NBA Training Camp Primer: Rounding Up the Hottest Buzz from Week 3
Just when you thought the Minnesota Timberwolves were turning the corner, they come into what reasoned to be their most promising season in years with a hand tied behind their back.
Make that two hands.
Kevin Love's broken hand will put a damper on the club's training camp, and it could jeopardize its postseason hopes as well. Though he'll only miss a couple of months at the most, he'll do so concurrently with Ricky Rubio's recovery from knee surgery.
Some teams seem to have all the luck—just not the Timberwolves.
It wasn't all bad news for the rest of the league's training camps, though. We're keeping track of the biggest news emerging from preseason preparations around the league, and here's a rundown of the very latest.
Kevin Love to Be Sidelined at Least Six Weeks
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
The Minnesota Timberwolves could ill afford a significant injury with Ricky Rubio still recovering from knee surgery, but their chances of making the postseason just took another hit.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the team's best player could be out of commission for six to eight weeks:
Love sustained the injury on Wednesday while working out, not in a T'wolves practice session, sources said. He is expected to be sidelined up to eight weeks. Minnesota's first game is Nov. 2.
It goes without saying that the club will struggle mightily early on now that it's missing its best scorer and rebounder (Love) along with its best playmaker (Rubio). Beyond the difficulty the T'Wolves will have scoring points, they will also be integrating two new yet important pieces in Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko.
How much the team gets out of those two could very well determine the extent to which Rick Adelman's squad stays afloat through November and December.
Leandro Barbosa a Celtic
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
The Boston Celtics already had one of the league's deepest backcourt rotations, but it just got a little deeper.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the team is adding arguably the best all-around free agent left on the market:
Free agent guard Leandro Barbosa has reached agreement on a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics, league sources tell Yahoo! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 17, 2012
Despite what now seems to be a logjam of combo-guards in Boston's rotation, bear in mind that Avery Bradley could be sidelined until some point in December—though he believes he could be ready to go sooner.
Barbosa reasons to join Jason Terry on the bench, giving head coach Doc Rivers a tandem of shoot-first ball handlers capable of pulling up off the dribble from almost anywhere.
The 29-year-old split time between the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers last season, averaging 12.2 points for the former and 8.9 for the latter.
He may have a more compartmentalized role in Boston—especially once Bradley returns—but he figures to be one of the most effective, sparingly used insurance policies in the league.
C.J. Miles to Start for Cleveland?
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Cleveland Cavaliers came into the offseason with some big questions at the small-forward spot—questions rivaled only by the uncertainties at shooting guard. Drafting Dion Waiters met one of those needs, but the other remained unresolved.
The club acquired small forward Omri Casspi in exchange for J.J. Hickson in 2011, but he's struggled to replicate the efficiency he demonstrated as a rookie.
In addition to re-signing Alonzo Gee this summer, the Cavs also brought in C.J. Miles, and the News-Herald's Bob Finnan reports that Miles now has the edge for the starting job:
Free-agent acquisition C.J. Miles, a slick-shooting swingman, appears to have locked up a starting job at small forward or shooting guard. If Miles starts at small forward, as expected, that would leave Gee in a backup role. That might not leave a lot of minutes for Casspi.
Though "slick-shooting" is a charitable designation for a guy who shot the ball at a 38 percent clip last season, Miles certainly qualifies as a capable slasher and a more mobile defender than Casspi.
The Cavs' 3-spot could remain something of an open issue throughout the season given the lack of a clear starter, but it sounds like it may be settled for the moment.
Just How Bad Is J.R. Smith's Achilles?
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Ronnie Brewer is coming along nicely as he recovers from knee surgery, but the New York Knicks may now have another threat to their depth at shooting guard.
The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that J.R. Smith is dealing with an injury of his own:
While starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer made his practice debut as a Knick yesterday, J.R. Smith sat out and wore a boot on his left foot. Smith sat out Saturday’s exhibition game in Hartford with what the Knicks called a sore ankle, but Smith told The Post it is his Achilles.
Smith had returned to practice Tuesday, but Woodson said he needs more rest. Brewer, meanwhile, was held out of scrimmage but will today and could play on the road trip.
Though Smith had hoped for a starting gig, head coach Mike Woodson envisions him as the team's sixth man—and for good reason. Smith's shoot-first proclivity makes him a perfect energizer for the second unit and a potentially dangerous fit alongside scorers like Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Now, Smith and the Knicks alike are reminded what a luxury it is to have those kinds of problems.
With Iman Shumpert still out for another couple of months at the very least, New York is in no position to lose another 2-guard.
Andrew Bogut Status Still Uncertain
Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Though the Golden State Warriors would love to see Andrew Bogut return in time to join Stephen Curry for the season opener, the Contra Costa Times' Marcus Thompson II reports that there's really no telling whether he'll be available as of now:
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said starting center Andrew Bogut is a ways away from playing a preseason game, which raises questions about his status for the regular-season opener.
