Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Injury

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He’s injured. He has to be. For two games Kawhi Leonard has dragged around his right leg like there was a nail hammered into it. The Raptors won’t admit there’s a problem. Nick Nurse says he’s fine. Leonard’s face says different. In the third quarter of Toronto’s 120-102 Game 4 win, Leonard elevated for dunk, colliding with Giannis Antetokounmpo in mid-air, that right leg refusing to bend when it hit the floor. He winced, looking down at the leg. For the stoic Leonard, it was the equivalent of a scream.
1 year ago via ESPN

Green suffered the injury Dec. 8 against the Boston Celtics. “I get an MRI the next day,” Green said. “[It says] slight strain, take a couple weeks off. So we do the rehab, do everything we’re supposed to do. After some time, it healed. I tried to play again. Certain days, I’d have bad days. Some days would be good. I’d feel it. My agent [Joe Branch said], ‘Maybe we should get a second opinion.’ I didn’t want to because I have full faith and believe in the Spurs’ staff. They’ve always been great to me. They’ve always done right by me. They’ve always done a hell of a job.”

Asked about the trouble Leonard had experienced getting back on the court, Parker expressed sympathy, noting the ruptured quadriceps tendon he himself had suffered in the playoffs the season before and the difficulty of his own rehab. “I’ve been through it,” said Parker, who has signed to play in Charlotte next season. “It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury, but mine was 100 times worse. You just stay positive.” Parker’s quote was mostly innocuous, except for three words. Leonard’s representatives took issue with the phrase “100 times worse.” They were furious, believing the Spurs point guard was questioning Leonard’s commitment to returning.
1 year ago via ESPN

Despite being eligible to receive a five-year super max extension this summer worth $221 million from the Spurs, Leonard wanted out of San Antonio for myriad reasons. He felt betrayed by the team for the handling of the quadriceps injury that kept him out of all but nine games last season — plus, Leonard’s camp believes the Spurs misdiagnosed a 2014 wrist injury as well — and also for the resistance encountered from the franchise when seeking outside opinions. Not to mention what seemed to be public questioning of the situation by members of the organization, with sources saying the forward had been medically cleared to play since December.
1 year ago via ESPN

The franchise harbored some ill will, too, but considered Leonard such an important commodity it was willing to work through the difficult times toward resolution. The Spurs disliked ceding control in August of Leonard’s medical care to outside doctors and were miffed by the handling of the entire situation by the forward’s representation — namely uncle Dennis Robertson — who, like Leonard, didn’t necessarily excel in the communication department, according to sources.
1 year ago via ESPN

Parker elected to utilize the Spurs’ doctors, while Leonard sought treatment outside of the organization. “I have no problem with Kawhi Leonard. We never had an argument,” Parker told The Undefeated. “When the journalist asked me if my injury was worse than Kawhi’s, I said yes because it was true. But that didn’t lessen the significance of his injury. He took over the franchise and I gave up the torch of the franchise willingly. It’s very sad that the media took one quote and made it sound like I didn’t want to play with him. He was the face of the franchise.”

Peter Vecsey: “Kawhi listened to the Spurs doctor. Did everything he was told. But when he went back to play his knee began to hurt from the stress. He was scared about blowing it out. He saw what happened to Isaiah Thomas when he played in pain for Boston in the playoffs. He got reduced to damaged goods. As a free agent this summer, he’ll never recoup the $50M-$100M he lost by deciding to play. “The Spurs knew the quad was only 70 percent,” insists my source. “Kawhi got good advice, advice anybody would give their son in the same situation, see an independent doctor.”
1 year ago via ESPN

Bruce Bowen, who won three NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs, took Kawhi Leonard to task for his dealings with the team this year, saying “there’s nothing but excuses going on.” Speaking on Sirius XM NBA Radio Thursday night, Bowen said: “First, it was, ‘Well I was misdiagnosed.’ Look here: You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise, and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?”
1 year ago via ESPN

“Not one time has Kawhi come out and said anything to the effect of, ‘You know what, hey, I really enjoy being in San Antonio.’ Or, ‘I can’t stand what’s going on here in San Antonio,’ ” Bowen said. “Not one time has he said anything.”

