Mavs power forward David Lee struggled to get into shape this season following the Warriors‘ NBA title run of last season and turned some heads when he said that he finally committed himself to getting fit when he fell out of the Celtics‘ rotation in preparation for joining another team, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com writes. Despite the negative implications of Lee’s remarks, Boston coach Brad Stevens isn’t upset with his former player, Forsberg notes. “I don’t know if that is semantics or how he meant to say it,” Stevens said. “I think the biggest thing that he was probably saying there was that, when you’re not playing, you have to find other ways to stay ready. And maybe I’m wrong. But I think that he certainly took [to his] diet, he worked out hard — he worked out hard enough that if he would have played, he would have been gassed in the games. Sometimes you can’t do that if you’re going to be playing 15 minutes per night. He was going two or three times hard per day during that stretch. So, no, I wasn’t frustrated by it. In fact it set a pretty good example for the other guys that weren’t playing.”
Stevens also acknowledged the difficult spot Lee was placed in with him not being in the team’s regular rotation, Forberg writes. “That was hard. That was really hard. And it was harder on [Lee] than anybody else, but we talked about it a lot,” Stevens said. “We didn’t have hardly any injuries with our bigs and we had a lot of bigs that, especially at the end of games, were going to be relatively the same position. And so it put a lot of guys on the bench. And it was different guys at different times. To his credit, when we eventually settled on playing others, he handled it really well. Kudos to him. I’m happy he’s doing well.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- Former NBA top pick Greg Oden was released by the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association recently, but he appreciates the opportunity that the club gave him, Joshua Bateman of USA Today writes. “It was a great opportunity for me to come and just play basketball, which I haven’t been able to do for awhile,” Oden said. “They got me playing. For me, that’s all I can say. I’ve had a lot of years where I actually just couldn’t play and this year I’m actually able to be out there on the court and play 25 minutes when I never thought I would see over 20 minutes in a game. And I’m playing three games a week. For me, that’s just something I didn’t even think I would ever be able to do.”
- Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) has released his latest mock draft and his current top three players are Ben Simmons of LSU, Duke’s Brandon Ingram and Croatian big man Dragan Bender.
- JaKarr Sampson‘s contract with the Nuggets doesn’t contain any guaranteed salary beyond this season, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reveals (Twitter link), resolving earlier reports that conflicted. It’s a two-year pact for the minimum salary.
- Joe Johnson gave back exactly $3MM in his buyout from the Nets, reports Pincus relays (Twitter link).
- Kris Humphries agreed to forfeit precisely $1MM as part of his buyout with the Suns, Pincus also notes (Twitter links)
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.