With NBA training camps opening this weekend, basketball season is right around the corner. Here’s the latest news from around the league.
LeBron crowns Staples Center the real winner of the summer
The Lakers and Clippers both reloaded this summer, but who had the better offseason? It’s a trick question, according to LeBron James, who claimed that the real winner was a structure rather than a team.
Staples Center is home to both the Lakers and the Clippers, and it’s going to be one of the hottest places in Los Angeles this NBA season. The King also suggested that his son’s high school team, Sierra Canyon, should play a game there to add to the fanfare.
Jimmy Butler credits Dwyane Wade for free agent decision
The newest star of the Miami Heat, Jimmy Butler, opened up training camp by talking about what convinced him to take his talents to South Beach. As a matter of fact, it was the last big star of the Heat.
“(The Heat said) you're the type of player that we would love to have here. Your fight, the way that you work, the way you go about your business. And to tell you the truth that's all I wanted to hear. Not to mention that, (Dwyane Wade) was like ‘this culture fits you.’ He’s told me that for so many days beforehand. But I think that guy, and seeing what he helped build here, and I never want to compare myself to him, but I think that what they have going on here, the way that they go about everything here is the right way, and that’s what I’m banking on, that we continue to do that.”
Although Butler said he doesn’t want to be compared to Wade, the comparisons will be natural. As an imposing guard with with great athleticism and killer instincts, the Heat will be leaning on Butler to take them back to the playoffs for just the third time in six seasons since LeBron James’ departure.
A first look at Russell Westbrook and James Harden
Feast your eyes on this, Rockets fans (Thunder fans may want to divert their eyes):
Yep, that’s Russell Westbrook and James Harden dressed in the same NBA team uniform for the first time in 7 1/2 years. A July trade reunited the duo, who starred along with Kevin Durant for the Thunder from 2009 through 2012.
Nets stars agreed to sign on a 4 a.m. group chat
Need a crop of free-agent talent to boost your franchise’s fortunes? There’s an app for that.
Speaking to reporters at the the team’s media day, DeAndre Jordan relayed how he, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving all resolved to sign with the Brooklyn Nets over the summer: a Facebook group chat in the middle of the night.
How did DeAndre, Kyrie and Durant finalize their decisions to join the Nets together? In a Group FaceTime at about 4 in the morning day of free agency:— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) September 27, 2019
“You can thank Apple,” DeAndre Jordan says.
Start pre-ordering those iPhone 11s now, Nets fans.
Josh Jackson to start season in G League
Former No. 4 overall draft pick Josh Jackson got a fresh start when the Phoenix Suns traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies in July, but he’ll have to earn his way into a role with his new team.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Jackson will not join the Grizzlies in training camp and will start the season in the G League. The 22 year old should eventually have a chance to compete with Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Grayson Allen, De'Anthony Melton and Jae Crowder for playing time.
The first two seasons of Jackson's pro career have been a struggle, even though he's averaged double figures both years. Jackson has never even reached 42 percent shooting from the field and has more turnovers (319) than assists (302). The former Kansas Jayhawks star also was arrested at a music festival in May for resisting arrest and has a history of issues that required him to take anger management classes when he entered the league.
Oladipo won’t be available ‘for a while’
The Indiana Pacers’ playoff hopes rest on the health of guard Victor Oladipo, but the two-time All-Star is not expected to be back for the start of the regular season.
Although the initial prognosis in January pegged Oladipo to return from his ruptured quad tendon in six to nine months, Oladipo is expected to be out longer than the more conservative estimate. Pacers head coach Nate McMillan confirmed that Oladipo won't be ready for the start of the season, adding that he doesn't “anticipate Victor being available for a while.”
Earlier this summer, the Pacers had feared that he may be out until December or January, but there’s no new timetable for his return. Although the Pacers will be without Oladipo for a while, they did upgrade their backcourt over the summer with Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, T.J. McConnell and T.J. Warren.
Nets sign forward Lance Thomas
Ending days of speculation, the Brooklyn Nets finally made official their signing of forward Lance Thomas.
Although he won’t be expected to be a major contributor, Thomas will provide valuable depth down low as the Nets embark on the 2019-20 season without superstar Kevin Durant. Thomas will battle the likes of Rodions Kurucs and Wilson Chandler for playing time at the four, while possibly spelling Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan at center.
Thomas has spent parts of the last five seasons with the crosstown New York Knicks, where he averaged six points and 2.6 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game. Thomas took a step back as a 3-point shooter last season, making just 27.8 percent of his 1.7 3-point attempts per game after shooting 41.5 percent in the three previous years.
Hawks banged up heading into training camp
After adding several key pieces in the lottery this June, the Hawks are optimistic about their future heading into the 2019-20 season. However, two key players will be limited at the start of training camp.
The team announced that third-year forward John Collins (hip) and second-year guard Kevin Huerter (knee) will be limited at the start of training camp after suffering injuries following last season. Although that may change toward the end of camp, they can only participate “within prescribed rehab limitations.”
Although neither injury is considered serious, they are two key cogs of the Hawks’ future. Collins led the team with 19.5 points per game last season and added 9.8 rebounds, while Huerter shined in his rookie season with a 38.5 percent mark from beyond the arc.
In other less pressing news, rookie Cam Reddish (core muscle) was cleared to resume practice, while Allen Crabbe (right knee arthroscopy) will miss the entire preseason and Alex Len (lower back/ankle) and Chandler Parsons (load management) will be limited throughout the preseason.
Porzingis packs on 16 pounds of muscle
One of the great traditions of the NBA offseason is trainers and coaches releasing video of players working on their shot or adding weight, and Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis is no exception.
While recovering from a torn ACL, the 24-year-old has not only been hitting the weight room but seeing serious results, according to the Mavs training staff.
Saw Jeremy today & asked about these pics. Said KP "put on about 16-17 pounds..." and noted that he can give players direction, but they have to do the work. Said KP was ALL in tho, very disciplined w/ food & workouts. Jackson added 20; on Powell (laughing) "He's always flexing" https://t.co/5v2toXPSVt— Tamara Jolee (@TamaraJolee) September 24, 2019
Porzingis is set to debut this fall with fellow European star Luka Doncic. The Mavericks enter the season with 100/1 odds to win the title, according to Westgate, which is tied for ninth-best in the West.
Nenê out again with adductor injury
After the big man opted out of his contract in June, the Houston Rockets brought back center Nenê on a more team friendly deal in early September. However, he will not be with the team during training camp.
The Rockets announced on Friday that Nenê suffered another adductor injury, a type of acute muscle strain on the inside of the thigh.
Nenê suffered a left adductor tear during the 2017 postseason, which ended his season. He has suffered a number of injuries in his three years in Houston — playing 161 of a possible 246 regular-season games — also missing the start of last year with a strained right calf.
With Nenê out for the time being, the Rockets are reportedly signing stretch four Ryan Anderson to a partially guaranteed deal. He spent three years in Houston after signing a four-year, $80 million contract in 2016 but was dealt to the Phoenix Suns last offseason.
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