Deng, D-Wade, Understand Derrick Rose’s Plight, and the Price Paid for Playing

There’s never been cause to question Luol Deng‘s toughness. Sure, some have done so, such as when his absence during the 2013 postseason was incorrectly attributed to the flu, rather than serious complications from a spinal tap. But after twice leading the NBA in minutes per game, and proving that he’ll play with everything from a torn wrist ligament to a fractured thumb, he should be immune at this stage from any questioning of his dedication and determination. 

And he believes Derrick Rose should be, too. 

“The thing with Derrick is, I was there from his rookie year, I’ve watched him growing up,” the current Miami Heat forward told Bleacher Report. “When he first came to the league, me and Joakim [Noah] would always tell him, ‘Derrick, you can’t play tonight. You’re hurt.’ And he always wants to put the team behind him and the city behind him. And even when he was hurt, he would play. And I really believe that some of his injuries were because he would play hurt. We would tell him not to. And he was so determined and wanted to be the best he could be, not only for the team, [but] for the city. And we kept trying to tell him to understand, like, ‘Look, there’s a difference between pain and injury.’ And I think now after two injuries, he’s being smart.”

Of course, that’s not how some see it. 

Rose has come under intense criticism from fans, former players and—to a lesser degreemedia, for what he said last Tuesday after his approach to his most recent injuries. At that point, Rose had missed four of five games due to two sprained ankles and, after returning for two games, missed Saturday’s loss to Indiana due to a mild hamstring strain. 

Those comments, which you’ve likely heard or seen by now:

“I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long-term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to. I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.”

 

That sounds a lot like what Deng and Noah tried to teach him. But it sounded to some as if Rose had misplaced priorities, especially in light of his $18.9 million salary this season. 

“I think people are taking it out of context and saying, ‘What kind of guy is that?’” Deng said. “But what people don’t understand is this guy is in the gym 24/7. What he’s doing, he’s really trying. He came back last year and he wanted to play so many minutes, and that’s what led to that injury [to his other knee]. What he’s doing now is, everyone can say whatever they want to say, but in the long run, they’re gonna appreciate what he’s doing. It’s just the way he said it didn’t sound right. But when he meant is, I want to be there for my team down the stretch, that’s really what it is.”

That’s why Deng got really steamed Thursday night, while viewing the TNT studio show, from his nearby hotel room in Atlanta.

Charles Barkley called Rose “a great player and a great kid…but that was stupid. We’re so blessed. I limp around but I go home to a big ol’ mansion. There are people that work harder than Derrick Rose that go home to a shack. There are consequences for what we do for a living. We’ve got the best life in the world….Derrick Rose is making $20 million a year and he’s got a couple of bad knees. There are pros and cons of what we do for a living.”

Barkley played as many as 75 games in just seven of his 16 seasons. Shaquille O’Neal played that many in just five of his 19 seasons (though he did play 49 of 50 games in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season). Yet O’Neal added this: “I was taught that if you could walk, you could play. You see how Kevin McHale walks now, how Phil Jackson walks now, how Charles [Barkley] and I walk…but it was worth it. When you make comments like that, it makes you look soft…but he can only be himself. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.” 

Deng felt a strong emotion while he watched. 

“It upset me to see that, because what that kid represents, especially for today’s athlete, is a blessing,” Deng said. “It’s so sad to see someone attacking someone like that. I was really pissed. As a friend, it really bothered me a lot when I was watching TNT, and what some of the people were saying. But honestly, he’s an example of how a lot of kids should be. Someone who puts home first, works so hard and is so humble. And to do that to him is really destroying his identity and what he stands for.” 

So perhaps it’s a generational thing. Or perhaps there’s some revisionist history.

But when it comes to current players thinking about post-basketball life, Deng believes that, “of course every player does.” That includes himself.   

“I’m smart enough to know when I can go and when I can’t go,” Deng said. “Every player knows that. It’s just [that] Derrick said it. So everyone is on him. But if you guys want to take a survey and ask the league, if I don’t feel right, I’m not gonna play. If I feel like I could play, I can play. Now, my 80 percent is different from your 80 percent, we’re all different human beings. People want to praise us, and praise Derrick, when he plays hurt, but then when he has a big injury and then sits out, it’s like, yeah, but why did you that? So really he can’t win.”

Is Deng correct?

Is every current player thinking about the future.

We couldn’t get to all of them in a couple of days, but spoke to a few who have endured significant injuries or ailments over the course of their careers. 

