In case you haven't heard, another 'Big Three' are in the headlines. Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are all suffering from one injury or another and the San Antonio Spurs have no timeline for their return. Talk about bad timing. Or is it? Each player has legitimate injuries which need healing and time off. On the flipside, if they took a little extra time before the playoffs to rest, it wouldn't be the first time a team rested its top players. Look at LeBron in his last year with Cleveland: this move didn't work in their favour but Cleveland was also not in the spot that San Antonio is now. The Spurs are also without Antonio McDyess (sore back). A whack of injuries all at once comes as a surprise since there are 9 games left in the season and the Spurs have been relatively injury free up until this point. Even Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich admits in the case of McDyess, his extended rest may have something to do with the playoffs on the horizon. San Antonio's next game is Thursday against Boston. Coach Popovich thinks maybe Tony Parker and his left knee contusion could heal and make the line-up by then. However, he doesn't know when Ginobili and his left quad contusion will return or Tim Duncan and his sprained ankle for that matter. Maybe this is all a part of their strategy - to make their opponents think they are fallible and create the false confidence the Spurs are going to wobble into the playoffs. Fat chance. If I were Coach Popovich, I would be milking the time off for my starters and giving them the time to rest. Having the best record in the league right now gives you that luxury.
Someone who will not be living 'La Vida Luxury' in Cleveland Tuesday night is LeBron James. Let's talk about the second homecoming of the Miami Heat, Julian Wright and his misguidance and the Sacramento Kings in what could be their final days.
Wright not so Right
If you were an OK player making decent money playing professional basketball on a losing team, would you make the colossal mistake of refusing to play or would you fight for your right to be there? I would take the latter but Julian Wright of the Toronto Raptors didn't. He really is a good guy which is why this news came as a shock to me. In the Raptors' 138-100 loss to Golden State last Friday, Julian Wright is listed as "DNP [Did Not Play] - Coach's decision". Do we really believe Jay Triano woke up Friday morning and said, "Hmmm. Not feelin' JW today - he's a scratch". This is what I don't get. Julian Wright is making close to $3 million right now with one year left in his contract. I can see how anyone would not want to play against the Warriors and get pumped by almost forty points. Maybe the Raptors dealing a fair share of "DNPs" to Wright is their way of suspending him or 'dealing with it internally' as they put it, but it still doesn't sit right with me. Maybe they are giving him a chance because he is a good guy, knowing if they set him free now they would not realistically get anything to help him or the Raptors? All I know is, if this happened in the world outside professional sports, it would get you fired. End of Story.
"No Place Like Home" - LeBron James
This is what popped up on my Facebook news feed as soon as I checked it this morning. Knowing he is returning to Cleveland Tuesday night, I checked out some of the comments following. Most contained expletives either for or against. I will not dignify or legitimize them by a re-post here. However this one stood out for me as the one intelligent argument out of the over 900 posted: "Cleveland fans, you knew he was a free agent at the end of the season, you knew he could well move somewhere else. He did, did that honestly surprise you? He hadn't won a championship in Cleveland and he went where he thought he would have the best chance of winning. Get over it now, someone else will come along eventually". Someone else will come along eventually? Maybe. Are they getting over it? Yes and no. Cleveland Head Coach Byron Scott doesn't think the hype will be at the level it was last time but he understands the anger still exists and says both the fans and the team remember what happened last time they met Miami. The team has changed, too remember. Familiar faces for LeBron like Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao are both out for the remainder of the season due to injury. Plus, the Cavs traded Mo Williams, Jamario Moon and released Leon Powe since LeBron was last in town. Daniel Gibson, J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker are the three remaining healthy players who actually played with LeBron. It seems like the fans and the team are moving on but clearly the goal for the team and Cavs fans alike remains the same: beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Sacramento Kings saying goodbye?
It is not yet a done deal but it looks like after 26 years of being in Sacramento, the Kings may be on the move. Sacramento Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson describes the franchise's possible move to Anaheim as a slow and painful death. He met with Kings' owners Joe and Gavin Maloof last month and feels the team is on the move after this season. This is where things get a little weird for me. So after years of not getting public money to build a new arena, Kings owners began talking to Anaheim officials to see what their options were. Yet Mayor Johnson maintains that his city needs to focus on building a new arena with or without the Kings. This raises some major red flags if I was an NBA fan and voter living in Sacramento. If Kevin Johnson is the Mayor of Sacramento and he believes his city's true destiny is to be a professional sports town and the only thing standing in their way is a new arena, why couldn't someone with his obvious background make it happen? The crux of the issue surrounds public funding of a new arena. Joe and Gavin Maloof want it and Mayor Johnson wants to kinda-sorta-maybe give it. If the voters don't want public money used for the arena and this has been on the table for years, how does Mayor Johnson make his dreams of being the leader of a professional sports city or even keep his job for that matter?
Now, Kings owner Joe Maloof is making his first public comments about his franchise's possible move to Anaheim. According to a letter written by a city official to Anaheim's City Manager, the move could ruin Sacramento financially if the Kings default on a $73 million dollar (US funds) loan from the city. To put more salt on the wound, the letter also asks Anaheim to stop negotiations with the Kings. Clearly this did not sit well with Joe Maloof who told the Orange County Register he wishes Sacramento and Mayor Kevin Johnson would stay out of his business, saying the team has never missed a payment and is in good standing. In any case, Sacramento's season finale is April 13th at home against the Lakers - a game that could be its last in Sacramento. (Deep breath).
Thanks for joining me again today. Keep your comments and suggestions coming by following me on Twitter (@ddegraauw) and on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw). Remember to join me here on Thursday when we will be discussing our NBA Rookie of the Year picks. See you then and have a great week.