- There is reason for concern regarding Steve Nash in Los Angeles: “With the regular season set to tip off in less than a week, some of Nash’s teammates are starting to wonder when, or even if, they’ll have the full services of the surefire Hall of Famer in their lineup this season. Coach Mike D’Antoni brought it up first after the team’s exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas, suggesting that Nash would be in and out of the lineup all season. Pau Gasol followed this week, saying he was “concerned” about Nash after the point guard played only 15 minutes in the Lakers’ win over the Utah Jazz, sitting out the second half because of a neck injury.
“Steve hasn’t been able to complete a practice yet, so that’s the bigger issue,” Gasol said of Nash, who is averaging just 3.5 points and 3.5 assists in 16.7 minutes per game in the preseason, sitting out one of the exhibition games altogether. “I’m a little bit concerned because I want him to be healthy, I want him to play. I want him to play and I want him to do well. I want him to help us. I hope that he can.”
- The road to winning the Northwest division still goes through Oklahoma City: “They will be without Russell Westbrook to start the season and that could matter — the difference between the one seed and the five seed in the West last season was four games. Every loss early in the season haunts them. Still, they should be fine as that Kevin Durant guy is pretty good. Kay Adams and I also discuss who will step up in Portland (if anyone), is Minnesota a playoff team (yes), how big a step back the Nuggets are going to take, and if the Jazz are going all in on the Wiggins race. We could see three payoff teams out of this division.”
- LeBron doesn’t believe he has a rival in the NBA: “Of course, anyone who watched the Heat’s first preseason game against the Nets will know that Pierce doesn’t exactly view the rivalry between he and James in the same historical light. Pierce body checked James in the open court in the first quarter of the first preseason game between the Heat and Nets after James publicly suggested Pierce and Kevin Garnett were hypocrites. Pierce and Garnett criticized Ray Allen for leaving Boston only to leave Boston one year later, and James called them out on it. Allen left as a free agent while Garnett and Pierce were traded, but Garnett did waive a no-trade clause. The Heat’s second preseason game against the Nets is tonight, but Pierce probably won’t have a chance to take another questionable shot against the back-to-back MVP. James indicated on Wednesday night that he’s not playing. The Heat begins the season on Tuesday against the Bulls. So, who is James’ chief rival in the NBA at the moment? He isn’t viewing his career from that perspective anymore. There isn’t another player at the moment on the same level as James, and he knows it. It’s James and everyone else until further notice.”
“It’s not just one guy,” James said. “I haven’t played against one individual for a long period of time — since basically it was me and Paul. Me and Paul, we had so many duels and almost every year we were going against Boston whether I was in Cleveland the last few years or Miami … So, I don’t know if there is one particular guy. There are some teams I believe are very competitive in both conferences, but it’s not just one guy.”
- A hard start to his NBA career just got a little more difficult, as Royce White has been released by the 76ers: “The Philadelphia 76ers have released Royce White three months after acquiring him from theHouston Rockets in a trade, according to several reports. White, a first-round pick at 16th overall in 2012 who never played for the Rockets, averaged 5.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in five preseason games with one start for the 76ers. The 76ers sent Furkan Aldemir and future draft considerations to the Rockets in the deal. Philadelphia also cut Khalif Wyatt, Vander Blue and Mac Koshwal on Thursday. The 6-foot-8 White was on the inactive list for the Rockets as he worked on an arrangement to balance his acknowledged anxiety disorder with the demands of the NBA schedule, often criticizing the team in media interviews and via Twitter. The Rockets suspended White on Jan. 6 after he refused to accept an assignment to Rio Grande Valley in the NBDL.”
- Drafting this season? Let SheridanHoops help you out: “Fantasy advice is impossible to provide without context. The “standard” Roto or Head-to-Head league is 156 players deep. At Rotoworld, Steve Alexander has a summary of the first 210 players selected in a 12-round, 30-team draft. I play in one 280-deep league and another that begins with 320 players owned. Depending on the settings, you may be concerned only with those top 156 players, or even fewer. Making a draft list in that scenario is more like splitting hairs, as every roster spot will provide value. There will always be decent free agents to consider. The deeper the league, the greater the challenge, both at the draft — getting some production from late-round picks — and during the season, where the FA pool will be extremely shallow.”
Ben Baroff is a basketball journalist who blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter here.