s been shot down in Philadelphia. The Sixers reportedly don’t want to do a rental with Smith, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. The bottom line is that Hawks aren’t going to get a great offer from anyone for Smith due to his contract status. If they don’t want to a deal with the Nets for Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks, perhaps they’ll just stand pat and take the cap room when Smoove walks this summer.
* Danny Granger (knee, illness) is expected back for limited minutes right after the break. He is not a realistic trade candidate as the Pacers are buying, not selling.
* Eric Gordon isn’t going anywhere either. Remember that the Hornets matched the four-year, $58 million offer sheet he signed with the Suns just last summer. They want to build with him.
* Brandon Jennings is strongly denying that he ever had “irreconcilable differences” with the Bucks or that he wants out of Milwaukee. Still, he reportedly turned down a four-year, $40 million extension last year. Until he signs on the dotted line, trade rumors are going to persist.
* Ben Gordon reportedly is acting out and feuding with coach Mike Dunlap, likely because he doesn’t enjoy coming off the bench for the league’s worst team. It’s a classic routine. Unhappy player wants out of town and complains until he gets his wish. It would be a surprise if Gordon is on the Bobcats in seven days.
HEAT at THUNDER RANDOM THOUGHTS
* LeBron James’ absurd streak of six straight games shooting at least 60 percent was snapped as he went 14-of-24 (58.3 percent). He still made four 3-pointers, grabbed 12 boards, dished out four assists and scored 39 points. Again, he’s a once-in-a-generation athlete. Enjoy being a witness.
* Kevin Durant started 0-for-7 and took a scary fall on his non-shooting shoulder. No matter. He went off in garbage time and finished with 40 points – the sixth time he’s had 40 or more this season.
* Udonis Haslem (leg) sat out, giving Shane Battier a start. Battier made two 3-pointers in 26 minutes.
CLIPPERS at LAKERS RANDOM THOUGHTS
* Chauncey Billups got into the zone and made five 3-pointers in 16 minutes of playing time. I’m still not buying a 36-year-old guy on a roster this deep.
* Lamar Odom left the game after getting poked in the eye and didn’t return.
* I’d give Eric Bledsoe a 10 percent chance of getting traded at the deadline. I’ll hold him for another week just for that 10-1 shot, but it’s clear we can’t use him while he’s on the Clippers and Chris Paul is healthy. Bledsoe played 15 minutes Thursday night.
* Dwight Howard was taking hook shots from halfcourt in pregame. What torn labrum?
INJURY FAST BREAK
Carmelo Anthony’s arm bruise isn’t a big deal. He intends to play in Sunday’s All-Star game. … Wesley Matthews (ankle) said he’s feeling pain in his shin and admitted to hearing a pop. This has all the signs of a true high-ankle sprain. … Paul Pierce said he’s been playing through a pinched nerve in his back. No matter. He’s averaging 17.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.3 assists over the last seven games. … Tim Duncan is actually dealing with a bone bruise on his knee. If he plays in more than 20 of the Spurs’ final 28 games, I’d be stunned.
FROM THE NBA, WITH LOVE
Here are two links to brighten up your post-Valentine's Day blues. First, four epic notes from the Sixers. And then everyone’s favorite fun-loving Turk, Enes Kanter.
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