Aron Baynes has made a return to public life after his serious neck injury at the Tokyo Olympics, but don’t expect him back on court until closer to next NBA season.
The NBA championship winner and Olympic bronze medallist returned to social media, posting a picture with his medal and some family shots from time spent in Australia.
“The long road back. I’m grateful for it all,” Baynes wrote on the post.
Aron Baynes suffered a serious injury during the Olympics last year.Credit:Getty Images
Baynes was also courtside at the Brisbane Bullets and Melbourne United game on Wednesday at Nissan Arena, prompting a suggestion from Andrew Gaze that NBL sides would love to have Baynes in uniform.
“Who knows? We might see him in the NBL, but I’m sure he has NBA aspirations still as he’s an NBA championship winner,” Gaze said while commentating the game for ESPN.
“Anyone would love to have him.”
As much as NBL teams would love to have Baynes clogging up the key, Hoops Heaven reached out to the Baynes camp and was told he is still hard at work building up his body and won’t be playing for anyone this season.
Baynes has all his focus on playing in the NBA next season and isn’t considering the NBL.
NBA teams would love to have a rim defender and rebounder of Baynes’ quality next season; let’s hope he can regain the match fitness and strength to make this a reality.
Goorjian says Hawks will embrace packed schedule
The NBL is racing through as many games as it can in the next month to catch up with postponed matches and it is leading to some packed schedules for teams.
Brian Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks are in the midst of a stint involving four games in eight days and face more games in quick succession in the next few weeks.
Hawks coach Brian Goorjian is happy to be back playing.Credit:Getty Images
Goorjian told Hoops Heaven he found trying to keep his team up during their long run without games due to COVID-19 outbreaks was difficult, but getting them up for games was not.
“I found that the hardest part is practising and then the game gets cancelled,” Goorjian said.
“You look at your team and there is another 14 days of practice until the next game and they are wondering ‘will that next game get cancelled?’
“To turn around now and complain that we have got games coming fast and furious, to me, it doesn’t make sense to complain. We are excited about getting the opportunity to play.
“When I’ve talked to other coaches, they were sitting there and didn’t get an opportunity to play. Some teams have foreign players sitting over here, some of them overseas for the first time, and they have been here for 10 or 12 weeks and they have played maybe two or three games.
“We have four games in eight days and we’ve got beat in a couple. We are taking our licks, but we are not complaining. Our guys are happy. They are the happiest they have been.
“We play, we have a day in between, we do some prep, we shoot and then we play. They like that a lot more than ‘game cancelled, maybe we got one in three weeks, oh no that is cancelled too’.
“That has been the one that I’ve found is the hardest to deal with for my team.”
Unsportsmanlike fouls a concern
There is growing concern around some parts of the NBL about the types of plays referees are calling as unsportsmanlike fouls and the repercussions later in games when a potentially light unsportsmanlike foul leads to a key player getting ejected later on.
The rules of basketball draw a pretty hard line on the need to call unsportsmanlike fouls for plays that deliberately stop fast breaks or for acts such as holding or pulling on a player’s uniform. But the counterargument is that referees have been too quick to call unsportsmanlike fouls when a no call, a verbal warning or a normal foul could have also done the job.
It’s important to note that players need to keep their behaviour in check when receiving one of those fouls as a second one or a technical foul in the same match is an immediate ejection. As we saw with Nathan Sobey’s ejection in Tasmania early this season or Xavier Cooks’ ejection recently, both those calls turned their respective games.
Perhaps, we saw a small shift on Wednesday when Matthew Dellavedova was originally assessed an unsportsmanlike foul for lightly bumping Lamar Patterson while the two exchanged some trash talk before the call was reviewed and changed to an offensive foul.
United coach Dean Vickerman was asked by Hoops Heaven after the game whether the way unsportsmanlike fouls were being called had become too light.
“Throughout the game, I think there are moments where people are going to grab singlets or shorts or different things and maybe we need to make a really clear line. Is that going to be an unsportsmanlike foul every time or what is going to happen?” Vickerman said.
“Sometimes there is incidental contact. That one is a tricky one.”
Bullets coach James Duncan declined to comment when asked the same question as he felt he was the “wrong person” to ask about it.
Vickerman also said he felt the Dellavedova foul shouldn’t have been called at all.
“I didn’t really see the ‘Delly’ play until it came up on the [big screen],” Vickerman said.
“He’s given Lamar a little bump when he was talking, it was something [that came] from Lamar giving a little push off when he was driving to the basket.
“I’m certainly glad they downgraded it, I would have liked to see it downgraded further to nothing because we were on a pretty good four on three fast break going the other way and for them to get the ball back and score off that position was a little bit of a game-changer.”
Ernst back with Boomers
Carley Ernst, née Mijovic, is the latest WNBL player to return to the league after having a baby.
The Melbourne-raised forward-centre has always been dangerous as a post player with a reliable outside shot, but it wasn’t clear if or when she would return to the league after she and husband Josh welcomed baby Kalan into the world on September 8 last year.
League return: Carley Ernst.Credit:Getty Images
But the Melbourne Boomers have signed the 27-year-old as cover for when they lose star bigs Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor next month for the Opals’ FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament in Serbia.
Ernst has already suited up for two games for the Boomers, including scoring four points in eight minutes against Perth on January 17.
“I am really excited to be joining the Melbourne Boomers for the remaining part of the WNBL season,” Ernst said in a Boomers’ release.
“When the opportunity presented & the club offered their support of my responsibilities as a first-time mum with baby Kylan, I jumped at the chance to play with such a talented team and experienced coaching staff.”
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