Wednesday, October 24, 2012
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Roderick Boone of Newsday: Just in case Deron Williams needs a refresher to remind him of the intensified rivalry the Nets and Knicks are immersed in, New Yorkers are always happy to provide one. Particularly those Brooklynites. Lose to the Knicks in the season opener? Fuhgeddaboudit, they say. "Yeah, people stop me a lot on the streets," Williams said after practice at the PNY Center Tuesday, "especially in Brooklyn, coming out of the arena, around the arena, telling us how we need to beat the Knicks. We definitely hear it. We definitely know it's there." The Nets' first glimpse at their crosstown mates comes Wednesday night in neutral territory, when they host the Knicks at Nassau Coliseum in their preseason finale. It's their last tuneup before the Nov. 1 opener against the Knicks at Barclays Center.
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Raja Bell's agent disputed an Internet report that claimed he said the organization is trying to trade the shooting guard rather than working out a buyout. "Absolutely not," agent Herb Rudoy told the Deseret News when asked about Tuesday's RealGM.com article, which reported that he'd talked about the Jazz moving on to considering trade scenarios instead of finding a financial settlement. "I was asked if we are discussing a buyout and I said 'no.' The rest is pure speculation," Rudoy said. "There is no trade talk that I know about." When asked if a trade is in the works or if the team is no longer pursuing a buyout with Bell, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey replied with a "no comment."
- John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer: When the mechanical curtain retracts some 30 feet above the 76ers practice court at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Wednesday, reporters, cameramen, and other interested parties likely will hustle to the window for a glimpse of what Sixers fans have been dying to see: center Andrew Bynum finally practicing with his teammates. The Sixers have targeted Wednesday as the day for Bynum to hit the floor and finally join the team for a series of practices that they hope will lead to his being available for the season opener next Wednesday against ex-Sixer Andre Iguoudala and his Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center. Bynum was scheduled for one more injection in his right knee on Monday. After that, the Sixers wanted to give him 48 hours' rest and then give it a go on Wednesday. … The plan for Bynum's return to the court is for three days of practice beginning Wednesday. Collins expects to give the Sixers a break Saturday and then have them practice the next three days before the team opens the season against the Nuggets.
- David Barron of the Houston Chronicle: Rockets rookie Royce White says he enjoys the open road, and he’ll get a chance to see some of it this week as he travels by recreational vehicle to the team’s exhibition games in New Orleans and Orlando. White, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder that can manifest itself in discomfort during airplane travel, said Tuesday he has an RV lined up for his trip to the two cities and that the Rockets have agreed to pick up his travel costs for the year. “Since it’s a medical thing and it’s also kind of a team thing, the Rockets were stellar in saying we’ll pick (the costs) up,” he said. “(They said) we want to support you in any way. None of the other players pay to travel, so we want to help you be able to get to games how you need to as well. “It’s incredible. Words can’t explain how much gratitude I have toward the organization for that.”
- Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: This seems obvious, doesn't it? Of course Chris Wallace should keep his job. But Wallace is in New York this week representing the Grizzlies at meetings which could start to bring his time in Memphis to a close. Barring an unforeseen roadblock, the NBA will approve Robert Pera's purchase of the team. New owners often want new people, especially general managers. This is understandable, by the way. Pera is a 34-year-old basketball nut. What's the fun of owning a team if you don't get to call the shots? Or, at least, get to call the shots along with the people who have been helping you acquire the franchise? One of the key figures on Pera's team is Jason Levien, a former college player who has since worked as an agent and a team executive. Think Pera and Levien don't have their own ideas on what to do with Rudy Gay? So these are perilous times for Wallace and the rest of the Grizzlies basketball operation. In the end, Pera has to move ahead with a group he trusts. But he'd be foolish not to give Wallace a chance to be part of that group.
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: It has been three days and Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert is still an Internet sensation. Hibbert’s rendition of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” with members of his Area.55 fan club at Circle Centre mall Sunday had more than 70,000 YouTube clicks by Tuesday night. Hibbert said the video has been sent to TV hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres so it can get more publicity. “I was hoping it would blow up,” Hibbert said before Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. “I wanted to spread the word of Area 55 across the Internet.”
- Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: Asked if his contract situation was weighing on his mind, Brandon Jennings said, “No, because at the end of the day, everything will work out. All I can do is go between the lines and play basketball every day.’’ Jennings went so far as to say that he couldn’t remember the last time he and his agent, Bill Duffy, had talked specifically about a contract extension. … In an informal survey of four NBA officials — all of whom weren’t affiliated with the Bucks — none would come close to offering Jennings “max’’ money. The most money any of the four officials said they would give Jennings is $11 million per season. The lowest was $9 million per year. The scuttlebutt around the NBA is that Denver is willing to give their young point guard Ty Lawson a four-year, $45 million deal. Or, about $11.2 million per year. … Where Jennings will eventually fit into that salary strata remains to be seen. For now, at least, he claims not to care. “At this point, I’m just playing basketball,’’ Jennings said
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Andre Drummond makes the game look easy when swatting shots with his left hand and catching passes for alley-oop dunks. But the Pistons rookie center, two months removed from his 19th birthday, showed some wisdom Tuesday when asked if he's surprised with his success six games into his first exhibition season. "I wouldn't call it success," Drummond said. "I would just call it a new stepping-stone for my growth as a player. The success that I've had so far is just the ground floor for me right now. I need to build and get better each and every day. I'm not really satisfied at all." Good answer, rookie.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: Put aside for a moment that Jason Terry shot 51 percent from the floor and was a torrid 69.2 percent (18-of-26) on 3-pointers in the preseason. Those numbers are hard to ignore, but please try, just for a while. Most telling was how good Terry was when the shot clock was running down and other options had been exhausted. Last week in Brooklyn, he twice bailed the Celtics out of bad possessions by calmly dropping in treys. It did not go unnoticed. “I remember one he hit out by the top of the key,” point guard Rajon Rondo said. “I even turned and said, ‘Wow, that was a big shot by J.’ I mean, that’s what we need, guys who can make plays. He can create his own shot, and that’s big. That speaks volumes for our team.” It speaks a book or two about Terry, as well.
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: It's only an exhibition game, right? Or is it? Matt Barnes understands why fans are anticipating more than just your typical preseason game when the Clippers and Lakers play Wednesday night at Staples Center, in a Clippers designated home game. "Knowing what we put together and knowing what kind of team they put together, it's the kind of showdown they are going to see this year," Barnes, a Clippers reserve forward and former Laker, said Tuesday. "Tomorrow is just a small part of it." In Blake Griffin's view, the Clippers can't worry about controlling fans' expectations. His team is 3-3 in the preseason and is still trying to make strides. The Lakers are 0-6 and still are trying to incorporate center Dwight Howard into the starting lineup along with Steve Nash. Kobe Bryant (strained right foot) is not expected to play Wednesday; neither is Howard, who played in his first Lakers exhibition game Sunday but was limited in practice Tuesday. "We know, they know what preseason games are about," Griffin said. "A lot of the best teams' preseason records, they're not great. It's more about correcting the things you need to work on."
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: There was an interesting comment from Dirk Nowitzki during his interview about the first surgery of his basketball career. He said he felt like having the surgery done last Friday was good timing, but he got the impression others didn’t see it that way. “I think it was the right moment to do it,’’ Nowitzki said. “Obviously, I took some heat for the timing of it, but if I would have fought through it this whole season – swelling off and on, having it drained here and there – I think it’s a bad situation for all involved.” It’s unclear who Nowitzki was referencing when he said he took some heat. But a 14-year veteran who has been a perennial all-star and is a sure-fire hall of famer probably deserves a little latitude on things like this.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Glen Davis hungered to be a leader from the moment the Orlando Magic acquired him last December. He spoke often, loudly and boldly. But he discovered words alone weren't enough to earn teammates' respect. Now, almost a year after he joined the Magic, he thinks he's learned to "walk the walk." Davis has emerged as the team's steadiest player this preseason, and his coach and teammates say they're excited about his contributions off the court, too. "It's like a whole different world, a whole different person," Davis said Tuesday. "When you've got the organization, as far as the GM, motivating and saying good things as far as 'keep it up,' and you've got so many people behind you, that confidence grows. And you start really believing.
