ERIC BLEDSOE OUT INDEFINITELY:
The season of major injuries continued on Thursday, as news broke that guard Bledsoe will be out indefinitely due to expected surgery on his troublesome right knee. Marc Stein of ESPN broke the news:
Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, a top contender for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, is out indefinitely after the team determined he needs a surgical procedure to repair cartilage in his right knee, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the scope and severity of the injury will not be known until Bledsoe is in a surgeon’s care, but he is suspected to have suffered meniscus damage during his Dec. 30 return to Los Angeles to face the Clippers. Bledsoe was selected No. 18 overall in the 2010 draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who immediately traded him to L.A.
Bledsoe has missed the Suns’ past four games with what the team said is a sprained knee.
From an immediate standpoint, the loss of Bledsoe obviously hurts the surging Phoenix Suns and their hopes of being a contending team this season. In the long term, this could end up costing the guard big money depending on the severity of the injury, given that it is his contract year. He has already missed a number of games due to other nagging injuries as well, so his ability to stay healthy could be a factor in what he’s worth in the market.
WOJ DESTROYS J.R. SMITH:
These days, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is mostly recognized as the guy when it comes to breaking major NBA news. Back in the day, though, he would frequently write up columns that would simply rip certain players he may not have been fond of, like this piece on Kevin Garnett. He did once say in an interview that he wishes he could take it back a notch on some of the stories he had written (the Garnett piece was one of them), and he hasn’t gone after players nearly as hard since then.
He did, however, go back to his old roots on this J.R. Smith piece, and it is well worth the read:
Within days of J.R. Smith arriving armed with a historic $3 million contract, Zhejiang of the Chinese Basketball League had come to regret signing the clown prince of basketball. From unreasonable demands on the kind of car needed to curry him around the city, to skipping practices for shopping excursions in neighboring cities, to a relentless pattern of insubordination, Smith’s bad act had never been worse.
Perhaps his greatest excess of idiocy had been a weekend of running a room service bill into the proximity of $3,000, a source with direct knowledge told Yahoo Sports. He kept ordering food, stacking piles of trays upon trays – “just to see if they would keep bringing it to the room,” the source said.
All uneaten, all on the franchise’s tab – all a window into a fool.
This is a different NBA financial climate, where teams are stingier than ever on awarding long-term, guaranteed money to those as combustible and unreliable as Smith. Smith’s exodus is a non-starter and the Knicks know it.
If Smith didn’t have such an inflated opinion of himself, he’d probably know it, too. Everyone understands how this will go now: Smith will tell everyone that he needs to grow up, that’s he’s let down his coach and teammates and fans. The Knicks will start to play him again, and it’s just a matter of time until Smith’s self-destructive act will resurface. Once again, he’ll be ignorant to the score in the final seconds of a game – like the loss he cost the Knicks in Houston – or he’ll get into trouble off the floor. Or probably both.
KEVIN LOVE DISHES OUT AGAINST TEAMMATES:
The Minnesota Timberwolves were expected to be a strong team coming into the season. Hovering around .500 for much of the season, however, tempers appear to be flaring. Some are unhappy with the lack of playing time and others are questioning the team’s defense. Nothing is worse than questioning a person’s judge of character on a team, though, and that’s the path Love took after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Phoenix Suns, from Nate Sandell of 1500ESPN:
“We can’t have two guys sitting at the end of the bench, who play good minutes, just sitting there and not getting up at timeouts,” Love said. “We all need to be in this together. That kind of pisses me off. We’re supposed to be a team.”
“It’s to a point that where those two guys, if and when I did that last year when maybe I didn’t sit out for the game for 48 minutes and so on and so forth, they would have killed me,” Love said. “They would have aired me out. It’s two guys we expect more from them, and I think they expect more from themselves.”
“I’m not trying to single anybody out, and I don’t want to make it bigger than it is. That was a team we needed to beat tonight. Even guys that didn’t play any minutes, we need to have a team on the bench that’s really in it together.”
At the end of the day, it comes down to winning and losing. At this rate, Love will suffer yet another losing season, and you have to wonder if he wants out at some point. It’s a dilemma worth thinking ahead for the Timberwolves, from Ken Berger of CBSSports:
So what do Saunders and the Timberwolves do about Love? Play their hand to conclusion and hope for the best, as Ferry did in Cleveland and Smith did in Orlando? Or get out in front of the problem, like O’Connor did in Utah?
There’s no clear answer, and no guarantees that one strategy will work better than the other. It’s worth noting, of course, that Love shares the same wanderlust for a bigger market that led to Williams’ departure from Utah. He also shares the same agent, New York-based Jeff Schwartz.
“They should trade him,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “No one thinks he’s staying. Everyone knows he wants to go to the Lakers.”
One thing appears to be clear: Love doesn’t necessarily like everyone in his current lockerroom. If Minnesota wants to keep him happy, they may have to air out some more “bad blood” first.
DENNIS RODMAN APOLOGIZES FOR POLITICAL COMMENTS:
”I want to apologize,” Rodman said Thursday. ”I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It’s not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth.”
Rodman said he wanted to apologize first to Bae’s family. ”I’m very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I’m truly sorry.”
In the interview, Rodman was asked whether he would raise the issue of Bae during his visit.
”Kenneth Bae did one thing,” Rodman replied. ”If you understand what Kenneth Bae did – do you understand what he did in this country?”
Asked to explain, Rodman declined to respond.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
J.R. Smith was fined $50,000 by the league for unsportsmanlike behavior after initially receiving a warning. Asked about the warning, Smith explained why he didn’t take it all that seriously, from freelancer Kenny Ducey:
“I figured they’d warn me, but it wasn’t one of those warnings where you’re like ‘Oh, Damn.’” JR continued, “It was one of those warnings where you really don’t know if it was a warning, or what it was.”
OTHER NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE: