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First Cup: Thursday

10/20/2009
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Kevin Love's tweeter is broken, but he promises a glorious comeback. Love, a child of the computer age, embraced the Twitter social-network phenomenon as enthusiastically as any pro athlete, so much so he unintentionally broke the worldwide news that Kevin McHale wasn't coming back as Timberwolves coach and honestly offered up his comments on the team's confounding draft night. He hasn't tweeted since Aug. 14. For now, rookie Jonny Flynn is leading the Wolves, both at point guard and with the Twitter. 'I got shut down a little while from the Boss Man,' Love said. 'But be on the lookout: I'll be back. I just got tired of (Jim) Stack or (Fred) Hoiberg calling me and telling me not to tweet about this, not to tweet about that. I just said, 'What happened to the First Amendment law?' ' David Kahn, the Wolves president of basketball operations, said he wants Love to feel free to tweet and will encourage him to do so."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: "Marc Gasol insists he couldn't be more ready to patrol the paint for the Grizzlies. Why wouldn't the 7-footer be following his summer workout program? Forget for a second that Gasol played a lot of basketball this offseason, helping his national team capture the European Championship. He tackled something much bigger than tournament games in preparation for his second NBA season. 'Collseroz By Tibidabo,' Gasol said, naming the mountain in Spain that he regularly ran for eight miles to shed 25-30 pounds. 'It was great because when you get to the top you can see all of Barcelona. But it's not easy getting there.' Gasol, significantly slimmer and quicker, figures the hard work he put in to transform his body will make this season easier. Griz coach Lionel Hollins challenged Gasol to arrive at training camp able to run the court much better than he did during his rookie season. 'He's running the court really well,' Hollins said. 'That's something he labored with last year. His agility and quickness will really help at the pace we're trying to play.' Hollins wants Gasol to be a factor in the Grizzlies' up-tempo offense."

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "The Simple things like regaining his shooting touch and the feel for the game will come easily, 'like riding a bike,' the Sixers' Jason Smith said. Interesting choice of words. Smith tore the ACL in his left knee in August last year while working out, causing him to miss all of his second season. The rehab was grueling, and it was one exercise in particular that Smith recalls. 'About a week or so after the surgery, they put me on a stationary bike,' said the 7-foot forward/center. 'My knee was still swollen and very tender, but they put me on the bike and told me to pedal. When I first tried, I could only move the pedal a very little bit. It was so frustrating. Gradually I could do a little more as I worked on it, then one day - and I'll never forget it - I was able to make one full revolution with the pedal. It sounds so insignificant, but man, I'll never forget that. It was cake after that.' It was a small step in the road to recovery, but as thsoe who have ever had to rehab a serious injury know, that's what keeps you sane during all the sweat and frustration."

  • Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald: "When Glen Davis walked into the Wai Kru mixed martial arts gym in Allston last month, you can forgive owner and head trainer John Allan for getting excited. Not being a basketball fan, Allan's feelings had nothing to do with training an NBA player. Instead, Allan saw a massive 6-foot-9 project with the physical tools to become an MMA star. 'Initially I was salivating because I was like, 'Oh, I have the next big heavyweight star,' ' Allan said. 'It was close to the end of the lesson that someone informed me that I was actually training Glen 'Big Baby' Davis from the Celtics.' Despite the disappointment that he hadn't uncovered a future UFC star, Allan went to work with Davis. And there was no kid-glove treatment for the professional athlete. Though Allan said his top priority always was to avoid injury, Davis was put through rigorous daily workouts. 'With a name like Big Baby, when I found out that's what he was called, I was a little surprised because he was all business,' Allan said. 'He comes in here and he knows what I want him to do. When I tell him what to do, he does it. There's no hesitation. He works hard, and he loves it, which helps.' "

  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "David Lee may look like the hard luck loser of the free agent market; he went searching for a $60 million contract and the Knicks got him for $7 million. Still, Lee did get a $6 million raise off a 50-loss season and he is convinced that his pot of gold - whether it's from the Knicks or another team - will be waiting for him next summer when the fifth-year forward/center becomes an unrestricted free agent. 'I want to be part of the solution here, and the solution right now is to do a one-year deal and next summer we'll talk again and we'll see what it comes to,' Lee said of his sometimes tense negotiations with the Knicks. 'I don't resent anybody. I think things ended up going great. Mr. (Donnie) Walsh was very up front with me about that. It was a compromise. 'We're going to compromise by taking care of you for one year. It won't hurt our salary cap going into the summer of 2010. We respect what you've done for our team and we want to have you happy going into this season and ready to contribute toward making the playoffs,' said Lee, recalling what Walsh told him."

