Storyline: Marcus Smart Injury

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Marcus Smart, who confirmed Friday to the Herald that his plan is to go through contact Sunday for the first time since suffering a torn oblique muscle four weeks ago, remains on schedule. But based on Stevens’ practice plans for today, that contact may be happening off to the side. “I have not heard if he completed a workout today. When he came through, I did not hear if he got on the court,” Stevens said. “I’m going to talk to our training staff after that, and then tomorrow all indication is he will go through our practice. I’m writing up our practice plan now, and I don’t have any live drills on it, so if he does something, it’ll probably be before or after practice if that’s his next step.”

“The beauty about me is I’m not too worried about the individual things,” Smart told the Herald as the Celts took the court Tuesday morning to prepare for Game 2 against the Bucks. “So, you know, I’m willing to do whatever and I’m going to do whatever when I come back to keep this momentum going, this flow going. And like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So right now we’re rocking, and it’s no need to change that. So even if I’m able to come back this series or next series or whenever I do come back, there’s no reason to change what’s working right now.”

Despite Smart’s progress, Brad Stevens was hesitant to raise expectations. “I didn’t really see (Smart’s treadmill workout),” Stevens said. “It doesn’t surprise me, because they said he’s making good progress. But it didn’t sound like the timeline was changing all that much from when I last talked to the training staff about it. I really haven’t talked about it in the last probably week or so. “I know he’s not close to playing. I know he’s progressed well, but I don’t know what that means.”

If there is a short-term sign of progress, it will be Smart’s presence on the bench for Game 2 tomorrow night against Indiana. He wasn’t able to leave his house on Sunday. “I’ll be at the game tomorrow on the bench. It’ll be good to be able to get on the bench and be out there with those guys,” he said. “I had to watch it not from the bench, in the back at home, things like that, so it was really frustrating to not be out there with those guys at that time. But I’ll be there tomorrow.”

Little wonder that Smart’s next steps will be gradual. “I really need to walk fluidly, breathe more fluidly and just the everyday things like around the house like getting up and things like that,” he said. “I couldn’t get up. The last four or five days I needed help. But the next mark to see where I’m at is probably in two weeks, at the four-week mark and hopefully it’s progressed more than now and hopefully I can start running or jogging by then and hopefully shooting a basketball, so that’s my next mark and that’s what I’m trying to get to.”

The advice of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who both missed the 2018 playoffs to injury, counts for even more. “Oh man, they’ve been huge, just really talking to me,” said Smart. “You’re not alone. The team’s here for you. Just showering me with love and encouragement. Obviously they’re devastated that I’m not out there, but really keeping me in my right mind, sane. Being able to get on the court is the way I was able to deal with a lot of things that caused frustration. Not being able to do that now is adding onto it. So it’s good getting that advice now.”


Boston eventually called a timeout, and Smart limped to the bench — only to convince the training staff that he was all right, and could stay in the game. But after the Celtics had the ball for one offensive possession — a possession where Smart was clearly moving gingerly — he called for the bench to replace him as he limped back on defense before falling to the ground, holding his side. “He felt like it was spasming on that second trip down the court,” Stevens said. Smart would eventually get to his feet and hobble to the locker room with help from the trainers. “We’ll see what that looks like tomorrow,” Stevens said. “He was a little sore, but was walking around, which was good, in the locker room.”
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December 8, 2019 | 10:59 am UTC Update
The Knicks did some due diligence on Jackson’s Warriors tenure prior to hiring Fizdale. It’s unclear how far along Jackson got in the process with New York. But the idea that they chose Fizdale over Jackson, an ex-Knick who would have been mostly embraced by the fan base, is telling. According to sources, there are members of the organization who remain wary of hiring Jackson.
Storyline: Mark Jackson to Knicks?
As Love went through his customary stretching routine prior to the game, cleveland.com spoke with him about a lack of touches recently, pointing out that they’ve declined significantly since a terrific few early weeks. It was about trying to get a better explanation and deciphering whether opponents have sent more defenders in his direction. Leading into Saturday’s matchup, everyone in the organization admitted he needed to become the focal point again. Beilein said when Love touches the ball, “good things happen.”
Three winters ago, Doc Rivers was ready to be done. He was throwing up constantly. His energy evaporated. Pounds dropped off his body. Rivers needed to get IVs before he coached the Clippers. He no longer looked like the tough-as-hell guard who made a name for himself on defense. He looked frail. And tired. And miserable. “It was awful,” he said. “That was a tough stretch. I almost thought about quitting because I had no energy. … And I thought it definitely affected my day-to-day ability to coach — and to live. You’re always tired. This job is tiring. And then you’re sick on top of it. I didn’t do any favors for myself.”
Prisoners of a lifestyle that tempts coaches with a constant barrage of food and adrenaline, little sleep and an overflow of stress, the NBA’s coaches battle wellness problems that they all easily could succumb to. “By the end of the season, if you were 6 feet tall when it started, now you’re 5-foot-2,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “It just wears you down and you just have to somehow focus on yourself and your health.”
Rivers no longer drinks after games. Portland coach Terry Stotts will go home and watch a show like “Madam Secretary” with his wife. Brooks’ training staff told him to quit eating a giant bowl of cereal before his late-night film sessions. “The biggest challenge is to take care of yourself physically,” Brooks said. “Like everything else, you have so many things on your plate and you forget about yourself.”
According to NBA insiders, there is a belief that coaches who are in shape are much easier to hire and more credible in a room full of athletically gifted players in peak physical condition. To be considered for jobs, coaches often are advised to lose weight and buy nicer clothes because appearances matter. And some believe any hint of an issue with mental wellness would torpedo a prospective coach’s candidacy.
Paschall recently joined radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye on his “Beyond the Arc” podcast and discussed what it was like moving to the Bay Area after growing up in New York. “One thing I definitely like about it is the weather, it’s not too cold,” he said. “I’ve realized everybody is a lot nicer out here. Everybody says hello, I remember in my apartment building, people were just like, ‘How was your day?’ I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ This is weird for me, especially from the East Coast because everybody is so uptight, but it’s something that’s really cool.”
December 8, 2019 | 2:55 am UTC Update
Will the Knicks have a shot at landing Ujiri? That’s unclear. But once the Knicks started struggling last month, multiple Madison Square Garden people in positions of influence have been ‘obsessed’ with – and ‘enamored’ by – the Raptors executive, per SNY sources. In order to land Ujiri, it will probably take significant money and full autonomy. Whether Knicks owner James Dolan will grant that kind of autonomy remains to be seen.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
At the time, the belief was that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka negotiated Howard’s contract to be non-guaranteed so that the team could ties with him if he didn’t buy into his role, but apparently that wasn’t the case. During an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump,” senior writer Ramona Shelburne said that it was Howard and his agent that suggested that his contract be non-guaranteed (emphasis mine): “I think with Dwight, it also goes back to why the Lakers signed that contract with him that way in the first place. Dwight asked for that. That was his idea. That wasn’t the Lakers saying ‘oh this is the only way we’ll do it.’ This was Dwight and his agent saying ‘yes, we’ll do non-guaranteed just to show you how committed we are to being this kind of player.’”
December 8, 2019 | 12:26 am UTC Update
Allan Houston, the Knicks former assistant general manager and now the GM of the Westchester Knicks, pushed hard to have Mike Miller considered to be the interim coach following David Fizdale’s firing. Houston has been with Miller since he was hired five seasons ago to coach the G-League team when Phil Jackson was president. Miller successfully ran the triangle for Jackson, then adapted when Jackson was let go.
December 7, 2019 | 10:52 pm UTC Update
There has certainly been a key dose of the latter, including Jimmy Butler’s desire to join the Heat even with Miami lacking any cap space (the Heat set the groundwork for that with its exemplary culture), and Dallas — in late June — bypassing a trade for Goran Dragic after the Dragic camp had been told he would probably need to be traded to accommodate the Butler transaction from a cap standpoint. “We’re all glad that deal didn’t happen,” one Heat official conceded privately, even more so because the inability to deal Dragic led to the jettisoning of Hassan Whiteside (a player the coaching staff didn’t want) to Portland.
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The California Air Resources Board has granted fast-track approval to a proposed $1.2 billion Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood that should allow the project to be finished in time for a 2024 basketball season. After nearly a year of back-and-forth negotiations, CARB determined last week that the project will not result in a net increase in greenhouse gases and, thus, qualifies for special protections from environmental lawsuits that could otherwise stall construction for years.
Storyline: New Clippers Arena
“CARB staff conducted an evaluation of the GHG emission estimates and reduction measures submitted by the applicant, and confirmed that the applicant’s methodology, calculations and documentation are adequate,” wrote Richard Corey, CARB’s executive director, in a letter to the governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Assembly Bill 987, a law passed specifically to move the Clippers project forward, required the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center to be net neutral and reduce 50 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions through local measures.
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December 7, 2019 | 9:04 pm UTC Update
Influential voices in the NBA have strongly advised Ujiri not to take the job, if it’s ever offered, sources say. But those same sources say Ujiri might do it anyway, if the money is right, if he’s granted the necessary autonomy and if Dolan funds Giants of Africa as generously as the Raptors ownership group has. Ujiri’s contract is believed to run through 2021 but with an out clause under certain circumstances. He turned down a lucrative extension last summer, sources said, leaving the impression that he wants to keep his options open.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
The Knicks have hired and fired five lead basketball executives since 2004, including legendary NBA figures from Isiah Thomas to Donnie Walsh to Phil Jackson. All departed under clouds of various shapes, sizes and despairing shades of gray. Maybe it will be different for the next guy. Maybe the Knicks get lucky and lure a gifted executive like Toronto’s Masai Ujiri to fix this mess. Some NBA sources believe it’s possible.
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Storyline: Isaiah Thomas Injury
December 7, 2019 | 7:25 pm UTC Update
With Knicks president Steve Mills on shaky ground until the club shows progress, owner James Dolan could make another run at Raptors president Masai Ujiri. According to a source, if Mills is fired after the season, Dolan likely would renew his quest for Ujiri, who built the Raptors 2019 title team. “Why wouldn’t he — he’s the best GM in the league,’’ one NBA source said.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
December 7, 2019 | 5:30 pm UTC Update
The Knicks held a players-only meeting to rally support for their coach. But there was one problem: Fizdale was fired just hours later. Sources confirmed that Marcus Morris, who has been Fizdale’s top supporter in the locker room, led the session prior to Friday’s practice. It came on the heels of the Knicks getting blown out by the Nuggets on Thursday at the Garden.
Storyline: David Fizdale Firing