Monday, August 4, 2014
First Cup: Monday
By Nick Borges
- Mike Gavin of Newsday: Andrew Wiggins stepped onto the basketball court yesterday wearing his No. 21 wine-and-gold-colored Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. Odd, considering the jersey had just been discontinued by the NBA Store. Asked for his thoughts on his jersey no longer being available for purchase on the league's website, Wiggins seemed surprised. "I didn't try to buy my own jersey," he joked Sunday during an NBA rookie photo shoot for Panini trading cards at the Knicks' training facility. But the fact that the jersey of the top pick in this year's NBA draft was taken off shelves and online browsers was the latest sign that a trade involving Wiggins likely is imminent.
- Blake Schuster of the Chicago Tribune: Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Sunday he is ready to "move on" after issuing a strong rebuke last week to a Chicago Sun-Times story that reported "tension" between point guard Derrick Rose and the team. Speaking Sunday to co-hosts Bruce Levine and Barry Rozner on WSCR-AM (670), Reinsdorf reiterated his disdain for the story. "The article infuriated me," Reinsdorf said. "I put out a statement and said what I felt I had to say." ... After the report, Rose spoke to ESPN about the situation and was quick to shoot down any notion of ill feelings between the two sides. "Derrick backed up what I said in his interview," Reinsdorf said Sunday. "Now we just move on."
- Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: If not Paul George, then who will step up? Especially in a small forward slot that seemed barren behind George. Rising second-year player Solomon Hill only appeared in 28 games, the fewest among all of the players who started the 2013-14 season on the Pacers' roster. Newly-signed forward Damjan Rudez has spent his career overseas, never playing a game in the NBA. After considering the in-house replacements, the members of the Pacers' brain trust must answer the inevitable 'What's next?' question. Should they ride along with the youthful Hill and endure any misery that comes this year? Would they dare to cross the luxury tax threshold by signing a worthy player with the injury exception? Or even try to find the right puzzle pieces and re-arrange a roster by going after the best available? There's always a combo forward like free agent Dante Cunningham who cannot score with the threes of this league (just 6.3 points per game last season) but can certainly defend the position. Also, veteran Ray Allen remains available, however this farfetched idea would mean that C.J. Miles becomes the small forward starter while the 39-year-old guard fills in minutes as a shooting guard. Bringing back 35-year-old Rasual Butler is also a possibility.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: When Paul George suffered his horrific injury Friday in a Team USA scrimmage, it sent shock waves through the NBA. What it also did was remind everybody what kind of player usually plays in America’s international competitions. In virtually every case, the players are under contract beyond the upcoming season. Only Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, a late addition to the team, has a contract that expires after the 2014-15 season. The other 18 players have at least two seasons left on their deals, and 15 of the 18 have contracts that run at least three more seasons. George is set to start a five-year, $90-million contract this season. Players who are in less comfortable financial situations may be less inclined to participate in international tournaments such as the Olympics or the FIBA World Cup, which begins later this month in Spain. In other words, they may be more willing to risk money that already is committed by owners than they are to risk future earnings that are not yet guaranteed.
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: It appears that former Bucks coach Larry Drew, fired in controversial fashion last month when Jason Kidd decided to pursue the job, is making progress in joining David Blatt’s staff with the Cavaliers. Drew has ties with Blatt, who contacted him soon after he was fired by Milwaukee. Drew would join the staff that features associate head coach Tyronn Lue, who was an assistant with the Celtics under Doc Rivers. Former Celtic James Posey was on the Cavaliers’ summer league staff after coaching in the NBADL last season.
- Andrew Gilstrap of ArizonaSports.com: (Phoenix Suns owner Robert) Sarver was asked Friday if he thought Phoenix's initial offer was fair. "We think it's a fair offer. I think you could argue, you know, I mean some would say it's maybe a little high; some would say it's low," the owner said. "What's fair is important to us, and also important to him -- him and his agent. It's not necessarily us to determine what he thinks is fair; it's him to determine that." ... The 10-year Suns owner was also asked if he thinks people from Bledsoe's camp are fueling some of the drama surrounding the contract negotiations. Sarver said it's a possibility, but that he's not bothered by it either way. "I think probably so, but I don't know that that really, at the end of the day, will have any impact on the relationship with Eric and the organization or even with his agent and his organization," he said. "I just think that's just how a lot of this stuff is done. I mean there's so (many) smokescreens ... That part of it doesn't bother me." Sarver also refused to agree with the notion that Bledsoe's agent is inexperienced and over his head. In closing, the owner also tried to put the whole negotiations process into perspective.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: Steven Adams disappointed basketball fans across his home nation in late May when, in a joint decision with the Thunder, he revealed that he wouldn’t compete with the New Zealand national team during the upcoming FIBA World Cup. But throughout the rest of this summer, he’s done his best to make up for it. Adams has spent a large portion of his offseason back home, taking part in camps and trying to stir up basketball interest in New Zealand. After becoming the first New Zealander to ever get selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, Adams had an impressive rookie season, culminating with a few breakout performances in the playoffs. And through it all, his celebrity continued to grow back home. So it’s no surprise that his appearances at some youth camps earlier this summer led to a spike in participation numbers and drew some local media interest.
- Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer: In the long run, Hinkie and the Sixers are a lot more concerned about being good than about being liked, which is fortunate because the league seems intent on putting impediments in their path. The game of basketball might have some unexpected roadblocks of its own - if Dario Saric turns out to be more Darko Milicic than Toni Kukoc, or if Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel can't stay healthy, or if Michael Carter-Williams never learns to shoot the ball. Nothing about the team's plan is assured, except that the Sixers wouldn't have a future without the plan. They have been a little obvious about it - drafting two guys in the lottery who won't play this season is a nice example - and so there are consequences they have to endure as a result. Enduring is what the current phase is all about. But someday, if everything works, it might even be worth discussing which player on the team is the best instead of killing time by wondering which is the worst.
- Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post: Marcin Gortat has established a niche around the league and in the nation’s capital for living his extraordinarily strange life in the public eye of Twitter and Instagram. The 6-foot-11 big man uploads images, often without explanation or context, and it’s hard not to appreciate their sheer ludicrous and random nature. Marcin Gortat with a pig? Marcin Gortat with a pig. The seven-year pro most recently made headlines on Saturday, when he didn’t think twice about asking a Twitter follower’s advice — ergo, the world’s — about whether a subscription to a porn site was a worthy purchase. That kind of unbridled curiosity from a man who just signed a $60 million extension has its own charm, regardless of the topic. The center kicked off his not-so-private offseason arriving in style to a basketball camp he runs in Poland. Military style to be exact: atop a Humvee, manning an enormous turret. Again, there is no indication why he felt the need to terrify the campers, but the lack of detail is part of the appeal.
- Ben Standig of CSN Washington: Forget All-Star appearances or dunk contest titles or statistical prowess. For true NBA street cred, a player needs his own signature sneaker. If indeed that's all true, John Wall is now a made man. Looking back I realize we've written quite a bit about Wall's shoe game over the 12 months. There was the "quick ain't fair" commercial with Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, the cherry blossom themed sneakers and the All-Star version of the CrazyQuick line. Now, Adidas will introduce the John Wall signature sneaker line for the upcoming season. Per Solecollector.com, "Wall's shoe features a mesh build, scaled down frame and vertical stripe branding. The lacing system looks similar to what we've seen used in the Way of Wade series and Boost may or may not be handling the cushioning."