Peter Vecsey: In a cell conversation yesterday with Kawhi’s fringe friend (see above car quote), my first words were ones I’ve often promoted: “You know, I’m only as good as my source. What can you tell me?” Enough so that I’m thoroughly disinclined to believe Kawhi and Pop can’t patch things up, predominantly because their relationship isn’t in need of a large patch. From what I’m told, they’ve never exchanged harsh words or gone off on each other. A single problem existed last season that would not go away: Kawhi’s caregivers and doctors felt his repaired quad wasn’t entirely healthy when he returned 28 games into the season. After nine, some very effective, minute-monitored games, they insisted he return to rehab.

Peter Vecsey: But there is a reason they’re called ‘team’ doctors, and not players’ doctors … they’re paid by the team. “The media made it seem as if the Spurs and Kawhi’s people weren’t communicating. Like they didn’t know where he was and how things were going,” my source said. “They were in constant touch. I think Pop made Mitch wear a helmet cam. “The Spurs had their opinion regarding what should be done. Kawhi’s people disagreed. I don’t see any reason why both sides can’t move forward together.”
1 year ago via Uproxx

Charania reported that Kawhi Leonard is close to 100 percent and expected to be ready for training camp. The Spurs still intend to “mend fences” with the guard and Charania noted that the two sides are much closer to a resolution than it appears from afar. He insisted that Leonard didn’t “go rogue” by rehabbing in New York away from the team during the season, and said he’s been close to Spurs staffers and Gregg Popovich as he mourned the death of his wife.

Leonard played in just nine regular season games in 2017-18 despite receiving clearance from the Spurs’ medical staff to return from a quadriceps ailment. His decision to continue rehabbing away from the club under the supervision of his own medical team created a rift between him and the Spurs, as well as many of their fans. “It’s a bit of a dark cloud,” [Spurs advertising executive] Aguilar said of the saga, which ranks among the strangest in club history.

Rudy Gay: With that situation, it’s tough being injured. I know it was tough for him. It’s tough when you’re sitting out and knowing what you can do and not being able to contribute. I’ve done it! I’ve been there and had to sit out. Not being able to play basketball is hard. This is all we know. Being healthy is rare in this business. That’s why I’m taking this summer to get myself 100 percent healthy and become the best player I can be. I guess our timing was off, you know?
2 years ago via ESPN

Ramona Shelburne: “I think Pop has a general sense of, ‘My relationship with Kawhi seems to be strong,’ and all that, but as far as specific details, I think that’s where we get into—remember there was a little head fake when [Kawhi] was supposed to come back in March, [multiple people, including Adrian Wojnarowski] reported it and then it was, ‘Nope, he’s not ready yet.’ I remember calling at the time and there was still optimism he’d come back a little later in March but that never happened.”
2 years ago via ESPN

Zach Lowe: “Do you think the Spurs believe [if they were still alive in the playoffs] that Kawhi Leonard [could/should] be playing now?” Ramona Shelburne: “I think [the Spurs] think he can play. I don’t know if they think he should play. Because… they’ll seem him right now in three-on-three and he looks fine. You watch him go hard and he looks fine. But if you make him do certain tests, or isolate the right quad muscle, he still doesn’t have—that test is not quite there yet. And then he’ll still report pain in that area.”
2 years ago via ESPN

Leonard’s camp believes his condition is the result of a series of contusions to the quadriceps that began with one very deep bruise in March 2016 that caused him to miss three games. Leonard was again listed with a “quad contusion” on the Feb. 6, 2017, injury report, when he was a late scratch before a game. But it wasn’t until the end of last season when the severity of the injury became apparent. According to multiple sources, Leonard’s camp has come to believe the issue has more to do with an ossification or hardening in the area where the muscle has been repeatedly bruised and then an atrophying, which in turn affected the tendons connecting the muscle to the kne
2 years ago via ESPN

Initially the Spurs’ doctors were calling the shots, with Leonard following their protocols for most of last summer in his workouts in San Antonio with team staffers and San Diego with his longtime personal trainer. But things began to change in August as Leonard continued to experience discomfort, according to sources. His agent, Mitch Frankel, and uncle, Dennis Robertson, began pressing the Spurs to consult outside opinions. Last fall, Dr. Keith Pyne, the managing partner of SportsLab NYC, who is affiliated with the Washington Nationals and New York Islanders, began consulting on the case.

