Hoops Rumors Originals

The Impact Of A Torn ACL On An NBA Player

The pain was bearable, but Al Jefferson still had tears in his eyes. One night after he injured his knee after a routine block, Jefferson sat inside a doctor’s office; his season was over and he wondered if his career was too.

It was February 8, 2009, when Jefferson, then a member of the Timberwolves, swatted a dunk attempt by Sean Marks, the current general manager of the Nets. Jefferson landed awkwardly on his right knee, hopped nine times on his left foot, and collapsed to the hardwood.

“What happened was, I went up and blocked a shot, I blocked it on the backboard and threw my body off so I came down wrong,” Jefferson told Hoops Rumors in February during a Pacers shootaround in Brooklyn. “I heard [my ACL] pop, as soon as I hit the ground. I was like ‘Oh, s**t!’”

Jefferson said he wanted to return to the game, but with 27 seconds left, it wasn’t worth risking further injury. In reality, Jefferson’s injury was as serious as it gets.

“I actually injured my MCL earlier that year and that was more pain,” Jefferson said. “I’m thinking like, ‘Oh, it’s not as bad, the pain is going away.’ So, when I went and got the MRI and [the doctor] told me it was an ACL tear, I just remember tears in my eyes thinking ‘ugh!’”

Jefferson, 24 at the time, was in the midst of his best season, averaging 23.1 PPG and 11.0 RPG. He was viewed as a potential cornerstone for a rebuilding Minnesota team that featured talented rookie and future All-Star Kevin Love.

Two years removed from the departure of Kevin Garnett, Jefferson’s development was vital to the Timberwolves’ future. That future hinged on the ligaments inside the 6’10” center’s right knee.

The ACL is a thick, index finger-sized cord that stabilizes the knee and is one of four main ligaments that connects the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone). A tear of the ACL is usually caused by a swift change in direction, which is common among basketball players. The injury is often times a freak accident on a routine play and not the result of years of wear and tear.

Statistics compiled by the ACL Recovery Club and Hoops Rumors show that since 1970, 96 NBA players suffered a torn ACL either before or after their debut. Of those 96 players, eight of them suffered the injury twice.

“I had my injury in 2009. You look back to the 1980s, [a torn ACL] was pretty much a career-ending injury,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson is right. From 1970 through 1990, 18 players tore their ACL and eight of them played three or fewer seasons after their return. The list of players who never played again after a torn ACL include Hall-of-Famer Billy Cunningham, 1973 first overall pick Doug Collins, and NBA champion Chris Andersen.

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Poll: 2018 All-NBA Third Team

In an NBA season packed with incredible individual performances, we’re letting you decide which 15 players are most deserving of All-NBA recognition.

On Monday, we opened voting for the All-NBA First Team, and 36 hours later, we had answers for which five players you believe deserve spots on that team. On Wednesday, we published polls for the All-NBA Second Team, and we have now have our five players for that squad too. While there were some clear-cut winners in the Second Team polls, the results at guard – where the top three finishers were within 23 votes – were particularly interesting.

Here are the voting results so far:

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

While your First Team picks didn’t include any players who missed more than 10 games this season, you were a little more willing to reward exceptional injury-shortened performances on the Second Team. Durant and Embiid appeared in just 68 and 63 games, respectively, while Curry only played 51. If those three players had been able to stay healthy for a full 80+ games, they would’ve been strong candidates for spots on the First Team.

We’re moving on today to the All-NBA Third Team, so cast your votes below for the two guards, two forwards, and one center that you believe are most deserving of being named to that squad. Don’t forget that a few players — including Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Al Horford — qualify at two positions.

You’ll have until Monday morning before we close this round of voting and round up the final results. You can also select two players apiece in the guard and forward polls, so be sure to take advantage of that.

Who should be on the All-NBA Third Team?

Guards:

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA Third Team guards.

Forwards:

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA Third Team forwards.

Center:

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA Third Team center.

Poll: Which Team Will Win The East?

The Cavaliers have been the perennial favorites to win the Eastern Conference since LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, but that’s not the case at the moment. After the first two games of each first-round series, the oddsmakers at Bovada.lv have the Raptors as the frontrunners to come out of the East, followed in close succession by the Cavs and Sixers.

The Raptors took care of business during their two home games against the Wizards, while the Cavs and Sixers split their home games against Indiana and Miami, respectively. As such, it makes sense that the Raptors would be a slightly better bet to advance for now, but it’s still jarring to see a LeBron team considered an underdog of any sort in the East.

Still, even though the Cavs aren’t viewed as the favorites to win the East – at least for the time being – those same oddsmakers at Bovada consider them a much stronger bet than the Pacers to make a deep postseason run. While Cleveland is about a 5-to-3 bet to come out of the East, Indiana’s odds are just 28-to-1.

The Heat (33-to-1), Wizards (80-to-1), and Bucks (80-to-1) are even longer shots than the Pacers, and even the Celtics, who are missing stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, come in at just 20-to-1. In other words, oddsmakers view the East as a three-team race featuring the Cavs, Raptors (5-to-4), and Sixers (a little over 3-to-1).

LeBron’s squad has pulled a Jekyll-and-Hyde act all year, so it’s hard to say which team will show up going forward. Even when James enjoyed a vintage performance in Game 2 vs. Indiana, racking up 46 points, the Cavs still only won by three.

The Raptors and Sixers have questions of their own though. The Raptors have never beaten James in the postseason, and lost to the Cavs twice in the second half of the 2017/18 regular season. The Sixers’ top players lack playoff experience, and Joel Embiid‘s health remains something of a question mark.

The upshot? We should have the most wide-open Eastern Conference postseason in years, with a handful of viable Finals contenders.

What do you think? Will James and the Cavs continue to hold serve in the East? Will the Raptors or Sixers take the conference crown this year? Or will a dark-horse candidate represent the East in the Finals?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to make your predictions!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

NBA Team Option Decisions For 2018/19

Having already created a space to track this offseason’s player option decisions, we’re turning our attention today to team options. Over the next couple months, we’ll use the space below to keep tabs on all the team options for 2018/19, making note of whether they’re picked up or declined.

True team options are somewhat rare in the NBA, since clubs have typically preferred to include a non-guaranteed year or two in player contracts. Non-guaranteed salaries are less restrictive and provide a little more flexibility than team options, which clubs must act upon by a specific date (June 29) each year.

The list below also doesn’t include rookie scale team options for 2018/19, since those third- and fourth-year options function differently than team options on standard veteran contracts. Those ’18/19 rookie scale team option decisions were made during the 2017 offseason, and can be found here.

The standard team options for 2018/19 are listed below. We’ll keep this list updated through the end of June to note the latest decisions.

Point Guards

Shooting Guards

Small Forwards

  • None

Power Forwards

Centers

Community Shootaround: Best Available Coaching Job

After getting through the 2017 offseason with no coaching changes, this year is providing much more action. We started a Head Coaching Search Tracker this week to help you keep up with all the latest developments on the coaching carousel.

Three teams currently have vacancies and three others are operating with interim coaches at the helm. Many of the top candidates are interviewing with multiple franchises, which raises the question of which is the best job currently available:

  • The Hornets expected to be a perennial playoff team when they assembled their current roster, but they have missed the postseason for two straight years. Charlotte could be as much as $20MM over the cap next season with its current roster, so an overhaul is likely, but it’s hard to say who will be heading out. The Hornets have some talent with Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Dwight Howard, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but their financial situation will limit their flexibility for at least another year unless some bold moves are taken.
  • Despite having a string of lottery picks, the Magic haven’t shown signs of growing into a contender. Aaron Gordon is probably the best player on the roster, but he’s headed into restricted free agency, so his future in Orlando isn’t certain. Last year’s top choice, Jonathan Isaac, was limited to 27 games by injuries. The Magic have the fifth-best shot at the No. 1 pick in the lottery, but the franchise is likely looking at a long rebuilding process.
  • The Knicks are trying to escape a dysfunctional era that brought down Jeff Hornacek after just two seasons. New York’s major assets are Kristaps Porzingis, who isn’t expected back until at least December after tearing his ACL, and Tim Hardaway Jr. Enes Kanter can opt out of an $18.6MM salary, so he may not be back next season. New York is ninth entering the lottery and won’t have significant cap room until next summer, so it’s another situation where the front office will have to be patient.
  • The Grizzlies strung together seven straight playoff appearances before an injury to Mike Conley brought down this season right after it started. Management is confident that Conley and Marc Gasol can still be the core of a playoff team, especially if Chandler Parsons can come back healthier and a decent lottery pick is added. Those three contracts will eat up a huge amount of Memphis’ cap room for at least the next two season, so any improvement is going to have to come from within.
  • The Suns feel like they’re headed in the right direction with Devin Booker and T.J. Warren joined by the returning Brandon Knight and promising rookie Josh Jackson. Phoenix could have more than $30MM in cap room if it renounces Alex Len and Elfrid Payton, which could make the team a force in the free agent market. The Suns have the best lottery odds and no burdensome long-term contracts other than the expected extension for Booker.
  • The Bucks are the only playoff team on the list after firing Jason Kidd midway through the season. They have an MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo signed through the 2020/21 season, with an impressive collection of young talent surrounding him in Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker and Thon Maker. Milwaukee is capped out this summer and Parker will be a restricted free agent, but the financial situation eases significantly heading into the future.

