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Friday, October 27, 2006
Updated: October 30, 8:26 AM ET
NBA Local: October 27


Editor's note: ESPN.com is waking up early in the morning and aggregating news from papers around the country to bring you the latest NBA talk.

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Oct. 19 | Oct. 20 | Oct. 23 | Oct. 24 | Oct. 25 | Oct. 26

EASTERN CONFERENCE


Atlanta Hawks | All Hawks sitelines

Hawks Lose Williams With Broken Finger
Marvin Williams learned in an instant Thursday how quickly plans can change in the NBA. One swipe of the ball, and months of training and hard work can be wiped out with the snap of a finger. And in the case of the Hawks' second-year small forward, it was the cracking of a finger. The third metacarpal on his left, non-shooting, hand was broken during a contact drill at the start of practice. ... "This is tough," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "But it's like I told Marvin, this is just a little hiccup. And he's going to have to bounce back from this and not let it drain him emotionally or physically." -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Big Emotional Setback
Marvin Williams breaking his hand today is as much an emotional setback as it is a physical and logistical one for the Hawks. A jarring injury like this at the end of training camp hurts far more than the one Speedy Claxton suffered five weeks ago, before training camp began. Speedy had training camp to heal while Marvin will have to miss the first month of the season, if not more, before he can get back to business. It's beyond bad luck that these things keep happening to the Hawks. I'm starting to wonder if the dooms day crowd that talks about curses and bad karma might be on to something. How else to explain this spate of bad luck? -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution



Boston Celtics | All Celtics sitelines

Questions Remain Unanswered
Coach Doc Rivers says he thinks he has nine people who can play, but admitted after Wednesday's exhibition finale, "just defining roles is very important." He has five days to get his role-playing definitions up to date. Rivers hasn't identified the nine players he feels will be everyday contributors. It looks as if he has settled on a starting five of Paul Pierce, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Wally Szczerbiak, and the center du jour. That has not been a difficult call since the draft-day deal for Telfair. That leaves the role playing to Delonte West, Jefferson, Rondo, and, perhaps, a backup center du jour. That would likely mean the final three players will be some combination of Gerald Green, Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen, or possibly a third-string center du jour. -- Boston Globe

Luke Out Of Luck
There were no trades or surprises as the Celtics made their final cuts yesterday. Luke Jackson and "The Man Who (Never Even) Came to Dinner," Brian Grant, were let go to get the club down to the maximum 15-man roster. In a separate situation, the Celts officially picked up their option on the 2007-08 season for Tony Allen. Jackson leaves two weeks to the day after he was acquired from Cleveland for Dwayne Jones in a financially beneficial deal. The Cavs, looking to move away from the luxury tax threshold, paid most of Jackson's $2,091,480 salary, and the Celts saved about $300,000 overall in the move. -- Boston Herald



Charlotte Bobcats | All Bobcats sitelines

Stay Off The Field
The Bobcats discovered before Thursday's late game against Milwaukee that you are allowed to try on Brett Favre's shoulder pads, but don't dare step on the no-longer-Frozen-Tundra known as Lambeau Field. The team received an extensive tour of Lambeau, home of the Green Bay Packers. The highlight might have been Brevin Knight -- a devoted New York Giants fan -- getting to pull on the shoulder pads in the cubicle of Packers quarterback Favre. "To get that close to everything -- you don't get that chance every day," said Knight, proving pro athletes can act like crazed fans, too. Knight's only disappointment? The Packers rope off the playing field on Lambeau, so no one was allowed to step foot on the famous turf that is now heated with coils. -- Charlotte Observer



Chicago Bulls | All Bulls sitelines

Their Numbers Are Up
Skiles has yet to settle on roles for rookies Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha, but this much is certain: They will be a lot different than they were in the preseason. Both players have been a bigger part of the offense than they will be in the regular season, particularly Thomas, who has come off the bench in all seven preseason games and is second on the team in scoring with an average of 10.6 points on 49.1 percent shooting. Only Hinrich has a higher preseason scoring average, and only Hinrich and Ben Gordon have more field-goal attempts than Thomas' 55. -- Chicago Sun-Times

'Big Ben' Brings Big Expectations
In its preseason issue, Sports Illustrated ranked the Bulls a close third behind the Cavaliers and Pistons in the Central Division and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference. The Sporting News and Street & Smith's editions have them pegged second in the division behind the Pistons and third in the conference. "This team always enters the season with high expectations for itself even it doesn't always get a lot of media attention," Wallace said. "Everybody here expects to work hard and give us every opportunity to win games. We put a lot a pressure on ourselves to perform, so any added pressure is what it is." Said general manager John Paxson, "The players expect a lot out of themselves this season. Whatever people say outside of our group, it won't match the expectations we have for ourselves. I don't think we'll caught up in that." -- Daily Southtown



Cleveland Cavaliers | All Cavs sitelines

National Eyes Are Watching Cavs Rise
One tired refrain the Cavaliers won't be citing to start the season: We don't get any respect. Virtually every national publication and Internet site previewing the upcoming NBA season rates the Cavaliers among the league's elite teams. LeBron James can't stand at the magazine rack of any book store without looking back at himself on the covers of Sports Illustrated, AthlonSports, Hoop and Slam. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer



Detroit Pistons | All Pistons sitelines

Diamonds In The Rough
The unsung heroes of the Pistons' 2006 training camp, without question, were Scott Perry and George David, the Pistons' directors of player personnel and scouting. That's because the stars of this otherwise uneventful camp were two players Perry and David unearthed deep in the 2005 draft -- Jason Maxiell (drafted 26th overall) and Amir Johnson (56th) -- and another, Flip Murray, whom they were the first to discover at a small Division II school (Shaw University) in 2002. -- Detroit News

Pistons' Priority: Shoring Up Rebounding
How about the number one, which represents the number of rebounds starting power forward Rasheed Wallace and starting center Nazr Mohammed combined for in Detroit's 92-82 loss to Memphis to close out the preseason on Wednesday. Both played limited minutes, but one rebound in a combined 44 minutes? That woeful performance is an indication of the trouble the Pistons might have rebounding this season. That's why improved effort on the boards will be among the more pressing issues Detroit will work on in the coming days. "We can't rely on one person," said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who only had one rebound Wednesday. "All five of us are going to have to have the determination to get it done on defense, and rebounding as well." -- Booth Newspapers



Indiana Pacers | All Pacers sitelines

Jackson On Stern: 'It's His Opinion'
Stephen Jackson respects NBA commissioner David Stern, but the Indiana Pacers shooting guard doesn't agree with his thoughts about players leaving firearms at home when they go out. Stern said during a conference call that he prefers players use guns mainly to protect their homes because "your chances of being shot by one increase dramatically" if you carry a firearm elsewhere. "If he feels that we should leave them at home, it's his opinion. We're obligated not to bring them to the arenas and we don't do that," Jackson said. -- Indianapolis Star



Miami Heat | All Heat sitelines

Preseason Has Riley Concerned
While injuries and caution contributed to the Heat's 2-5 preseason finish, it nonetheless marked the franchise's first losing preseason since it went 2-5 in 2002, which was the last time it failed to make the playoffs. The Heat was 4-4 in 2005. "We have to continue to work on the conditioning part of it, you know, the mind part of it," said coach Pat Riley, who gave his players Thursday off but likely now will have them on the court every day leading to Tuesday's season opener at home against the Bulls, a game followed by a home date against the Nets. "A veteran team knows now that the preseason is over with and we've got a tough first two games. And we'll, hopefully, rise to the occasion." -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Get A Grip
After a full preseason with the new basketball, Wade said the biggest adjustment has been the grip of the seemingly slicker ball. ''The biggest adjustment of all, besides it being new, is a lot of guys can't palm the ball, especially our big guys,'' Wade said. "We can't cry about it now, it's already behind us, so we just have to get used to it.'' Wade became especially proficient at banking long jumpers off the glass in the past couple of seasons, which created another adjustment for him. The new synthetic material ball bounces off the glass differently than the old leather ball, so Wade had to put in additional time to keep his pet shot consistent. -- Miami Herald

Bad Week For Burks
A couple of W's usually are good things in sports. Not so for former University of Memphis point guard Antonio Burks. On Tuesday, the Miami Heat asked for W-aivers on Burks. And Wednesday morning he was arrested on a failure-to-appear W-arrant out of Germantown. Burks, 26, was brought to the Germantown Jail early Wednesday morning and released a short time later on a $350 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Germantown Municipal Court on Dec. 20. ... Burks received a speeding ticket July 24 for going 59 in a 30 mph zone. He missed his first court date on Sept. 13, and officials sent him a warning letter, telling him to appear in court on Oct. 11 or pay the $151.50 amount in fines and court costs prior to then. At least the arrest ticket was up to date. Under Burks' occupation, officers wrote "Pro Basketball unemployed." -- Memphis Commercial-Appeal



