The Sixers have won six in a row, and while we’re feeling good, we’re looking a little bit more closely at the NBA in general. Seems like a good time for a round up, no?
First stop we’ll hop to much warmer climates in sunny Los Angeles, where ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says that Anthony Davis has felt some of the pain in his “stress injury” to his foot subside over the past several days. Woj reports that the star big is expected to rest for another 7 to 10 days and have it reevaluated later to see if he can return to play. The Lakers are hoping, obviously, that Davis does not need surgery for his ailing right foot:
ESPN Sources: The pain has subsided in past several days in Anthony Davis' foot and he's expected to rest it for another 7-to-10 days and have it re-evaluated and see if he can return to play. For now, there's hope that a procedure can be avoided. https://t.co/4B2RXiAZTV— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 23, 2022
After winning the championship in 2020 in the bubble, things have not gone well for the Lakers from a health perspective. LeBron James has battled ankle issues in the past and Davis has had several different ailments. The most important of which (a groin injury suffered by Davis) may have cost them a playoff series against the eventual Western Conference Champs, the Phoenix Suns back in 2021. When asked if that misfortune tipped the series, Davis once said: “We know that, they know that.”
The Lakers are already 13th out of 15th place in the West. At 13–18, only the Spurs and Rockets have worse records than LeBron and co. And while this news is a great update offering some hope Davis avoided the worst, AD’s prolonged absence certainly won’t help coach Darvin Ham right the ship anytime soon.
Moving along to Hotlanta, Chris Haynes gave us an update from Bleacher Report.
Per Haynes, not all is well with the diminutive superstar who once knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs:
“Rival executives in attendance at the NBA’s annual G League Winter Showcase are of the belief that Atlanta Hawks star point guard Trae Young could be the next player on a rookie max extension to request a trade if the team doesn’t make inroads come postseason time....
[GM Landry] Fields has the green light from ownership to do what’s necessary to acquire upgrades, but the hard part is executing. John Collins has been made available in trade talks, but it is unclear if the organization can return a package that would make the team better.”
Travis Schlenk, who famously traded away the pick that became Luka Doncic to Dallas, was moved aside for Fields to take over. It’s difficult to imagine anyone bumping Schlenk out of his position had he just hung on to Luka, but the blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray looks worse and worse as time goes on. Had they simply waited a bit they might have entered the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, or more likely, thrown their hat in the ring for Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell profiles as a much better fit alongside Young than a slasher like Murray, yet they paid a similar price as the Cavaliers ultimately did.
Haynes also gave us an update from the Windy City:
“The Chicago Bulls are dealing with some dysfunction as it pertains to team chemistry and accountability while stationed 11th in the Eastern Conference standings (13-18). If matters don’t improve this season, rival executives believe it could lead star guard DeMar DeRozan to request to be moved in the offseason, league sources tell Bleacher Report.”
In fact, Shams Charania has more on the weird situation in Chicago with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.
“Even more, multiple league sources and sources close to the organization say LaVine and the Bulls are not seeing eye to eye. Over the past few weeks, there’s been a palpable feeling across various parts of the franchise of a disconnect over LaVine’s situation in Chicago.”
Shams quoted LaVine hinting that perhaps there’s a bit of redundancy between his own game and DeRozan’s: “But when you’re losing games and you’re trying to do the same things, it’s turmoil. Everybody has their right to their own opinion.”
I’m reading into that, but guys trying to do the same things gives me that redundancy vibe. There is better analysis on this subject from our sister site here.
YourfriendlyBullsBlogger lends us more context:
“A month ago, LaVine and Donovan had a pretty public disagreement over a late-game benching when LaVine was playing like crap. Zach insisted he was the kind of player who should always be allowed to shoot out of whatever slump he’s in.
I sided with Donovan there because LaVine is simply not that player this year: Just because you have the max contract doesn’t mean you are a max player, you are only guaranteed the other trappings like the money and a direct line to Shams’s Twitter followers.”
By contrast, things are going much better for the 76ers. Tyrese Maxey’s health is our biggest issue right now. But maybe his return isn’t so far away?
Doc Rivers said Tyrese Maxey is close and “making progress” but was not optimistic that he’d be back for Christmas. Said he’d consider using Maxey off the bench and that they’ll ease him back.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) December 23, 2022
it will happen within the next month, who knows. Apparently the team has found a recipe to win without him for now.
Sixers' starting unit with Melton is throttling opponents with 99th percentile defense. It's not specifically a Maxey issue, but original five just doesn't have enough disruptive guys to even reach that threshold in theory https://t.co/38jdt1emr9— Ben Detrick (@bdetrick) December 23, 2022
Sixers host Kawhi Leonard and Paul George tonight. And it looks as if we’ll get a look at the team favored to win the West at full strength: