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NBA Rumors: Jefferson Limited Due to Injury?

Will Al Jefferson be limited for the remainder of the playoffs? … Salary cap rise could impact Carmelo Anthony’s free agency … Jim Cleamons wants to join Knicks

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Jefferson Has Strained Plantar Fascia

Bobcats forward Al Jefferson required multiple injections after suffering a strained plantar fascia in his left foot during a 99-88 Game 1 loss to the Heat in Miami on Sunday. Jefferson began moving gingerly late in the first quarter. He departed for the locker room but returned to the court, laboring throughout the second half. He told reporters during his post-game comments that he received one injection when he first left the game and a second injection at halftime. “I just heard something pop,” he said. “It was a lot of pain. I really don’t know all the details. I know I’ll be OK. It’s something you have to play through … I don’t like needles. It was very uncomfortable for me. I got [an injection] one right when it happened … and I got one at halftime. It felt a lot better in the third quarter. … It was something I had to get used to.”

via Ben Golliver of SI.com

This injury is a major blow to the Bobcats and their playoff hopes. Jefferson has averaged 25.3 points and 15.3 rebounds against the HEAT this season and was the one clear matchup advantage the Bobcats had going into the series. Though Jefferson says he will be “okay” it is hard to imagine that he will be able to dominate the way he has throughout the season given the severity of this injury.

Hopefully Jefferson can play through the pain and be as close to his usual self as possible. However, Joakim Noah has dealt with this same injury before and last year stated, “It feels like you have needles underneath your foot while you’re playing. That’s what it feels like. You can imagine how hard it is when you need to run or you need to jump; all the things you have to do when playing basketball.”

The Bobcats put up a good fight against the HEAT in Game One on Sunday. The teams will meet for Game Two on Wednesday. The Bobcats better hope Jefferson’s condition will have improved somewhat by then.

 

Salary Cap Rise Impacts ‘Melo’s Free Agency

The NBA has informed teams that it is projecting a rise in the salary cap of nearly $5 million for next season, which could aid clubs such as Chicago and Houston in their attempts to steal free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks, according to sources familiar with the forecasts.

via Marc Stein of ESPN

Earlier this week, Larry Coon reported that the NBA was likely to increase the salary cap next season more than was originally anticipated. Now ESPN is reporting that all 30 teams received a memo from the league that the salary cap will rise from $58.6 million to $63.2 million next year. As of now, this is a projection and not a final number.

Coon reported on his blog that this is the third time this season that the NBA has increased its salary cap projections for next year, which is telling. Since the league and the players enacted the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, NBA teams have become more profitable. The players made major concessions to the owners, who complained that they were losing money under the old agreement. It seems those concessions are working out better than anyone anticipated.

If the salary cap does increase as expected, it will add more intrigue around the Carmelo Anthony free agency situation. With more salary cap space, the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets will have more flexibility to make a max free agent offer to ‘Melo this upcoming offseason. While New York is still considered the favorite to retain ‘Melo, Chicago and Houston are intriguing options that the star forward will have to at least consider. At age 29, ‘Melo is in the middle of his prime years and cannot afford many more seasons like this one. Only time will tell whether Phil Jackson can persuade ‘Melo that New York is still the best place for him long-term.

 

Cleamons Wants to Join Jackson in NY

According to an NBA source, Cleamons is interested in rejoining Jackson’s Knicks in any capacity.

The NBA source also said Cleamons is a big fan of his former player, Kerr, and his ability to be a head coach because of his “quick learning curve.’’ There probably isn’t another assistant coach as well-versed in the triangle offense as Cleamons.

via Marc Berman of the New York Post

The New York Post is reporting that Jim Cleamons, currently an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, is looking to join Phil Jackson in New York. Cleamons served under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers and is very familiar with the Triangle Offense. This new rumor adds fuel to the reports stating that Jackson will remove current head coach Mike Woodson and replace him with Steve Kerr.

Cleamons would likely help Kerr implement the Triangle Offense and help Kerr acclimate to being a head coach the way Lawrence Frank was supposed to with Jason Kidd in Brooklyn this season. Former Bulls personnel evaluator Clarence Gaines Jr. has already joined Jackson in New York, and it’s becoming clear that Jackson intends to surround himself with people he personally knows and trusts.

It will be interesting to see if these moves—if they do in fact happen—help persuade Carmelo Anthony to re-sign long-term in New York.

 

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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