Tuesday, July 31, 2012
First Cup: Tuesday
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: One interesting point on the current Olympic Games in London: this time the Bucks have zero players competing. That’s a marked contrast from the 2008 Beijing Games when Michael Redd was playing for the U.S. and Bogut was playing for Australia. Remember, Bogut was injured in a quarterfinal game against the U.S. when he collided with Kobe Bryant, although the injury was not as serious as first feared. Bogut is not with the Australian team this time while recovering from the fractured ankle he sustained in late January with the Bucks, before his trade to Golden State. Ilyasova, who starred for Turkey in the 2010 World Championships, does not have international duty this summer because his country did not qualify for the Olympics. Carlos Delfino is playing for Argentina in the current Olympics but he is an unrestricted free agent after spending the past three seasons with the Bucks.
- John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: It’s with good reason that the NBA doesn’t present awards for what happens during the summer. Simply, draft choices and free-agent signings that look brilliant in June and July often can look boneheaded in February and March. Almost every move is a yet-to-be-proven-true theory until the numbers on the scoreboard start to count in the regular season and a franchise stacks up more favorable results than not. But that reality aside, is there much to not like about the work done by Hornets General Manager Dell Demps and his staff this offseason? And as a result, is there any reason to not believe the Hornets won’t be vastly improved because of it? There’s a level of enthusiasm, hope and expectation surrounding the Hornets that perhaps only has been matched once during the team’s tenure in New Orleans, the offseason of 2008, when there was great promise after the Hornets pushed San Antonio to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals and appeared ready to make the jump and become a conference championship contender for several seasons.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Magic may have just identified their next Doc Rivers. The Magic introduced Jacque Vaughn as their new head coach at a news conference Monday, and Vaughn seemingly reminded everyone of a young Doc, whom the Magic plucked from the broadcast booth in 1999 and turned into an NBA head coach. Like Doc when he came to Orlando, Jacque is a former NBA point guard who has never been a head coach before at any level. But there's just something about the way he walks and talks that makes you think he might be something special someday. He is an intelligent, eloquent man who loves poetry and quoted Maya Angelou on Monday: "Some people will forget what you said and how you said it, but they'll never forget how you make them feel." He communicates and relates well to players. He has charisma, a sense of humor and that innate ability to light up a press conference. Yep, I believe Jacque, like Doc, will be a great coach someday. Probably at his next head-coaching stop. Not here. Not now. Not with this roster.
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: With the signing of Carl Landry and the expected re-signing of Brandon Rush, the Warriors have 15 guys under contract. Perhaps more important, they;ll have little-to-no money left under the $70.3M luxury tax threshold. Does that spell the end of Dominic McGuire’s tenure with the Warriors? If so, many Golden State fans who came to love his defensive intensity and versatility will not be happy. McGuire rose from last-ditch free agent signing a year ago to beloved glue guy who many feel is a must-keep. Golden State has been on a kick to add size, defense and rebounding. Well, they’ve added some size. They drafted a big perimeter guy in Harrison Barnes and legit big man in Festus Ezeli. Rookie forward Draymond Green figures to help out on the boards since he was a noted rebounder in college. The Warriors also signed rookie guard Kent Bazemore, who has the tools to be a great perimeter defender.
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hawks GM Danny Ferry gained more of the financial flexibility he has sought by sending guard Willie Green to the Clippers in a sign-and-trade deal for the rights to Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Schortsanitis signed a three-year contract with a club in Athens earlier this month and it is doubtful he will join Atlanta's roster anytime soon, if ever. The value for the Hawks is gaining a trade exception in the amount of Green's first-year salary with the Clippers, which wasn't immediately known. A trade exception works as a credit the Hawks can use to make a trade while over the salary cap without meeting the usual salary-matching requirements. The exception expires one year after the date of the trade.
- Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: The Raja Bell saga goes on. The Salt Lake Tribune learned Monday that Bell has not accepted a buyout with the Jazz, despite the veteran guard saying July 8 a verbal agreement had been reached between the sides and only formalities remained. "We’ve been given the greenlight by Utah to go ahead and find something that works for us. We’ve agreed to the terms," Bell said in July. "So I think it’s safe to say now we are in the market again and we’re entertaining our options at this point." Jazz General Manager Kevin O'Connor would not discuss Bell's buyout when recently asked about the situation during Summer League in Orlando, Fla. But a league source confirmed Monday the Jazz have officially offered Bell a buyout. He has refused to accept the deal, though, stalling an already long-delayed process. Messages left Monday for Bell and his agent, Herb Rudoy, weren't immediately returned. Technically, Bell is still under contract with the Jazz and set to make $3.4 million in 2012-13. With second-round pick Kevin Murphy expected to compete for a contract during training camp if he's not signed sooner, the small-market organization is losing flexibility — Bell and Murphy would give the Jazz 15 players if the season started Monday.
- Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune: The Bulls are close to adding veteran point guard Nate Robinson, according to reports. SI.com’s Sam Amick quoted Robinson agent Aaron Goodwin as saying his client would sign with Chicago “barring unforeseen problems.” Robinson played well on offense for Golden State last season, averaging 11.2 points (42.4 percent shooting), 23.5 minutes, 1.2 steals and a career-high 4.5 assists. The three-time NBA slam dunk champion – despite his 5-foot-9 frame – also has played for New York, Boston and Oklahoma City during his seven years in the league. Robinson would be the Bulls’ sixth newcomer, joining guards Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague, swingman Marco Belinelli, forward Vladimir Radmanovic and center Nazr Mohammed.
- John Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer: When the Sixers convene training camp in October, Villanova and Roman Catholic point guard Maalik Wayns will be among the hopefuls vying for a spot on the roster. While terms of the deal were not announced, Wayns’ agent, Andy Miller, confirmed that Wayns had indeed signed the contract on Monday morning. Wayns, 6-1 ½ who left school following his junior season, averaged 17.4 points per game on 41.4 percent shooting. He also averaged 4.6 assists per game. While the Sixers signed veteran point guard Royal Ivey to back up starting point guard Jrue Holiday, Wayns conceivably could make the team as a third point guard. His main competition here is Xavier Silas. Silas suffered a facial injury during play at the Orlando Summer league that required surgery.
- Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News: On if fans should fans expect a better Mavs team: Fraley: “No, it won’t be better. It’s not going to be as bad as it was three weeks ago. That was a lottery team. This will be mid-40 wins maybe a sixth seed and a first round loss. This team is definitely hitting that down cycle.”
- Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star: Change is afoot at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. But just how much change — namely the safety of the jobs of Leafs GM Brian Burke, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo and acting president Tom Anselmi — has yet to be determined. “Whenever there’s a change in ownership, the executives are nervous,” said Richard Powers, assistant dean at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. “It all comes down to what kind of comfort level the new owners establish with the current management.” The $1.3 billion transaction that will see the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan sell its majority stake of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications is expected to close by the end of the summer, perhaps even as early as Wednesday. Powers said Rogers and Bell will put the heat on the Leafs and Raptors to become winning teams.
- Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times: The city council overshadowed the Metropolitan King County Council's 6-3 vote to approve Hansen's plan by revealing its request Monday. Hansen is asking for up to $200 million — $120 mil from the city, $80 mil from the county — in bonds for his sports and entertainment arena. His clever plan to pay them back includes using tax revenue that only the building could generate, so that no new taxes are needed. The city council is requesting that some of the arena's tax revenue be used for improvements to traffic and freight mobility in Sodo. It is also seeking more financial protections and some specific assurances KeyArena won't grow old alone over there in Lower Queen Anne, but diverting some of the new arena's revenue is the biggie. If you're for the arena and have been impressed by the measures Hansen took upfront to make this a good deal for both parties, then it's impossible to resist outrage that the city council is asking Hansen to fix too many of the city's problems. Why risk ruining a great opportunity in pursuit of perfection? It's a valid concern, and the city council had better be careful with this negotiation. There's no question it's unfair to demand Hansen be the city's elixir. But perhaps there is some middle ground in which he could be a catalyst to help the city take proactive measures to solving the Sodo transportation problem. While trying to explain their thinking, city council members Sally Clark, Mike O'Brien and Tim Burgess revealed the council is working toward a positive conclusion.
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: You might have seen John Salley around town more and more lately. He hosted the "State of the Pistons" television special on Fox Sports Detroit after the regular season. Recently, area motorists might have noticed two billboards -- one off I-75 and the other off I-96 -- with Salley's grinning face promoting the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Salley looks fit and still capable of blocking a shot or two -- although nearly 20 years have passed since he wore the red, white and blue of the Pistons. But Salley, 48, wants everyone to know he never left Detroit. His 11-season career had four more stops, and he primarily lives in Los Angeles now. But he maintains a residence in the metro Detroit area and has charitable and business interests here.