First Cup: Monday
July, 8, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Roderick Boone of Newsday: Arms extended with his palms pointing upward at the Amway Center practice court, Jason Kidd was incredulous. The guy who had racked up 26 technical fouls in 19 seasons as a player had just been given a technical, all because he strayed too far from the coaches' box with 2:33 to play, wandering past midcourt a few steps from the Pistons' bench. Kidd couldn't believe it. He sought an explanation from one of the referees, only to be told he'd get one later. Essentially, the official's message was this: Hey, welcome to the sideline, Coach. Take a seat. "We were trying to foul a player and the referee missed it and it led to free throws," Kidd said Sunday after making his debut as a coach in the Nets' 76-67 loss to Detroit in summer league action. "So I tried to express to the referees that they missed what we were trying to do. It happens. They are not perfect, we are not perfect. So it's a lesson learned that I know I can't go past half-court." In other words, Kidd is going to have to strike a few things from memory. And quickly.
- Woody Paige of The Denver Post: He never liked to be called Iggy. How about Benedict Arnold Iguodala? The turncoat rejected the Nuggets' offer and signed with the Warriors for less guaranteed money. To which we say: Good riddance. Iggy was no biggie. I didn't want the Nuggets to re-sign Iggy Stardust anyway. He was just a so-sojourner. This doesn't have to be the end of the Nuggets. Losing Dikembe Mutombo in free agency was. Andre Iguodala wasn't on the all-star team and, despite what some claimed, didn't belong on the all-defensive team. (You can look it up, or think about his offensive and defensive efforts in the playoff series against the Warriors.) He isn't among the top-30 players in the NBA, and Iguodala certainly isn't a franchise player. He doesn't have a consistent outside jumper, isn't a feared driver and can't shoot free throws. Twelve mil is too much. Iguodala didn't want to be here. He proved it during his one season in Denver. He switched sides as Arnold, the Duke of Saxony and Melo did.
- Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe: Next year's draft is loaded and the Celtics are rebuilding, which would lead any logical soul to believe that they may well "tank" -- or whatever you want to call it; "experiment" is another word that will suffice -- next season. This theory has been making the rounds, and Celtics forward Jared Sullinger seems to be more than fed up with it. "When you have Celtics pride, you really don’t have time to rebuild," Sullinger said after his team's summer league game here, which he didn't participate in as he's still recovering from season-ending back surgery. You gotta play hard, you gotta play smart. I think with the veterans we have like Gerald Wallace coming from Brooklyn… and we have Jeff (Green), everybody counts us out, but we still have (Rajon) Rondo. He won a title in ’08. He know what it takes. And also with Kevin (Garnett) instilling the will, the power, the intensity in all of us, within that one year, especially with me, that 'rebuild' word we really don’t like it." Sullinger, who will be entering his second season, admitted that he needs to take on more of a leadership role.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: The Pistons’ acquisition of Josh Smith sent shock waves through the NBA and it received positive reactions from two of the team’s building blocks. Smith will make life easier for Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, the team’s first-round picks in 2011 and 2012, respectively. “Honestly, he’s a great player,” Drummond said after the Pistons‘ 76-67 Summer League win over the Brooklyn Nets Sunday at the Amway Center. “He creates shots for himself and his teammates. He’s (like) a big guard.” Knight, who didn’t play with the summer league team but practiced with them this week, approved of the deal — which was to be expected. “Athletic player, competitor, tough, tough guy,” he said. “If he does decide to come, he’ll be a great player to have.” … As for any concerns about how the three big men will fit offensively, Drummond isn’t the least bit worried. Neither Drummond nor Monroe will be camping out near the 3-point line — although Smith tends to do it more than fans would prefer. “Joe (Dumars) knows what he’s doing,” Drummond said. “We have a great coach in Mo Cheeks so he knows how to get the best out of everybody. I’m sure he’ll find a way.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Of all the things rookie Victor Oladipo did in his summer-league debut Sunday — the made 3-pointers, the rebounds in traffic, the steals — perhaps nothing should give the Orlando Magic more hope than what occurred with two minutes to go in the final quarter. Teammate Andrew Nicholson set a screen that allowed Oladipo to dribble into the lane. Oladipo slowed a bit, drawing a Boston Celtics interior defender toward him, and dished to Kyle O'Quinn, who scored on a layup. Magic officials already knew about Oladipo's explosive leaping ability, high work rate and improved jumper, but over these next few days, they want to see if the second overall pick in last month's draft can play some point guard, too. The assist to O'Quinn offered a glimpse of potential: Perhaps Oladipo, a shooting guard in college at Indiana University, can run an offense. … A few hours after he signed his contract with the Magic, Oladipo finished with 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and five steals. "I wouldn't call it an experiment," said the Magic's lead assistant coach, James Borrego, who is coaching Orlando's summer-league team. "It's just more, 'Let's see what we have,' and let him grow at both positions. At the end of the day, we'll find out where he's at.”