Milwaukee Bucks | All Bucks sitelines

Bogut Hoping To Play In Opener
Larry Harris said Bogut had been practicing on and off all week but that he had not yet completed a full practice. Harris added that the Bucks would know more about Bogut's availability early next week. Bogut did not travel with the team here. "He's well ahead of schedule," Harris said. The Bucks had originally said Bogut would be out from six to eight weeks from when he suffered a left leg injury on Oct. 7. The Bucks' players are keeping their fingers crossed that they'll see Bogut in uniform on opening night. -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



New Jersey Nets | All Nets sitelines

When RJ Talks, The Kids Listen
When Richard Jefferson speaks, some young teammates listen. Jefferson is advising Wright, a second-year swingman, and rookie Hassan Adams, whom Jefferson helped recruit to Arizona. He's telling them to be successful in the Nets' system, do as he did and does. Jefferson, a self-proclaimed "jackass" and "knucklehead," can call himself something else now -- mentor. "They listen to what I say and not how I say it because a lot of times I'm talking trash, joking around," said Jefferson, a sixth-year forward. "I'm still 100 percent a knucklehead. But I think they see you can laugh and joke and have a good time and still get your work in and be a good teammate." -- Bergen Record

Now Judge Adams As He Tries To Catch Up
He spent most of the previous three days in a courtroom, trying to ignore the half-dozen reporters who had followed him from hotel to courthouse, trying not to antagonize the judge, trying to convince a six-member jury that he was not guilty of the criminal act of which he was charged. It's a daunting thing for anyone. But especially for a 22-year-old kid who is trying to show his new employers that he doesn't plan to make these encounters with the law enforcement community a habit. "You don't know how relieved I am right now," Hassan Adams said yesterday. -- Newark Star-Ledger

Jay-Z Crosses Over To Nets And N.B.A.
The ads are all similar: Jay-Z, a part owner of the Nets, rides around Manhattan in the back seat of a luxurious limousine while he discusses subjects that are common to music and basketball like rivalry, success, the spotlight and stardom. But his remarks are as much about his career as they are about anyone else's. There are short clips of N.B.A. stars, but the focus is on Jay-Z, not Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul or Steve Nash. Last season, the misguided Ali G character created by Sacha Baron Cohen shared screen time with several players in TNT's ads, and, in the previous two seasons, children, players and TNT's "Inside the NBA" announcers interacted. -- New York Times



New York Knicks | All Knicks sitelines

Marbury, Francis May Decide Knicks Season
Coach Isiah Thomas confirmed the obvious Thursday, saying that four-fifths of his lineup is effectively set: Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury will be backcourt partners, alongside Eddy Curry, Channing Frye and a small forward to be named. It is the Marbury-Francis pairing that will draw the most scrutiny when the Knicks open the season Wednesday in Memphis. Thomas insists the tandem can work. Francis and Marbury scoff at suggestions that their games are too similar to mesh. But they have had scant opportunities to silence the doubts raised by opposing coaches, scouts and players. -- New York Times

Cato Must Learn Quick
With Jerome James, Malik Rose and Jared Jeffries all hurt and out indefinitely, newcomer Kelvin Cato, signed Wednesday, will have to get up to speed in a hurry. Cato (6-11, 275) basically was signed off the street, not in training camp with any NBA team. And with the Knicks playing their preseason finale tonight against the Nets, and opening the regular season Wednesday in Memphis, that leaves Cato little time to work himself into shape. "[Thomas] just told me to be me; play my game, do what I do, and help as much as possible," said Cato, mired on the Pistons' bench last year behind their deep frontcourt. "That's my thing; whatever opportunity I can get, I'll try to take them, be as positive in those minutes as I can, do whatever they tell me. -- New York Post



