Tuesday, December 6, 2011
First Cup: Tuesday
- Jason Quick of The Oregonian: Barring an injury setback before the season starts, the Trail Blazers will not use the "amnesty clause" on Brandon Roy this season, team president Larry Miller told The Oregonian late Monday evening. "Our plan right now is not to use the amnesty," Miller said. "We expect Brandon to be a part of this team when the season starts." Under the yet-to-be-signed collective bargaining agreement, teams have one chance to wipe an entire contract off the books during the time that the CBA is in place. Because Roy has $63 million remaining on his contract, and no longer has cartilage in either knee, some forecasted that the Blazers would waive the three-time All-Star even though he was the face of the franchise. Waiving Roy would save owner Paul Allen more than $15 million in luxury tax this season and would enable the Blazers to have more free agent money in this year's market.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The best thing the Mavericks have going for them is a core of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. They are going to be on the team, no matter what. Nowitzki, by the way, has arrived in Dallas and Kidd is either not far behind or also touched down. The next few days are going to be tough for the Mavericks. But they must be strong and realize that the pressure to repeat is no different than the pressure to compete for a title every season when you have a superstar like Nowitzki. If it's another year before a young superstar joins Nowitzki, it would be worth whatever problems arise this year. And by the way, who among us saw an NBA title for this team without Butler last season? So don't assume the sky is falling. On Friday, when contracts can begin being signed, the Mavericks will figure out who they have. It may even be Saturday or Sunday or next week. Either way, they're still going to be reigning NBA champions.
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: Even when negative comments were directed his way, Lakers center Andrew Bynum often retweeted those messages. It motivated him, reminding the 24-year-old that he faces concerns about his injuries, criticism over his maturity and doubts about his potential. But perhaps the feedback became overwhelming because Bynum's Twitter account was deleted Monday. Calls to Bynum's agent, David Lee, weren't returned, but the move coincides with Bynum's becoming the subject of trade talk once again. This time, it involves proposals that could land the Lakers either Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard or New Orleans guard Chris Paul. ... Though the Lakers value his size, they are also looking to bolster their roster following their embarrassing 2011 playoff performance. And with Bynum's Twitter account, we won't have any insight on what he thinks. That is, of course, until he visits the media during the training camp and downplays it all.
- Jon Gold of the Los Angeles Daily News: Let's just say the horde that descended upon a Westwood Subway restaurant Monday afternoon was not beating down the doors for a six-inch Cold Cut Trio. No offense to salami, but Blake Griffin was the big attraction here. Pretty soon, all over Los Angeles. With Kobe Bryant's knees less dependable long-term than an '85 Yugo and no one else on the Lakers ready or able to assume the mantel of super-duper star Griffin - and by extension, the Clippers - has a chance to steal not only the headlines but the public affection. He now has that chance because there is going to be an NBA season and that is a blessing, because the basketball gods could not be so cruel as to rob us of this once-in-a-lifetime superstar twice in three years. The first time, it was a broken patella. That's forgivable. To lose a year of Griffin's majestic ascent to a lockout, though? That would have been an abomination.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: He's healthy, unlike at the end of last season. He's set to begin his five-year, $60 million extension signed last October, as opposed to playing on his rookie contract. But one thing hasn't changed about Joakim Noah — his defiance whenever the Miami Heat come up. Asked if, as currently constructed, the Bulls have enough to surpass the reigning Eastern Conference champions, Noah hid the playful smile that often dances across his face. "Yeah," he spat. "Of course." Having Noah regain the form that had him playing at an All-Star level early last season, before the first of his two injuries, would help. Noah missed 34 games last season, sitting first following surgery for a torn ligament in his thumb and later a sprained right ankle.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: In a wide-ranging interview with The Commercial Appeal, Michael Heisley discussed his commitment to winning, restricted free agent Marc Gasol, selling the Grizzlies and much more: Q. You recently said for the first time publicly that you're committed to winning a championship. How close are you to winning an NBA title? A. The players are going to determine how close we are. I can honestly tell you that I think we have a real chance over the next two or three years to win the NBA championship if we get some breaks and a couple of our players develop into their potential. We've got a few years where Zach (Randolph) will be playing at a high level. Rudy (Gay) is young and just beginning to come into his own. (Mike) Conley is young. We've got a team that's young and they like each other. The chemistry in the locker room is good. I'm not sure what is going to happen, but I feel like we have a good, deep team. It isn't like we have five players and then we drop off a cliff. I'm not telling you we'll win a championship but I'm saying I won't be surprised if we make a big run for it. That's honest. I haven't gone around saying that my whole career in Memphis. I feel like we have something special.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale met with Nuggets free agent center Nene in Denver on Monday, but their pursuit of a free agent to fill the void in the middle will not end there. Morey was also working to set up a sit-down with Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, a person with knowledge of their thinking said Monday. No meeting had been set up, but there are increasing indications that Chandler would not return to Dallas, where he dramatically improved the Mavericks' defense and helped key a championship run. Chandler has also been strongly pursued by the Warriors and Nets. ... Talks with the Rockets' lone free agent, Chuck Hayes, are on hold while Morey works to lure Chandler or Nene, and to create the cap room for them.
