Storyline: Domantas Sabonis Extension

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January 20, 2020 | 12:46 pm UTC Update
“Thankful, most of all,” Carter says of the treatment. “And I say that because I was an opponent for 22 years for most of these teams and obviously these are great organizations that are class acts and for them to do that is great. “I just enjoy playing the game regardless of being an opponent of these different organizations … regardless, it’s a brotherhood, it’s a small community and it makes for an emotional roller coaster.”
And he will hearken back to those glory days of the early 2000s and that special night in Oakland he got to witness in person. “I tell you what, I was thankful that I was able to be there and see those guys win. I remember sitting next to Tracy (McGrady) and thinking, ‘Do you believe what’s about to happen?’ There was like two minutes left, and it was like, ‘Dude, this is unreal.’
“It’s different, but I prefer my people on the East Coast,” Bradley said. “Some people might be offended by that, but I mean, especially knowing I’m from the West Coast. I don’t know if it’s because it’s home for me or what, but I just feel like people are real good friends. That’s all it is. I could go years without talking to someone in Boston but [when] I see them, it’s a real friendship. People are honest, that’s the culture. East Coast, but specifically Boston. People are just good people.”
Even if he does decide to play, he may make his signal behind the scenes in the coming weeks and let the world know when he arrives at training camp. For now, Wiggins is keeping his cards close to his chest. “I’m not sure [about the summer],” he said Saturday after recording his first career triple-double in a Timberwolves loss to the Toronto Raptors. “Right now my team is struggling a little bit [they were five games out of the 8th seed in the West as of Sunday] so we have to get back and try to get in a playoff run. That’s my main goal right now. And after that I’m going to decide on Canada Basketball.”

January 20, 2020 | 1:29 am UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 10:33 pm UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 10:08 pm UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 9:19 pm UTC Update
And now here we are, with the Sixers charging headlong toward the playoffs, ready to make good on what head coach Brett Brown has proclaimed is a championship-caliber team. This is new territory for Brown, who was hired as coach seven years ago, just when the team embarked on an epic intentional collapse — dubbed “The Process” — in order to position itself near the head of the worst-goes-first line in the drafting of the best college players. The team set records for losing over four years, and Brown, all along, stood behind this method, often talking about his players as if helping them become men might be his real job. Was Nerlens Noel, a center the team drafted in the early days of the Process, engaged in timeouts? Was he helping teammates off the floor? How was he comporting himself on planes when the team went on the road? At the end of 2014, when Embiid was proving to be high-maintenance as he rehabbed a broken foot, Brown said this: “Joel Embiid has a good heart. At the end of the day, he has a good heart. I don’t throw that sentence out lightly. That needs to be the criteria of everybody in here.”
Meanwhile, Brown’s approach hasn’t changed. He talks up his best players, never criticizing them publicly. And to this point, it’s worked, obviously: Embiid and Simmons, 25 and 23 years old, are All Stars. But they still have a big piece of themselves to overcome, or to unlock. They still need to grow up. Which gives Brown, who started out in Philly with all the room in the world, a dilemma: Suddenly, he has very little time. Sixers owner Josh Harris has a history of listening to the noise of fans and media, plenty of whom think the team’s head coach should stop babying his two stars and force-feed their growth, given that they’re being paid tens of millions a year and we’re so close to that championship.
IT MIGHT SEEM, then, a bit strange that Brett Brown talks a lot about toughness as central to what he’s all about, though it’s not by accident. “Philly tough, Philly strong” was the banner phrase of an early-season team promo featuring the coach’s voice. Talking toughness is a part of getting his team to play in a certain style, but for Brown, it’s also been a natural way of connecting to the city, of molding a certain persona. “You become a spokesperson and mouthpiece of the owners and players,” Brown says. “I am quite calculated on what I want to talk about.” It helps his standing here, too.
But Brown, who’s 58, does come by toughness, in his own way, naturally. He grew up in seaside Maine towns where his father coached basketball. His father’s father made a living taking wealthy businessmen from New York and Boston and Montreal to fish or hunt moose and bear in Northern Maine. And his father — Brett’s great-grandfather — had a job as a railroad switchman, changing the tracks to direct trains either to Quebec or Montreal. “He had to shovel snow off the tracks and remove dead animals, too,” Brown says. “Which could be anything.”
January 19, 2020 | 7:24 pm UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 6:26 pm UTC Update

Curry already looks ready to play in his post-practice sessions. Judging by his shooting, his broken left hand looks healed. He is no longer wearing the brace. But he hasn’t played since Oct. 30. Saturday was his 40th game missed since the injury. By the All-Star break, Curry will have missed 51 games — the most he’s missed in a season since he missed 40 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season when he severely sprained his right ankle.
Last week, I passed along how the Pacers were informed that Domantas Sabonis could not hurt his left knee anymore but would have to play through pain in the meantime. Many were upset with that strategy and wanted to see Sabonis take it easy. We’ve seen other guys play through injuries, and it often leads to something else, sometimes something worse. So I went to Sabonis to get the full story. Many players hate discussing injuries; they’d rather talk about almost anything else. Sabonis, though, opened up and shared what he had learned.
Storyline: Domantas Sabonis Injury
“I’ve been told it’s a bone bruise, so there’s swelling in the bone that all doctors say it can’t get worse unless you get hit in that same spot,” he said. Sabonis was evaluated by the team doctor, and then his representatives also had him checked out by two additional specialists, which is normal. And all three doctors were in agreement: It’s simply a bone bruise and he’s not subject to additional risk by continuing to play on it.
“It’s the same thing if I get hit in my healthy knee,” Sabonis said, pointing to his right knee. “There’s the same chance. It’s not a muscle or anything, so by doing more stuff, you can’t technically get it worse.” Sabonis tried the rest thing. He strategically didn’t do much on it for three days. He didn’t practice before their game in Chicago on Jan. 10 and didn’t play in the game, and the team had the following day off. “Not even ice helps it,” he said. “You can’t really put anything on it. It just has to heal.”
January 19, 2020 | 5:27 pm UTC Update

Jazz extend Royce O'Neale

Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale has agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract extension, agents Ty Sullivan and Steven Heumann of CAA Sports told ESPN. O’Neale plans to sign the deal on Sunday, the agents said. Although he could’ve become a restricted free agent this summer, O’Neale and his reps negotiated a long-term deal that keeps him with the franchise that signed him out of Europe in 2017.
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For what it’s worth, the Rockets weren’t depressed following the loss — not like Westbrook would ever let it get to that point. “Nobody put their head down in here,” Westbrook said. “If I see it, I’ll go grab it myself and put their head up. It’s no reason to put your head down. We’re all blessed to have an amazing job, to be able to support our families and to go out and play basketball — something that we all love to do. There’s no reason you should ever walk out of here with your head down. I’m obviously disappointed [with] the loss, but we got bigger things in life that’s bigger than a basketball game.”