Wednesday, July 9, 2014
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: This is Carmelo Anthony’s “dream” — play in New York with LeBron James this season. That’s right. New York. Not Miami. Too bad it’s a long shot to happen. According to a friend of Anthony’s, Melo has held out faint hope Knicks president Phil Jackson can pull a miracle and clear out the necessary salary-cap space to get it done, but he is running out of time. Anthony’s decision could come in the next couple of days. It would require Jackson to ship out Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani’s expiring contracts, and for Anthony and James to take less than the max. Iman Shumpert might have to be dealt, and the rights to Jeremy Tyler renounced. One report said Jackson conceivably can move $40 million under the cap with a flurry of moves — as long as he doesn’t take back salary. “He really wants LeBron to come to New York," the source said. “That’s his dream right now. Phil is trying to get it done."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Right now there’s nothing more than a possibility that Bosh, James or both don’t return to Miami. But it’s a very, very dark possibility. Here’s the Heat roster right now if James and Bosh depart: Wade (because no other team is going to pay him what an indebted Miami can and inevitably will), McRoberts, Granger, Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Shabazz Napier. The free agent market isn’t going to replenish losses of that magnitude. And Miami doesn’t have attractive assets it could afford to trade. The Heat could go from a four-year NBA Finals streak to a black hole. So, Riley’s task is easily stated if not easily executed. To maintain his kingdom and his ever-present cool, he needs to keep James, Bosh and Wade together.
- Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: It's like this: If Lance Stephenson, the Pacers' 23-year-old free agent shooting guard, doesn't want a five-year, $44 million contract, if that's not enough to keep him in one of the few places where he's still accepted whether he's "Good Lance" or "Bad Lance," let him go. See ya. Au revoir. Nice knowing you. Listen, if Stephenson can get $10 million a year on the open market — and that's what his agent is paid to do — the more power to him and his family. But I'm saying this now: Stephenson will never have as good a support system (read: Bird) as he has now in Indianapolis. He will never find a group of teammates more willing (however grudgingly) to put up with his antics, both on the practice court and in games. He will never find a fan base more willing to embrace him, a fan base that loves him despite all his warts, much like Ron Artest, the former Pacers All-Star now named Metta World Peace. If I'm Bird, I'm not moving off that offer. I'm not budging because the contract offer fully reflects Stephenson's worth. Yes, he is a tremendous raw talent who led the league in triple-doubles. He's also enigmatic, which is a nice way of saying he can be a complete knucklehead at times. He's a time bomb in the same way Artest was forever poised to explode.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: The patience of the Bulls’ front office continued to be tested Tuesday, with free agent Carmelo Anthony’s indecision still seemingly keeping them from pursuing a Plan B. According to a source, the Bulls feel that if Anthony goes elsewhere, they are one of the leading candidates to land free-agent big man Pau Gasol — unless Anthony happens to choose the Los Angeles Lakers, which could start the dominos falling and convince Gasol to re-sign with the Lakers. "It’s frustrating for [the front office], but it’s free agency," the source said. That’s one way to describe it. Besides the Bulls, Gasol was being targeted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat, the Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks.
- Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: This is the NBA's silly season, when trade rumors fly. As expected, 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie is the most popular guy at the Orlando Pro Summer League. That's what happens when your club is $30 million under the salary cap and teams looking to shed salaries are lining up to make trade offers. "This time of year, there are way more [offers] leaked than real, and way more postured by one team or another than there's any legs to," Hinkie said Tuesday before the Sixers' 92-71 victory over the Houston Rockets at the Amway Center practice court. "We are involved in a lot of conversations. We are not involved in as many as has been reported." The Sixers have received phone calls from just about every team in the league. The most buzz surrounds the report that the team was discussing a trade for Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin.
- Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: LaMarcus Aldridge has decided he wants to finish his career with the Trail Blazers. But he will delay that commitment for one summer. Aldridge on Tuesday told The Oregonian he has opted to postpone signing a contract extension with the Blazers until next summer, when he can sign for more years and significantly more money. The three-time All-Star made it clear his decision had nothing to do with his commitment to the franchise or his happiness in Portland. Quite simply, he said, it was a business move. "I'm happy to stay, happy to be here, happy with the direction the team has gone the last year or two," Aldridge told The Oregonian in a phone interview. "This has no impact on my interest in staying in Portland. I just want to get a five-year deal. I feel like that's the best decision on my part."