Orlando Magic | All Magic sitelines

Steele's Gig Is Magic
David Steele has witnessed plenty of bad basketball in Orlando these past few years. But no matter what kind of follies the Magic are performing on the court, the veteran play-by-play announcer always enjoys coming to work. "I don't know what could be a better situation for a broadcaster: to work NBA games, live in Orlando and have a courtside seat to watch the greatest athletes in the world," Steele said. "And I get paid to do it." -- Orlando Sentinel

Howard In Midseason Form
Dwight Howard's growth this season has been evident in almost every area, namely his ability to pass out of double teams and his willingness to attack other defenders. The third-year center finished with the preseason with 21 assists compared to 16 turnovers. That's a dramatic improvement over last season when he had 125 assists compared to a whopping 217 turnovers. "This is going to be a big, big year for Dwight," Magic power forward Tony Battie said. "He's ready. This is the year he goes from being an '8' to a '10.' " - Florida Today

Frustrated Rookie
All indications now are that Magic rookie guard J.J. Redick will open the regular season next Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls on the injured list. Redick, last season's college player of the year at Duke, missed most of training camp and the preseason with torn tissue in his left foot. That injury came after he missed most of June, July and August because of a herniated disc in his back. Not only is he trying to make the transition from college basketball to the NBA, but Redick is also behind in his conditioning. Head coach Brian Hill said he talked to Redick earlier this week, trying to keep his spirits up. -- Florida Today



Philadelphia 76ers | All 76ers sitelines

76ers' Promo Was A Real Gas
The 76ers "pumped" fans up for next week's start of the regular season by dispensing free gas to customers yesterday at the Lukoil station at Delaware Avenue and Spring Garden Street. Players, coaches, team staff and broadcasters participated. The team will hold a pep rally today at City Hall that will feature appearances by Mayor Street; team president and general manager Billy King; World B. Free, the Sixers' ambassador of basketball; and the Sixers' dancers. In addition, the dancers and mascot Hip-Hop will conduct a "T-shirt Tour" around the city Monday at the lunch hour. -- Philadelphia Daily News

Sixers Get No Respect On National TV
It's no revelation to say the 76ers aren't expected to be very good this year. Want a sure sign? Take a look at the NBA's national television schedule. Even with one of the league's top draws in Allen Iverson, the Sixers are making just eight regular-season national TV appearances this season -- all on ESPN. That puts them slightly below the league average of 10.1 national TV appearances, and ties them for 15th in the 30-team league. -- Cherry Hill Courier-Post



Toronto Raptors | All Raptors sitelines

Enlightening Route Back To NBA
Anthony Parker, now of the Toronto Raptors, insists he's still the best basketball player in his family. For now, anyway. "At least for the next two years I can say I'm the best," Parker said with a laugh. "But the days of not playing too hard in the summer are long gone. I do have to play hard." Parker has to play hard to beat sister Candace, a junior at the University of Tennessee and an emerging women's star last seen dunking in TV highlights last winter. They are the one-two punch of what might be the first family of basketball in the U.S. -- Chicago Tribune

It's Finally Game Time For Bosh
Chris Bosh really doesn't know what to expect when he plays in the final Raptor pre-season game here tonight. He just knows it's time to get out there. Bosh, who has missed four of Toronto's first seven pre-season games with a sore heel that will likely bother him all season, is expected to be in his usual starting role tonight when the Raptors put their 7-0 pre-season record on the line against the Bulls. "Just get up and down the court," Bosh said of his expectations. "I just want to get back (being) used to five-on-five basketball, that's my main reason for wanting to play." -- Toronto Star



Washington Wizards | All Wizards sitelines

Nothing To Giggle About
The subplot involving the Poet and Brendan Haywood is expected to receive a pouting check today, assuming Eddie Jordan entrusts the center position to the one who pens sonnets. Haywood rarely holds up well if his derriere is planted against a seat cushion at tip-off. The challenge before Haywood is to show he can absorb the blow to his psyche and move past the bouts of pouting and sulking, if not the bursts of giggling on the far end of the bench. The latter could be helped by the departure of his partner in giggling, Jared Jeffries. -- Washington Times

Pinched Nerve Keeps Songaila Questionable
The Washington Wizards open the regular season at Cleveland on Wednesday night, but the team is still waiting to get a look at its major offseason acquisition, forward Darius Songaila. Songaila, who signed a five-year, $23 million contract this past summer, remains out with a pinched nerve in his lower back. A team source, who spoke about Songaila's injury on the condition of anonymity, said the team is preparing to play without Songaila through November and possibly well into December. Neither he nor the team has established a timetable for his return. -- Washington Post