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: "I wondered what was up a few minutes ago when this tweet appeared on Rashard Lewis's Twitter account. 'Call me at 407-545-6592 for real & tell me what my intro should be to my Saynow #. it's my #, Ill be calling y'all back thru this # sometime' Josh Robbins and I sat around pondering what that number could actually be -- obviously Lewis wouldn't give out his personal phone number on Twitter -- for a few minutes before I made him call it and let me listen on speakerphone. Good move by me. He's now going to receive texts from SayNow.com, a phone messaging site through which celebrities communicate with their fans. The site's been mostly used by entertainers, though in a New York Times story, its founders said they wanted athletes and politicians involved, too. According to the site, Carmelo Anthony and Ray Lewis have SayNow accounts, as do Marlon Wayans, Tori Spelling, Tyrese Gibson and many musicians from T.I. to Bo Bice."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Mike D'Antoni tried making Amaré Stoudemire a co-captain two seasons ago. The title didn't carry over to last season. But bestowed the honor again with Nash and Gran
    t Hill, Stoudemire feels better prepared to lead. 'It feels great,' Stoudemire said. 'I definitely have been working on it and studying what it takes to be a leader. I've read books on it to figure out what it takes to be a successful leader. With Steve and Grant, watching those guys over the past few years definitely helped me a lot. I'm getting up there. I'll be 27 in November.' Stoudemire said his reading list included books about ancient Chinese commander Sun Tzu and becoming a general, as well as Wikipedia entries on leadership."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "In the 2 1/2 months that passed between his final game as a Detroit Piston and his first day as a San Antonio Spur, Antonio McDyess contemplated his future in the NBA. His conclusion, reached in the hours before the free-agent market opened on July 1: Unless he got a contract offer from the Spurs, he would retire, giving up on his quest for an NBA championship ring after 13 seasons. 'That's how strong I felt about coming here,' said McDyess, the 6-foot-9 veteran who figures to be the team's starting center on opening night. The Spurs felt strongly enough about adding McDyess to their reshaped roster to offer him a three-year contract worth about $15 million. Both sides feel fortunate to finally have connected. 'There have been years when I've been trying to come here before, but they turned me down,' McDyess said. 'I feel privileged to be here.' "

  • Mike Jones of The Washington Times: "Now playing for the third coach of their short careers, Blatche and Young have decided to follow McGuire's lead and take a serious approach to basketball. And McGuire, who last season drew motivation from the offseason birth of his first child, is aiming to continue his growth in his third year. Instead of coming into training camp overweight as in the past, Blatche spent the summer working on his conditioning entering his fifth season. He even changed his jersey number from 32 to 7 to symbolize his new dedication to working hard every day. Young, in his third year, heeded coach Flip Saunders' prodding that he stop smiling so much on the court and play with a more aggressive attitude. He spent much of the summer working on eliminating extra dribbling before taking a shot and on popping jumpers off screens. 'It was time for them to grow up, and they know that,' center Brendan Haywood said. 'I think with new staff coming in, they didn't wanna be labeled a certain way, so they're taking a more professional approach.' "

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "It's taken all of two full practices with his new teammates for Hawks guard Jamal Crawford to clear up any misconceptions who and what he is on the basketball court. Sure, they already knew he could score with the best of them. He is, after all, one of just four players in NBA history to score 50 or more points with three different teams, joining legends Wilt Chamberlain, Bernard King and Moses Malone in that elite club. But they had no idea he was such a gifted passer and tenacious defender as he's shown in the first hours of training camp. It's those two surprising traits, in addition to Crawford's ability to score in bunches from virtually anywhere on the floor, that are expected to make his transition a smooth one. 'It's the same feeling we had after our first practice when Mike [Bibby] got traded here,' Marvin Williams said. 'The previous point guards we had were guys that were more conservative and guys that were just trying to get the job done. Just like Mike, Jamal has that flash to his game that you don't really appreciate until you're out there with him.' "

