Minnesota Gets An Early Christmas Gift; Joakim Noah Learns Post Moves From Kareem

The signs have been promising, but you never want to get your hopes up after ligament tears in a knee. Still, we’d seen Ricky Rubio‘s road to recovery and then him shooting a little (Minnesota die-hards will cling to anything that projects hope with Rubio, and that late-night show’s skit qualifies). To complete the hope triangle, let’s add in a third reason to believe: Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said today that his star second-year point guard is expected to play before Christmas, according to an ESPN report. If our math is right, that would put him around two to three weeks earlier than planned and that should have people dancing in the streets outside the Target Center. Isn’t it funny to think about how the perception of Rubio has changed ever since he was originally drafted and then decided to stay in Spain? First he couldn’t play so he was hiding in Europe, or maybe he was too young and not physical enough for the NBA. We think there was a little added venom in there because he was a David Kahn pick, too, but damn if he didn’t prove the critics wrong once he arrived. He was getting 10.2 points, 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals in 34 minutes last year while rotating the starting spot early with Luke Ridnour. … One of the perks with being drafted by the Bobcats is knowing you’ll get even a little face time with owner Michael Jordan. No. 2 pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gets the added bonus of being signed by Jordan Brand now. The second part of Kentucky’s 1-2 NBA Draft punch in June shared the news of his sneaker deal via Instagram. With Dwyane Wade expected to leave Jordan sometime soon for Li-Ning, MKG gets next with with shoe line whose president is Larry Miller, the former Blazers president. How soon do you think MKG could get his signature shoe — Year Two? … As one era begins in Charlotte, another ends in Boston. That’s right, Keyon Dooling is retiring, according to Hoopsworld. Dooling spent 12 years in the NBA, giving us lots of good quotes and a fight with future teammate Ray Allen. Don’t sleep on Dooling’s transformation from top-10 bust to a guard who became a steadying force in the last half of his career, starting in New Jersey and Orlando after the Clips drafted him. He even became known as “Reverend” in Boston last season. So long, Keyon. … JaVale McGee on a Segway, everyone. Anyone else and we’d be surprised. … … Hit the jump to read about who’s tutoring Joakim Noah

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t allowing Hakeem Olajuwon to corner the market on big man tutorials just yet. Kareem had taught Andrew Bynum before, but we all know that that situation didn’t end well. He has a new muse now in Joakim Noah. He said he expects Noah to have a more “expanded” post game this season, which can’t be taken as just gravy good news for a dominant Bulls team of the past two years. Instead, with the team’s rash of free agency defections — you can dog Omer Asik but he was a good post player on both ends — any improvement by Noah’s offense is necessary for this club. We wonder if this was a student-teacher deal or if it was a straight-across trade, with Noah dishing out tips to Kareem on his favorite dance moves, too. On a serious note, though, it’s just good for the Bulls to know he’s healthy again after missing out on the Olympics with Team France. … The only things dropping faster than Stephen Jackson‘s photos from his Stak5 promo tour on Instagram are new colorways of the LeBron X. This is the “Blackout” colorway, a strictly business joint that we could see him suiting up in for games goes into his no-emotion mode and drops a triple double or a 40-and-10 night. … Bummer news out of Phoenix, where Channing Frye is out indefinitely with an enlarged heart. The dude never caught on in Portland, where Nate McMillan never embraced him stepping out to 20, 22 feet but he’s been resurgent as a Phoenix with Alvin Gentry. The Suns announced the move. … Other medical news of the day, but for happier reasons, came out of Golden State. The Warriors love to run, even under Mark Jackson, but their two best players can’t even run right now. Here’s the good news: Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut are on pace to be back in the early season. Curry was cleared today for full five-on-five scrimmages after his right ankle surgery, while Bogut checked in from Australia to say that he’s on pace for training camp and the first game. … Lastly, Terrence Williams is going to be a Piston, Yahoo reported. … We’re out like Keyon Dooling.

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