TrueHoop: Jazz

First Cup: Friday

July, 18, 2008
7/18/08
10:35
AM ET
  • Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Part of the Jazz's future is now wonderfully clear. The rest remains terribly blurry. Deron Williams' contract extension is the centerpiece of the Jazz's 2008 offseason, a $50 million (or more) development that gives the point guard and his team some security. Of course, everybody knew Williams was going to re-sign with the Jazz this month. So the only trouble with this resolution it is leaves so many other issues unanswered. Everything's cloudy regarding the long-term futures of center Mehmet Okur and forwards Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, thanks to the team's obvious inability to pay all of them at market value forever." TrueHoop First Cup
  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "Let's not rehash the Rockets vs China loyalty again, but those who think Yao would risk his future by returning from such a major injury too soon are probably off. No one, not even the Chinese government, would benefit from Yao defying doctor's orders to take to the court. Though he might not be 100 percent at the Olympics, there is no reason to believe he won't be fully healed when the NBA season begins in November. With the type injury Yao had -- and I have talked to a host of doctors who are experts on this (including Yao's surgeon and the doctor who told Michael Jordan not to come back when he returned and scored 63 points against the Celtics in the playoffs) -- his future may depend more on genetics and luck than when he chooses to return to play."
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "And every time, Jay Triano takes the jibes and the shots and all the snide comments and smiles, knowing it was a day when Canada ruled the United States in basketball. It's been 25 years and a few days since that occasion in Edmonton, a moment that's still among the most significant in Canadian basketball history, the day a group of university kids beat a star-studded American team en route to the gold medal at the FISU Games. 'Charles Barkley, every time I see him, he says the whole country of Canada cheated them,' Triano joked this week. 'Ed Pinckney, I saw him in Istanbul and we were talking about it. I saw Johnny Dawkins with USA Basketball and I reminded him about it.'"
  • Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Tyronn Lue and Malik Allen saw an opportunity to make a real impact. Lue, a 6-foot point guard, and Allen, a 6-10 power forward, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, offering further proof that general manager John Hammond is trying to build a winning team in the near term. The two National Basketball Association veterans bring a certain savvy that could prove essential as the Bucks try to rebound from a dismal 26-56 finish last season."
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "How ironic is it if Stephon Marbury's roster spot is taken by a former undrafted D-leaguer (Anthony Roberson) who played in Istanbul and Israel last season? The Knicks have 16 guaranteed contracts -- one too many -- and now have to cut a player, with Jerome James and Marbury on the chopping block. Walt Frazier, who's broadcasting summer league games with Mike Crispino on MSG Network, said he still believes Marbury should get a chance to strut his stuff at training camp in Saratoga on Sept. 30. 'I wouldn't rule him out yet,' Frazier told The Post. 'I think bringing him to camp to see what he looks like, I think they should. He gets $20 million, he might as well help this team. I think he's willing to sacrifice. His reputation has been tarnished. He's got something to prove. I saw him (Monday) and he looked great.'"
  • Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee: "There's only one road in Brad Miller's mind, and that's to recovery. In a remorseful and candid interview, the Kings center who failed a drug test for a third time because of marijuana use late last season discussed his transgressions for the first time publicly Thursday. Miller was suspended for the first five games of this coming season and will lose approximately $693,000 of his $11.3 million salary. Yet as he talked by phone while his 18-month-old daughter Anniston played in the background, he said the lost wages don't matter nearly as much as the importance of changing his ways."
  • Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: "Warriors' followers may be waiting for Brandan Wright to leap into stardom, a la guard Monta Ellis. But Wright is fine with steady progression. He isn't pining for All-Star births or anxiously waiting his chance to hit game-winning shots. He's looking forward to hours of dribbling, thousands of shots, sets of weights. He isn't looking to be the man right now but to feed off his teammates. Unlike many highly talented athletes his age, Wright isn't in a hurry to reach his peak but content with the process of getting there. He's the type who instead makes sure to cover all his bases, do all the little things and let everything else fall into place."
  • Michael C. Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Samad Bahrami and his teammates are visiting Utah on a mission clouded by grave political overtones. But it has nothing to do with missile tests, nuclear ambitions, terrorism or the threat of war. For them, it's all about basketball. Bahrami is the captain of the national basketball team of Iran - the nation that President Bush once denounced as part of an "axis of evil" and whose own religious leaders for years have urged 'death to America' in rallies and prayers. Yet while his team's historic participation in the annual Rocky Mountain Revue summer league that starts today has stirred international attention because of the strained relationship between the respective governments, Bahrami and his teammates insist that politics is not their game. 'We are just looking for sport and basketball,' Bahrami said. 'For us, it's great, because everybody knows basketball in the United States. It is the most popular sport. ... We just come here to take the experience and play with the good players and improve our odds of our game.'"

