First Cup: Tuesday
August, 28, 2012
By Nick Borges
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: The Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs could pull off an unconventional swap of sorts. And this particular one wouldn't include any players, draft picks or trade exceptions. Jazz assistant coach Scott Layden has accepted an invitation by Spurs management to interview for the organization's assistant general manager vacancy, according to a source. The meeting was scheduled for Monday night with general manager R.C. Buford and head coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, the source said. Spurs ownership will not be in attendance. This San Antonio position opened three weeks ago when the Jazz hired then-Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey to replace Kevin O'Connor as Utah's general manager. It's unknown if there are other candidates for the Spurs assistant GM position.
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hawks GM Danny Ferry says Spurs free agent James Anderson has been invited to join the team’s veterans camp. Anderson apparently will accept, according to a tweet by former teammate Danny Green. Anderson, 23, likely will join the Hawks on a summer contract. If it proves to be a good fit for team and player, Anderson would be signed to the roster on a non-guaranteed contract to fill the defensive-minded wing role Ferry is seeking (though it’s notable that Anderson has played most of his minutes at shooting guard). Anderson, San Antonio’s first-round pick in the 2010 draft, has played just 889 total minutes in two seasons. During that limited time his offensive production and efficiency have been bad. Anderson’s defensive on-court, off-court and opponent PER have been positive but his Synergy defensive stats have been poor, especially in isolation.
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof need to show something. Scream. Shout. Sob. Throw a temper tantrum. Tell their critics to jump off a building. Do something, anything, to demonstrate that they haven't fled the market, that they are aggressively engaging local businessmen and politicians in arena discussions, and in the aftermath of the $391 million arena plan they rejected last spring, that they are willing to consider other options in the ZIP code that not so long ago was considered NBA royalty. Their silence on this Virginia Beach situation is killing them. The carefully crafted comments issued last week in response to these latest arena/relocation reports would have been fine in a market without Sacramento's arena history. But you can't simply write off a recent past that includes a near-move to Anaheim, followed by the implosion of a downtown deal that initially received the Maloofs' very public blessing.
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: Pau Gasol conceded he hasn’t spoken with Serge Ibaka since the Olympics about his reduced role. But he believes Ibaka needed to better understand the team dynamic. “We were very talented and we were very deep. There’s so many other great players,” Gasol said. “Some days you’ll play a little more. Some days you’ll play better. Some days you won’t. But at the end of the day, what matters is the team success. … He’s only 22 or 23. He has many years ahead of him. It’s good he has a desire and hunger. But he needs to understand the facts and circumstances of the moment and the needs long-term.” Ibaka recently signed a four-year, $65-million extension with Oklahoma City, but it remains unclear whether that would soften his frustration with the Spanish national team. Still, Gasol hopes Ibaka’s realizes his role may expand in 2016 for a simple reason. “I’m not going to play forever,” Gasol said. “Marc is not going to play forever.”
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Until the time comes to add an elite star via free-agency, draft or trade, the Suns can be a self-improvement project. They are placing a greater emphasis on player development with former 17-year NBA guard Lindsey Hunter heading the initiative after a season as a college scout. ... Hunter began working out players this month with more individualized plans to come in September, when voluntary sessions begin. "We're trying to put together a system where we're no longer looking for outside influences to create a better product," Hunter said. "We want to do it right from the interior. A lot of people say, 'You got to go get better players,' which is true. But you have to make what you have better and we're serious about it now." The Suns intend to hire a young former NBA big man and make the staff available to players "24-7," General Manager Lance Blanks said. "This is really important to me," Blanks said. "It's not something that was needed. What the organization was doing worked. It won at a very high level. Different personnel and situation. This will create a lot of continuity between front office, coaches and training staff." Mark West, the Suns' vice president of player programs, will be used more -- and that is long overdue for how he serves as a strong role model and an intelligent basketball man. High-character people such as West and Hunter can be an after-hours extension of the coaches.
- Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: The Minnesota Timberwolves, who will begin training camp Oct. 2, have 13 players with guaranteed contracts, including big men Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love Andrei Kirilenko and Greg Stiemsma. But Wolves President David Kahn is considering adding another big player through free agency. Kahn has several candidates in mind but all he can offer is a veteran minimum deal of about $1 million. Meanwhile, Kahn also is catching up with Wolves players. On Sunday, he was in Seattle, where he had lunch with new guard Brandon Roy and planned to watch veteran guard Luke Ridnour work out that evening. "Just checking in," Kahn said, "making sure everything is under control." Plans are for Roy to be in Minneapolis by next weekend to enroll his oldest son in kindergarten, then begin working out locally. Kahn said point guard Ricky Rubio's rehabilitation from knee surgery "is proceeding well." Rubio's knee will be examined in the coming days in Vail, Colo., and he's expected in Minneapolis within three weeks.
