Tuesday, August 6, 2013
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: His September wedding in San Diego is the stuff of TMZ and People Magazine. His free agency next summer could eclipse the attention of when he previously entered the market in 2010. But, for now, LeBron James is asking for a little space. Please. At least that's the message from his Facebook and Twitter posts overnight. On his Facebook page, as Sunday turned to Monday. … Unlike during the Heat's playoff run to the franchise's second-consecutive NBAchampionship, when he self-imposed a social-media ban, also avoiding his cell phone and cable sports, James has again been active on his various accounts. But, apparently, enough was enough after a start to the summer that had him attracting massive crowds in visits to the Philippines and China.
- Perry A. Farell of the Detroit Free Press: As Rajon Rondo continues to rehab from a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in late January, trade speculation involving the All-Star point guard will continue to have a life — possibly up to the trade deadline next year. … A story out of Boston said Celtics president Dan Ainge hopes Rajon Rondo is ready by training camp. Surrounded by a young team and rookie coach, the fiery Rondo clearly would be the leader of a team that isn’t expected to make the playoffs. One factor in the Pistons’ favor is Rondo is on good terms with Josh Smith, the team’s free-agent acquisition. Another factor is he’d have two big men to get the ball to in Greg Monroe and Greg Drummond. Ainge likely would wait until Rondo plays, see how his relationship with Stevens develops and what offers teams would present before deciding on moving Rondo. A surplus of guards and expiring contracts could get Ainge’s attention.
- Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: The Charlotte Bobcats have had a disturbing tendency over the years to part ways with key players with not much compensation – either via trade or free agency. Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace – they were four of the most important players on the Bobcats’ lone playoff team ever (in 2010). None of them are here anymore. Gerald Henderson is here, however – the Bobcats held a press conference for him Monday after Henderson re-signed with the team. He’s guaranteed to be in Charlotte through the 2015 season, but his third contract year can be voided at his option. That’s not a perfect situation, but it beats the alternative. Henderson and Kemba Walker were the Bobcats’ two best players last season. They both will return, and the team has added several other key pieces – most notably first-round pick Cody Zeller and big man Al Jefferson, who was the most expensive free-agent acquisition in team history. Henderson spoke Monday of being “part of the problem” the last two seasons – meaning he signed his name to that combined 28-120 record (worst in the NBA the past two seasons) just like everyone else on those very forgettable squads. Now, the shooting guard said, he wants to be part of the solution.
- Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com: The Sixers and new GM Sam Hinkie have not forgotten to hire a head coach. … Atlanta’s Kenny Atkinson, San Antonio’s Brett Brown, Chicago’s Adrian Griffin, and Boston’s Jay Larranaga are scheduled to meet with Sixers’ ownership throughout the week in New York City. Portland assistant David Vanterpool, who interviewed for the position late last month, may be given a second interview as well. Michael Curry, who coached the Sixers’ summer league team in Orlando, is still considered a candidate. The Sixers have seemingly interviewed countless candidates, but this series of second interviews leads one to believe that the search may be coming to a close.
