Thursday, September 23, 2010
First Cup: Thursday
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "The NBA and the Washington Wizards are hoping Gilbert Arenas will be able to reconnect with fans more through his actions than his words. The three-time all-star is returning after serving a 50-game suspension and a month in a halfway house after bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room at Verizon Center, but anyone expecting the loquacious Arenas to open up more about what led to that embarrassing incident and the aftermath might be sorely disappointed. NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke with Arenas on Tuesday to express his excitement about having Arenas back in the league after the lengthy banishment, and he told Arenas he can talk about anything going forward -- except the infamous dispute last December involving guns. Stern later called Wizards owner Ted Leonsis to inform him public comments from the organization about the situation are also off limits. Stern wants Arenas and the Wizards to put it all behind them. 'It's time to move on, rather than obsess about the past,' Stern said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. 'It's just that it's been discussed, and discussed, and discussed. It's been written about, and written about, and written about on each occasion - his release, his sentencing, my ruling or what have you - and at some point, it's time to move on. I think he's entitled to do that. And I'm supportive of him. We're lucky he's well and we like the way he's worked with various groups over the summer. And we think it's time. Millions and millions of dollars later, and a new season later, I think it's time to move on. And that's what I told him.' "
- John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "There's a growing debate throughout the NBA these days concerning the Bulls: Is management wise or crazy for its apparent unwillingness to include center Joakim Noah in a trade with the Denver Nuggets for perennial All-Star Carmelo Anthony? That it's even a topic of discussion is a testament to how much Noah's reputation has changed in the last two years. Granted, no one believes he's the equal of Anthony, who is considered one of the top five players in the league. It's just that Noah is a hard-to-find center, and his game meshes perfectly with point guard Derrick Rose and new power forward Carlos Boozer. Basically, the question Bulls management has to ask is this: Is the team better off with Anthony (career average of 24.7 points in seven seasons), or with Noah and small forward Luol Deng (who undoubtedly would have to be included to make a deal for Anthony work under the salary-cap rules)? Noah hopes the latter option is more attractive."
- Bud Shaw of The Plain Dealer: "Alarm bells should be sounding for the Cavaliers. OK, that's sort of obvious. I mean more alarm bells, louder alarm bells. In separate communications recently -- one a tweet and the other an old-fashioned interview -- Mo Williams hardly comes off sounding like a guy new head coach Byron Scott can count on to lead a Cavaliers' resurgence. Williams alludes to 'family problems' in his latest Twitter feed. He calls this summer 'the worst time of my life.' He says everything with the team -- and you know, based on previous tweets he means LeBron James' departure and the firing of Mike Brown -- 'has been very hard.' ... Maybe it speaks well for him that he didn't just react to James' departure with a 'I'm still getting mine' shrug. But there's a lot of middle ground between that and being so crushed you consider retirement. He's being honest, I suppose. If you're Scott, though, you're hopeful Williams, who's had shrinking performances under playoff pressure, embraces an old slogan: 'Rise up' -- this time from the ashes. That doesn't sound promising."
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "Donnie Walsh admitted Wednesday that he second-guesses himself for including a first-round pick in last year's Tracy McGrady deal. In fact, the Houston Rockets are dangling that 2012 first-round pick in a potential deal for Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, a player the Knicks are also heavily pursuing. 'I'll second-guess myself forever on that,' Walsh said of including a 2012 first-round pick in the McGrady trade. 'I've always wondered about that. I didn't like it when we did it.' On Feb. 18, 2010, McGrady was traded to the Knicks as part of a three-team deal involving Houston and Sacramento. The Knicks and Rockets exchanged 2011 first-round picks in the deal, and because the Knicks added their 2012 first-round pick, they are prohibited by league rules to trade their 2013 first-round pick. In fact, Walsh revealed that he is trying to acquire a first-round pick that he theoretically could include in a deal for Anthony."
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "Tony Parker might be right. Maybe this will be the 'last real chance' for him to win a title with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But the finality of Parker's statement this week says something else. If Parker thinks this is it, then Parker likely thinks this is it for him, too. Which could help the Spurs this season. Parker is among the few Spurs not in San Antonio already, but that's not a sign of anything. He usually comes into town just before training camp starts and, besides, he put in his time this summer. He's been traveling to various functions with his wife, and he's often been in Los Angeles. But he worked out in L.A. with devotion, usually with a Spurs assistant, and some in management think it's been among the most productive offseasons of his career. Not getting hurt with his French national team standing nearby was an additional plus. This should be clear: He's not Carmelo Anthony, another entering the final season of his contract. Parker wants to be here this season, and he wants to win. And if Parker resumes his All-Star status while the Spurs win? There might be the same franchise urgency to find a contractual compromise as there was with Ginobili late last season. ... From Amare Stoudemire declaring in July that Parker is 'ready to join me' with the Knicks, to Eva Longoria saying in August that Parker would like to play in New York. Parker's latest statement is mostly a basketball one. This week, he told a French website, 'Personally, I think this will be our last real chance to win a title,' and his reasoning translated into a two-word analysis. 'Duncan aging,' Parker said. That will go over well in the practice facility. Parker is acting as if this is the end, putting everything on today while distancing himself from tomorrow. And if that leads to some anxiety, there's also an edge that was there a year ago with Ginobili. If this is the last of Parker, it will be the best of him, too."
