Tuesday, September 11, 2012
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times: Chris Hansen should never have to buy a beer again in his hometown. It wouldn't just be a gesture of appreciation for the investor with a heart of Sonics green and gold. It could be a necessity. Considering the dough he's about to put down to build a new Seattle arena and lure an NBA team, he might have to reduce his going-out money. Then again, looking at all the concessions he made to consummate a deal in Sodo, he probably is now part-owner of all the local suds, anyway. Whatever the case, will every Sonics-missing fan raise a glass? The hardest part of this comeback quest is all but over now. The Seattle City Council has reached an agreement with Hansen on his $490 million arena plan. And for once, the city's annoying affinity for process, debate and universal pacification appears to have resulted in a digestible situation for Hansen, the Port of Seattle and all businesses concerned with how even more Sodo congestion will affect their bottom line. ... "We have some really cool ideas about things we can do to show the NBA that Seattle is a city that wants and deserves a team back," Hansen said months ago. Pressed for information, he smiled and said, "You'll just have to see when we get to that point." We're there now. Let us see. Let us see. Raise a glass, but save the really good stuff for later. This is just the beginning of joy for Sonics fans.
- Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: So, what about Harden? “James is somebody we value,” Sam Presti said Monday afternoon. “We think he's an important part to what we're trying to do with our team and we're hopeful that he'll be with us.” No doubt about that. Harden is super talented, a rare combination of shooter, slasher and distributor. His offensive skills provide an amazing complement to those of Durant and Westbrook. “By the same token, we've been very upfront and transparent with everybody that we have some inherent challenges that we face as an organization as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement,” the Thunder general manager continued. “I know we'd love to have him here. I think James would like to be here as well. But at the end of the day ... you have to find a way to make it work for everybody.” Notice those qualifiers in there? By the same token? But? You don't have to read far between the lines to realize the reality — striking a deal with Harden is going to be like walking uphill on an icy sidewalk. Darn near impossible.
- Tim Bontemps of the New York Post: Deron Williams has been one of the NBA’s top point guards for several years. But the Nets star — and cover athlete for “NBA Baller Beats,” a new video game that is being released today — isn’t sure he would have gotten the opportunity to be on the game’s cover if he were still playing in Utah. “Probably not,” Williams told The Post yesterday. “There’s not a lot of national opportunities in Utah. There’s definitely some local stuff, some regional stuff, but not too much national stuff.” The game is the latest in a series of endorsements Williams has picked up since he was traded to the Nets in February 2011. It’s something Williams said he enjoys, as long as it’s a product that intrigues him. “If they’re the right opportunity, and I thought this was the right opportunity,” Williams said. “I really enjoy playing the game, I’m gonna enjoy playing the game. It’s not just sitting and watching the TV. You’re up, you’re active, and you’re learning real baller moves.”
- Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News: One new Maverick who is getting an extra-extra head start is O.J. Mayo, who is pencilled in at starting shooting guard. Mayo has been in Dallas since late July. “He’s setting a great example for the younger, younger guys,” Carlisle said. “He’s really enthusiastic about being here.” Added Carlisle: “We feel is a starting two guard in this league and that his best basketball is ahead of him.” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went further, saying that Mayo has “star” potential. Mayo said he thought it was important to arrive early to familiarize himself with Dallas, the practice facility and new coaches and teammates. He said he found a place to live in uptown, “about five minutes from the arena. I come here at night and early in the morning to get work in.” Mayo said most of the workouts have been with fourth-year guard Roddy Beaubois, with assistant coach Darrell Armstrong putting them through drills.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: It wasn't long ago that Serge Ibaka was just another poverty-stricken kid in the Republic of Congo, short on necessities but full of dreams. Before he blossomed into the NBA's leading shot blocker, Ibaka went through parts of life living without running water or electricity. At times, shoes had to be lined with cardboard to cover holes in the soles. “It feels like two days ago, and now I have $50 million,” Ibaka said at a news conference Monday announcing his lucrative four-year contract extension with the Thunder. “So life is really, like, I don't know how to say it in English but … unbelievable.” It's been more than two weeks since Ibaka agreed to the deal that will keep him in Oklahoma City through the 2016-17 season. Still, the Thunder's starting power forward speaks about his $12.25 million annual salary — which kicks in before the 2013-14 season — with a humility that shows two things: NBA riches have yet to spoil Ibaka, and he's far from satisfied. “It's amazing,” Ibaka said of his journey. “It's an amazing story."
