Wednesday, September 12, 2012
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times: The Bulls are in a holding pattern while Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery. They could still be a factor in the playoffs if Rose makes a miraculous recovery. More likely, the Bulls are a year away from again being championship contenders. “They’ve always shown they’re a scrappy team and they’re going to fight and do as well as they can do,” Dwyane Wade said. “But to take it to the next level D-Rose is going to have to be D-Rose and lead that team to be as good as they want to be. I know as players on the team, you feel like you can hold the fort but you need your leader, captain and best player. D-Rose is young. He can bounce back from it just like other guys have in the past. Whenever he’s on the court, they are one of the best teams in the league.”
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: Now that the Lakers have Dwight Howard, we want to know when they'll really have him. On the court. In real games. The Lakers don't know either, but they're starting to get a better idea. Details are scarce and Lakers spokesman John Black declined to comment, but Howard on Monday had his first hands-on session with Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti and head physical therapist Judy Seto at the team's training facility in El Segundo. Howard is rehabilitating after April 20 spinal surgery, and no one has been ready to commit to a day, week or even month when Howard will make his Lakers debut. But the level of mobility and strength Howard is already showing has to be encouraging for anyone hopeful he'll be jumping for that opening tip-off Oct. 30 against Dallas. Howard insisted at his introductory Lakers news conference that he will not play until he is truly 100 percent. ... His history backs him up: He plays when he can play. And the fact that he can do all the running and sliding and stepping he can – besides other exercises more taxing for his back – with seven weeks until the first game and three weeks until the first practice is certainly reason for optimism. (And for all that he still can't do, Howard has at least been working on his free throws, yes.)
- Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times: In the near future, when the Sonics are dunking again and Kevin Calabro is "Good golly, Miss Molly!"-ing again and the Seattle sports scene is whole again, you'll wake up one morning feeling no more pain and make the oddest declaration. You'll reckon the Sonics' return was an excruciatingly quick process. Chris Hansen's arena deal and his prospects of luring back the NBA are near the brink of inevitability now. The process is far from over, there are still ways the agreement could fall apart, and relocating a team won't be easy. But the heaviest lifting has been completed, and Hansen isn't too banged up to finish the job. Barring an unforeseen disaster, his dream will materialize in due time. Excitement can commence. To graduate from misery to mania in only four years is a stunning and poetic achievement worthy of the oxymoron in the second paragraph. From morons to oxymorons, Seattle is poised to redeem itself in an appropriate manner. From pain came progress. From misery came novelty. From cynicism came synergy. That's how this happened, in one tightly composed bundle that doesn't nearly do justice to the complex issues within each of those words.
- Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: A spokesman for the Maloofs, who own the Kings, said the family wouldn't discuss the Seattle developments. "Their comment is the same as before – they're not going to weigh in on every rumor," said spokesman Eric Rose. The Kings' future in Sacramento became shaky when the Maloofs scuttled a deal this spring to build a new arena at the downtown railyard. The Maloofs insist they remain committed to Sacramento. But fans' anxiety was rekindled by a published report last month that the Maloofs were negotiating to move the team to a proposed arena in Virginia Beach, Va.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: For the second straight offseason, Kevin Durant and LeBron James are working out together, going through tough two-a-day workouts near James’ home in Akron, Ohio. Last season, when Durant won his third scoring title and James won his third MVP (and they met in the Finals), the two credited their offseason training sessions together, dubbing ‘Hell Week’ as a beneficial tool. So they’re back for round two, just four weeks after winning gold together in London. ... And, of course, in response to anything LeBron James does, ESPN’s Skip Bayless felt the need to weigh in. But it wasn’t to commend the two friends for pairing their unmatched talents together to improve one another. Or to point out the fact that they went head-to-head in practice for a month leading up to the Olympics anyway. It was to expose LeBron James’ grand scheme to maintain NBA dominance by keeping KD as a friend. ... Via Twitter, Durant didn’t seem too pleased with Bayless’ assertion. And he let him know about it, albeit briefly. “u brainwashing these people out here, they think since you on espn you know what u talkin bout…please, nobody owns me,” Durant tweeted, but later deleted.
- Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: The Trail Blazers are not scheduled to open training camp for another three weeks, but they’ve already suffered a significant injury. Shooting guard Elliot Williams tore his left Achilles tendon during a voluntary workout Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin and will require surgery. It’s unclear how much time Williams will miss, but the hard-luck third-year guard likely faces an extended rehabilitation that could last several months. The Blazers will set a time line for his return after he undergoes surgery, which has not yet been scheduled. ... Williams, 23, missed his entire rookie season after having surgery on both of his knees. Then, after proving to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable 2011-12 Blazers season, Williams dislocated his shoulder March 8 and never returned.
