Monday, July 14, 2008
First Cup: Monday
- David J. Neal of The Miami Herald: "We like to see passion in our athletes, especially if it's angry passion. Passion shown joyfully too often gets called 'showboating,' 'unsportsmanlike' or 'unprofessional,' but angry passion almost always goes over well. Heat center Alonzo Mourning has been the face of angry passion in the NBA for 16 years. Mourning's scowls, roars and flexes gave the idea he would be having a great time out there if not for the continuous annoyance of those fools in the other uniforms having the audacity to try scoring on his hoop. But when he got on a roll Sunday discussing Zo's Summer Groove, a charity event that has mushroomed into a celebrity-studded, five-day, cross-cultural festival, Mourning could have been the voice of passion for any South Florida parent."
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "It's a long way from Milan to Caesars Palace, but that's nothing compared to dominating the summer league to becoming a top flight NBA player. Nate Robinson was the MVP of last year's Vegas Summer League, only to return to his role as a backup for a 23-win Knicks team during the real season. Danilo Gallinari's career will not be made or broken on how he performs here. This is merely a start - for the Knicks' rookie and a new regime."
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Sunday, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were winking and grinning before participating in the Zo's Summer Groove charity game at AmericanAirlines Arena. The punchline? The summer of 2010, when Wade, James and several other top-tier NBA players can become free agents, such as Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh. 'We're just going to joke about it for the next two years until that time comes,' Wade said. 'So, it's going to be an exciting year for the NBA, but it's two years away.' ... 'I've been playing with him for the last four years now, playing in the summertime, off and on,' James said of the time the two have shared on the U.S. national team. 'So I could see myself playing with him.' James, of course, has indicated the same of playing for the Nets, who have already cleared out the requisite salary-cap space for '10."
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Now Robert Traylor thinks he's ready to come back. He'd love to grab one of the Cavs' roster spots, but he's happy to have the opportunity just to show everybody he's ready to return. 'I'm blessed,' he said. 'Everything's going great. I've been healthy the last year-and-a-half or two years.' Of course, Traylor said he has changed since the last time he was with the Cavs. 'I'm a totally different person,' said Traylor, now married with a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. 'I've grown up a lot. When you've been playing basketball since you were 9 years old ... I don't want to say that basketball's not important to me. I couldn't say that. I've been playing since I was 9 years old. But now my family is 1A, and basketball is 1B.'"
- Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Carlos Boozer's not Karl Malone, especially not at the defensive end, but he is the team's low-post presence, bringing 20 points and 10 rebounds every night, and in the NBA that makes him a ridiculously valuable asset. The question is: How ridiculously valuable? Boozer can opt out of his deal at the end of next season, which he likely will do, making his services available to the most attractive -- read: highest -- bidder, whose bidding might blast into the $130 million range. That's a difficult plate of biscuits for the Jazz to chew, given that they already will be paying Williams max money, well worth it, and Andrei Kirilenko the same, well ... not worth it. Add Boozer's new market value to that mix, along with the Jazz's other projected salary obligations, then consider that their payroll already rests in the low $60 million range, with the luxury-tax threshold at $71 million, and it's easy to see why the whole equation doesn't compute."
- Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Randy Foye took Kevin Love aside often during three practices together Friday and Saturday for chats. He didn't do so to provide veteran advice to an NBA rookie. 'I picked his brain to see what his basketball knowledge is,' Foye said. 'You wouldn't know he's 19. He knows how to set screens. He can pass the ball. I was surprised how athletic he is. The way he outlets the ball -- half-court for a strike, just guns the ball coast-to-coast -- if you can get three or five of those every night, that makes the game easy. 'He's great; he listens to me. That's one thing I love about him.'"
- Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "These days, Acie Law has traded the limelight for a spotlight on his own personal challenge -- the Hawks' point guard's focus is to regain the form that made him the No. 11 pick in the 2007 draft. He intends to shed the memories of an uneven rookie season plagued by injuries and lost opportunity. That's why he's attacking the start of rookie/free agent minicamp today as the first step of his comeback tour. 'I had high expectations for my rookie season, and I didn't get to show off my game,' Law said. 'I feel like I have so much to prove. This is the first step. But I'm really looking forward to training camp and proving to my teammates, the new general manager [Rick Sund] and Coach that I can play.'"
- Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "Why would a native Mexican living in Oklahoma City uproot his wife and two young children to live in, of all places, New Jersey? 'I'm not going to lie. The Spurs and Hornets were in the mix,' Eduardo Najera said. 'But in the end, I felt a change would be good -- to go east, to play for a totally different kind of team.' So when he decided to sign with the Nets after meeting with team officials Thursday night, the 32-year-old forward weighed two factors (besides money) above all others: comfort level and where he believed he could be most useful. And that's what makes him a unique NBA player. By now, Najera's reputation is well-known. He is a plow horse with heart and skill -- not the most gifted athlete, not a box-score stuffer, but someone who makes teams better during his 20 to 22 minutes of floor time each night."
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "The 13 players who suited up for the Spurs in their playoff run last season averaged 32.46 years old. That made them, if not quite as ancient as dirt, the oldest team in the NBA. Depending, in part, on what Popovich and his assistants see from first-round draft pick George Hill, who is 22, and a group of equally young players who will put their skills on display in summer league games in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City over the next nine days, the Spurs figure to be significantly younger when the 2008-09 regular season begins. Simply plugging free agent signe
e Roger Mason Jr., 27, in the guard spot once occupied by Brent Barry, who is 36, instantly drops the average age to 31.76. It will drop more before next season's opener, perhaps dramatically, depending on which players make the roster."
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The NBA calls it '50-win ready' when the business side of a franchise is more accelerated than the basketball end. Oklahoma City's new team will get there by learning as much as it can about its new fan base while the fans are busy learning about Kevin Durant. It's all a part of a league trend in which NBA teams are using detailed research and analysis of their customers' buying habits in an attempt to increase revenue by providing better products. So while fans might initially ask questions like 'What size shoe does Durant wear?' the team might turn around and inquire about how much you typically spend when you go out to eat."