Friday, October 2, 2009
First Cup: Friday
- Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "Players and coaches said Alonzo Mourning already is having an impact in his new role as Miami's vice president of player programs. Mourning watched Thursday's practice with other members of the Heat's front-office staff and spoke one-on-one with several players after the workout. He also has mentored players in the weight room and over lunch. 'Alonzo's got a lot of wisdom,' Dwyane Wade said. 'He'll be great in that role.' "
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Though out until late November at the earliest, Tracy McGrady has attended Rockets practices, a change from past seasons that Rockets coach Rick Adelman said would help McGrady see the changes this season. 'I think it's better,' Adelman said. 'Sometimes it's hard to go through really long practices. Do you sit like Yao (Ming)? What would Yao do here. He probably doesn't show up because I might put him in the scrimmage. 'I think it's better to be around your teammates as much as you possibly can and be a part of it. We don't know how long (McGrady) is going to be out. He needs to know what we're doing. It's different. We're not doing the same things we did before because we don't have the personnel.' Until then, McGrady and Shane Battier, who is out until next week at the earliest, do offer two more voices at the workouts. 'Tracy, he knows what's happening,' Adelman said. 'It's good. He and Shane have been good, talking to guys as they come out. I'd rather see them out on the floor. That would be a lot easier.' "
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Brian Cook drilled his 3 and shouted toward the Toyota Center rafters 'It's about … time.' He was referring only to that shot, coming late in an afternoon when he believed too many shots had missed. But the cry of frustration could have as accurately described his escape from his past two seasons, especially since his trade deadline deal to the Rockets. 'It's always difficult not to play,' Cook said. 'This last year-and-a-half has been real tough for me. It was the first time in my life I haven't played and didn't have a role on the team, where I wasn't even coming in and shooting the basketball or rebounding, playing D and contributing to the team. 'I kind of got into a dark place where I didn't know what was happening. As the NBA goes, I'm getting older (28) and there are younger guys coming in. But I still want to be competitive. There's a lot of things I could have done differently, been more mature, not blown up, losing my mind.' Cook, a 6-9 forward, said he had not lost his temper around the Rockets, but did let his frustration get the better of him. 'Everybody sometimes just snaps and does things the wrong way,' he said. Cook's frustration only grew in each of the past two postseasons when each of the past two teams that traded him -- the Lakers in 2008 and the Magic last season -- went to the NBA Finals a few months later, eventually meeting one another last season."
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Big men are going to take the spotlight for the Mavericks in the next few weeks, starting tonight at a scrimmage during the Fan Jam festivities. And it's not just Drew Gooden and Erick Dampier who will spend the preseason battling for playing time at center. It's Kris Humphries, too. He's a power forward by trade, but he has the size and physical nature to play center. Quality has always been an issue for the Mavericks at center. Quantity won't be a problem this season. 'Competition for minutes at the big positions is stiff,' coach Rick Carlisle said. 'We've got a lot of guys who are experienced.' Humphries in particular has been a surprise during the early days of training camp. Acquired in the Shawn Marion trade, the 6-9, 235-pounder from Minnesota has spent five years in the NBA with Utah and Toronto and has fought through some fluke injuries, like the broken fibula he suffered early last season when he was kneed in the leg. So far this fall, there have been nothing but rave reviews from the Mavericks."
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "So far, the camp experience has been different for each of the Spurs' three most important players. Parker has had his prescribed 'Brunge time.' Ginobili has had his minutes monitored closely, occasionally sitting out all or parts of a workout. Duncan has yet to be limited at all. 'Everything in a way is by the seat of the pants,' coach Gregg Popovich said. 'Every day will be a little different. They're all on a different schedule. The object will be to have all of them fresh come playoff time.' Indeed, despite the copious amount of ink spilled on the Spurs' offseason additions, the bulk of their championship hopes still rests on the health of their Big Three. Since last winning the title in 2007, the Spurs have now gone two consecutive postseasons without their talented triumvirate at 100 percent."
- Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "By now, you've probably seen the YouTube clip of Dwyane Wade murdering the Boyz II Men hit, End of the Road, during his Wade's World Foundation celebrity weekend bowling event last month in Chicago. Even worse, you may have actually turned up the volume and heard his karaoke version of the song. In short, Wade probably owes Boyz II Men an apology. Wade improved his defense to an All-World level last season. But he may have been at his defensive best after Thursday's practice, when he tried to explain his performance on the mic. His publicist and friend, Lisa Joseph, re-posted the less-than-grammy-worthy performance on the Internet earlier this week to give Wade's friends another round of laughs after the initial wave wore off. Wade took it all in stride and said the video probably got 20,000 more hits in one night. 'Everybody was scared to get up there, and I decided to get up there and be a leader,' Wade said of his decision to take the stage and flex his vocals. 'Unfortunately, it was a camera around. It (sounded) a lot different in my head. When they put the music on and the words, it turned out a little differently.' "
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight Howard's lack of moves in the low post have been one oft-criticized aspect of his game. 'Have you ever seen a better athlete with worse low-post moves? Er, move?' wrote ESPN.com's Bill Simmons in a diary of Orlando's Game 4 loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. 'He's like a jukebox with one song - and in this case, the song is, 'I'm going to turn right, bring the ball down low, take a dribble, put my shoulder into my guy and shoot a jumphook.' I think the Lakers know it's coming, Dwight. No offense.' But to Howard, that's not the real issue. 'People say that, but when you get double-teamed every play, it's hard to get post mov
es,' Howard said. 'My biggest thing is passing out the double team and allowing my guys to get shots, trusting them. That way I have an easier chance to score.' The Magic have given him plenty of practice with that this week. Nearly every time Howard touched the ball in scrimmages on Wednesday and Thursday, he was double-teamed. And just in case he needs it, he's also paid a lot of attention to his jump shot. Howard said he worked on it every day and even circulated a video this summer in which he ran up and down a court drilling 15-footers."
- Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News: "Jonas Jerebko is a rarity in Detroit professional sports. He's a Swede who doesn't play for the Red Wings. The 6-foot-10 rookie forward was unique back in Sweden, too, for his love of basketball. 'I wasn't watching the NBA growing up,' said Jerebko, alluding to the lack of basketball coverage back home. 'It was the NHL and European soccer and that's about it. The only NBA would be the Finals when they'd show some highlights. In Sweden, basketball is maybe number seven or eight of all the sports. Everybody plays soccer growing up, and you have hockey and handball. Hopefully me signing and coming over here will help the basketball in Sweden.' What spurred Jerebko's interest in basketball? 'I grew up in a basketball family,' Jerebko said. 'My mom played, and my dad played at Syracuse. They've helped me a lot. I've always been playing basketball. I went to the camps over here because there are no camps in Sweden.' "
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Don't tell the third-year big man Friday's exhibition opener against the Pacers in Indiana isn't a big deal. For the first time in his NBA career, Joakim Noah has reported to camp in shape, eager to build on his strong finish to last season. That's not to say Noah didn't have his offseason fun; pictures of him at Lollapalooza are everywhere on the Internet. But he combined focus with his fun -- extending range on his jumper, adding 10 pounds of muscle, playing with the French national team. 'I feel very confident,' Noah said. 'Plays like that one definitely help. There were times earlier last season where I wasn't as confident. I worked really hard to get stronger and improve my shot during the offseason. I understand my role. I'm not trying to do too much. But we have a different team with (Ben Gordon) gone. He was a big part of what we did. If I need to step up offensively, I will. If not, I will keep affecting the game by busting my (butt).' "
- Frank Dell'Apa of The Boston Globe: "Marquis Daniels committed to the Celtics in July, eventually signing a one-year deal worth $1.99 million, turning down more lucrative offers because of the championship chances in Boston. 'A lot of guys just talk about that,' Daniels said of sacrificing on his paycheck. 'Some people actually do it. I had goal in mind. This is a great organization, great teammates, great coaching staff. I like our chances of achieving the goal we have in mind. In the end, hopefully, there can be the glory. I'm just taking a step back to go forward.' "
- Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail: "The Toronto Raptors aren't exactly sure what role DeMar DeRozan will play when they break training camp and begin the regular season. But the high-flying rookie from the University of Southern California has already been stamped 'approved' by NBA royalty. The final negotiations were still being done yesterday, but DeRozan said he expects to be signing an endorsement deal with Nike and more significantly will be the only NBA player this season to wear the signature shoe of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star and reigning NBA Finals most valuable player. 'That's great, that's big, being able to wear one of my favourite player's shoes,' DeRozan said yesterday."
