CLEVELAND — Cavaliers rookie forward Anthony Bennett, the top pick in this year’s NBA draft, has asthma and sleep apnea.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown revealed Bennett’s conditions Thursday night before the Cavs hosted the Detroit Pistons in an exhibition game. Bennett’s asthma was not widely known and obviously did not prevent the Cavs from taking the former UNLV star in June’s draft.
Bennett has had some breathing issues during workouts and in preseason games, and him being sometimes winded had been attributed to him not being able to work out as much this summer after undergoing shoulder surgery in May. But Brown said Bennett also deals with asthma and wears a mask at night for his sleep apnea.
“It’s a culmination of a lot of things,” Brown said. “The shoulder, he’s been out for a while, he’s got asthma. We’re throwing a lot at him. He’s probably never played this hard against this competition in his life. He’s got sleep apnea and some other things. He likes to stay up late.”
The 6-foot-8, 259-pound Bennett averaged 10 points and 6.3 rebounds in his first three NBA preseason games. He’s coming off the bench for Brown, and made his first shot — a 3-pointer — against the Pistons and followed that up with a breakaway dunk.
Brown said Bennett’s breathing issues are noticeable.
Team retires Jason Kidd’s jersey: In New York, the Nets retired the No. 5 jersey of Jason Kidd, who led them to two NBA Finals as a player and is now their coach.
The ceremony happened Thursday night before the Nets hosted the Miami Heat.
Kidd arrived in New Jersey in 2001 and promptly led the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals. He played with them until he was traded midway through the 2007-08 season and is the franchise leader in numerous statistical categories.
Kidd retired last season after spending one season, his 19th, with the New York Knicks.
The banner was the New Jersey Nets’ red, white and blue, not the Brooklyn black and white.
Club owner wants to take on Jordan: Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera is starting just his second season as head of an NBA team, though that isn’t stopping him from challenging the game’s most iconic player.
Pera, who had a 1-on-1 preseason challenge against Grizzlies guard Tony Allen canceled several weeks ago, decided to seek a contest against Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, with $1 million going to charity.
The challenge came in a Twitter exchange Monday where Pera apologized about cancellation of the Tony Allen showdown, which would have resulted in a $100,000 donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Someone suggested the Grizzlies owner just change it to an owners match with Pera facing off against Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Pera’s response was he would make quick work of Cuban — so instead, he called out the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
Jefferson expects to be back for opener: In Charlotte, N.C., center Al Jefferson said there’s a “very realistic” chance he will be back for Charlotte’s regular season opener at Houston on Oct. 30.
“If you ask me, I’ll be ready in another week or so, but (the training staff) wants to take it slow,” he said.
Jefferson, who signed a $41 million free agent contract this offseason, gave the Bobcats a scare when he sprained his right ankle in Friday’s preseason game against the Miami Heat in Kansas City.
“That’s my goal — to be ready for the season opener,” Jefferson said. “My ankle is healing real fast. Two days ago I was on crutches and now I’m in my regular shoes.”