First Cup: Thursday

July, 17, 2008
7/17/08
10:07
AM ET
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Danny Ainge is the reigning NBA Executive of the Year. And if the Celtics are to win another championship this season, the director of basketball operations will have to come up with a performance worthy of a repeat. There is more than one way to knit a championship banner, but replacing James Posey will be difficult. ... In the end, the Celtics believed Posey's outside shooting was his biggest tangible contribution and that they can get that from other sources for less money. They believed they would have been tying their hands down the line. Are they correct? Ask that question again in 11 months. In the meantime, Ainge has once again shown he won't take the easy way if he doesn't believe it's the right way. In altering a successful formula, he's clearly put himself on the line, kind of like Posey so willingly stepping behind the 3-point arc late in games."TrueHoop First Cup
  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "Realistically, though, the Nuggets probably will be luxury tax payers next season. If J.R. Smith comes back for the qualifying offer, their payroll could be around $75 million. If he gets $5 million for next season, it could be around $77 million. So Stan Kroenke might not really be a happy man until 2009-10, after Allen Iverson's contract comes off the books. By then, he has a very good chance of not being a tax payer. How good his team will be remains to be seen."
  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "T.J. Ford lives for the postseason. He lives for the national television exposure, the hope of winning an NBA title and having 14 other Eastern Conference teams sitting on their couches, eating popcorn, watching him play. Ford wants those same things to happen with the Indiana Pacers. 'I'm familiar with that playoff taste and I'm not ready to give that taste up,' said Ford, who has been to the playoffs in three of his four NBA seasons. 'That's the challenge and the goal, to show people we are contenders in the East.'"
  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: "According to Christopher Arena, the NBA's vice president for apparel, sporting goods and partnerships, 'It's usually a 22-month process' to approve a new nickname, color scheme and whatever else is involved. Twenty two months? So, if this relocation process started roughly the same time Rhett Bomar got booted off the Oklahoma football team two summers ago, we'd be on the cusp of learning the nickname of our new NBA team? Twenty two months? Two months short of two years is too darn long to wait. Perhaps this explains why the Jazz never changed nicknames when they moved from New Orleans to Utah, ditto for the Grizzlies from Vancouver to Memphis, the Lakers from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, et al. They didn't want to wait on all the NBA paperwork. We realize there are a lot of i's to dot and t's to cross in a project like this, but 22 months' worth?"
  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "As far as calculated risks go, Speedy Claxton is taking a major one. The Hawks' oft-injured point guard is currently taking part in the Hawks' free-agent minicamp. He will also play summer league, which starts Friday in Salt Lake City. ... He requested the opportunity to join the youngsters and free-agent hopefuls who were on the Hawks' practice floor Wednesday. He needs to know if he can still do this, and do it the way he's been able. 'I'm not worried about what anybody else thinks and who might be out there gunning for me,' said Claxton, a seven-year veteran who already has an NBA title on his resume. 'I'm doing this for me, trying to check and see how my knee feels and how I can play and how I can do on consecutive days. I haven't been out here in a long time.'"
  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: "The players can only hope that management still feels as good about them now as it did last summer. The odds are the Sixers will come to Iguodala with a suitable contract offer -- probably similar to the one he originally rejected. They know what he brings to the table and want to keep him happy. They didn't sign Brand simply to create another problem by having to replace Iguodala. The plan is for Brand and Iguodala to take the Sixers to the next level. Thanks to the Clippers and Denver Nuggets, that should now be a bit easier to accomplish."
  • Raphael Bartholomew of The New York Times: "For N.B.A. players making their first visit to the Philippines, the adoration of fans can be flattering and startling. 'They make you feel like you're a god,' said Gilbert Arenas, who recently spent three days promoting his new line of sneakers. 'When my N.B.A. career is done, I have to play here one year just to feel that.' Arenas, 26, sometimes jokes that being the Washington Wizards' franchise player makes him 'the black president.' Sure enough, this tour gave him a taste of presidential life."
  • Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "If Larry Miller's extended hospital stay illustrates anything, it is that the hardest-working Utahn of us all is mortal, and that he's not going to be making all the big decisions about the Jazz forever. Not even his son could say Wednesday exactly what the division of labor or the time table for transition will be, such as who will represent the team among the owners on the NBA Board of Governors. Yet he knows that somebody in the organization has to be the one ultimately making decisions about player contracts, luxury taxes and other issues. At some point, obviously, he will be the guy. That will require some adjustment. 'I would consider myself to be a big Jazz fan. I don't think it would be accurate to say I'm as interested as Larry is,' Greg Miller said. 'The fact is, I don't have as much at stake at the moment as Larry does.'Someday, that will be the case.'"
  • Dwight Jaynes of The Portland Tribune: "Take it easy, Blazer fans. Jerryd Bayless could set the Vegas Summer League on fire this week, but it wouldn't mean a whole heck of a lot. Let's back up and add a little perspective before getting carried away with this talent. Success in the summer league doesn't exactly mean you're going to be a consistent NBA player when the regular season starts. Who was the most valuable player in Las Vegas last summer? Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks, who started a grand total of 17 games last season for the Knicks. And who won the MVP the year prior to that? Well, it was Minnesota's Randy Foye, who may or may not someday be a pretty decent NBA player."