- Chris Young of the Toronto Star: "Next up -- Chris Bosh: The Movie. Or at least, a little taste of it. Bosh's latest project -- First Ink, a high-def rendering of the Raptors star's latest rendering -- gets sneak-preview status alongside the first-night headliner at this weekend's Canadian Sport Film Festival. The 40-minute documentary is two weeks away from completion and is scheduled for full DVD release later on next month, but a three-minute teaser is on deck Saturday at the festival, returning for its second year. The Toronto production company behind the film followed Bosh and shot footage in Toronto over a two-month period this summer. Bosh's first tattoo -- from inception to first sitting -- is the jumping-off point for a look at the player who may well be heading into his final season in a Raptors uniform. 'It's a little bit of comedy, and it has a documentary part,' Bosh told the Star's Dave Feschuk Thursday at Raptors training camp in Ottawa. 'It's maybe a side of me nobody's ever seen. It's got that same skit feeling to it (as some of Bosh's youtube videos). We've got some funny ones. There's some good stuff in there. Hopefully it'll be entertaining to people, and really interesting and artistic.' "
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "After two years of being pummeled around the basket, often elevating and landing on someone's foot, frequently twisting the ankle he now tapes, Kevin Martin is embracing change. And he's right. And smart. He needs to adjust, or he can count on a shortened career. 'I love contact,' Martin said the other day, 'but in a perfect world, I'll be going to the foul line maybe seven, eight times this year instead of 10. I have to take more jumpers and (shots off) curls so I don't take such a beating.' There is an impressive precedent here. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen experienced similar epiphanies in their mid-20s. So did Doug Christie, whose wiry physique most closely resembles that of his former teammate. All three were superb athletes who improved their jump shots and, as they aged and physically matured, more selectively slashed to the rim. 'Kevin wants to be stronger, not at the start of the move but at the finish, so when he absorbs the contact, he lands with better balance,' added David Thorpe, Martin's offseason trainer. 'That doesn't mean he won't get hurt, but it improves his chances of landing with some stability.' This makes sense. The combination of Martin's body type (a skinny 6-foot-7, 185 pounds), unconventional form and passion for hanging above the rim make him too inviting a target."
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: "Maybe Monta Ellis' comments Monday that he and Curry wouldn't work together as a tandem illustrates Ellis' development. Members of the organization are certainly touting Ellis as much improved. They say he's 100 percent healthy. They say he's matured. They say he's motivated like never before. Ellis' development on and off the court has them all but promising big things. 'He will have a great year this year, if he stays healthy,' said Warriors coach Don Nelson said. 'Monta, after this season, he'll be a made man.' Three significant changes are at the root of Ellis' alleged transfo
rmation. Perhaps chief among them was the Warriors' decision to back off their stance that they reserved the right to terminate Ellis' contract, which officially ended the controversy of his moped accident."
- Brian T. Smith of The Columbian: "When the Blazers were the joke of the NBA from 2004-06, Joel Przybilla was part of the joke. When Portland posted consecutive 27- and 21-win seasons, redefining the lows to which a rebuilding franchise can sink, Przybilla wore black and red. And now that Rip City has returned, and the Blazers appear to be on the verge of once again becoming a Western Conference powerhouse? Portland's 7-foot-1, 255-pound center is still around. Perseverance has paid off for Przybilla. So has faith. A tattoo illustrating two praying hands, draped by a cross, is inked into the 29-year-old's left shoulder. 'I knew things couldn't get any worse, man, to tell you the truth,' Przybilla said Thursday. What pulled Przybilla through? What convinced him to stay a Blazer, while other free agents avoided Portland during the franchise's recent lean years? The former University of Minnesota standout said the knowledge that good people were in place, primarily coach Nate McMillan and general manager Kevin Pritchard, made the difference."
- Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Generally, Carlos Boozer's reception would be best described as chilly, although not openly hostile. There were muted cheers during pregame introductions, grumblings after each of his three missed shots in the first half and some sustained boos when he stood at the free-throw line in the third quarter. The response was much more positive when he twice poked the ball away from Denver's Nene for steals. So it is apparent that Jazz fans' love of Boozer will be conditional. That's still better than the outright anger directed at him in March 2007, the first time he returned to Cleveland in a Jazz uniform, or the way Derek Fisher was treated here in November 2008 after coming back with the Lakers. In each of those cases, the visitors were being punished for perceived betrayal of the franchises. Some of that sentiment exists here about Boozer, certainly."