First Cup: Tuesday
October, 2, 2012
By Nick Borges
- Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times: General manager Gar Forman said Rose hasn’t suffered any setbacks, and coach Tom Thibodeau said he wants Rose’s focus to remain on his rehab. The only time line offered was Rose saying that he’s two weeks away from starting to cut with his knee. “Cutting is the hardest thing in the world right now to do,” he said. “I’m scared of it. When I think I’ve got that out of my system, I’ll be pretty close. … Hopefully, it won’t take the whole year.” But sitting out the whole season never really sounded like an option Monday. “I can’t wait to get back on the court to see what I’m going to do,” Rose said. “I don’t know how I’m going to play. I don’t know what’s going to be new about my game. ‘‘I just know it’s going to be exciting for everyone to see.”
- Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: James Harden says he wants to stay in Oklahoma City and play with the Thunder. He reiterated as much Monday at Thunder media day. “Of course I want to be here,” he said. … Harden repeated his willingness to sacrifice to stay with the Thunder, asserting that a max contract wasn't a necessity. He even went so far as to say he believed a deal would be done by the Oct. 31 deadline. “That's why I'm not too worried about it,” he said. Maybe the Thunder can re-sign Harden after all. Crunching the numbers and listening to the qualifiers thrown around by the Thunder brass, it hasn't seemed like keeping Harden would be possible. Surely, he would want more money than the team could handle. Getting a deal done still seems like an extremely long shot.
- Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News: On Monday our eyes finally got involved as Howard, Nash, Bryant, Gasol, World Peace and Jamison all took the floor in their Lakers uniforms for the first time together. In was an impressive display of firepower and star power, the affable Howard lighting up the gym with his rendition of the Temptations' "Silent Night," the dry wit of Nash obviously shining through and the ecstatic smile of Bryant stretched wide as he surveyed the new toys he has to play with. More important, they are the weapons he now has to match up against the best teams in the NBA as he chases that elusive sixth NBA Title. "I'm very excited," Bryant said. Meanwhile, a throng of media members were herded from one player to the next in a scene that even left the players themselves rolling their eyes in astonishment. "I knew it would be different ...," Nash said, his voice trailing off. We all did. But this? "I'm just amazed and blessed to be a part of it," Howard said, wearing a perpetual smile as he held court with reporters, sat down for radio interviews and did magazine photo shoots.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Zach Randolph heard the same question everywhere he went during the offseason. The Grizzlies' power forward heard it again in FedExForum on Monday afternoon. So, big fella, how is your knee? Randolph just smiled as he held court during the Grizzlies' annual media day. "My knee is 100 percent," Randolph said, "and I feel good. It's a new season. I'm turning the page." The book on Randolph last season was that he had no lift, could no longer gobble up rebounds in bunches or bully opponents in the paint. That was after the 31-year-old veteran returned from a knee injury (a partially torn MCL) that cost him 38 games and cut down his confidence. Randolph, though, is determined to write a new chapter that reminds Griz fans of his prowess two years ago when he became an all-star.
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Josh Smith, 26, is entering the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it is “unlikely” the two sides will reach a new deal before the offseason. It doesn’t mean Smith is playing his last season in Atlanta. He could sign an extension before June 30, but it would be for a maximum of three years. After that date he could sign a new contract for a maximum of five years and worth just under $100 million. There is risk involved, for player and coach, but one both sides are willing to make. “My mindset is making it to the playoffs,” Smith said. “I’m not worrying about any contract discussions. I think the team and I are on the same page. We know what we are going to do. My main concern is making the playoffs and winning basketball games.” It is a big season for Smith. He knows it. The organization knows it.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: Monday at the team's practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, managing owner Josh Harris announced that Doug Collins had agreed to a 1-year extension on his contract, which was to expire after this season. "We have Doug for at least 2 years contractually but hopefully a lot longer than that," Harris said. "Obviously, from my point of view and the team's point of view we feel very lucky to have a world-class coach like Doug running our team. When you look at the improvement of the Sixers from where he started, we've had a lot of success. Like I've said in the past, we want to have a world-class organization up and down and it starts with coach Collins. He really delivered for the team, puts his all into the team. I couldn't think of a better leader for our team on and off the court."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: John Wall had invested significant time and effort in preparing for his third season, one that he believes will define his career in the NBA. He hired a noted trainer and new strength and conditioning coach. He looked forward to getting on the floor with Nene, developing chemistry with first-round draft pick Bradley Beal and several of the other new pieces, and getting the Washington Wizards back on the path toward respectability. Suddenly, that was all delayed. The emotions remained raw Monday, but Wall tried to appear upbeat as the Wizards players gathered at Verizon Center on the eve of his first NBA training camp as a spectator. He spoke with owner Ted Leonsis, joked around with his teammates as he posed for pictures and dribbled standing still — about all that he is allowed to do because of his current predicament. “It’s definitely a big blow for me,” Wall said of the injury. “That’s something I definitely don’t want to hear, but it’s something I have to deal with in this game of basketball. I just have to be strong, smart and mature about it and let it pass.”
- Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings presently constitute the Milwaukee Bucks’ starting backcourt. Will that dynamic duo be the team’s backcourt of the future as well? That remains the $64,000 question as neither Ellis nor Jennings appears close to committing to the team for the long haul. Ellis, whom the Bucks acquired in a blockbuster trade with Golden State in March, has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season. The scuttlebutt around the league is the high-octane scoring Ellis will exercise that option and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Ellis, who will be paid $11 million this season and $11 million again next season if he decides to remain in Milwaukee, said he isn’t overly concerned about his contract situation. … Ellis added he wasn’t in any rush to secure an extension from the Bucks. When asked if his agent, Jeff Fried, has been negotiating with the Bucks, Ellis said, “They talked just one time. They didn’t talk about much.”
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: The Kings have until Oct. 31 to sign Tyreke Evans to a contract extension. That's not the plan as of now regarding the fourth-year guard. Evans will be a restricted free agent after this season if the Kings make him a qualifying offer. "There really hasn't been any significant discussion on that," basketball president Geoff Petrie said. "It's something we'll see how it goes." Evans said the contract isn't a concern. "That's just going to come with the season," Evans said. "I'm just trying to stay healthy, and hopefully, we can win as many games as possible and make the playoffs. But the contract, I'm not really worrying about that."
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: If the Pistons are to return to NBA relevance, second-year pro Brandon Knight must make the jump from promising prospect to standout point guard. "He's the key to the team because he's the point guard, the general," Pistons newcomer Corey Maggette said Monday. "He's gotten better, he's gained more weight, and he has the eye of the tiger, so we will see what happens." Talk about pressure. Knight, two months shy of 21, is coming off a promising rookie season in which he averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. He set a Pistons rookie record by making 105 three-pointers despite the lockout-shortened season of 66 games. He made the NBA's all-rookie second team. It's promising, but does it foreshadow the coming of an elite point guard? He attacked the off-season workouts with a passion that hasn't been seen around the Palace in some time, impressing the coaching staff, the front office and teammates, who followed his lead.
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Paul George looked like he was ready for that responsibility last season when he played at times like the team's best all-around player. But then there were occasions when he was the fifth best Pacer on the court. That's in the past, according to George. Shaw's conversation is implanted in George's brain and he said he is ready to carry that load on his shoulders. "I feel like there's a lot riding on me," George said on the eve of training camp opening today. "I like the pressure. I like to be in the situation I'm in. I worked hard the whole summer to get better at my game. I'm the 'X' factor." The Pacers hope to see more performances like the one George had against Dallas last season (30 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals) than the timid play they got from him at times during the 2012 playoffs. "The sky is the limit," Pacers forward Danny Granger said.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: For the past two years, injuries have curtailed Rodrigue Beaubois' opportunity to take his game to the next level. Prior to his second season with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010, Beaubois had surgery after breaking his left foot while training with the French national team. The next season, he had surgery on the same foot after it didn't heal properly the first time. But this year -- barring an injury -- the Mavericks are expecting some special performances from their polarizing guard; especially considering Beaubois is in the final year of his contract, leaving the Mavs wondering whether they want to invest more money in the fourth-year veteran beyond this season. "He's had a great summer," coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's gotten stronger, he's in the best condition that he's ever been in coming into camp, and he's got three years' experience under his belt. "It all adds up to this is his time to make a statement and really establish some consistency.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Kevin Martin kept waiting for the call that would tell him he was the next Rockets player to be shipped out of town. It never came, but he didn’t sound convinced that his number wasn’t still on Daryl Morey’s speed dial. On Monday, Martin made several mentions of uncertainty about where he might land. After his struggles last season and the Rockets’ overhaul since, he joked that doing a radio interview with Morey was “weird.” “Why was it weird?” he said. “Were you around here last year?” Martin played in just 40 games with his season cut short by a shoulder injury. But he returns in the final season of his contract determined to start over and see where that takes him. “With coach (Kevin) McHale, we’ll leave last year behind us,” Martin said. “To me, it’s what happens on the basketball court.” Still, it was an interesting offseason, especially for one of the few veterans still around. “It was different,” Martin said.
