First Cup: Tuesday
October, 23, 2012
By Nick Borges
- Geoff Calkins and Kyle Veazey of The Commercial-Appeal: Robert Pera's bid to own the Grizzlies is on the agenda for consideration by the NBA's Board of Governors at its meetings Wednesday and Thursday in New York City, sources familiar with the process told The Commercial Appeal. If the board approves the deal, only one hurdle would remain before the completion of the first ownership transfer in the Grizzlies' 11 years in Memphis: Pera's group would then have to close the deal with current owner Michael Heisley. Pera agreed in June to buy the team from Heisley for what is believed to be $350 million. … Pera will be the largest shareholder in the prospective ownership group but will own less than 50 percent of the franchise, two sources familiar with the deal said. Pera representatives have said the prospective owner won't comment on the deal prior to its approval by the NBA. Pera, a 34-year-old Silicon Valley wireless entrepreneur, has assembled a wide range of investors to join his bid, including local businessmen J. R. "Pitt" Hyde, Staley Cates, Billy Orgel, Edward Dobbs and Duncan Williams; former University of Memphis basketball greats Elliot Perry and Penny Hardaway; performer and Shelby County native Justin Timberlake; former Congressman Harold Ford Jr.; and Memphis native Ashley Manning and her husband Peyton Manning.
- Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan is sort of a tired, yet incomplete topic. As long as Jordan leads the ring count 6-1, James doesn’t have much of an argument. But he could always close the gap in the coming years. “All those type of comparisons are tough to make,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Monday. “I don’t think you can do it until LeBron is done. To speculate now I guess makes for interesting conversation. They’re both great. Jordan put so much pressure on you in so many different ways. It’s a different game now than it was then. It was a lot more physical then it is today. You couldn’t play zone the way you can today. In some ways, having the ability to play some zone and use some zone principles helps. It’s still difficult to guard the great players. But it helps some.”
- Mike Bresnahan, of the Los Angeles Times: Deconstructing Dwight, Part 1 of dozens of chapters to come, undoubtedly. The Lakers center took the court Sunday for the first time with his new team and showed exactly why he was different from Andrew Bynum. Markedly. Dwight Howard has instincts that his predecessor has rarely shown, scoring five times off alley-oop passes and teammates' missed shots in an exhibition game against Sacramento. Unlike Bynum, Howard's not a guy who needs the ball in the post, though he showed a left-handed hook shot against the Kings. Howard is ambidextrous, the result of a childhood accident in which he broke the wrist of his dominant (left) hand and learned to shoot with his right. He passes with his right hand, shoots free throws right-handed and shoots from the post slightly more with his left hand. But only slightly.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: When the Suns faced Oklahoma City on Friday night in Tulsa, Okla., and Thunder guard James Harden was sitting out the game because of a groin strain, the BOK Center's largest crowd ever (beating George Strait's record) broke out a "We want James!" chant. There is no truth that Suns executives in attendance -- Lon Babby, Lance Blanks and John Treloar -- started the chant. But there is no question the Suns want Harden, a former Arizona State star who will be on a track to become a restricted free agent in July if he does not agree to a contract extension by Oct. 31. If he is a restricted free agent, you could assume that Phoenix and other teams would offer Harden a maximum-level, four-year contract. The bigger question is whether Harden will be allowed to get to that point and whether signing Harden to an offer sheet would be as fruitless as it was for the Suns with Eric Gordon.
- George Richards of The Miami Herald: Instead of signing with Ohio State — as he said he would have done had current NBA Draft rules been in effect then — James went straight from St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio, to his hometown Cavaliers as the top pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. Mike Krzyzewski, who has won four national championships in four decades at Duke, has seemingly stepped in to fill that void. Krzyzewski and James started to get to know each other once Krzyzewski took over coaching duties for Team USA in 2005. James was part of Coach K’s first Team USA experience, when the team finished third at the World Championships in 2006 — setting the stage for a gold medal performance at Beijing in 2008. James and Krzyzewski won gold for the second time this past summer in London. … James and Krzyzewski have stayed in contact over the years, with James’ crediting Coach K for helping him mature into a vocal leader with Team USA.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: People have been tripping over one another as they rush to praise Jeff Green — and it is with good reason. The 6-foot-9 multipurpose weapon, nine months removed from heart surgery, was a wonder in the preseason as he went for 13.9 points on 49.4 percent shooting. But there’s more to it than merely numbers, even the eight blocked shots. Green took hold of the different tasks he was given and showed himself to be a large and athletic force. In sum, he has been what the Celtics hoped they were getting when Kendrick Perkins was sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the controversial February 2011 trade. (The C’s also got a draft pick that turned into Fab Melo.) So when Kevin Garnett compares Green to Hall of Famer James Worthy and gushes, “Jeff’s a lot more aggressive than I can remember, man,” well, there are circumstances in play.
- Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Before training camp opened, there were some doubts if Dwyane Wade would play the season-opener after undergoing offseason knee surgery. Those questions no longer exist. Spoelstra said Wade remains "far ahead of schedule" in terms of recovery. "We didn't anticipate him really competing in this many practices," Spoelstra said. "… He's getting stronger. He's getting quicker. You see a lot of that quick twitch that we've known Dwayne for so well for all these years. You're seeing that come back."
- Lindsay Kramer for The Philadelphia Inquirer: The contest put a bow on the Sixers' preseason games, a series of tests that the team easily passed with a 6-1 mark. "I mean, we had a good preseason," said Sixers guard Royal Ivey. "Preseason doesn't count. It's a gauge of where we are as a team." And where, precisely, is that? "I think we're pretty good, with eight or nine new faces," said Ivey, who scored 12 points. "People know what their roles are. That's a good sign." The contest was a microcosm of the challenges the Sixers face as they try to hone a crisp transition game while waiting for the return of injured big men Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown.
- Josh Robbbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Magic must reduce the number of players on their roster from 20 to 15 by no later than 5 p.m. Monday. … Thirteen players — Arron Afflalo, Gustavo Ayón, Glen Davis, Maurice Harkless, Al Harrington, E'Twaun Moore, Jameer Nelson, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, J.J. Redick, Ish Smith, Hedo Turkoglu and Nik Vucevic — seem like locks to make the team. Among them, only Moore doesn't have a fully guaranteed deal, but Moore is slated to enter the season as Nelson's backup at point guard. Swingman Chris Johnson and point guard Armon Johnson, who both have nonguaranteed deals, almost certainly will be cut in the days ahead. They were brought aboard in order to give depth to injury-depleted positions this month. That likely leaves combo forward Justin Harper, power forward Josh McRoberts and swingmen Christian Eyenga, DeQuan Jones and Quentin Richardson in the mix for the 14th and 15th spots on the roster. There would be downsides to cutting any three of them.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Bucks forward Larry Sanders was disciplined by the team, ruled out of the game in Toronto for what Skiles termed "a team conduct issue." Sanders did not travel with the team to Toronto but will be back for Thursday's game, Skiles said. Skiles would not elaborate and neither would Bucks general manager John Hammond.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Kevin McHale said Lamb will play catch-up today, but that was true before he inadvertently finished his workout early Monday. As young and inexperienced as the Rockets are, the only position with a group of veterans is his shooting guard position. While Lamb learns NBA basics, they are old news to Kevin Martin and Shaun Livingston as they enter their ninth season and Carlos Delfino as he begins his eighth. … “I get behind them,” Lamb said. “You’ve got to look at the positive. I can learn from them, somebody to tell me how it goes, how to play a position. There is positive and negative. I learn from Kevin. He really knows how to use his second and third moves. Shaun tells me about spacing, working hard.” Lamb also can afford to be a patient student. Martin and Livingston are in the final seasons of their contracts. Delfino’s three-year deal has only this season guaranteed. Lamb is the heir apparent, even if it is not easy paying dues.
- John Rohde The Oklahoman: Thunder center Kendrick Perkins returned to the court slightly ahead of schedule on Sunday night against Denver, completing his recovery from July 19 surgery on his left wrist. Perkins had been hopeful to return by the regular-season opener on Nov. 1 at San Antonio. How much of Perkins' return had to do with him being grumpy about not playing? “A big portion of it,” Brooks said with a smile. “He's pretty intimidating at times. We fought a few days during practice. He wanted to do more and I said no, and he wanted to do more and I said no. It was back and forth a little bit, but he understands we wanted him 100-percent healthy before he stepped on the court and played all-out.”
- Steve Duin of The Oregonian: How can this be? How is it that Duck football, not the Blazers, represents Oregon’s A game? Because the Blazers are made in Paul Allen’s image, and the Ducks in Phil Knight’s. That “New Team, New Dream” marketing push notwithstanding, the Blazer roster screams small market, small budget, Charlotte Bobcats west. … Is this the end of the world? No, just your typical Paul Allen business venture. This is a franchise that may not ever have its nifty, new iPhone app ready for the season opener. I’m only surprised Portland’s fan base continues to embrace the numbing mediocrity, given the evidence, 100 miles down the road, that you can assemble and maintain a championship-caliber roster in the Northwest.
- Benjamin Hochman The Denver Post: Ty Lawson can be a blurry flurry of offense. He led the NBA with 9.1 drives per game from beyond 20 feet, according to SportVU's player tracking. He's stupid-fast. Yet describing Lawson on Monday, Nuggets coach George Karl said: "He defers a lot. ... He likes the game to have a flow to it and not be the leader of the flow. ... He doesn't dominate the decision making as most point guards do, some of these point guards who get big numbers. But he's getting better there." So at times, Lawson is the anchor of the offense. Other times, he's a figurative anchor in the offense.