Thursday, October 10, 2013
First Cup: Thursday
By Nick Borges
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: What will be seen tomorrow night at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware in Newark will be Royce White's debut when the Sixers host the Boston Celtics in preseason game No. 3. His premiere just might be intriguing enough to make Sixers fans forget about the flying issues and instead concentrate on the multidimensional forward. Putting the travel issues aside, should White get into playing shape after seeing action in only 16 NBA Development League games last season and should he play to his potential, the Sixers might have gotten a steal in getting him in the offseason for basically nothing from Houston. He certainly will have ample opportunity for playing time, as the Sixers' front line is without depth. His play in camp earned daily praise from teammates and raised the eyebrows of coach Brett Brown. "I see a talented player that is wildly creative, wants to do everything," Brown said. "We want to put him in a real clean role initially and then let him use his creative instincts, but it's based again on his fitness. He's very talented, different talented. He's like DeJuan Blair, when we coached him in San Antonio. He had a different feel for the game - passing, running, creative. I see similarities with Royce." Blair, now with the Mavericks, carved a nice 4-year career for himself with San Antonio, having started 166 of 288 regular-season games and posted career averages of 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18.9 minutes a game. He has proved a very serviceable backup. That probably wouldn't be a bad goal for White.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: It took only one game for center Samuel Dalembert to redeem himself after the underwhelming performance he turned in Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. During Wednesday’s 95-90 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum that squared the Mavs’ preseason record at 1-1, Dalembert collected 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. He was 4 of 6 from the field while committing two turnovers in 20 minutes. That’s a far cry better than the egg Dalembert laid against the Pelicans when he finished with four points, two rebounds and four turnovers in only 11 minutes. And it’s certainly what the Mavs expected from Dalembert when they signed him to a two-year, $7.5 million free agent contract this summer. “I’ve been working on getting the strength in my back just back to where I’m capable of being [a factor],” Dalembert said. “I’ve been active and moving and feeling good, and today I felt much better.” Dalembert still has to work on staying out of foul trouble.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: It should come as no surprise that Gregg Popovich, one of the first NBA figures to actively scout overseas during his earliest years with the Spurs, “absolutely” believes foreign coaches can do the job in the world’s top league. “A lot of guys could be coaching in our league,” he said. “Basketball has become an international sport. The coaches have improved all over the world, just like players have. There are good coaches and good players no matter where one might look.” But unlike the players, who now constitute roughly one fifth of the talent pool, the NBA hasn’t been nearly as welcoming of foreign coaches. Indeed, more than two decades since the revolution began in the late 1980s, the closest it’s come is Ettore Messina’s single season as a consultant with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011-12. Now the head coach with tonight’s exhibition opponent, CSKA Moscow, Messina indicated he’d jump at the opportunity to lead a team in the NBA. He also said he thinks it will be a “long time” before he or another qualified foreign coach gets the chance. “It doesn’t depend on you,” he said. “It depends on management, if they could trust you.” Said Popovich, “”A team just has to have guts.” A team like, say, the Spurs?
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: After three preseason games, it's clearly obvious New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis is not the same caliber of player he was last season as a rookie. He’s better – much better – after spending nearly all of the off-season working to improve his offensive game. He’s got a go-to jump hook shot now, can pull-up from 18 feet and effortlessly make jumpers and still soars for dunks when he has an open lane to the basket. He put everything on display Wednesday night and carried the Pelicans to a 99-95 victory against the Orlando Magic that improved their record to 3-0 in the preseason. Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, finished with a game high 29 points on nine-of-20 shooting in front 9,274 at the Veterans Memorial Arena. With that kind of performance, Davis, 20, appears to be ready for regular season to begin, although there's five preseason games remaining on the schedule that includes Sunday's afternoon game in Biloxi, Miss., against the Atlanta Hawks. But it was Davis' third consecutive game scoring at least 21 points or more.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: If J.R. Smith were in the lead to overtake Iman Shumpert for the Knicks’ starting shooting guard slot entering Wednesday’s preseason opener, Shumpert sent a big message to skeptical coach Mike Woodson. Woodson’s worried state about Shumpert’s knees and offensive repertoire went unfounded as Shumpert was driven to perfection. Shumpert was 7-of-7 from the field to score a team-high 18 points as the Knicks hung on for a 103-102 preseason victory over the Celtics before 10,404 fans at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Woodson revealed Wednesday Shumpert had knee soreness over the summer, indicating his durability could be one reason Smith is potentially in line to go from sixth man to starting shooting guard. Shumpert, who scored 11 points in the second quarter, made three 3-pointers against the Celtics and capped his night with a beautiful 1-on-1 15-foot pull-up jumper after dazzling off the dribble. “He was great,’’ Woodson said. “I don’t think he missed a shot tonight. He was poised. He has nothing to prove to me. In fairness to J.R., he is a big part of what we do and will be right in the mix when he comes back from injury. It’s going to be competitive.’’
- Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Steven Adams impressed me the most, grading on the curve. I had no idea he was that smooth. I’m not trying to make him out to be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Adams has some skills. Now, does he have the toughness and smarts to help inside? We’ll see. But clearly, Adams has a chance to play. He looks already to be ahead of ever how far Cole Aldrich got, and the best part is, what I said about Aldrich goes for Adams, too. It takes time for a big man to develop. Adams is starting from a much higher plateau. … Jeremy Lamb. I keep hearing he’s a good shooter. I’ve never seen it. Not in the preseason. Not in summer league. Not in regular-season mopup minutes. It’s possible we’ve got the wrong storyline. We’ve been wondering if he could be the next Kevin Martin. I’m just wondering if Lamb can be the next Daequan Cook.
- Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star: Do you believe in omens? Then stop reading. A half an hour before Wednesday’s pre-season home opener, the Star’s Doug Smith broke the most depressing basketball story in … well, ever. The Chicken is gone for the year. He blew out his Achilles in Halifax. You could make a pretty good argument that the Chicken (a.k.a. The Raptor) is this franchise’s standout performer. He’s a Canadian all-star. A 19-year veteran. Doesn’t have off years. Appreciates our TV selection. There have been nights — oh God, so many nights — when the only reason to stick around past the third quarter was to see the Inflatable Raptor ‘eat’ security guards on the sideline. We’re not sure what he’s paid. We’re sure it’s not enough. “My daughter cried,” coach Dwane Casey said of the news. She’s won’t be the last one. The Raptor has never been named in this publication. In the spirit of streaks and good wishes, we won’t do so today. But send him some anonymous love. Unlike so many others involved in this organization, he’s never let you down.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Chandler Parsons and Isaiah Canaan had given the event, a basketball clinic that was as much an appearance to celebrate the NBA’s week in Manila, everything they could to the screaming delight of 700 children who left ears ringing long after it had ended. But when it ended, Parsons was not talking about his own efforts or his young teammate’s exuberance. Parsons was still energized, beaming happily as he looked back through the bus window to the one member of the group who just could not, or would not, extricate himself from the crowd. Gary Parsons had signed an autograph and before long swarms of schoolchildren kept the father of the Rockets’ third-year forward surrounded, begging for his signature, thrilled for even that small bit of scribbled reminder that the NBA had come to their schoolyard. “My dad is eating this up,” Chandler Parsons said. When an NBA official finally pulled a sweat-drenched Gary Parsons away and through the wall of NBA security to the bus, he was greeted with cheers and his son’s laughter.
- Michael Stein to The Washington Post: On Friday, during a very stressful week for Washington, I looked to escape the madness for 30 minutes on what was a warm fall afternoon. I was reading The Post and eating a quick lunch at a table outside a local sandwich shop while a disheveled homeless man sat nearby, persistently and unsuccessfully asking anyone who walked by if he or she could “spare a sandwich.” After about 25 minutes, Otto Porter Jr., the Georgetown basketball star and the Washington Wizards’ newest first-round draft pick, drove up, hopped out of his car and entered the shop. Mr. Porter soon exited with his sandwich and drink — but also with a sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink for the homeless man. Mr. Porter then sat down next to the man, and they both enjoyed their sandwiches while making small talk. It was a wonderful thing to watch. This pure act of kindness, when no one was paying any attention, demonstrated true character and a genuine concern for someone in need. Mr. Porter, kudos to you. You are a gentleman and a true role model for fans of all ages.
- Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The bet: lose 10 pounds in a week. No problem for Mario Chalmers, who completed the task with ease to answer the challenge of his future Hall of Fame teammates. The finished product has Chalmers in the best shape of his career entering his sixth season. "[The bet] started with Ray," Chalmers said. "Ever since then, I just got a little extra push. I've just been working harder. We wanted to three-peat. They all said, 'We need you to be the head of the team, you need to be in tip-top shape and we need you to lead by example.' " The weight loss was overshadowed during training camp because of Allen's physique gaining all the attention. Chalmers, too, put in the offseason work. He eliminated fried foods and soda from his diet, dining more on salads. "I still have a lemonade here and there, but not as much as I used to," Chalmers said. The rapid shedding caused strength and conditioning coach Bill Foran to jokingly say Chalmers lost "too much, too fast." The positive results are already showing. "It's worked out pretty good, actually," Chalmers said. "I feel a lot faster. It helps me get to different spaces on the court and small cracks easier. [Losing the weight] was more of a conscious thing of winning, helping the team. It wasn't an individual bet but what can I do to help the team get better."
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Rodney Stuckey is a little camera shy nowadays. He continues to wear evidence of the pop to his mouth in December during a victory over the Washington Wizards. His right incisor is missing, and he said the process of looking good as new will take two years. “When I got hit in the mouth, I lost some bone in my gums,” the guard said. “There’s kind of like a dent in there, so they have to fill it in so everything is level.” The dent is quite noticeable when Stuckey talks. Without the benefit of a dental degree, he gave a brief explanation of his situation. After waiting for more healing, Stuckey will receive a dental post, which is used when a tooth isn’t sturdy enough to hold a crown on its own. That’s what occurs when a tooth is broken off at the gum line. “If it’s weak up there, it would fall out in like five years,” Stuckey said. Stuckey said after that step, there is another wait, and then the crown will be applied. “It’s a long process,” he said. “It will probably take like two years.” Stuckey said the process will start next summer.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Magic want their own minor-league affiliate within the state of Florida, and Wednesday night's preseason exhibition against the New Orleans Pelicans offered the city of Jacksonville an informal audition for a potential NBA Development League franchise. "This would be a very good market, because obviously there's a first-class facility in Jacksonville," Magic CEO Alex Martins said before tipoff at Veterans Memorial Arena. "You've got a strong market to draw from in terms of its population, and in terms of its proximity to Orlando, a two-hour drive is almost perfect for us. It would be at the top of our list, or close to the top of our list, in terms of choices." Large expanses of the upper deck were curtained off, and the rest of the arena was about 60 percent full. But even a sellout wouldn't have solved perhaps the biggest obstacle to having a D-League team in Jacksonville — or anywhere else in Florida. There aren't any other D-League teams within Florida or the Southeast outside of Texas. The D-League likes to cluster groups of teams within the same region to reduce travel costs and promote geographic rivalries. Over the summer, Dan Reed, the president of the D-League, told the Orlando Sentinel that expansion will occur eventually, but he stopped short of saying that new teams will be based in the Southeast.
- Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle: The Golden State Warriors have long been a strong regional draw in the Bay Area. But the team is expanding its marketing efforts internationally this week in a huge way with the launch of a Chinese-language website and a presence on Weibo, China's largest microblogging service. On the eve of the team's first exhibition-season trip to China, the Warriors on Wednesday officially launched Weibo.com/Warriors on Sina Weibo, which has more than 500 million registered members using features similar to Twitter. And on Thursday, the team will unveil Warriors.com/China, which is in Chinese. Both are part of the team's efforts to court new basketball fans in Asia and from the Bay Area's sizable Asian American community. To be sure, this comes from a franchise that missed out on the whole "Linsanity" craze two seasons ago after cutting Asian American guard Jeremy Lin, who hailed from Palo Alto. Lin instead set the basketball world on fire while playing for the New York Knicks. But Rick Welts, Warriors president and chief operating officer, said team ownership still believes the franchise can become the main bridge between the NBA and Asia.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: The NBA loves its fans — especially the rich ones. How else to explain removing the courtside media seating in favour of more primo seats for paying customers. This was the last game for ink-stained wretches scribing from courtside. Following a league-driven directive, the Raptors no longer could hold off the desires of the ticketing and marketing people. As a result, many more fans get robbed of the insight and value the media gains from covering games from courtside. Longtime Raptors radio broadcaster Paul Jones told the Sun while once upon a time every arena in the league kept the media down low, now the number is about a third — and dropping. It’s the way of the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not unfortunate. Most media will now take in games from the top of the lower bowl until another solution can be implemented next season.