Lauri Markkanen has not looked like himself to start the season, and there now appears to be a legitimate reason why.
Chicago Bulls coach Jim Boylen told the media on Tuesday that Markkanen has a sore oblique and has been been playing through it for the last two weeks, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Johnson also says that Monday was the first time that the team disclosed the issue.
The 22-year-old Markkanen has regressed from last season, putting up 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on a mere 38.5 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from deep through the Bulls’ first ten games.
Considering that Markkanen also missed significant time last season, his injury history, especially at seven feet, may quietly be becoming a concern.
- Lauri Markkanen
Kawhi Leonard is known for being one of the most “boring” players in the NBA, but his even-keeled personality has served him well throughout his career. If you expected to see a big change in him when the Los Angeles Clippers faced his former team, you would have been wrong.
Leading up to Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked by a reporter if he had noticed anything different about Leonard’s “demeanor” this week. Doc’s response was hilarious.
Reporter: “Have you noticed a change in Kawhi’s demeanor around this game?”
Doc: “Have you ever noticed a change in his demeanor?”
(Pause while the media laughs.)
“Neither have I.”
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) November 12, 2019
Leonard scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in his team’s 98-88 win, and he probably felt no different about the performance than he did when he was dominating the postseason last year en route to a title. The most emotion you’ll ever see from Kawhi was when he shared his big celebration plans following the NBA Finals.
Some confuse Leonard’s lack of visual emotion with indifference, but that is clearly not the case. He’s a competitor who is capable of taking over a game at any moment. Showcasing his feelings has just never been his thing, so it’s no surprise Monday night’s showdown with his former team was no different.
Michael Jordan made headlines recently when he said Stephen Curry has not earned a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame with his current body of work, and the Golden State Warriors star obviously took note.
During a recent interview with the “Full Size Run” show for sneaker magazine Sole Collector, Curry was asked if he has ever autographed a pair of shoes and sent them to a hater. The two-time NBA MVP said he has not done that yet, but he joked that he “might have to send some to MJ.”
“You ever send shoes to any of your haters?”
Steph: “I might have to send them to MJ”
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 11, 2019
Jordan has said in the past that the four teammates he would take if he could form his ideal starting five would be Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, James Worthy and Scottie Pippen. He was asked during an appearance on “Today” recently if that still stands, and NBC’s Craig Melvin brought up Curry. Jordan called Curry a “great player” but said he is not a Hall of Famer just yet.
While the opinion of arguably the greatest NBA player of all time is certainly noteworthy, most people disagree with Jordan. Curry has already won three championships, made six All-Star teams and been named league MVP twice. He’s also the greatest shooter in basketball history and has revolutionized the way the game is played. He would not have to play another minute to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Of course, Jordan has a history of trying to knock great players down a peg. That could be his way of trying to motivate them, or it might be a means of preserving his own legacy against any potential threat to the throne.
Congratulations are in order for Draymond Green, who earned a very worthy distinction on Monday night.
Green became the first player ever ejected from Chase Center when he was tossed from the Golden State Warriors-Utah Jazz game in the fourth quarter. Green was upset with being called for a reach-in foul and received two technicals, which triggered the automatic ejection.
The first ejection in Chase Center pic.twitter.com/Lav822D3bu
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 12, 2019
Green was playing his first contest since missing five games due to a finger sprain. He had four points, seven rebounds, and four assists in 22 minutes before being ejected.
The Warriors’ woes continue. They’re now 2-9 following the loss and are 1-5 at their new home in San Francisco. The team has been playing without Steph Curry, who said before the game that he expects to return from a broken hand in the spring.
- Draymond Green
Steph Curry spoke with the media on Monday night and shared some updates on his status.
Curry said he expects to return to this season and mentioned the “early spring” as when he thinks he might be back. He also said that surgery was required for his broken hand and that his return will depend on how rehab goes.
Here’s Steph Curry discussing when he plans to return and the complicated nature of his hand injury pic.twitter.com/bblfAirs10
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 12, 2019
Curry already underwent one operation on his hand and will undergo a second next month to have the pins removed. He says that will cause swelling and a longer recovery.
Curry’s comments came days after a report on Friday said the two-time NBA MVP would miss the entire season.
The 31-year-old suffered a broken hand during a fall against the Phoenix Suns on October 30. The Warriors entered play on Monday night with a 2-8 record.
- Stephen Curry
Gordon Hayward is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing hand surgery on Monday.
The Boston Celtics shared news on Hayward’s status via Twitter.
#NEBHInjuryReport Gordon Hayward underwent successful surgery today to repair a fourth metacarpal fracture in his left hand. The injury occurred during Saturday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.⁰
He is expected to return to play in approximately 6 weeks.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 12, 2019
Hayward was hurt after running into LaMarcus Aldridge on a screen late in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. It was a rough break for him considering his luck since signing with Boston. He broke his leg in his first game with the team and missed all of the season. Then last year he had a rough time as he was returning from the injury. Finally this season he had been doing great, averaging 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 56.4 percent from the field prior to the injury, but now he is sidelined.
- Gordon Hayward
The Chicago Bulls have lost seven of their first ten games, and now one of their players is butting heads with their head coach.
Speaking with the media on Monday, Bulls coach Jim Boylen was asked why swingman Denzel Valentine was out of the rotation.
“Because I said so,” he replied, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN. Boylen also said that Valentine needs to stay ready “because I think he needs some seasoning, he needs to play and he needs to grow” in all areas of the game. For his part meanwhile, Valentine said to ESPN that “I feel like I should play.”
The ex-Michigan State star Valentine, 25, has appeared in just one game for the Bulls all season, getting five minutes of garbage time in a blowout loss to Toronto last month. He missed all of the 2018-19 season due to ankle surgery.
While Boylen agreed to a contract extension with the Bulls earlier this year, his hard-nosed coaching style also led to issues with players last season.