WESTERN CONFERENCE


Dallas Mavericks | All Mavericks sitelines

Terry Has Become One Of Mavs' Meal Tickets
Breakfast in Boston had Jason Terry petrified in the spring of 2005. He was going through a tough time late in his first season with the Mavericks. He'd already been through a coaching change. Then one morning on the road in Beantown, the phone rang. It was Avery Johnson, who had recently taken over for Don Nelson. "I was already on my toes because I hadn't been playing particularly well," Terry said. "I thought the worst." Johnson knew what Terry was thinking. "He thought he was getting traded," Johnson said. Over coffee and eggs, Johnson quickly put his point guard at ease. -- Dallas Morning News

Yes Way, Jose
Free-agent forward Ndudi Ebi was waived Thursday, leaving Puerto Rican point guard Jose Barea as the lone free agent in camp. Although the roster is down to the league limit of 15, Avery Johnson hasn't yet stamped Barea's regular-season passport. Johnson wants to make the rookie sweat a bit. He said Barea was on the "hot seat" after practice and joked that he had four hours to make a decision on whether to keep the former Northeastern player. Rosters are due Monday. "I feel pretty good about my chances," Barea said. "I had a good practice today, too. I feel more comfortable every time I get on the floor now." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram



Denver Nuggets | All Nuggets sitelines

Diawara Aims To Make Name On Defense
For Thursday night's 126-108 preseason win against the Lakers at the Honda Center, Diawara returned to the Los Angeles area he left 1 1/2 years ago as an unknown. He will remain near Malibu-based Pepperdine for tonight's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. "A lot of people are happy for me," Diawara said. "Sometimes I look back at where I came from." The Paris native first came from France, not exactly known for defensive stoppers. Diawara's favorite player growing up was Charles Barkley, not exactly known for defense. But when Diawara got to Pepperdine, he began to study tapes of NBA defensive stars Bruce Bowen and Ron Artest. Perhaps one day college players will be watching video of Diawara. -- Rocky Mountain News

Camby Ready For Opener
Center Marcus Camby missed his fourth consecutive preseason game with a left foot contusion when his Nuggets faced the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. The 6-foot-11, 235-pounder is also expected to sit out Denver's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, too. But Camby said he would have played if it was the regular season and expects to be available for the season opener against the Clippers on Thursday. "I got a cyst on the bottom of my foot," Camby said. "The medication is supposed to help, and I haven't done anything for a week, no practices or anything. ... I expect to be ready for practice on Sunday." -- Denver Post



Golden State Warriors | All Warriors sitelines

Warriors Committed To Up-Tempo Play
It's not as though Warriors point guard Baron Davis is totally unfamiliar with doing this much running in preparation for an NBA season. This is the first time, however, that he thinks it's worth the effort. "We run, but we run with a purpose," said Davis, who then drew a parallel to his former coach with the New Orleans Hornets. "We ran a lot with Byron Scott, but that was just like somebody trying to kill you." Of course, that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. At least, that's what the Warriors are hoping when it comes to their conditioning. -- Contra Costa Times



Houston Rockets | All Rockets sitelines

Mutombo Nearly Goes Into Stands
An incensed Dikembe Mutombo was restrained from going into the stands after a fan shouting racial slurs on Thursday and said that if the NBA objects to his behavior, next time he will not be stopped. Mutombo flashed an obscene gesture at the fan and began walking toward him when Rockets trainer Keith Jones and game official Phil Robinson intervened. "If they didn't kick him out of this arena, he would have seen me off the court," Mutombo said. "I will not accept that. We are not in the '60s. People have paid the price for us to be where we are today. For him to call a black man a monkey in the middle of the game, he was in the second row, for him to stand up and call, 'Mutombo the monkey,' is an insult. It insulted my integrity, my body, my family, my race." -- Houston Chronicle

Rockets Still Have Unanswered Questions
As much as the preseason is to prepare for the regular season, for a team in transition it is also to address the roster questions that cannot be answered until players get on the court. The Rockets brought 10 new players to training camp, with four or five likely to find a place in the rotation. Yao's latest toe condition -- the toenail on his left big toe was removed Oct. 9 -- has not become more than a temporary glitch, and he did not expect his ankle sprain on Thursday to force him to miss a practice. McGrady's back problems have remained behind him. But with Yao and McGrady presumed healthy, the roster questions have become most pressing. -- Houston Chronicle