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: It took longer than expected, but Alonzo Gee has finally re-signed with the Cavaliers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a league source said it’s a three-year deal worth about $10 million. The final year of the deal is not guaranteed. Gee was a restricted free agent who was expected to return to the team even without the long-term deal. The two sides negotiated through the summer and finally agreed to the deal about three weeks before the start of training camp. The deal was complicated by the fact Gee switched agents midway through negotiations. He ended the season and opened contract talks using Andre Buck as his agent before switching recently to Happy Walters.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: All the new changes the Dallas Mavericks made during the offseason doesn’t faze forward Dirk Nowitzki. At least that’s what owner Mark Cuban is saying. Fifteen months removed from winning their first NBA championship, the Mavs will go into this season with eight new players. Will the changes affect Nowitzki, the Mavs’ superstar who turned 34 this past June? “I just think Dirk is going to come back stronger, ready to play, ready to prove something,’’ Cuban said Monday. “He is going to love the circumstances because last year -- year before even -- you didn’t have to guard us. “You just had to cover Dirk, keep Jet (Jason Terry) from hitting an open jumper, DeShawn (Stevenson) and (Shawn) Marion from hitting an open three. Now opponents will have to guard everybody."
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: Patrick Ewing, who for years has been passed over for coaching positions with the Knicks, recently turned down an opportunity to become head coach of the club’s D-League team, the Daily News has learned.Although Ewing is out of work after he was not retained by Orlando, the ex-Knicks great, who interviewed for the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach position in June, would prefer to work in the NBA. Ewing has previously worked as an assistant coach with the Wizards, Rockets and Magic but has never been offered a job with the Knicks despite numerous openings over the years.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Brandon Knight wants to become a more vocal player and an effective leader. "That's the biggest thing," Knight said. "Doing whatever it takes to help this team take the next step. Holding my teammates accountable." The Pistons practice facility was fresh with activity Monday, as incumbents Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum were going full court with rookies Khris Middleton, Kim English and Kyle Singler. Informal runs like these start the process of developing chemistry. "It's something that just happens, getting to know guys better," Knight said "Making sure you're getting a feel for how guys work, that you're always talking. It's real simple stuff, but it goes a long way." With the Pistons having six new players on the roster, Knight feels it's his responsibility to get everyone integrated to the team's style of play. He makes sure he's one of, if not the first player they see in the facility most days. "The biggest thing is communication, helping guys feel comfortable. Making those situations work for them," Knight said. "The terminology is tough, whether you're naturally used to it or not. When a guy makes a call and you can't register it quickly, you're a step behind."
