First Cup: Tuesday
July, 16, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When Jeff Teague’s phone rang Saturday – while on a Harry Potter themed amusement park ride in Orlando – he answered. Hawks general manager Danny Ferry was calling with news that the team intended to match the four-year, $32 million offer sheet from the Bucks. Teague would remain in Atlanta. “He said they were going to match the offer and we’re glad to have you back,” Teague told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I held on a little bit, got off the ride and we started talking a little bit more.” Just three days earlier, Teague had expressed to Ferry his desire to move on. The restricted free agent was unhappy with the progress of negotiations and he was impressed by the interest the Bucks showed. He also wanted an opportunity to reunite with former Hawks coach Larry Drew. Teague said he is happy to remain a Hawk. He showed up at the team’s Las Vegas Summer League game Monday night and there were hugs all around – from Ferry, teammates John Jenkins and Mike Scott, coaches and support personnel. “It’s a process,” Teague said. “I understood that going into it. I was a restricted free agent and I knew that all along. I was happy either way. I’m glad to be back in Atlanta. It’s been home for four years. It’s time to get back to work. There is no bad blood. We are all professionals.” Teague said he was encouraged by the faith the Hawks showed in him by matching the offer sheet.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: The topic will come up over the course of a long NBA season because coaches in the final year of their contracts are constantly reminded about it. But Dwane Casey is not going to play along — no way, no how, no chance. He made that crystal clear here Monday afternoon, months before training camp even begins, the time when the questions about his future could become almost a daily occurrence. “I’m going to say this and I’m not going to talk about it again: I could care less about three years on the contract, four years on the contract, I’m going to be the same coach,” he said after the Raptors played an informal scrimmage with the Washington Wizards on a Summer League off-day. “This year, I’m going to coach the way I want to coach, to coach the way that puts us in the best position to win.” In case no one’s been paying attention, Casey is in the third year of a three-year deal and is now working for a different general manager than the one that originally signed him.
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: When the C’s yesterday introduced three of the four players they received in exchange for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, that word was once again in circulation. And Keith Bogans wasn’t too happy about that. “A negative like that — tanking to lose — if I get a vibe like that in anybody’s attitude, I’m going to have an attitude,” said Bogans, who sat next to MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries during yesterday’s press conference. The fourth former Net, Gerald Wallace, was not in attendance due to a commitment with his annual basketball camp in Alabama. Indeed, Bogans found it hard to believe that losing in the name of the lottery, even one as preordained for greatness as the 2014 draft, could even be connected to his new franchise. “It means a lot to come to a franchise with so much tradition. Let me put it this way. I played at Kentucky. I played at DeMatha (High School),” he said. “The main thing is to come out, play hard, win and hope I get the same thing from my teammates and the coaching staff. I’m not looking at this as something to look down on. I definitely want to win.” Humphries admitted to broaching the subject yesterday with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “I was talking with Danny Ainge earlier and it was just, ‘We’re not tanking, we’re playing hard. We’ve got to compete and make it to the playoffs,’ ” Humphries said.
- Howard Beck of The New York Times: Ron Artest is coming home, with a more whimsical name and a more expansive biography, dotted with asterisks and footnotes and curious detours, some glorious and some less so. He returns as an N.B.A. champion and a mental-health advocate, a reformed villain-turned-Mr. Congeniality, but mostly as a proud New Yorker eager to hang a banner at Madison Square Garden. Fourteen years after bypassing him in the draft — a decision etched in franchise infamy — the Knicks finally signed Artest on Monday. He is 33 and goes by the name Metta World Peace. He is a bit slower, but no less tenacious. He is downright giddy about the possibilities. “I’m getting more excited to play with the players,” World Peace said by telephone Monday night. “I’m more excited to play with the players than I am to be in New York City, you know? I’m more excited to play with the team. That’s what make me excited.” That was four uses of “excited” in 12 seconds, as if to erase any lingering ambiguity.
- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: The idea that Derrick Rose could be ready in July and not be ready in April is beyond some people’s ability to comprehend. I didn’t know there was a scheduled date for when he would feel ready to go. And here I see I’ve fallen into the trap. A story about Rose’s readiness for next season has turned into a column about the stupid abuse he has taken for being methodical in his comeback. A story that stated the obvious — that Rose would be back next season — has turned into another round of haymakers between the people who think he’s selfish and the people who wonder how anyone could question his heart. I can’t wait for the season to begin. I fully expect the people who are furious with Rose to show up at the United Center with signs letting him know how they feel, even as he scores 30 points. I’ve never seen this much anger directed at someone in sports who hasn’t been accused of a crime. So it’s only right that his critics don’t let up on him all season, if not for the rest of his career. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Derrick, keep the ‘‘breaking news’’ to yourself. From now on, let your game speak for itself. It’ll hush the crowd.
- Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: One year after Jason Kidd ran his Cadillac Escalade into a tree at the intersection of Cobb Road and Little Cobb Road in Water Mill, L.I., behind the wheel of a car when somebody should have been driving him home from a club they had to carry him out of, he is back in the Hamptons at 11 o’clock Tuesday morning. This time Kidd is not leaving a fancy charity event at a big East Hampton estate, or a club called SL East. He is walking into a courtroom, in the Southampton Town Courthouse in Hampton Bays, to make what is called an interim plea on his DWI arrest last July 16. … Kidd has agreed to make school appearances on Long Island in the fall, which will be taped and can be used later as public-service announcements if the DA’s office chooses to use them that way. When asked on Monday what Kidd will say to students when he does appear at these schools, Burke said that the talk will be about drinking and driving with kids who either have their driver’s licenses or are about to have them, about how “it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in your life, in basketball or anything else, that alcohol impairs everybody.”
- Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Tuesday marks the 89th day since Doug Collins stepped down to take a consultant's role with the team, and it seems that no one except general manager Sam Hinkie and majority owner Josh Harris know when the coaching search will conclude. So far that's been OK for assistant coach Michael Curry, who is a candidate for the job. The 44-year-old, who was the associate head coach under Collins, is expected to interview for the job, and Curry's on-the-job training has been as good as it gets. … "I'll just continue to work every day and continue to get better as a coach," said Curry, who along with assistant coaches Aaron McKie and Jeff Capel, is under contract for another season. "I'm the senior guy on the staff, so I will continue to lead the rest of the staff and the players that we still have and the ones we have under contract. Just continue to make them get better." Curry said Hinkie informed him that the coaching search would be a long process when they first spoke. The Sixers also are expected to interview Boston Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, according to multiple reports. Five other NBA assistants - Brett Brown (San Antonio Spurs), David Fizdale (Miami Heat), Melvin Hunt (Denver Nuggets), Chris Finch (Houston Rockets) and Kelvin Sampson (Houston Rockets) - have also been mentioned as candidates for the Sixers' job.
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Appearing eager to support his teammates, New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon attended the team's summer league game on Monday and sat on the bench. Traveling from nearby Los Angeles, where he's doing his ankle rehabilitation work after requiring surgery in May, Gordon said he came to support the team during their 66-62 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers at UNLV's Cox Pavilion. Gordon said he will likely return to see more games before their summer league schedule ends. “People forget that Eric is a good guy,'' Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after Monday's game. “I actually called him out of the blue the other day and he told me he was coming out. Nobody asked him, he just said coach, `I'm coming out and I want to be around the team.' I thought that was phenomenal.'' During timeouts Monday, Gordon appeared to be engaged in the huddle, encouraging and giving pointers to some of the team's younger players. … Gordon said his rehabilitation is on schedule and he's been moving around pretty well. “It's been easy sailing so far and I when training camp begins, I want to be at 100 percent,'' Gordon said.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Though it might not seem to make sense, the Mavericks’ meeting with Greg Oden on Monday night in Las Vegas actually is a continuation of a dialogue that has been ongoing between the sides for nearly a year. Despite Oden’s major injury problems, the Mavericks seem to think it’s worthwhile to explore the option of bringing him on board to try to kick-start his career. That it should come much more cheaply than Andrew Bynum might have something to do with it. Oden, 25, spent five seasons with Portland. He played in two of them, with his serious knee problems keeping him on the shelf the other three. Last season, he was not with any NBA team. The price tag could be right for Oden. The Mavericks showed an interest in the 7-footer since he became a free agent after the 2011-12 season. He’s been weighing his options to try to resuscitate his career. While Bynum could have cost as much as $24 million for two years, Oden won’t command anything close to that.
- J. Michael of CSN Washington: The Wizards have begun talking with John Wall’s agent, Dan Fegan, regarding an extension before the regular season, CSN Washington has learned. Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, is eligible for up to a four-year, max contract with the Wizards in addition to the final year remaining on his deal that will pay him $7.45 million next season. If he's named the franchise's designated player, Wall can get five years. If the Wizards cannot reach an agreement with him by Oct. 31, talks will have to be tabled until after the 2013-14 regular season.
