First Cup: Wednesday

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
5:22
AM ET
By Nick Borges
ESPN.com
Archive
  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: The agent for Luol Deng said Tuesday that the two-time All-Star forward would “certainly visit free agency” next summer after being informed by Bulls management that contract extension talks will be tabled until after the 2013-14 season. “Luol has taken the position that he will definitely go through the free-agent process,” said Herb Rudoy, Deng's Chicago-based agent. CSNChicago.com reported early Tuesday that Deng’s contract extension talks had stalled. They never really began, two sources said, with the sides only talking in generalities and never even exchanging financial parameters. Rudoy said Tuesday that general manager Gar Forman informed him last week that no further talks will take place this offseason or during training camp. Forman declined to comment. The general manager said consistently over the summer that the Bulls would like to keep Deng long term. Forman also indicated this summer that an extension for Deng this offseason would be unlikely. … Currently, there are no indications the Bulls plan to deal Deng. But with Mike Dunleavy signed through next season and the emergence of Jimmy Butler, that stance could change closer to February’s trade deadline.
  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: NBA training camps will begin in three weeks, so it isn’t a surprise to see a lot of activity in the Pistons practice facility, especially with the many new faces who’ll suit up this coming season. New addition Josh Smith was in attendance, along with the three selections from this past June’s draft, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. Incumbent guard Rodney Stuckey went through one-on-one drills with Caldwell-Pope and Siva, as Kyle Singler worked on his spot shooting with assistant coach John Loyer on the other end of the floor. But the man who’s been organizing and trying to galvanize the team with summer activities is the Pistons’ youngest member, and perhaps the most important: 20-year-old, second-year center Andre Drummond. “I think this season will be different for us. I think guys see it,” Drummond said. “We added a lot of pieces and a lot of guys are amped and ready to go, as soon as possible.”
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: His expression was straight forward. His wording precise. His point emphatic. Warriors budding star Harrison Barnes said he isn't concerned about whether he starts. He isn't even consumed by being on the court at the end of games. "Winning the game matters more to me," Barnes said. Barnes, who started all 93 games he played last season including playoffs, is the center of a major question as the Warriors close in on training camp at the end of this month. With the acquisition of swingman Andre Iguodala, Golden State now has six players with starting credentials, meaning someone has to come off the bench. Barnes, after his workout at the team facility on Tuesday, didn't mince his words and gave no breath to controversy. He doesn't care. Whatever Mark Jackson decides, he's game. "I can imagine much worse problems," Barnes said. "I feel confident about this team and where we can go. Regardless if I'm starting or coming off the bench, I think we have a chance to make a serious playoff push."
  • Al Iannazzone of Newsday: Carmelo Anthony believes the Knicks and much-improved Brooklyn Nets will become "the best rivalry in basketball" and they will be competing for fans as well. The Brooklyn-born Anthony is a fan of the moves the Nets made this offseason, which should help their Q-rating in New York and in the borough he was born in. "We all know from the Jackie Robinson days, that was the last time we actually had something to believe in," Anthony said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. "Now, with the young kids that are coming up these days, that's their team. They grow up under the Brooklyn Nets and that's their team. It's going to be a funny thing to see the kids growing up there, how they convert from Knicks fans to Nets fans. The household might be Knicks fans and the kids might be Nets fans, so it's a rivalry everywhere, in the households, on the basketball courts, in the streets, in the boroughs. It's everywhere, and it makes it fun for the game." Anthony led the Knicks to 54 wins and the Atlantic Division title last season. But they lost their top leaders in the locker room, Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace, and have other concerns, including Anthony's potentially troublesome shoulder, Amar'e Stoudemire's knees and J.R. Smith, who was suspended five games for violating the league's anti-drug policy.
  • Brian Steinberg of Variety: Showtime is developing a one-hour scripted series that takes a peek behind the scenes of a professional basketball team, with NBA coaching great Phil Jackson and current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis on board as exec producers. The series will focus on the family that owns the team, according to details provided by the CBS Corp. pay-cable service. ... Jeanie Buss, the senior vice president of the Los Angeles Lakers and Linda Rambis will executive produce via production company Street Reason Entertainment. Rambis is married to the Lakers coach. Brett Tomberlin of IDW and Ubiquity Studios will also executive produce, with Brian Gilbert and Andrew Trapani of Nine/8 Entertainment. In an interview, Buss said her experiences working with the Lakers as well as managing events, would inform the stories told in the potential series. “We’ve seen so much, the things that go on behind the scenes,” she said. “We go to events and people ask us a lot of questions about what they don’t see. They know the game. They see the game, but they don’t really know what leads up to getting the team on the court.” Most people “don’t know what makes a championship season or what it’s like to go through a losing season.”
