Storyline: Mike Conley Injury

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Mike Conley expects the Memphis Grizzlies to clear him for full-contact drills at some point this month, ending a frustrating ordeal with his left Achilles that cost him a year of his prime and the coach who helped him become a more complete offensive player. Family time was fun and the daddy-day-care responsibilities helped him overcome the agonizing waiting game of the past nine months, but it also made Conley more appreciative of the game he otherwise would’ve taken for granted. “It’s like I lost my wallet, got it back and now I can do something with it,” Conley told Yahoo Sports at the USA Basketball minicamp last month.

“We’re doing the right things. Taking things slow. And giving me time to really be ready to go for training camp. Mentally, I’m there. I’m ready. Physically, I feel good. It’s just my body has to catch up,” Conley told Yahoo Sports. “Being a dad, being low-key out of the way, it gave me a perspective like, ‘Hey. This is great, I get to spend time with my kids, even though this is a down part of my career.’ But also at the same time, I’ve got a new re-tooled drive. … Knowing that I took care of the issue, we got the issue figured out, hopefully, going forward, I won’t have any flare-ups. I can just play basketball like I’m used to playing and I’ve got a free year, another year, added to my career, so I’m excited.”

How do you balance ‘I need to be out there’ with ‘I need to be healthy’? Mike Conley: It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my career. It’s something I’ve been battling since day one of this season, trying to figure out the balance of push through this wall or just wait behind it, let everything just come together and let things settle down. But in the process of letting things play out, we didn’t do well as a team. For me personally, I might have been healing a little bit better, but I’m looking out there and I’m feeling, I need to be out there to help this team play and move forward.

Q: Are the occasional flare-ups something you have to accept going forward? Mike Conley: After this last incident, they (the doctors) told me the Achilles can heal fully. I just have to give it time to heal. As we know, I rush things a lot and when I come back I won’t say anything about it but I might be feeling it. I might withhold that from the trainers to try and get on the court. I’ve done that over the years. Right now, I’m trying to do the smart thing, which is frustrating. But I knew I wasn’t helping the team with the way I was playing.

How are you feeling now with the sore Achilles? Mike Conley: It’s tough. Anything that has to do with your heel takes a little bit longer to heal. So, I’m just taking it day by day. Hopefully, we’ll know something more in the next week or so. Q: How would you describe your condition when the Achilles flares up? Mike Conley: It’s almost impossible to walk when it’s really flared up. It’s hard to get on your toe to jump or do anything athletic, let alone doing the basic things – walking or trying to go up steps. It’s tough. It’s not something I’m used to having to deal with in the sense I play a certain way. I play hard. I play fast. I just hate that this happens.

Before he gingerly walked out of the locker room after the Grizzlies’ first home loss of the season, Conley slowly gathered his thoughts and his belongings. He then tried to think back to a time when his normally deft shooting touch has disowned him quite like this. “If I had been in one, I don’t recall it,” the Grizzlies’ catalyst said of his current slump on offense. “I don’t even think about it. I always just move on to the next game. You know, it’s tough. But tough times don’t last. I’ll get through it. I know my teammates will help me through it and it will turn around.”

