Tuesday, October 19, 2010
First Cup: Tuesday
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "No. 46 just bought out the Lakers' No. 32. Magic Johnson will forever be connected with the Lakers, but he can't be called part-owner of the team any longer. Johnson sold his 4.5% ownership stake in the franchise to billionaire season-ticket holder Patrick Soon-Shiong, the team said Monday. ... Based on various valuations the Lakers are worth about $600 million, and Johnson's stake had an estimated value of $27 million, though exact terms of his sale were not disclosed. 'It was a very smart business decision on Earvin's part [to sell],' said Lon Rosen, Johnson's longtime agent. The sale amount was "a lot more" than $27 million, said a team source who was not authorized to speak publicly. '[Magic] was made an offer that he couldn't refuse.' Various sources close to Johnson also quickly quelled any connection between selling his share of the Lakers and aggressively pursuing ownership of another NBA team. In the last year, Johnson has been rumored to be interested in buying the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons. The Warriors were subsequently sold this year for $450 million."
- Peter May for ESPNBoston.com: "Like Bill Walton, Shaq is coming to Boston at the end of his career. Like Walton, Shaq has an MVP award; his is from the 1999-2000 season. Like Walton, Shaq was named to the NBA's top 50 all-time players list more than a decade ago. Like Walton, Shaq wants to win another championship (Walton had won one with the Blazers in 1977) and, like Walton, Shaq professes to be a student of the game. And Shaq wants nothing to do with the Sixth Man Award. Of course, that would presume he would qualify by coming off the bench for the 2010-11 Boston Celtics, something that hasn't been determined as of yet. Then again, in one of the years Kevin McHale won the award, he was a sometime starter due to injuries to Cedric Maxwell. So Shaq, ready to take your place in Celtics history alongside the other great sixth men? 'No,' he said rather emphatically after practice Monday. 'About four years ago, I gave up on the concept of winning individual awards. I'm focusing on the big one at the end of the year.' But, Shaq was asked, didn't he think the Sixth Man Award was more of a team award than an individual award? Again, the answer was the same. 'It's not for me,' he said. 'What's important to me is the six balls I have on the desk of my office at the top of a big building,' he said. Asked to elaborate, he said, 'I'm the CEO of the company. I just don't have the building yet.' Or, by extension, the office or the desk."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "When asked about winning the rookie of the year, John Wall said Sunday night that it was not his primary goal this season. 'To be honest, I'll take playoffs first and then rookie of the year second. That's the type of person I am,' Wall said. 'Rookie of the year would be great to have, as an individual goal, but like I told you, if I get better individually and worry about individual goals for myself in this team, it's not going to help this organization get to where it wants to be -- and that's hopefully a playoff contender and before I end my career, a championship contender. The main thing is focusing on the team and worrying about myself second.' ... Last week, DeMarcus Cousins posed with a T-shirt that read, 'ROY-DMC,' and has already pledged to take out his anger over sliding to fifth on the four teams that passed on him in the draft. Wall said he loves Cousins's confidence. 'That's what you need, though. I don't want ... he shouldn't have to say, 'John is going to win rookie of the year; Blake Griffin is going to be rookie of the year.' You have to be that confident in yourself and I'm not mad at him or knocking him or nothing like that. That's how he got to be. This is a different team for him. He's the big man on their team to hopefully help them win a lot of games. He should want to win rookie of the year.' "
- Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle: "Rockets coach Rick Adelman said Ishmael Smith, an undrafted rookie guard, has been the surprise player of camp. Smith has averaged five points and 3.3 assists while averaging 17 minutes during the preseason. During the NBA Summer League, the Wake Forest product led the Rockets in assists (4.8 per game). Adelman called Smith 'the best passer in camp.' 'All through summer league he was good, but you never know what that’s going to translate into camp,' Adelman said. 'He’s been terrific every time we use him. He’s never backed down. We knew he could play, but he’s been very consistent.' Smith said he will assume whatever role the Rockets need. 'If I have to impersonate Chris Paul, Tony Parker or whoever it is to get the guys ready, I’m going to do that,' he said. 'When my number is called, I’ll be ready.' "
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Asked why the Spurs did not sign a veteran free agent in the offseason, which they often did in the past, Gregg Popovich said the decision was driven not by preconceived intent, but by circumstance. 'I don't know that it is so purposeful,' he said. 'You go by who's left. You look at the rosters and the available people out there, and you choose. If there would have been a Robert Horry out there, I would have taken him. It just depends, year to year, who is there.' When it was pointed out that Horry, who retired after his 2007-08 season with the Spurs, remains technically available, Popovich couldn't resist a wisecrack. 'That's the puffy Robert Horry,' he said, noting that Horry, now 40, has added weight since retiring to a post-basketball career as a pizza pitch man. 'That's the thick-crust Robert Horry.' "
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: "Blame the 'dumb coach' for Wayne Ellington not playing more this preseason. And this is coming from Wolves coach Kurt Rambis. He was asked about Ellington, who took advantage of his start Sunday against Milwaukee by hitting eight of 11 shots and all three of his three-pointers, picking up four assists, two steals and a block in 25-plus minutes. 'To me that's the way Wayne has been playing [all camp],' Rambis said after Monday's practice. 'His dumb coach hasn't been giving him enough time to show what he can do out there. What you saw him doing in the starting position, that's what he's been doing.' That performance has muddied an already super-competitive competition at the shooting guard position, where Martell Webster, Ellington, Wes Johnson and Corey Brewer are all competing for time and starts. Ellington, taken by the Wolves with the 28th pick in the 2009 draft, appeared in 76 games last season, averaging 6.6 points. But he clearly had been working on his game. 'I worked very hard all summer,' Ellington said. 'I knew that there would be competition coming in. I knew that the position was open. I wanted to show what I could do.' "
- Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun: "Jay Triano had an interesting analogy in describing Reggie Evans’ role, which is to get more possessions by rebounding the basketball. 'We have guys who play the piano and guys who carry the piano,’ Triano waxed. '(Evans) carries it.' A not-so subtle change to Evans, besides his leaner body, has been his willingness to kick the ball out when he hauls down a board rather than try some crazy offensive move."