- Brian Kamenetzky of ESPNLandOLakers: "For a team to enter training camp lacking overwhelmingly juicy subplots generally means the squad is either very bad (there are loads of questions, but the answers don't matter) or very good (there aren't many questions to begin with). With consecutive titles, three straight Finals appearances, and strong odds to earn a fourth, the Lakers are the obviously the latter. While the 2010-11 season undoubtedly contains some very compelling storylines, very few will start to play out this early. Meanwhile, most of the regular 'camp stuff' other teams deal with before the start of the regular season doesn't apply to the purple and gold. The rotation is fairly well established, there are no significant positional battles, no new system to absorb, no major issues integrating new guys on the roster. This is a good thing."
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: " 'What have I gotten myself into?' That's what I was thinking heading into a workout with Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander last Friday at the Pistons practice facility. Kander's reputation of being a guru preceded him, and I wanted to see for myself how he's been so successful in his nearly 20-year tenure with the Pistons. Surprisingly, he didn't flinch upon my request to go through a mini-workout. You can't compare it to Tae Bo, P90X or Pilates. What he put me through was more than enough to bring even the most finely tuned athlete to his knees. 'Everyone sees what the endgame is, but we'll see what the roots are,' Kander said. He told me I would be going through a scaled-down version of what he puts the players through, and as he looked at my slim, 150-pound frame, he said: 'Doesn't mean you're in shape; it could be hereditary.' He was right, and I knew it. This was the first summer I hadn't played basketball on a regular basis. I expected this workout to be difficult; I left with a newfound respect for what players put their bodies through day after day, just to stay afloat."
- Ken Trahan of NewOrleans.com: "Entering his eighth year in the league, Jannero Pargo must prove that he still has the quickness and shooting ability that made him so effective here. He was courted by Golden State in the off-season but the Warriors rescinded their offer to Pargo after he underwent minor knee surgery. By his own admission, Pargo is getting healthier though he is not 100 percent yet. The Hornets need a backup plan for Paul. Unproven Mustafa Shakur is on the roster while D.J. Strawberry, more of a shooting guard who could steal a few minutes at point, is on the roster as well. Marcus Thornton played some minutes at the position a year ago but he needs to play off the ball and score. Bottom line--if Pargo proves that he is healthy, he would be a good option here. Paul knows him and is comfortable with him. Ditto for David West. Pargo likes it here. He never really wanted to leave in the first place. Perhaps New Orleans will be his last place in the league via a second chance. His first impression here was a good one, complimentary to CP3. If Pargo left his heart in New Orleans, perhaps he will rediscover it here while rediscovering his game."
- Tom Enlund of the Journal Sentinel: "Milwaukee Bucks' players of the past and present rubbed elbows at the team's golf outing earlier this week and a couple of the heralded alumni offered praise about the direction of the franchise under coach Scott Skiles and general manager John Hammond. 'It's exciting what's happening with the Bucks,' said former guard Sidney Moncrief, a five-time all-star and a five-time all-defensive team player during his 10 seasons with the Bucks. 'It's getting back to the excitement level when they had (Oscar) Robertson and then Ray Allen and even when they had our team. The fans here have always been supportive and now they have something to cheer about. I think the changes are very aggressive changes to try and improve the ballclub so whether they work out or not - and I think they will -- at least you know they're trying to move the team in the direction of being a contender.' Said Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier: "I like this team. They're a nice team. They made some nice trades and additions ... people around the league are talking about them, which makes you feel good.' "
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Former Kings star Vlade Divac will be featured in Once Brothers as part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series. The documentary will be 90 minutes and centers on the friendship between Divac and Drazen Petrovic and how it dissolved before amid a civil war in Yugoslavia between Divac's Serbia and Petrovic's Croatia. Both played on the Yugoslavian National Team and were pioneers for players from overseas coming to the NBA and having success. Petrovic died in a car accident in 1993. 'To build a friendship takes years, but to destroy it, takes one second,' Divac said in a statement. '...I always thought that the day would come when Drazen and I would sit down and talk, but that day never came.' The documentary will air on ESPN on Oct. 12."