Thursday, June 13, 2013
First Cup: Thursday
By Nick Borges
- Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post: Son of a gun. They really did it. The Nets are really going to introduce Jason Kidd this afternoon at 2 p.m. at Barclays Center. They really are going to reach back to the most glorious moments of their NBA history, to the greatest Net who ever dribbled a brown NBA ball in their uniform, and they are going to entrust him with their future. … Can he do it? That answer will be easier to determine than you think, because so much of Kidd’s success, immediate and long-term, will revolve around one thing: the relationship with Deron Williams that officially, today, takes a turn for the serious, a turn for the somewhat surreal, and a turn, one way or another, for both men’s legacies. … But Kidd was Kidd almost every night in those sublime years, bringing a level of consistent excellence that Williams hasn’t yet displayed with the Nets. Kidd has to bring that out of him. Has to summon Williams’ Inner Kidd. If he can, there’s no telling how intriguing this partnership can become, and how successful it can be. Put it this way: The team Kidd greeted as a point guard in 2001 wasn’t anywhere close to as talented as the one he meets as a coach, and all that team did was win back-to-back conference titles.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: Patrick Ewing’s son took to Twitter to express anger Jason Kidd got a head-coaching job so quickly, while his father was just named this week to another assistant’s gig — in Charlotte. Kidd was named Nets head coach Wednesday night. Ewing has been an assistant for nine seasons since retiring and was named “associate coach’’ to Steve Clifford on Tuesday. Ewing was not interviewed for the Nets position. “For real though I’m mad J Kidd got a head coaching job [days] after retiring n my pops been coaching 10 years n barely gets a look,’’ Patrick Ewing Jr. tweeted. “That being said I hope j Kidd does great I’m glad the Nets brought him back. I love the Knicks but the best offer they had [for my father] was NBDL HC?,’’
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: It’s time for Dwyane Wade’s free pass to end. While members of the sports media have been scampering around the San Antonio area the last 48 hours in yet another open season on LeBron James, Miami Heat teammate Wade has been sitting at the podium, flashing his smile, calling reporters by their first names — and remaining a non-factor on the court. The former Marquette guard is showing little urgency and even less accountability. ‘‘In the books, the Miami Heat lost the ballgame,’’ Wade said Wednesday, a day after the defending champions were blown out 113-77 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio. ‘‘We win together, we lose together as a team. So everyone has an opinion, and everybody uses their opinion.’’ Funny, because James had an opinion, and it wasn’t clichés like ‘‘win together, lose together.’’ No, it was a star doing what a star should do — fall on the sword. … There is something wrong. The Spurs have a great team, and the Heat has one great player. It certainly isn’t Wade and hasn’t been since “The Big Three’’ came together. Free passes can have an expiration date.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: While the situation regarding Doc Rivers’ future with the Celtics has, on the surface, appeared to remain consistent in its uncertainty, there have been changes in his outlook regarding options he would consider. Whereas Rivers had said he would coach only the Celtics next season, choosing between another year on the bench or a sabbatical, sources said he is now open to other jobs in the NBA, providing it’s a very good situation and that the team and the Celts can agree on fair compensation. In any case, those close to the matter are saying Rivers should be stating his intentions within the next several days. He had reportedly planned to take longer to decide, but an outbreak of media reports has pressed him into acting sooner. Multiple sources insist the odds are still “overwhelmingly” in favor of Rivers continuing on his current contract, which still has three years and $21 million left. “But even when he signed the five-year deal, I don’t think anyone there believed he was going to stay for the whole thing,” said one source. “So who knows?” Another source insists Rivers is angry over reports he is at odds with Danny Ainge about the direction of the Celtics as they try to rebuild on the fly.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: The Magic need to keep an eye on a game-changer who might be available at any time — or by the time they have big money to spend in a few years. He's a champion, a defensive whiz, a motivator, a leader to the stars. He knows the ins and outs of the point-guard position. And most important, Glen Rivers could one day be thekey free agent in Orlando's rebuild — as their coach. Again. Why are we even mentioning a Rivers' reunion and causing Jacque Vaughn offseason heartburn? Let's answer the question with another question: What's up, Doc? That's what Boston Nation wants to know, along with Tim Tebow's favorite color. Rivers has yet to publicly confirm that he's coming back to coach the team despite having three years and $21 million left on his contract. ESPN quoted someone close to Rivers on Wednesday as saying Rivers feels "it may be time for a change." Asked Sunday by the Boston Globe about his plans, Rivers said, "I'd rather not say." Hmmmm. … Doc was deeply hurt when Orlando fired him in 2003, although the storied Celtics gladly brought him aboard. Such speculation isn't fair to Vaughn. The business isn't about being fair. By design, Vaughn likely will have another 60-loss season on his résumé. How many coaches survive that despite the situation? It's as if Vaughn is cheerfully playing the part of a foreman during this construction mess. … If the club is serious about winning, wouldn't he be the perfect coach at the perfect time this time? Déjà' Doc?
- Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: If, like me, you want a high-profile coach who can make players take notice, go spend whatever it takes to hire somebody with the name recognition of Boston's Doc Rivers. On the other hand, if you want a no-nonsense coach who instills respect and fear in players so they compete relentlessly, then Lionel Hollins is your man. He fits the profile of what Kroenke likes in a coach. Or, if you don't give a hoot about making headlines, and want to maintain continuity on a team that finished third in the Western Conference standings? Then Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt would be a solid choice. … For those who cannot make sense of the Karl firing, it came down to money. Karl sought a multimillion-dollar extension, despite having a year remaining on his contract. The Kroenke message to the coach was calm and direct: Why did you sign the agreement if you didn't intend to honor the final season on it? Kroenke does not subscribe to the lame-duck theory, believing it's only as big a deal as a coach makes it. "Look at Lionel Hollins," Kroenke said. "He didn't make an issue out of being in the final year of his contract in Memphis." The Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference finals, despite a midseason trade of forward Rudy Gay that didn't please Hollins. Hollins is tough-minded, which makes him of the same mind as Kroenke.
- Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant is on a quest for world domination. What else are we to think after the news that he plans to partner with music mogul Jay-Z and his newly formed Roc Nation Sports? Durant recently parted ways with agent Rob Pelinka, who he'd only been with a little over a year. While it's not clear whether Durant wants to be represented by Roc Nation Sports — the Thunder superstar is under contract through 2015-16, so there's no immediate need for an agent — he absolutely wants to tap into the marketing opportunities that Jay-Z and Co. could provide him. This from a guy who is already a pitchman for Nike, Gatorade, Sprint and Degree. Durant is on so many commercials these days that had the Thunder made the NBA Finals, people might actually be getting sick of him. What more does he want? We're about to find out. “There's a sense of what he could do (endorsement-wise), as long as his game stays strong, is kind of on autopilot,” ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell said. “Companies will come to him, and they know who he is. I don't feel like he has anything to lose. The question is, how much does he have to gain?” Durant is already something of an unorthodox figure in the marketing world. Even though his game is dynamic, his personality is not.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: Don’t be surprised if in about 9 months there is a baby boom in the 76ers organization, because it appears they are in a blackout. … Names continued to get thrown around for head coaching positions throughout the league, most notably Brian Shaw and Byron Scott and recently retired Jason Kidd. But none of the "hot" names are being attached to the Sixers' opening. Does new president and general manager Sam Hinkie have a plan in place that he is secure with or is he still in the search process? Will he go through the draft, which takes place on June 27, without a coach to help call the shots? Will the ensuing Summer League in Orlando, just a few weeks after the draft, not include a head coach?
- Phil Collin of the Los Angeles Daily News: Steve Nash said Wednesday he is still undergoing rehabilitation for the injuries that sidelined him late in the NBA season but plans on playing in his two soccer charity games this summer and plans to be "100 percent" for next season with the Lakers. "I'm fighting every day to get back to 100 percent and I think I'll be able to play in both events," Nash said. "Most important, by the time season comes around I'll be 100 percent and be in a great position to have a great year. I'm still rehabbing now, but I should be good to go and plan on playing in both." The 39-year-old Nash, limited by hamstring and back issues with the Lakers, was on a conference call to promote his Steve Nash Showdown, a pair of 8-a-side soccer charity games to be played June 26 in New York and July 14 in downtown Los Angeles. The games feature NBA players combined with international soccer stars, though it has yet to be determined which players will participate in each event. This will be the sixth time Nash's game will be played in New York and the first time in Los Angeles. The L.A. event will be played at Red Shield Community Center, a few blocks west of Staples Center.
- Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press: Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic did not meet in Europe as planned last week, Saunders said Wednesday. "It was just one of those things that didn't work out," Saunders said. "We thought he was going to come in the week prior to July, but he's pretty much staying out there doing some training, getting ready for the national team." Saunders said he did meet with Pekovic's agent during the trip. Pekovic and Saunders aren't expected to talk in person before the free agency period begins July 1, according to Saunders. Pekovic started in all 62 games in which he appeared, and averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game last season. Saunders said previously that he expects Pekovic back next season. "He knows where we're at," he said. "Now it's just a matter of when the time comes, we'll sit down and deal with that and go through mostly his agent."
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Several teams are taking a buyer's beware approach to Kentucky forward/center Nerlens Noel, according to a league source. The source did not indicate how many teams, but did say it's more than one. It's uncertain if the Cavaliers are among that group. The Cavs own the No. 1 pick in the June 27 NBA draft. It's been speculated since the draft lottery the Cavs would give strong consideration to drafting Noel. … Now, there are rumors of a pre-existing condition, which are sending tremors throughout the league. According to a story in the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, Noel fractured his growth plate in his left knee as a sophomore in high school. Perhaps, the risk is too great to draft a player who relies heavily on his athleticism and jumping ability. It has definitely caused trepidation with some teams. It's not known whether it's enough to dissuade the Cavs from taking him No. 1. … Noel has yet to hire an agent. A couple teams are getting frustrated with the lack of updates on Noel's condition.
- Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: Less than a year into his job as general manager of the Utah Jazz, Dennis Lindsey continues to put his stamp on the franchise. The Jazz opened a three-day mini-camp for 24 free agents on Wednesday at their practice facility — an idea Lindsey brought with him after years as a vice president and assistant GM in San Antonio. Players from the NBA Development League and teams overseas are participating in the two-a-day sessions. They will be evaluated by the Jazz coaching and personnel staffs for possible spots on Utah’s summer league and training camp rosters. According to chief scout David Fredman, there is not much difference in talent between some players currently in the NBA and those participating in this camp. "I wouldn’t be surprised to see a handful of [these] guys … on an NBA roster on opening night next year," Fredman said. "Now whose roster, I don’t know. But these guys have enough talent that, in the right place and at right time, they could easily be" in the NBA.