Yet when it comes to understanding these Spurs, there’s a six-degrees-of-Kawhi component that won’t go away until his situation is resolved. The Spurs can offer him a five-year, $215 million extension this July, but there is increasing hope around the league they might trade him instead. His absence is only mysterious because of the breakdown in communication between the sides, with the Spurs having cleared Leonard to return only to see him stay away because his outside medical group — “his group,” as Popovich has repeatedly called them — has advised otherwise. Along the way, there’s an inevitable ripple effect on his teammates — on and off the floor.

“It’s tough,” Aldridge said of the circumstances of this season. “We’re depending on guys who really aren’t offensive guys, and I think that showed tonight. We have guys who really don’t score, and teams are exposing that and trying to make those guys score. … But every guy in the locker room has grinded, and tried to get better, and you’ve got to consider that.” The ones who were there, anyway. When asked about his view on the Leonard situation, Aldridge made it clear that’s a topic he won’t touch. “I have no comment,” he said as he walked away. “He has to do what’s best for him. That’s it. Nice to see you.”

Me: How have you all sustained this season through all the injuries and Kawhi not being here? LaMarcus Aldridge: Just having the next-man-up kind of mentality, having the system where you can plug in guys and they can understand, or they can help the team in the ways they’re going to be good out there. And not giving in. It would have been easy to say we’ve had all this adversity this year and it’s not our year, but we have a bunch of guys that want to still be here. And we pushed through and guys got better, and the younger guys got some experience, and they’ve gotten better. It’s the whole team coming together.

In collaboration with Spurs officials, Leonard followed through with a plan to travel back East earlier this month in hopes of receiving clearance to return to. But though progress is noticeable, doctors Leonard sought for a second opinion about his quad injury are still not ready to approve his return to play with the feeling he needs additional rehab under their supervision. Though national reports suggest Leonard and his camp decided to leave the team, sources told the Express-News the Spurs also suggested Leonard remain in New York to rehab following his routine checkup from doctors.