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: The Nuggets' season tips off on Halloween. So who will be taking the tipoff? "If I had to start off by performance in training camp, I'd say Kosta (Koufos) would get the start," coach George Karl said Tuesday after the Nuggets' practice. "But early in the season, winning games, staying consistent, (taking) responsibility, (being) a pro, all those things will come into who plays that position. I still think it's somewhat of a three-headed center." … Karl likes JaVale McGee playing with reserve point guard Andre Miller. Though McGee hasn't been as steady as Koufos in camp, trying too hard to showcase his new offensive moves, Karl reiterated: "No matter what you do in training camp, the volume goes up higher when the games count. That's the NBA." Timofey Mozgov is still in the mix at center, the third noggin on the aforementioned center position. As for McGee, who signed a big contract this summer, Karl said: "I want JaVale to be a great defender, and I think JaVale can be a great defender before he can become a good offensive player. …”
- Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: The additions of starters like Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields to the roster, not to mention the arrival of Jonas Valanciunas, has put some of last year’s starters in back-up roles, which can only help. Between them Jose Calderon, Alan Anderson, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis averaged 24 starts last year. The arrivals of specialists like Lucas and Dominic McGuire and an athletic rookie like Terrence Ross only adds to the depth. While Casey is considering a rotation of between eight and 10 players, the makeup of that group will change depending on what type of look he feels gives his Raptors the best chance to win. “I’m not going to lock myself in a corner as far as a rotation,” Casey said. “I have said the whole training camp it’s going to be fluid. We will get down to an initial eight or nine guys but that last group is going to be fluid. If somebody is not going, we will slide someone else in there. Everyone on our roster has a chance to contribute.”
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: You get the sense Alexey Shved has a lot to say. It's just that, for now, language gets in the way. Shved has come from Russia to play basketball for the Timberwolves. He is a relative stranger in a strange land, struggling to master English, which has not dimmed his enthusiasm for his new home. … Shved, his teeth in braces, smiled. He smiles a lot, perhaps at least a little in frustration. During an interview, when he struggles to get a point across, he will stop and grin. By all accounts, his ability to communicate is growing by leaps and bounds, on and off the court. But still, at times, it's hard. Just ask teammate Andrei Kirilenko, a fellow Russian who experienced a similar transition when he left his home country to play for Utah in 2001. It's as if he's become Shved's personal Wikipedia. "He's got so many questions," Kirilenko said. "Some of them even I don't have answer. I'm like, 'Come on, Alexey, it will be OK.'" So, for at least a while, Shved will have to let his play do the talking, although the transition on the court also comes with challenges. Wolves coach Rick Adelman initially wanted Shved to split time between off guard and point guard -- where Shved played for Russia in the Olympics. But, ultimately, Adelman decided to let Shved concentrate on the off-guard position first.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Hasheem Thabeet. Let me say this. If he keeps developing at the rate that he has since coming to OKC, the Thunder might have something down the line. Keep in mind that nobody’s asking him to be a stud. All he needs to do is block a few shots, alter a few more, rebound a little bit and finish around the rim. He did exactly that tonight, scoring six points with a team-high 10 rebounds and a block.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: I saw something pretty neat in the Charlotte Bobcats’ post-game locker room Tuesday: Gerald Henderson’s college coach, not just dropping by to be sociable, but offering some quick guidance. Henderson shot 4-of-15 against the Miami Heat and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski watched most of the game from the stands at Raleigh’s PNC Arena. Obviously that’s far below how Henderson wants to perform offensively. Krzyzewski stopped by after Henderson had showered. After some pleasantries, Krzyzewski and Henderson walked over to a grease board in the corner of the locker room with veteran shooting guard Ben Gordon. The three got their heads together and Krzyzewski discretely diagramed a few things he saw. I wasn’t looking to eavesdrop, but I was interviewing point guard Ramon Sessions nearby. I couldn’t help but notice how engaged Krzyzewski still was in helping Henderson work through a problem. Hendo doesn’t wear a Duke uniform anymore, but that doesn’t mean Krzyzewski doesn’t still feel like his coach. Krzyzewski wasn’t butting in; he was offering an extra set of eyes. I’m sure North Carolina’s Roy Williams or N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried would do the same for one of his former players. I’m not nominating Krzyzewski for sainthood. I’m saying it’s cool that Krzyzewski is still vested in Henderson’s success, and Henderson is still vested in Krzyzewski’s direction.