First Cup: Wednesday
October, 17, 2012
By Nick Borges
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks met Tuesday evening with Delonte West and things have been smoothed over between the veteran guard and the team. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle met with West and Nelson said things are “back on track.’’ In addition, Carlisle said the guard will rejoin the team Wednesday. “Delonte West will be back with the team [Wednesday] for shoot- around and be available for [Wednesday] night’s game versus Phoenix,’’ Carlisle said. West was suspended after Monday’s game against Houston for unspecified conduct detrimental to the team. West was seen sitting at the end of the bench during a timeout while the rest of the team was huddled at the other end.
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: The Nets understand they’re in the courting stage in a demanding city, with little room for growing pains or disappointing beginnings. A slow start to the season — while maybe understandable for a team pieced together just three months ago — is not something that figures to sit well in New York, especially considering the Nets’ history of losing. “We definitely know that,” Gerald Wallace said. “We know things can get ugly real fast. After all, this is New York. New York is known for having the most crazed fans as far as they’re on you one minute, they’re against you the next minute — depending on if you’re winning or losing. When you’re winning, they’re the best fans in the world. When you’re losing, you don’t want to be in that city with them.” There’s a lot of money and manpower being thrown into the team’s move to Brooklyn, and much of the Nets’ chances for success may rest on them sustaining the buzz and building a fan base quickly — business and basketball colliding.
- Steve Buffery of the Toronto Star: In an interview with QMI Agency last week, Steve Nash confirmed he was on the verge of signing a deal with the Raptors. GM Bryan Colangelo reportedly offered the Victoria, B.C., product a three-year, $36-million contract -- close to $10 million more than he received from the Lakers. "I was very close, you know," Nash said. "Because it appeared that they were going to be an option long before free agency started. So I got my head around that and I was comfortable with that and happy with the opportunity to play in Toronto. But when this opportunity (with the Lakers) became a reality, I couldn't pass it up." … It's all about winning. Even with Nash in the fold, the Raptors weren't going to win anything this season, and probably not next season, either. Still, that didn't stop a great many Raptors fan from pounding on Nash for turning his back on the only Canadian team in the NBA. Captain Canada, as Nash was called when he still played for the national team, was branded a traitor, and worse. Nash heard and read the criticisms and it hurt. But he was eager on this day to make the point that he didn't use the Raptors in some diabolical way to garner a better deal in New York or L.A., and was sincerely excited about the prospect of playing on home soil. "It wasn't in any way like, 'Oh well, I gotta go to Toronto.' I was thrilled," Nash said. "Unfortunately it wasn't a team contending for a championship. But I love Toronto, it's home in many senses. And I think it's a first-class organization and a first-class city and I would have been extremely proud to play for them and represent the city, and play for those fans and hopefully help get that team into the playoffs."
- Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: I shot this quick 12-second video of LeBron James practicing his skyhook after Tuesday's practice. James has been working on the shot this offseason and hopes to add it to his repertoire this season. With so many shooters manning the Heat's wing positions this season, it only makes sense for LeBron to drop down into the paint from time to time.
- Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: ESPN and Marvel have teamed to create a comic-book featuring LeBron James that will run as an insert in the Oct. 19 issue of ESPN The Magazine. The book is titled "LeBron: King of the Rings." James said he had no input on the decision and first heard the news from a family member a couple days ago. "I love comic books, though," James said. "I've heard it's pretty good. I'll check it out." James said he grew up reading comic books, mostly the Batman series. Among the notable components of the comic is the portrayal of forward Shane Battier, who is cast as a "reanimated corpse." In one frame, Battier is shown attempting to eat the brains of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. "I'm not a huge comic book guy but I can appreciate being a part of that," Battier said.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: It might seem like an odd choice under the circumstances, but 10 months after undergoing heart surgery, Jeff Green has Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” coursing through his headphones as he prepares for games. … “It’s me saying that I’m going to go out there and play my heart out and I’m going to give it all, give my everything to this team, put my heart and soul into this team and do whatever I can,” Green said recently. “That’s basically it. The song has a lot of meaning to me as far as him saying he wants to be the best rapper. He understands the history behind rapping, and he’s going to give it his all until he becomes the best. “You know, that’s basically my translation into basketball. I’m going to go out there and play my heart out for this team until this team is on top and winning a championship.” Jeff Green has stopped thinking about the surgery to repair his aortic aneurysm, the surgery that cost him a season and could have been a matter of mortality if not detected. Faith in his doctors — and a higher source — have left him with an almost fatalistic approach. He is jumping from the plane, confident his parachute will open but ready to accept the consequences if it does not. “It’s kind of taking a chance,” Green said.