Atlanta’s Al Horford, for instance, has played a total of just 38 games over the past two seasons due to tearing his left, and then right, pectoral muscles. He said that both times, he’s just been “focused on the now,” on going through physical therapy and getting back on the court. “I guess I never thought about down the road,” Horford said. 

Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao has had a terrible run of luck, missing 149 games over the past three seasons. “But the one that scared me the most was pulmonary embellism,” Varejao said of the blood clot in his lung that cut his 2012-13 season short after 25 games. “There was risk there for me to die. Everything else that I had, they were like freak injuries. My hand, my ankle, my quad. So I knew that I was going to rehab and be fine.” 

So none of the joint or muscle issues got him thinking about troubles in later life?

“Not me,” Varejao said. “No.” 

Mike Miller’s bodily woes were well-documented while he was in Miami. There always seemed to be something, from a concussion to two damaged thumbs to a chronically sore shoulder to a bad back that threatened his career. He says, even in the worst of the back problems, he didn’t think much about how it would impact his non-athletic future. 

“But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t sometimes,” said Miller, who is now with Cleveland. “I don’t know the right answer on that one. For me, it was getting through the process. Mine was a little different, though, too. It was the end of the year. He’s six games in. There’s different ways you can slice that one. He’s getting [killed] on that one, huh?”

He is. 

Sliced and diced. 

Dwyane Wade has been similarly carved when he’s missed time, though he has said something similar to what Rose did, about basing his availability in part on the post-basketball effects. Nor had he heard Rose’s comments when Bleacher Report relayed them to him last week. 

Still, he offered plenty of perspective.

“People who have never been injured, really seriously injured, where it could be career-changing, they don’t understand what D-Rose’s mental [state] is, when he said that,” Wade said. “I mean, I’m sure a lot of people who have picked what he said apart and had a lot of things to say, but if you’ve never been really injured and it’s been career-changing for you, then you don’t know the mentality that he’s going through. From what I get from it, he’s not saying that he doesn’t care about the game and he doesn’t want to be out there in the moment. But he’s also saying that he has to make smart decisions for his body.”

Has he considered the long-term impact of what he’s endured?

“Yeah,” Wade said. “Yeah. I’ve thought about it many times.”

But not necessarily about his knees, as you’d expect.

“When I messed my shoulder up (in 2007 in Houston), that changed a lot of things in my life, just thinking about the future,” Wade said. “So, yeah, you think about those things. You don’t know what’s going to happen afterwards. You understand this sport is very physical and it’s going to take a toll on your body. But yeah, you think about it.”

And, at times, he has played like a football player.

“Yeah, at times I do,” Wade said. “Not as much anymore. But the good thing about all my things is it hasn’t been major, major from that standpoint. You know, a lot of things I’ve dealt with the last couple of years have been things that there’s no further damage that [could be] that bad.” 

On every NBA roster, there are multiple players who have been significantly affected by injuries. Before hurting his knee, Danny Granger was the face of the Indiana Pacers franchise. Now, after a mid-season trade to Philadelphia and a short stint with the Los Angeles Clippers, he’s trying to revive his career as a role player for Miami. While he said that his specific injuries haven’t caused him to dwell too much on their long-term impact, he added that, “I think my situation was a little different than what D-Rose is going through. You don’t know what the doctors have told him.”

It may be very different from what Granger heard, during his process of recovery. 

“It wasn’t like my cartilage was gone,” Granger said. “So they never really told me, this will hinder you in the future. Everybody got different circumstances. Mine was just a long recovery. So [the long-term consequences] never crossed my mind. Now, did it cross my mind if I would ever be able to play again if it didn’t heal properly? Yeah, that did, 100 percent. But as far as after basketball, I’ve already come to terms with that I’m going to have a few messed up joints. We all do. It’s inevitable. When you finish playing, something’s going to be hurting. It’s just inevitable. It’s the price we pay. You see all the former players, somebody got a back problem, somebody got a knee problem, it’s inevitable, it comes with the territory, it comes with a price.”

Taking time off also comes with one: pressure from the public. But Granger said he never felt pressure from the Indiana training staff, and that allowed him to block out any of the noise from the outside. He also consulted with other players, who told him that he could only do what his body allowed. ”All the people on the outside don’t understand that,” Granger said. “You’re really at the mercy of your body. You can try as hard you want, and be as tough as you want, but if your knee or your shoulder or your back say no, they’re gonna say no.” 

And, then, people are gonna say what they’re gonna say.

But Granger, like Deng, says he “100 percent” got what Rose was getting at. 

