First Cup: Tuesday
June, 17, 2014
By Nick Borges
- Linda Robertson of The Miami Herald: It’s the manner in which Miami lost — by a total of 57 points in three consecutive routs and shooting well below its league-leading 50.5 percent average — that has Riley searching for solutions. He has torn up the roster before. He can also look to what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has done in compiling five titles since 1999 and the best winning percentage in U.S. sports. Popovich has consistently retooled, first around David Robinson, then Tim Duncan, now viewing Kawhi Leonard as the future anchor. He has supplemented his core group of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili with such smart additions as Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter. As nonchalant as James tried to appear between Games 4 and 5, saying reasonable things like “it’s only a game” and referring to the perspective provided by his kids at home, the torment of losing was visible on his face as he sat on the sideline in the closing minutes Sunday. Don’t expect a breakup of Miami’s Big 3. They’ve invested too much trust and sweat in a remarkable run of two titles in four consecutive trips to the Finals. James needs more cohorts now to get to a fifth. New blood will keep the Heat’s heart beating.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: What comes next for Duncan will be a front-burner topic to start the offseason. He has until June 24 to exercise a $10.36 million option on the final season of his contract. Throughout the Finals, Duncan declined to address the question of whether he intended to retire. The general feeling in the organization is that he will return for an 18th season. For now, Duncan is content to savor the long, winning ride. Accomplished or old? “I'm blessed to be in the position that I can sit here and be asked that question,” Duncan said. “It's amazing to be a part of this for so long.”
- Mike Wise of The Washington Post: I’m not a LeBronologist, but having first met LeBron his senior year of high school, I know a little about him. And I can provide some insight into the general thought process that goes on in the minds of the greatest players to play the game. When they are rich and famous and already beyond successful, they care about being the winner, not merely winning. They win championships or they are the loser each season. However detestable that sounds to the values of sport and life, that’s how they think. Which is why LeBron isn’t going anywhere. I could be dead wrong about this, but I will take my chances. ... If his legacy is truly more important than money, he can start over again. But it has to be in Miami with a new roster because anywhere else will eventually lead to the same frustrations. It would end up with LeBron realizing the common denominator was a player who didn’t have the patience to wait for his team to be great again.
- A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: When you throw in Father Time finally catching up with the rest of LeBron James' Miami cohorts, it's pretty clear that the best chance at him winning another title will have to come in a new zip code. That zip code will likely be in Los Angeles. And it won't be running as Kobe Bryant's sidekick with the Los Angeles Lakers, but instead with the on-the-rise Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers will need to get this Donald Sterling mess worked out obviously. But that aside, there doesn't appear to be another team that 1) is close to winning a title, 2) is a city that James would approve, and 3) has the pieces in place now to not only acquire James but ship out a high impact player that the Heat would be pleased with acquiring. And that piece the Clippers would have to part with? We're talking about Blake Griffin.
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: Hopefully, the folks back in Springfield, Mass., count the seasons. Winter, spring, autumn, summer. Gregg Popovich has been around so long, so ridiculously, consistently, enormously successful, he answers to a single name. So why isn’t “Pop” in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame? Something is missing here, say, like an induction ceremony. The San Antonio Spurs continue to shatter myths, defy the odds, change with the times and collect NBA championships in their own inimitable fashion. They just do it differently than most of their counterparts. Instead of establishing street cred by winning back-to-back championships – or back-to-back-to-back titles – they space their five championships over the decades, allowing Pop and his fine wine to breathe: 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and, most impressively, 2014.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: July isn’t only about re-signing Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks will look to use their mini mid-level exception to obtain a free-agent starting point guard and one may have emerged out of the Finals massacre of Miami in Spurs backup Patty Mills. According to a source, Mills, unique because of his indigenous Australian heritage, would be intrigued by the idea of playing in New York and increasing his role from Tony Parker’s backup to a more marquee role. “New York is definitely a city Mills would want to play in," the source said. “He has that personality." Mills, 25, has always been on the Knicks radar for this summer but he could have zoomed to the top after his playoff performance.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Yes, Carmelo Anthony is worth what he would cost. In my view, he is the perfect fit for the Bulls and exactly what they need, a dynamic wing scorer. The Bulls have played the try-hard, rebound and defend role for too long. You need scorers and stars. Plus, Thibodeau’s defensive systems have proven adept at incorporating less-than-stellar individual defenders into team concepts and not only surviving but thriving. Anthony’s reputation as a selfish ballstopper has been way overstated in my opinion. He plays hurt, enjoys playing, doesn’t mind being coached hard and is an excellent passer when surrounded by talent. The time to make a bold move is now. Pair him with a healthy Rose and the future is now.
- Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News: The farther this team gets away from quality defense, the less Carlisle likes it. I think Rick wants to build a team -- repeat, team -- like the one he had in 2011. Like the one that San Antonio is winning championships with. Carlisle believes in the team concept, and defense is a big part of that concept. ... I think LeBron James needs to re-assess what he has in Miami. He hasn't delivered a basket-full of championships as he promised the night he signed. What he does will dictate the entire NBA offseason. If he stays, the Heat may choose to reload without Wade and Bosh. I think LeBron stays but there will be some changes in Miami around him. Time to reload.
- Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: One thing is certain: The 76ers are entertaining the player they're targeting in the NBA draft for a couple of days. But no one outside of the parties involved really knows how Andrew Wiggins' visit to Philadelphia is coming along. The 6-foot-8 swingman, who left Kansas after his freshman season, was not available to the reporters who gathered Monday outside the Sixers' practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Campus security asked the news media and fans to leave at the team's request. A Philadelphia police officer was summoned later because the media stood on the sidewalk instead of across the street from the facility. The only glimpse of Wiggins was when he exited the back of the building at 12:51 p.m.
- Diamond Leung of The Oakland Tribune: New Warriors coach Steve Kerr went out of his way to meet with his players in person. To get to center Andrew Bogut, he flew to Melbourne. “It showed a lot of respect to come here and see me,” Bogut told The Daily Telegraph on Monday. “He had some good things to say about the direction of the team and what he wants to do. I’m really excited about Steve. “The question is that he hasn’t coached before but the way he spoke to me when he was here it seemed like he knew what he was doing.” ... As expected, the injury-plagued Bogut will not play for the Australian national team in the FIBA World Cup in order to focus on preparing for another season with the Warriors.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: What was the most disappointing aspect of Thabo Sefolosha’s season? It's got to be his shooting. He never found his rhythm this season and never looked comfortable. And it was among the leading factors that led to the Thunder regressing. We kept waiting for Thabo to trend toward the shooting he displayed in the last two seasons. But it never happened. ... Percentage chance he is back with the Thunder next season? Zero.