Dirk Nowitzki and Jeremy Lin are still working through worrying knee injuries

10 Oct

The NBA's preseason and slate of exhibition games are often full of bumps and bruises. Or, more specifically, the fatigue-related joint injuries that stem from the fact that no matter how hard you train or prep during the offseason, nothing can replicate the demands of an NBA training camp. Every team works through these setbacks; but when you're coming off of a relatively major tear in your knee, or you've been schlepping through NBA training camps since the last century, things tend to get even more complicated.

When you're being relied upon as heavily as Jeremy Lin and Dirk Nowitzki are, by their respective teams in Houston and Dallas, these setbacks shape up as a little frightening. One is a star slightly past his prime, hoping to lead his squad back into the championship picture. The other is an up and comer attempting to make his team relevant again. And both are hitting the ice and ibuprofen pretty heavily, with the start of the 2012-13 season just a few weeks away.

Lin, who missed the last month of the 2011-12 regular season and all of the playoffs with a meniscus tear, admitted that even 6 1/2 months removed from the tear he still has a little ways to go. From the Houston Chronicle:

Lin had always maintained that he was 100 percent healthy, though Rockets coach Kevin McHale had often spoke about Lin's comeback. On Tuesday, Lin said he expected to be at full speed in time for the Oct. 31 opener, but was not there yet and does not expect to play extensively in the preseason opener.

"My speed and my explosiveness and my agility (are not) there yet," Lin said. "I'm still trying to recover from knee surgery and get to where I was pre-surgery. I probably won't get to play too much. Hopefully, as the preseason goes on I'll get to play more and more to build that endurance."

Lin doesn't mention it, but his ability to go all out on pell-mell drives to the hoop was part of the reason Lin was such a successful (and entertaining) contributor last year in New York. If he's nervous or hesitant, coming off of the first major injury of his pro career, the mental hurdles might stack higher than the physical ones. Ideally, enough preseason in-game reps would force such worries to the back of his mind, but it's not easy. Especially for a guard, working in amongst the trees.

Nowitzki's situation is a little more worrying.

The Mavericks legend went all out during Dallas' long run to the 2011 title, but he admittedly took most of the resulting offseason and extended NBA lockout break off. Using most of the 2011-12 season to work himself into game shape, Dirk missed four contests and contributed the fewest minutes and minutes per game since his rookie year in 1999. The "1999" aspect of it all stands out, as the 34-year-old 7-footer attempts to play that perimeter-based game all over again in the hopes that the Mavs can surprise and "matchup" their way deep into the playoffs again.

For Dirk's knee to be bugging him, after just over 2,200 combined regular and postseason minutes between the 2011 title and this year's training camp, is a red flag. One that might require some corrective surgery.

From Eddie Sefko at the Dallas Morning News:

"We'll see how it responds," he said. "But the longer we wait, obviously the worse it is. If we have to do something, it'd be better to do it quick.

"But we're still hopeful that this is a temporary thing. If we relax and rest it for a week and see how it goes, then we'll have a better idea."


"There was some swelling already when we started last week and the last two days, it didn't really respond too well," he said.

"Scared is a strong word," he said. "Obviously, it's unfortunate. Last year, we dealt with it. Hopefully, it'll respond here in the next week or so, and I'll play throughout the whole season.

"The good thing, or different thing, this year is that my legs are actually pretty strong. I lifted all through the summer. So hopefully this is just temporary."

Sefko reports that a cleanup procedure could take place, arthroscopic surgery that would clean debris and allow the swelling that results from athletic wear and tear to cause Nowitzki less discomfort and more range of motion.

And, because the surgery could take place in mid-October instead of the middle of the season, the recovery time could be partially couched by games that don't count. Just three weeks into the season, he'd be as good as new.

Still, as was the case with Lin, Nowitzki would have to learn to overcome the setback on the fly — his first surgery as a pro some 15 seasons into his NBA career. Nowitzki was famously knocked out of the 2003 NBA playoffs with a knee strain, but that injury didn't require any surgery. Even relatively minor procedures such as arthroscopic surgery can still act as a cause for concern, for player and team.

These are cheery times, with every team tied for first and the promise of a new season just weeks away, but iffy times down in Texas. No typical training camp bumps and bruises, here.