- Howard Beck of The New York Times: Josh Childress is set to join the Nets, completing their likely opening-night roster for their inaugural season in Brooklyn. Childress, 29, agreed to terms Tuesday on a one-year contract at the veteran’s minimum, according to two people briefed on the contract. The deal is nonguaranteed, but Childress is almost certain to make the roster as the backup small forward, behind Gerald Wallace. “Looking forward to the opportunity in Brooklyn,” Childress said in a Twitter message Tuesday afternoon. The Nets expect to sign Childress and Andray Blatche to their contracts in the next day or so. Blatche agreed to a nonguaranteed one-year deal last week, but his signing has been delayed by a personal matter.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: D.J. Mbenga, the 7-1 center who started his career with the Mavericks, is coming back to north Texas but will have to earn his way onto the NBA roster. If he doesn’t gain a spot on the team, his rights will be owned by the NBA Development League Texas Legends. MBenga has been playing overseas and last played in the NBA for New Orleans in the 2010-11 season. The Mavericks unearthed him nine years ago when he was playing in Belgium. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said the native of the Congo may be slated for duty in the D-League, but will get a chance to prove he deserves a spot with the Mavericks. “We couldn’t be happier to welcome DJ back to north Texas,” Nelson said. ”We have a comprehensive program outlined to springboard him back into the NBA. Upon his release he has agreed to join the Texas Legends pending waiver clearance. I believe he has the ability to be one of the top centers in the D-League if healthy.”
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: The Wizards have agreed to terms on non-guaranteed training camp deals with big men Earl Barron and Shavlik Randolph and point guard Steven Gray, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. With training camp set to start at George Mason in less than three weeks, there is a roster spot available should the Wizards decide to go with the maximum 15 players. They have 13 players signed to fully guaranteed contracts and second-year point guard Shelvin Mack has a partially-guaranteed deal. John Wall, Martell Webster, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton are among the players already at Verizon Center working out in anticipation of the first practice on Oct. 2.
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks invited free agent Damion James to veteran’s camp and the forward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports that he plans to accept. James, like free agent James Anderson, will join the Hawks on a summer contract that would become a non-guaranteed one-year deal if he makes the roster. James and Anderson will compete to fill the role of defensive-minded wing that Hawks GM Danny Ferry is seeking. ... The Hawks also extended a qualifying offer of about $960,000 to restricted free agent Ivan Johnson and would have the opportunity to match if Johnson signs an offer sheet with another team. Because the Hawks do not own Johnson’s Bird rights and used the full mid-level exception to sign Lou Williams, they would not be able to match any offer sheet for Johnson that’s for more than the bi-annual exception of $1.957 million.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The NBA limit for training-camp rosters is 20 players and the Miami Heat apparently will go to the max. In the wake of a recent free-agent tryout for former New York Knicks center Josh Harrellson, the Heat on Tuesday worked out for Sacramento Kings center Hassan Whiteside, the No. 33 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft. And a day after re-signing shooting guard Terrell Harris, the Heat, according to Yahoo Sports, reached an agreement with guard Garrett Temple, who spent the past season in Italy. Temple would bring the Heat camp roster to 17 players, with the impending signing of Heat 2009 second-round pick Robert Dozier to bring that total to 18. ... An agent who has been in talks with the Heat said the team is currently only offering non-guaranteed contracts, which was the signing basis with Harris, center Mickell Gladness and forward Jarvis Varnado, who also were added for camp this week.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says he’s talking to ESPN about joining its NBA studio show this season, but tells me Tuesday that nothing is finalized yet. ... Sports by Brooks is reporting that Van Gundy will join his brother, Jeff, in the ESPN family. Jeff is an in-game color analyst during the season, working with play-by-play broadcaster Mike Breen. Stan is must-see TV, of course, as we all know in Orlando. He let his entertaining, brutally honest opinions fly during his tenure with the Magic, which sometimes made the club cringe and drew fines from NBA Commissioner David Stern. I wouldn’t expect Stan to hold back. He’ll likely walk a fine line criticizing fellow coaches, especially since he wants to return to the bench. Sports by Brooks reports that Stan will team with ESPN columnist Bill Simmons and ESPN studio holdovers Magic Johnson and Mike Wilbon.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Uniform enthusiasts will be excited to learn the Cavaliers will be wearing their new gold uniforms for the regular-season opener against Washington on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. The gold uniform will serve as the Cavs' official alternate to the home white uniform and will be worn substantially throughout the 2012-13 season. The Adidas uniforms feature a bright gold jersey with deep wine "CAVS" across the chest. The Cavaliers' "C" is centered below the neckline, and the secondary logo, "C-sword," appears on both sides of the shorts.
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: New Orleans Hornets players are conducting volunteer workouts in San Antonio this week because they are unable to use their practice facility at the Alario Center in Westwego, General Manager Dell Demps said Tuesday. The Alario Center is being used as a Hurricane Isaac food stamp card distribution site, where thousands of people have weathered long waits to sign up for disaster food stamps since last week. "Because the National Guard is using the Alario Center as a (food stamp card) distribution center we want to respect the process,’’ Demps said. "What they’re doing is far more important than basketball.’’ Demps said Hornets players, including No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis and rookie guard Austin Rivers, decided to go to San Antonio this week to play in volunteer pickup games among themselves and against other NBA players in town.
- J.M. Brown of the Santa Cruz Sentinel: The City Council is meeting with Warriors officials behind closed doors to determine how best to handle a last-minute threat of litigation against a complicated, expedited plan to build a 30,000-square-foot facility for the Development League basketball team. A law firm representing the Beach Hill Neighbors Association led by First Street resident Don Webber provided the city with a letter early Tuesday suggested it could sue the city if it approves the project tonight. The firm argues the city should have conducted a full-scale environmental review of the project, which the firm says doesn't provide sufficient parking or meet other requirements for permitting.