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "There's a training camp rule in the NBA that limits teams to one 'contact session' per day. Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Laimbeer is still trying to get used to the rule. After the Timberwolves completed Wednesday morning's practice at Bresnan Arena, Laimbeer sent a text message to his good friend and former Detroit Pistons teammate Joe Dumars, now the club's president of basketball operations. Laimbeer told Dumars the Wolves had a 'non-contact' practice. Laimbeer said Dumars replied: 'This is the new NBA, Billy.' For Laimbeer, a 6-foot-10 power forward who developed a notorious reputation for physical play during his 13-year NBA career, watching basketball for more than two hours with minimal contact is strange, if not absurd. 'We would scrimmage twice a day,' Laimbeer said of his training camp days with the Pistons. 'We would line up five on five, throw the ball up and play.' The rule, installed in 2005 to reduce injuries, limits teams to scrimmaging in either the morning or evening practice during camp. That leaves the other session for drills, conditioning and implementing new systems for offense and defense."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "When Will Bynum was asked about this being a contract year, Kwame Brown leaned in and interrupted: 'He talks about it every day. 'I need to get mine. I need to get mine.' I hear him all the time saying that. I hear him. I tell him don't worry about all that, but he don't listen to me.' Bynum laughed and said: 'What's wrong with him?' Anyone who knows Bynum knows that the potential of a big payday will do little to change his approach. After kicking around the NBA, overseas and the NBA Development League for three years, he finally found stability with the Pistons. He started last season as the third point guard behind Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey. But by the end of the season, the 5-foot-10 point guard finally proved he belonged in the NBA. After a summer of working out with noted fitness guru Tim Grover in Chicago -- alongside NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Gilbert Arenas -- Bynum is eager to build upon last year's success."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "The last Bulls fans saw of Brad Miller, he was playing impact minutes down the stretch of the epic playoff series against the Celtics and getting knocked upside the head by Rajon Rondo. But don't feel sorry for the veteran center. The scam he pulled over the offseason endures. Miller got to travel the world filming footage for 'Country Boys Outdoors,' a new TV show he's co-hosting that premieres on The Sportsman's Channel this month. A self-described 'hick' from Kendallville, Ind., who long has been passionate about hunting and fishing, Miller found himself chuckling over his good fortune when he, say, hunted red stagg or rabbits in New Zealand. 'We've been filming stuff for over three years,' Miller said."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Roy Hibbert may have ended last season as the Pacers starting center, but the second-year player has to continue to get better if he expects to start this season. Just as he did during the team's media day last week, coach Jim O'Brien said starting positions are up in the air (unless your last name is Granger, Ford or Murphy). If early indications mean anything, Solomon Jones is not going to just hand the starting job o
    ver to Hibbert. You can't blame Solo for thinking that way because it's not like he's playing on a team that's a lock to make the playoffs. 'I think it's wide open,' O'Brien said after practice Wednesday. 'It's not just between those two guys, Jeff (Foster) is also a possibility, too. I don't have any preconceived ideas of how that's going to play out. They're all going to get plenty of opportunities to get looks in game situations during the exhibition season.' "

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel : "The last time Ersan Ilyasova put on a Milwaukee Bucks uniform, he was a timid 19-year-old and still far from ready to contribute in a significant way. Now, more than two years later, the Turkish player is back with the Bucks and being counted on as an important part of coach Scott Skiles' power forward rotation. Following two seasons with Regal FC Barcelona, the 6-foot-9 Ilyasova actually looks the part of a National Basketball Association player. 'He's played competitively at a very high level,' Skiles said. 'Just look at his body; his body is filled out. He's got a nice skill set. Even when he played before here, he showed flashes of those skills. He could make threes. He can pass the ball; he's got nice length. He's been a good rebounder.' One other ingredient has been added to Ilyasova's game, a healthy helping of confidence. That comes from playing with one of the top clubs in Europe and also playing a starring role for Turkey's national team."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "After missing virtually the entire 2008-09 season -- and the Trail Blazers' first sniff of the playoffs in six years -- with a stress fracture of the left foot, Martell Webster can't imagine there is a player on the Portland roster more eager for the team to return to the postseason. 'Not after experiencing what I experienced,' the fifth-year small forward says. 'It's one of the hardest things a professional athlete could go through -- to be there when a team wasn't good, and now that they've taken the turn and reached the playoffs, and you aren't a part of that? That leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. I'm hungry to get there again.' Webster has a new jersey number -- switching from 8 to 23 -- and a new lease on his career after going down with the foot injury in a preseason game a year ago. He tried to return on Dec. 7, playing five minutes against Toronto, before aggravating the injury and being forced to call it a season."