NBA Rumors: Breaking Down the Most Notable Buzz of the Season
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Now that the new NBA season is well underway, some teams' and players' agendas are beginning to shine through more clearly.
Rotations are coming into focus. Injuries are mucking up the works for a handful of teams. Veteran free agents who didn't receive calls during training camp are watching their phones more astutely.
Things can change in this league at the drop of a hat as we saw with the James Harden trade on the eve of the season. And while there doesn't seem to be anything nearly of that magnitude cooking, teams are always angling to make themselves better, or at least healthier financially.
So with that, let's look at some of the league's latest rumblings and happenings.
Reinforcements Coming to Indiana?
Pietrus would soften the blow of Granger's injury for Indiana.
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News of Indiana small forward Danny Granger's knee injury took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when it was revealed that his lingering soreness required an injection that will keep him sidelined for three months (via espn.com)
The Pacers, who led eventual champion Miami 2-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinals series last season before bowing to the Heat, were considered a potential Finals contender coming into the season. But without their top scorer and best player, they suddenly look like a fringe playoff team at best.
David West, Paul George and George Hill are all capable offensive players who will certainly make up for at least a portion of Granger's 18-20 points per night. But Indiana will be well-served to look for some reinforcements and apparently they've begun that process.
According to Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star, the Pacers have reached out to veteran swingman Mickael Pietrus, most recently of the Celtics. Pietrus is nowhere near the player Granger is, but the Pacers need depth and experience in Granger's absence and Pietrus provides both in spades.
There's a market for Pietrus beyond Indiana, however. His agent, Bill McCandless, told RealGM.com that he's in discussions with "a few other teams." The same report also links former Mavericks, Jazz and Wizards small forward Josh Howard to the Pacers.
Ultimately, younger players like George and Lance Stephenson will have to step up for Indiana while Granger is out. But bringing in a player with Pietrus' skill set, particularly on defense, should soften the blow at least somewhat.
Varejao Down for Cavs
Varejao was looking terrific for Cleveland until his latest setback.
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For a young team struggling to find its identity, taking 14 points and 15 rebounds per game out of the lineup is a massive blow.
Yet that's the situation the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in with word that center Anderson Varejao, who missed Wednesday night's game at Golden State, will likely miss more time thanks to a sore knee.
His return date is currently uncertain.
As well as Varejao has played in his four games thus far this season, he is proving to be as unreliable as he is talented. He missed 92 games due to injuries over the previous two years combined, so his absence from the Cavs lineup is hardly surprising.
What makes matters worse for the Cavs is that his primary backup, rookie Tyler Zeller, is now out as well, having suffered a concussion and a broken cheekbone after being on the wrong end of a DeAndre Jordan elbow in Monday night's road win over the Clippers.
Cleveland's backcourt, featuring second-year man Kyrie Irving and rookie Dion Waiters, has gained a lot of publicity over the Cavs' first few games. But if Varajeo and Zeller are out for a long stretch, the two young guards will have a lot more pressure put on them than before.
Brown on the Hot Seat?
Brown and Kobe may not be seeing eye to eye.
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Naturally, everyone is blaming coach Mike Brown, who would probably get placed in the back row of a team photo even if he coached a team to a title, given what he's been through in his head coaching career.
And so Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss gave Brown the dreaded vote of confidence (via espn.com) on Thursday, which means that even though he publicly supports his coach today, the embattled Brown will probably be out of a job before Christmas.
Whether Brown is to blame for the Lakers' slow start or not, the odds are stacked against him. The acquisitions of Howard and Nash over the summer placed even more pressure on a franchise for which any season that finishes without an NBA title is a disappointing one.
Never mind that there's not really any depth on the roster, or that it takes new guys more than just a month of training camp to learn to play together properly. Brown would probably be on the hot seat even if the Lakers were unbeaten.
The Lakers have 77 games left in their season. Even if they start winning, don't expect to see Brown around for all of them.
Bogut Still Hurting
Bogut will get more time to show off his wardrobe.
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If you find the sun rising in the east every day surprising, you were probably shocked to learn that Bogut, for whom the Warriors traded star guard Monta Ellis last season, is already having trouble coming back from the ankle surgery he had last spring.
It was reported on Thursday that Bogut, who has been restricted to 15-20 minutes per game by his doctors as he continues to come back from that surgery, will be shut down for 7-10 days in order to strengthen the troublesome ankle.
Bogut had told Sam Amick of USA Today last week that the 20-minute limit was wearing on him and that he was frustrated. Those sentiments made Thursday's announcement that much less of a surprise.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson went to great lengths to refute the notion that Bogut's impending absence would be the result of a setback. "It's about staying true to the process," Jackson said.
Of course, that's what Jackson would say. The most logical follow up question may have been something along the lines of, "why has he been playing at all if he's not yet ready to fully contribute?"
The bottom line is that Bogut has appeared in just 16 of his teams' last 70 games, and hasn't played 70 games in a season since 2007-2008.
The Warriors were right to look to trade a guard like Ellis for a legit big man. They just may have picked the wrong one.