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: Players were allowed to come to team facilities yesterday for physicals, and Rajon Rondo passed with no red flags. The gruesomely dislocated right elbow he sustained in Game 3 of the Celtics’ second-round series against the Heat seems to be fully healed. He showed no ill effects last month at his charity game at Harvard. “I think he’s been ready to go for months,’’ Ainge said. Although he averaged a career-high 37.2 minutes, Rondo, 25, played a career-low 68 games last season, missing time with ankle and finger injuries. Rondo worked out yesterday in Waltham for the third time since players were allowed to use the facilities. Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson were also in attendance.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: John Wall is eager to bounce back from a first season in which he produced well statistically and finished a runner-up to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin for rookie of the year but also dealt with the disappointment of playing for a 23-win team and battling nagging injuries to his feet and knees. He took two months off after the season ended to rest and recuperate, then attacked the summer-league circuit with a vengeance. He played in numerous exhibitions and dominated the so-called lockout league in Las Vegas, scoring at will against legitimate NBA competition and displaying an improved jumper. “My confidence is sky high right now,” Wall said. “I’m a smarter player and [have a] better IQ. The first year, you just going off instincts and just playing.”
- Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: Ty Lawson used the lockout wisely, expanding his horizons and trimming his waistline. After arriving back in the United States from a fall stint playing for Zalgiris in Kaunas, Lithuania, the 5-foot-11 Lawson showed off the spring in his 185-pound frame -- the lowest his weight has been since high school -- with a vicious dunk in one-on-one drills over 6-9 Pops Mensah-Bonsu at Verizon Center last week. I think I've got my bounce back," Lawson said. "I'm ready for training camp because I know [Denver Nuggets coach] George Karl is going to try to run us hard and get us back in shape. I'll be ready for it."
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: Landry Fields admitted that he became a different player once Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks, going as far to say that he "shrunk" over the last two months of the season. "Obviously, I do think that I shrunk a little bit," Fields said Monday. "With those three guys [Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups], they demand a lot of attention and they're going to get that attention, so with me it's just kind of getting where you fit in." Fields worked out at the Knicks training facility with Anthony, Toney Douglas, Andy Rautins, first round pick Iman Shumpert and second round pick Josh Harrellson Monday. Fields' promising rookie season abruptly ended in the days and weeks following the trade for Anthony. The low point came during the Knicks first round loss to Boston when Fields scored just seven total points in the four-game sweep.
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Pacers swingman Brandon Rush declined to elaborate about comments posted on his Twitter page last week but said he was not responsible for posting expletives and homosexual references during a disagreement with a fan. "It definitely got hacked," Rush said at Conseco Fieldhouse on Monday. "I kind of know who did it and how it was done. We're working on it. People who know me know that's not my type of personality. That's all I have to say about it." Rush, who was suspended the first five games of last season after he failed the league's mandatory drug test three times, deleted the comments from his Twitter page.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and second-round pick Vernon Macklin joined Ben Wallace and Charlie Villanueva in on-court activities. "It's good to be back," Gordon said. "It's been a long summer." After his workout, Gordon joked about doing "hard time" the past two years. "I did two years (laughs) but hopefully I can get out (of jail)," said Gordon, who averaged a career-low 11.2 points and 26 minutes (fewer than any season except his rookie year) last season. "It might as well be my first, but this is my third." Gordon said he wasn't sure what the roster would look like, but with the addition of rookie Brandon Knight to an already-crowded backcourt, he hopes the situation will rectify itself before the season begins.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Former Augsburg star Devean George watched it all unfold before his eyes during an 11-year NBA career he now hopes to extend one more season. At age 34, he wants to pass along all he has learned to these very young Timberwolves, just as Ron Harper, Mitch Richmond, John Salley, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Rice, Brian Shaw and a guy named Kobe Bryant did for him when he first entered the league directly from NCAA Division III basketball in 1999. George will come to training camp, which opens Friday, hoping a job presents itself during this shortened 66-game season. He would like to stick around in a player development/mentor role if a spot doesn't open on a roster that already numbers the full limit of 15 players. "What better way to get some advice than somebody who has seen the movie that you're watching right now?" George asked after working out alone at Target Center on Monday.
- Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: When sports-wristband maker Power Balance LLC filed for bankruptcy protection last month, the company insisted it would keep its name on the Sacramento Kings' arena. Now it looks like the name could be coming down less than a year after it went up. Cash-starved Power Balance expects to be sold soon, and court papers say the likely buyer doesn't plan to maintain the marketing deal that turned the former Arco Arena into Power Balance Pavilion. That could change between now and Dec. 20, when Power Balance's business is scheduled to be auctioned off. Hanyang LLC, the Southern California company in line to buy Power Balance, could choose to retain the contract with the Kings after all. Someone could outbid Hanyang and decide to keep the Kings' deal. "Don't jump to any conclusions," said Denny Barge, a principal in Hanyang. He indicated Hanyang didn't have all the data it needed on the Kings deal when it made its bid for Power Balance.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: French-speaking NBA fans are about to get their hoops fix. TVA Sports announced on Monday that a two-year deal has been reached with the Raptors and the NBA to return league games to the French broadcasting airwaves for the first time in 13 years. “Francophone audiences from Quebec and across Canada deserve the opportunity to appreciate the thrilling spectacle of NBA basketball,” said Pierre Dion, president and CEO of TVA Group, which like the Toronto Sun, is under the Quebecor Media umbrella. Regular season games — Raptors and otherwise — as well as playoff and NBA Finals contests will be part of the package.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan has returned to coaching – though not how you would expect. Less than two years after he was fired by the Philadelphia 76ers, Jordan is coaching the freshman basketball team at his alma mater, Archbishop Carroll. Jordan was the most successful Wizards coach in recent memory, leading the franchise to 197 wins and four playoff appearances before getting dismissed after a 1-10 start in 2008-09. He joined the 76ers the next season but lasted just one season before he was replaced by Doug Collins. Philadelphia is still owes Jordan $3 million this season. Washington Post reporter Josh Barr wrote that Jordan would like to return to the NBA and has been invited to attend training camp with the San Antonio Spurs, but for now, he’ll work with the kids.