“One thing that people don’t understand about athletes is we retire relatively young compared to the normal person,” Granger said. “And I can understand what he’s saying, because everything we’re putting our bodies through right now—yeah, we’re well-compensated for it—but if you’re an NBA player and you retire at 35, you’ve had a great career. And you’re still a really, really young man. You’ve got kids to raise. You want to play with them and do things with them. I’ve got one former teammate, a good friend of mine, he’s not even 40 yet, and he says that sometimes he sold his soul for money because he can’t even pick up his kids, because his back is so messed up. That’s the part that people don’t see, don’t hear about.”

He also noted how McHale walks, but in a different context than Barkley did.

“You’ve got a lot of players like that,” Granger said. “That’s the side that people don’t see. They kind of want us to just shut up about it: ‘Hey, shut up, you make a lot of money.’ But I understand Derrick’s point, you know. You got a long life to live.”

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @EthanJSkolnick

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Lakers’ Ronnie Price suspended 1 game for hit (Yahoo Sports)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lakers guard Ronnie Price has been suspended for one game without pay for a flagrant foul against New Orleans’ Austin Rivers.

View full post on Yahoo Sports – NBA News

Ronnie Price Suspended for Flagrant Foul on Austin Rivers

The NBA has suspended Los Angeles Lakers guard Ronnie Price for one game following his flagrant foul on Austin Rivers in a 109-102 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.     

Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix reported the news Thursday:

In the fourth quarter, Price was guarding Rivers, who penetrated to the basket. As Rivers attempted a shot, Price hit him in the head with a forearm. Referees whistled Price for a flagrant foul and ejected him from the game.

You can view the offending play below.

Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin felt the NBA made the right decision:

Doc Rivers, Austin’s father, however, wasn’t sure if the foul warranted any sort of suspension, per Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Through eight games this year, Price is averaging 4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 21 minutes a night.

He’s set to miss Friday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Pacers bring back A.J. Price amid injury woes (Yahoo Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Pacers are bringing back guard A.J. Price.

View full post on Yahoo Sports – NBA News

Cavs waive AJ Price, are rumored to sign Will Cherry

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster stands at 14, but don’t get your Ray Allen hopes up just yet. On Saturday evening, the team announced that they had waived reserve point guard AJ Price, a former member of the Washington Wizards who appeared in six preseason, averaging 7.2 points and 1.5 assists in 13.3 minutes.
Rumored to be taking Price’s place is Will Cherry, a 6-foot-1-inch point guard who has agreed in principle to a two-year deal with the team. Cherry, 23, played for the Cavaliers’ Las Vegas Summer League team this past off-season and their D-League Canton affiliate last season where he averaged 11.6 points and 4.5 assists. The Oakland, Calif., native was undrafted out of Montana in 2013 largely due to the foot injury, but, per Yahoo! Sports, his stock rose after playing well in the D-League and summer league this year.
Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that not all of Cherry’s reported deal is guaranteed. He had previously been signed this past July to a two-year deal with the Toronto Rapto

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Kemba Walker and Charlotte Hornets Are Right Match at Right Price

Good for Kemba Walker—and good for the Charlotte Hornets

The two sides agreed (per Marc Stein of ESPN.com) to what seems like a pretty fair deal on a four-year, $48 million extension—a number that doesn’t quite break the Hornets‘ bank, and one that Walker, who had plenty of doubters not too long ago, should feel satisfied with. 

Despite leaving college on a high note after leading Connecticut to a national title, there were questions surrounding Walker’s NBA outlook, like how would a score-first guard under 6’0″ in socks fare at the point in the pros? 

But Walker has managed to adapt, and after three years in the league he’s established himself as a legitimate asset.

For the Hornets’ management, it’s gotta be refreshing knowing they targeted, drafted and groomed Walker themselves—especially after all the duds they went with over the years, from Raymond Felton and Sean May to Adam Morrison, Brandan Wright and D.J. Augustin.

It’s just so rare for the Hornets to actually reward one of the players they drafted this early in the process. The Charlotte Observer‘s Rick Bonnell highlighted the driving force behind the team’s motivation to get a deal done:

The Hornets haven’t typically extended players on the rookie wage scale at least until they reach restricted free-agency. In this case, Walker’s asking price figured to keep going up, in part because of the anticipated rise in the salary cap from the NBA’s new television deal.

With big man Al Jefferson looking at an opt-out clause after the season, signing Walker now prevents what could have been a scary situation: Charlotte’s two best players both entering free agency this summer (Jefferson would be unrestricted, Walker would have been restricted).

Now with Walker locked up and the addition of Lance Stephenson, who should help improve the team’s credibility by adding toughness, defense and playoff experience, the Hornets’ sales pitch to Jefferson—the one they’ll give in hopes of convincing him to stick long term—just got a little bit stronger.