Leonard has been rehabbing in New York because that is where his medical staff is located, and he has not been cleared by his doctors, league sources said. Time has run short for Leonard — one of the league’s best players when healthy — to make a sensible return to the Spurs, who lost Game 1 of their first-round series to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Leonard has made strides recently in training and is focused on regaining his full health, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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November 20, 2019 | 11:32 pm UTC Update
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November 20, 2019 | 9:13 pm UTC Update
While Anthony was out of the game, he found peace being among his peers, including attending his close friend Dwyane Wade’s final career game last season and competing against the NBA elite during offseason pickup games. But when the NBA season started without him for the first time since he was a rookie in Denver 16 years ago, he began to ponder whether he would play in the league ever again. “It still doesn’t make sense to me, but I got to a point where I got some clarity with me and what I want and what my goals are,” Anthony said. “As far as anything else making sense, I’m past that. I’m done racking my brain. I spent half a year, almost a year thinking about that and trying to figure out why and what and when it’s going to happen. I’m past that at this point.”
November 20, 2019 | 8:08 pm UTC Update
With NBA national TV ratings struggling again early, the league should consider some radical ideas to better position itself in the marketplace. One thought that has been broached in league circles, according to sources, would be to move the start of the schedule back to closer to Thanksgiving or, even more drastically, Christmas, in combination with a potential reduction from 82 games and some sort of in-season tournament.
Storyline: TV Ratings
A target date to institute this new thinking could be 2021-22 when the NBA celebrates its 75th season. It would make sense to potentially move to a 75-game season and introduce the still-to-be-determined tournament at that point. There are financial and scheduling issues that would have to be considered. Would the owners and players be willing to reduce revenue with fewer games? Would they be able to structure the season to have the Finals still finish in June? Would they be amenable to having the championship in July or even August?
Rim protection is the start of Holmes’ contribution. He averages 1.4 blocks per game this year but the effect of his pogo-stick energy in the paint goes beyond that. That’s true of all his traditional stats. Holmes is averaging 11.3 points, which ranks 30th among centers. His 8.2 rebounds rank 24th. While the mark of a good modern center may be the ability to stretch the floor with 3-point attempts, Holmes has yet to attempt one this year and has not shot a 3 since March 2018. Those stats only scratch the surface of Holmes’ impact on the Kings.
November 20, 2019 | 6:16 pm UTC Update
Or even if he could see a return one day to the Bulls, who he led to the 2011 Eastern Conference finals. “I mean, like I always say, you probably have to ask (Chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) about that,” Rose said. “I have one more year on this deal. I’m here for two years. After next year, I’ll be a free agent. Who knows? That’s how I’m going to leave that.”
Storyline: Derrick Rose Free Agency
Now 31 and over eight years removed from becoming the youngest most valuable player in NBA history with the Bulls, Rose agreed with Perdue’s assessment that this may be the best he has felt mentally, physically and emotionally. “I believe so,” Rose said. “I’ve been through a lot. I was a kid when I first started off here. I was shy to the media. I didn’t want to talk to the media at all. It was a learning process. And I didn’t have a mentor at the time. (Agent) B.J. (Armstrong) could do all that he could do. But he never had the talent that I had or the spotlight that I had. He kind of let me just learn by actually just thrusting me in there and letting me figure it out myself.”
When Rose scored 50 points last season with the Timberwolves, the outpouring of praise from around the league felt universal. Rose’s ability to persevere and endure his physical travails to still impact games has resonated. “Me and BJ talk about this a lot and I think it’s the struggle,” Rose said. “Everybody struggles in life. A lot of people pretend and act like they don’t. And you wear a mask the majority of the day or a lot of people wear the majority of their life and try to hide the dark side or the down days. My down days were on TV. It was publicized. So I wasn’t able to hide like that. “I think that’s one of the reasons why I have a calm temper. Leading up to all (these) dramatics and me leaving and everything, the whirlwind I was in, the eye of the storm, I always stayed calm. I think that’s just part of who I am, my character.”
You’re out of the rotation since your first or second year in the league. How tough is that to deal with? Jose Juan Barea: It’s been tough. I’m coming off an injury, so maybe it’s a good thing that I get a little more time to get ready. But it’s definitely tough. I’m used to grinding and being in the fight with my teammates. But it’s a different situation and I understand that we got a lot of guys here, a lot of young, good talent. I just got to be ready. I was ready the other day, they put me in, I did a good job. So I just got to stay ready and wait for my time.
In fact, check this out: That return on a three-shot foul is so excessive that, on average, committing one is about as bad as committing a flagrant! The second shot on a flagrant can’t be rebounded, so the two shots on average are worth 1.53 points for the offense. The team then inbounds on a dead ball, which is the lowest efficiency initial condition for offense – yielding 1.07 points per possession last season, according to our Seth Partnow. That brings our total for the trip to 2.60 points. So a three-shot foul hands the offense 2.56 points on average … and a flagrant gives it 2.60. It’s basically the same. Yikes.
So, summing it all up: The three-shot foul creates a massively disproportionate penalty to the crime committed, on a play type that officials have difficulty calling correctly. It also likely creates more contact and injury potential rather than reducing it, and incentivizes both boorish behavior and stylistic monotony that make the game less entertaining. The league can go back to three shots in the final two minutes to eliminate intentional fouling incentives late in games; we already have several other rules that change in the last two minutes. But for the first 46 minutes, it’s clearly a bad rule.