  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: Wolves coach Rick Adelman has been meeting with his staff in Portland this week, and talked by telephone with president of basketball operations Flip Saunders for an hour Monday night. "He's excited about everything we're doing right now," Saunders said. "I'm very confident that Rick is going to be back." Adelman missed a few weeks last season to be with his wife, Mary Kay, who was experiencing seizures.
  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks’ pursuit of finding big-man help on the cheap has led them to Fab Melo, a first-round draft pick of Boston’s in 2012. Melo was taken 22nd and spent most of last season in the NBA Development League. He led the D-League at 3.1 blocks per game, and also averaged 9.8 points and 6 rebounds in 33 games. He played just six games for the Celtics, amassing only 36 total minutes played. President Donnie Nelson confirmed that Melo, a Syracuse product, had agreed to attend training camp, which opens Sept. 30. Melo clearly was a disappointment to the Celtics, who traded him to Memphis in the summer. The Grizzlies quickly waived the 7-foot, 255-pounder. The Mavericks remain thin in the front court. Samuel Dalembert will be the penciled-in starter when training camp opens, but behind him, they have only DeJuan Blair and Brandan Wright.
  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: Consider: Emeka Okafor, David Andersen, D.J. Mbenga, Aaron Gray, Gustavo Ayon, Chris Kaman, Darryl Watkins, Robin Lopez. Since Monty Williams arrived in New Orleans in 2010, the center position on his teams hasn't been manned by players for whom opponents needed to game-plan, rather a somewhat itinerant collection of big bodies who were proficient at some aspect of the game but lacking well-rounded serviceability. With the NBA marginalizing the center position – last year the league henceforth eliminated the "center" designation on the All-Star ballot because there has been some difficulty distinguishing a true center worthy of consideration – the spot once occupied by the game's legends has deteriorated into blurred mediocrity. … With forward/backup center Jason Smith coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the Pelicans needed an extra body inside and signed two-year veteran Greg Stiemsma to a free-agent deal this summer, apparently hoping that a player with just 22 NBA starts in his career can possibly step into a full-time starting role. The bar Stiemsma must clear, mind you, hasn't been set that high. And as Stiemsma met the New Orleans media for the first time on Tuesday, along with fellow free-agent acquisition guard Anthony Morrow, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound post man walked a delicate line avoiding the temptation to burden himself with inflated expectations.
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Miami Heat on Tuesday announced the signing of two players who ultimately could turn into short-term rentals. Center Justin Hamilton and power forward Eric Griffin, whose additions previously had been confirmed, became the 15th and 16th players under contract to the Heat in advance of the Oct. 1 start of training camp at AmericanAirlines Arena. With 13 other players already under guaranteed contract, and with the Heat potentially to carry as few as 13 this season due to their position against the onerous luxury tax, Hamilton, Griffin and center Jarvis Varnado, the other player on the current roster without a guaranteed contract, face long roster odds. By signing with the Heat, Hamilton, acquired out of LSU in the second-round of the 2012 NBA Draft, and Griffin, who went undrafted out of Campbell University in 2012, become eligible to be sent to the Heat's NBA Development League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, should they be cut at the end of training camp.
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: There is a history here, a Warriors-centric history with the potential for a terribly awkward dynamic: Ranadive is a former Warriors minority owner. Mullin is a former Warriors executive vice president. D'Alessandro is a former Warriors assistant general manager who was hired by Mullin, his fellow St. John's alum and friend for about 25 years. That theory about three people in the bed? Too many chefs in the kitchen? Three being a crowd? I don't think so. I think this works. In this ongoing Kings craziness – a good craziness – square pegs fit in round holes. Mullin is a gentleman and D'Alessandro is a scholar, and in today's NBA, their skill sets are complementary. D'Alessandro is an attorney, a well-regarded front-office executive and a former player agent. Mullin is a basketball legend who can gain access to any gym in the world and has been itching for another front-office position. … Asked if he intended to maintain a high profile or more of a behind-the-scenes presence, Mullin nodded and smiled. "Whatever Vivek wants," he said, "but you can't have too many voices."

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