- John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Several rules are a point of emphasis in the NBA this season, and one unquestionably will impact the Thunder. When pregame introductions have concluded, teams will have 90 seconds to return to the court for the opening tip. The previous two seasons, OKC players routinely kept officials and opponents waiting before the start of every game, sometimes a full minute or more. Before Tuesday night's preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Thunder players noticeably rushed their routines before stepping onto the court in time for the tip. Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was in the middle of his on-court greetings with teammates when the ball was put in play. “I personally don't like it,” Durant said of the 90-second rule. “Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don't make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don't agree with it, but I don't make the rules.” What adjustments will Durant make? “Maybe I've got to go a little quicker,” Durant said.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: I understand fans’ concerns over Kyrie Irving’s shooting woes, particularly since he’s coming off a fractured hand. But really, on a list of things the Cavs have to worry about this season, Irving ranks somewhere between refilling the lotion bottles and ordering the postgame pizzas. He’s the reigning Rookie of the Year, well on his way to becoming one of the 10 (five?) best players in the league, and it’s the preseason. Moving on. I’m also not concerned about Dion Waiters … yet. I’d like to see him shoot from the outside with a little more consistency, but there have been enough flashes through the first five preseason games to see what the Cavs like about him.
- Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Before Tuesday’s game, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau talked about wanting to see Luol Deng play with the second unit, as he did last season. It didn’t really happen against the Bucks. After missing the previous game with a groin injury, Deng had a quiet night, finishing with 5 points and 2 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. But Thibodeau has plans for the remainder of the preseason schedule. “You can play Luol and Jimmy (Butler) together. We’re still getting a look at that,” Thibodeau said. “We can move Luol to the 2. We can also move him to the 4. I want to look at that, also, to see what fits best. We’re going to get a look at a lot of different things.”
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: For two days, Jeremy Lin had to let his frustration marinate in the mix that is his unique place as an NBA celebrity beginning the next phase of his career. He had struggled badly against the Spurs on Sunday, making just the last of his 10 shots, which drew unusual levels of attention if only because he was the guy going 1-for-10. That morning, an unnamed source had charged in a New York newspaper that Rockets coaches were unhappy with him over a lack of effort to improve, which they considered so inaccurate they said the issue was that he has worked too hard and they wanted him to back off. Lin did not deny his poor play or disguise his disappointment, but he also knew there would be nothing he could do about it until Wednesday night’s game against Memphis, with the Rockets having already determined he would have to sit out Monday’s game against the Mavericks. … Through three preseason games, he has averaged 5.3 points (on 21.1 percent shooting) and 4.7 assists in 22.7 minutes. Lin said he would not have been able to live with his play Sunday had it been a regular-season game, so coach Kevin McHale, knowing Lin would have to live with it for a few days, met with him on Sunday evening and again Monday morning in Dallas.
- Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: On the surface, it would appear that players such as Al-Farouq Aminu and rookie Darius Miller would be the team's primary option this season at the small forward position, or even veteran acquisition Ryan Anderson. But Hornets Coach Monty Williams offered an intriguing candidate as a possible part of the position's rotation on Tuesday: Anthony Davis. In saying that no one has yet to step up and dominate the battle for the position, Williams said if the Hornets went to a big lineup, Davis could play the three. "Anthony moreso than Ryan," Williams said. "The more I watch those guys play, Anthony has the skill set where he can play the wing a little bit. Ryan is really good at playing the four and learning those sets should be easier for him. But we don't know." Davis played multiple position in high school as he evolved from a 5-foot-11 point guard into a 6-10 power forward, a position he played in his one year of college ball at Kentucky.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The perception around much of the NBA of Hedo Turkoglu is that his career is on a steep downward slope. Now 33 years old, Turkoglu has endured three consecutive up-and-down seasons since he played so well in the 2009 playoffs. Vaughn said he's been pleased with what he's seen from the 6-foot-10 small forward so far. This preseason, Vaughn occasionally has played Turkoglu at power forward when the Magic have smaller lineups on the floor. Vaughn hasn't run many plays so far this preseason, deciding instead to acclimate his players to an offense that emphasizes cutting and movement. As a result, the Magic have run fewer pick-and-rolls, which are Turkoglu's specialty. Still, Vaughn insists that he eventually will take advantage of Turkoglu's ability to handle the basketball. "I haven't initiated as many plays so far with him," Vaughn said. "But believe me, I've drawn 'em up, and they are in the arsenal. It really is a luxury having him."
