Monday, September 2, 2013
First Cup: Monday
By Nick Borges
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: It is September, the last month of Michael Beasley’s Suns career. Since his Aug. 6 arrest in Scottsdale on suspicion of marijuana possession, Beasley has not been as noticeable in the Valley as he was prior to it when he was working out at US Airways Center and spotted playing at a Phoenix YMCA. On Sunday, Beasley was playing basketball back home in Maryland. He participated in the Goodman League Roundball Classic in Hyattsville, Md., at DeMatha Catholic, a basketball-rich school that is not one of the six high schools he attended. Kevin Durant, Victor Oladipo, Greg Monroe and Thomas Robinson also participated in the game. Beasley led his team, opposite Durant, with 31 points for a 116-116 tie. The Beasley highlight package in this video is a reminder of how Suns people talked about how great he looked in pickup games at UCLA last summer. If you last past that portion of the video, you will see Durant go through the legs and behind the back to stagger Beasley at 1:43.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: DeAndre Liggins isn't the first player in Thunder history to be arrested. But his booking certainly is the most disturbing. And now it will serve as a case study. Put the Thunder to the test. For an organization that has always prided itself on being a pillar in the community and having a roster full of upstanding citizens, the team must now decide what to do with what could be its first felony offense if Liggins is convicted. The decision might be an easy one. Liggins is entering his second season with the team, third in the NBA. He was hard worker and a hustler but still a bit player in his first run with the Thunder, appearing in 39 games and playing a total of 290 minutes. Later this month, he was expected to enter training camp fighting for the 15th and final roster spot. Already shaping up to be stiff following the draft night additions of Andre Roberson and Steven Adams, the competition for that final spot now includes free agent signee Ryan Gomes and the expected signing of combo guard Diante Garrett. Liggins, on this team, is practically expendable.
- Chris Haynes of CNNW.com: Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge participated in Jamal Crawford's Pro-AM championship game at Seattle Pacific University Saturday afternoon. After Aldridge helped his former Trail Blazer teammate in Crawford win his first Pro-AM title since heading this event several years ago, the All-Star sat down with CSNNW.com to discuss a few topics centered around his eventful summer. … Q: Okay. Let's get into it. There was a report that you believed Portland was “too small” and “too boring” of a city. What's your response to that? LA: “Nah, that's not true. I'm a quiet person that keeps to himself, really. Portland doesn't bother me. I don't have an issue with the city of Portland. I've been there my whole career. I like the smallness of it and the passionate fans. That's not true at all.” … Q: Has your representation attempted to get you moved? LA: “Agents talk. I don't know what goes on there. I just worry about playing basketball.” Q: CSNNW.com reported that if moves weren't made to your liking, you would prefer to be moved. Was that accurate? LA: “Yeah, but I don't have to worry about that because we've added some good pieces this summer and I'm looking forward to working with them.”
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: J.R. Smith guaranteed Saturday the Knicks will bring home a championship and claimed the Nets are “still not good.” During a question-and-answer session with kid golfers at Chelsea Piers, Smith was asked how sure he was of the Knicks ending their title drought this season. “I’m 100 percent sure,” the swingman said. Smith was then asked why he joined the Knicks over the Nets when he came back from China in February 2012. “The Nets weren’t good,’’ Smith said. “Now they’re still not good.’ There has been much hype this offseason lavished on the Nets after their bold trade with the Celtics to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who has been the most outspoken promoter of Brooklyn’s chances in the Eastern Conference. … When asked by The Post why he is so confident, Smith said, “I feel comfortable. People ruled us out last year early, too. We added some great pieces. Unfortunately, we got rid of some good pieces. But we added Andrea [Bargnani], Beno [Udrih], Metta [World Peace]. We have to consistently play like we did the first 20 games last year the whole season. We can’t have a middle-of-season lapse. We have to consistently play the same way.”
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: Q: So what is your approach? Do you have a two-year plan? A five-year plan? Obviously, one of the goals is to better manage the salary cap and become major players in free agency.” Mike Malone: This is going to be a process. We have to change the culture, establish an identity, and while we'll try to win every night, we don't want to skip steps. We don't want short-term success. I'm not sure what year we get into our new arena, but by that year, we want to be a playoff team, and not to just be competing in the playoffs. We've talked about that. We know we have to have patience to do it right. Are our young guys getting better? Are we defending? Gang- rebounding? Running with discipline? The only thing I promised Vivek is that we will no longer be the worst defensive team in the league. So if we do that and change our culture, that will result in more wins and a better product. Q: The phrase "change the culture" has become such a cliché. What does it even mean? Mike Malone: “It is a cliché. What I mean is that when you want to change culture, you change people. When the players come back in September, they're going to get a sense that things are different when they're around our staff. They can see how hard we work, how committed we are. I'm running sprints last week with DeMarcus Cousins and Travis Outlaw, and they said, "Coach, we've never had a guy run sprints with us."
- Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: Having only 11 guaranteed contracts totaling $43.6 million, and as few as four players with guaranteed money beyond this year, which could result in more than $30 million in cap space next summer, “we’ve got a lot to do,” Hinkie said. “You blink it’s halfway through the afternoon and you forgot to eat lunch,” Hinkie said during a 15-minute telephone conversation Friday. Still, Hinkie said, “So far, we’ve had a blast. It’s been a lot of fun. He’s been a real breath of fresh air.” Hinkie said Brown, who was introduced Aug. 14, has been in contact with every Sixers player to give an idea what is expected of them. Hinkie refuted a popular perception that he would like to trade a veteran (likely Thaddeus Young, who is set to make $9.2 million in 2014-15) to create even more cap space after the Sixers should have two lottery picks as high as Nos. 1 and 6 in the draft. “We have the most cap space (next summer) in the league right now,” Hinkie said. “I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a need for a whole lot more. We have a lot to work with.” … As for the embattled White, Hinkie answered a question about White’s possible role on the team generically and never mentioned White by name.
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: With expectations to emerge as one of the New Orleans Pelicans’ top players this upcoming season, swingman Tyreke Evans is not going to wait until training camp opens next month to start building chemistry with his new teammates. He’s already getting a head start in the process, taking part in the team’s volunteer workouts for the past two weeks. With raised expectations because of an improved lineup, 10 of the 15 players’ on the Pelicans' roster have been working out, doing conditioning work, lifting weights and taking part in pickup basketball games at the Alario Center. Next week, the Pelicans are expected to shift their basketball work to the Saints complex in Metairie when their new 55,000 square foot practice facility is expected to be completed. On Thursday, the Pelicans' workout group included forwards Anthony Davis, Jason Smith, Arinze Onuaku, Darius Miller and Lance Thomas, guards Austin Rivers, Brian Roberts, rookie center Jeff Withey and Evans.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Less than one month before training camp opens on one of the most anticipated seasons since the dynasty ended, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau made good on his vow to visit Derrick Rose's offseason base outside Los Angeles to witness Rose's workouts. Rose, who is set to attend training camp in late September after missing last season following knee surgery, is set to travel to Asia Sept. 4-16 for his second shoe promotional tour this offseason. Before then, he is working out with personal trainer Rob McClanaghan and other NBA players, including Jimmy Butler earlier this week. Thibodeau traveled west Wednesday to check in on Rose, who is sporting increased range on his jumper and a left-handed floater that he has worked on extensively this offseason.
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: In a competition with Charlie Villanueva for most despised member of the roster among the fan base. He (Rodney Stuckey) has teased with flashes of standout ability for six seasons, but is coming off his worse season as he butted heads with former coach Lawrence Frank — an issue Stuckey has had in the past. Entering a contract year, so the end of his Pistons tenure is probably near. Reportedly offered to the Raptors (along with Villanueva) for Rudy Gay…. Even with the roster upgrades, Stuckey is still one of the most talented guys wearing a Pistons uniform and new coach Mo Cheeks mentioned Stuckey by name at his introductory news conference. He is in the mix to start at shooting guard in the season opener, but his expiring deal does have trade value.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: The Magic are working on a buyout agreement with Hedo Turkoglu, plan on giving second-round pick Romero Osby a chance to make the team and likely will invite as many as four more players to their training camp, according to a source close to the club. As expected, Turkoglu and the team have been trying to arrange a buyout with the 13-year veteran small forward. He does not figure into the team's rebuilding plans at age 34. Only half of his $12 million salary for next season — the last year of his contract — is guaranteed. If the Magic and Turkoglu can reach an arrangement, Turk will be waived. He then can become a free agent, eligible to negotiate with any other NBA team or play overseas. There are reports that Turkoglu has an offer with a team in his native Turkey if he decides not to stay in the NBA or is unable to sign a deal.