Friday, September 7, 2012
First Cup: Friday
By Nick Borges
- Kyle Veazey of The Commercial-Appeal: Pop star Justin Timberlake has decided to secure a stake in his hometown's professional sports franchise. Timberlake, 31, who grew up near Millington, has agreed to become a limited partner in Robert Pera's bid to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies from Michael Heisley, a source close to Pera confirmed Thursday night. Pera, 34, agreed in June to the purchase and continues to undergo the standard vetting by the NBA. The league's majority owners will have to vote to approve his ownership bid, but if it's approved, he'll become just the second majority owner in the franchise's 11-plus years in Memphis. Last month, Pera agreed to terms with a group of local minority partners that includes AutoZone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde and financier Staley Cates, who were minority owners under Heisley. In the new agreement, which is for about one-third of the team, Pera agreed to terms that will effectively guarantee the team's future in Memphis for the next 15 years.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Brian Scalabrine has turned down an assistant coaching position with the Chicago Bulls in favor of a NBA color analyst job with Comcast Sports Net New England. The former Bulls reserve forward, who has two young daughters, cited family reasons for passing on a chance to join coach Tom Thibodeau's staff. "It was a great opportunity and turning it down was really hard," Scalabrine said. "I think I would've done well in the role Thibs and I talked about. Telling Thibs no for now was really tough. But broadcasting is a better choice for my family and it allows me to stay in the game and analyze the game while still allowing time away from it. Broadcasting opportunities like this don't come around often. It's going to be a fun trial run for both sides."
- Howard Beck of The New York Times: The Knicks’ “new” uniforms, unveiled Thursday, featured no striking changes, only simple edits: narrower trim around the arms, removal of the striped panels down the sides, a colored waistband (blue on the white shorts, orange on the blue shorts), a less-arching “New York” across the chest. And yes, the neckline is now a symmetrical curve. If the pomp and circumstance at the Hugo Boss showroom seemed disproportionate to the actual news, well, these are not normal times for New York’s original N.B.A. team. For the first time in history, the Knicks have meaningful competition for the spotlight — and they might have to work for it. The rebranded Nets will open in Brooklyn this November, in a state-of-the-art new arena, with a talent-rich roster that may be every bit as good as the Knicks’. And, significantly, with a sharp new apparel line that is already among the best selling in the N.B.A.
- Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: Since the Pistons' summer league team returned from Las Vegas in July, Greg Monroe has been a constant at the team's practice facility. So has the ping-pong table the players use after workouts. On Thursday, coach Lawrence Frankand rookie Kim English Jr. were playing ping-pong after a workout that included rookies Kyle Singler and Khris Middleton, along with Brandon Knight, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell and Monroe. "I don't know what that table is about," Monroe said. "I play pool." What Monroe did know was the workouts should go a long way toward helping when training camp starts in three weeks. It's a step toward building team chemistry and creating a new culture for the Pistons.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: The London Games were portrayed as a swan song for Manu Ginobili and the rest of his graying Argentina teammates, the last opportunity for the country’s so-called “golden generation” to buck the odds and win another medal. Argentina failed, however, losing to Russia in the bronze medal game. Ginobili is still smarting over the defeat, to the point that he now says he’s not ready to hang up his baby-blue and white jersey just yet. “I never said I would continue, and I never said I would quit,” Ginobili told FIBA.com. (While this might be true, it should be noted that Manu never put the kibosh on the avalanche of questions he got about donning the Argentina uniform for the last time.) But, as Ginobili pointed out himself, he’ll be 37 when Argentina competes in its next major tournament, the 2014 World Championships. And that might as well be an eternity for a guy who, as good as he looked during the Olympics this summer, missed 32 games last season.
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks signed rookie forward Mike Scott, their second-round pick in the June draft. Scott signed a two-year contract for the minimum salary that includes some guarantees, according to Hawks GM Danny Ferry. The minimum salary for 2012-13 is $473,604. “Mike will be on the team this year,” Ferry wrote in a text message. ... Scott, 24, was the No. 43 overall draft pick and Atlanta’s second selection behind guard John Jenkins. Scott figures to benefit from the Hawks’ efforts to strengthen their player-development program but he’s not projected to play much in 2012-13. When the Hawks drafted Scott, GM Danny Ferry said he’s strictly a power forward. That means Scott is slotted behind Josh Smith, Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Ivan Johnson, Jordan Williams and perhaps Johan Petro in the frontcourt rotation.