- J. Michael of CSN Washington: No one is expecting that transformation to happen overnight with John Wall and the Wizards, but for them to reach the next level –- the playoffs –- he has to make similar adjustments. He has the athleticism and capability at his position as a 6-4 point guard. Wall still plans to hook up with Gary Payton, a Hall of Fame point guard who was one of the best of his generation, in Seattle before returning to train with the Wizards on Aug. 20. Plus, he had ample time to watch the nuances of Tony Parker as he led the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA finals and the Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley, who helped his team advance to the Western Conference finals. “Footwork also, just like catching the ball and working on pivots and stuff,” Wall said about what he has done this off-season in addition to refining jump shot. “Floaters. Watched a lot of Tony Parker throughout the playoffs and I see how Mike Conley added to his game after I went to two of his playoff series." Wall also is going to lobby coach Randy Wittman to allow him to do something else. “Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to post up this year,” he said.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Coach Rick Carlisle calls it an honor to play on Christmas Day, but for the second consecutive season, the Mavericks will be one of the have-nots in that regard. They will get to enjoy Christmas Day with family and friends, but they will have a home game the following night against the San Antonio Spurs. Call it a belated lump of coal from Santa Claus. The NBA will release its 2013-14 schedule on Tuesday evening. A few highlights leaked out Monday. The Mavericks will open the season Oct. 30 at American Airlines Center against Atlanta. As for the Miami Heat, the two-time defending league champion will visit AAC on Feb. 18, which should be the Mavericks’ first game after the All-Star break in New Orleans. They also will have an eight-game home stand in March.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Alex Len arrived in College Park, Md., not knowing the language or culture of America, let alone an American. Essence Townsend changed all that, forming the Twin Towers of a different sort when the 6-foot-7 center from the women’s team and New Jersey met the 7-1 center from the men’s team and Ukraine. It began innocently enough at an ice cream social for basketball players to start the 2011-12 school year. Townsend, a junior then, was just being social when she introduced herself to Len, yelling as people often do so that a foreigner can understand English. A teammate told her, “That’s going to be your future man,” and she got mad. Len friended her on Facebook. They high-fived in hallways. They rebounded for each other. “One day, I guess he finally got the courage to ask me to come hang out,” she said. That was 18 months and a few thousand English words ago. Len went from not doing interviews for his first year in America and talking to Townsend with Google translator to confidently and thoughtfully having English conversations this year. That helped him follow coaching, including the moves she showed him. “If I could give a suggestion of how to learn the language quickly, find a girl,” Len said. “That’s the best way to learn it.”
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: St. Mary's point guard Matthew Dellavedova has been invited to Cavs' training camp, a source confirmed. He caught the eye of the Cavs at summer league. Dellavedova, a native of Australia, is in the running to be the Cavs' third point guard behind Kyrie Irving and Jarrett Jack. Dellavedova averaged 2.8 points and 3.0 assists in five summer-league games.
- Michael Baldwin of The Oklahoman: Bill Self said never say never. One of seven people inducted in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Kansas University men's basketball coach was asked if he would ever consider coaching in the NBA. “It hasn't really tempted me because I haven't had that many people talk to me about it,” Self said. “But at some point and time, sure, I think it would (tempt me). It would be great to be able to match wits with the best athletes in the world, but I'm certainly happy where I'm at. “I'm not saying I never would (coach in the NBA) but I'm locked in.” Since Self wouldn't owe Kansas a penalty if he leaves before his contract expires in 2022, would the ultimate job for the Edmond Memorial product be to coach the NBA team in the shadows of his hometown? “I wouldn't say the Thunder,” Self said. “They've done a remarkable job. They have a coach (Scott Brooks) who is one of the bright stars in all of basketball, at any level. That's not anything I would think about.”
- Mike Tokito of The Oregonian: In the first year under the new collective bargaining agreement in which the change was enacted, Toronto took Italian Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 pick. Since then, however, every No. 1 pick but one -- the Clippers' Blake Griffin -- entered the draft after one year of college basketball. At least one major college administrator has had enough. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott came out strongly in favor of changing the draft rules, the Arizona Republic's Doug Haller reports. "It’s crazy what’s going on," Scott said. "We’ve managed with the NFL and football to have a reasonable policy that allows kids to go pro at the appropriate time. We’ve managed to do it in baseball. Basketball’s the only sport where we haven’t managed to come up with a responsible policy and the blame is with the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NCAA, so now’s the time to take ownership of it. We’ve got time." One-and-done was written into the 2005 CBA, and there were discussions about tweaking it during the CBA negotiations in 2011, but the urgency to end the lockout put such side issues on the back-burner. It's hard to blame Scott for wanting to change the rule.
- Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee: Stepping up efforts to design and market a downtown arena, the Sacramento Kings have emailed an online survey to some 60,000 residents and businesses asking for opinions – and testing the waters for potential upscale ticket buyers. Team President Chris Granger said the team and city officials have not yet decided on basic arena elements, such as how many seats it will have, and is looking for clues from the public. "I want to hear what other people think about the venue," Granger said about the survey and other upcoming community outreach efforts. Initial estimates had put seating at 18,500, which is 1,200 more than at the current Sleep Train Arena in Natomas. Granger recently said that number may be too high. He said the facility has to have enough seats to attract most major concerts but should be intimate enough to boost crowd noise and excitement at Kings games.