Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz | Comments
- John Canzano, The Oregonian: “Consider that the Blazers did not extend [Greg] Oden’s contract. He became the first No. 1 overall NBA pick since Kwame Brown to not receive that extension. As a result, the Blazers have the period from the day after the last game of this year’s NBA Finals to June 30 to make a one-year qualifying offer of $8.8 million to Oden. If the Blazers make this offer, Oden becomes a restricted free agent this summer. He may field offers from other NBA teams, but the Blazers would have the right to match any offer and keep him. If the Blazers don’t make a qualifying offer before June 30, Oden would simply become an unrestricted free agent. He’s free to leave. And that’s that. The Blazers maintain that they’ll probably make that qualifying offer, as long as Oden’s rehabilitation is progressing — as they say it is. And they’d be wise to do so. But further, they’d be wise to attempt to turn the one-year deal into a multiyear contract, tacking on two or three seasons to Oden’s deal. Yes — keep Oden. Don’t build the future around him, but view him as a start-up project that might just develop someday. The Blazers have invested too much to give up totally on him. I fear Oden’s not as happy in Portland as he’ll publicly say. That a one-year deal in a potentially locked out NBA season would be a waste. And the last thing this franchise can withstand is having Oden get healthy, come back in 2011-12 and end up in, say, a Bulls uniform, winning titles in the most productive years of his career. Not talking about operating from a position of fear and fret here. Just pointing out that the shrewd business move isn’t to cut bait on a guy who hasn’t paid off on the Blazers’ initial investment but still has value on the open market.
- Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times-Picayune: The New Orleans Hornets gutted out a 121-117 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, but in the process may have lost power forward David West for an extended period of time with a left knee injury. West sustained what is being termed as “left knee trauma” on a driving slam dunk with 22.5 seconds to go in regulation. X-rays were negative, but an MRI – a much more revealing diagnostic procedure – is scheduled for today in Phoenix, where the Hornets play the Suns tonight. West was laid out on a training table in the dressing room in obvious pain, his knee encased in ice and his face covered by a towel. A large immobilizing splint and a pair of crutches were brought into the locker room. West stayed on the table for more than 30 minutes was the room was opened to the media, then managed, with the aid of the crutches, to get to the shower. He put no weight on the leg at all. As he was dressing, West said through a team spokesman he was in too much pain to speak to a reporter. “We’re all praying it’s not as bad as it looks,” said one Hornets player in the subdued dressing room.
- Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Abdul-Jabbar became the special assistant coach in charge of mentoring Bynum when the Lakers drafted a gangly 17-year-old kid in 2005. “I’ve been waiting for him to do just what he’s been doing,” Abdul-Jabbar said Thursday. “I watched the San Antonio game and it seemed to me at that point he had it figured out, how to help this team. When he plays like that, all over the boards and blocking shots and changing shots, it makes it very easy for this team to win.” Abdul-Jabbar stepped back from his Lakers coaching duties in November 2009 when he was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that produces cancerous blood cells. He used to consult with Bynum at home games and practices, sometimes going to Bynum’s home for extra video study and discussions about basketball history. Now it’s easy to sense the feeling of pride from the player who scored 38,387 career points. “He changes the game,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “When the other team can’t get easy shots around the basket, or second shots, that’s a negative for them. And when he’s getting our team second shots with offensive rebounds, that’s a positive for us.
- Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman: Kendrick Perkins stood all alone as the last player remaining inside the Thunder’s locker room following Wednesday night’s win against Utah. After answering a steady stream of questions by two lingering reporters, Perkins was free to go home. Free to rest his bones after battling Jazz bruiser Al Jefferson for the better part of 26 minutes. But, as he pushed in his black swivel-style chair, Perkins voluntarily offered up one last bit of insight just before calling it a night. “Thabo is my new fav-o-rite de-fen-der,” Perkins announced, elongating each syllable in his South Texas twang for maximum effect. Five games are all it took for Perkins to realize what suffocating defense Thabo Sefolosha is capable of. “You tend to take guys like Thabo for granted until you’re out there on the court,” Perkins said.
- Jody Genessey, Deseret News: While speaking for the first time since it was announced his basketball year is over, Mehmet Okur jokingly told reporters he finally has a concrete timetable regarding his injury. “Out for the season.” Despite scrapping this injury-plagued year — one in which he was hampered by his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, a sprained ankle and nagging lower back problems — the 6-foot-11 center has no plans on calling it quits for good. is real timetable for return: Day 1 of the 2011-12 season (knock on wood for multiple reasons). Between now and then, however, Okur has quite a bit of rehab work to do to strengthen his ailing Achilles and his sore back. “The smart thing,” Okur said, “was just to shut me down and get rehab and get ready to go next year. … I should be OK. I’m not that old. I’m just 32. It’s going to be a huge summer for me. Obviously, I’m going to keep getting rehab, especially start with my left leg and make it stronger, then my back. I can’t wait.”
- Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: One way or another, Rockets forward Luis Scola plans to play next season. Scola, 30, said his knee injury, the first of his NBA career, has not made him reconsider his plans to play overseas next season if there is an NBA lockout. Scola would have to be able to get out of his contract at the end of the work stoppage to fulfill his contract with the Rockets, limiting some of his options. The risk of forfeiting his contract should he be injured will not be a factor. “You can cross the street and get hit by a truck,” Scola said. “You’ll still cross the street.”
- Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston.com: Boston Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal received a cortisone shot in his ailing right foot Tuesday and was placed back in an immobilizing boot, sources told ESPN Boston. The objective with the boot is to eliminate the return of swelling after his Achilles injury flared up again recently while he was trying to work his way back to game action, according to the sources. The Celtics remain optimistic that O’Neal, who has been sidelined with the injury since Feb. 1, could return next week. O’Neal traveled with the team on a recently completed three-game road trip with the goal of participating in walk-through activities as he ramped up toward game action. But the foot that has been prone to flare-ups did so again, forcing the team to aggressively attack with the injection. A source told ESPN Boston on Wednesday that O’Neal would hopefully be back on the floor by April 1, allowing him two weeks before the end of the regular season to shake off rust and get acclimated with his teammates again.