First Cup: Wednesday
September, 4, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: In mid-May, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and newly hired General Manager Ryan McDonough met with Michael Beasley to lay out expectations for the summer. Beasley could not last three months before he let the Suns down again. His on-court regression might have been enough to cut ties but an early August arrest for marijuana possession in his car was intolerable. Faced with owing him $9 million of guaranteed contract, the Suns escaped the failed Beasley experiment with a buyout Tuesday that emphasizes a character standard which was overlooked last year and saves the club $2 million in salary and even more in cap hits for the next two years. Babby negotiated to reduce Beasley’s salary for this season from $6 milliion to $4.67 million and next season’s guaranteed $3 million of a $6 million salary to $2.33 million. Using the waive-and-spread provision of the collective bargaining agreement, the Suns will spread that $2.33 million in payment and cap hits over the years to $778,000 annually. The buyout, along with the ability to spread next year’s salary, creates $1.4 million in cap space this year (now about $6.7 million of total space) and $2.2 million more of cap space next year.
- Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: So long Michael Beasley, at least until your next court appearance. The Suns got it right Tuesday, announcing that they have waived Beasley after negotiating a buyout of what remains on his contract. Heck, they even managed to save themselves a couple of million and gave themselves some salary cap relief. But even if it had cost them every penny of the $9 million in guaranteed money they still owed Beasley, it would have been worth it to get rid of him. The Suns had to clean up the mess made by former general manager Lance Blanks, with approval of team president Lon Babby and owner Robert Sarver, after Beasley was arrested in Scottsdale for possession and where he still has a sexual assault investigation hanging over him. The Suns, after a disastrous couple of seasons, finally have begun to rebuild goodwill with their constituents. The last thing they needed on a roster full of young players and with a new head coach is a guy like Beasley.
- Adam Green ArizonaSports.com: The Suns threw down their bet, and the dice came up snake eyes. They lost, plain and simple, and now they will look to move on from one of the worst mistakes the franchise has ever made. Yet, it was the right move to take a chance last summer, just as it is the right call to end the relationship now, even though it will cost the team $7 million over the next few years to not have him around. Signing Beasley gave the Suns a shot at landing a star player at a time when, quite frankly, they had little ability to do so. Years of choosing mediocrity over bottoming out led to middling first-round draft picks, and refusing to part with aging veterans while they could have brought back more in return left them with little in the way of young talent to build around. Sure, the Suns had cap space, but they were not going to lure a big-time star to the desert last summer and were still a season away from landing the first top-five pick since 1987. They were in position to take a flyer on a player who, remember, was just a few seasons removed from being the second-overall pick in the NBA Draft. Had Beasley been able to turn his life around, the Suns very well could have landed an All-Star-caliber player at a time when they badly needed one. Of course, Beasley was unable to change, and now his once-promising career is on the ropes.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: America is addicted to sports, bringing with it the obsessive need to dissect even the most insignificant morsels of these silly games that command so much of our attention. (Of which this post, and web site, are but a tiny piece.) Those who exist under that white-hot glare experience the full spectrum of human judgments, not least of which is blame. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich experienced this during the Finals as he rarely, if ever, has during his Hall-of-Fame career. The details are permanently etched in Spurs lore: Spurs up five, less than half a minute remaining in Game 6, Popovich sits defensive anchor Tim Duncan for not one but two crucial possessions. Miami grabs an offensive rebound, and hits 3-pointers, on both to force overtime. The Heat win the game, and then the series two days later. A Google search for “Game 6 Gregg Popovich’s fault” on Tuesday got 408,000 results. The general consensus among the critics: How could you possibly take Duncan, one of the best rebounders and defenders in the game, off the court for such a critical possession? Then, after that didn’t work, how could you possibly do it again? Or as one poster at Pounding the Rock put it, Popovich overthought it so much that he underthought it. This line of thinking ignores two critical factors: 1. The Spurs had tremendous success subbing Duncan out for more mobile defenders on late defensive stands — typically Boris Diaw — throughout the season. 2. The odds of everything breaking the way it did down the stretch were so minute that the biggest factor, by a gigantic margin, was dumb luck.
- Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: Heat star LeBron James is executive producer of a planned new hour-half sitcom on Starz tentatively led Survivor's Remorse. Set in north Philadelphia, it's about two men from the streets who achieve fame, one in the NBA, the other not, and how they deal with family, friends and changing attitudes about them. LeBron will not star in the show but clearly the premise is autobiographical. "I think the main thing for me is, making it out of a place where you're not supposed to. You're supposed to be a statistic and end up like the rest of the people in the inner city," James said. "When you make it out, everyone expects ... they automatically think that they made it out and it's very tough for a young African-American 18-year-old kid to now hold the responsibility of a whole city, of a whole community. I can relate to that."
- Page Six of the New York Post: Jay Z is selling his minority ownership in the Brookyn Nets to coach Jason Kidd, sources exclusively tell Page Six. We’re told Kidd will take over Jay’s .067 percent (1/15th of a percent) stake in the team for about $500,000. The move comes as Jay was forced to sell his Nets shares over a conflict of interest after he started a sports agency, Roc Nation, signing clients including Yankee Robinson Cano and Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant. A source told us, “Other owners want to give Jason a part ownership of the team, and urged Jay to sell his shares to him.”
