First Cup: Friday
July, 12, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: Asked at Thursday’s summer-league practice about the team’s interest if World Peace becomes available, Mike Woodson said: “[General manager] Glen [Grunwald] is coming up and we’ll sit and talk more about him. We don’t have to rush to do anything. The core group is intact that won 54 games last year. That player, or two, could slip through the cracks with amnesty or someone waived or bought out. It can happen. We got to sit patiently and wait and keep roster spots open to see if that may happen.” World Peace has told his father he doesn’t want to uproot his family by going to another city. He told his father he especially has no interest in playing for a non-contender. However, by retiring, World Peace would forfeit the $7.7 million. If he clears without being bid on, he becomes a free agent and can make $7.7 million plus a portion of the $1.4 million veteran’s minimum (some money is rerouted to the Lakers). “My gut feels like if the Knicks want him now, my gut tells me it will happen,’’ said Artest Sr., who runs his own kids foundation in New York City. “I haven’t spoken to him yet tonight. I think he could be a prized possession for the Knicks. He wanted to play for the Knicks for so long, since childhood.’’
- Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News: What if Andrew Bynum had been able to play? It is the question without an answer for the Sixers. But on the day after Bynum agreed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending his tenure in Philadelphia - a tenure of lucrative woe - it seems OK to speculate a little bit. It is all a guess, of course, but here goes. If Bynum had been as healthy as advertised - say, healthy for 60-something games last season. The Sixers would have made the playoffs. There would be no lottery pick, no talk of a lottery pick. The Sixers likely/possibly would have won a round or two in the playoffs. With a healthy big man and the ability to play in the half-court in the springtime, this is a fair assumption. Doug Collins likely would still be the coach. And not only that - he would be even more empowered and the organization would be subject to his every whim, or Kwame. The young players would still be ignored. … I was in favor of the Bynum deal. Given everything, it seemed a reasonable gamble. So this is all said in hindsight, granted. But it's all I have. Andrew, adieu.
- Monte Poole of The Oakland Tribune: But the endless maneuvers that delivered Iguodala were, for Bob Myers, a difficult test of executive skill. He aced it. "The hours that you put in are extremely expensive," he said. "You're really working a lot. And this (effort) actually consummated in a player. A lot of times, this doesn't happen. This easily could have not happened and we'd have nothing to show for it -- except for effort." Instead, triumph. Iguodala was the best player on a Denver team that won 58 games before being bounced by the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. Moreover, Iggy is a Warrior because he was impressed by the franchise. That a star would discount himself for the Warriors is real progress. Like Lacob, Myers is getting things done at a pace previously unknown to the organization. Like Jackson, Myers is proceeding with faith and absolute conviction. All three are collaborating to wipe away decades of scorn and stigma. Lacob walked in and immediately promised a new day. Jackson introduced himself by vowing that "things be changing" with this franchise. Upon moving into the seat that had been occupied by veteran executive Larry Riley, Myers made no such grand proclamations. He said 14 months ago that he thought the Warriors would better in 2012-13 than they were in 2011-12. He was more prophetic than he could have imagined, with no sign of slowing down.
- Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: Are the Nuggets slowly sinking in the Western Conference? Houston landed Dwight Howard, the big prize in NBA free agency. The Los Angeles Clippers lured Doc Rivers, among the league's top five coaches. And what did Denver get? A kick in the teeth from Andre Iguodala, who bolted for Golden State. So here's the blunt question: Did the Nuggets take a step back? "Did we take a step back? I don't know," Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said Thursday. "It remains to be seen. But we're trying to build this team for the long haul." Was Iguodala a rat jumping off a sinking ship? Well, let's clear up a misconception. The primary reason Iguodala departed the Nuggets was not because he thought Golden State had a brighter future or that he was upset because Kroenke fired coach George Karl or he missed the deft touch in negotiations of former general manager Masai Ujiri. No, the top three reasons Iguodala departed were what it usually comes down to in the NBA: money, money, money.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Pistons owner Tom Gores spotted a face he’d seen in the Palace, only Gores was in the bowels of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. “So I heard you played a little basketball for us,” the Beverly Hills resident said. Chauncey Billups, wearing his usual wide smile, nodded and shook Gores’ hand before turning his attention to Pistons President Joe Dumars after the L.A. Clippers beat up on the Pistons this past March. The two engaged in a conversation, asking about one another’s families and trading old jokes, an exchange that belied the mutual respect the two men shared. Although their relationship had been strained ever since Dumars traded Billups in the 2008-09 season, the door had been re-opened for a reconciliation, and Billups walked through it Thursday morning, signing with the franchise that made him a household name and a champion. The two year contract is worth $5 million, with a team option for a second season, according to sources. “Chauncey’s the best,” said Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey, who came to Orlando to visit with the team. “Ask anybody around this league, nothing but great things to say about him. We’re excited as an organization but the fans as well. He’s done a lot of great things for the city of Detroit.”
