<
>

First Cup: Tuesday

  • Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Talk about a fast break. If the Internet reports are true -- and nowadays, we use the general term 'Internet reports' when a hot tabloid story starts popping up on the Web sites of tabloids we in the mainstream media have actually heard of -- Lakers forward Lamar Odom and reality star/celebutante/ Calabasas-clothing store owner Khloe Kardashian are planning to get married Sunday after a whirlwind monthlong courtship. Over here in the sports department it's a story we've been monitoring for a week or so, ever since reports of the happy couple's coupling and engagement started to surface. Is it a sports story? An entertainment story? Should it be a story at all? ... As expected, the Lakers declined to comment on the situation, but you can bet they'll keep an eye on things, starting next Tuesday when the team has its media day and opens up training camp. Odom is expected to be there. If he's not, that's a story. If he's got a ring on his finger, that's not. Everything else is just Extra! Extra!"

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "Hedo Turkoglu, the man expected to help guide the Raptors back to the NBA playoffs this season, will be arriving at training camp next week in Ottawa in less than ideal condition and may not get a ton of minutes in pre-season action. The 6-foot-10 forward, whom the Raptors acquired in a four-team deal on July 9, was less than stellar at the recently competed EuroBasket 2009 tournament in Poland -- at least statistically speaking -- which has prompted speculation, and much hand-wringing amongst Raptors fans, that he is either tired or hurt. ... Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo yesterday dismissed suggestions that Turkoglu played poorly at EuroBasket 2009, but did acknowledge that his prize off-season acquisition looked tired. 'International play has always been more of a team game, less individual, so statistics are less of an indication than what he actually contributed,' Colangelo said. 'I watched him play, and would say he effectively deferred to others on his team, as he was often the target of defensive schemes. 'Having said that,' Colangelo added, 'he did appear physically and emotionally tired when I saw him last week, which is understandable given his late June NBA final appearance and mid-July training for the Euro championship.' "

  • Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer: "The Cavaliers are still working through the situation with Delonte West, but now they are doing it in person. According to league sources, West came to Cleveland over the weekend and has spoken to team officials. Where things go from here, however, is still unclear. The team, which made a brief statement last Friday, declined to comment Monday. West was arrested last Thursday near his suburban Washington D.C. off-season home and charged with two counts of having a concealed handgun on his person, which is a misdemeanor in Maryland. There is a good chance both the Cavs and the NBA will wait on any punishment for West to see how the legal process plays out. West's first court date isn't until Nov. 20. In the last several years, players who have plead guilty to misdemeanors involving gun charges have received suspensions ranging from 3-7 games from Commissioner David Stern."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Day after day veteran free agent Jerry Stackhouse turns heads during these informal workouts. I haven't found a player yet that isn't convinced that he could help this Hawks team this season as versatile specialists off the bench. Whether or not that connection ever comes to fruition is obviously not up to said players or any of us around here. But let me offer up a cautionary tale about watching a free agent dazzle on the practice court all summer only to find work elsewhere once training camp rolls around. Von Wafer [breakout season in Houston last year and ow a teammate of former Hawks swingman Josh Childress in Greece] put on a somewhat similar type of show last summer, wowing everyone with his shooting stroke from deep and his ability to finish at the rim without any regard for whoever and whatever might be in his way. Wafer would have helped this Hawks team tremendously last year but a decision was made to go in a different direction (one that, it should be pointed out, helped net 47 wins). It'll be interesting to see if the Hawks look past Stackhouse (for whatever reasons) and break the Wafer Rule. It's not my decision, my team, my money or my main concern right now. But I don't know that I'd be able to rationalize not trying to sign Stackhouse up if he goes anywhere this season and plays half as well as he's played since I've been watching this summer."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Rookie Gerald Henderson looks very much as I anticipated -- he plays long for a shooting guard and has good defensive instincts. His offense is limited; oponents are going to challenge him to make jump shots, knowing his strength is driving to the rim. ... Don't be surprised if Stephen Graham, twin brother of Toronto Raptor Joey Graham, is in training camp with the Bobcats. After playing for the Indiana Pacers last season, Graham has been working out here, and coach Larry Brown likes the kind of mid-size athlete Graham is. ... Many of you anticipate former North Carolina shooting guard Rashad McCants being in Bobcats training camp. I'm not saying that won't happen, but keep this in mind: Brown's ideal roster includes three point guards. So if Raymond Felton, Augustin, Henderson and Raja Bell are all here, the logical use of a fifth guard spot is a playmaker, preferably a big one."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Jason Kidd remembers yesteryear like it was yesterday. Donnie Nelson (far left), the Mavericks' president of basketball operations, joined (from left) Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Nathan Jawai, Quinton Ross, Drew Gooden, Tim Thomas and Rick Carlisle as a new uniform was unveiled. He had a young, raw teammate on the Phoenix Suns who was just learning how good he could really be. And Kidd, as the point guard and leader of the Suns in 2001, made it his duty to cultivate the new kid. He saw Shawn Marion grow up that season. 'He listened,' Kidd said Monday. 'You can ask him about our first playoff series with Sacramento, and he had to guard Peja [Stojakovic]. 'Peja lit him up. But it was a lesson learned. What I loved about what he said at the end of that series is: That will never happen again. So I knew I had his attention and that he wanted to get better and wasn't going to be satisfied. From there, he's had a great career.' Kidd knew then that Marion was somebody he could win with, which is exactly what he plans to this season."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "NBA coaches put in long hours for eight months during a season -- nine months if they get all the way to the NBA finals. The time off during the offseason is cherished and, frankly, necessary to refresh the coaches' batteries. Nate McMillan didn't hav
    e a good portion of that break for three straight years. He won't have it for three more. But he wants everyone to know he has it good, and he knows it. 'A lot of people don't have jobs in this country right now,' he says. 'I'll have some short offseasons, but I've done it before. It's not an issue. I feel like the opportunity (to coach the national team) benefitted me before, and it will benefit me again. I never have a problem being fresh and ready for an NBA season. I don't play golf. I enjoy working. I enjoy being around players and coaches. This summer, I've had the chance to spend some time on vacation with my family, but basketball is what I do. I will be prepared for my job, which is coaching the Blazers regardless of what I do in the offseason.' "

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "There haven't been many changes over the summer. From the 12-man roster used in last season's epic playoff series against Boston, Ben Gordon, Linton Johnson, Tim Thomas and Anthony Roberson are gone. James Johnson, Taj Gibson and Jannero Pargo have been added, along with a hopefully healthy Luol Deng. On the coaching staff, Del Harris retired and the Bulls brought in Sidney Green as a big man coach. Green was the Bulls' first-round draft pick in 1983 and stuck around for three years before being traded to Detroit for Earl Cureton. Why Green? That's a good question. He spent 10 seasons as a head coach at the college level, at Southampton, North Florida and Florida Atlantic. He was an assistant at Indiana during Mike Davis' final season in 2005-06. During his 10 seasons an NBA player, I don't remember Green as a classic big man, but more of an athletic power forward with a face-up jumper. Maybe that doesn't matter, since the Bulls' only true low-post center is Aaron Gray."

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "The 76ers, a week away from the start of training camp, are without a vice president of marketing. A source confirmed that the team let marketing VP Eric Blankenship go sometime in the last 2 weeks. As to why, Sixers publicist Mike Preston would only say: 'We don't discuss personnel decisions in the front office. That has been our policy.' As to how the team proceeds until a new marketing specialist is chosen, Preston said: 'Everybody picks up the slack. There's a job to be done, and the common goal is to get the job done the best we possibly can.' Blankenship declined to comment."