Monday, September 27, 2010
First Cup: Monday
- Howard Beck of The New York Times: "In a gymnasium bursting with optimism and energy, Eddy Curry is a distant, gloomy soul on the baseline. In a training camp defined by everything that is new and promising, Curry is the last reminder of the Knicks’ troubled past -- an anachronism in orange and blue. He has never looked more out of place and less relevant to the team’s future. Through two days of practice, Curry has been relegated to the third unit, with the rookies and free-agent invitees. He has slogged through drills. On Saturday night, he was lapped by an entire group of players as they weaved through cones around the court. By the end of Sunday’s practice, the third of camp, Curry was a spectator, watching his teammates jog with medicine balls while he stood near a basket stanchion. He is nursing a tight hamstring, making this the third straight camp that Curry has been injured. 'Obviously, we’re pushing these guys hard,' Coach Mike D’Antoni said. 'He misses anything, it just makes it a little bit tougher.' Asked if Curry was already behind, D’Antoni said, 'Well, yeah.' The setback was almost predictable. Curry reported to camp weighing 325 pounds -- a 20-pound increase since April -- according to a person in the organization."
- Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "After all the romancing of the deal, there's no avoiding the big, ugly reality of Denver hooking up with New Jersey in a trade for all-star forward Carmelo Anthony. Everybody would hate themselves in the morning. Even if Melo and the Nuggets can't stand being in the same arena together, they can do better than ending their seven-year relationship like this. If Anthony walks through the doors of the Pepsi Center today for a meet-and-greet session that opens training camp, you can consider the current trade with the Nets dead, an NBA source told me Sunday. Let's hope so. ... Let's be blunt: A deal that sends Anthony to New Jersey is not what either the player or the Nuggets really want. A trade with New Jersey makes little sense for the Nuggets and their fans, unless the primary goal is a quickie divorce. ... The deal with New Jersey makes less than zero sense for Anthony, unless his idea of basketball heaven is a daily commute to beautiful downtown Newark to play for a joke of a franchise that lost 70 games last season. You mean to tell me new Miami megastar LeBron James is going to be mingling with the beautiful people on South Beach and Melo is going to settle for the swamps of Jersey? His peers would be laughing so hard their tattoos might fall off."
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Michael Vick for Kevin Kolb? Andre Iguodala for Carmelo Anthony? Easy decisions for the Eagles, sort of. For the 76ers? Well ... Western Conference executive told the Daily News yesterday that the Nuggets and Sixers were involved in talks that could bring megastar forward Carmelo Anthony to Philadelphia and send Andre Iguodala to Denver. The executive said that Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri had talked with Sixers GM Ed Stefanski about a possible move. The good thing going for the Sixers on a possible deal? Denver is very fond of Iguodala and he could be their most coveted commodity in any trade scenario. The drawback for the Sixers is that Anthony has listed teams that he would want to be dealt to and the Sixers are not among them; he has said Chicago and New York top that list. The other negative is that should Anthony agree to come to Philly, a contract extension must be reached, according to the source."
- Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic: "Hedo Turkoglu looks happy. Really happy, revealing nothing that resembles the disengaged expression television cameras would catch on the Toronto Raptors bench last season. 'I told my agent, 'Make this happen,' ' he said Friday about the July trade to the Suns. ' 'I don't care how much I have to give up, how much money it will cost me. I'm open to anything they want me to be. I want to be one of them.' ' ... Turkoglu insists he is fine with whatever role Gentry assigns him. He may be speaking truth or he may be merely saying the right things, as many do when they land at a new home. He does seem more grounded. The birth of his daughter, Ela, last year has helped him prioritize. 'Now we know what we are living for,' he said. 'Now everything is about her. I can just feel the emotion. When I come home from practice now and I'm tired and I see her running up to me, she calls out my name and puts all of the tired behind. If I have things going on, I focus on her and forget.' A short memory is good, especially in the NBA. Suns fans would like nothing more than to forget all about Turkoglu's play last season in Toronto. 'It will be different this year,' he said. 'I know it will.' "
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Now that LeBron James and his talents belong to South Beach, the Cavaliers officially begin sifting through the carnage this week to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. All the king's men are still here -- well, most of them -- along with a few new ones. But it won't be the same without him. ... In one of the most dramatic shake-ups in franchise history, the star player, general manager and head coach have all been swept away. Danny Ferry has been replaced as GM by Chris Grant, coach Mike Brown has been replaced by Byron Scott and James has been replaced by ... hmmm. More on that later. The two most recognizable faces on the Cleveland sports scene now belong to Browns President Mike Holmgren and Scott -- and neither is a player. Kinda tells you what sports in Cleveland are like right now. But Scott's positive outlook is infectious, and he brings instant credibility to the job. His 352 coaching victories in nine-plus seasons make him the most experienced and successful coach the Cavaliers have hired since Lenny Wilkens in 1986 (Mike Fratello had 324 wins when he took over in 1994). How that translates on the court remains to be seen, but Scott genuinely believes that he can win with the Cavaliers. And he's honest enough to concede that it probably won't happen this year."
