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First Cup: Wednesday

8/28/2013
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: In five years when he’s (Tracy McGrady) eligible, is he a Hall of Famer. I don’t know. The raw numbers would suggest he’d have to get serious consideration. The tweeter was full of impressive stats yesterday, the most impressive that he was one of seven players to average 20 points, five rebound and four assists in eight straight seasons; the others were Kobe, LeBron, Jordan, Oscar, Garnett and Bird. Not bad company and if that’s your main criteria, you can’t keep him out, can you? I could, though. I could suggest that while his statistical impact was significant – there can be no argument about that, the raw numbers are shocking – there was just something about his body of work that should give voters cause for concern. Now, I suppose you could go either way on this one, there is a legitimate argument to be made both ways, I think, and since I’m a Hall of Fame hard ass and look at a much bigger global picture, I’m saying no. And I will say this and take whatever shots you’ve got: With respect to an impact on the sport, here in North America and around the world, he couldn’t hold a candle to Vince Carter. If you’re talking impact, there’s no comparison.

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: In the wake of Tracy McGrady's retirement announcement earlier this week, let me just say this: T-Mac was undoubtedly a great talent, but he will also go down as one of the great underachievers in NBA history. I covered his entire tenure with the Orlando Magic, and he had the talent and explosiveness to become a greater player than Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, he didn't have the desire. … Here's why I say McGrady was one of the NBA's great underachievers: Because he never, ever won a playoff series until this past season -- his final one -- when he was one of the last players off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs. In a sport where one player can make a huge difference (see LeBron leading the marginally talented Cleveland Cavaliers to the finals and the best record in the NBA for two years running), T-Mac never elevated his team's to anything other than mediocrity. … Will he go down as one of the top three Magic players of all-time behind Dwight and Shaq? Probably -- although Penny Hardaway might argue otherwise. For a lot of reasons, though, he will go down in history for another reason. No player I ever saw had more talent but accomplished less.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra clearly has the football bug. He apparently also carries a message that resonates beyond basketball. Three weeks after attending practice and then addressing the University of Tennessee football team in Knoxville as a favor to friend and Volunteers coach Butch Jones, Spoelstra was in Renton, Wash., on Tuesday, addressing the Seattle Seahawks. "Just having him here in front of the team and just having him in meetings with us and having him out here in practice is an unbelievable experience for everybody," quarterback Russell Wilson said after Tuesday's practice. "For him to be able to talk about how his basketball team was successful and the way that they went about their business in terms of sacrificing . . . just that whole idea of sacrificing everything, the players, LeBron [James] coming to Miami, and Dwyane Wade sacrificing all that, all that type of sacrifice that it takes to be great and to be great so often, is kind of what he talked about for the most part. And having that discipline, as well, too, is something that he talked about, and just working hard, continuing to work hard, continuing to believe in yourselves and ignore the noise.” … Spoelstra is from nearby Portland, Ore., with this his second trip to the Pacific Northwest this offseason. He had visited with Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon in previous seasons, before Kelly became coach of the Philadelphia Eagles this season.

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN: Washington Wizards Vice President of player personnel, Milt Newton, will join the Timberwolves as the team's general manager, according to a team source. Newton will be heavily involved in pro scouting. The Wolves also plan on elevating Rob Babcock to a vice president of personnel position. Both men have a prior history with Wolves President of Basketball Operations, Flip Saunders. Saunders still will have final say in all personnel decisions, but will be leaning heavily on Newton and Babcock on all moves. Saunders is also said to be taking an assistant trainer, Koichi Sato, from the Wizards. Sato will focus on strength training with the Wolves.

  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post: Play nice, guys. That essentially was the directive given to owners James Dolan of the Knicks and Mikhail Prokhorov of the Nets this past season during a meeting orchestrated by NBA Commissioner David Stern, who wanted to snuff any lingering tension between the two and prevent a full-blown feud, multiple league sources told The Post. “There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one,” said one league official with knowledge of the sit-down, which happened early in the season. The official also confirmed Stern assisted in getting the pair together in an attempt to prevent a wave of spitballs going back and forth over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. See? It’s not just players like Paul Pierce and Raymond Felton fueling the feud between the two NBA teams sharing the city. It has been going on for a while, but the Nets no longer are the poor stepchild performing in a New Jersey swamp. Another person with direct knowledge of the sit-down called it “cordial and friendly.”

  • Bernie Augustine of the New York Daily News: There’s no time for proofreading in the tattoo parlor. Larry Sanders showed off his newest tattoos on Instagram over the weekend, but the Bucks center was quickly given a spelling lesson by his fans who spied the unfortunate typo in permanent ink. The 24-year-old got fresh ink on both hands, with one reading “Ask” and another “Recieve.” Whoops. “Receive” is the proper spelling of the word, and Sanders was given plenty of reminders about the old “I before E except after C” rule. Oh, that pesky English language. Sanders, for his part was unfazed by the gaffe. Despite calls from his fans to delete the photo of the tattoo — “Please remove the picture. It makes U look like an idiot,” one Instagram user wrote — Sanders kept both photos up on his Instagram stream and followed them up with a photo of himself looking unimpressed with the hullabaloo and a caption that reads, “ummmmmmmm ... ain’t worried bout nuthin.” With a new four year, $44 million contract, he shouldn’t be worried. Turning an “I” into an “E,” and vice-versa, will hardly put a dent in his newly-fattened wallet.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Former Atlanta forward Josh Childress will be among 40 or more free agents who will work out here as the Cavaliers continue to do their due diligence in the month leading up to the start of training camp, according to an NBA source. Childress' agent, Chris Emens, told HoopsHype.com his client would work out in Cleveland and San Antonio. Given the Cavs' current roster and salary situation, all the players face long odds of making the team, but some could earn invitations to training camp.

  • Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle: Rising costs, rising sea levels, rising community concern. Everything is on the rise when it comes to the Warriors' proposed arena on the San Francisco waterfront. The Warriors insist that the arena will also eventually rise, that it is still on track to meet its projected 2017 opening date. But it continues to face obstacles. "I think the Warriors have underestimated how high the hurdles for a project like this would be," said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, a regional organization that has worked to protect San Francisco Bay for the past 52 years. … "It's very expensive to rehabilitate those piers," said Warriors president Rick Welts. "But we still have the highest level of confidence this project will be done." … Welts said a third round of design will be unveiled in October. … "We are 100 percent focused on Piers 30/32," he said. "We're more convinced than ever that this is the best possible site for this project."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Alex Len was first on the Suns’ draft board in June but he is not first in the minds of his fellow rookies when it comes to NBA success. Len, this year’s No. 5 overall selection, did not receive much love in the nba.com annual Rookie Survey of the 36 rookies who attended a league photo shoot in New York earlier this month. Len and fellow Suns rookie Archie Goodwin, the No. 29 pick, attended the event in conjunction with the league’s rookie transition program. The NBA rookies gave votes to 10 rookies who they think will win Rookie of the Year but nobody voted for Len or Goodwin. Fourteen rookies got votes for who will have the best career but nobody voted for Len or Goodwin. And even for who is the most overlooked rookie, the rookies overlooked the Suns but voted for 21 other rookies. Perhaps Len’s ankle surgeries curbed optimism. Maybe it is the assumption that Len will be playing backup minutes to Marcin Gortat. Or they just might not think he will be as good as the Suns believe he will be. Goodwin did get a vote for “most athletic” rookie and “best defender.”

  • Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: When Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin reached out to Alex Jensen about joining his staff, a number of qualities drew him to the D-League Coach of the Year and, likewise, Jensen to Corbin. That Jensen was a Centerville native and played a starring role on the University of Utah team that advanced to the 1998 NCAA championship game was low on Corbin’s list. Presumably, too, was this side benefit to five years playing professionally in Turkey: a unique ability to communicate with Jazz center Enes Kanter. "I’ve already sworn at him [in Turkish]," Jensen said, his permanent half-smile twisting into a full one. "Those are the first words you learn." Before being hired earlier this summer as a Jazz player development assistant, Jensen spent two years as the head coach of the Canton Charge and four years before that on Rick Majerus’ staff at Saint Louis University. His arrival completed the shuffle that began when assistant coach Jeff Hornacek left for the top job with the Phoenix Suns. Jensen, 37, will share player development duties with another Ute, second-year staffer Johnnie Bryant. He said he has already worked with about half of the roster, including in Santa Barbara, Calif., and in workouts between Derrick Favors and Karl Malone.

  • Michael Pointer of The Indianapolis Star: The Indiana Pacers’ long playoff run this spring is making it easier for the team’s front office to sell tickets. Todd Taylor, the team’s vice president of sales and marketing, said Tuesday that sales of season-ticket packages are up nearly 30 percent from this time last year. Packages are considered anything 11 games or more because they give the buyer a guarantee to purchase playoff tickets, he said. Per club policy, the Pacers do not reveal total number of season tickets. But Taylor said the 30 percent bump includes about 1,200 new ticket holders. “I still think we’re in growth mode,” Taylor said. “I’ve only been here two years, but we’re certainly seeing a greater level of interest. When your team is relevant, and people accept your phone calls, you have a chance.” Taylor said more than 90 percent of season-ticket holders from last season have renewed their tickets.

  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: Negotiations for a $100 million renovation of Target Center finally are moving near completion, with the primary tenant Timberwolves agreeing to pay $44.3 million, the City of Minneapolis $50 million and the AEG sports and entertainment firm still negotiating the remaining $5.7 million. Reaching a deal with AEG, which manages concerts in the arena, had slowed talks. The current controversy between the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority over whether team ownership has the wherewithal to deliver on its $477 million commitment for a $975 million stadium has caused the City of Minneapolis to be more cautious in negotiations with the Timberwolves. The Wolves say they have been forthcoming with whatever financial information the city sought, and there don't seem to be any issues. The Wolves are hopeful a deal will be approved at a Minneapolis City Council meeting next month. Meetings between Minneapolis and the NBA team took place last Friday, with communications continuing through the weekend, and meetings scheduled for this week.