The Grizzlies aren’t releasing a timetable for the return of Marc Gasol, who’s out indefinitely with a sprained MCL in his left knee, as the team announced today. That hasn’t stopped reporters from speculating about how long Memphis will be without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and the consensus seems to suggest he’ll miss at least six weeks. The injury is a blow to the Grizzlies, though there’s no talk of the team looking for reinforcements yet. This summer’s trade for Kosta Koufos, who started at center for the 57-win Nuggets last year, could be about to pay dividends. Here’s more from the West:
- Derrick Rose‘s diagnosis is the big injury news of the day, but Western stars, including Gasol, are being plagued with their share of physical ailments as well. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that James Harden of the Rockets is expected to miss at least the next two games with a foot injury, while the Warriors announced that Andre Iguodala is out indefinitely with a strained hamstring. I doubt either injury will result in a roster move.
- Jeff Caplan of NBA.com doesn’t put much stock in Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s revelation that Rockets GM Daryl Morey asked him this summer if he’d trade Dirk Nowitzki. The scribe notes that Cuban has vowed he’ll never trade the former MVP and that Nowitzki has said he plans to re-sign with Dallas next summer. About 70% of Hoops Rumors readers agree that the Mavs shouldn’t even think about trading their star.
- According to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), the Santa Cruz Warriors announced that they’ve re-added former NBA veteran Hilton Armstrong to their roster. The big man played for Golden State’s D-League affiliate last season, so Santa Cruz still held his rights.
- We looked back at the offseasons for a pair of Western Conference teams today, covering the Kings and the Jazz. You can find all the Offseason in Review pieces we’ve done so far on this page.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
WEDNESDAY, 11:08am: The NBA has officially announced Gasol as Defensive Player of the Year. LeBron James was the runner-up, followed by Ibaka and Noah.
MONDAY, 3:12pm: Marc Gasol will be named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2012/13 NBA season, according to Chris Vernon of 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis (via Twitter). An official announcement will likely come later this week.
Award season started for the NBA today, when J.R. Smith was officially named the Sixth Man of the Year. The Defensive Player of the Year field was considered fairly wide open, with a number of deserving candidates based on both traditional and more advanced statistics. When I asked earlier this month who deserved the award, Gasol received fewer votes than Larry Sanders, Joakim Noah, and Serge Ibaka.
Gasol, who averaged 7.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG, and 1.0 SPG this season for the Grizzlies, didn't have exceptional traditional stats. However, he anchored a Memphis defense that ranked second in the NBA in points per 100 possessions (97.4), and the team's defensive numbers were noticeably better when he was on the court.
There aren't very many games left in the regular season, and the playoff picture in both conferences could look drastically different by mid-April with plenty of teams close together in the standings as of today. While it's not usual for us to focus on injuries, we have a few significant notes worth mentioning tonight:
- Pistons rookie big man Andre Drummond could be close to returning after a 21-game absence, says David Mayo of MLive. Although the Pistons aren't in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, a few more regular season games couldn't hurt the former UConn product's development if healthy.
- Clippers guard Chauncey Billups is still day-to-day with a groin strain but could return on Tuesday against the Mavericks, writes Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles.
- Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times tweets that Lakers forward Antawn Jamison has ligament damage in his right wrist. Although he'll try to play through it, Jamison probably faces surgery in the offseason.
- According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports (via Twitter), the Grizzlies have announced that center Marc Gasol will be out indefinitely after re-aggravating an abdominal tear last night against the Hornets. Though they are ahead of the sixth place Warriors by a comfortable margin in the standings, Memphis is separated from the third place Nuggets by one game and the fourth place Clippers by just half a game.
- Joakim Noah will sit both of the Bulls' games this weekend as he continues to deal with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, says Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago. The team is currently one game behind the fifth-place Hawks and a half game ahead of the Celtics.
- Greg Payne of ESPN Boston says that both Courtney Lee and Kevin Garnett are individually recovering from sprained left ankles. There doesn't appear to be a sense that those injuries are expected to keep either out for an extended period of time, but with just 14 games left and Boston currently on a three-game slide, missing two key rotation players can't necessarily help.
- Knicks center Tyson Chandler has already missed six straight games due to a neck strain, and is still considered day-to-day (Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reports). New York still remains atop the Atlantic Division, and while they are only one game behind the Pacers for second place in the East, the fourth place Nets aren't too far behind in their rear view mirror (1.5 games).
Amid speculation that the Grizzlies are looking to trade Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer reports (via Twitter) that guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol recently met with new owner Robert Pera, where the two players reportedly urged him to keep the team's core together at least through this season.
Herrington also tweets that Grizzlies management knows it has to move either Gay or Randolph to preserve their long-term flexibility and avoid luxury tax penalties. He believes the meeting with Conley and Gasol was simply to take their pulse about the season and roster.
According to a new report from Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, LeBron James is open to the possibility of returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers if he chooses to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat after the 2013/14 season. Lloyd writes that James is friends with Cavs players Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and his new agent, Rich Paul, has local ties.
Lloyd adds, however, that Cavs GM Chris Grant is aware that the team must improve considerably in order to be considered a viable option for James. Grant is reportedly aggressively exploring options to add another impact player. Lloyd reports that Grant asked about trading an Anderson Varejao-based package for Kevin Love following Love's recent comments critical of the Timberwolves, but was rebuffed. He has also inquired on the possibility of trading for the Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge, the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, and the Lakers' Pau Gasol.
Lloyd writes that although the Cavs are still open to moving Varejao, who is having an outstanding season, it doesn't seem likely because his recent play has raised their asking price and no team thus far has been willing to meet their demands. A trade of Varejao to the Thunder for Perry Jones III, Jeremy Lamb, and Toronto's protected 2013 first-round draft pick has been discussed, but both sides have concerns about the players they would get back.
The Southwest Division should again be one of the league's toughest this season, with the Spurs, who've won the division twice in a row, bringing back their key parts and the playoff-tested Grizzlies doing the same. The Mavericks made plenty of changes but still figure to be in the playoff mix as long as Dirk Nowitzki is around, and the Hornets brought in No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, 2011/12 Most Improved Player Award winner Ryan Anderson, and others. The Rockets appear to be the division's soft spot, but they could be in the mix for a marquee player closer to the trade deadline with their stockpile of youth and draft picks. Here's the latest, with preseason on the horizon:
- After a summer of change, the Mavericks' roster for the start of the regular season appears set, but beyond that there's plenty of uncertainty, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News examines.
- Marc Gasol spoke about his desire to remain long-term with the Grizzlies to the Spanish website Marca.com (translation via HoopsHype). Gasol still has three years left on the four-year, $57.5MM deal he signed after the lockout last December, so it doesn't seem like he's going anywhere soon.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle heard from Rockets coach Kevin McHale about the team's overhauled and largely inexperienced roster as he prepares for the first full training camp of his coaching career.