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Health is always a concern for Phil Jackson, something he gauges over the summer before making a decision to coach again. Jackson is back with the Lakers, sporting a neatly trimmed gray beard, looking ready to lead his team in its quest to win a third consecutive championship. 'He looks better than he did last year,' Kobe Bryant said. 'He looks great. He has a lot of energy. He's moving around extremely well. He looks good.' As for Bryant, the right knee he had surgery on over the summer is improving. He hasn't practiced with the team, but he did a little work on his own Sunday. 'I'm just trying to take it step by step," Bryant said. "I'm continuing trying to progress every day.' "
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Coming off the most injury plagued season of his career, Tony Parker should be in fine physical shape after skipping Les Bleus trip to Turkey for the FIBA World Championships. What we want to know is what kind of shape his mind is in. Parker slipped from All-Star levels last season, saw his scoring average dip to its lowest level in seven seasons and spent the offseason listening to trade rumors. If Parker enters the season with something to prove, that could be good news for the Spurs. He vowed, at the end of his frustrating 2008-09 campaign, to return his game to the All-NBA plateau he had reached the season before. He's in the last season of his contract, and would like to make something approaching max money on his next deal, so we'd expect a very motivated Tony Parker in training camp."
- John Canzano of The Oregonian: "Just the other night around sundown at Bridgeport Village, in the distance I saw the tall figure of a father walking on the sidewalk with a young boy. They bounced along, dad and son. The father had a shopping bag in one hand, and reached back with his free hand, and pulled his son along beside him. That father was Blazers center Joel Przybilla. He didn't greet me with hello. Or roll up his sweatpants and show me the 6-inch scar that runs across his right knee. Instead, the guy I last saw writhing around on the basketball court, said, 'Don't count me out.' I'm not. And you shouldn't either. And if you really think about it, as much as the Blazers are carried by All-Star Brandon Roy, and led by coach Nate McMillan, there isn't a more influential piece to the team's future than Przybilla right now. ... He's coming off a twice-ruptured patellar tendon. Once on the court last season, the second time post-surgery, when he fell in the shower. It's a miserable injury. I know, mine snapped two years ago on a basketball court. And the same injury accelerated Damon Stoudamire's retirement. Ever heard the popping sound a chicken drumstick makes when it's twisted and pulled from the cooked bird? That's about what a patellar tendon sounds like when it's coming off the bone. ... Przybilla is asking that we don't count him out. He's determined to work hard, and transition from running and jumping to basketball-related activity."
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Nikola Pekovic has made an impression with his size and strength in the week since he arrived in Minnesota from the Euroleague. 'I like him, he's a bruiser-type of guy,' forward Kevin Love said. 'He's there to take the charges. He loves to block shots. He's not the most explosive guy in the world, but he's one of those guys who you'll take an elbow to the chin or an elbow to the chest from. So you better watch out.' ... You might never guess this, but Mchael Beasley says he has a refuge he seeks daily to get away from, well, being Mike Beasley ... golf. 'The golf course is not a team sport, it's a one-man show,' he said. 'I go out there by myself: Nobody can call me, I keep my phones in the car. I go out and play my nine holes alone and nobody knows where I am. Golf is like the only place in the world I can go right now and totally think and be one with myself. It's my one place I go if I'm mad, if I'm down, if I'm sad and my day is not going well.' "
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Undoubtedly, expectations for what Rudy Gay should bring to the party have skyrocketed since he signed a five-year, $84 million contract extension this summer. The 6-8 forward also spent two months playing for USA Basketball to train for and participate in the World Championships. So with a bigger bank account and a gold medal around his neck, what will Gay's attitude be? While he is being paid like a franchise player, no one in the organization is expecting him to carry that burden on the court. The coaches want Gay to be a better defender and use his length and athleticism to rebound more. Offensively, though, Gay's role won't change. He's still expected to take good shots and share the basketball. There also is a belief that Gay's experience coming off the bench for USA Basketball probably helped him understand better the importance of role playing. In other words, he should be an even better teammate, so there is little to no concern about Gay returning with anything but a constructive mindset."
