Thursday, August 2, 2012
First Cup: Thursday
- Jason Quick of The Oregonian: The Trail Blazers' head coach next season will either be Terry Stotts or Kaleb Canales, The Oregonian has learned, after general manager Neil Olshey on Wednesday informed Steve Clifford and Elston Turner that they are no longer finalists. Stotts, 54, is the former head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, where he compiled a combined 115-168 record. He has never had a winning season, but did advance the Bucks to the 2006 NBA playoffs, where they lost in the first round. He has been the top assistant in Dallas since 2008, and head coach Rick Carlisle credited Stotts' offensive innovation in helping the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA title. Canales, 34, is the former video intern hired by the Blazers in 2004 whose ascension has included stops as video coordinator, assistant coach and interim head coach for last season's final 23 games after Nate McMillan was fired.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Roger Mason Jr. didn’t think that his second stint with his hometown Wizards was going to come to an end once the season ended. He had hoped to return to play for a coach who had finally given him an opportunity to contribute and with a group of young players still in need of guidance to move beyond being repeat lottery offenders. But with the Wizards drafting Bradley Beal and adding a veteran presence with the acquisitions of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, Mason had to consider other options during free agency. After attracting attention from the Wizards, New Orleans, Chicago, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers, among others, Mason eventually settled on the Hornets. He agreed to a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum on Wednesday, effectively going from one former No. 1 pick from Kentucky (John Wall) to another (Anthony Davis).
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The exact details of the Orlando Magic’s long-range plan remain unclear. But whatever path the team follows, it will bear the imprint of the San Antonio Spurs’ model. This past offseason, the Magic hired two products of the Spurs’ wildly prolific tree, and Magic executives have said publicly that they hope to replicate the Spurs’ success. On June 20, the Magic hired Rob Hennigan as their new general manager. Hennigan started his post-college career as a Spurs intern in 2004 and spent a total of four seasons with the organization, ending his tenure in 2007-08 as the team’s director of basketball operations. From there, Hennigan spent four seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose basketball-operations department is headed by another former Spurs executive, Sam Presti. On Saturday, the Magic hired Jacque Vaughn as their new coach. Vaughn spent the last three seasons of his playing career in San Antonio and spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach, apprenticing under Gregg Popovich. You could argue that the true stars of Vaughn’s introductory news conference Monday were Popovich and the franchise Popovich helped build.
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: The Warriors introduced Landry, and reintroduced swingman Brandon Rush, on Wednesday. Both free agents signed two-year, $8 million contracts with the Warriors (each having a player option on the second year). With the signings, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said the heavy lifting with the roster is done. Now that the dust has settled, and presuming good health, is this roster good enough to make the playoffs? ... Myers said signing Landry and Rush was worth going just over the $70.3 million luxury tax limit (about $400,000). Every dollar the Warriors are over the limit, they have to pay a dollar penalty. Golden State, though, will have to pay the penalty only if it's over the threshold on the last day of the season. That gives Myers until the February trade deadline to cut salary and avoid the penalty. "We're into the tax, but we have flexibility," Myers said. "We can go deeper into the tax if we want to. We can find ways to get out. We'll keep our eye on that. It will probably depend on how we're doing (on the court)." Translation: If the Warriors are struggling come February, expect the cost-cutting moves.
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Caught up with Jeff Teague at the Hawks’ youth basketball camp in Suwanee. As we were talking, some dude came up and expressed his dismay at the Hawks trading for Devin Harris and signing Louis Williams because he saw this as a threat to Teague’s playing time. I smiled because the guy’s angst sounded familiar. It’s the same sentiment I hear all the time from my blog people, who tend to freak out whenever there’s a better-than-terrible guard on the roster who can play the point behind Teague. ... Like that dude who cornered Teague, my blog people think back to Teague’s history with Larry Drew and just know that he’s waiting to trap door Teague. Teague does not have those same concerns. “I was going to come in confident and ready to play,” he said. “I’m familiar with Coach Drew. I was ready. When the trade happened I saw it as an opportunity to step up and play even better. That’s what I’m going to do.” Seriously, though, I don’t mean to dismiss my blog peoples’ concern over whether Teague will get more opportunities. You have good reasons to be a bit skeptical, not least of all the fact that Teague made another big jump in scoring efficiency last season but his usage actually decreased a bit.