Wednesday Bullets

July, 16, 2008
7/16/08
6:59
PM ET
By Maurice Brooks
  • The Iranian Olympic Team is making a trip to Utah.
  • Examining the pastime that is pickup basketball.
  • It looks like it is time for a lot of free agents to come up with a plan B.
  • Maybe James Posey felt uncomfortable at an event to promote Boston's new championship DVD because he knew he was New Orleans-bound.
  • Mayo and Love have both been very successful at summer league so far. Should we be surprised?
  • Like all of the other players out here in Las Vegas, the Sixers' trio of Marreese Speights, Jason Smith and Thaddeus Young are learning on the fly.
  • I was wondering why Portland's Petteri Koponen seemed so confident on the court. The pressure of an NBA game is nothing compared to what he has already been through.
  • The Hornets have championship dreams. If they are going to achieve their goal, expect a big contribution from Julian Wright.

First Cup: Wednesday

July, 16, 2008
7/16/08
10:12
AM ET
  • Woody Paige of The Denver Post: "Camby for Gumby? Actually, the Nuggets got ... get this: the right to exchange second-round draft choices with the Clippers in 2010. Uh. A blipping second-round draft-pick swap. Duh. They'd been better off acquiring a lovable, green clay figure with a horse named Pokey. The Nuggets got clipped. ... They call that outrageous deal a plan to win a playoff series? They call that ridiculous move a way to improve the defense? They call that nonsensical decision the solution to the Nuggets' problems? They should call that the 9-1-1 deal."TrueHoop First Cup
  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "Mark Warkentien was asked if he's concerned about the public-relations implications of getting nothing immediate for Camby, who averaged 9.1 points, 13.1 rebounds and an NBA-high 3.61 blocked shots last season. 'It's not a checkers move,' he said. 'It's a chess move. Chess is a tougher game to understand. You've got to wait longer to see the results of the move.' Rick Kaplan said Camby was 'shocked.' He said Camby, who played six Nuggets seasons, was most concerned about his charity endeavors in Denver."
  • Steve Springer of the Los Angeles Times: "It's the biggest rebound of the year for the Clippers. And, arguably, the most dramatic in their tortured history. One week after the heart and soul of their team, their most skilled, most respected and most beloved player, Elton Brand, walked out on them, along with Corey Maggette, their leading scorer, the Clippers obtained an imposing substitute in 6-foot-11, 235-pound Marcus Camby."
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Patience could pay off for the Charlotte Bobcats, in regard to Emeka Okafor, after the Los Angeles Clippers made a big trade Tuesday. The Clippers used up most of their room under the salary cap, absorbing the $11.2million salary of Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby. The Nuggets, deep in luxury-tax territory, needed to reduce payroll, and accepted a second-round pick for Camby. The Clippers previously had about $12million under the cap, and were a threat to sign Okafor, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. 'It eliminates a scenario,' said Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins, while watching his team play a summer-league game against the Golden State Warriors. 'Still, it was just more speculation from our standpoint.'"
  • Scott Howard-Cooper of the Sacramento Bee: "One of the best and worst thing about the Maloofs as Kings owners is that they're fans and often lead with their emotions, and so they're as frustrated by the waves of nuttiness as you. But here's what they won't say, with any tone: It's their fault too. Not just Joe or Gavin or Mama Maloof, as Ron Artest calls Colleen, the family matriarch. Anyone in the organization that had a hand in trading for him. Anyone in the organization that has not seen to it that Artest has not been traded away. Anyone in the organization that has let him get away with it for the two years, 5 months and 19 days in the interim. Not that you're counting."
  • Jeff Rabjohns of The Indianapolis Star: "After leading the Big East regular-season champion Hoyas in scoring (13.4), rebounding (6.4) and blocked shots (2.2) as a senior, Roy Hibbert said Tuesday his immediate goal is 'jump in headfirst and make a splash.' ...'Obviously, being a defensive presence is one thing a big man has to make sure he does,' Hibbert said. "Shooting and scoring, that's one thing. But at the same time, I have to protect the basket, so I'm going to make sure I do that to the best of my ability. I know a lot is going to be asked of me, and I'm going to make sure to bring it every day.'"
  • Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: "For all those who doubt Anthony Randolph, keep doubting. For all those who say he's too skinny, too raw, for the highest level of basketball, keep talking. He's listening. 'It's motivation,' Randolph said Tuesday. 'People always have their opinions. I have so much to prove.'"
  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret News: "Yaroslav Korolev returned in December to his native Russia and played instead for his hometown Moscow Dynamo, thinking the whole time about an eventual return to the NBA. And now he is a free agent in the Jazz's Rocky Mountain Revue camp, now just 21 and hoping to salvage what once was at his fingertips. 'It's the best league in the world, and everybody's trying to go here. Me, too,' Korolev said Tuesday. 'Especially at my age,' he added, 'I still have a lot of years in front of me, so I'm gonna do my best to get back here as early as I can.'"
  • Terry Foster of The Detroit News: "Jason Richardson is aware. He sees plant closings, struggling families and high crime rates. And he recognizes the power of his position as an NBA star. So Richardson, capitalizing on his status, is reaching out to children in his hometown of Saginaw. He said it's important for him to act now, while the kids still can see him dunking and hitting 3-point shots for the Charlotte Bobcats. On Friday, Richardson will host his third annual Man-up Forum in Saginaw Valley State University's Curtiss Hall Auditorium. This year's theme is 'bridging the gap between fathers and sons.' ... 'The expression 'man-up' means that men have to face what's in front of them -- responsibility, challenges, fears -- anything that needs addressing," Richardson says. 'That's what we're doing at the forum: addressing the common concerns we face as men of all ages and personal backgrounds.'"

