First Cup: Thursday
October, 4, 2012
By Nick Borges
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: If Royce White’s condition were a traditional sports injury, answers would come relatively easily. The Rockets could pinpoint the cause of the ailment and the treatment needed. They could offer an approximation of when he would be healed and ready to play. But for White and the Rockets, answers are not within such easy reach. With White’s illness — Generalized Anxiety Disorder — symptoms are much more mercurial, the protocol far less tangible. The length of his absence from training camp will remain indefinite. Rockets officials met with White in Houston on Wednesday and came away believing he was making “progress,” according to an official with knowledge of the meeting. But it remains unclear when he’ll join the team. White has been uncommonly open about his condition and managed it well enough to be an All-American at Iowa State. And the Rockets were happy to invest one of their first-round picks last June to acquire him.
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: Ray Allen got a loud ovation from the surprisingly large crowd of 11,221 when he made his first shot, a three from the corner, less than one minute into Wednesday night's proceedings. Allen shot 5 for 11, including 3 for 7 on threes. But the most amusing Allen news of the night was a fan being booed – essentially forced to move to another seat – for showing up in an Allen “Celtics” jersey. “It was pretty funny,” Allen said. “I don’t know how to feel about that.” Also booed - and pressured to move - was a fan in a Rajon Rondo Celtics jersey. Said LeBron James: “We have enough Ray Allen Heat jerseys that they don’t need to wear Ray Allen Celtics jerseys.” Dwyane Wade, who did not play (knee), took the microphone at halftime and announced, “Will all Celtics fans please exit the building?”
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: If NBA officials went to the archives, they would likely find Manu Ginobili with a flop or four worth a fine. He’s been guilty. But that’s over a decade in the league, with thousands of falls and groans and whistles. Ginobili has stuck his sizeable nose into the breach as consistently as anyone in the game, and he’s been clever 99.9 percent of the time. That’s why calls have often gone his way, and why a replay won’t reveal much more than what a ref sees live. To Ginobili, this is art. That wasn’t the reaction from most players Wednesday after the NBA officially announced its new anti-flopping policy. While Ginobili said, “I don’t think it’s going to change much,” others around the league saw this as a positive step. … Sometimes there is considerable contact. Ginobili didn’t become El Contusión by pretending to be hit. Sometimes, too, there isn’t much contact. But Ginobili is usually in position and ready to react to what is there. It’s smart, and it changes games, and it has driven opposing players and fans mad. But this season, they say they are going to clean this up. They are going to use replays to see if fines are necessary. So they will look closely when an elbow touches Ginobili’s chest, or maybe it’s a forearm. They will see Ginobili fall, and they will try to determine why, and they will come to the same conclusion referees came to long ago. The guy’s good.
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: Both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol suggested that the FIBA rule for international play of a warning for the first flop and then a technical foul for the next (meaning two free throws and possession for the opponent) was better. "I'd love to see it have an impact on the game itself," Bryant said. "I think in international play a technical foul is the penalty for it. Free throw and get the ball back, that sort of thing. But I like the rule. Shameless flopping is just a chump move. We're familiar with it because Vlade (Divac) kind of pioneered it in a playoff series with Shaq (O'Neal). And it worked pretty well for him."
- Darnell Mayberry and John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Eric Maynor was among several Thunder players that watched Tuesday night's broadcast of “Broke,” an ESPN production as part of its “30 for 30” series. The 1 1/2 hour documentary interviewed several current and former athletes who have had significant problems with money. Maynor said the messages in the film were critical for professional athletes in all sports. “I think that was a good show for a lot of people (Tuesday) night, and I hope everybody was watching it,” Maynor said. “With all the money that guys get, not just in this league but in any sport, you got to be careful with the people around you. You got to be careful about how you take care of your money if you want to have some money after you play.”
- Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: Many an NBA career has been ruined by the almighty dollar. Milwaukee Bucks young forward Ersan Ilyasova is determined not to let that happen to him. After having a breakout 2011-2012 season, Ilyasova hit the jackpot during free agency this summer. He signed a lucrative contract that will guarantee him $31.6 million over the next four seasons with a team option for $8.4 million in the fifth season. With his financial future virtually set, Ilyasova could have easily got lazy and out of shape during the offseason as some other players in his position have done in the past. Instead, Ilyasova rededicated himself to honing his game even more. “It doesn’t work that way for me,” Ilyasova said when asked if he was tempted to perhaps ease up on his work regimen after signing his huge contract. “That’s not my nature. “The thing with this contract ... there comes responsibility with it. People are expecting more, so that’s why I spent the summer working with a coach to try and improve myself.”
- Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: The Timberwolves have concluded two days of training camp, and Brandon Roy's knees still feel as good as new. Roy has yet to feel any pain or discomfort in his knees, which forced the three-time NBA all-star to retire in 2011. It's only two days, and the Wolves have yet to play a game, but the encouraging signs in Roy's comeback are justifying the $10.4 million risk the club took in signing the 28-year-old guard to a two-year deal this summer. Wolves owner Glen Taylor talked about the risk in a MinnPost story Monday, Oct. 1, sharing a conversation he had with Wolves coach Rick Adelman early in the club's pursuit of Roy. Taylor said Adelman had initial concerns, telling him, "I don't know if he can play." Those concerns disappeared after Adelman watched Roy have another impressive practice Wednesday at Minnesota State Mankato.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson joined agent Rich Paul's new agency, Klutch Sports Group. Thompson said others around the league leaving Creative Arts Agency for Paul's group are Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph, Detroit Pistons guard Jonny Flynn and Miami Heat forward LeBron James. "I'm with Klutch Sports," Thompson said. "I transferred from CAA. We have a relationship (with Paul). He's growing as an agent and I feel I want to be part of that growth." Thompson said Paul has offices in Akron and Cleveland.
- Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: The draft boards and fan chat sites on draft night were rife with disenchantment. Why didn’t they take Austin Rivers? Who is Terrence Ross? Why didn’t we at least trade down to get him?” But somehow, without Ross playing a single game, suiting up for maybe a handful of scrimmages and, as of this morning, four NBA practices, the tune has changed — not completely mind you but enough to be noticeable. We can speculate how something like that happens. People start buying in as the team rationalizes the pick. Or the public educates itself about the player and finds there’s a lot to like about him. Not that those among the Raptors decision makers concerned themselves too much with the public’s reaction. From the moment they made the pick and through the early negative fallout, Bryan Colangelo and his staff knew they had done their homework and if John Hollinger had Ross rated No. 27 or Chad Ford rated him the 11th best pick, what mattered was Ross was the best player available on their own board. And nothing since has made them second guess that. That said, Ross is very much aware of what is in front of him.
- Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: LaMarcus Aldridge said he is “100 percent healthy” from the hip surgery. I’m wondering if he is entering the stage of his career when injuries are going to be a constant issue. … I don’t think the Blazers will be fine in the short term. This season could be a major struggle. There is almost no veteran depth unless guard Ronnie Price and forward Jared Jeffries suddenly have a game transformation. Rookies Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Will Barton, Joel Freeland and Victor Claver will experience baptism under fire. It’s probably not going to be pretty. All the while, Aldridge won’t be pleased with losing games with any regularity. Maybe he’ll be a happy camper, anyway, taken care of financially with promise for better times ahead with the Portland franchise. I’m not convinced of that. I see clouds overhead, with the possibility of stormy weather as we move through what could be a difficult season in Blazerville.
- Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: Reporters were allowed to watch the final drill of Wednesday’s first session, something called “4:15,” named for the time set on the clock. With three lines of players weaving back and forth up and down the court and launching shots at both ends, the goal was 110 makes before time expired. The Wizards fell a couple short, but Martell Webster said that misses the point. “With that 4:15 drill, the young guys don’t understand,” he said. “It’s not about getting 110. It’s about pushing your body. You’re going to have to red line. Without red lining you’re not really getting in shape. It’s about getting in shape because this team, we’re young. The oldest guy on this team, [Jannero] Pargo, is 32. We’ve got a young team so we need to run and that’s what that drill is teaching us, to keep the legs moving.” It may come as no surprise that Webster, despite having just arrived in Washington, is already regarded as one of the best quotes on the team, a player who has far more to say, or at least uses far more words to say what he thinks.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: But when guard Rodney Stuckey was asked who impressed him the most, he didn't hesitate to name Ukrainian big man Slava Kravtsov. "I like Slava, he's going to help us out a lot," said Stuckey, smiling. "He's a big guy that can run the floor, when he gets to the free throw line he can make them. He protects the paint." He found his way to duck in the paint for a couple scores but his presence most likely will be felt on the defensive end. Rookie guard Kim English didn't see Kravtsov coming and was nailed on a screen at midcourt that left him shaking the cobwebs out minutes later. "I saw film on him and the film doesn't lie," Stuckey said. "He's still gotta get acclimated to the NBA game, though. He's only going to get better." The Pistons acquired Kravtsov because of his ability on the defensive end, as he goes after everything near the rim.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: So when legendary NBA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reached out to Noah this offseason to work out with him, the 6-11 Noah jumped at the opportunity. ‘‘I feel a lot more polished offensively,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I worked with Kareem for a couple of weeks, but just because I worked with Kareem doesn’t mean I’m going to be throwing skyhooks from everywhere. I feel like I learned a lot from him, someone who has an unbelievable knowledge for the game and very interesting guy. But you know how it is — you work with him and people think, ‘Oh, he’s going to come back with a skyhook.’ Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. But I’ll tell you what: At 65 years old, though, his skyhook is still nice.’’ It might be. But even with Noah improving his offense, there are still 21 points a game to make up with Rose out. That’s why Noah put in extra work, Carlos Boozer came into camp in better shape and veteran Rip Hamilton hired a physical therapist to get him in a better place.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: The Magic expect Turkoglu to provide leadership and ball-handling. But Turk might have somebody nipping at his heels this season. The buzz around the Magic is how impressed everyone is with rookie Maurice Harkless. Harkless has been limited by an offseason surgery for a sports hernia and isn’t expected to return until mid-November to officially begin his pro career in the regular season. But coaches have liked what they have seen so far from the athletic, 19-year-old who played at St. John’s. Harkless, 6-8, 210 pounds, is a small forward who arrived from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Magic’s trade of Dwight Howard. The Sixers sent Harkless, their first-round pick, to the Magic as part of the meg deal that netted them Andrew Bynum from the Lakers. If Harkless merits playing time, this is the perfect scenario for the Magic to work on the player development aspect. Harkless would share time with Turk, maybe even inherit the starting job at some point.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Delonte West had a big smile on his face when asked how his off-season went. “Quiet,’’ he said. “Nice and quiet. “And that’s a good thing, ain’t it?’’ Yes it is. For West, the quieter, the better. And even though he was a free agent this summer, he stayed out of the limelight by design. Not that it was easy, of course. “I was itching to get on Twitter,’’ he said. “But I didn’t want to put the organization in a compromising position.’’ After his past indiscretions, West has lived and learned. No Twitter rants. No motorcycle rides while heavily armed. Just a summer working on his game and waiting for his next contract, which he was thrilled came from the Mavericks. “I love him as a kid,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “I love the fact that he faces challenges every day and he meets them head on.
- Allan Brettman of The Oregonian: To really get to know the subject at hand, Adidas dispatched its D Rose team from Portland to Chicago. There, the Portlanders ate at Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's favorite restaurant, visited his Simeon High School gymnasium, stood on the South Chicago corner of West 73rd and South Paulina near where he grew up and hung around with his friends and family. Two years after that get-acquainted process began, Adidas today rolls out the latest iteration of its Derrick Rose signature shoe as well as the first clothing in a Derrick Rose apparel line. The Adidas-Rose partnership, in place since his 2008-09 rookie season, was cemented in February. Rose reupped with Adidas in a deal that reportedly will pay him at least $185 million over 13 years, up to $200 million with incentives. But the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player tore a ligament in April in a playoff game. An 8- to 12-month rehabilitation is expected. Adidas and Rose, however, have been undeterred in forging ahead with an ambitious marketing and product development plan, most of which is crafted at Adidas America's headquarters in North Portland.