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: The Nuggets now have two Andres, two Millers and, of course, one Andre Miller. Denver seemingly concluded its busy summer Thursday by signing second-round pick Quincy Miller, giving the squad 15 players heading into training camp, which opens Oct. 2. It's understood that on this deep Nuggets team, the 19-year-old will likely spend some time in the D-League this season. But the plan is to have the Baylor product in camp and let him develop with Denver's assistants as much as possible. ... Miller looked underwhelming in the summer league, where he averaged 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in five games.
- Katherine Terrell of The Times-Picayune: The New Orleans Hornets have signed second-round pick Darius Miller, the team announced Thursday. Miller, a forward out of Kentucky and the No. 46 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, signed a two-year deal, worth just under $1 million, according to a league source. The first year of the deal is fully guaranteed if Millers makes the team, which he is expected to do. With Miller’s contract completed, the Hornets have now come to terms with all three of their 2012 draft picks. Miller will join former Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis and former Duke guard Austin Rivers.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: The Timberwolves' search for an athletic, shot-blocking center brought free-agent Hassan Whiteside to Target Center on Thursday afternoon for a workout. Whiteside, a 2010 second-round pick who was released by Sacramento in July, worked out with the Wolves watching for the second time in a week. Last week, they sent a scout to observe him at former NBA coach John Lucas' gym workouts in Houston. On Thursday, Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn, player personnel director R.J. Adelman and basketball operations director Rob Babcock watched the 7-footer. Whiteside has played 111 minutes in 19 NBA games the past two seasons. His development has been slowed partly by knee and ankle injuries, partly because he has been a thin prospect who so far hasn't grasped the NBA game.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The Magic today announced they have signed 6-foot-4 combo guard E’Twaun Moore to a free-agent deal. The team and Moore agreed to the broad outlines of the deal over a week ago, and it took a little while longer to finalize some details. Moore’s contract is for two seasons and is believed to be partially guaranteed for each of those seasons. “I just arrived in Orlando and words can’t express how happy I am to be here!!!” Moore tweeted today. Moore appeared in 38 games for the Boston Celtics as a rookie last season. He should compete with Ish Smith for playing time behind starting point guard Jameer Nelson.
- Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: Jazz point guard Earl Watson told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday he continues to make progress during his rehabilitation from April 17 right knee surgery that repaired a torn medial meniscus. "Rehab is rehab!" Watson joked. He acknowledged, though, he may not be cleared for full action by the time training camp starts in October. "At this point, I’d say no," Watson said. Referring to September as a "big month" during his rehab, Watson is attempting to return to full health in time for the 2012-13 season. ... If Watson’s not cleared to play by the start of camp, Tinsley will likely serve as Mo Williams’ primary backup.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Gersson Rosas, who had been the Rockets Vice President for player personnel for the past three seasons, was elevated to the title of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, the team announced on Thursday. ... The Rockets have also hired Gianluca Pascucci, their former international scout who had been the general manager of Armani Milan, as director of player personnel. Dean Cooper, who had been an assistant coach with the Rockets, Timberwolves and Trail Blazers, has also returned to the team. Cooper had been vice president of player personnel with the Rockets, but moved to the Timberwolves, working briefly on Kevin McHale’s staff, to return to coaching. No announcements have been made on the additions of Pascucci and Cooper, pending the expected additions of a second player development coach and an advance scout in the next several weeks.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: A Hall of Fame career is rarely deemed a disappointment, but Ralph Sampson’s time in the NBA will always be viewed under the “what could’ve been” prism. His skyscraping size, unusual agility and astounding skill created mostly unrealistic expectations that were out of reach even for a man who will become the tallest player ever enshrined in Springfield, Mass. The 7-foot-4 Sampson will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, but he will receive the honor mostly for a dominant collegiate career at the University of Virginia and his early all-star success with the Houston Rockets. Surgeries on both knees and back problems prohibited Sampson from fulfilling his immense promise, but three decades after he entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick in 1983, the guard trapped in a gangly giant’s body will also remembered as a pioneer who paved the way for big men to showcase a wide-ranging offensive arsenal. Sampson could score in the low block despite never developing a signature back-to-the-basket move but preferred to glide around defenders, step back for perimeter jumpers and occasionally put the ball on the floor.
