July 16, 2012 - 1:02 am
Nobody on the New Orleans Hornets was rooting for Blake Griffin to get hurt, though ultimately they might benefit.
A torn meniscus in Griffin’s left knee forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team last week. Inserted in his place was New Orleans rookie Anthony Davis, the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick last month and the player Hornets fans are hoping will carry their franchise back to respectability.
Instead of playing in the NBA Summer League, as Davis had planned, the 6-foot-10-inch forward was recalled to the Olympic team nine days after being cut.
“The atmosphere will be good for him,” coach Monty Williams said Sunday before the Hornets faced Portland in their summer league opener. “He figures to come back a more confident player and he will improve practicing against the best players in the world every day.”
But Williams also wishes Davis was in Las Vegas getting to know his new teammates, including fellow lottery pick Austin Rivers, the No. 10 selection.
“It’s hard to predict long term,” Williams said. “I don’t know how you put a value on not being with your own team. But I see it as a win-win. He’s such a good kid, he’s not trying to impress anyone. He has great respect for those around him, and I’m sure it will be a positive experience for him and ultimately, for us.”
■ CAVS MISS IRVING – The summer league was robbed of another marquee player when Cleveland Cavaliers second-year point guard Kyrie Irving broke a bone in his right hand on Wednesday.
Irving, one of the best players for the USA Select squad that scrimmaged Team USA last week in Las Vegas, was scratched from the Cavs’ summer roster and will be examined today. He is expected to be out for two months, but return in time for training camp in October.
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott had been hoping Irving would get some court time in Las Vegas with rookie draft picks Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.
Scott said he could sense Irving’s confidence growing daily during Team USA’s training camp.
“He handled himself well,” Scott said. “He was able to go where he wanted to go and he definitely proved he belonged out there. … He was having a really good summer until he got hurt.”
■ BROTHERHOOD – Four sets of brothers are competing in the summer league.
They are: the Morris twins, Marcus, who is with Memphis, and Markieff, who is with Phoenix; Austin Rivers with New Orleans and Jeremiah Rivers with New York; Tyler Zeller with Cleveland and Luke Zeller with San Antonio; and Cory Joseph with San Antonio and Devoe Joseph with Toronto.
The only head-to-head battle will come at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Morrises face each other at Cox Pavilion.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.