First Cup: Tuesday

July, 15, 2008
7/15/08
9:35
AM ET
  • Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "David Stern needs to step down. His league's credibility depends on it. Former Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo would make a pretty good replacement. If it is determined that Foster was involved with Donaghy, then Stern needs to take one more step. Remember when the NBA filed a court request to have Donaghy pay the league $1.4 million in restitution? They factored in the salary he was paid in games he fixed and even the cost of his shoes. Oh, and $1 million for the league's internal investigation into the matter. Well, we figure Stern needs to pay the league $10 million in restitution, because all this happened on his watch."TrueHoop First Cup
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Kevin Garnett said he still hasn't gotten a full night's sleep since winning the championship. 'A lot of cat-napping,' he said. 'I am the No. 1 spokesman for cat-napping.' Soon, however, Garnett will begin to push the past season aside and focus on banner No. 18. 'Enjoy 17,' he said. 'Enjoy that right now. Enjoy the winning part of it. Enjoy the fact that we're doing this together. Then when we lock back in, we lock back in.'"
  • Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel: "After several seasons of playing catch-up with the Western Conference, the Beasts of the East may be coming back. Following the Boston Celtics' title, Eastern Conference teams have gone to work in free agency and the draft to enhance the talent of the NBA's perceived weaker half."
  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has a tough decision to make in the coming months: Sign up-and-coming point guard Petteri Koponen, or keep an open roster spot entering the regular season. On Monday, after Koponen scored 19 points and made 4-of-6 three pointers in the Summer League opener, his decision became even tougher. 'I don't know. I don't even really want to think about it,' Pritchard said. 'I want to watch these games, have fun with that, see if he improves as the week goes on ... and if he does, he has a spot.'"
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Cleveland Cavaliers assistant John Kuester was on a roll Monday, thinking up new ways to praise rookie J.J. Hickson. 'We're talking about an N.C. State guy, and I'm still saying nice things,' former Tar Heel Kuester joked. 'He's that great a kid.' And seemingly that good a prospect. Hickson looked spectacular during a 97-94 summer-league loss to the New York Knicks, with 26 points and nine rebounds."
  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Kyrlo Fesenko returned to town for the Rocky Mountain Revue with blond hair, apparently forgetting he plays for a no-nonsense coach who doesn't even allow his players to wear headbands. Although he was able to joke about Fesenko -- 'I didn't know who he was. I was totally taken aback by the blond hair' -- Sloan clearly would have preferred his 21-year-old center call attention to himself with his play on the court instead of the coloring in his hair. 'He's got a long way to go to make himself a better player,' Sloan said. 'He has skills, but sometimes the outside things will take you right out of this game. If those things are more important than basketball, that's where you get in trouble." ..."A lot of people have skills, Sloan added. 'A lot of them are sitting on the sidewalk wondering what happened 20 years ago when they had a chance. He's got to figure out what he wants to do and play basketball or be a clown.'"
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Posterity will record the trade that brought Rodney Carney to the Timberwolves as a morsel of NBA bookkeeping, a shuffling of digits on the financial ledger that summoned shock and change to a player who spent his first two seasons in Philadelphia. Carney considers differently the deal that sent him and Calvin Booth packing for a future first-round draft pick and valuable salary-cap space that let the 76ers sign free-agent Elton Brand to an $82 million contract. 'The way I look at it is, they traded me and Booth to get Elton Brand,' Carney said. 'So I say I got traded for Elton Brand. You put it that way, it sounds pretty good.'"
  • Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail: "With one career goal accomplished, Gordon Herbert moves on to the next. As a bonus, he gets to come home, too. The newest member of the Toronto Raptors' coaching staff is in Las Vegas working with the team's summer league entry, but that's just the latest stop on a long basketball journey that began in Penticton, B.C., visited Idaho for college basketball, and took him all over Europe as a player and coach. 'Since I began coaching, it's always been a goal of mine to coach a Euroleague team and to be an assistant coach in the NBA,' Herbert said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'This opportunity allowed me to get into the NBA and come back to Canada, too.'"

