'Lockout league' rosters under scrutiny


'Lockout league' rosters under scrutiny

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn LAS VEGAS With a slew of logistical issues to hammer out in time for today's first game of the Impact Basketball Training Series, putting the actual rosters together was one of the bigger hurdles to overcome.

NBA players know their brethren better than anyone.

"Don't kid yourself if you didn't think we got some complaints about the roster," Joe Abunassar, the founder of Impact Basketball, told CSNNE.com.

Abunassar did solicit input from the players, but ultimately made the final decision on the rosters.

As expected, there were certain players in higher demand than others.

Most of the teams wanted to make sure they had solid point guard play, which is why former Celtics guard Chauncey Billups and Houston guard Kyle Lowry were among the players teams had the most interest in.

That interest played a factor in Abunassar's decision, but he said he was more concerned with having each team have a certain amount of balance.

"We have to have matchups. If we're really making this a training league, it's all about the matchups," Abunassar said.

Abunassar added, "Kawhi Leonard (a first-round pick out of San Diego State from June's NBA draft) will get a chance to guard a guy like Stephen Jackson, or a guy who has been in the league two or three years. For him, it's an upgraded summer league."

Former Celtics guard Damon Jones, among the first players at Impact Basketball League Monday morning, likes the competitive balance of the league.

"Every team has good players," he told CSNNE.com. "It'll be a good time, good basketball for all of us."

Abunassar must also deal with rosters that are constantly in a state of uncertainty.

For example, Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick isn't expected to play tonight so Abunassar has to find another power forward to take his place on the roster.

Plus, there are other players who aren't expected to come in until next week, while others are re-vamping their schedules to come in this week which means Abunassar has to make sure to put them on a roster where their position is needed.

However, there were some players who made putting the teams together easy.

Mo Williams, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, has put together a team that consists of his Clipper teammates -- including rookie of the Year, Blake Griffin.

The Washington Wizards have a number of players competing here as well, such as Rashard Lewis, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford.

There's a reason why NBA commissioner David Stern doesn't double-dip as the league's schedule maker. But Abunassar isn't complaining; not at all.

"The team selection was not the easiest in the world," Abunassar admitted. "Believe me, after dealing with 75 guys for the last two days and coordinating, I'll need a vacation when we're all done."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”