Tuesday, July 8, 2014
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: In the wake of Jason Kidd’s maneuvering, it’s good to know that Lionel Hollins isn’t angling for something other than his well-paid gig on the sideline. And here’s the thing about Hollins that already gives him a leg up over his predecessor: You can believe what he says. “It’s just nice to be able to do your job. That’s all I want to do. I’m a basketball coach. I don’t want to do (GM Billy King’s) job,” Hollins relayed Monday. “I don’t want to do anybody else’s job in the organization but the one I’m hired to do. That’s important to me. I’m very low maintenance.” The Nets are trying to cleanse themselves of that stench left by Kidd, who has taken his front-office ambitions to the Bucks. His jersey remains in the Barclays Center rafters, but he has been hilariously cropped out of pictures on the team’s website. ... No nonsense from Hollins. It was a refreshing first impression.
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: On the opening night of free agency, the Celtics reached out to more than two dozen players, getting caught up in the open-market frenzy, expressing their admiration for players, many of whom they realized they never would sign. A week later, the Celtics are eerily quiet. They only have signed their own restricted free agent, Avery Bradley, on the second day of signings. An NBA source said they are backing off their pursuit of free agent Kris Humphries. However, a league source said Monday that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is attempting to gather assets to acquire Kevin Love, convinced he can devise a package that would entice Minnesota Timberwolves president Flip Saunders to move the three-time All-Star, who will be a free agent next season. Ainge admitted that things have been quiet so far, and of course was reluctant to discuss anything dealing with free agency.
- Scott Cacciola of The New York Times: In some ways, though, the public narrative has had less to do with choosing among three teams — or five, if the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks are still considered to be in the mix — than it does with picking between his bank account and his legacy. It goes something like this: If Anthony is really all that interested in chasing championships, he will choose the Bulls. If he wants the biggest bucks, he will stay with the Knicks. If he wants the aura of the Lakers, he will decamp for Los Angeles, where he has been offered the maximum $96 million over four years, according to multiple reports. It is an either/or situation that rubs some people the wrong way, and perhaps for good reason. Count Charles Grantham, a former head of the players union, among them. His argument: At age 30, having put in ample years of service, Anthony has every right to capitalize on his earning power, and should not have to take less — either by choosing to go elsewhere or by being pressured to agree to a hometown discount to stay in New York. "It’s ridiculous," Grantham said by telephone. "If I have a unique talent that I want to sell here, why should I be expected to take less? And if I don’t take less, why am I being greedy? Are you being selfish because there’s a salary cap that’s been imposed? That’s not your fault."
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets had not been told they were out of the race for Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, but always considered Anthony, Bosh and LeBron James their top targets. Amid reports that Anthony was choosing between the Knicks and Lakers and James might consider leaving Miami to return to Cleveland, the Rockets made their move on Bosh. They had been in talks with Bosh’s representatives, but had not spoken directly with Bosh until Monday. The Rockets had been the first team to meet with Bosh in 2010, but never were close to signing Bosh when he had the chance to join forces with Dwyane Wade and James in Miami. Bosh had been outspoken about his intention to remain with the Heat, but with uncertainty about James’ plans, Bosh began lining up an option to form another Big Three with the Rockets’ James Harden and Dwight Howard.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: If LeBron James ultimately decides to return to the Cavaliers, it won’t be because of a mysterious plane that landed Sunday evening in South Florida. Contrary to popular belief, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was not on that plane. Neither were Cavs General Manager David Griffin nor owner Dan Gilbert. Griffin was in Cleveland on Sunday, Gilbert was at home in Detroit and Ilgauskas never boarded the private jet that flew from Detroit to South Florida, several sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed to the Beacon Journal. One source with knowledge of Gilbert’s inner workings said the Cavs owner, who has a hand in more than 70 companies, has regular business in South Florida. Twitter erupted Sunday when it was learned a Gulfstream jet registered to Gilbert’s Rock Construction Co. was scheduled to fly from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: Nerlens Noel was back on the court and in the weight room yesterday, so fear not, Sixers fans. Not playing in Sunday's game after his successful debut on Saturday was just a precaution taken by the team. "I felt a little sore [all over] but not much really," he said. "We had a pretty tough training camp the week before so I felt conditioned for that. It's all just real precautionary. I was just glad I got out on the court and I know there aren't any limitations. We're just being steady on this Summer League, making sure we're not overdoing it, working on my game." Noel said he will play tonight when the team plays the Houston Rockets at 7. After that, the Sixers will decide whether he'll go again on Wednesday or take another day off.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Jabari Parker will make his debut as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, and it promises to be a high-profile first act. Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in the June 26 draft, will face off against top overall pick Andrew Wiggins as the Bucks meet the Cleveland Cavaliers in their NBA Summer League opener in Las Vegas. There was plenty of drama on draft week in New York about which player would go No. 1 overall. In the end, it was Wiggins going to Cleveland and Parker landing in his preferred destination with Milwaukee. ... Jason Kidd, in some of his first comments as Bucks coach, praised the 19-year-old Parker and even made a comparison to LeBron James. That was high praise indeed for the former Duke player and Chicago native who led his high school team (Simeon) to four consecutive state titles. The summer league will give Kidd a chance to evaluate the Bucks' young talent, including Parker, second-year forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and second-year point guard Nate Wolters.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: It took two summer-league games for the Orlando Magic to learn something about their rookie point guard, Elfrid Payton. He bounces back well. Two days after Payton played shakily in his pro debut, he nearly recorded a triple-double Monday as the Magic beat the Houston Rockets 87-69. Payton scored 12 points, gathered eight rebounds and dished out nine assists to go along with four turnovers. "I was just coming out and trying to be the aggressor and be more aggressive," Payton said. "That's something that I think separates me, and I need to do a better job of doing that."
- Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: What P.J. Hairston did Sunday afternoon – punching a high school basketball player during a pickup game at a Durham YMCA – was outrageous. It was ridiculous. It was dumb. And the question we must all wonder about this newly minted Charlotte Hornet now is: Was that punch the end of something for Hairston? Or was it just the beginning? He just made himself and the Hornets look very bad. If he’s not going to start making better decisions soon, it will happen again. Couple that with the loss of Josh McRoberts on Monday to Miami, and it was a terrible 24 hours for the Hornets. Their third-best player just flew the coop in McRoberts, whose passing and unselfishness will be sorely missed. And one of their 2014 first-round draft choices – the one with all the character concerns – just slugged a teenager. Everybody agrees Hairston threw at least one punch. Beyond that, it is unclear. According to 17-year-old Kentrell Barkley, he was hit twice by Hairston with little to no provocation.
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore used his Twitter account to congratulate Nik Stauskas and welcome him to the team after he was selected eighth in last month’s NBA draft. But that doesn’t mean McLemore, drafted seventh overall last year, wasn’t surprised the Kings selected a shooting guard. “I wasn’t expecting that,” McLemore said after a quick laugh. “At the same time, they felt he was the best available draft pick, so I’m fine with it. At the end of the day, it’s a business, and I’m just going to do what I have to do to get better as a player.” McLemore has plenty to prove after struggling for most of his rookie season that started with a trying stint during summer league. He believes he will play much better this summer when the Kings open Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.
- Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press: After a sophomore slog in which his stats and his sentiment suffered, Timberwolves shooting guard Alexey Shved has accepted his new job duty as a point guard. "It doesn't matter -- point guard, shooting guard," said Shved after the Wolves' first minicamp practice before the Las Vegas summer league. "I just want to play." On draft night, Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said Shved's longevity in the NBA likely relied on his ability to play the point. On Monday, Saunders said the switch wouldn't be full time. The bigger point, Saunders said, is reinstating his confidence, which waned a year ago.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Spencer Dinwiddie is so in tune with his rehab that he sounds like a physician, speed-rapping the process he’s been through since his January surgery. Platelet-Rich Plasma, hyperbaric chambers and muscle atrophy fall off his tongue as if he’s heard those terms dozens of times since his injury, and done nothing but press his doctors for answers, and for ways to push himself beyond his limits. “I don’t have any movement pattern restrictions,” Dinwiddie said. “Obviously they’re not letting me play but there’s nothing I can’t do, running, jumping, anything.” He uses the chamber so the ACL will heal faster but he acknowledges there’s no shortcut to getting back on the floor. “Other than that it’s been regular hard work,” he said. “Squats, lunges, step-ups, things like that. Being really dedicated. When they clear me, I’ll push myself, I’m not the type to be scared. When they said I could jump, I was like, alright, it’s time to dunk, not hop.”
- Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: So, it wasn’t surprising that when Herb Kohl recently sold his NBA franchise, he didn’t forget about the people who worked under him. You may have read where Kohl gave gifts of $500 to employees at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the Bucks played their home games. What you haven’t read, though, is that Kohl’s generosity extended much further. He also bestowed significant financial gifts to others in the organization, from secretaries to sales personnel to basketball operations officials. The amount Kohl gave those employees varied and was based on different criterion, not the least of which was longevity with the organization. Some Bucks employees received $40,000 while others received nearly $100,000. And there were even some individuals who were given checks that one person close to the situation described as “life changing.”