First Cup: Monday

July, 14, 2008
7/14/08
10:28
AM ET
  • David J. Neal of The Miami Herald: "We like to see passion in our athletes, especially if it's angry passion. Passion shown joyfully too often gets called 'showboating,' 'unsportsmanlike' or 'unprofessional,' but angry passion almost always goes over well. Heat center Alonzo Mourning has been the face of angry passion in the NBA for 16 years. Mourning's scowls, roars and flexes gave the idea he would be having a great time out there if not for the continuous annoyance of those fools in the other uniforms having the audacity to try scoring on his hoop. But when he got on a roll Sunday discussing Zo's Summer Groove, a charity event that has mushroomed into a celebrity-studded, five-day, cross-cultural festival, Mourning could have been the voice of passion for any South Florida parent."TrueHoop First Cup
  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "It's a long way from Milan to Caesars Palace, but that's nothing compared to dominating the summer league to becoming a top flight NBA player. Nate Robinson was the MVP of last year's Vegas Summer League, only to return to his role as a backup for a 23-win Knicks team during the real season. Danilo Gallinari's career will not be made or broken on how he performs here. This is merely a start - for the Knicks' rookie and a new regime."
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Sunday, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were winking and grinning before participating in the Zo's Summer Groove charity game at AmericanAirlines Arena. The punchline? The summer of 2010, when Wade, James and several other top-tier NBA players can become free agents, such as Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh. 'We're just going to joke about it for the next two years until that time comes,' Wade said. 'So, it's going to be an exciting year for the NBA, but it's two years away.' ... 'I've been playing with him for the last four years now, playing in the summertime, off and on,' James said of the time the two have shared on the U.S. national team. 'So I could see myself playing with him.' James, of course, has indicated the same of playing for the Nets, who have already cleared out the requisite salary-cap space for '10."
  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Now Robert Traylor thinks he's ready to come back. He'd love to grab one of the Cavs' roster spots, but he's happy to have the opportunity just to show everybody he's ready to return. 'I'm blessed,' he said. 'Everything's going great. I've been healthy the last year-and-a-half or two years.' Of course, Traylor said he has changed since the last time he was with the Cavs. 'I'm a totally different person,' said Traylor, now married with a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. 'I've grown up a lot. When you've been playing basketball since you were 9 years old ... I don't want to say that basketball's not important to me. I couldn't say that. I've been playing since I was 9 years old. But now my family is 1A, and basketball is 1B.'"
  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Carlos Boozer's not Karl Malone, especially not at the defensive end, but he is the team's low-post presence, bringing 20 points and 10 rebounds every night, and in the NBA that makes him a ridiculously valuable asset. The question is: How ridiculously valuable? Boozer can opt out of his deal at the end of next season, which he likely will do, making his services available to the most attractive -- read: highest -- bidder, whose bidding might blast into the $130 million range. That's a difficult plate of biscuits for the Jazz to chew, given that they already will be paying Williams max money, well worth it, and Andrei Kirilenko the same, well ... not worth it. Add Boozer's new market value to that mix, along with the Jazz's other projected salary obligations, then consider that their payroll already rests in the low $60 million range, with the luxury-tax threshold at $71 million, and it's easy to see why the whole equation doesn't compute."