Tags: , dirk nowitzki, , , , NBA Playoffs, , , ,
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Mostly NBA Notes: A look around the league

05 Oct
by in General

With our new preseason ranks up, it's clear I'm higher on Raymond Felton than most. He's coming off a year in which he was ranked 143rd on a per game basis, but I'm banking on a change of scenery helping in 2012/13. For what it's worth, he recently admitted he showed up out of shape coming off the lockout last season and appears to be much better prepared this year (of course, not all "best shape of his life" puff pieces are created equal. But I think there's something to this one). Another part of the problem last year was his disconnect with Nate McMillan, but once the coach was let go Felton thrived. Now with the Knicks, Felton should be the clear starter over Jason Kidd, who will turn 40 years old this season. The last time Felton played for New York, he averaged 17.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 9.0 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.6 3pt while shooting 86.7 percent from the line. He was the 44th most valuable fantasy player that year, and that was with him not being nearly as productive over his 21 games not in a Knicks uniform. While this offense might not be quite as uptempo with Mike D'Antoni gone, New York still ranked tied for fourth in PACE last season. I probably have him ranked too high, but with an ADP of 121, I think it's safe to say Felton is an undervalued commodity at draft tables right now.

So while Felton's move to New York should boost his fantasy value, what will be the ramifications for Jeremy Lin moving to Houston? While Linsanity went anything but under the radar last season, it's worth repeating just how productive he was after entering the starting lineup: 18.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 7.7 apg, 2.0 spg, 1.0 3pt, 44.5 FG%, 79.6 FT%. Of course, thanks to an absolutely mind-boggling 4.7 tpg, his value took a major hit in 9-cat leagues. Lin obviously has ball security issues and is a poor defender, but he's no false media creation either, as his ability to drive to the hoop at his size as a PG is highly impressive. He can clearly play and should get a ton of run with Houston after they signed him to a huge contract and with few alternatives on its roster. Lin scored the third-most points per play of the 91 players with at least 75 isolation plays last season, shooting 48.5 percent off the dribble (only Steve Nash and Stephen Curry were better). But while the Knicks ran the most isolation plays in the NBA, the Rockets ranked 22nd, so unless Houston makes a major system adjustment thanks to its new personnel, it could be a hit to Lin's value. Still, he's such an exciting player who's still in the improvement phase, and it doesn't seem like last year's crazy hype has inflated his price tag all that much (67 ADP).

This little person is better at basketball than me (and probably you).

After J.J. Hickson averaged 16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 0.7 spg and 0.7 bpg after the All-Star break at age 22 in 2010/11, he looked primed to break out last season, so it was curious to see Cleveland trade him away for Omri Casspi, especially since the team's once unwillingness to include him in deals might have ultimately cost them LeBron James. It was equally as surprising to see Sacramento give him just 18:23 mpg after joining the Kings before freely shipping him off to Portland. The Trail Blazers then gave him an opportunity, and he responded with 15.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 0.6 spg and 0.9 bpg on 54.3 percent shooting (and those numbers are suppressed since he didn't immediately become a starter). Hickson is a poor free throw shooter and lacks elite shot blocking ability for a big man, but he's the favorite to start over Meyers Leonard (who's a project) and sure looks like an intriguing sleeper.

An extremely interesting read about a gambler's grind in the NBA.

Andre Iguodala was the 32nd most valuable player last year while scoring just 12.4 ppg and shooting only 61.7 percent from the line, which isn't easy to do. While it's safe to expect his FT shooting to bounce back close to his career level of 73.7 percent this season, the bigger reason to like him is his move to Denver. After playing for a Philadelphia team that ranked 27th in PACE last year, he now joins a Nuggets squad that ranked second, and their Offensive Efficiency ranked third. Iguodala's 10.2 FGA last year tied for 105th in the NBA, and it's pretty safe to expect that to increase in Denver's offense. With a squad that continues to get even more athletic, the Nuggets will to try to run teams out of the gym, and Iguodala will be a big beneficiary.

Pair banned from all-you-can-eat restaurant for eating too much.

Paul Millsap was the seventh most valuable fantasy player last year despite not standing out at any particular category. Well, he did get 1.8 spg, but even after doing so, he's still got just 1.1 for his career, so I wouldn't exactly bank on that happening again. Don't get me wrong, you don't have to be an NBA superstar to be an elite fantasy option, and I like Millsap's game, and he's now put up back-to-back top-25 seasons. However, he's not even guaranteed to keep his starting role this year, as Derrick Favors will be given every opportunity to unseat him at power forward. It makes sense for a rebuilding Utah team, as Favors was the No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft, is just 21 years old and showed plenty of promise when given an expanded role last season. Millsap could see some time at small forward and would likely still get plenty of minutes off the bench should he lose his starting job, but it's at least something to consider for someone who will no doubt cost a high draft pick.

Zookeeper sprays crowd with skunk prank.

