Nevada Smith

Southeast Notes: Millsap, Heat, Wall, Hornets

Hawks power forward Paul Millsap recently underwent a procedure to reduce mild swelling in his right knee, relays via a team press release. The procedure was not surgical and all indications are that he will be ready to play at the start of the season, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). Millsap, who has averaged 17.1 points and 9.0 rebounds last season, has earned a reputation of being an iron man since joining the league during the 2006/07 season. He appeared in 81 regular-season games and 10 playoff games last season and has never missed more than nine games in any season.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • Nevada Smith has been named head coach of the Heat’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald reports. Smith previously coached the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers for two seasons. Former Heat point guard Anthony Carter will join Smith’s staff. Former Skyforce Dan Craig has joined Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s staff along with Octavio De La Grana, who served as a Skyforce assistant coach last year.
  • Wizards coach Scott Brooks is uncertain about point guard John Wall’s status for the start of training camp, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. Brooks is unsure when Wall, who underwent two knee operations during the offseason, will be cleared for five-on-five contact. “He’s improving,” Brooks told Buckner. “His body looks great [but] his conditioning is going to be behind. Once you step into an NBA practice, the level goes way up. Especially in a training camp situation where you have guys trying to make it, guys trying to fight for minutes, trying to fight for starting jobs, but we have to make sure [about Wall] because that’s when things can go sideways.”
  • The Heat’s decision on whether Chris Bosh will be cleared to play is not a function of the salary cap, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel writes. Bosh, who has been diagnosed with blood clots in his leg the past two seasons, must be cleared by medical personnel and the rules of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement have to be followed, Winderman continues. Neither the team nor the players’ union will draw a line in the sand over one player, especially when either could opt out of the CBA as early as mid-December, Winderman adds.
  • The return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from injury and the addition of free agent center Roy Hibbert raises the defensive ceiling for a team that already ranked in the league’s top 10 last season, according to Basketball Insiders’ season preview of the Hornets. Basketball Insiders takes an optimistic view of the Hornets, with its reporters predicting anywhere from a first to third-place finish for the club this season.

And-Ones: Smith, Vipers, Skiles, Lottery

Josh Smith‘s father complimented the Rockets for welcoming his son, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 (second Twitter link). “I cannot speak too much about how well this organization has accepted us as a family and him as a player,” Pete Smith said. “It’s an awesome thing. Now I know what the NBA is all about.” Houston claimed Smith on waivers in December after he was let go by the Pistons. He will become a free agent this summer.

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • The Rockets have cut ties with D-League coach Nevada Smith of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The Vipers are coming off a 27-23 record in Smith’s second season running the team.
  • Scott Skiles has tried to campaign a little for the Magic head coaching job, but he wants a measure of personnel control, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. He doesn’t want to replace GM Rob Hennigan, but rather seeks approval over player personnel moves, a job that currently rests with Magic CEO Alex Martins, Kyler explains. Meanwhile, Kyler figures that Michael Malone will interview for both the Magic and the Nuggets coaching jobs, but sources tell him that Malone isn’t as high on either team’s list as some other candidates are. Neither Vinny Del Negro nor Billy Donovan is expected to get serious consideration for either job, Kyler also writes.
  • NBA owners refuse to address the problem of tanking, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. He noted that owners passed on a chance to address the issue during a meeting in New York last week. They also nixed proposed reforms to the draft lottery process in October. He speculated that owners might be delaying action until they can study the effects of an upcoming $24 billion television deal and the escalation of the salary cap.

Southwest Notes: Gordon, Grizzlies, Bynum

Two reports on Friday indicated New Orleans was shopping Eric Gordon, but the Pelicans were quick to tell the shooting guard and Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune that they aren’t pursuing any such deals. Gordon doesn’t appear concerned with the chatter, and even though his field goal attempts and scoring average are down for the third straight season, he’s been uncharacteristically healthy this year, having played in all but three games. Backcourt mate Jrue Holiday is sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right leg, so I’d be surprised if a Gordon trade happens anytime soon. Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • James Johnson‘s improved conditioning and maturity has turned him into an asset for the Grizzlies just a month after he signed a minimum-salary deal with the team, as Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal examines. One Western Conference scout tells Herrington that he laments that his team passed on the former 16th overall pick while he languished in free agency.
  • Tim McMahon of weighs the chances that Andrew Bynum could be a fit for the Mavericks, pointing to owner Mark Cuban’s comments about Samuel Dalembert and the state of the team’s centers. “Depends on which Sam we have,” Cuban said. “If we have the Sam of [Friday] night, we’re good. If we have the Sam that isn’t as on key as he was [Friday] night, it’s different. Again, we’re always being opportunistic. Wherever we can improve our team, we will.” 
  • USA Today’s Sam Amick looks at the way NBA teams are connecting with the coaches of their D-League affiliates, noting that Nevada Smith, who beat out 34 other candidates for the head job at Rockets affiliate Rio Grande Valley, has become the “darling” of the D-League coaching circle.