Los Angeles Clippers | All Clippers sitelines

Veterans High On Tandem
Point guard Sam Cassell and power forward Elton Brand say it's obvious. The improvement in point guard Shaun Livingston and swingman Quinton Ross has been evident since the first day of training camp in Russia, Cassell and Brand said, and they could become the Clippers' starting backcourt this season. "Shaun came back a whole lot better and so did Q Ross, you can see it in those guys," Cassell said. "They're in better shape and ready to play. They're bringing that real positive energy every day." -- Los Angeles Times

Clippers Set Roster At 14
The Clippers waived four players with non-guaranteed contracts Thursday to set their opening-day roster at 14 players. They waived Lamond Murray, Ryan Humphrey, Dawan Robinson and Jawad Williams. The NBA allows teams to have 15 players on their rosters, but the Clippers opted for 14 in order to have flexibility to sign a free agent in case of injury. Backup center Zeljko Rebraca has not practiced with the team during the preseason and is out indefinitely with a disc-related problem in his lower back. But the Clippers likely won't sign another center for depth. -- Los Angeles Daily News



Los Angeles Lakers | All Lakers sitelines

McKinney Was Lakers' Fall Guy
If Nov. 8, 1979 had not been the Lakers' first day off in Jack McKinney's first season as their head coach; if Westhead, then his assistant, had not asked McKinney to play tennis at their Palos Verdes condos; if Claire McKinney, Jack's wife, had not already taken their car that morning to go to a class with Cassie Westhead, Paul's wife; if McKinney had not hopped on his son's bike; if McKinney had worn a helmet; if the bike's gears had not given out; if he hadn't been riding down a hill at the time. That's a lot of ifs, a lot of circumstances that came together to create a horrific moment in McKinney's life, a moment that forever changed his fortunes, those of his family, Westhead, Riley, the Lakers and the NBA in general. -- Los Angeles Times

Radmanovic To Play Injured
For his career, Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic has taken an average of 300 3-pointers a season and established himself as one of the NBA's most dangerous long-distance shooters. When Radmanovic fires away this season, however, it could come with a piece of foam taped between the ring finger and pinky on his shooting hand. Radmanovic has a torn ligament in his shooting hand that likely will require surgery this summer. In the meantime, he will try to find a way to play through the injury, which is not expected to get any better. "It's frustrating, especially as a shooter," Radmanovic said. "Your right hand is your biggest weapon and you've got it messed up. I'll just have to find different ways to score and help this team win." -- Los Angeles Daily News

No Deal Yet For Cook
Brian Cook's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Thursday it looks as if his client and the Lakers aren't going to be able to reach a deal for a contract extension. Cook and the Lakers have until Tuesday to finalize a deal. Bartelstein said he has negotiated with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and will continue to talk until then. "My guess is that we probably won't get something done," Bartelstein said in a phone interview. -- Riverside Press-Enterprise

Bold Bynum
Andrew Bynum, who turns 19 today, predicted the Lakers will start "at least" 15-5 during this opening stretch when he is being asked to pick up for injured centers Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm. Bynum overcame conditioning problems to post 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and no turnovers Thursday as a follow-up to his 16-point game Sunday. "I'm preparing mentally," Bynum said. "I'm getting a lot of rest. And I stopped eating McDonald's and things like that." Bynum said the movie "Super Size Me" made a big impression on him, and he's now leaning on his mother's home cooking. -- Orange County Register


Memphis Grizzlies | All Grizzlies sitelines



Minnesota Timberwolves | All Wolves sitelines

Smith Is Biggest Surprise
The emergence of rookie forward Craig Smith has been perhaps the Timberwolves' biggest surprise of the preseason. Smith will get his final chance to impress the coaching staff tonight when the Wolves play the Milwaukee Bucks at Grand Forks, N.D. He got a taste of playing with the starters when he replaced Mark Blount in the second quarter of Wednesday night's exhibition game against the Chicago Bulls. It's another sign that the coaches have confidence in Smith. They wanted to get a look at how he handled himself with the starters. -- St. Paul Pioneer Press