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: Maybe Jason Kidd was taking a phone call from Andrei Kirilenko. With his team trailing 17-2 in the first quarter of Brooklyn’s 92-76 defeat — a loss that dropped the lowly Summer League Nets to 0-4 in Orlando — the new head coach left the court area to answer his cell phone, sparking an Internet uproar because the sequence was caught on NBA TV. When Kidd finished his call, he returned to the court area and began talking with former Nets GM Rod Thorn about golf. Despite accusations that Kidd left his duties, he did not coach the Nets on Thursday and was a merely spectator to assistant Eric Hughes. Other head coaches at the Orlando Summer League — including Erik Spoelstra, Kevin McHale and Mo Cheeks — have done similar things during games. They’re just not first-time head coaches caught on television.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: It's a calculated risk but one the Milwaukee Bucks were willing to take. The Bucks gambled they could land restricted free agent Jeff Teague with a four-year, $32 million offer sheet, which he signed late Wednesday. Now the Atlanta Hawks have a 72-hour period ending Saturday to match the offer or let Teague go to the Bucks. In a phone interview Thursday, Teague made it clear he wants to be part of the Bucks. "I'm definitely excited at the opportunity to come back to work with Larry Drew," Teague said of the Bucks coach and his former coach with the Hawks. "The Bucks have a good team, a young nucleus and guys that are ready to take the next step. I can help." Teague had dinner with Drew in Milwaukee on Wednesday night and spoke by phone with general manager John Hammond. The Bucks are seeking to replace both backcourt starters from last season and already have agreed to terms with shooting guard O.J. Mayo. "I think after one call he knew this is where he wanted to be," said Teague's Indianapolis-based agent, J.R. Hensley.
- Eric Koreen of the National Post: “What are we going to do, throw players away?” Ujiri said at the prospect of “tanking.” Last week’s rumour of dealing Rudy Gay to Detroit for the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva might be an example of what Ujiri was talking about. “We’re not going to do that. And I think winning is what you want to build around. And I think when you [try to trade away talent for little in return], I’m not so sure the karma is great when you do stuff like that. But I understand the whole big picture and we’re putting all the options on the table.” There are still little moves to make. The Raptors will probably bring in a third point guard to compete with Stone to back up Kyle Lowry. Marcus Camby, acquired in the Bargnani deal, wants to chase a championship, so he will either be moved in a bigger trade or bought out. There is no sense bringing in a veteran who does not want to be in Toronto. … It is a defiantly unglamorous approach to roster building, and it will mean that the Raptors might never “win an off-season” during Ujiri’s tenure. Again: the Raptors’ new general manager does not care in the least about that, and the (hopefully) momentary angst that might create.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Gerald Henderson went fishing Thursday. I know that because he sent out a tweet, and the water was a beautiful blue. I mention that to illustrate that Henderson isn’t sweating this whole free-agent dance. Perhaps the rest of us should take a cue from that. Five thoughts on where Henderson’s restricted free-agency might be headed: THE BOBCATS WANT HIM BACK: They are wary of overpaying, but there’s no doubt they value him. Sometimes the Bobcats get a bad rap for not making an effort to retain their free agents. They offered more to Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin than either of those two got in the contracts they signed upon leaving the Bobcats. TIME MIGHT BE ON THE BOBCATS’ SIDE: It’s my experience the longer restricted free-agency plays out the more likely it is the player is back with his team, at least on the qualifying offer. Offer sheets – particularly the successful ones that change a player’s team – tend to come quickly into July. Then money dries up in a way that corrects the market.
- John Canzano of The Oregonian: The "This doesn't move the needle for me," crowd yawned at every one of Olshey's moves, no matter how sly and sensical last week. So you figure the naysayers probably graduated to a collective belch by Thursday. And I have no doubt by the middle of next season, they'll be the ones crowing that Olshey got lucky, as they claim he did with Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. The Blazers are better. That was the point of free agency and the draft. The entire Western Conference got better, but the Blazers had the smartest summer in the league despite having only $12 million in cap room and lots of competition for overvalued free agents. Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson and Earl Watson were the guys being introduced. I don't expect any of them will have their numbers retired and hung from the Rose Garden rafters. Then again, if there's a city that should appreciate the way Olshey pulled this together, it's Portland. … Be clear: The Blazers got Lopez, Robinson, Wright and Watson when they could have had a single star player. Maybe that didn't move your needle. But it sure moved the Blazers toward the playoffs again.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Through the first two days, the Thunder center was turning heads and being praised like never before. That was before he collided with teammate Reggie Jackson. The two bumped heads, and Orton missed the next two games with a mild concussion. But who knows what the story coming out of summer league would have been had it not been for a fluke injury, had Orton stayed healthy? Those first two days clearly belonged to Orton. Fans and media members from all over were gushing about how good Orton looked. “A monster” was what one person said Orton looked like, using the word as a term of endearment to describe his play. But no group was more surprised than the locals in the Orlando media — the same people who watched Orton sit the bench for the first two years of his career before his unceremonious exit. They couldn't believe how well Orton moved, how explosive he had become, how feathery his touch had grown and how aggressive he was around the rim. “All credit is due to the Thunder, the organization and the staff,” Orton said.
- Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: The Jazz traded for Gobert on draft night — giving up the No. 46 pick and cash — no doubt because of his length. But general manager Dennis Lindsey said that night that the team saw more in Gobert than his height, reach (9 feet, 7 inches) and wingspan (7-foot-9). "You know how big guys can sometimes make the league and not put in the time and effort," Lindsey said, "and Rudy’s a serious pro already and you guys will soon see that." It was apparent in Gobert’s 11-point, eight-rebound, three-block performance against the Pacers. In addition to the tip-in, he had two putback dunks, a fadeaway baseline jumper, a dribble-and-kick assist to Jeremy Evans, and a polished spin move punctuated with a hook shot — which hit a spot on the backboard out of even Gobert’s reach. "He did a few more things today," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said.