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: The future flashed before our eyes Sunday, providing a riveting peek into what the Oklahoma City Thunder might someday look like. Jeremy Lamb was doing something we didn't know he could, running the high screen and roll, orchestrating the offense and taking ownership of his team. Steven Adams, today just a mystery who locals only hope doesn't become the next Robert Swift, the last center the franchise selected with the 12th overall pick, was a bundle of athleticism, energy and hustle. Together, they connected on the highlight of the opening day of the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League. Adams set a pick for Lamb on the right wing, springing Lamb free to squirt into the paint. When his penetration prompted the Indiana defense to collapse, Lamb lobbed a pass to a rolling Adams. He then gathered, leapt and received the pass with only his right hand. In one motion, Adams brought it straight down into the hoop, punctuating the play with a powerful dunk.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The center position is open for the Mavericks, and they have options. While reading the tea leaves is difficult, they appear to be in the conversation for Andrew Bynum. But there’s a good chance they are no more than a parenthetical phrase for the oft-injured big man. There are several other teams that have more cap space now than the Mavericks, who are very hesitant to jettison Shawn Marion and his appetizing, expiring contract next season. He’s helped win a lot of basketball games in the last four seasons and can help win a lot more this season. They may have to lose Marion’s money on the cap to get into the Bynum running. Bynum’s agent, obviously, is trying to maximize his client’s value and if a team with more salary cap space is interested in Bynum, that will trump the Mavericks. Hard to believe there is this much attention being paid to a player who has not played in more than a year and has knees that are extremely suspect.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: According to several sources, general manager Gar Forman’s phone has taken more calls than it has made during free agency, with Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah all targeted in trade talks. From Charlotte to Portland, Bulls players have been popular on the trade-talk circuit this summer. But Forman seems content to stand pat and has an excellent reason to think that’s a good decision for one more year. As Forman pointed out several times last season, the Bulls have won 86 percent of their games with Deng, Noah, Rose and Carlos Boozer playing together since Tom Thibodeau took over as coach. That can’t be overlooked, especially with a returning lineup that -- at least on paper -- is as good as the Bulls have had in trying to go toe-to-toe with the Heat. … With a flood of high-profile free agents becoming available next summer, as well as cap space opening up, the Bulls should stand pat and make one last stand.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: Andrea Bargnani is already asking former Knick Danilo Gallinari about the best Italian restaurants in Manhattan. Bargnani, whose trade from the Raptors will become official Wednesday, is flying in from Rome tomorrow to meet with Knicks brass.Bargnani and Gallinari, from Milan, are close former Italian National Team members. Gallinari is giving Bargnani a lot of advice. “We are very good friends,’’ Gallinari said in an email to The Post. “He’s a great guy. He loves to work and he likes New York a lot. He’s very excited. I think he will be good in New York.’’ Clearly, Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in 2007, needed a change of scenery and won’t have the burden of living up to his draft selection. Bargnani, who had an injury-wracked 35-game season, seemingly is healthy and is scheduled to participate for Italy’s National Team in the European Championships, which begin Sept. 4. Gallinari is still rehabbing a torn ACL. When the Knicks drafted Gallinari, there were a lot of comparisons between the two Italians, and Gallinari has proven the better pro.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: The Cavaliers finally struck it rich in free agency. They agreed to a four-year, $25 million deal with guard Jarrett Jack on Saturday, a league source confirmed. That was a legitimate addition to the roster. If you watched the Golden State Warriors in the postseason last season, you saw Jack in action. He might have been the best backup point guard in the league. Often times, he played during crunch time when Warriors coach Mark Jackson stuck with the players with the hot hand. … Some have suggested that the Cavs overpaid for Jack’s services. I don’t buy that. He’ll average about $6.25 million throughout the deal — the price you have to pay for a player of his ilk. Jack is also a guy who will speak up in a locker room filled with many young players. He’ll probably relish the role as leader. He could also push Irving and Waiters to new heights. They already have the talent. He can help them with some of the complexities of the NBA game.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: The Timberwolves have made a formal contract offer to restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic and waived two players in preparation for Wednesday’s end to the NBA moratorium period. According to league sources, the Wolves made an offer to Pekovic on Friday and expect to receive a response early this week. On Sunday, they waived center Greg Stiemsma and swingman Mickael Gelabale in two salary-cap moves designed to clear space to allow them to sign free agents Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger as well as bring back Pekovic on a four-year deal that likely will be worth $12 million a year or more. They also continue to try to trade guards J.J. Barea and/or Luke Ridnour in an attempt to create more cap space to add another two players through signing or trades. The Wolves have the right to match any offer Pekovic receives from another team. As of Sunday, he is not believed to have been offered such a deal and the number of teams who have the cap space and desire to sign him had dwindled to one or two.
- Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: So what about Brandon Jennings? It has been incredibly quiet on that front. General manager John Hammond said recently that the Bucks would match any offer for the restricted free agent, which doesn't, of course, preclude the possibility that the Bucks would sign and trade their point guard. Most Bucks fans would be fine with the Bucks moving on without Jennings. The Bucks really haven't won anything with him, and the way he monopolizes the ball does nothing for the development of Sanders and Henson. A total rebuild would mean starting rookie Nate Wolters at the point. It's too early to say if he's another Jimmer Fredette, but the Bucks' plan to surround their young building blocks with reasonably priced veterans would lead you to believe that they would get a free agent to replace Jennings, if the Bucks are not overpricing him in the market. How is any of this different from the last half dozen seasons isn't altogether clear at the moment. But for now, the Bucks are hoping that their three prized frontcourt players develop while they win enough games to keep them viable in their own market.
- Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: When word leaked that the Suns were involved in a three-team deal that would send Jared Dudley to the Clippers, ship a second-round pick to Milwaukee and bring point guard Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix, it was reminiscent of another deal made about 25 years ago. That one brought Kevin Johnson to the Valley. This isn’t to say that Bledsoe is the next KJ. But there are some parallels. … But this is what really reminded us of KJ’s arrival: When he got here, the Suns had a young, 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard named Jeff Hornacek. Of course, Hornacek is now the Suns head coach, who happens to have a young, 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard named Goran Dragic. In 1988, the Suns slid Hornacek over to the shooting-guard position and he evolved into an All-Star. KJ and Hornacek were essentially a pair of combo guards who played together. Like his coach then, Dragic has the ability to play off the ball or run the offense. Bledsoe and Dragic are essentially a pair of combo guards who could, potentially, play in the same backcourt, too.
- Rhett Wilkinson for the Deseret News: Be it in a rowdy pub or on a washed-up deck, Captain Jack Sparrow has a manta he likes to exchange with loyal friend Joshamee Gibbs. “Take what you can,” says one. “Give nothing back,” says the other. This summer, Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey and team brass can appreciate that averment from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" characters — more or less. Lindsey only gave up little-used rookie Kevin Murphy, trade exemptions and $24 million in cap relief to Golden State for center Andris Biedrins and wings Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, along with unprotected first-round picks in 2014 and 2017, two second-round picks, and an undisclosed amount of cash. The trade has been applauded by many commentators, including Danny Hansen on utahjazz360.com for, among other things, serving youth, “meeting the salary floor” and not letting cap space burn in their pocket.