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Randy Foye took Kevin Love aside often during three practices together Friday and Saturday for chats. He didn't do so to provide veteran advice to an NBA rookie. 'I picked his brain to see what his basketball knowledge is,' Foye said. 'You wouldn't know he's 19. He knows how to set screens. He can pass the ball. I was surprised how athletic he is. The way he outlets the ball -- half-court for a strike, just guns the ball coast-to-coast -- if you can get three or five of those every night, that makes the game easy. 'He's great; he listens to me. That's one thing I love about him.'"
  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "These days, Acie Law has traded the limelight for a spotlight on his own personal challenge -- the Hawks' point guard's focus is to regain the form that made him the No. 11 pick in the 2007 draft. He intends to shed the memories of an uneven rookie season plagued by injuries and lost opportunity. That's why he's attacking the start of rookie/free agent minicamp today as the first step of his comeback tour. 'I had high expectations for my rookie season, and I didn't get to show off my game,' Law said. 'I feel like I have so much to prove. This is the first step. But I'm really looking forward to training camp and proving to my teammates, the new general manager [Rick Sund] and Coach that I can play.'"
  • Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "Why would a native Mexican living in Oklahoma City uproot his wife and two young children to live in, of all places, New Jersey? 'I'm not going to lie. The Spurs and Hornets were in the mix,' Eduardo Najera said. 'But in the end, I felt a change would be good -- to go east, to play for a totally different kind of team.' So when he decided to sign with the Nets after meeting with team officials Thursday night, the 32-year-old forward weighed two factors (besides money) above all others: comfort level and where he believed he could be most useful. And that's what makes him a unique NBA player. By now, Najera's reputation is well-known. He is a plow horse with heart and skill -- not the most gifted athlete, not a box-score stuffer, but someone who makes teams better during his 20 to 22 minutes of floor time each night."
  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "The 13 players who suited up for the Spurs in their playoff run last season averaged 32.46 years old. That made them, if not quite as ancient as dirt, the oldest team in the NBA. Depending, in part, on what Popovich and his assistants see from first-round draft pick George Hill, who is 22, and a group of equally young players who will put their skills on display in summer league games in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City over the next nine days, the Spurs figure to be significantly younger when the 2008-09 regular season begins. Simply plugging free agent signe
    e Roger Mason Jr., 27, in the guard spot once occupied by Brent Barry, who is 36, instantly drops the average age to 31.76. It will drop more before next season's opener, perhaps dramatically, depending on which players make the roster."
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The NBA calls it '50-win ready' when the business side of a franchise is more accelerated than the basketball end. Oklahoma City's new team will get there by learning as much as it can about its new fan base while the fans are busy learning about Kevin Durant. It's all a part of a league trend in which NBA teams are using detailed research and analysis of their customers' buying habits in an attempt to increase revenue by providing better products. So while fans might initially ask questions like 'What size shoe does Durant wear?' the team might turn around and inquire about how much you typically spend when you go out to eat."

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