Tuesday, October 9, 2012
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: Andrew Bynum believes he’s on track to play in the 76ers’ Oct. 31 regular-season opener. Bynum, who has missed the first week of an expected three weeks to rest his knees, told reporters Monday that he’s making progress and the opener remains his target date. If he was in this situation and it’s the middle of the season instead of training camp, he said “if all the things were on the table, I’d be out there.” … While he said the knee is improving, he also admitted he’s “not able to run up and down right now.” Sixers coach Doug Collins said Bynum has “worked his tail off” in the weight room and on the elliptical machine when he’s not watching practice.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: So why did point guard Deron Williams wait over three months to say one of the reasons he didn't sign a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks was because owner Mark Cuban didn't attend a meeting? Williams told New York reporters on Monday that the fact Cuban wasn't at the meeting had a major impact on him re-signing with the Nets. Really? Cuban had a prior commitment that required him to be in Los Angeles to tape a segment of his TV show, Shark Tank. Williams said he needed to ask Cuban about his plans for the future. Uh, couldn't he ask Nelson and Carlisle that? … While Williams was meeting with Nelson, Carlisle and Finley, the Nets executed a trade with Atlanta and acquired Joe Johnson. After Williams emerged from that meeting with the Mavs' contingent, he said the acquisition of Johnson helped sway him in the direction of the Nets. Now, he's saying it was Cuban's absence. So which one is it, Williams? The lame excuse that you chose the Nets over the Mavs because Cuban wasn't there isn't holding water among the Mavs' followers.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Finally, Royce White could feel like just another rookie, practicing with his new team, trying to find a role. After missing the Rockets training camp in McAllen and generating national attention for openly discussing his anxiety issues and what he’ll need to overcome them, on Monday White practiced for the first time, declaring “It went as well as it could go.” With plans in place to make his participation routine, White could finally look to the work to come, rather than the workouts he missed. “I think routine is important, especially for someone like me,” White said. “I don’t really feel it. It’s my first day back. It’s not much of a routine yet, but it’s here.” It is, if nothing else, the first step. White had sat out training camp while formalizing a plan that will allow him to take a bus to a large portion of the Rockets’ road schedule. He had worked out with coaches for several days before Monday’s practice with the team.
- Shannon J. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel: You can blame the collective-bargaining agreement for allowing players to flee for the big lights. Or you can blame bad coaching and management on the part of some small-market teams for their stagnant growth. But none of that gets to the heart of the matter, which in this case, happens to be the matter of the heart. The NBA isn't in love with basketball anymore. It's in love with the production of stars. We're witnessing the NBA's evolution into a fantasy sport. Elite players pick great places to live that offer greater financial and social incentives and, above all else, an immediate chance to win a championship. More times than not, this gives large-market teams a huge advantage. I don't begrudge LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Dwight Howard for chasing great opportunities in big cities. There's nothing more American than that. But the NBA has a responsibility to protect the future of its league beyond four or five teams.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Amid the launch for the LeBron X, the model that comes with high-end sneaker-compatible software for $270 and without the added technology for $180, James stressed that it is a matter of offering a variety of options. He said the initial focus on a possible $300-plus price was misleading, "because the facts weren't correct." In a private moment with the Sun Sentinel, he said such attention was misplaced. "We have wide ranges of shoes that range from $300 all the way down to $160, $180," he said, with the Nike website currently offering a signature James model at $120. He said there is a place for a high-end model, as well as other price points. "We have great technology and they do a great job of putting out great shoes and things of that nature," he said. "But it just bothers you when things aren't always correct. But other than that, we move on and we get the real facts out there and we live with them."
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: There is a place where Carlos Boozer could find redemption. A place he could find some sort of atonement. The Bulls power forward slowly raised his tattooed right arm upward, pointing his finger into the darkness of the United Center rafters. “Right up there,’’ Boozer insisted on Monday. “You put [a championship banner] up there … the biggest thing is wins, that’s what it all comes down to. Honestly. It comes down to wins and losses, everything else is water under the bridge. We win? Man, if we win, we’re going to party for a long time.’’ Boozer especially.
- Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: It's going to be a sad day for sportswriters if the most interesting thing about Enes Kanter ceases to be his Twitter account. But after the sophomore scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked two shots and, even, tried to bring the ball up the floor, we may need to rethink the big fella's role on this team. Kanter was extremely aggressive around the rim, was following his own shot and proved effective just at keeping the ball alive around the rim. "I thought he played really well," Mo Williams said. "I thought he rebounded well, in the post I thought he was patient."
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Raptors rookie Terrence Ross had a strong debut. Ross looked a tad nervous on his first attempt, an air-balled three-pointer, but said it wasn’t because he was nervous, but rather because he faded a bit and took a bad shot. Things went much better from there. He nailed his next attempt, another in the third quarter and two more in the fourth without a miss and did some good things defensively, though Casey singled him out for making a couple of “typical rookie mistakes” but added that Ross’ upside is “off the charts.”
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: It didn’t take long Monday night for Cavs coach Byron Scott to prove he was serious about Dion Waiters earning his spot in the starting lineup. Not only did Waiters not start Monday’s 91-85 victory over Montepaschi Siena in the preseason opener, he didn’t play at all in the first quarter. If it was a test to see how the rookie would respond, Waiters conceded he was a bit rattled. “I’ve never sat out a quarter before in my life,” Waiters said. “I kind of got down a little bit, but I told myself, ‘This is what he wanted. He wanted to see how I’d react to things like that.’ ” Waiters’ debut was spotty. He finished with 11 points, three rebounds and an assist, but his range remains questionable while his strength remains his ability to get to the basket.
