His return for the Warriors Nov. 1 opener against the Lakers still hasn't been ruled out, but you can imagine he'd be rusty if he tries to rush back that quickly. That might open the door for Dajuan Wagner to make his return to the league in grand style as a member of Don Nelson's starting lineup. Wagner hasn't played in over a year following a life-threatening bout with colitis, but his ability to pick up where he left off has been miraculous. Mickael Pietrus and Monta Ellis could also be options at shooting guard, but it's been Wagner taking Richardson's spot thus far in the preseason.
He and former Florida Gator Anthony Roberson have caught the eye of Nelson with their effectiveness at a heightened pace. Roberson had a brief stint with Memphis last season and came in without a guaranteed deal, but a 28-point scoring night against Denver has him in contention to stick.
Wagner has the ability to do more than just stick, earning praise as Nelson's best shooter to date.
"He's definitely an offensive threat, and I've been impressed with his defense -- he's no slouch there," Nelson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "And his history in college was that he didn't pass the ball, but he's been a real good passer here."
Nene still hampered, exercising caution
Sticking with the surprises, I still find it unreasonable that George Karl is disturbed that he hasn't been able to get a good look at Nene yet, due to the Brazilian power forward erring on the side of caution with his surgically repaired knee.
Nene is trying to avoid the nightmare that befell Kenyon Martin last season and is making sure he doesn't push too hard as he deals with the expected soreness and swelling that comes with rehabbing a torn ACL.
"Physiologically, he's in great shape from a standpoint of strength and body, but you can't tell until you get on the court and run up and down," Karl said. "What bothers me is the system of running to get in shape. We're trying to play a system that, when he comes back, he's probably only going to be able to play short minutes."
A slow start is a far better alternative than losing a kid you just invested a boat load of money in. Considering what the Nuggets went through with Martin and the reminder of losing Nene in last year's first game being so fresh, it boggles the mind how short-sighted Karl is being in expressing his frustration.
Chalk one up for the gym rat
You wouldn't expect Travis Diener to see much playing time with this year's Magic given their glut of guards. In fact, a roster spot wasn't even guaranteed; He entered camp needing to make the roster to cash in on the $664,209 he's due to make.
Those grim circumstances haven't stopped the former Marquette guard from bullying his way into consideration for a spot in Brian Hill's rotation -- with a little help from fate, of course.
Injuries to Jameer Nelson (concussion) and Carlos Arroyo (strained abdominal muscle) put the ball in Diener's court, and he's responded by leading the Magic with a 15.7 points per game average through the first part of the preseason. Nelson and Arroyo are set to return, but that doesn't mean Diener isn't going to get a chance to contribute. His 3-point stroke and nifty playmaking should still command minutes, especially as J.J. Redick mends.