- Beckley Mason, NBA
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In a fantastic interview with ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin, Pau Gasol talks about his work with undernourished children in Chad, and the Lakers' big offseason: "We have to understand that there’s only one basketball to play with and we have a lot of players that can put the ball in the hole, and I’ll try to do my best to be assertive, to be active and be aggressive. I think I can create a lot of things for myself and my teammates, but we obviously have to see how we all fit in together and, as always, accept the role that we have as it’s determined. Just for the benefit of the team, always. At the end of the day, our goal is to win back the championship and do whatever it takes to get there. That will be the bottom line."
ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle with some severe analysis of the Bulls' offseason: "In the end, the Bulls will return just seven players from the roster that won more games than any other the past two seasons, and that includes Rose, who might not return until March, if at all. The Bulls do seem to have a long-term plan in place to unearth a star player to team with Rose down the line, presumably to take the place of Deng, who has two more years left on his deal. That's all well and good, but what about the next two years? Chicago will be trying to unseat a Miami team against which its chief edge -- depth -- no longer exists."
Fourth overall draft pick Dion Waiters says he was out of shape at Summer League.
On Hickory High, Ian Levy has an interesting post regarding Carmelo Anthony and on-court identity: "Looking back through recent history, identity-driven players like Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Monta Ellis and Gilbert Arenas have been much more successful in the maintenance of that [scorer] identity than they have been in the pursuit of championship-level basketball. Meanwhile process and method-driven players like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki have found themselves astride the NBA mountaintop."
The Spurs will be counting on Boris Diaw to deliver again next season.
Zach Lowe of SI digs deep into Kobe Bryant's off-ball habits: "Kobe is also great at spinning on the block for high-low lobs from Gasol, and he is a very good screener in a variety of situations: pick-and-rolls up top with Sessions, pick-and-rolls near the block with Gasol and standard cross-screens under the basket with Bynum. All of this stuff can work within the Lakers’ hybrid Princeton system, since every Bryant cut and screen flows into follow-up cuts and screens all over the floor. At it’s core, that’s what the Princeton system is all about: constant screening and movement to space the floor and create open shots. But there are plenty of possessions — literally hundreds — in which Kobe makes that catch on the wing with 11 or 12 seconds remaining on the clock, holds the ball long enough for you to roll pasta around your fork without missing anything, and then finally goes to work. And on those possessions, there is very little stylistic difference between the Lakers — the high-powered, superstar-laden Lakers — and the Kings, which have any number of dead possessions throughout a game."
How dare you claim anyone other than the Pistons are the Bad Boys of Detroit!
In defense of Vinny Del Negro ... sort of.
Doug Collins wants Spencer Hawes to play with Andrew Bynum like Pau Gasol. Sounds ambitious.
Is this the year the Golden State Warriors get back to the playoffs? Tom Haberstroh (Insider) thinks so: "Bogut and Curry might represent the most underappreciated defensive and offensive players in the NBA, respectively. When healthy -- and that hasn't been the case for about two years now -- Bogut can be as dominant defensively as any big man outside of Dwight Howard and maybe Tyson Chandler. (Side note: It's a myth to say that Bogut is injury-prone, considering his broken ankle in 2011 and mangled right arm injury in 2010 were exactly as he described them -- freak occurrences). Before Bogut landed on Kyle Lowry's foot in January, he and his 7-foot frame had anchored a top-five defense for three seasons in Milwaukee. Sure, you could owe a bulk of the credit to coach Scott Skiles' instruction. But Bogut's stellar defensive on-court/off-court ratings underline his instrumental role on that side of the floor: minus-4.9 per 100 possessions in 2009-10; minus-3.0 in 2010-11; and an absurd minus-10.0 in 2011-12 (albeit in just 12 games). All this is to say that no one could score on the Bucks when Bogut took the floor. Without him? The Bucks had just another defense."
This profile from SI's Lee Jenkins isn't about basketball, it's about Eastern Christian Academy in Delaware, a high school football team that is attached to a virtual school. But the issues associated with such an enterprise extend beyond football and would seem to have special bearing on the future of college sports and the NCAA. Whatever your feeling on the matter, Eastern Christian Academy is putting a lot of pressure on the traditional relationship between education and athletics.