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Mel Daniels tried to play the hard role about being selected to go into the Hall of Fame. But that was a front, according to Donnie Walsh. “He is so happy to be chosen as a Hall of Fame player,” Walsh said. “He won’t admit it to anybody because he has that gruff exterior, but inside he’s got a heart like a mushroom. I’m sure he’s happy as hell. We’re all happy for him because he deserves it.” Daniels, as Walsh says, is happy he’s headed to the Hall of Fame. The depressing part about Daniels’ induction into the Hall of Fame began to circulate Friday afternoon. He had been in the hospital since Tuesday dealing with an illness that will keep him from traveling to Springfield, Mass. Daniels, his friends, family and the Pacers had waited all these years for this moment to happen, and then it was determined that a urinary tract infection will keep him planted in Indianapolis because he’s not allowed to travel. Horrible. Friday is still a special occasion for Pacers fans because Reggie Miller will be enshrined. But the night would be even better if Daniels was in attendance joining Miller.
- Frank Fitzpatrick of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Like those of so many athletes who played in an era when a catchy nickname was nearly as essential as physical talent, Chet "The Jet" Walker's was a misnomer. As a Bradley all-American, and even when he starred for a 1966-67 76ers team many still regard as the NBA's best ever, the silky 6-foot-6 forward who turned head fakes into an art form was more super smooth than supersonic. ... Friday night in Springfield, Mass., Walker will be one of 12 inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. For him, the ceremony, at which he will be presented by 76ers teammate Billy Cunningham, will be long overdue. "If you look at who's in there and compare my statistics to some of them, certainly I should have been in a long time ago," Walker told the Omaha Journal Star. "I'm disappointed, not only for myself, but for a lot of close friends and my brothers who aren't alive now." Though Walker moved on to become a four-time all-star with the Chicago Bulls, Philadelphians will forever recall him as one of the key contributors on a Sixers team that went a then-record 68-13, crushed the hated Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, and cruised to the NBA title.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: The Milwaukee Bucks had it going in the 1980s. Coach Don Nelson ran a finely tuned "Green Machine" that won seven consecutive division titles. But it wasn't always smooth sailing later in Nelson's coaching career. Still, he compiled 1,335 victories, more than any other NBA coach, over a career that spanned 31 seasons. And finally, after being snubbed in past years, he was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year. The 72-year-old Nelson will join former Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller and other members of the 2012 class in an enshrinement ceremony Friday night in Springfield, Mass.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: The NBA has asked a Manhattan judge to revisit a settlement from the 1970s that has required the owners of the four former ABA franchises, including the Spurs, to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners of a team that hasn’t existed for more than 35 years. The NBA eventually claimed victory in their lengthy battle with the upstart ABA in 1976, agreeing to absorb four franchises — Denver, Indiana, the Nets and the Spurs — while the rest of the league folded. But it came with a very costly catch. Ozzie and Dan Silna, brothers and owners of the now-defunct Spirits of St. Louis, disbanded their franchise in exchange for a portion of the TV revenue received by the former ABA franchises as long as the NBA exists. It seemed like a pittance at the time, when NBA Finals games were broadcast on tape delay and the league’s popularity was at an all-time low. But with the league’s burgeoning health over the last 20-plus years, the four teams are estimated to have forked over a cool $240 million. ... They also had the foresight to cap their portion at a maximum of 28 teams, meaning they get a larger share than the NBA’s other franchises now that the league has grown to 30 members. Making matters even worse is the fact that the Silnas were ready to accept a buyout in 1982, but the league balked at their $8 million asking price. Yet another case of short-sightedness with a deal that keeps on giving.