Monday, June 16, 2014
First Cup: Monday
By Nick Borges
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: Watch the wording with another three, however. The word “bow” has been used lately when talking about Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, along with the word “out.” But don't count on it. There's no reason to think they won't be back. And when they return, it won't be for a victory lap. They should return as favorites — to repeat for the first time. They will return without the regret of 2013 because they figured out how to not lose Game 6. They avoided playing one. They routed the Heat in four of the five games, sometimes without air conditioning and sometimes with hot shooters. LeBron James asked Saturday, “Why not us?” and the Spurs told him why. ... Peter Holt certainly thinks Duncan and Ginobili will return. “They want to play until they die,” he said Sunday. Mostly, though, they want to live at least another season with this group. Duncan and Popovich have won five titles and Ginobili four, and there's no reason to think they can't add to the total. So take a bow and then take some time off — before coming back.
- Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News: Without hesitation, Spurs chairman Peter Holt ranked this NBA title, the one won Sunday night with yet another blowout win over Miami, as the best of the five the franchise has earned. “This means more than any of the others ... because of the heartbreak of last year, which was tough,” Holt said, referring to the club's seven-game loss to the Heat. “Last summer wasn't fun for any of us, from the coaches, general manager, owner on down. This has been a really satisfying season. ... We'll never forget it because of how tough last year was.” Holt said it's even sweeter than the club's first championship, which occurred during the lockout-shortened 1999 season. “This one felt a lot like '99,” Holt said.
- Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: Deep breath, please. Then another one. This Big 3-era Heat team was the first team in almost 30 years – since the Celtics in 1984-87 – to play in four consecutive NBA Finals. Not even Michael Jordan’s Bulls or Kobe Bryant’s Lakers ever did that. And Miami, of course, won the previous two NBA titles before falling short this time. That is not failure, by any fair measure. That is success by any sane gauge. “We’d love to be four-for-four,” as Wade put it, “but we have no reason not to be proud of each other.” If this is the end of this era (which I doubt it is), Heat fans should say “thank you,” and without equivocation. The standards have become so high, though. Second place isn’t good enough, especially when second place happened because the Heat lost three straight Finals games by a combined 57 points. ... Now, two championships in four Finals appearances are past-tense. Now, what’s next for LeBron James and the suddenly ex-champion Heat is all that matters.
- Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Heat need to sign Michael Beasley and get him up to speed, don't they? He's young, athletic and as his few minutes on Sunday again showed he's the only player other than LeBron who could consistently get to the rim. He never mastered the defensive system and held the ball too long on offense. They need to get him on board with what they do, because he has too much of what they need to let go or not use.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: If the Cowboys were America’s Team – and the key word there is “were” – then the Spurs have taken over as the new-wave Team of Texas. The San Antonio franchise has become a machine. They have an owner that lets basketball people make basketball decisions. That’s not to say Peter Holt is smarter or better than Mark Cuban. He just has immense trust in R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich, the general manager and coach who are the architects of the Spurs’ dynasty. And there really can be no other word to describe the Spurs. They have won five of the last 16 NBA championships. That none of the titles came in consecutive seasons indicates how special the five rings are. While Tim Duncan has been there throughout, his supporting cast has changed radically through the years. This isn’t like the Cowboys, who rode three outrageously talented players to three consecutive championships in the ‘90s.This franchise has had the staying power that makes it the envy not only of the NBA, but of all the sporting world.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: According to several NBA sources Sunday, the Bulls have been actively looking to improve the starting lineup at almost any cost, with Derrick Rose the only untouchable player — and not by choice. “They are looking to exhaust as many assets as it will take,’’ one source said of general manager Gar Forman and head of basketball operations John Paxson. But the source said it was “doubtful” whether that meant the long-rumored departure of coach Tom Thibodeau could come into play. Carmelo Anthony is still Plan A as the Bulls and the rest of the NBA await to see if the Knicks forward will opt out of his contract. But the Bulls are more active in their pursuit of Kevin Love than initially rumored. Also, don’t rule out LeBron James coming into play again if the four-time MVP opts out of his deal.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt will interview with the Cavaliers on Wednesday, an NBA source confirmed on Sunday afternoon. ... That will be a busy day for the Cavs, as Kansas star Andrew Wiggins also is expected to work out for the team that day. Duke's Jabari Parker is expected to work out for the teamon Friday. The Cavs hold the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Kansas center Joel Embiid worked out for the team last week. As the Cavs search to replace Mike Brown enters its fifth week, Blatt becomes the seventh known candidate to interview with the positions, following Alvin Gentry, Tyronn Lue, Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, Adrian Griffin and Mark Price.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Orlando Magic executives love Smart's intangibles. They value his leadership, toughness and competitiveness so much that they might select him fourth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. In fact, the Magic might have drafted him with the second overall pick last year if Smart had decided to go pro after his freshman season at Oklahoma State. But Smart chose to stay in college for one more year. The decision was a shocking one; the 2013 NBA Draft was one of the weakest drafts in years, and Smart would have earned a salary of almost $4.8 million as a rookie if Orlando had taken him. ... But that extra season of college also exposed some weaknesses in his game. Smart averaged 4.8 assists per game, but he also committed 2.6 turnovers per game, raising questions whether he will be an effective NBA point guard. ... Smart's outside shooting needs work, too. After he made just 29.0 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman, he made only 29.9 percent as a sophomore. Two on-court incidents also tarnished Smart's reputation.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: League sources indicated Sunday that Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins will work out for the Bucks at the team's training facility this week. The countdown to the June 26 draft is in earnest now with just 12 days remaining. The Bucks have the No. 2 overall pick. Dante Exum, the 6-foot-6 Australian point guard, worked out in Milwaukee on Saturday. League sources indicated the workout went well.
- Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: Pray, pray, pray that Michigan guard Nik Stauskas is still on the board when it is the Nuggets' turn at No. 11. He would be my first target of prospects that might be available with the 11th pick. NBA offense is all about spacing the floor, and a young player's best shot to succeed early in the league is to bring one trademark skill. The sweet jumper of Stauskas would give Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson more room to operate, as well as a viable option when pick-and-roll action does not provide a good look in the lane.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Turiaf talked by phone early Monday morning Twin Cities time as he headed in a bus just after lunchtime in Taiwan and at that point hadn't tried to text or make contact with congratulations for his friends. "I'm trying not to have an exorbitant cell-phone bill while I'm over here," Turiaf said. He is there with Wolves player development coach Bobby Jackson, Toronto's John Salmons and Charlotte's Cody Zeller spreading the game, just as Turiaf had done with previuos Basketball Without Borders excursions to India, Senegal and France. "This is my fourth edition, something I pride myself on," Turiaf said. "I like just traveling, different countries. It changes my perspective on everything that surrounds me." This time, he went to Taiwan with his mother. He shared what he called a "confession" while on the phone. "My dream is to go to every country in the world," he said. "To be able to come here is something I've always wanted. To get to know the culture, that's something I've very proud of. It's similar to other Asian countries, but with its own twist." He heads back to the United States on Tuesday and will spend time in Los Angeles before he returns to Minneapolis in mid July to continue a summer-internship with the Olson ad agency in which he is learning public-relations, advertising, video-production and social-media skills he can apply to use with his Heart-to-Heart Foundation. He's doing that internship in two-week stints, and getting paid $13 an hour.