Oct. 27, 2016
By Wiley Ballard
Less than five months removed from Cleveland’s heroic comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals, Iman Shumpert and the rest of the Cavaliers received the NBA rings before Tuesday’s season opener. In Indianapolis, Thaddeus Young relishes the opportunity to be a part of a contender with the Pacers. Derrick Favors and the Utah Jazz aim for the playoffs despite early season injuries. All of that and more can be found in this week’s basketball edition of the Nissan #ProJackets Basketball Report.
Chris Bosh – The Miami Heat opened their season last night against their cross-state rival the Orlando Magic. The Heat picked up the win, 108-96, but just like last year, Chris Bosh was nowhere to be found. The power forward failed his preseason physical in September because of his recurring blood clot complications. The 11-time All-Star has missed the season’s second half each of the last two years. Bosh remains adamant in his desire to play, but the Miami medical staff has not cleared him.
The situation becomes even more complicated from a financial perspective. CBS Sports outlined the conundrum earlier this month explaining that “as long as Miami releases [Bosh] after February 9th, it can seek relief on the rest of his contract [$76 million over three years].” This means that barring an unexpected turn of events, Bosh will be forced to sit out the next several months. Meanwhile, Miami hosts Charlotte in their home opener tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET.
Will Bynum – After a stretch overseas with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, Will Bynum earned another shot at the NBA this past training camp. The 33 year-old guard appeared in all seven preseason games for the Atlanta Hawks and averaged 4.7 points and 3.1 assists per game. But the Hawks opted to waive the point guard, bringing their roster closer to the 15-player max. The positive for Bynum is that with his seven-game showcase, plenty of other teams had the opportunity to see the scorer in an NBA environment.
Derrick Favors – Following its near-miss playoff appearance, the Utah Jazz return to the hardwood this fall looking to take the next step into the postseason. Youthful veteran Derrick Favors is an integral piece to Utah’s playoff puzzle. The 25 year-old forward averaged a career-best 16.4 points per game last season and enters his eighth year as one of the Jazz’ unquestioned leaders.
The only hiccup has been Favors’ health. After playing a career-low 62 games last season, the Atlanta-native missed the final five preseason games and Tuesday’s season-opener with a knee injury. Add in Gordon Hayward’s fractured finger and Utah will need to tread water through the season’s first few weeks. The Jazz face the Lakers in their home opener on Friday night at 9 p.m. ET before beginning a heavy road stretch.
Jarrett Jack – As a member of the Brooklyn Nets, Jarrett Jack averaged 12.8 points and a team-high 7.4 assists per game. But only months before reaching free agency, Jack tore his ACL and underwent season-ending surgery. In July, the Hawks signed Jack to a one-year deal making Atlanta Jack’s eighth NBA home.
Sadly for Jack, he never saw the court or even contract drills in training camp and was waived only a week before the season opener. The 12-year veteran, who turns 33 years of age tomorrow, will likely receive interest elsewhere should his knee fully recover.
Anthony Morrow – Very few, if any, saw Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State as a positive for Oklahoma City, but Anthony Morrow may have a different outlook. Last season the sharpshooter was starved for opportunity averaging fewer than 15 minutes per game and less than a handful of shots. With Durant and his 20 attempts per night moving further West, Morrow figures to fill a gaping hole in Billy Donavan’s offense. Russell Westbrook seems to agree calling Morrow “a pretty good damn shooter.”
If nothing else, Morrow can be certain his life will be different off the court after welcoming twin boys less than two weeks ago. Oklahoma City opened the season last night with 103-97 victory over Philadelphia. The home opener is tomorrow night against Phoenix at 8pm ET.
Iman Shumpert – In Cleveland, things couldn’t be going much better. The Indians are in the World Series and the Cavaliers received their NBA Champion rings on Tuesday night in a season-opening rout of the Knicks, 117-88. Unfortunately, Iman Shumpert collided with Kristaps Porzingis hip with only five minutes remaining in the game. Shumpert exited the game with concussion-like symptoms and did not return. The guard kept the mood light when ESPN asked about his status saying, “I’ll live.”
Shumpert, who’s made a name for himself as “basketball’s premier music connoisseur,” offered a sneak peak into his go-to pre-season playlist with Billboard earlier this week. Meanwhile Cleveland travels to Toronto tomorrow night for an Eastern Conference Finals rematch at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Shumpert’s status at the time of this publication is unknown.
Thaddeus Young – The 73-win Golden State Warriors may have made the biggest offseason splash with their acquisition of Kevin Durant, but the Pacers’ deals may lead to the greatest improvement. Indiana finished in seventh place in the Eastern Conference last season, but their re-tooled roster could catapult first-year coach Nate McMillan’s squad to the top of the heap in the East. General Manager Larry Bird added Thaddeus Young and Jeff Teague in pre-draft deals to bolster Paul George’s supporting cast.
In Young’s case, this will be an opportunity to play for a contender. In the forward’s first nine seasons, his team has finished with a winning record only once. The Indianapolis Star posits that Young’s up-tempo style of play is just what the Pacers need. In the season-opener last night, Young added 11 points and five rebounds in Indiana’s 130-121 overtime victory against Dallas. Indiana is back in action tomorrow night against Young’s old team, the Brooklyn Nets. Tip is at 7:30 p.m. ET.