- James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko is playing for Team Sweden in the qualifying round of the 2013 Eurobasket tournament, but he's also keeping focus on his NBA lift. Asked after a recent game in Germany how the Pistons are shaping up this season, he sounded an optimistic tone. "We got a deep team," Jerebko said. " Our goal was the playoffs last year. We played playoff basketball, but we started off the season horrible. We're going to get better. We got a young team, and we're going to make the playoffs."
- Diamond Leung of MLive.com: Draymond Green left Michigan State an All-American and yet was forced to wait until the second round before the Golden State Warriors drafted him. But he is gaining recognition as one of the rookies who will do better than his draft slot suggests. NBA.com surveyed 39 rookies last week, and Green was at the top receiving 8.8 percent of the votes along with Oklahoma City's Perry Jones, Orlando's Andrew Nicholson and Memphis' Tony Wroten. And while ESPN.com ranked Green the NBA's 334th best player, NBA writer Tom Haberstroh names him the fastest-rising player on those rankings.
- Tim Stevens of The Charlotte Observer: John Wall grew up 10 seconds down Davie Street from Hunter Elementary School and he remembers running to the school to play when he was a little boy. He was on the same playground Monday morning as the school welcomed 600 first- through fifth-graders to the first day of school with a field day starring Wall, former neighbor and current NBA star. Wall later joked that the children had no idea who he was. Few, if any, knew his story. A great player who struggled through adolescence following the death of his father when he was 9 years old, Wall was the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country when he was a senior at Raleigh Word of God Academy and the first player taken in the 2010 NBA draft after one year at Kentucky. Some of the children may know that Wall bought a new Raleigh home for his mother, but they did not know how hard it still is for him to put into words the love and respect he has for her. A new home and lifestyle are not nearly enough, he said.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Bucks rookie forward John Henson took a tour of Titletown on Monday, accompanied by Packers and Bucks fan Cassidy McGowan of Green Bay. ... The two toured Lambeau Field, attended a Packers practice session and even had lunch at Kroll's West near the stadium. It was all part of the Bucks' plan to stir up interest in the team's preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Resch Center, scheduled Oct. 26. What surprised Henson most on his first visit to Green Bay? "All the fans coming out," he said of attending the Packers practice. "It was almost like a game was going on but it was practice." Yes, they take their football seriously in these parts. But Henson said he considers himself an avid pro football fan. His favorite team? The Dallas Cowboys. His favorite player? Tom Brady. His favorite Cowboy? Dez Bryant. "I probably know at least three or four players on every team," Henson said. Henson said he would love to return to Green Bay at some point to watch the Packers play a real game. "It's on my list," he said.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Fox Sports Ohio will carry 81 of the Cavaliers' 82 games during the 2012-13 regular season. However, they'll have a new sideline reporter. Jeff Phelps, the previous sideline reporter, will return for his 10th season with the broadcast team, but Phelps will host the Cavs' pregame and postgame shows. He'll be at Quicken Loans Arena for the home games and at the Fox Sports Ohio studio for road games. He'll be joined by analyst Campy Russell. FSO's new sideline reporter will be Allyson Clifton, a graduate of the University of Toledo. ... Play-by-play man Fred McLeod will return for his seventh season, and Austin Carr will remain the color analyst.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Though the senior men did not qualify for the London Games, this was one of the best summers ever for Canada Basketball. Canada’s senior women qualified for the Olympics only about a month before they began and going on to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time ever, where they ran into the buzz-saw that is the top-ranked American team. A year after two players were drafted into the NBA — including Brampton’s Tristan Thompson who went fourth overall to Cleveland — three more players were selected, led by Mississauga’s Andrew Nicholson, who went 19th to Orlando. Nicholson, Kris Joseph (from Montreal, drafted 51st by Boston) and Robert Sacre (North Vancouver, 60th by the Los Angeles Lakers) all showed up for Canada’s training camp this weekend, significant since Nicholson had never previously been at a Canadian get-together and Joseph had chosen to leave camp the last time he showed up. Canada’s future stars also fared well this summer. The junior men’s squad took home bronze at the FIBA Americas U18 tourney in Brazil, finishing 4-1 and beating Argentina to reach the podium.