Wednesday, October 10, 2012
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: The Heat’s preseason trip to China runs for a week, allowing the team to promote itself, its league, its game and also its city to the most populated country in the world. The Heat will play the Los Angeles Clippers twice, once in Beijing on Thursday and then again in Shanghai on Sunday. Excursions are planned for the team throughout the week, including a visit to the Great Wall on Tuesday. Elsewhere around the world, other NBA teams are playing in Italy, Germany, Turkey and Mexico. “These trips are part of the reason why the NBA has grown so much internationally,” said Nick Arison, the Heat’s CEO. “The league has been very forward-thinking.” Football is king in the United States, but basketball has outgrown all U.S. sports overseas. There is a professional basketball league in nearly every major country throughout the world, including China.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Though he has not had any setbacks or missed practice time, Jeremy Lin acknowledged on Tuesday that he is still working his way back from last season’s knee injury. Lin had always maintained that he was 100 percent healthy, though Rockets coach Kevin McHale had often spoke about Lin’s comeback. On Tuesday, Lin said he expected to be at full speed in time for the Oct. 31 opener, but was not there yet and does not expect to play extensively in the preseason opener. “My speed and my explosiveness and my agility (are not) there yet,” Lin said. “I’m still trying to recover from knee surgery and get to where I was pre-surgery. I probably won’t get to play too much. Hopefully, as the preseason goes on I’ll get to play more and more to build that endurance.”
- Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: Kobe Bryant created a stir when he told a reporter from CBSsports.com he might only play until his current contract runs out after next season, calling it a career after 18 years in the NBA. He seemed surprised by questions about his future Tuesday. He couldn't say how he might feel in two years, and really who could at this point? But he did say his decision would be final. There would be no turning back, no comebacks in order to play one more season in the league as a fading superstar. "I'm done, I'm done, that's it," he said. … After wave after wave of reporters descended on him Tuesday, he finally gave up. As he departed, he said, "You guys asked me a ton of questions about what's going to happen three years from now. I don't know what's going to happen in two hours." "Lunch?" somebody asked. "Maybe, maybe not," Bryant answered, smiling.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t want to sound any alarms, but he also wants to be realistic. For the second training camp in a row, his right knee is sore and swollen. Last season, it took nearly two months to get right. Now, it’s back and Nowitzki would not duck the issue about what will happen if this situation lingers. “We’ll see how it responds,” he said. “But the longer we wait, obviously the worse it is. If we have to do something, it’d be better to do it quick.” … Nowitzki wanted to play Tuesday in the Mavericks’ 99-85 loss to FC Barcelona Regal at Palau St. Jordi. But the swelling would not dissipate. … Clearly, Nowitzki is concerned. “Scared is a strong word,” he said. “Obviously, it’s unfortunate. Last year, we dealt with it. Hopefully, it’ll respond here in the next week or so, and I’ll play throughout the whole season.
- John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked about Magic Johnson’s prediction after Tuesday’s practice. “I don’t look at the word ‘disappointment’ as part of it,” Brooks said. “We’re no different that any other team in this league. We work hard to put ourselves in a position to win a championship and we feel like we’ve done that throughout the years and last year we came close. We definitely are going to give every effort and energy toward winning the championship, but we don’t talk about it. We don’t put it on the chalkboard or in halftime speeches. We just talk about doing what we have to do to get better and win games, and I think we’ve done a good job as an organization of putting ourselves in a position of competing for championships.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: Courtney Lee’s NBA journey has covered three teams in four years, and he is about to start his fifth season on team No. 4. The guard has developed an interesting perspective along the way on attitudes and talent. He has to admit the Celtics are a little different from his other stops in Orlando, New Jersey and Houston. “The vibe here is totally different,” said Lee, who will start at least until Avery Bradley returns in December. “It’s one of the best 1-through-15 teams I’ve been on where everybody is being cool with each other and on the same page. The coaching staff is committed to winning a championship. That’s not a knock on any other team,” he said. “I’m sure the goal was the same everywhere else. But here you can feel it and see it, instead of just hearing about it.”
- Adrian Dater of The Denver Post: After renowned Vail hip specialist Dr. Marc J. Philippon performed surgery on Wilson Chandler last spring, after a tear of the left labral joint in a game in April, the 25-year-old forward is feeling good and hopeful of being in the Nuggets' lineup for the Oct. 31 season opener at Philadelphia. "That's the goal. I'm working toward that. It's been a slow process with the hip, kind of a delicate situation," Chandler said. "I think once I get back into the rotation, I'll be pretty good." On a lesser team, Chandler might have had an easy time getting back into the starting lineup. But with the Nuggets having arguably as much overall depth as any NBA team, Chandler might have to work his way up from the bottom of what is expected to be a nine- or 10-man rotation.
- Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: If Will Conroy fails to make the Wolves' roster, he will have a legacy with the club as the driving force behind Brandon Roy's comeback. Roy retired in December 2011 because of a degenerative condition in his knees. "He was one of the main influences for me to take it serious," Roy said of Conroy pushing his comeback attempt. "I was kind of playing around at first, but he was the one who told me, 'You're not done.' He was real big for my confidence." After Roy made his comeback official, Wolves assistant Bill Bayno conducted more specific workouts with Roy in Los Angeles during a four-day stretch in the summer. Conroy, however, got the comeback rolling with the daily workouts at the Rainier Community Center in Seattle.
- Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Bulls fans should remember that the “Bench Mob” wasn’t built in a day. During the preseason opener Tuesday night against Memphis, the Bulls’ starters played well, while the revamped reserves were a borderline disaster. With subs on the floor, the Bulls hit a remarkably putrid 1 of 21 shots from the field in the fourth quarter but managed to hold off Memphis 92-88 at the United Center. “I know we were speeding a lot, 100 miles per hour at times, but you’re just excited to be out there, back on the court with new teammates,” Taj Gibson said. “Things are going to happen.” The Bulls spent most of the fourth quarter with Gibson anchoring the second unit, along with Nazr Mohammed, Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler.
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: There is some tough love going on with the Cavaliers and Dion Waiters right now. First, Coach Byron Scott decided not to start the 2012 No. 4 overall pick in the first two preseason games. Then, with 10 minutes, 54 seconds left in the Cavs' 97-80 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday at the Canton Civic Center, Scott benched Waiters for making an error on a play. Such is the life of the rookie from Syracuse, who has not gotten off to the type of start he had hoped.
- Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: Jan Vesely still plays like he's in Europe. As a native of the Czech Republic, it's not an easy habit to break. But in his second season with the Wizards, the 6-foot-11 forward no longer has the crutch of inexperience to lean on, even if he was deprived of a normal rookie year. After a normal offseason, Vesely needs to accelerate the process of adjusting his skills to what the NBA requires. … Vesely's bigger challenge is to reduce his propensity for foul trouble. The 22-year-old piled up 27 personals in four contests in Las Vegas, hitting the 10-foul limit in his first game. Against the Bobcats last weekend, he added another five, and Wittman believed three of them were preventable. … Vesely knows he needs to slow himself down, but his natural instincts were honed where the game is more physical.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: After a minor setback thanks to a strained calf that sidelined him for a week of training camp, Valanciunas is expected in the lineup when the Raptors face the Detroit Pistons in their second exhibition game. “We’re going to throw him out there,” coach Dwane Casey said after Valanciunas went through a full three-hour contact practice at the Air Canada Centre. “We’re going to see how his body feels (Wednesday) after going through (Tuesday) and then we’ll make the decision. Well see how he reacts but we’re anticipating looking at him (against the Pistons).”
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: The last time Harrison Barnes came off the bench, he was a freshman on his high school varsity team. In his first two games with the Warriors, he's been the sixth man. "It's just different," Barnes said. "That's the best way to describe it: different. It's the NBA, so you've got to learn your role." Barnes, a small forward, has no doubt made an impression through training camp and in the first two preseason games. He's shown some signs of the scoring prowess that made him a high school sensation and a star at North Carolina. He's been praised by coach Mark Jackson for his intensity on defense. He's earned his teammates' respect with his fearlessness and work effort. But while developing his game and learning the system, Barnes is having to dust off another one of his intangibles. Patience. Because this is all new territory for Barnes, the No. 7 overall pick in June's draft. "I'm just trying to learn my role on this team," Barnes said.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Last season, the Amway Center loudspeakers often played music that featured the word "baby" in it whenever Glen "Big Baby" Davis made a big play or scored a point. Davis loved it. On Tuesday, he revealed that he has a different tune in mind for those situations this season. Davis recently recorded a song called "Big Baby Gon' Turn It Up," and it's kind of catchy. It features his voice, with some significant enhancements provided by Auto-Tune. Davis was asked whether he's going to release an album. A smile crossed his face. "No," he said, still grinning. "I'm a one-hit wonder."
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: In his search to bring diversity to the Kings' offense, coach Keith Smart found his answer in game film taken nearly 70 years ago. And it wasn't from an NBA team. "I was looking at a video from 1943," Smart said. "The Harlem Globetrotters were playing over in Europe, and I got a chance to see – when you get beyond all the theatrics the Globetrotters did – they were technically in a situation where they were in a low-post triangle action." Smart won't schedule the Washington Generals or ask any of his players to dump confetti on an official, but that triangle action will be a part of what he adds to the Kings this season.