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: Center Eddy Curry, a surprise addition to the Spurs training camp roster on Monday morning, has been an enigma through much of his NBA career. … He also has battled weight issues throughout his career, and over the past three seasons has played in only 24 games, scoring just 61 points and grabbing only 29 rebouinds. But Curry, who earned a championship ring as a member of the Heat last season, looked fit and trim as he posed for photographers at Spurs media day. “I worked hard this summer,” Curry said. “I dropped 15, 20 pounds. I was in pretty good shape when the season ended. I just had to maintain, trim up a little bit more.” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich noticed. “I didn’t know much about Eddy Curry and he did come into camp lighter than I thought he would,” Popovich said.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: No key Raptor has more to prove than DeMar DeRozan this season. Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross are rookies, Andrea Bargnani had a semi-breakout campaign last year. Meanwhile, DeRozan struggled, shooting a career-worst 42.2% from the field, including a huge decline in his mid-range marksmanship. He was particularly poor in the first half of the season. Coupled with the fact his defence didn’t take a noticeable step forward, unlike many of his teammates, means 2012-13 is shaping up as a huge year for the fourth-year guard, who is eligible for a contract extension until Halloween. Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said at media day on Monday that he has spoken to DeRozan’s agent “multiple times over the past several weeks to start to establish a dialogue,” but a pre-Halloween extension is far from a given.
- Adrian Dater of The Denver Post: Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri not only had to field calls from teams with various interests in his players, the Nuggets had to field calls about interest in Ujiri's services. Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said Monday a recent Yahoo report that the team gave permission to the Philadelphia 76ers to talk with Ujiri about possibly their vacant G.M. post was untrue. "You hire good people for a reason, and sometimes other people take notice of that. But we never gave permission to Philly to talk to Masai," Kroenke said. Ujiri said there was never any thought to leaving Denver.
- Jason Quick of The Oregonian: So don't listen to Olshey and Stotts talk about the playoffs. That's to sell tickets, to boost morale within. If they said anything different, it would go against a basketball team's competitive nature. The real story, and the real progress will be measured in how much improvement is made by rookies Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Will Barton. And whether Nolan Smith and Luke Babbitt prove enough in practice to earn playing time. And whether imports Joel Freeland and Victor Claver develop enough for one to see visions of San Antonio's Tiago Splitter or Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova. There's also the intriguing element of whether Nicolas Batum graduates from inconsistent to consistent performer. Whether Wesley Matthews distinguishes himself as more than just a de facto starter. And whether LaMarcus Aldridge can go from All-Star to first- or second-team All-NBA stud.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Monday's media day felt less tense, as if air had been let out of a balloon that had been about to burst. "We understand what we're trying to accomplish as a team and know that and don't let what other people say interfere with what goes on here," big man Glen Davis said. "We let that happen last year, and we're not going to let that happen again. We understand that it's going to be tough, and we're going to work extremely hard every day to make sure that we put the effort and work in to win ballgames." No one denied the team faces a transition period in the months ahead. "You don't start a season and say, 'I hope we win 30 games' or 'I hope we can get an eighth seed,' " shooting guard J.J. Redick said. "That's not a great mindset. But you also have to understand that we're not necessarily hitting the reset button, but we're rebuilding a culture. We're rebuilding an attitude and an approach. That sometimes takes time." To rebuild an attitude, they say they can't be anyone's pushover.
- Brad Rock of the Deseret News: In an unprecedented move in American sports, Seattle Sounders minority owner Drew Carey, the comedian and "The Price is Right" game show host, has delivered his all-time greatest gag line. Beginning Sunday, season-ticket holders and fan club members will be allowed to vote on whether to retain Sounders G.M. Adrian Hanauer, as per Carey's request. Results will be announced at a board meeting in December. Though the club would name a successor, the point is that the fans would have a say in a firing. A similar vote will occur in four years. By then, who knows, maybe Sounders fans will be choosing coaches and players, too. (It's a good thing for Bronco Mendenhall that he wasn't up for review after BYU's failed two-point conversion try in Boise.) Asked his opinion on the Sounders' situation, Dennis Lindsey noted his appreciation for Jazz fans, but added: "It would be tough to run a team that way. Hopefully the Miller family won't subscribe to that philosophy."