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: If the NBA is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, then during free agency, it goes one step further. As in: How can I make life a little more miserable for the competition. The Mavericks are trying to do just that to the Houston Rockets, and it might qualify as a pretty decent chunk of payback. The Mavericks are taking dead aim at restricted free-agent small forward Chandler Parsons, whose stock has risen to the point that he takes a back seat to no free agents after LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. If the Mavericks sign Parsons to an offer sheet that starts in the $10 million to $12 million range, then the Rockets will have three days to match it. The problem is if the Rockets are able to sign Chris Bosh to a maximum contract, as they have offered the Miami Heat big man, that would give them three players making in excess of $14 million per season. Add Parson’s $12 million, and the Rockets would quickly be creeping into the luxury tax by the time they filled out their team. This could be called the Dwight Howard rule.
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: After scoring 26, 30 and 26 points this week – all Detroit Pistons victories – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have much left to prove. So it would be understandable if the Pistons decide to shelve the second-year shooting guard with two games remaining after his winning triple Tuesday beat the Miami Heat, 80-78. It’s doubly understandable considering he tweaked his ankle in the first half. “We’re going to be very smart about that because he’s played incredibly well, hard and passionate. We’ll kind of evaluate that (today),” assistant coach Bob Beyer said. You can tell if Caldwell-Pope has his way, he will be in the lineup Wednesday against the Celtics. He said it never crossed his mind to come out of Tuesday’s game.
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Coach Quin Snyder already thought highly of Dante Exum when the Utah Jazz drafted him fifth overall last month. But those impressions came from seeing game tape of Exum, and there wasn’t a whole lot of footage considering the young Australian didn’t play college ball and had limited experience and exposure outside of an international all-star game (Nike Hoop Summit) and two FIBA world tournaments for teens. Tuesday marked the first day Snyder got to observe the soon-to-be 19-year-old Exum in an up-close working environment, as the rookie point guard and 14 other players began a mini-camp to prepare for the upcoming NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. So, coach? “He’s fast,” Snyder said. “I think more than anything he really looks like he knows how to play.”
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: There were some who thought taking LaVine, a 19-year-old coming off an up-and-down freshman season at UCLA, was something of a reach. LaVine can run like the wind and jump out of the gym. But, critics said, he is raw and will need a lot of work. Turns out LaVine, unlike many pro athletes, readily admits to reading everything written about him that he can find. He knows what people are saying. So, when asked what his goals were for the upcoming NBA Summer League in Las Vegas – the Wolves’ entry plays its first game Saturday – this is what he said: “Whenever I step on the court I want to be the best player,” LaVine said. “I have a lot of high goals for myself. There are still a lot of doubters out there. I read all of the things on Twitter. I keep those in my back pocket. I feel I turned a lot of heads since I came out (of college). I’ll still continue to do that.” Again, it’s a short sample size, but LaVine played a lot of point guard Monday, and will do so in Vegas, too. After Monday’s workout Saunders said he had no question in his mind that LaVine could play both shooting guard and some at the point.
- A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: The Boston Celtics would love to add a big man with the skills of Detroit's Greg Monroe. But all indications are that the Pistons are going to do whatever they have to do in order to re-sign the restricted free agent this offseason. "He's more important than anyone else on the free agent market to us, to the Detroit Pistons," Stan Van Gundy told reporters on Tuesday. "He's extremely important." Talented big men are hard to find, and just as hard to keep in the fold. Van Gundy is well aware of this, which is why he's preparing for any and all potential scenarios involving the 6-foot-11 big man. "I'm not going to get into the business side of things, and certainly not help other teams in terms of building their strategy or anything else," said Van Gundy.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Last season's NBA Summer League laid an ideal foundation for a newly constructed Suns team to begin building its eventual success. Alex Lenis ready for his turn. After surgeries on each ankle following the end of his collegiate career last year, Len lost the usual rookie opportunity at the Summer League to get the NBA equivalent of new employee orientation. Unable to do much beyond set-shooting last offseason, last year's No. 5 overall draft pick is making the most of this summer. The Suns' summer team started two-a-day practices Tuesday, but it is just a continuation of offseason work for Len. He kept Phoenix as his home during the offseason and spent five days a week working out at US Airways Center. The proof is in his noticeably stronger upper body. Len said he has added 10 pounds to his 7-foot-1 frame since the season ended, putting the 21-year-old at 260 pounds. "I just feel more comfortable on the court and more confident and just a little stronger," Len said. "Defensively, it's easier. Overall, I move better because my ankles are better, too." Len had setbacks early last season due to ankle issues, but a midseason respite helped.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Longtime Chicago Bulls athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi, hired by former general manager Jerry Krause in August 1998, has left the organization. Tedeschi twice won the NBATA's Joe O'Toole Trainer of the Year award. According to a team spokesman, he has accepted a position at Oregon State, where his daughter is enrolled in graduate school. After enduring recent injury-plagued seasons, the Bulls last summer hired Jen Swanson as director of sports performance to oversee the training and strength and conditioning staffs. Swanson had worked extensively with Derrick Rose at a Los Angeles-based rehabilitation clinic during his recovery from ACL surgery.