Zach Oliver filed this story following Friday's Orlando Magic training camp session.- ED
Frye sprains MCL
Friday's big news: Channing Frye sprained the MCL in his left knee Thursday. As coach Jacque Vaughn said, it happened during "just a basketball play." While neither Vaughn or Frye knew the severity of the injury, both were highly optimistic and felt lucky that the injury wasn't much worse.
Frye appeared to be in good spirits. "I feel good. You know, I'm disappointed, but at the same time it could've been way worse," he said. "It could've set me back way longer, but thank God it happened now, of any time."
Though he has a positive outlook now, Frye said he was "concerned" when the injury occurred.
"Anytime you get hit in the knee like that you're always pretty worried and, for me, I've never really had a lot of knee injuries, so I don't really know," he said. "I was more disappointed, man. I put in a lot of work. I've been running my ass off, and you know I was excited to continue to play with these guys. But, my attitude is 'it could've been worse' and everything happens for a reason. It's time for me to stay around these guys, continue to learn and stay involved, and just rehab and be ready to go."
It's a potentially big blow for the team, but as Frye mentioned, it's best that the injury happened now, rather than later. While it will put a strain on the team growing its continuity, it will give some of the team's younger players a chance to potentially get more playing time and start season on the right foot. When he is able to come back, be that in a week or a month, he's going to have a profound impact on the team from the jump.
After really carving out a role on the team last season, this is a big year for third-year big man Kyle O'Quinn. With restricted free agency looming in the summer of 2015, it's time to prove to the team that he should be here for the long run.
O'Quinn admits that starting the final 19 games last season gave him a confidence boost going into the offseason. "It was good for my confidence," said the Norfolk State grad. "It made me go into the summertime knowing, more or less, what I needed to work on. You know I had game experience to really judge on my work out there; I didn't just go through workouts hoping to be ready for a season I didn't know what to expect. So, you know those games really helped and I appreciate Coach giving me the opportunity and those minutes. But it really helped me out this summer and hopefully to kickstart this next year."
He also talked about how it's important for him to eliminate the "big" mistakes and just make "basketball mistakes." He wants to stay ready because of what could happen, no matter what the gameplan may say.
It'll be very interesting to see what kind of role O'Quinn plays in 2014/15. In his second year, he showed that he can protect the rim with the best of them, finishing with the seventh-lowest opponent field goal percentage at the rim of players with at least 75 blocks, per NBA.com's player tracking data. Add his knack for rebounding, great passing ability, and solid mid-range shot, and you have a very valuable backup big man.
Nicholson working in the post
After a tough second season that saw him struggle to find consistency, big man Andrew Nicholson seems poised for a bounce-back year. He added a three-point shot before the 2013/14 season, and much of the time could be seen just standing in the corner, rather than fighting for position on the block, an area in which he excelled as a rookie.
Nicholson said that he's "going back to what I used to do" with his work in the post, but wouldn't completely abandon the three-point shot. He also said that over the summer he spent much of his time working on his post game and getting the rhythm and feel back.
Like O'Quinn, it's a big year for Nicholson, who has to show that he is continuing to develop. He'll be up for a contract extension following next season, and a few strong years could earn him his spot on the team for years to come.