Not that this is some abnormality, but small forward is an especially shallow position this year. It's probably worth using as a tiebreaker if you're debating between two similar players. There are plenty of interesting options in the middle rounds, like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael Beasley, J.R. Smith, Evan Turner, Andrei Kirilenko, Gordon Hayward and Harrison Barnes, etc, but they all have some question marks that start earlier at this position than any other. Even center looks deeper right now. It's probably not a big deal and certainly not as important as other fantasy sports, but still something to keep in the back of your mind at drafts. As if LeBron James and Kevin Durant needed added value.

Restaurant gives discount for being the "best looking" and having the "best butt."

I'm interested to see how high Anthony Davis goes in drafts this year. His offensive game needs some work, although that's not totally his fault, as he was incredibly only fifth in usage rate on Kentucky last season. This should actually INCREASE in the NBA. He should be competent at the line, committed just 1.0 tpg last year and should immediately be a major asset in the defensive categories. In fact, he's a threat to lead the league in blocks as a rookie and could also be among the leaders in steals among big men. Davis' uncanny ability to block shots 10+ feet away from the basket is so impressive, and he's now got a taste of what it takes while working with the USA Olympic team. How high are you willing to take The Unibrow?

Here's the most drawn out showcase bid in the history of "The Price Is Right."

And here's a classic scene from quite possibly the worst (best?) player in the show's history.

I'm going to bump Kenneth Faried up during my next ranks. He averaged 11.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 0.9 spg and 1.1 bpg with a 58.4 FG% in modest minutes over the final month last year as a rookie, and with Al Harrington gone, is looking at a big jump in minutes. Plus, anyone who's watched him knows he looks like a future star. Faried led the NBA in ORR (Percentage of offensive rebounds grabbed by a player while on the court) last year, revealing quite a bit of upside. Playing for such an uptempo Denver team doesn't hurt either, especially with a clear path to more playing time now. Even in just 22:36 mpg as a raw rookie last season, he was the 88th most valuable player, ahead of Tyreke Evans and Rajon Rondo in 9-cat leagues. Go get him.

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Tags: , , , , , pace, , , Raymond Felton, shape
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Lin, young Rockets ready for challenge (Yahoo! Sports)

02 Oct

Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale answers questions during their NBA basketball media day, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer) MANDATORY CREDIT

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jeremy Lin became a Broadway sensation, a coveted free agent and a merchandising magnet in Asia, all in less than a year.

Tags: challenge, , , magnet, , , sensation, , ,
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Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin speaks with the media after NBA basketball practice, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jeremy Lin is finally getting his own bed.

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Jeremy Lin is still trying to sleep on his teammates’ couches

16 Sep

One of the many storylines that dotted Jeremy Lin's shocking 2012 ascension from training camp fodder to an NBA Player of the Week award recipient and two-time Sports Illustrated cover subject was the so-cute tale behind his time spent on former teammate Landry Fields' living room couch. Lin, who shuttled back and forth between the New York Knicks' D-League affiliate in Erie, Pa., and the big leagues before nearly being cut by the team before his breakout February, was forced to sleep on Fields' couch while he was with New York for those factors and more — including the scrunched up lockout-influenced schedule, the fact that he and Fields were fast friends, and the centuries-long lack of real estate options in the greater New York City metropolitan area.

Signed by Houston over the summer, if reluctantly, it appears as if Lin is having the same troubles in the fourth-largest city in America. As tweeted by new Rockets teammate Chandler Parsons on Sunday afternoon, Lin can't seem to get away from couchin' it up. From Parsons' Twitter account, here's a screengrab from the Rocket forward's phone:

And Parsons' quip, in light of Lin's three-year, $25.1 million contract (that will pay him near-maximum money in the third year of his deal):

Sorry to bug u, Jeremy Lin, but you can afford a Motel 6. They'll leave the light on for you. And 13 basic cable channels.

Also, Jeremy? Sorry to bug u, but never change.

UPDATE: Lin's really pressing the issue, now.

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Tags: ascension, , Chandler Parsons, Fields, , , , new york knicks, , Sports Illustrated, ,
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President Barack Obama, according to an aide, sees his campaign as “the Miami Heat,” Mitt Romney’s as “Jeremy Lin”

04 Sep

For someone who usually tops the charts when it comes to stylized anecdotes, well-placed rhetoric, and NBA know-how, President Barack Obama (or, at least, an unnamed aide close to the president) sure let a strange one slip recently. Stuck in the middle of an otherwise-fawning New York Times profile, the incumbent prez compared his re-election team to the dominant potential NBA dynasty of the Miami Heat, while sloughing off former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's campaign fortunes as he compared them to … a pretty good and highly sought-after NBA point guard?

