Wednesday, June 4, 2014
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Adam Wexler of CSN Houston: With the report from Yahoo Sports that the Rockets plan to decline the option on Chandler Parsons' contract for the upcoming season, there would still be many unanswered questions about the Rockets' long-term intentions with Parsons. The one thing that would remain a near certainty is that Parsons would be looking at a huge bump in pay, starting immediately for the upcoming season. Parsons signed his four-year rookie contract with the Rockets that kept him at a salary of just under $1 million per season.The fourth-year option presents Houston with several options. As is normally the case with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, he has an eye on flexibility and keeping the Rockets' pursuit of a third major star open as the draft and free agency approach. With Dwight Howard and James Harden set to command roughly $36 million next season and $38 million in 2015-16, the Rockets would have limited amount of space under the cap even without knowing the exact figures that the salary cap will be set at for the upcoming seasons.
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday: Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan said that Phil Jackson has the final say on whom the Knicks hire as their next coach and on how to handle Carmelo Anthony's impending free agency. "I made a commitment to Phil that he was going to run it," Dolan said during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN Tuesday. "Unless he asks me to help, it's his to run." On the coaching search, Dolan said, "I have no idea who he's talking to" and that Jackson has to "check back with me" when he starts talking money. ... Derek Fisher's name never came up during the WFAN interview, but when the coaching search did, Dolan said to ask Jackson. "Phil asked me not to tell anybody this but I'm going to tell you," Dolan said. "For my birthday, my family gave me a T-shirt and it says only two words on it -- it says, 'Ask Phil.' That's it. I have not asked him about the coaching search on purpose. I have not asked him about it. I just told him I'm here for you if you need me. If you don't need me, that's fine, too. I got lots to do."
- William C. Rhoden of The New York Times: The conversation about Donald Sterling became one about institutional racism that meandered beyond sports into law firms, investment houses, newsrooms and other areas. But the discussion stopped the moment Sterling’s wife, Shelly, agreed to sell the team to the former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. Candid discourse was replaced by self-congratulation within the N.B.A. over a job well done. The sea was calm once again. Order was restored, and nearly everyone emerged a winner. The N.B.A. wins because it gets this embarrassing story off the front page and the back pages. The Sterling family wins because it gets to sell a franchise purchased for about $12 million for $2 billion. The United States government and the California Franchise Tax Board win because they will receive more than $600 million in capital gains taxes from the sale. And the N.B.A.’s other owners win on two fronts. In a flash, they saw the value of each of their franchises drastically increase, and they saw that happen without having to take an uncomfortable vote to oust one of their own. This is great for owners, but not so great for full disclosure.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Sam Presti has much on his plate this off-season. How the Thunder general manager completes his summer checklist will go a long way in shaping the future of the franchise. It’s a big off-season for OKC, perhaps even the most pivotal the Thunder has had since becoming a title contender. Not only did the Thunder fall short of its championship goal, but for the first time in its progression as an NBA power, OKC regressed as a team. With changes certainly coming and contracts on star players another year closer to nearing their end, the Thunder has ventured into new territory. Add to that, the team’s talent is as ready as it’s ever been to win now. No more sitting back and subscribing to the slow-and-steady approach. Injuries to key cogs in each of the last two seasons have illustrated what can happen to championship windows we assume are wide open. From staffing to signings, the Thunder has major decisions ahead. The responsibility for figuring it all out and keeping the organization on its championship track falls on the shoulders of one man. Welcome to the summer of Sam
- Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press: Former NBA great Charles Barkley doesn't mince words, and Tuesday his reputation was reinforced when asked about the Timberwolves' possible future without all-star Kevin Love. "I think the Timberwolves are in trouble," Barkley, a TNT analyst, said in a conference call. Barkley has been in Love's shoes. In 1992, Barkley's agent privately told the 76ers that the elite power forward wasn't going to return to Philadelphia and that they had the summer to trade him. Love's camp apparently told the Wolves in May that he would not return when he becomes a free agent next summer, which he can do by opting out of the final year of a four-year extension signed in January 2012. "They are in a very awkward situation," Barkley said. "I understand why he doesn't want to stay there. They are not going to be any good for the next couple of years." Barkley said he stayed mum when he decided it was time to switch teams more than two decades ago.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: In the first month of his first full season with the Washington Wizards, Coach Randy Wittman revealed his passion for his players when he wept in the locker room, dismayed because their hard work wasn’t being rewarded during an embarrassing, franchise record 0-12 start. Eighteen months later, Wittman was again choked up in the locker room, but this time the disappointment was the end of one of the organization’s best playoff runs in decades in last month’s Eastern Conference semifinals. The dramatic turnaround for the franchise — in both culture and on-court success — was a credit to Wittman’s dedication through tough times and his constant demands for more. Wittman now will have a chance to continue guiding the franchise after agreeing Tuesday to terms on a contract extension with the Wizards.
- Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune: With his back and ankle injuries that forced the Pelicans management to shut down his second season with five games remaining, Davis is back to work, participating with teammates in the Pelicans' voluntary offseason workouts at the team's Metairie headquarters. After playing this past season at less than 230 pounds, Davis said he is up to 237 pounds. The new physique gives Davis the look more of a power forward than he did in his first two NBA seasons. ... Davis, the Pelicans' lone All-Star this past season, was joined at Monday's workout by teammates Darius Miller, Luke Babbitt, Alexis Ajinca, Jeff Withey, James Southerland and Pierre Jackson. Davis, who'll take part in Team USA training camp and exhibition games, said it's important for him to take part of the Pelicans offseason workouts to continue to improve his game and to gain continuity with his teammates. "Guys want to be here," Davis said. "They were here even before I was two weeks ago. They want to get better. ... By them guys being here especially when you don't have to says a lot about them guys who are here and want to work."
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower go way back. Both spent time as assistant basketball coaches in the Northeast in the formative years of their coaching careers. They crossed paths back then and became friends. And Van Gundy has called on that friendship in tapping the former New Orleans Hornets executive as his Detroit Pistons’ right-hand man and the new general manager. ... The news adds to the narrative of Van Gundy’s first few weeks running the Pistons franchise as head coach and president of basketball operations. Van Gundy is turning to familiar faces for help in turning around the misfortune of six consecutive losing seasons. He has turned to former Orlando Magic lieutenants Bob Beyer, Brendan Malone and Charles Klask for positions on his coaching staff.
- Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: Jazz powers are straight-up sick of watching their team get kicked around at the defensive end. They’ve said that again and again, and it’s more than sweet-sounding BS. If we all had five bucks for every time Dennis Lindsey has hammered the point, we’d all be rich enough to buy the Clippers. In the first real chance for the club to hire a head coach outside its organizational walls since … well, ever, this longtime weakness will be addressed. Defense can be taught, stressed, improved, insisted upon. Whoever the new coach is, he will think more like Tom Thibodeau than Mike D’Antoni. It’s not just that defense wins championships, it’s that defense prevents you from getting blown off your home floor by the Denver Nuggets and crushed on the road by the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s a jumping-off point for future success.
- Fred Kerber of the New York Post: Keyon Dooling has been spreading the word, did so especially in April, Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. And he is preparing for the mid-June publication of his book, “What’s Driving You? How I Overcame Abuse and Learned to Lead in the NBA.” It comes with artwork from an abuse victim and music from an award-winning producer. Dooling is big on the arts as a form of healing. In the book, Dooling recounts growing up through the good, the bad and the turbulence in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He tells about his standout high school and college careers leading to his being the 10th pick in the 2000 NBA Draft – usually with his father, Leroy, encouraging him to shoot. Dooling described his dad’s death to prostate cancer in 2009 as “catastrophic." He credits those who helped him hone leadership skills, such as Pat Riley in Miami and Rivers and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in Boston. He relates how he emerged as a leader by mentoring young point guards, such as Boston’s Rajon Rondo. The leadership path has served him well.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: The Hornets now have a practice court to match the rebranding. There is a purple-and-teal honeycomb border around the playing surface, with one of the new logos painted at midcourt and block lettering along each baseline. Purple padding, with Hornets logos, covers the walls. With the practice court done, the Hornets can now start resurfacing the game floor in the main bowl. It’s unclear how similar or different the main court look will be, relative to the practice court.