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "With Thunder general manager Sam Presti hailing from the San Antonio organization, the Thunder for years has drawn comparisons to the Spurs. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Monday those comparisons are 'flattering' but added that the Thunder isn't necessarily seeking to copy the Spurs' model. 'We're two different organizations,' Brooks said. 'Sam has done a good job of building the team. But we do things the way we feel is best for our organization. But the San Antonio Spurs, I have a lot of respect for the organization and coach (Gregg Popovich). The way they handle success and the way they handle when they're not successful.' Comparisons aside, Brooks said it's always beneficial to play the Spurs. 'They play hard,' Brooks said. 'I like playing this team because they challenge you in so many ways. You learn so many different things about yourself because they make you play hard and smart basketball for you to be successful.' "
- Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "With just one exhibition game remaining before the start of the regular season, one unquestionable truth has emerged: When Rudy Fernandez steps on the court, he sure doesn't look unhappy. And with every passing October day, every swished three-pointer and every highlight-reel play, Fernandez's coaches and teammates say they have discovered one more truth: They can depend on the disgruntled guard, homesick or not. ... At Oracle Arena on Monday night, Fernandez refused to talk about his 'situation,' except to say that he continues to take things 'day-to-day.' It's clear he's grown tired of the constant scrutiny and sick of answering questions about his displeasure. But team insiders say that behind the scenes Fernandez seems happier than when he first arrived in Portland for training camp, in part because teammates have reached out to make him feel more at home in Portland. ... 'The team is helping me,' Fernandez said. 'I'm good with the dynamic with the team. I'm focused on my work and focused on helping my team. When I'm on the court, I try to help my team with my shot, with my defense. This is my role and my focus.' "
- Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Coming off an eight-turnover game at Portland on Saturday, Stephen Curry promised it wouldn't happen again. Then, he committed six turnovers in the Warriors' 100-78 victory over the Trail Blazers on Monday night at Oracle Arena. The 14 turnovers in the last two games are part of a training-camp-long problem. Curry has 28 assists to 28 turnovers in the shortened playing time of five preseason games. That equates to 9.1 turnovers per 48 minutes. Curry played 80 games last season and committed more than seven turnovers in a game only once (10, Feb. 19 at Utah). In the final 10 games of his rookie season, he had 78 assists, 32 turnovers and 22 steals. 'It's me trying to create a play instead of reading the play correctly,' Curry said. 'It's working the kinks out of the new lineup and figuring out where people are going to be. But, I'm not panicking.' In many ways, then-coach Don Nelson's freestyling isolation sets and pick-and-roll offense protected Curry as he adjusted to the toughest position in the league as a rookie."
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Jonas Jerebko partially ruptured the Achilles' tendon in his right leg, and his season -- at least most of it -- is over. Monday, 10 days after undergoing surgery, Jerebko sat at practice, visibly dejected he couldn't be out there with his teammates. 'All I can think about is being back on the court,' said Jerebko, who is expected to miss the next five months. 'I was looking forward to the season.' Initially, Jerebko thought he'd miss a couple of games -- at most. But he knew something was wrong when strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander examined him. 'He landed on my leg,' Jerebko said of the play. 'You can't take 250 pounds on your leg. I felt something. It just numbed my whole leg.' Now, all Jerebko can do is wait and hope that all the work he put in this summer, which included developing a post-up game and the ability to create his own shot, will account for something. 'I'll just try to get it back,' said Jerebko, who averaged nine points and six rebounds last year. 'And I will get it back.' "