First Cup: Wednesday
July, 31, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: The strange summer saga of Brandon Jennings finally was resolved Tuesday. The Milwaukee Bucks agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Detroit Pistons, inking Jennings to a three-year, $24 million contract and sending him to Detroit in exchange for point guard Brandon Knight, small forward Khris Middleton and center Viacheslav Kravtsov. … The move signaled the Bucks’ determination to start anew after a sour ending to last season, culminating in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Gone are Jennings and Monta Ellis, the starters in the Bucks backcourt all of last season and the team’s two leading scorers. In their places are the 21-year-old Knight and 25-year-old shooting guard O.J. Mayo, who signed a three-year, $24 million free-agent deal earlier this summer. … The Bucks have only five holdovers from the roster at the end of the season: Larry Sanders, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Ekpe Udoh and Ish Smith. Instead of committing to a long-term deal with Jennings, the Bucks obtained a player in the third year of his rookie-scale contract. Knight will make $2.8 million next season and $3.5 million in 2014-’15.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: The Pistons weren’t done wheeling and dealing, as Pistons president and Louisiana native Joe Dumars returned to his riverboat gambler ways, acquiring point guard Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade from the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pistons traded Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Slava Kravtsov for Jennings and will have him for the next three years at $24 million total. Mind you, this was not too far removed from Dumars demonstratively denying any talks with the Bucks, run by good friend and former Pistons executive John Hammond. Meaning he plays poker, too. In acquiring Jennings and Josh Smith, there’s two talented but mercurial players who could be termed as “wild cards.” Chemistry is indeed a fair question, but considering the Pistons got two players for far less than they felt they’d command on the open market — Smith wanted a max contract and Jennings wanted $12 million per season — they should have two players with things to prove to the NBA at large. A willingness to silence critics should make potential sacrifices a lot easier in what’s an interesting mix of talent, youth and experience in the Pistons’ locker room. The last time the Pistons changed three starters so dramatically in one offseason was in 2002 when they signed Chauncey Billups as a free agent, traded mainstay Jerry Stackhouse for some unknown guard named Richard Hamilton and plucked Tayshaun Prince late in the first round for what was a bad 2002 draft.
- Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: After the spinal tap incident sidelined Luol Deng for the final seven games of the playoffs, he mostly stayed silent, other than a few health updates on Twitter. Deng finally addressed the incident in an interview posted on nba.com. He’s currently in Ghana for one of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders events. “The end of the season was disappointing,” Deng said. “I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star (Game), and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, I think that we could have handled the situation better. “Obviously there are some things that you can’t handle. You can’t really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap and that’s where it went all wrong. My body didn’t react well to the spinal tap. I had some serious side effects that not only didn’t allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger.” No matter how you slice it, Deng’s hospital visit on the afternoon of Game 6 vs. Brooklyn didn’t go well. Due to concerns he could have meningitis, Deng was given a spinal tap. As it turned out, he didn’t have meningitis. His body began to leak spinal fluid after the procedure, leaving him in no shape to move around, let alone play basketball. After a few rough days, there was nothing to do but wait for his body to replenish the fluid. The Bulls say Deng is doing fine now.
- Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer: The Mike Miller introduction felt like the peak of the late-summer momentum that seems to have firmly re-entrenched the Grizzlies as a legitimate Western Conference contender. And Joerger went into a bit of detail about how Miller can factor on the floor, not only in spacing the court for the team's power players but also using his versatility to give the team more playmaking and more small lineup options. Perhaps most intriguing was the suggestion that this second go-round could last a little while. Joerger emphasized that Miller, in Memphis, would not be seen as merely a “hired gun,” but rather as a more meaningful part of the team and community. But the suggestion went further than that. Miller talked about “being a part of this for a long time to come.” Levien followed up by mentioning a “long relationship in Memphis going forward.” Miller signed a two-year deal with the Grizzlies with a player option in the second season, the idea being that Miller thinks he's got one more significant contract left in him. Based on the team's current salary projection, Miller might need to play out both years of his current contract to get a longer-term deal for above the vet minimum in Memphis. This will make next summer interesting. But that's next summer.
- Michael Pointer of The Indianapolis Star: Q: Despite having an outstanding season, there’s been a lot of speculation you may go back to coming off the bench this season, especially if Danny Granger is healthy and ready. Would you be OK with that? Lance Stephenson: “I’m just coming in to play hard. Whatever coach (Frank Vogel) decides to do, I think it’s a great decision. Me coming off the bench, Danny coming off the bench, either way, we’re deep. Whatever helps the team, that’s what I want to do.”
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Derrick Favors knows he’ll need to more than hold his own, mentally and physically, now that Paul Millsap has headed to his backup’s childhood home to play for the Hawks and Al Jefferson has signed with Charlotte. That was the message they each had for Favors on their way out of Utah: “They both just told me, ‘It’s (your) team now; it’s time to take over; do your thing out there. You’ve been learning from us the past two or three years; now it’s time to play.’” To sum up Favors’ reaction to that sentiment: FINALLY! … More than ever, Favors realizes that devotion and continual self-motivation are critical to his long-term goals. Now that he’s a few months from the golden opportunity that he’s waited for so long, Favors realizes it’s on him to be a hard worker, a defensive beast, a reliable offensive presence and a solid leader for his teammates to get that chance someday to hold the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. And Favors believes he will.
- Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo has left the door open for Portland Trail Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to represent his country if he has interest in doing so. However, Colangelo reiterates that he is not reaching out to players. He only wants players who are willing to make the necessary commitment to going through the entire process. When asked about Aldridge's chances of being added to the USA Basketball program, Colangelo's response was basically that he needed to hear from Aldridge, himself. “I am always interested in players who seek to compete,” Colangelo told CSNNW.com Tuesday night. “My phone is always available. Unless one is hungry and passionate about USA Basketball, there is little chance. “Certainly we won't solicit.” In mid-April, Aldridge informed CSNNW.com that he would participate if requested. It is unknown at this time if Aldridge will contact Colangelo.
- Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Sorry, I can’t get excited about Ryan Gomes, who apparently is signing with the Thunder. Mike Miller? Absolutely. Dorrell Wright? OK. Derek Fisher? Fine. Ryan Gomes? Nope. A 6-foot-7 small forward who is a career 35 percent 3-pointer doesn’t fit the Thunder needs. Gomes always has been a good defender, but does the Thunder need a wing defender who’s not a great offensive threat? Let’s see. Thabo Sefolosha. DeAndre Liggins. Andre Roberson. I love defense as much as the next guy — OK, I love defense way more than most next guys — but the Thunder doesn’t need four wingmen whose forte is defense. It’s not that Gomes is a bad player. You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you, but it’s true.
- Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The team is on the verge of signing Spurs free agent forward DeJuan Blair to a one-year deal. Blair would be an immediate upgrade over Elton Brand, who signed this offseason with the Atlanta Hawks. He is 6-foot-7, 265 pounds but has a big frame and can beat up people. Phsyically, he would remind you of David West, without his touch around the rim or jumper from 15 feet. When Blair was a rookie out of Pittsburgh, he looked like he had the makings of becoming a nice, bruising power forward. A guy who scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench. As a rookie in 2009-'10, Blair played in all 82 games with the San Antonio Spurs and averaged 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds. Since then, it's been a straight ride down the bench. Last season, he averaged 5.4 points, 3.8 boards and a career-low 14.0 minutes per game. When he's "good", he can push people around, defend the low block, and grab some boards and score junk buckets. He should be in the Mavs rotation, and be better than Brand.
- Shannon J. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel: So, a top 10 NBA draft pick, a former Orlando Magic guard, a Houston Rockets forward and a Euro Cup MVP walked into an Orlando recreation center gym the other night. I promise this isn't the start of a joke. How is this for a pick-up ball lineup? Austin Rivers, Courtney Lee, Chandler Parsons and Nick Calathes. All four gathered at the Downtown recreation center Monday night, competing together for the first time this summer in the Orlando Pro-Am league. With the exception of Calathes, who flew to Memphis to meet with theGrizzlies about potentially playing for the team, the rest of the NBA ballers came back for more rec hoops action Tuesday. "This is the best competition and best league in Orlando, so it's definitely fun coming out here," Parsons said. "The crowd gets into it, people are talking trash, so it's fun." And some of you thought all NBA players are spoiled millionaires with no love for the game. Clearly, you're not looking in the right places. Seriously, I've seen high school gyms pack with better crowds than what I witnessed Monday night as Parsons' 3 Stripes team beat 800-Trial-Pro — headlined by former UCF star Keith Clanton — 105-93 before a crowd of about 150 people.
- Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee: What began as a small group of neighborhood activists scraping for donations at a picnic in a midtown Sacramento garden has developed into a volatile political clash over whether to hold a public vote on the city's plan to subsidize a new Kings arena downtown. The debate has escalated in recent days. There have been allegations that paid signature gatherers are lying to voters, charges of doctored press releases and outrage on Twitter about claims made by both sides. In an indication of how intense the campaign has become, more than 56,000 city voters received an automated "robocall" Sunday evening extolling the virtues of a downtown arena and attacking the campaign under way to place the city's financing plan before the voters in June. Those kinds of robocalls are not unusual during campaign season. But a vote on the arena – if it comes at all – won't be held for another 10 months.
- Richard Goldstein of The New York Times: Ossie Schectman, a Knicks guard and a onetime all-American at Long Island University in Brooklyn, played when the two-handed set shot ruled and a 6-foot-8 center was a giant. When Schectman died on Tuesday at 94, he was remembered as a central figure in the National Basketball Association’s creation tale. He scored the first 2 points in the league’s history and became something of a celebrity when the distinction was uncovered, 42 years and 5 million points later. On the night of Nov. 1, 1946, the Knicks faced the Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens, the home of the National Hockey League’s Maple Leafs, before 7,090 fans more familiar with face-offs than jump balls. The court covered the ice surface. It was the inaugural game of the Basketball Association of America, which became the N.B.A. three years later.