We want to get your opinion. If you were a candidate for all six of these jobs, which one gives you the best chance to succeed? Please jump into the comments section below and give us your feedback.

NBA Player Option Decisions For 2018/19

A number of NBA contracts include player options in the final year. Those option years give the player the opportunity to either opt into the final year of his deal, finishing out his contract, or to decline the option and hit the free agent market a year early.

Over the last two years, only eight of 53 veterans who held player options on their contracts have actually exercised those options. Half of those eight players (Tim Duncan, Caron Butler, Mo Williams, and Spencer Hawes) haven’t played a single NBA minute since picking up their options, having either retired or been waived. Another one of the eight (Chris Paul) only opted in because it cleared the way for him to be traded to his preferred destination.

In other words, if you had a player option decision to make during the last two offseasons, declining that option was almost a no-brainer. That’s unlikely to be the case again in 2018, however.

With less cap room available around the NBA this summer and teams not expected to be as aggressive on the free agent market as they were in 2017 or – especially – 2016, exercising a player option may be the most prudent move for a veteran mulling his future. After all, in many cases, there’s no guarantee that he’d do better on the open market.

This year’s player options are listed below. Option decisions are due by June 29 unless a player’s contract specifically calls for an earlier deadline, so we’ll continue to update this list through the end of June to note the latest decisions.

Point Guards

Shooting Guards

Small Forwards

Power Forwards

Centers

* Note: Anthony has an early termination option on his contract. This isn’t technically a player option, but practically speaking, it serves the same function.

Poll: 2018 All-NBA Second Team

In an NBA season packed with incredible individual performances, we’re letting you decide which 15 players are most deserving of All-NBA recognition.

On Monday, we opened voting for the All-NBA First Team, and we now have our answers for which five players you believe deserve spots on that team — sort of. Anthony Davis‘ multi-position eligibility at forward and center complicated matters. While our voters were in an agreement that he deserved a spot on the All-NBA First Team, Davis received nearly as many votes at forward as he did at center, winning the voting at center and placing second as a forward.

For our purposes, we’ll leave Davis at center, where he earned slightly more votes, but it’ll be interesting to see whether these results foreshadow a positional split in the actual All-NBA race.

Here are the voting results so far:

All-NBA First Team

Harden, James, and Davis were the leading vote-getters here and look to me like locks to earn spots on the All-NBA First Team, assuming Davis’ positional split isn’t a factor. Westbrook and Antetokounmpo are probably the favorites to fill out the top five too, though they’ll face stiff competition for those last guard and forward slots on the First Team.

We’re moving on today to the All-NBA Second Team, so cast your votes below for the two guards, two forwards, and one center that you believe are most deserving of being named to that squad. Don’t forget that a few players – including LaMarcus Aldridge, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler – qualify at two positions.

You’ll have about 48 hours for this round of voting before we move on to the All-NBA Third Team on Friday morning. You’ll also have the opportunity to select two players apiece in the guard and forward polls, so be sure to take advantage of that. And if there’s a player not listed below that you believe deserves All-NBA consideration, be sure to mention him in the comments section too — if I agree, I’ll make sure he’s included in our All-NBA Third Team polls later this week.

Guards:

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA Second Team guards.

Forwards:

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA Second Team forwards.

Centers:

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA Second Team center.

Following Specific Players On Hoops Rumors

Hoops Rumors lets you keep up with your favorite NBA teams as they plot their next moves, and we also provide ways to easily follow the latest on all of your favorite players, along with the free agents and trade candidates from around the league.

You can get news about players wherever you go with our Trade Rumors app, available for iOS and Android devices. The app is free and allows you to add a feed for any player and set up notifications that will alert you whenever we write about him. It’s the easiest way to keep tabs on specific players.

If you’re using the desktop or mobile version of our site, there are other ways to follow your favorite player(s). Every player we’ve written about has his own rumors page. You can find any player by using our search box, by clicking his tag at the bottom of a post in which he’s discussed, or by simply typing his name in your address bar after hoopsrumors.com, substituting dashes for spaces. For example, LeBron James‘s page is hoopsrumors.com/lebron-james.

You can also set up an RSS feed for any of our player pages by adding /feed to the end of the page URL, like this: hoopsrumors.com/demarcus-cousins/feed. Entering that URL into the reader of your choice will enable you to get updates whenever we write about DeMarcus Cousins. It works for teams, too. If you’re a Pelicans fan, you can enter hoopsrumors.com/new-orleans-pelicans/feed into your reader and stay on top of all the latest from New Orleans.

In addition to players and teams, there are a number of other subjects you can track by clicking on the tags that we use at the bottom of posts. For example, you can keep tabs on our 2018 draft stories right here. Items about the NBA G League can be found on this page. You can simply scan our top stories here. Again, you can set up a feed with any of these pages by adding /feed to the end of the URL.

