SH Blog: Knicks could struggle to trade J.R. Smith; Sixers back off of Thaddeus Young negotiations

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gregodenIt’s been an eventful few days in the NBA.

First, the Warriors got better and the Celtics got worse, which seems like a win-win.

Then Greg Oden played in an NBA game, which makes me pretty dang happy.

SH Blog: Bledsoe needs surgery on right knee and is out indefinitely, Woj destroys J.R. Smith in column

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ERIC BLEDSOE OUT INDEFINITELY:

BledsoeThe 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. 

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Sprung: Mark Jackson leads Golden State’s rise to an elite team

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Mark Jackson

Take it from one of the best emerging young players in the NBA, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, about Mark Jackson’s impact as Golden State’s head coach.

“It’s not a coincidence that as time goes on we’re becoming a better team,” Curry told Sheridan Hoops on Wednesday night. “And that’s in large part due to his approach to the day-to-day and how he manages every single guy in this locker room.”

It’s very rare to see a team and its head coach simultaneously grow together, but that’s exactly what’s happening by the Bay. Despite a 102-98 loss to Brooklyn, Golden State just finished a 6-1 East Coast road trip and have won 10 of 11 and 11 of 13 after a middling, injury-riddled 13-12 start.

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SH Blog: Josh Smith takes offense at being benched; Cheeks says he and Smith are “fine”

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Derrick Rose Bulls sleevesWatching the NBA games on Christmas, my brother turned to me and asked why the teams were all dressed like that. I told him that the NBA does special uniforms on Christmas, and the sleeves are so people can buy them as shirts and the NBA makes more money.

He responded: “okay, but why the big logos?”

I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t. All I can think is they were trying to copy the Warriors’ design.

That got me thinking: are the Warriors’ default (non-sleeved) uniforms the best in the NBA? They’re simple yet unique, not dull and yet not garish, and they’re also deeply rooted in tradition. That’s about as good a look as you’re going to find in sports, in my opinion. The Celtics have a great one as well, as long as they stick to green and white. Whoever decided that uniform needed black letters and numbers should think about a change of profession.

Speaking of uniforms, the return of the Hornets is excellent for two major reasons. One, teal returns to the NBA palette, which a true 90s NBA kid like me appreciates, and two, the Bobcats’ current uninspired design will be retired. While I’d probably take the current one over the old orange ones, this one just screams “cut-rate Mavericks,” and while there are certainly worse designs to rip off, I’ll always prefer some originality in a uniform.

Maybe someday I’ll rank the NBA uniforms. I do probably have enough thoughts on them all. Until then, I’ll stick to giving you the latest news from around the NBA. And I’ve got that right here:

  • CheeksDoes the East have room for one more team with locker room issues? This time it might be the Pistons. David Mayo of mlive.com has more: “Whatever happened in that locker room Saturday night, the Detroit Pistons left here with their first tangible turmoil of the season. Josh Smith didn’t play the second half of a 106-82 blowout against the Washington Wizards, the second time head coach Maurice Cheeks has made that decision this season. This time, Smith suggested Cheeks called him out for not playing hard, and that he took “real offense” to the accusation. Smith also was benched the second half of a Nov. 12 game at Golden State. “Like I told y’all before when we had this conversation, when you hit adverse times, characters are gonna be tested,” Smith said.  ”It’s either that we’re gonna come closer together and make it all one team, or are you gonna use a scapegoat to get away from what’s really at hand?” What’s really at hand is the Pistons (14-18) have lost four of five, bombed in a two-game road trip against sub-.500 teams this weekend, and now have their first hint of internal upheaval. How long it lasts remains to be seen.”
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  • Finally, here’s Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press with another take on this story: “Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith said his second-half benching Saturday night in a blowout loss at the Washington Wizards was “unfair.” Coach Maurice Cheeks said today that Smith is “entitled to his opinion.” But it appears the two men will agree to disagree and move on. “Y’all the only one who got a problem with it,” Cheeks said. “Me and Josh are fine. Josh and I are fine.” Cheeks made the unusual move of conducting a practice following games on consecutive nights and considering the Pistons are coming off two losses by an average of 20.5 points per game, Smith endorsed the move. So it was all calm at the Pistons’ practice facility the day after the lack of second-half activity from Smith on Saturday night. But his decision to bench Josh Smith for the third time this season and Smith’s subsequent reaction will test that rep.”
  • Andrew_Bynum_CavsThe Cavs dumped Andrew Bynum to protect their locker room culture, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Here’s a snippet of Lloyd’s excellent piece on the subject: “While Byron Scott was coach of the Cavaliers, various figures within the organization didn’t think he did a good enough job of holding players accountable. When the team looked terrible in a late-season loss at Philadelphia, Scott yanked all of his starters except Kyrie Irving. That was a defining moment that infuriated the upper levels of the organization, which believed it sent the wrong message to Irving and ultimately the rest of the team. Scott was fired the day after the season ended and Brown was rehired, in large part with the belief he would do a better job of holding all players accountable to the same standard. Brown has ripped Irving on the bench during games, he has been harder on him privately than Scott was, according to team sources, and he has indeed set a standard the players are expected to meet. That brings us to Saturday’s suspension of Bynum. Something happened during practice Friday, which one source referred to as the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but wouldn’t divulge what exactly happened because it was simply a continuation of a behavioral pattern that had been ongoing for weeks. Had it been an isolated incident, no one would’ve said or done anything.”
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  • Chris_Bosh_cropConsidering the Heat have made a big deal out of how little the regular season means to them, they’ve sure had a lot of great games this season. Last night against the Blazers was one of the best. Here’s Sam Amick of USA Today on how it all went down: “Did you see LeBron James celebrating on the Moda Center floor after the Heat downed the Portland Trailblazers 108-107 without him on Saturday night? Replay that video for a studio audience that somehow missed the 2013 NBA Finals and you’d have them convinced the Heat had just won it all. James, whose strained right groin forced him to sit out for the first time this season, was the first to greet Chris Bosh at midcourt after his rainbow three-pointer from well beyond the arc fell through with 0.5 seconds left and the Blazers couldn’t counter. He put his beige sportcoat on Bosh’s shoulders because he was the Heat’s Superman for the night, the underappreciated big man who had vetoed his own coach’s final play call in such a healthy, fascinating way that it spoke volumes about who the Heat are and who they still want to become. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had already drawn up his play, the one where Bosh would do his best Karl Malone impression down low and force overtime against this fully-healthy Blazers team that entered tied with the Pacers for the best record in the league. But Bosh was a big enough man to admit that wasn’t the way to go, that the Blazers had stopped him in similar instances earlier in the game and that swinging for the fences was the way to go. “I just told him, ‘I’m going for the jugular,’” Bosh recounted.”
  • On the subject of the Heat, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman isn’t too sure the Heat need to add Andrew Bynum: “First, let’s not get too greedy, with too much of a big-men rehabilitation project. Beyond that, it certainly would raise questions about the Heat’s commitment to Oden if they were also to bring in Bynum. While it certainly is within the realm, as speculated, that Bynum would want to play for the Heat if released (who wouldn’t?), and while the Heat are known for taken chances on reclamation projects, you have to wonder about the elements that made things sour in Cleveland. While the spirit in the Heat locker room is robust, I’m just not sure that, amid the reclamation of Michael Beasley and Oden, you want to take on another project. Of course, doubt Pat Riley and his home for wayward big men at your own risk.”
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  • CJ McCollum BRH_Card1_0001CJ McCollum, the #10 pick in this summer’s draft, is getting closer to seeing the court, writes Michael LoRe of the Lehigh Valley Express-Times: “McCollum, who missed the final 18 games of his senior season at Lehigh with a similar injury and subsequent surgery, was cleared for 5-on-5 play and participated in his first full practice on Dec. 20. “I was really excited when I was cleared to practice and get back out there with the team, go through sets with them, guard guys and get away from drills and the rehab phase of recovering from the injury,” McCollum said. “I’m definitely looking forward to actually playing in a game, but I’m taking advantage of every practice every day. They have a schedule in place for me and we’re progressing close to that date in mind. We haven’t put an exact date on it yet.” McCollum said despite being sidelined from actually playing in a game and fully practicing, he rarely sat around. “I use the term ‘sitting around’ very loosely,” he said. “I was definitely working hard, working on my body, off-the-court stuff, lifting and how a game plan unfolds before the team plays in a game.”"
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Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

SH Blog: Dragic says Hornacek is “a great coach”; Horford unlikely to return for playoffs

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Bynum The Andrew Bynum news is dominating the NBA today.

Of course, this big news would break on a day I spent a good portion of in the car, driving from my grandparents’ place in New York to my parents’ house in Baltimore.

So if you, like me, are still playing catch-up, here’s the basics: The Cavs suspended Bynum indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team” and it looks like he’s played his last game for Cleveland. There’s murmurs that Bynum just flat out doesn’t want to play basketball, but that’s not entirely deterring teams from showing interest in the former All-Star, who has shown flashes of that dominating form he had with the Lakers.