New Orleans Hornets | All Hornets sitelines

Hamstring Injuries Might Sideline Jackson
Hornets guard Bobby Jackson tried to warn Marc Jackson. You don't meddle with a hamstring injury, Bobby Jackson would tell the team's 6-foot-10 center. But Marc Jackson refused to rest, seemingly always choosing to ride a stationary bike or participate in shooting drills. "He doesn't know how to just sit down," Bobby Jackson said. Now, that option might have been taken away from the Hornets' reserve center. On Thursday, Marc Jackson injured his left hamstring during the team's morning portion of individual workouts. Jackson, who already was hampered by a strained right hamstring, which forced him to miss all seven of the team's preseason games, did not practice at all during Thursday's regular session. -- The Oklahoman

Tough Day On The Court
Backup point guard Bobby Jackson had two large ice bags on his knees, and he looked exhausted after Thursday's practice. As promised, Scott made defense the focal point of work and extended practice to three hours. "Outside of training camp, this was the toughest practice I've had," Jackson said. "I was wondering when we were going to stop. We went through 30 plays, and we were already tired." Scott put them through a number of defensive drills, and they also did conditioning work. The Hornets have five practices remaining before they open against the Celtics. -- New Orleans Times-Picayune



Phoenix Suns | All Suns sitelines

Stoudemire Feels Doubted By Team
The pain has returned to Amaré Stoudemire's surgically repaired knees, and he said after Thursday's practice that he doesn't believe the Suns organization has complete confidence that he'll be the same player he was before the injuries. "I don't think so," Stoudemire said when asked about the team's belief in his full recovery. "I think they're waiting on me to show them. It's up to me to get back there." Coach Mike D'Antoni said Stoudemire did "almost everything" in practice Thursday but is still "a little stiff here and there." -- Arizona Republic

Bell Groomed His Toughness
Long before he morphed from niche player into one of the most popular athletes in Arizona, Raja Bell paid his dues by doing the laundry. He washed his team's jockstraps and sweaty socks. "That was my first taste of pro basketball right there," Bell said. Ah, you can always trust a guy that's never forgotten his roots, and Bell can't possibly forget his. The smell is surely burnt into his nasal cavity. It all happened in the summer of 1999, when Bell was scratching and clawing his way to the NBA. After playing college basketball at little known Florida International, he signed with the lesser known Tampa Bay Windjammers, formerly of the United States Basketball League. There, the perks weren't so great. -- Arizona Republic



Portland Trail Blazers | All Blazers sitelines

Blazers Set Roster, And Udoka Is On Team
In one of the more improbable, and most heart-warming, stories of the early NBA season, Ime Udoka has made the Trail Blazers' opening day roster. Udoka's story is improbable because he was a last-minute addition to the Blazers' training camp roster, getting the invitation the day before camp started after Aaron Miles failed a physical because of a sprained ankle. And his story is heart-warming because Udoka's father, Vitalis, suddenly passed away on Oct. 17, a day Vitalis had been looking forward to because Udoka was set to play for the first time in an exhibition game that night at the Rose Garden. -- The Oregonian

Z-Bo On Top Of His Game
Perhaps the best thing to develop out of the Blazers preseason has been the dominating play of power forward Zach Randolph, who is averaging a league-best 23.5 points per game. But his play has been much more than just impressive statistics -- Randolph has been a workhorse, while also showing better defense, better passing and more encouraging actions toward his teammates. When reflecting on Randolph's preseason on Thursday, McMillan had to chuckle and smile widely when comparing the growth between the two since last year. -- The Oregonian



Sacramento Kings | All Kings sitelines

Amundson, Williams Cut; Opening Roster Likely Set
Louis Amundson came to his dream job as he had every other day, arriving at the Kings' practice facility ready to turn his impressive résumé into the reality of an NBA career. Then coach Eric Musselman approached before the morning practice, saying he and Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie needed to talk to Amundson and fellow rookie Justin Williams. It was the meeting both players had feared. They had been cut. "It's tough, because I know I can play in this league," said Amundson, an undrafted rookie forward from UNLV. -- Sacramento Bee