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: Rookie Ben McLemore must be a little prescient. A short while ago on Twitter, he alerted Kings fans that he was changing his jersey from No.16 to No.17 "for a good reason." Like the fact the organization plans to retire Peja Stojakovic's No.16 jersey in the near future? No confirmation yet - and nothing is imminent - but that's very likely the plan. Meantime, McLemore will stick with No.16 at least for the upcoming season. "We have considered retiring Peja's number," said team president Chris Granger, "and he certainly deserves that honor. (But) at this time, that's all I will say."
- Ben Standig of CSN Washington: In a world in which the Wizards don't draft Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. or any wing player but instead selected an interior option (thus eliminating the need for Al Harrington), Rip Hamilton could have filled the veteran-scorer-off-the-bench-that-backs-up-Bradley Beal role. One issue with Hamilton is that his game has always required him running off constant picks to get open. When he was arguably the NBA's top mid-range shooter, cool, but that's far too big of a scheme tweak to make for a limited role player even if he can still score.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Player development is the name of the game for the youthful Cavaliers. A league source said Steve Hetzel has accepted the job as head coach of the Canton Charge of the National Basketball Development League. He will replace former Charge coach Alex Jensen, who left after two seasons to become a developmental coach on Tyrone Corbin's staff with the Jazz. The Cavs are still reportedly working on contract details. They've put a strong emphasis on player development on the Cavs with so many young, emerging players. They have eight players on their roster 25 or younger, including rookies Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix. Phil Handy and Vitaly Potapenko make up the development staff on Mike Brown's staff. However, that's also Hetzel's strong suit.
- Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has promoted assistant coach Adrian Griffin to lead assistant, a league source conveyed to CSNNW.com. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because an announcement on the promotion has yet to be made. Griffin's advancement comes a little over two months since Chicago elected not to retain longtime lead assistant Ron Adams in late June. Adams has since joined the Boston Celtics' coaching staff.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: As much as their constellation of NBA stars, France’s EuroBasket reputation is one of heartbreak and disappointment. Blowing a fourth-quarter lead against Greece in the 2005 semifinals. Doing the same thing against Russia in 2007. Destroyed by Spain in the 2009 quarterfinals. Rolled again by the Spanish in the 2011 finals. Including those defeats, France has never won the European title in 37 appearances dating back to 1935. Despite that history, and the absence of Bulls center Joakim Noah, Les Bleus enter this year’s tournament, which starts today in Slovenia, as one of the favorites to challenge arch-rival Spain. British gambling house Ladbrokes puts France’s odds at 7-2, the same as Greece and only slightly worse than Spain at 2-1. Much like his team back stateside in San Antonio, the French go largely as Spurs All-Star Tony Parker goes. The veteran point guard has endured a pair of scares with minor knee injuries, but he’s shaken them off to enjoy a solid exhibition run-up that included yet another loss to Spain. He’s joined by fellow Spurs Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, which are pretty much the only three reasons the vast majority of Spurs fans will pay much, if any, attention to Europe’s biennial championship. (Unless, of course, you’re dying to get an early look at Marco Belinelli with Italy.)
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Canada hasn’t been rolling like this since Steve Nash was a young pup. The senior men’s hoops squad picked up its third win in four games at the FIBA Americas tournament Tuesday with a blowout 93-67 win over Uruguay. Canada clinched second place in its pool at 3-1 (though one win will not be carried forward because it came against a team that has been eliminated) with its second convincing win in four contests and heads forward in great shape. Four of the eight remaining teams will be knocked out, while the other four will advance both to the semi-finals and to next year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain. The game was a challenge for both teams, since it was supposed to start eight hours earlier. However, the lights went out in Venezuela, forcing the long delay. … Canada will open the knockout round against Mexico, also 2-1, faces host Venezuela a day later, the Dominican Republic Friday and Argentina on Saturday to close the grueling stretch.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: As a kid, C.J. Miles was not allowed to listen to rap music. His father, Calvin Andre Miles Sr., is a preacher (C.J. stands for Calvin Jr.) and the only music he allowed in the house was gospel, Al Green, and Michael Jackson. So what does he think about his son releasing a collection of his own rap songs on Twitter? "My dad was actually the person that encouraged me to do it,'' Miles said in a telephone interview ahead of the release. "He always told me since I was a kid that he felt like it was a big thing that I was drawn to. He always encouraged me to do it. He'll call me some days and say, 'Hey, boy, are you still rapping?''' The answer to that question is an emphatic yes. But Miles wants to make it clear that his music does not detract from his basketball. "My first love is still basketball,'' said the Cavs 26-year-old swingman, who averaged 11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 65 games last season, his first in Cleveland. "That's still what I'm the most passionate about, what I spend the most time on. When I have free time, I have these other outlets and interests.'' Miles has been involved with music his whole life. He and his parents, three siblings and even his grandmother all sang in the church choir. The first instrument Miles learned to play was the drums, which drove his parents nuts until the drum set mysteriously was ''lost'' in a move. "I figured it out when I was older,'' Miles said, laughing.