You’d also like to think Walker’s extension will be approved by the majority of the fanbase, considering he guided the team to a 43-win season and a playoff berth after they went 28-120 over his first two years.

While Walker’s value around the league might differ, his value to the Hornets is enormous, given the roster’s lack of playmakers. Josh McRoberts and Ramon Sessions finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in assists last year for Charlotte—and neither player is back with the team in 2014-15. 

Walker averaged 17.6 points and 6.1 assists last season, numbers that ultimately reflect the offensive firepower he brings to the table.  

He’s also proven to be a guy you can give the ball to on final possessions—someone who can create scoring opportunities out of nothing. And that’s a quality that will continue to hold tremendous value in Charlotte as well. 

“No question, I am definitely the leader of this team,” Walker told Stephen Brotherston of Probballreport.com last season. “I wouldn’t have it no other way.  Guys look to me. Basically, the way I go, the team goes. I definitely wear that hat and I am excited to.” 

It’s obviously nice to see Walker take on a bigger leadership role. But while his maturity and likability, along with his production and impact, likely factored into Charlotte’s decision to further invest, the extension wasn’t just a reward for what he’s accomplished so far. It’s also a reflection of the growth they expect from him over the next few seasons. 

Not to dampen the mood, but $12 million a year is a big chunk of change for a starter whose player efficiency rating ranked No. 18 last year among active point guards. 

Walker has some limitations out there. Without much size or strength, he shot a poor 46.9 percent within eight feet from the hoop last season, a likely reason for him taking a whopping 544 shots from 10-24 feet away.

Feel free to point to Walker’s shot selection as a reason behind his 39.3 percent field-goal clip last season.

His low-percentage attack and high usage rate (finished top 10 among starting point guards last year) probably had something to do with the Hornets finishing No. 24 in offensive efficiency.

And with a so-so assist-to-turnover ratio and pure point rating (18 starting point guards from last year finished with better ones), Walker has work to do as a decision-maker and facilitator as well. 

But you can’t argue with the production he’s put up or the impact he’s had on this team. And at 24 years old having gotten a little bit better through three years in the league, there’s reason to believe we have’t seen Walker peak as an NBA pro. 

This extension seems like a win-win for everyone involved. Walker gets paid and remains the man—he led the NBA in touches last year with 101.8 per game, 4.6 more than Chris Paul, per NBA.com. 

And the Hornets get to lock up a franchise building block at a somewhat reasonable price. Plus, they finally get to build with an asset they acquired from scratch and developed themselves. 

You can argue whether or not the Hornets overpaid by a million or two a year, but this was a deal that really makes everybody happy. Now it’s on Walker to continue his gradual ascent. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Report: Celtics asking price for Rondo is ‘sky high’

Teams looking to acquire the services of Rajon Rondo will have to be willing to pony up one heck of a trade package. That’s according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who wrote Tuesday that the Boston Celtics aren’t looking to deal their star point guard for anything short of top dollar. “Boston has gauged the market for both over the last year or so, and its expected price for Rondo has been sky-high, per several league sources,” Lowe writes. “That price will drop as Rondo’s deal ticks toward expiration, but the market for him is thin.” Lowe names the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings as two teams who could make a play for Rondo if they stumble out of the gates, but he speculates the Celtics might just hang onto the four-time All-Star and attempt to re-sign him after the season “if a frothy market doesn’t materialize.” In fact, Lowe predicts that if any Celtics star is traded this season, it’ll be Jeff Green. “Green has a player option for 2015-16, meaning he may be working on a d

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Lakers Ronnie Price Throws Shoe At Andre Iguodala (Video)

The Lakers have a lot of questions heading into the 2014-2015 season, among the plethora is the one of defense. But no worries, Ronnie Price has a genius approach–shoe chucking.
This was the scene that played out in the Lakers v Warriors preseason game. Watch Price stop Andre Iguodala in his tracks.
He the real MVP

The post Lakers Ronnie Price Throws Shoe At Andre Iguodala (Video) appeared first on Geeks & Cleats.

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

WATCH: Lakers’ Price throws shoe at Andre Iguodala

Ronnie Price loses the basketball. Andre Iguodala gets the ball and starts moving up the… Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Lakers’ Ronnie Price Loses Shoe, Throws It at Andre Iguodala

It’s only the preseason, but some players are pulling out all the stops on defense. 

After losing his shoe in a game vs. the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Ronnie Price threw his shoe at Andre Iguodala.

[CJ Zero]

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »