Wednesday, July 10, 2013
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday: The Knicks had a chance to draft Metta World Peace 14 years ago when he went by the name of Ron Artest, but passed. They probably won't do that again if World Peace becomes available now. There is speculation that the Lakers could waive World Peace through the amnesty provision as early as Wednesday. If they do, league sources said the Knicks would be interested in signing the enigmatic forward. A source with ties to World Peace said the Knicks are at the top of the list of teams he'd like to play for. "If he does get amnestied, Metta would love to play for the Knicks,'' the source said. "I know he would love to be with the Knicks and retire a Knick.'' World Peace, 33, is from Queensbridge, N.Y., and played at St. John's, so coming to the Knicks would be a homecoming. The Clippers also could be an option.
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks met Tuesday with unrestricted free agent Andrew Bynum, according to a person familiar with the situation, as the team continued its search for a center. Bynum reportedly received a two-year, $24 million offer from the Cavaliers after he met with the team Monday. The injury-plagued 7-footer is scheduled to visit the Mavericks on Wednesday. …. The list of free agent centers available is dwindling. Zaza Pachulia, who played the past eight seasons with the Hawks, agreed to a deal with the Bucks. After Timberwolves restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic, the list of unrestricted possibilities include Johan Petro, Samuel Dalmebert, Brandan Wright, B.J. Mullens, Cole Aldrich and Greg Stiemsma. Petro saw limited action for the Hawks last season. He started four of the six playoff games against the Pacers after Pachulia was lost for the season with a partially torn Achilles tendon.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: The Cavaliers were pushing Andrew Bynum for a quick response to their two-year offer, but they might have to wait on him longer than expected. After visiting the Cavaliers’ facility Monday, Bynum visited with the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday and will meet with the Dallas Mavericks today, his agent, David Lee, told the Akron Beacon Journal. While reports surfaced early Tuesday morning that Bynum could make a decision by the end of the day, Lee said there is no timetable and was vague when asked if it will be made this week. “It might be, but it’s hard to say,” Lee said. He wouldn’t get into specifics of the visits in Cleveland or Atlanta and wouldn’t disclose what the Hawks offered. “It’s ongoing discussions and I’d prefer they stay private among the parties,” he said. Ideally, the Cavaliers would’ve liked a decision by today, when the moratorium period ends and free agents are allowed to sign with their new teams. The Cavs are expected to finalize contracts with free agents Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark today, and adding Bynum to the list would make it a blockbuster day. That, however, seems unlikely now.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The NBA gets back to business Wednesday, with all those handshake agreements struck over the last 10 days available to be signed as the league’s moratorium is lifted and the new salary cap is set. So are the Mavericks ready for more heartbreak? They are finalists once again for the best free agents left on the board. Favorites for Andrew Bynum or Monta Ellis? Nope. The Mavericks merely are in the conversation, and it’s entirely possible they could come up empty again. … That brings up the distinct possibility that the Mavericks’ search for a viable center might move from a free-agent signing to a trade. A source said that is becoming a realistic option, particularly if Bynum elects to sign elsewhere. Cleveland was believed to have offered a two-year deal Tuesday, and the Cavaliers have more cap space to work with than the Mavericks do.
- Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: While the Nuggets have struggled to make the improvements necessary to remain among the Western Conference's elite after a NBA franchise-record 57 wins, other teams have made moves that push them closer to the top. So, although the Nuggets haven't definitively lost ground, other teams appear to be getting better. And that doesn't bode well for Denver, which has a new general manager and a new coach. The Nuggets, who will make official Wednesday the acquisitions of big man J.J. Hickson (free-agent signing) and guard Randy Foye (sign-and-trade) now that the league moratorium on signings has ended, finished third in the Western Conference last season. As things stand, it's difficult to make a case for the Nuggets being better than seventh in the West. That has less to do with the Nuggets and what they've done, or not done, than it does the six teams ahead of them: Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Houston, L.A. Clippers, Golden State and Memphis. None of the six got worse, and Houston and Golden State upgraded.
- Monte Poole of The Oakland Tribune: Local fans are going to trip over their tongues to express their love for him. Iguodala will have to go wrong 4.8 million ways before October to deny himself a standing ovation on opening night at Oracle Arena. The bar for free agents who are paid big money to wear a Warriors jersey is woefully low, set by Derek Fisher ($37 million over six years in 2004) and Corey Maggette ($50 mil, five years in 2008). Iguodala immediately becomes the most heralded free agent to actually choose the GSWs. It's not that the Warriors haven't signed free agents who became effective. They've had plenty of guys -- Terry Teagle, Rod Higgins, Mario Elie, Earl Boykins, Anthony Morrow, Nate Robinson to name six -- become fan favorites. But each was coming from the CBA or the D-League or off the street. Iguodala is coming from another playoff team, a decorated star joining a competitive Warriors team on a feverish quest to improve. He joins a franchise trying to shed old skin, one that for the past quarter century has responded to every hint of growth by cannibalizing itself. Iggy represents the kind of move the 49ers routinely attempted and often completed under the Eddie DeBartolo ownership before the NFL adopting a salary cap.
- Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: For Jazz fans worried about what in the name of bad basketball Dennis Lindsey is doing, here’s a bit of advice: Don’t. There’s no guarantee the road the Jazz are now traveling will lead them to real contention, but one thing is certain. The old path didn’t. And another, the old path wouldn’t. Maintaining that former course — scratching and clawing to stay afloat, trading for or signing mid-tier veterans and nudging them toward conscientious effort and sound teamwork — would be a waste of time, at least if the Jazz ever want to climb to the top. Finding themselves somewhere on the sliding scale of good, which the club had pretty much mastered since Karl Malone and John Stockton left the building, but never sniffing great is a mistake of seasons gone by. Now the Jazz are stripping the thing down to grow it back to where everybody around here wants it to be. The notion of safety no longer is in play. It’s time, they figure, to make some smart choices and take some smart chances.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: But while the 7-footer’s actions — the smooth shots, the court awareness — certainly are enough to warrant praise, it is important to add that they must be taken in context. Or, as Olynyk’s neighbors might say, “How about a little perspective, eh?” It is impossible to avoid being impressed with the kid’s game. He has a calm presence on the floor, and he’s shown a willingness to mix it up in traffic, even if his body isn’t yet entirely suited for such close-quarter combat. But this merely is a summer league, a fact that, to Olynyk’s great credit, he understands. What the 13th overall draft pick is showing on the Orlando Magic practice floor is that he has the skills to be a successful NBA player. But said talents won’t get an honest test until he gets hit in the face — literally and figuratively — by the league and its players. From what we’ve seen, Olynyk can be a player who sets up teammates with his passing and hustle, then makes opponents pay when they drift toward those he has just fed. He’ll be in the right places and will hit open shots, and some that are not so open as well.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: For point guard Kemba Walker, flying to Charlotte this week was no big deal: A chance to get some summertime run on the basketball court and an opportunity to spend time with the coaching staff and rookie Cody Zeller. To new Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, it was huge. “It shows a commitment, a seriousness about getting better,’’ Clifford said after morning practice Tuesday. “He’s going to practice twice today, completely on his own. From both a basketball and leadership standpoint, it speaks volumes. It will speed up the process for everybody.” Walker, the Bobcats’ leading scorer last season, volunteered to work out with the summer-league team this week. As team president of basketball operations Rod Higgins sometimes says, Walker has been handed the keys to the car. This is his way of living up to that faith.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: The Timberwolves are set to publicly introduce newly signed Kevin Martin on Wednesday morning. His arrival finally gives the team a legitimately sized (6-7) shooting guard and reunites Martin with Wolves coach Rick Adelman for the third time in their NBA careers. David Thorpe — Martin’s personal coach, ESPN.com analyst and executive director Florida’s Pro Training Center — recently discussed with Jerry Zgoda the player he has trained since Martin was 19. Q Other than nearly 28 million other reasons, why is this marriage between Kevin and the Wolves now the right fit? A He just felt so good about being part of a team that’s ready to make a resurgence, in a system he knew, with a coach he trusted 100 percent. He has never played with a guy like Kevin Love and for all the points he’s scored, he has never played with a point guard — like Ricky Rubio — who was looking to get him the ball more than he looked to score himself.
- Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: As the Raptors summer league team assembles here in the desert for the next two weeks, the big question is what direction new Raptors general manager and president Masai Ujiri will take with this year’s roster. That direction should begin to become clearer over the next week as the league moratorium ends today and the backload of signings and trades over the past few weeks become official. Ujiri hasn’t tipped his hand yet as to where he wants to take this roster this year and whatever transpires or doesn’t transpire in Vegas is expected to have much of an impact on that decision. While at least four Raptors for next year’s roster will play here in Vegas including Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy and the recently signed point guard Julyan Stone, it’s going to be the call on whether Ujiri can turn some of his surplus wings into something else that will likely set the tone for the season.