Thursday, October 17, 2013
First Cup: Thursday
By Nick Borges
- Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Just before tipoff, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade expects to see green. No, this has nothing to do with money, jealousy or recycling. It's just Wade will always associate Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with the Boston Celtics, even though they have changed uniforms. The Heat will get their first glimpse at the new-look Brooklyn Nets in a Thursday exhibition game at Barclays Center. The Nets also added former Celtics guard Jason Terry, whose one season in Boston was enough to add his name to the rivalry, in an attempt to keep pace with the two-time defending champion Heat. Wade said the "dislike" continues despite a new team being involved. "They might have on a different color jersey, but you may see green," Wade said. "…It's going to transfer very well."
- Seth Gruen of the Chicago Sun-Times: “For me to even score against our defense in practice is pretty hard when you have Kirk Hinrich sticking you and you have Taj Gibson at the hole trying to block shots,” Derrick Rose said. “Going against them every day [is] building me not only for the regular season, but for these ¬preseason games.” Rose played 22 minutes, just a minute shy of his high in the preseason. He played 20 minutes in the exhibition opener in Indianapolis and 23 in St. Louis. His most encouraging moment came as time was winding down in the first half. Rose used a crossover move that completely shook Peyton Siva. The rookie guard was able to recover and fouled Rose, who made a shot falling to his left. It was a Rose-esque moment that was so common before the knee injury. But it had been questioned whether he ever would be able to make plays like that again. Those questions, at least, have been answered this preseason.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Dwight Howard would like the Orlando Magic to retire his old jersey number after his playing career ends. Howard, who was upset last February when the team granted Tobias Harris’ request to wear No. 12, played eight seasons for the Magic and led the franchise to three division titles and the Eastern Conference championship during the 2009 postseason. His final season with the team was contentious, and it included his request to be traded. This morning, after Howard’s Houston Rockets completed their shootaround, I asked him whether he can envision the Magic retiring his number one day in the distant future. “No doubt,” he answered. “Despite how things ended, we had eight or seven great years. We went to The Finals. A lot of those banners that are in the arena happened when I was there. I was a major part of that. A lot of the records that are there, I put them there. I hate talking about myself, but I feel like I’ve done a lot, not just for the team but the city and the arena itself and the businesses that were around. There’s a lot of things that happened that didn’t happen before I got there. Our team, we did an excellent job at putting all that stuff together, especially in the community. I was deeply embedded in the community and I feel like one day it should [be retired]. But with all that happened, I can’t control that. All I’ve got to do is win. And, hopefully, when I’m done playing here, I’ll have my jersey retired here.” The Magic are celebrating their 25th season.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Hours removed from the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies challenging Michael Jordan to a charity one-on-one game, MJ had a response: “Comical.” That’s the word the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats (and Hall of Fame player) used in a brief interview with the Observer Wednesday. If new Grizzlies owner Robert Pera wants to play one-on-one for $1 million to charity (as he said on Twitter), Jordan won’t be his opponent. “I think that’s comical,’’ Jordan said. “It didn’t make any sense. Why would I play one-on-one? It’s a no-win situation for me no matter what.”
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: The release of small forward Corey Maggette earlier in the Spurs’ three-game preseason road trip all but guarantees the team will open the regular season without a veteran backup for Kawhi Leonard. How pressing an issue this is depends on who you ask. The Spurs played most of last season’s playoffs without needing a backup small forward. True, Tracy McGrady was on the roster then, but appeared in only six games and totaled 31 minutes of garbage time. Coach Gregg Popovich survived then by using smaller wings Danny Green and Manu Ginobili some at the position, mixing in the 6-foot-9 Boris Diaw when a bigger body was required. This season, Popovich also has 6-foot-6 Marco Belinelli at his disposal. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can play,” Popovich said, “but as an insurance policy it wouldn’t be a terrible thing to have a bigger body so you don’t have to overplay people like Marco or Danny.” … Ginobili, one of the Spurs who could be pressed into action at small forward, was nonchalant about the possibility. He noted the true big small forwards in the NBA – like Miami’s LeBron James or New York’s Carmelo Anthony – are few and far between. “There are not so many LeBrons or Carmelos,” Ginobili said. “Those come once every few years. Not every team has a strong 3 that is going to post up and cause a lot of problems. For most of the teams, we’re fine.”
- Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Mike Brown, 43, is entering his 15th full year in the NBA, his seventh as a coach. But he hasn’t dipped into his well of basketball fundamentals like this since he participated in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in South Africa in the summer of 2006. “We’ve broken this stuff down to it being real basic at times,” Brown said. “People take for granted that all NBA players know. A lot of times guys are here, not necessarily because they know the fundamentals of the game, but because they’re so ultra-talented. They’re either long and athletic or long with very good feet. Or they can shoot the ball, but don’t know how to play the game.” Brown enjoys the instructional part of what he’s doing. He believes the players appreciate it, although it surely wears on them. He spent over an hour Wednesday going over the film from Tuesday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: There’s a reason why you haven’t heard a lot about Greg Monroe’s contract situation — there’s nothing to report. It’s highly likely that the fourth-year power forward won’t receive a contract extension from the Pistons before the Halloween deadline, meaning Monroe will be a restricted free agent next off-season. But don’t misunderstand the move. At this point the Pistons still consider Monroe a huge part of their rebuilding effort, but the circumstances suggest the team would be better off letting the season play out. The Pistons probably could get a signature on a five-year, maximum contract offer. There wouldn’t be much point in the offer being declined. But the collective bargaining agreement dictates that teams can have only one five-year, designated player. That spot likely is reserved for second-year center Andre Drummond in the off-season before 2015-16.
- Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: Caron Butler hopes to shed a few pounds before the Milwaukee Bucks’ regular-season opener against the New York Knicks Oct. 30. That could be tough. Butler figures a reduction in weight will be beneficial for his body. “Last year I played at 230,” Butler said. “So I’m looking to play at 220 this year. “By losing that weight, I can be a little quicker and take less pounding and wear and tear on my body.” However, Butler, whom the Bucks acquired from Phoenix Aug. 29, concedes dropping weight won’t be as easy now that he’s back in his old stomping grounds.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: An NBA officiating crew huddled with Timberwolves players and staff last week in Toronto in an annual briefing about the upcoming season’s new rules and points of emphasis. The list includes, of course, the eternal promise to buckle down on traveling as well as intentions to expose illegal screens, protect shooters and speed up the game, among many other issues. Referees have been instructed this preseason to call delay-of-game penalties every time a scoring team touches the ball after it drops through the basket, which slows the opponent from quickly inbounding the ball and attacking at the other end. The emphasis already has produced a flurry of whistles around the league, even if the player from the scoring team simply hands the ball to an official or sets it down. In the Wolves’ preseason loss to Toronto on Saturday at Target Center, referees called the transgression five times, four times against the Raptors that resulted in an initial warning and three subsequent technical fouls that sent the home team to the free-throw line and … and yes, further slowed a game in which 60 personal fouls also were called. Wolves coach Rick Adelman, in his typically droll manner, thought this was a good thing, at least for one night after which he scolded his players for their lack of concentration and desire.
- Cathel Kelly of the Toronto Star: In the 1990s, you spent the entire playoffs celebrating Bill Wennington’s ability to exist in a Chicago Bulls jersey. He didn’t need to do anything in it (and rarely did). All he needed to do was be both mediocre and Canadian within killing range of Michael Jordan’s ocular laser beams. We’ve come a ways, but that naļve shock at the sight of a Canadian — any Canadian — in an NBA uniform still gets our collective lip trembling. It’s time to get over that. We were at it again on Wednesday night. Toronto-born Celtic Kelly Olynyk rolled into town, feeling the need to raise his hands to his mouth and do the birdcall of his native country. “Back in Canada taking on the Raptors tonight,” Olynyk Tweeted. “So in true Canadian fashion I had to make a pit stop … ” Followed by the obligatory Instagram of a Tim Hortons. … One thing Andrew Wiggins can do immediately upon arrival in the NBA is relieve his nation of its understandable inferiority complex. We talk a lot about “the arrival” of Canadian basketball. That will not happen at an Olympics or world championships. That’s the ultimate destination. The arrival happens when we begin taking elite Canadian players as a given rather than an aberration.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: To mark the 40th anniversary of the franchise’s move from Baltimore, where it spent 10 seasons, the Wizards are returning for an exhibition game against the New York Knicks on Thursday at Baltimore Arena. The matchup is significant for many reasons, given the bitter rivalry the Bullets once shared with the Knicks and the current presence of Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony, the New York forward who has yet to play an NBA game in his home town. But for former Bullets like Chenier and Mike Riordan, the game also will give them a chance to reminisce about a time when they wore psychedelic orange and navy uniforms with curvy, horizontal lines on the left side; hoped to get lucky enough to show up to the arena and find a parking spot nearby on the street; had to take an elevator or the stairs down from a tiny locker room with six stalls to get to the court; and were so close to the fans in the tiny gym that they routinely held conversations.
- O’Ryan Johnson of the Boston Herald: A statue to honor Boston sport legend and Celtics great Bill Russell will be unveiled on City Hall Plaza before the team’s home opener in two weeks. Sculptor Ann Hirsch has depicted Russell in mid-pass, surrounded by 10 granite blocks that contain a key word and a corresponding quotation. The 11 total objects represent Russell’s 11 championships. It’s the end of a 15-year struggle for a former professional boxer who championed the idea before there were any political backers in the fight. “It’s a long time coming,” said Kilbert Pierce Jr. of Dorchester. Citing Russell’s sometimes testy relations with the city over race issues, he added, “And it’s a shining moment for Boston. He brought Boston eight straight championships. And he did it at a time when he fought not only his opponent, but the people rooting for his own team.”