On Monday when the Warriors travel to Los Angeles for a preseason game against Clippers, Bogut will visit Dr. Richard Ferkel. He is going to have his surgically-repaired left ankle checked out, though the Warriors are saying it is a cautionary measure.
Thompson goes on to suggest that rookie center Festus Ezeli has made the most of his audition with the team and can fill in for the meantime.
That won't reassure fans with their eyes on a return to the postseason, but the good news is that there haven't been any setbacks in Bogut's recovery from ankle surgery.
So long as he's in the lineup over the course of the long haul, the Warriors will still rank as one of the league's most improved rosters and stand a decent chance of grabbing the seventh or eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Bogut's rebounding and defensive ability will be his most important contributions, but the team will appreciate his experience as well. With second-year guard Klay Thompson starting and rookie Harrison Barnes logging significant minutes at small forward, having another veteran in the rotation won't hurt.
Andrea Bargnani Injures Calf
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
This one might sound a little too familiar for Toronto Raptors fans. The team reported via Twitter that Andrea Bargnani got knocked out of commission by a bruised calf:
@andreabargnani will not return - left calf contusion.— RaptorsPR (@RaptorsPR) October 18, 2012
Rotoworld notes that the seven-foot shooter missed 35 games last season in large part due to injury to that same calf, but that the current predicament appears to be unrelated.
Until we hear otherwise, there's no reason to believe this is anything more than a very minor setback, and that's absolutely vital for the Raptors.
Even after a summer highlighted by several key additions (acquiring point guard Kyle Lowry, signing swingman Landry Fields and drafting shooting guard Terrence Ross), Bargnani remains one of the club's best scorers.
Alongside Ed Davis, Amir Johnson and rookie Jonas Valanciunas, the 26-year-old is also an integral part of an interior rotation that still has much to prove.
Lamar Odom Not in the Best of Shape
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
After a season in which Lamar Odom's mind wasn't quite right, it appears that his body is now following suit.
The Orange County Register's Dan Woike reports that the power forward isn't yet in what one might describe as "game shape":
Lamar Odom has readily admitted to not being in the best basketball shape upon arriving in Clippers' camp. Before Wednesday's game, Del Negro said that he was disappointed in the veteran's conditioning.
"There's no question I've talked to him about it," Del Negro said. "I have confidence in him, and he's a veteran guy."
It's good that Del Negro is so confident, but you'll have to forgive the rest of us if we're not sold. Ever the optimists, Clippers fans have welcomed Odom's return to the franchise amidst a summer that also saw Los Angeles add Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf, Willie Green and Matt Barnes.
Most of those veterans are sure things, but Odom is coming off a career-worst shooting season in which the biggest question mark was his motivation.
Given that the Clippers parted ways with a productive Mo Williams in order to land Odom, you'd think he'd come into camp ready to alleviate any potential for buyer's remorse.
Instead, he appears to have laid the groundwork for what promises to be an entirely predictable and marginally entertaining reality TV subplot.
Some things never change.
Ray Allen Looking Good
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
The Miami Herald's Joseph Goodman reports that Ray Allen is "in the best shape among his teammates" and poised to make some key contributions for the Miami Heat as a sharp-shooting sixth man.
Though those contributions aren't in doubt, LeBron James might have something to say about that first bit.
Of course, Allen's conditioning has never really been in question, nor his ability to score. The real variable here is the extent to which the 37-year-old can remain healthy—especially when it counts.
The Heat should understand that as well as any team after watching Allen struggle with ankle problems in the 2011-12 playoffs while playing for the Boston Celtics.
While there's no reason to believe history will repeat itself in Miami, health is of far greater concern than Allen's ability or endurance at this point.
Knicks Won't Be Stuck with Rasheed Wallace Until January
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
In case you were at all worried that Rasheed Wallace wouldn't be the best fit for a New York Knicks locker room already overflowing with veteran experience, rest assured that the club will have some flexibility over the next couple of months.
The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that the team won't be stuck with Wallace until his contract becomes fully guaranteed:
Coach Mike Woodson has time to decide if out-of-shape Rasheed Wallace can help the Knicks before owner James Dolan is on the hook for the entire $1.3 million veteran’s minimum.
According to a person familiar with the situation, Wallace’s contract won’t be guaranteed in full until Jan. 5. Wallace signed a traditional non-guaranteed, make-good pact that has no addendums, The Post has learned.
Chances are that's a good thing for both sides.
Wallace is coming out of retirement, and there's no doubt that his feelings about the return may change as he attempts to carve out a niche in New York's rotation.
Whether he's a fit on and off the court remains to be seen, but there's certainly the possibility that he brings some solid interior defense and perimeter shooting to the team's bench.
Whatever happens, Wallace represents a relatively modest investment for the organization. So long as things don't backfire entirely, the Knicks should be happy to wait things out and see how Wallace performs.