San Antonio Spurs | All Spurs sitelines

Butler Finding Right Track With Spurs
The Spurs considered Butler a work in progress when they signed him to a three-year, $7 million contract in July. Butler's production last season in New York -- he averaged 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 13.5 minutes in 55 games -- coupled with his soft hands and footwork, showed potential. Team officials think he'll learn to take better advantage of his skills, given time and structure. Facing Miami last week, Butler ran the floor well, made a bank shot over Shaquille O'Neal and threw a nifty pass under the basket that surprised even Tim Duncan. But as good as he looked, Butler struggled the next night in Houston. "His best years are going to be ahead of him," Popovich said. -- San Antonio Express-News

Spurs Still Believe Their Future Is Now
Though none of the Spurs' offseason moves sent shivers through the league, they did add more flexibility and athleticism with the acquisitions of Francisco Elson, Jackie Butler and Matt Bonner. Whether those three can provide an upgrade over departed centers Rasho Nesterovic and Nazr Mohammed remains to be seen. The Spurs' core, as usual, remains their strength. Duncan, Ginobili, Bowen and Tony Parker will be playing together for the fifth consecutive season. "It's like we haven't missed a beat," Duncan said. -- San Antonio Express-News



Seattle SuperSonics | All Sonics sitelines

Injury Ends Swift's Season
The Sonics will enter their 40th season without one of their key younger players, as the P-I learned Thursday night that center Robert Swift will miss the season with a right knee injury. According to a Sonics player and another member of the organization, Swift's MRI revealed major damage that will cost him the year. Team physician Richard Zorn will examine the MRI results today and the team is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. ... The team will have to depend on Petro, rookie Mouhamed Sene and power forward Nick Collison, who can play some center. "We have Petro and it's time for Mouhamed to step up and be a man," the Sonics player said. "We have to depend on those guys." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Walker's Departure Is Too Little, Too Late
Wally Walker has systematically demolished a great franchise, alienated a solid fan base and made it easy for this group from out of town to swoop in, buy the Sonics and make everyone here feel uneasy, believing the team is going to move to Oklahoma City at the end of this season. Thursday should have been a day for bunting and balloons. A day that signaled a brighter tomorrow. But the news might have come too late. Walker, along with accomplice and former chairman of The Basketball Club of Seattle, Howard (Take The Money And Run) Schultz, have poisoned the hoop waters like some ecologically unfriendly corporation. -- Seattle Times

Sonics Sank On Walker's Watch
Perhaps Sonics president Wally Walker, who engineered the sale and expressed little regret that day, had the notion that there was a prospect of continuing on with the franchise. If so, perhaps the balloons obscured the view of his baggage. There was no way Clay Bennett was going to keep Walker in charge. Not after overpaying for a team that was underappreciated. Self-evident was the fact that the Sonics won one playoff series in the last eight seasons of Walker's 12 years as president and/or general manager. Less understood was how Walker's hand-picked group of 57 fellow investors, including some of Seattle's best, brightest, wealthiest people, could not get suites sold, high-priced seats filled, the roster upgraded and credibility sustained to make the community and its politicians passionate about keeping the team in Seattle. -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Not Close
With five days remaining before the Oct. 31 deadline, the Sonics and Ridnour have exchanged contract proposals. But they aren't close to agreeing on an extension. If the two sides fail to reach a deal, then he becomes a restricted free agent in the offseason. -- Seattle Times



Utah Jazz | All Jazz sitelines

Hotel Ordeal Disappoints Miller
Jazz owner Larry H. Miller on Thursday expressed disappointment in, and added several details to, an incident in Portland, Ore., last weekend that resulted in multiple team members being interviewed by police there regarding concerns about a possible sexual assault. "It's very troublesome," Miller said, "even if nothing wrong happened, to put themselves in a position where it could have looked like something wrong -- if they were in the wrong place they shouldn't have been, or whatever. "That's not what we're about." -- Deseret Morning News

Chase Holds Hope After Preseason
Actually, the omnipotent deity he should be worried about, as far as his Jazz career goes, is Jerry Sloan. The Jazz's coach, in consultation with his assistant coaches and senior vice president Kevin O'Connor, must release between one and three players before the season opens next week, leaving four maybes to stew over hanging chads like Al Gore in Florida. "I'm anxious to find out, sure," Chase said. "I think I did fine, but maybe my standard is different from theirs. ... Honestly, I have no idea." Here's a fact that won't make the waiting any easier: Sloan doesn't know how this comes out yet, either. -- Salt Lake Tribune

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