Conley is listed as questionable with Achilles soreness entering Wednesday’s game, but was on the court with teammates at the end of the morning shootaround. “Once Mike is feeling better, we’re going to see a lot better basketball out of him,” Fizdale said. “Right now, he’s just fighting through nagging pain and stuff you can’t control. It’s always going to be his Achilles. It’s going to be sore. Sometimes it feels better than other times. It’s just getting back into the competition, doing it every day again and getting through that threshold of pain. Once he gets to a certain number of games, he gets his legs under him and feels better.”
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December 13, 2019 | 8:27 pm UTC Update
Logan Murdock: Steve Kerr reasoned that Draymond Green earned the right to have rest days because he’s played five straight seasons into the Finals. So I asked if the same logic applies to him as a coach. His response: “The coach does not receive the same treatment unfortunately.” pic.twitter.com/I7y1sl7dpw
Storyline: Load Management
December 13, 2019 | 6:54 pm UTC Update
December 13, 2019 | 6:32 pm UTC Update
December 13, 2019 | 5:28 pm UTC Update
“Yeah, and it comes back to I think that we had the right leadership,” Van Gundy told Krzyzewski. “(Former team president) Dave Checketts, who I’m sure you know. Great leader. And then we had unfortunately, at the end of my time there, we had a dilution of talent with the Knicks and it happened rapidly due to some just age, some injury. Patrick Ewing, one of the greatest all-time players, aged and got traded. Larry Johnson, a legendary UNLV player but just a terrific teammate and someone to coach who set an example every day, back injury. Then they traded for [Antonio] McDyess, he had a knee injury. Allan Houston had a knee injury. These are career-changing type of injuries.”
Van Gundy says that whatever direction the Knicks go in next, the key will be patience, as the team must give whoever is brought in the chance to grow as a leader. “It’s been constant change and unfortunately that amount of change has led to an inconsistency of philosophy, of belief, and I just think they have to settle and give whoever they pick next the opportunity to grow and evolve,” Van Gundy said. “So many of these projects where you’re trying to turn a franchise around, they’re submarined because of a lack of patience. Everybody says, ‘We’re all in to the rebuild,’ and ‘We’re going to be patient,’ and then halfway through they lose the stomach for it and think change is the answer.”
December 13, 2019 | 4:14 pm UTC Update
Joel Embiid declared Thursday morning that Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal were right: He needed to start looking to dominate games. He didn’t waste time taking their advice to heart. In a spectacular performance at TD Garden on Thursday night, Embiid had 38 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and a monstrous block of Daniel Theis in the final seconds, propelling his Philadelphia 76ers to a 115-109 victory over the Boston Celtics.
“I actually called Shaq yesterday,” Embiid said. “He thought I was mad at him. I was like, ‘No, I understand what he was saying.’ “I’ve had a bad year so far. I’ve been kinda frustrated, just because you’re not seeing the teamwork and you try to fit in with your new teammates. Just be aggressive … just go out there and just dominate. “Whatever they said, I think it was good for me.”
Almost nobody behind “Uncut Gems,” the Adam Sandler/Kevin Garnett drama steeped in NBA lore that opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles (and nationwide on Christmas), wanted the movie to have anything to do with Garnett and the Boston Celtics — unless it somehow involved the Celtics’ humiliation. Josh and Benny Safdie, the writer-director brothers, are diehard fans of the New York Knicks — which naturally means they hate the Celtics. “I hated Boston,” Josh Safdie told ESPN this week. “I hated KG.”
They moved on to Joel Embiid, but working around the schedule of an active player proved impossible. The studio gave them a list of retired players. They met with a few, including Chris Bosh, Josh Safdie said. Garnett’s name was on the list, too. They cringed. They agreed to meet with Garnett anyway. Garnett’s representatives told them they would have an hour. The meeting lasted three hours. Garnett regaled them with stories. He was different in person than he was on television and in media interviews.
“Acting is preparation, just like anything else,” Garnett told the group in New York. “I didn’t want to fail them. They took a risk on me. When I showed up to set, I was ready. It took me back to, ‘OK, it’s Rasheed Wallace tonight. It’s Tim Duncan tonight’ — watching film. I took those same things coming in here.” “He took his lines very seriously,” Josh Safdie told ESPN. “He added a lot of flair, too. He improvised a bit, but he stuck mostly to the script.”
December 13, 2019 | 2:06 pm UTC Update
As Carmelo Anthony’s basketball journey wandered beyond the bright lights of New York City, the 35-year-old forward said he would’ve been okay rejoining the Denver Nuggets. “I was open to it,” a reflective Anthony said Thursday of his options over the past few years. “We talked about it. People in my circle were like, ‘Go back to Denver.’ If it was that easy I probably would’ve done it. A lot of things came into play when it comes to that, kind of out of my control at that time, the timing was off. Similar to Portland, the timing has always just been off. All of the sudden that window of opportunity was there.”
After missing the FIBA Basketball World Cup due to a knee injury, Nicolò Melli is ready to return to wear Italy’s National Team jersey in next June’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Melli is now playing in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans. “I confirmed to the Federation my availability for the OQT. It will depend on my physical conditions. I have missed summers with Italy only when I was injured. I gave my availability. It will depend on my body” Melli said, as reported by Backdoor Podcast.
December 13, 2019 | 9:23 am UTC Update

Jeff Teague still available?

As well as Teague has played from a scoring standpoint of late, it is no secret that his fit with a system that is predicated on ball movement and shooting open 3s is problematic. The Timberwolves made it known throughout the league last summer that Teague was available for trade and that remains the case right now, league sources said.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 92 more rumors

Chris Paul staying put?

After polling executives, the league-wide sense is that Paul will remain with the Thunder this season simply because of his enormous contract. While it’s theoretically possible that Paul could agree to turn down his $44 million player option for 2021-22 to grease the wheels on a potential trade, right now, that is the longest of long shots. Besides overcoming the idea of giving up 44 million buckaroos, Paul is also the president of the players’ union and it would be a bad look to set that precedent of turning down that amount of money to make it more palatable to a team.
As it stands now, the Heat aren’t expected to make a run at Paul, per multiple sources. They like their locker room chemistry and aren’t actively looking to shake it up. More importantly, Paul’s contract complicates Miami’s potential future. Paul will be 35 years old in May and is due $41.4 million next season and will be 37 when he’s due $44.2 million. A glamour market like Miami doesn’t need to make trades to acquire a star. Smaller markets like Utah, Charlotte and Portland do.
The belief across the league this summer was that Wiggins could be had for the right offer. Rosas did not acquire him in trade and did not sign him to the max contract extension. But the two have formed a strong relationship in the early going and Wiggins has also responded well to Saunders’ coaching when it comes to changing his shot profile. There is no indication that the team is looking to trade Wiggins right now. The team has been both privately and publicly encouraged by Wiggins’ willingness to embrace this new approach and the results that have come with it. Saunders is firmly in his corner and Rosas has forged a strong working relationship with him.
Storyline: Andrew Wiggins Trade?
It is difficult for Boston to cobble together enough salary to add a major piece without including one of its core players. Boston does have Daniel Theis ($5M), Enes Kanter ($4.8M), all its own first-rounders and additional picks from Milwaukee and Memphis, but that’s not enough money to target a player like the Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge or the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love — unless Boston is willing to put Marcus Smart or Gordon Hayward in a deal, which is unlikely to happen.
Sunday, of course, is the first day players who were acquired in the offseason are eligible to be traded, even though Neil Olshey, the team’s top executive, said this week there is nothing brewing. That hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from heating up, which has included one report saying Kevin Love would prefer a trade to Portland. That rumor apparently reached the eyes and ears of Whiteside, who during Tuesday’s game against New York was shouting during play to Anthony that “Kevin Love doesn’t rebound like that!” “And Kevin Love doesn’t block shots like that, either,” Whiteside said Thursday when asked about the Tuesday exchange. “The trade talk … it don’t enter my mind a lot. I was more just messing with Melo. I’m not thinking about it. If we are struggling on defense and you want to (trade him), I mean, good luck. Good luck with that.”
Storyline: Hassan Whiteside Trade?