November 20, 2019 | 5:02 pm UTC Update
One thing that is clear is both sides appear committed to communicating, a factor Anthony said will be key as this agreement moves forward. He liked how the coaching staff talked to him about starting Tuesday during their own private workout. “Let’s be transparent,” Anthony said. “That was a miscommunication over the past couple seasons about what my role would be and what was expected from me. That was a big point in talking to those guys — ‘Let’s be transparent. There’s nothing I won’t be willing to do, but just let me know up front; whatever it is, just let me know. Put it all on the table and we will go from there.’”
Olshey, who orchestrated Anthony’s signing to mask the hole left by the injury to starter Zach Collins and the ineffectiveness of offseason signings Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver, offered a quid pro quo to Anthony’s camp. “Carmelo needs an empowering and welcoming environment with a defined role that embraces his skill set on the floor and his presence in the locker room,” Olshey said. “And we need a player that can generate production from the power forward position, can alleviate defensive pressure on Dame and CJ and be trusted to make plays at critical moments in close games.”
Lillard talked about the hazards of trying to defend Harden when he’s getting the calls he often gets. “It’s hard to defend,” Lillard said, “When he’s driving to the basket, you don’t want to touch him. When he’s rising up for a three, you don’t want to get too close to him because he’s kicking his legs out and throwing his arms up on his follow-through, through your arms. If you get that type of whistle, it’s tough to defend.”
Doncic delivers those highlights on a regular basis — 40-foot fastballs diagonally across the court right into the numbers of an open shooter in the corner; perfectly timed lobs just over the hands of helpless defenders; no-look dimes after dribbling behind his back in traffic. And launching step-back jumpers, often from far beyond the 3-point arc — smiling and shrugging, in this case, at a trash-talking courtside fan in Boston after swishing a couple. “He’s one of those rare players that has not only an amazing imagination for the game but the skill and the ability and the wherewithal to pull it off,” Carlisle said.
Today, the Sacramento Kings unveiled the new Nike City Edition uniforms for the 2019-20 season with a refreshed look. Blending old branding and new branding, the new City Edition uniforms feature red, baby blue, white and gray. These colors have been woven through the franchise’s history and help represent the 35 years of Kings basketball in Sacramento – continuing the Proud Past, Proud Future focus. This refreshed City Edition uniform will flip to feature red as the primary color for the first time in Kings history and still don “Sactown” across the chest – the adoring nickname given to the city by Sacramentans.
Storyline: Uniforms
Twenty-seven years later, the four-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony, alongside Mayor Ras Baraka, at an $80 million, 22-story building at 50 Rector Park in the Newark Downtown District. The development, known around town as “Shaq Tower,” is the first high-rise apartment building to join the city’s skyline in more than 50 years. The project came about as a public-private partnership between Shaq, the city, the state of New Jersey, New Brunswick-based Boraie Development and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. The new tower was also boosted by a $24 million New Jersey Department of Economic Development Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit. The building’s one million square feet of space includes ground-floor retail space and 169 residential units—with monthly rents ranging from $1,800 to $2,895—as well as a gym, co-working lounge, private dining room, sky deck and Amazon lockers.
Storyline: Real Estate
November 20, 2019 | 3:40 pm UTC Update
In June 2017, George was dreaming of different scenery. When the All-Star forward informed the Indiana Pacers that he wanted to be traded, reports came out that he wanted to return home and be moved to the Los Angeles Lakers. But George had another team on top of his wish list. “I wanted to be traded to San Antonio,” George says. “We wanted to go to San Antonio first, and we didn’t make that happen.”
A league source confirmed that the Pacers and Spurs talked, but San Antonio lacked the assets to pair George with Leonard. The Lakers also wanted George, but then team-president Magic Johnson would not trade the 2017 second overall pick (which would become Lonzo Ball) and Brandon Ingram, believing they could eventually sign George as a free agent. “As far as the Lakers, I wanted to go to L.A.,” George says. “They didn’t make that happen. They didn’t put nothing together. So that’s in the back of my mind [when I became a free agent]. That was in the back of my mind.”
Just three months before, they were meeting at an undisclosed location to hatch a plan. Leonard reached out to George “a good four or five days” before the July 5 trade, recruiting him to do what they couldn’t back in 2017 — join forces. “We met up and we talked,” George said recently. “Before the trade, [even] before everything was in talks.” Together, they have a chance to do something never done with the Clippers. “Paul has always been a player that I wanted to play with,” Leonard said while sitting next to George and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer back in July. “… And I think we got something special. We can make history here.”
Before the Oklahoma City game, Harris had been 1-for-24 on threes in his previous six contests. After Tuesday’s practice, Harris was asked if the last game was a confidence builder. He almost seemed surprised by the question. “It is the same thing like any other game. I have the most confidence in myself and my game and the work I put in, and I don’t let many things affect my mental state and where I am at,” Harris said.
“Even when I had a couple of bad shooting nights, I don’t really pay attention to any noise, as long as I can walk into our locker room and look every man in his eye, my teammates, and still have the support from them, and them understanding my game and pushing me,” Harris said. He said his teammates’ response to his performance Sunday meant the world to him. “The biggest thing with having a game like Cleveland was seeing my teammates be happy for that,” he said. “I am always putting in the work and I trust my work and I have confidence in myself and my game.”