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Fans are selfish by nature, and what you want to know is now what did Marvin Williams do to become a better person but how can he help the Hawks be better. Does it provide any solace to hear that Marvin knows he needs to be better, too? The Hawks are pinning much of their hopes for Marvin’s improvement on Larry Drew's new offense. Marvin is, too. 'That always sounds good to a player,' Marvin said. 'You always want to be involved. Last year my production went down. Hopefully with this new offense guys will get looks on a more consistent basis and they will be better looks. Some nights, for me I could have 20 [points] or I could have 4. For our team to be a good team, I personally can’t have nights like that. So hopefully with this new offense, I will know where the shots are coming from each night and be able to knock them down.' ... It’s true that perhaps no Hawks player has to put in more double-duty than Marvin. Checking NBA small forwards night after night isn’t easy. Doing so and then also being expected to make consistent offensive contributions, even as a guy who plays off teammates, is even harder. But Marvin is entering his sixth season, he’s set to make more than $22 million over the next three years, the Hawks need him to produce and so here we are."
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The Thunder has quickly built a track record for rapid development. Last year we saw Russell Westbrook exceed all expectations in his second season, and Kevin Durant silenced critics and blossomed into an All-Star in his third year. This go-round is the time for James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor and Byron Mullens to show how much they've grown. Not every player the Thunder adds is going to enjoy an accelerated rate of development. But Westbrook and Durant have set the standard. Can the second-year guys keep pace?"
- Josh Robbin of the Orlando Sentinel: "The Orlando Magic's summer vacation officially ends today. Players and coaches will gather this afternoon at Amway Center for a team meeting and media day. The grueling labor begins Tuesday, when the squad opens training camp with two-a-day practices. Coach Stan Van Gundy will work with a roster that looks mostly identical to the one that finished the 2009-10 regular season with the NBA's second-best record but lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics. 'I definitely think the continuity of having 10 guys back will help us a great deal,' Van Gundy said."
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: "Did they get older? Certainly. Did they get better? Possibly. Did they get bigger? Definitely. To a degree, the Celtics were merely addressing a need. When Kendrick Perkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Game 6 of the Finals, they were well aware that they’d have to play the first half of this season without their starting center. So they signed a pair of O’Neals, first Jermaine then Shaquille, in free agency. 'We’ve got to be the biggest team in the league now,’' Jermaine O’Neal said. At the very least, the team they’ve assembled looks down on the one president Danny Ainge put together last season. The team’s average height is about 6 feet 7 inches, roughly 2 inches taller than last year’s. So, exactly how much will all the size matter? Size -- or a lack thereof -- mattered enough for Ainge to reset the Celtics’ offseason course. Had it not been for Perkins’s injury, the Celtics would have had the money to throw at a wing player to spell Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (maybe Mike Miller or J.J. Redick). Instead, they spent the mid-level exception on Jermaine O’Neal, and signed Shaquille O’Neal to a two-year, $2.8 million contract."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Ted Leonsis already offered a hint of what is to come, in terms of generating excitement for his franchise, when he welcomed No. 1 overall pick John Wall with an over-the-top introduction the day after the draft, complete with a police escort, red carpet entrance, balloons and screaming fans in 'Game Changer' T-shirts. But Leonsis and his marketing team have much more in store this season. The camp-opening 'Midnight Tip-off' festivities - which include live music, a DJ, the George Mason marching band and food, ticket and other giveaways -- are considered a test run. 'We're going to try a lot of different things,' said Greg Bibb, the Wizards' executive vice president of business operations. 'We're going to be innovative. Maybe some of the things we try don't work, but some of the things we try will work. And we're not going to be mundane. We're going to be dynamic in how we market this team and move this business forward.' "
- Greg Jayne of The Columbian: "Nate McMillan found a fun way to spend the final day before the start of training camp. McMillan raised the 12th Man flag Sunday at the Seahawks' game against the Chargers. Immediately prior to kickoff for each home game, the Seahawks have somebody with Seattle ties raise the flag to fire up the crowd. It works, too; it's a great tradition. Anyway, they show a short, dramatic film about the person's accomplishments, then introduce them and raise the flag. Like all honorees, McMillan wore a No. 12 Seahawks jersey, then cupped his ears to encourage more noise from the crowd. Probably beats answering questions from reporters, like he will do Monday when Media Day kicks off training camp."