- John Niyo of The Detroit News: He’d prefer it if you called him “Gigi.” He’s single, in case anybody’s interested. And, yes, the newest member of the Detroit Pistons, Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome, said Monday he plans on keeping both the full beard and the ponytail. “Yes, why not?” he laughed, shortly after signing his first NBA contract. “So people will recognize me easier.” But all joking aside, the 25-year-old MVP of the Italian League wants everyone to recognize his American dream — “and for sure, this was my dream for a long time,” he told me — is one that fans in Detroit should embrace, too. “I want to come here and show that I deserve to be an NBA player,” he said. Clearly, the Pistons think he does, and will. And while Monday’s signing won’t register the same as last week’s Josh Smith introduction or today’s Chauncey Billups return, it’s an intriguing addition, nonetheless. Not just because of the accent, either, though Datome’s brief news conference at the practice facility Monday certainly had a different rhythm than the one that immediately followed for Will Bynum, who also re-upped with the Pistons for two more years.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: On the cusp of his third NBA season, Cory Joseph’s Summer League assignment is clear. The Spurs want him to speak up and be a leader. Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, who helms the Summer League squad, reiterated as much after an 82-76 loss to Toronto late Sunday night. Joseph’s final numbers were solid — 16 points, six rebounds, six assists. But in Las Vegas, Joseph — who ended the season as Tony Parker’s primary backup — is not being judged on numbers alone. “We need him to be more vocal in his role, especially when they up the pressure,” Udoka said. “We need to respond better when we get in those ruts. He’s a leader out there and we’re looking for him to take more command. He had decent game, but he can do much better.” A bit introverted by nature, the 21-year-old Joseph says he is up to the challenge. “I’m the point guard,” Joseph said. “I’ve been leading teams all my life.”
- Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Daniel Orton likely is the odd man out. He’s due to be paid just $916,099 in 2013-14, and Orton’s Summer League performance last week was impressive. But Orton is one of four centers on the Thunder roster. In the modern NBA, you don’t need four centers. Heck, in the old NBA, you didn’t need four centers, not when you’ve got Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison, too. So look for the Thunder to try to trade Orton. Probably a second-round draft pick is all OKC could get for him, but that’s better than nothing, which is what the Thunder will get if it has to waive him. It’s possible the Thunder could trade or cut Orton and sign two players in his stead – both at minimum salaries. That would drop the Thunder just below the luxury tax threshold
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Did the Suns draft damaged goods at No. 5 last month by choosing Alex Len? Is this another big man with chronic health issues barely above the hardwood? Visions of Robin Lopez and Kurt Thomas feet issues come racing back. There certainly is reason for concern, because Len is a critical element to the Suns’ turnaround. But the ankle issues do not alarm the Suns. They checked out the left ankle before drafting him and were confident that the partial stress fracture would not be a future issue. After drafting him, it made sense to have the other ankle checked out because of how the body often compensates for injury. Sure enough, there were miniscule signs of the beginning of a stress fracture. The surgery that Len underwent Friday, by Dr. Gustavo Armendariz in Phoenix, was a similar procedure to what he had in early May, but this was only preventative. It does not add any rehabilitation time to what he was already undergoing, meaning Len should be able to resume some activity during September voluntary workouts and be ready for October training camp. “Do you let it heal or do you do something proactively?” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “They found something at the earliest possible stages. It didn’t require surgery, but that was the safest course of action.”
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: If heads continue to be scratched about why the Utah Jazz traded for Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, fans should remove all fingers from their scalps. We don't want any hair to be pulled out by accident — or because the Jazz's intentions aren't understood. Yes, those three Warriors will become California transplants in Utah this fall. No, the Jazz didn't make the trade just to acquire them. You've heard that phrase players occasionally spout about how the "NBA is a business," right? … Because the organization decided not to bring Jefferson, Millsap, Mo Williams or any other veteran free agents back from last year's team, it required multiple big salaries from elsewhere to get to the NBA's minimum payroll level of $52 million. There weren't a whole lot of prized free agents within Utah's reach this offseason, so general manager Dennis Lindsey & Co. went wheeling and dealing for a solution. A quick fix presented itself via Oakland. Biedrins and Jefferson make a combined $20 million next season, and Rush is due $4 million. Eh, voila.