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: Tony Parker knows his audience. He knows the British reference points, and what they care about, which is why he responded the way he did when an English reporter asked him about Gregg Popovich. Parker didn’t compare him to Red Auerbach or to Vince Lombardi. He also didn’t compare him to Vinny Del Negro. Parker compared him to to Sir Alex Ferguson. For those who don’t know: Ferguson manages some for Manchester United.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: The Wizards have made several moves since signing Wittman to a two-year extension in early June. And, after signing autographs and taking photographs for the children, Wittman addressed the trade for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, the selection of Bradley Beal, the signing of A.J. Price and the waiving of Andray Blatche, among other topics. Wittman has been watching Nene and Kevin Seraphin closely in the Olympics and said he doesn’t have much concern that Nene is still dealing with plantar fasciitis. He added that he is still considering making another “tweak” to the coaching staff after signing Don Newman from San Antonio and hinted that the team might save a roster spot or two heading into training camp.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: Former Louisville point guard Chris Smith, brother of Knicks shooting guard J.R., has been invited to training camp, and was signed by the Knicks yesterday. Smith played on the Knicks summer league team but didn’t start, shooting just 29 percent and averaging 5.2 points in 19.3 minutes per game. “If I play my cards right, hopefully they’ll be dealt right,’’ Smith said during the summer league regarding his brother’s influence. “I feel like it’s working in my favor, but who knows. It’s the NBA. This is my chance.’’ J.R. is close with his brother, paid for Chris’s college at Louisville after he agreed to have the program take away his scholarship in order to recruit more players
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: The Kings will play a seven-game preseason schedule, including three against the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Lakers, the team announced Wednesday. The first three games will be played at Power Balance Pavilion – Oct. 10 against Phoenix, Oct. 15 against Portland and Oct. 17 against Golden State. The Kings will play the Lakers in three different cities. The first meeting is Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, followed by an Oct. 21 game in Los Angeles. The Kings face the Suns again Oct. 22 before finishing the exhibition season Oct. 25 against the Lakers in San Diego.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: The Cavaliers will play seven preseason games this fall, including three at Quicken Loans Arena. They will also host neutral-site games in Cincinnati and Canton. They open the preseason on Monday, Oct. 8, against Italian basketball powerhouse Montepaschi Siena of the Euroleague. Next on the agenda is a matchup against Milwaukee at Canton Memorial Civic Center, home of the D-League Canton Charge, on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
- Alex Cassara of The Times-Picayune: In this summer of transition, the past few days have given D.J. Augustin something familiar on which to fall back. Augustin, a recent signee with the Indiana Pacers and a former McDonald's All-American point guard at Brother Martin, returned to his alma mater this week to host his third annual basketball camp. Augustin, who played his first four seasons in the NBA with the Charlotte Bobcats, was happy to be in familiar territory. "I spent a lot of time here in the gym with basketball," he said. "I gave a lot of my hard work to Brother Martin, and they gave a lot back to me by giving me a great education. So I feel like it's only right to come back here and have my camp here every year." The three-day camp, which ended Wednesday, taught children ages 8 to 15 the fundamentals of the game and the value of competition. Augustin, who signed a reported one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Pacers last month, hosted the camp free of charge.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Griz forward Zach Randolph will answer a local cry for help Friday and assist a pit bull rescue and adoption after a pit bull was located trapped in a drainage pipe near Waring and the Green Line path in mid-July. A local woman and her daughter called police when they heard the male dog's cry for help 15 feet down the pipe and a full rescue operation ensued. Animal welfare advocates say the dog had been in the pipe for approximately two days completely surrounded by dirt and debris and would not have survived many more hours of entrapment. Memphis Public Works employees used a backhoe to remove the dirt and broke the pipe and then workers reached in to get the dog, which has been at a local veterinary clinic receiving treatment since. Randolph, a lifelong advocate of the pit bull breed, and a huge fan of the show "Pit Bulls & Parolees" on Animal Planet, decided to combine his two passions to help this troubled dog. So Randolph will finance the entire rescue, rehabilitation and adoption process of this dog. Randolph will also make a significant donation to Villalobos Rescue Center (VRC).