Monday, August 25, 2014
First Cup: Monday
By Nick Borges
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: Having spent an injury-free summer working out and feeling rewarded by the Celtics’ surprising long-term investment, Avery Bradley said he is determined to live up to expectations. “I’m motivated to be the best teammate I can be,” he said. “One thing I want to improve this year is I want to get my teammates involved a little bit more [by passing the ball]. I know that’s something I can get better at, especially because the game’s slowing down for me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.” Bradley came into the NBA following his freshman season at the University of Texas a bright-eyed 19-year-old, but he is now the second-most tenured Celtic behind Rajon Rondo. And he laughs when told that rookie Marcus Smart is 3½ years his junior and James Young is nearly five. “I remember KG [ Kevin Garnett] and those guys would tell me, 10 years is going to go by like that and I’m already five years in,” he said. “It hits home for sure because I’m taking a leadership role. I’m open to taking it and not only that, I’m excited to take it. I feel like I can teach the younger guys a lot, all the stuff that I’ve been through, all the stuff that I’ve learned from the amazing players I was blessed enough to play with.” Bradley and Rondo are the Celtics’ projected starting backcourt and the two have grown closer over the years.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: The three-team trade that became official on Saturday, sending Thaddeus Young to the Minnesota Timberwolves and bringing the Sixers two expiring contracts and a first-round draft pick, enhanced the plan that general manager Sam Hinkie has put into place. There is no now. There is only the future. ... How does this transaction help the Sixers for the upcoming season? Probably not much. How will it help them in the future? It's another stockpiling of assets by Hinkie. When those assets will pay dividends is anyone's guess right now.
- Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune: While most of the local media attention in the Timberwolves’ trade of Kevin Love to the Cavaliers has focused on the arrival of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, Flip Saunders believes that Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young will play crucial roles with the team, as well. Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 but had a rough rookie year. Saunders believes a lot of that is in the past. “He has good potential,” said the Wolves president and coach. “He played very well this summer, was one of the better big men really at Vegas at the Summer League.” ... But Saunders said Young was about more than just production. “He is a borderline All-Star,” he said. “There has been a lot of speculation about why would you trade for him and give up a first-round pick that is in the 20s to bring him in? Here are the things, we didn’t have a power forward on our board that had started an NBA game. The other thing is, going back I saw how [Kevin] Garnett developed, how [Stephon] Marbury developed, how [Wally] Szczerbiak developed, we always had mentors with those players." ... Saunders added that while Young, who is only two months older than Love, can be a free agent next season, he hopes he can convince him that Minnesota is the best place for his career. But the Wolves will have flexibility either way, because if Young departs, they can use his loss of salary to add another free agent.
- Chris Fedor of The Plain Dealer: It was something neither Mike Miller nor James Jones wanted to admit when they were introduced as free agents for the Cleveland Cavaliers two weeks ago. LeBron James has dodged it, instead hoping to focus on the "process." General Manager David Griffin won't say it either. But after the Cavs' most recent move in what has become a landmark off-season, there's only one thing that will make the 2014-15 season a success: an NBA championship. ... Thanks to biggest transformation the league has seen in one off-season, the Cavs, winners of 97 games the last four years, have gone from Eastern Conference doormat to the upper echelon of the NBA, and there's no reason for them to not win the title this season. Getting to the playoffs is not enough. Neither is getting to the Finals. The talent has been acquired. The pieces fit perfectly. Now there's one thing left, and it's something the franchise has never done before: win the NBA championship. Anything less would be a disappointment.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: More than any other NBA franchise, the Thunder has steadily utilized its D-League program the past six years. And it’s produced a ton of success stories. But that hasn’t just been limited to the players who have made brief stops. It extends to the sidelines, where a handful of the coaches and support staff have used Thunder U as a career springboard. On Friday afternoon, the Thunder announced the hiring of Florida assistant Mark Daigneault as the next head coach of its D-League team, which relocated from Tulsa to OKC this offseason and has yet to determine its name. ... Most signs would indicate Daigneault might not be long for this position. He’s a rapid riser. And that’s just how the Thunder likes it. The three guys who held this gig before Daigneault – Nate Tibbetts, Dale Osbourne and Darko Rajakovic – all immediately ascended to assistant coaching positions in the NBA. Tibbetts and Osbourne are currently with the Blazers. Rajakovic was hired as the Thunder’s newest assistant this offseason. It’s a ton of turnover for one position. But it’s the good kind.
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: One veteran NBA scout said Michael Beasley is a far better player than journeyman Shawne Williams and questioned the Heat for signing Williams to guaranteed money. So why hasn’t the Heat tried to re-sign Beasley when it could use his offense? A person with direct knowledge cited several reasons for the Heat's lack of interest: Inconsistency, lack of trust in his defense (and ability to execute the Heat's defensive system), and maturity/focus issues, which are still a concern even though he improved somewhat in that regard last season. I would give Beasley another shot at the minimum; he ranked in the top 52 in points-per-48 minutes last season and the Heat might regret not having his offense this season if Dwyane Wade or Danny Granger is injured. Beasley would have interest in returning if the Heat calls. But essentially, this comes down to lack of trust by the Heat coaching staff after working with Beasley for nine months. It spoke volumes that the Heat instead prefered a player (Williams) who has had just one good NBA season (2010-11 for the Knicks) and spent much of last season in the Developmental League.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: With the likes of Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner having earned new contracts, the lone member of the Spurs’ 2014 championship team yet to re-sign is restricted free agent center Aron Baynes. Well-known Turkish sportscaster Ismael Senol tweeted on Sunday that while Baynes hopes to return to San Antonio, he’s also begun to explore options overseas in the hopes of signing for at least $1.5 million Euros. Baynes, 27, has been a marginal contributor since joining the Spurs in Jan. 2013. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds with a 9.7 Player Efficiency Rating — 15.0 is average — in 53 appearances last season. ... They commonly keep a slot open for flexibility. Indeed, that same approach that could spell the end of Baynes’ stint in San Antonio is what allowed the Spurs to add him in the first place as a project from Europe.
- Ben Standig of CSN Washington: If the idea of going to the gym on a Saturday morning sounds comparable to having root canal procedure during a tax audit, here's some motivation from one of the newest Washington Wizards: Paul Pierce posted video of himself running sprints uphill on sand dunes in Malibu. ... If you can't tell, the Los Angeles native is working out in Wizards gear. ... Training camp opens next month. What are you waiting for?