Jeremy Lin, in fact. Lin is no LeBron James and company, to be sure, but comparing your rival to a guard with All-Star potential that put together a pretty dominant fortnight of basketball of his own last February? Perhaps the president, as he looks for a foil to dismiss, should be reminded of the presence of Chris Duhon?

Here's the quote, from the Times:

No matter what moves Mr. Romney made, the president said, he and his team were going to cut him off and block him at every turn. "We're the Miami Heat, and he's Jeremy Lin," Mr. Obama said, according to the aide.

It should be pointed out that, by all accounts from the Times piece, Obama was directly referring to Lin's active low point with the New York Knicks last season — a February 23rd loss that saw the second year point guard miss 10 of 11 shots from the field while turning the ball over eight times as Miami romped. If the timing seems a bit odd — Super Tuesday had yet to hit, the Republican primaries were not yet half over — the focus still can be argued away. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich had too many skeletons in his particular closet to be considered a lasting candidate, Governors Rick Perry and Senator Rick Santorum too right of center, and Herman Cain allegedly too touchy-feely with the ladies. Romney was the focus, even back then.

In that context, bragging that he and his team had an answer for every feint or move, the comparison works. Lin is a formidable talent, the latest savior on a Knick team that seemed to move through — not unlike a political party as it attempts to ouster a president seeking re-election — various incarnations and permutations just in the course of one season. He's good, we're better; that's apparently the message.

But Jeremy Lin? This isn't a stated principle of policy, just an overheard anecdote relayed some six months later by an anonymous source, but it's still going to rub some the wrong way. Par for the course, if you'll allow another sporting metaphor, for national politicians that spend their entire careers rubbing nearly half a country the wrong way.

Some won't have as much fun with it. Lin is the ultimate underdog, making the cover of Sports Illustrated twice last winter and turning the NBA on its ear with his daring play and giant-slayer approach as he breathed life into what was previously a disappointing at best and moribund at worst Knick season.

Though Romney has made his political hay with the everyman approach (if, even his supports would concede, not the lifestyle); Lin ticks off all the novelty boxes in a wonderful way. He's an Asian-American Harvard graduate (Obama is a Harvard man, himself) who is a practicing and devout Christian that also happened to be nearly cut from the team while bunking on his teammate's couch. Then he won the Eastern conference's Player of the Week award.

(Woulda won it twice, too, if it hadn't a-been for that rotten LeBron James.)

Again, Obama's not on record. He's not referencing George Gipp in a nationally televised speech or calling himself "the Comeback Kid" after a second-place finish. It's an aide, unnamed, relaying an anecdote. An anecdote that, taken in context, isn't that far off. The President respects Mitt Romney's ascension, and is confident in his ability to stave off every move that he makes on his way toward November. Even the most partisan political follower, whether or not you share Obama's optimism in his abilities to lock Romney up Miami Heat-style, can understand that.

And now, with two months to go in the election, we'll be watching as the President attempts — again, Miami Heat-style — to bring the game in the wake of the showy rhetoric.

Tags: aide, Barack, , , Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, , , , , times,
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Create-a-Caption: ‘J.R. Smith tweeted *what?*’

31 Aug

Hahaha, just kiddin' around, Mr. Commissioner. Everything's all safe and secure on the Information Superhighway. Nothing for you to get all embarrassed or flustered about in front of your new best friend, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, with whom you and other major sports commissioners are working on an expanded "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign. But it's great to know that, like fans of the New York Knicks (and any other team for whom he has played), the mere invocation of J.R. Smith's name can cause your face to do that.

Then again, maybe it's not J.R. that's given David Stern a case of the oh-craps. What do you think it is? Best caption wins a lifetime supply of droll, wry barbs and mean-spirited, kidding-on-the-square things said to Bill Simmons on yearly podcasts. Good luck.

In our last adventure: For the record, Jeremy Lin didn't include the amount of time he spent thinking about getting the lines shaved into the side of his head, because he spent no time thinking about that.

Winner, Shoalb S: Jeremy Lin peeks over at James Dolan's card, which reads:

Hanging with The Straight Shot: 6 hrs

Chatting on Skype with Isiah Thomas: 6 hrs

Destroying the New York Knicks: Always

Runner-up, AdamB: Maybe this is the Rockets' answer to "Book It!" and Jeremy got a personal pan pizza after he was done.

NOTE: Using pizza to incentivize personal improvement is total Moreyball strategy. Once again, ahead of the curve, Houston.

Second runner-up (TIE!), GOAL: Counting and sleeping with my $25 million from Houston — 15.5 hours per day.

Second runner-up (TIE!), Larry B.: The flip side of the card says, "Carmelo Anthony can only take OFFENSE at my $25 million dollar contract because he can't play DEFENSE."