2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

After a period of virtually unprecedented stability in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, the coaching carousel started spinning again during the 2017/18 league year. Three teams made in-season coaching changes, installing interim replacements, and three more clubs have dismissed their head coaches since the regular season ended.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

Updated 4-20-18 (3:22pm CT)

Charlotte Hornets

  • Out: Steve Clifford (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Ettore Messina (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: David Fizdale (story)
  • The Hornets also made a change in their front office, hiring Mitch Kupchak as their new president of basketball operations and general manager. Kupchak will lead the search for a new head coach, with fellow UNC alum Stackhouse among the first candidates who will interview for the job.

Memphis Grizzlies

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Out: Jason Kidd (in-season change)
  • Interim coach: Joe Prunty
  • As long as the Bucks remain alive in the playoffs, the team won’t actively move forward with its coaching search. If Prunty can get the club through the first round, he’d become a stronger candidate for the permanent job.

New York Knicks

  • Out: Jeff Hornacek (story)
  • Interviewed: Jerry Stackhouse (April 16), Mark Jackson (April 18), Mike Woodson (April 18)
  • To interview: Kenny Smith (April 20), David Fizdale (story), David Blatt (story), Mike Budenholzer (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Jay Wright (story), Doc Rivers (story), Craig Robinson (story)
  • Not in running: Jeff Van Gundy (story)
  • The Knicks’ search has focused primarily on former head coaches so far, including Jackson, Fizdale, and Blatt. Those three candidates are considered part of the team’s “top tier” along with Stackhouse. Wright and Rivers are probably long shots, given their current employment situations, while Robinson – a former college coach who is already part of the Knicks’ front office – is considered a “dark horse.”

Orlando Magic

  • Out: Frank Vogel (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Nick Nurse (story)
  • The Magic plan to take their time with their search, so there haven’t been a ton of rumors about their targets so far. They’ve been linked to a couple coaches in the Raptors organization, given president Jeff Weltman‘s connection to Toronto.

Phoenix Suns

Poll: What’s Next For Spurs, Kawhi Leonard?

Throughout a rocky 2017/18 season, even as rumors of discord between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs persisted, most reports out of San Antonio have suggested that a long-term union between the two sides remains the most likely outcome. Multiple reporters over the course of the season indicated that the Spurs would likely put a Designated Veteran Extension offer on the table for Leonard during the offseason.

However, that’s no longer a lock. In his latest piece for The San Antonio Express-News, Mike Finger observes that a super-max offer still seemed like a slam dunk as of month or two ago, but he admits it’s not a certainty anymore. In fact, Finger writes, it might be a surprise if the Spurs do extend that offer to Leonard.

Given the Spurs’ history of stability, the Leonard situation this season has been fascinating. It stems from a disagreement between the Spurs’ medical staff and Leonard’s own doctors about the state of his quadriceps injury — the Spurs have cleared the star forward to return, but his doctors haven’t done so, and he still doesn’t feel comfortable enough to play.

As part of his rehab, Leonard is currently in New York, away from the Spurs as they battle the Warriors in the first round of the postseason. Finger suggests the team is fine with Leonard’s absence, but the optics aren’t great, and Gregg Popovich‘s comments after Monday’s Game 2 loss were interpreted by some observers as a subtle dig at his absent star — even though they were ostensibly intended as praise for LaMarcus Aldridge.

“LaMarcus has been a monster all year long,” Popovich said, per Sam Amick of USA Today. “He’s led our team at both ends of the floor. He doesn’t complain about a darn thing out on the court. He just plays through everything. I can’t imagine being more proud of a player as far as playing through adversity and being there for his teammates night after night after night. He’s been fantastic.”

It’s worth noting that Aldridge was in a somewhat similar position to Leonard a year ago, having broached the possibility of a trade out of San Antonio during the 2017 offseason. However, a meeting and a few conversations between Aldridge and Popovich allowed the two sides to work out their issues, with the Spurs’ big man ultimately signing an extension before the season got underway.

As Finger writes, there’s still hope that the Spurs and Leonard could follow a similar path. However, at this point, the situation is “too complicated to work out with one phone call.” Finger speculates that it would probably take a series of conversations – with both sides reiterating their commitment to one another – for the Spurs and Leonard to comfortably move forward.

The Spurs are just two losses away from officially starting their offseason, at which point addressing the Leonard situation will become the franchise’s top priority. It’s not clear how this will play out, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Leonard inks an extension in the offseason — at this point, it also wouldn’t be a total shock if he has played his last game at the Spur.

What do you think? Will the Spurs work things out with Leonard like they did with Aldridge before him? Or will the team decide to move on from its best player a year before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency? Vote below in our poll and share your thoughts in the comment section!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.