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: The Suns do not have captains in the sense of Nash and Hill but they do have leaders despite only two roster players in their 30s, Luis Scola and Jermaine O'Neal. Jared Dudley can lead the locker room. Goran Dragic can lead the offense. Scola can lead by example. Marcin Gortat can lead by performance. O'Neal can lead by experience. ... So much is unknown about a team of mostly newcomers that it would be hard to even predict where leadership could emerge. Perhaps Gortat, the team's highest-paid player, has come more of age by leading his Polish national team this summer to qualify for Eurobasket 2013 with improving performances over an eight-game tourney. Maybe Scola takes command, just as he had the respect of his Argentine national team to be its Olympic captain over Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni. Maybe the Year of the Dragon gets extended and Dragic continues his ascension that began as Nash's apprentice. A different type of leader may be the most important. The Suns probably will be most successful if Beasley is their scoring leader.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: With more than two weeks to go before the start of training camp, the Miami Heat already know that someone will have to go. Guard Terrel Harris became the 16th player under contract, with the Heat announcing his signing Monday. Although terms were not disclosed, Harris stands as the third of those 16 players to enter camp without a guaranteed contract, joining center Mickell Gladness and forward Jarvis Varnado, whose signings were announced last week. The Sun Sentinel has confirmed that the Heat also have agreed to terms with former second-round pick Robert Dozier, with that signing pending. Teams may carry up to 20 players during training camp but must cut to a maximum of 15 by the start of the regular season, which for the Heat opens Oct. 30 against the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: Dominic McGuire’s going to have at least a partial guarantee on his one-year contract, I’m told Jamaal Magloire’s going to have at least a partial guarantee on his deal and that brings to 16 the number of guys who are assured at least some money, regardless of whether they stick or not. And since the rules only allow 15 players to be on the team at any one time, someone’s going to get some money to go away — either by being released or traded for some nominal future consideration like a protected second round draft pick. But it’s not like these partially-guaranteed deals are worth very much — the total of them would be veteran minimums, I don’t have the exact figures but there’s no way the guarantees are worth very much at all. One possibility would be that if Magloire doesn’t stick on the roster he moves into some other role with the franchise, somewhere in the front office or in player development, a move that’s been chatted about more than a few times.
- Rich Calder of the New York Post: Gimme a B! Nets officials yesterday gave The Post an exclusive first look at the team’s new basketball court at Barclays Center, boasting it includes a “one-of-a-kind” herringbone pattern of wood panels that stands out above anything hoop fans have ever seen. “We wanted a court that was identifiable and different, so that when fans turn on the TV at home they’ll realize they are in Brooklyn,” crowed Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “This court does exactly that.” Yormark also said there’s a “bold, dark, gritty feeling” to the court that “blends nicely with the entire motif” of the 18,200-seat arena. “It’s is our version of the [Boston Celtics] parquet floors,” he said. At center court is the Nets’ circular, black-and-white logo with the iconic “B” inside, surrounded by the words “Brooklyn New York.” The logo is flanked on two sides by the “Barclays Center” name in powder-blue lettering.
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: R.C. Buford always called Billy Gillispie by his middle name, Clyde. That was partly out of convenience. The two would get together with one of Buford’s college buddies, Bill Self, and there were too many “Bills” in the room. They would become close, and Buford always admired Gillispie’s ability to judge talent. Buford wanted Gillispie to come work with him in the Spurs’ front office, but Gillispie was never built that way. He needed to coach, and he needed to coach his way. So don’t be surprised if Gillispie ends up in San Antonio, because that might be his only option soon. Clyde is on sick leave now, and so is his career. ... Monday added to the momentum against Gillispie. First, Gillispie was put on extended medical leave to give Tech time to investigate. Next, his leading scorer last season, Jordan Tolbert, told ESPN.com he doesn’t want to play for Gillispie again. For Gillispie, it’s a career crisis. If Tech goes against him, as Kentucky did before, he will be stamped as an abusive, erratic coach who couldn’t win. Then would Clyde, once a rising star, be unemployable? At least in college.
- Staff of the Orlando Sentinel: Otis Smith, a member of the original Orlando Magic squad who went on to serve six seasons as the franchise's general manager before stepping down in May, is one of 10 individuals selected for induction to the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches Court of Legends. Smith, 48, was a standout at Forrest High School of Jacksonville and Jacksonville University before playing six seasons in the NBA — the first three in Orlando. His front-office career began with the Magic in 1996. Former ABA/NBA great Artis Gilmore also is being inducted in a Sept. 23 ceremony at the Lakeland Center, site of the wall of fame.