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Stephen Curry has been desperate to get back on the court after a seven-month absence caused by an injured right ankle. His wait ended Monday against the Utah Jazz in the Warriors' second exhibition game. Curry totaled six assists to go with two points and two rebounds in 12 minutes, all in the first half, of the Warriors' 83-80 victory. More important, he didn't appear limited. Jackson had limited Curry's participation in the first three days of training camp and held him out of the exhibition opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in Fresno. "It feels all right," said Curry of his ankle, adding that it felt great until he got tired. "It's a little sore, but that's to be expected. See how it feels tomorrow and then we'll assess Thursday's game. Hopefully I can play a lot more." Monday's outing by Curry also kicked off a new era in Golden State basketball as, entering his fourth season, he is now the unquestioned team leader.
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: The Nuggets coach had been asked if Denver will make more 3-pointers this season, a sore subject, for sure. "That's probably my biggest concern," said Karl, whose team was 24th in the NBA in 3-point shooting last season, and then traded Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington to the Magic. "I think 40 percent of our 3-pointers are down in Orlando right now. I think we've got the guys who can do it. It's going to be a high priority of the offense. We love the rim, the second shot we want is the free throw and the third shot we want is the 3-ball. We're going to work hard on it. We need some guys to jump up their percentages." Karl named names. He needs increased percentages from Danilo Gallinari (32.8 percent on 3s last season, a career-low) and Corey Brewer (26 percent, lowest since his rookie season). During camp, both players have said their summer shooting workout will benefit them in the regular season. But perhaps the wild card is reserve Jordan Hamilton, who spent a whirlwind rookie season on the bench but showcased his stroke in the summer league.
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: Even though rookie Nando De Colo’s floor game and slick passing prompted veteran teammate Stephen Jackson to declare that he was “another Manu Ginobili,” Parker and fellow French Olympian Boris Diaw were slightly more realistic about the young guard from Arras, France. “In a sense, he is,” Parker said, “because he’ll do some crazy pass or go for crazy steals. But he’s got a long way to be like Manu. So we can say he’s like a poor Manu right now. But he definitely has the skills and that kind of flashy (style). I remember in a timeout Pop was joking, ‘I have one Manu. I don’t need two.’ “You’ll give him a heart attack with two Manus on the team.” Diaw hadn’t heard about Jackson’s comparison and couldn’t quite believe he had made it. “Jack said that?” Diaw said. “In some ways, the way (Nando) plays in the passing game. But Manu’s unique.”
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Daequan Cook entered this season with perhaps the most to gain from the departure of Derek Fisher. But after a week of training camp, it's beginning to sound like Cook's spot in the rotation isn't as secure as once projected — if not lost altogether due to the arrival of promising rookie Perry Jones III. … Cook is competing with Jones III and Lazar Hayward for minutes and was thought to have a leg up due to his contributions last season. So far, though, Jones has garnered most of the praise throughout training camp. At the end of Monday's practice, Cook didn't seem interested in discussing the logjam and how it might impact him. “It's different for everybody,” Cook said. “I mean, it's different looks for every (practice) team. I'm not really concerned about that right now. I'm more focused on just preparing myself for the season and helping the younger guys out right now.”
- Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: For a moment at the end of the Timberwolves' practice Monday, Oct. 8, it appeared that second-year forward Derrick Williams was the victim of rookie hazing at the team's practice facility in Target Center. With the entire team watching, the 6-foot-8 Williams had to run full-court wind sprints by himself for nearly five minutes. Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said Williams was the victim of a "poor decision" when he chose to attempt a three-pointer to determine whether his scrimmage team would have to run sprints. "Up until today, he had been making pretty good decisions in camp," a smiling Adelman said. "Unfortunately, he missed."
- Michael Pointer of The Indianapolis Star: Things are looking up for the Indiana Pacers. They might have their best team in years, which could lead to larger crowds at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. But a leading Indianapolis ticket broker says it's hard to tell how much that enthusiasm has carried over to the ticket marketplace. "I would say overall that for the marquee games, for the games against the Heat, the Lakers, the Bulls, the holiday games, those seem to be selling a little better than in past years," said Renny Harrison, owner of Carmel-based FanFare tickets. "With that being said, it's still too early to say what overall demand is going to be like." … Harrison said he is impressed that a game against San Antonio on Nov. 23, a Friday, appears to be selling well. But he isn't sure how much to read into that.
- Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: It didn't take long for Martell Webster to show his understanding of the Wizards' team dynamics. A late summer free agency signing, Webster was asked on the second day of training camp who was tops on his new squad at so-called verbal intimidation. It wasn't exactly a trick question, but his answer was the correct one. "We're trying to train some guys," Webster said. "But [assistant coach] Sam Cassell is still the best talker." Webster also stepped up right away when short-handed Washington needed a boost in its preseason opener at Charlotte on Sunday. Scoring 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter -- tying rookie Bradley Beal for the team high -- Webster helped cut a double-digit lead to six before an eventual 100-88 defeat.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: It was not until Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage that Jermaine O'Neal's rejuvenated feelings about his health and play surfaced. O'Neal's nine points, six rebounds, three steals and one block matched center Marcin Gortat's 11 points, four rebounds, two steals, one block in less time. "You open the doors, smell the popcorn and the switches are engaged," said O'Neal, who will turn 34 on Saturday. "I was a little bit smarter than the day before and a little bit more comfortable. Everything is a lot different. Boston was a slow grind, wear you down over four quarters. This system is faster, conditioned, run-you-out-of-the-gym practices. But I'll be ready Wednesday." The Suns open the preseason Wednesday at Sacramento. O'Neal said he is having to adjust to how much teaching and running there has been in Suns practices. Long stereotyped for rolling the ball out, the staff might be getting characterized for practicing like Miami, a place O'Neal once played, for the first time.