NOTE: Cue the gale-force gust created by all the "oooooooooooooohs" from the studio audience!

Tags: , , , Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Information Superhighway, , J.R. Smith tweeted, , , , Superhighway, ,
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Create-a-Caption: Jeremy Lin isn’t so sure about this game show …

30 Aug

... because while he was asked to fill his card out with how much time he spends on certain activities, one of his fellow contestants is holding a card that just says, "Making whoopie." And that dude over there is screaming "NO WHAMMIES" over and over again.

What kind of game is this again, Jeremy Lin wonders? And what kind of charities are we playing for? The answer, of course: The Human Fund. Always, always The Human Fund.

For the next round, Jeremy Lin, we're going to need you to memorize this sheet music and drop your pants. Remember: It's for charity.

Best caption wins a YouTube channel full of bad and stupid answers given on game shows, because the Internet is magic. Good luck.

In our last adventure: Metta World Peace offers his compliments to the chef. And after saluting Raekwon, he tells the dude on the grill that he's done a good job.

NOTE: *Exceptional* work here, gang. Proud of you.

Winner, Impartialdisturber: "Beat me at thumb wrestling and I'll get up off your kid."

Runner-up (TIE!), Kernst: "Turns out that guy I was talking to was a waiter, man. I guess some of my words sounded like this food."

Runner-up (TIE!), Rastaman: "I don't shake substitutes' hands. And I don't handle substitute shakes."

Second runner-up (TIE!), Russell S.: Good thing Metta changed his name, or else we'd have to start calling him "Ron Artery-Test."

Second runner-up (TIE!), Mookie: The shirt and the fries are French, idiot.

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Tags: answer, , , game show, Human, isn, , Metta, , The Human Fund,
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Jeremy Lin had no effect on MSG stock, now at an all-time high

21 Aug

When the New York Knicks parted ways with Jeremy LIn in July, many critics of the decision focused not just on Lin's potential on-court impact, but what he could mean financially for the franchise and its parent company MSG. They had some evidence for the case, too. Just a few days after Lin agreed to terms with the Houston Rockets, MSG stock fell 8.5 percent in only two weeks. After a 31 percent jump following Linsanity, that dip seemed telling.

It turns out that we were mostly wrong, because on Monday MSG stock hit an all-time high. From Barry Petchesky at Deadspin:

Shares of $MSG closed the day at 39.39, for a market cap of $2.98 billion. That's an all-time high for the stock, squeaking past the previous high at the beginning of NBA free agency, and blowing past the numbers at the height of Linsanity. This means nothing, but so does everything that came before it. [...]

MSG is a strong company, with or without Jeremy Lin, and we're seeing that re-correction. From a three-month low of 34.73 on July 23, shares have climbed steadily, gaining 13.4 percent in just 28 days. Which isn't to say the Knicks aren't a better or more marketable team with Lin than without him, only that his departure wasn't the death blow it was made out to be, and that MSG Inc. is healthier than ever, even Lin-free.

Today's big MSG news, that boosted the price from the opening bell: the New York Liberty's licensing deal with NBA Baller Beats, a sort of dribbling Dance Dance Revolution for Xbox 360. The point being, MSG's house contains many mansions. Madison Square Garden Inc. owns four professional sports teams, a number of TV networks (not all sports), and stadiums and venues around the country, including the Chicago Theater and Los Angeles Forum. Jim Dolan's fortune is not tied to the Knicks' starting point guard.

And that's a good thing for him, because Raymond Felton and/or Jason Kidd probably don't have many good years left. Zing!

It bears noting that, at the time, one writer did accurately analyze the relationship between Lin and MSG stock. At Grantland (also via Deadspin), Jonah Keri noted that, while Lin might have had some effect on the stock price, MSG's long-term viability depended a host of other factors. For that matter, the market's major influencers didn't budge much when the Lin news broke.

The concept to understand here isn't that Lin had no effect on MSG, but that he was not going to have a long-term influence on the stock price. Whatever claims we made about his cash-cow status may have been overblown. At the very least, the adverse effects of Lin's departure appear to have been temporary.

Tags: DANCE, Deadspin, , , Inc, , Madison Square Garden Inc., MSG, , , ,
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Jeremy Lin to host hoops camp in southern China (Yahoo! Sports)

09 Aug
BEIJING (AP) -- NBA star Jeremy Lin says he hopes to boost young players' enthusiasm for basketball at a four-day camp he plans to host this month in southern China.
Tags: , BEIJING, , enthusiasm, , , , NBA star Jeremy Lin, southern China, ,
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