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: In three preseason games, including Tuesday’s 102-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks, last season’s starting lineup of George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert have yet to play a second together. The Pacers can’t afford to get off to a sluggish start because they open with five of six games on the road, and the Eastern Conference is expected to be better this season. “They need to re-establish (their chemistry),” Vogel said. “I think it’s going to come together quickly. When they play together in practice, it’s there. I don’t think it’s going to take a lot of time. I’m comfortable with the way the preseason is progressing.” The transition into regular-season form will start in two days in Orlando. Vogel plans to shrink his rotation to 10 players for Friday’s game against the Magic and Saturday’s home game against Memphis.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: De Colo is part Argentine He’s French, and he plays a little point guard, but that’s about the only similarity rookie Nando De Colo bears to Tony Parker. Where Parker emerged from the womb a scoring guard, De Colo at times seems allergic to shooting. Oh, but can he pass. De Colo’s slick assists — he’s averaging a team-best 4.8 per game — remind many Spurs of a young Manu Ginobili. With the Spurs jam-packed at both guard positions, De Colo is likely to begin the season at the end of the bench. If he ever does crack the rotation, however, get your popcorn ready. Eddy Curry is hungry No, not that kind of hungry. Hungry for a job. At 7-foot, 295 pounds, Curry arrived at training camp as in shape as he can be. The former fourth overall NBA draft pick has been a model camper, clearly motivated to resuscitate his career after appearing in only 24 games the past three seasons. Curry can still score, having notched double-digit outings in two of the Spurs’ four preseason games, but won’t help much in the rebounding or defensive departments. If he doesn’t earn the Spurs’ 15th roster spot, he’s bound to help some team this season.
- John Canzano of The Oregonian: Former general manager Rich Cho fell out of favor with Paul Allen, in part, for suggesting that the organization needed a massive rebuild more than two years ago. Cho saw the rebuild coming long before anyone else inside the organization was willing to admit it was a possibility. And yet, here we are, behind schedule, with All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews surrounded by a chorus of unproven, young players and a new coach. They've started over. And the hope here is that the Blazers have the courage to stay with this new plan, and see it through, even as the seats are going to be empty at times, and the road is going to feel long. Mind you, the Blazers are busy selling ticket packages on their website for two Lakers games tied to two Clippers games.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Carmelo Anthony attempted to use his strength to get closer to the basket but Jordan Crawford didn’t yield much ground and batted the ball out of bounds before Anthony could make a move. Asked a day later about how he felt about that sequence, Crawford defiantly shrugged and said, “We all men here.” Crawford is rarely one to publicly give his opposition the upper hand because he refuses to allow himself to lose any edge on the court. But what some might view as delusional, Crawford sees as a way of life. “That’s how I was raised, to be honest. I just didn’t think it was anybody better than me. That’s how it be. From Detroit, you’ve got to be like that,” said Crawford, who threw on a sweatshirt after Tuesday’s practice at Air Canada Center that read, “Detroit vs Everybody.” Brooklyn Nets all-star guard Joe Johnson, who was Crawford’s teammate for half a season in Atlanta, remembers how he refused to back down in practice and never stopped believing that he belonged on the floor — even with the playoff-tested Hawks featuring more seasoned and established options than a wiry, fearless rookie. “He’s a confident kind of guy,” Johnson said about Crawford.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Griz will play the first of three straight preseason road games tonight at Houston with Speights joining Quincy Pondexter as the most productive second stringers so far. He's averaged 7.7 points on 61-percent shooting to go with six rebounds in 16.7 minutes in three exhibition outings. But Speights' coaches and teammates keep pushing him to not rest on his laurels. "He's getting better but he can still get a lot better," center Marc Gasol said. "He can be more consistent. We'll just keep helping him and making him work. He has a lot of talent." Speights accepts the discipline and seems intent to prove that his new-and-improved work ethic will extend past last season. "I feel like I'm in better shape than I've ever been coming into training camp," Speights said. "I just worked harder and longer (during the offseason). I feel like I've matured that way."
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: This will sound good to a Nuggets fan — the team is 3-0 in the preseason. Yet as coach George Karl said after Tuesday's practice: "I don't think we've played good basketball. Our defense has had its moments, our offense is not far away from being good and now figuring out rotations, we'll get a little more confidence and consistency." The Nuggets defeated Golden State on Monday night, in part thanks to the efficient passing of Andre Iguodala and the voracious rebounding of Kosta Koufos.
- Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: Virginia Beach, Va., voters don't want to build an NBA arena, throwing more cold water on the prospects for luring the Sacramento Kings. A poll released Tuesday by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, WVEC-TV and Christopher Newport University showed that voters oppose a proposed arena by a 45 percent to 38 percent margin. When asked if they support public funding for the arena, opposition rose to 58 percent, with only 32 percent of respondents in favor.