First Cup: Wednesday
July, 24, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra met with Greg Oden and watched him work out Tuesday in Indianapolis, as Miami continued to explore signing the seven-foot center whose career has been sidetracked by knee injuries. Chet Kammerer, the Heat’s vice president/player personnel, joined Spoelstra at the workout, which was also attended by officials from the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans. Bill Duffy, one of Oden’s agents, said Oden likely will pick a team next week and that every team that has shown interest “remains under strong consideration.” Besides the Heat, Kings and Pelicans, that list also includes the Mavericks and Spurs — who met with Oden previously — and the Atlanta Hawks, who will watch him work out Thursday. … Meanwhile, free agent center Marcus Camby has interest in the Heat, Bulls and Rockets. The Heat has inquired but is not believed to have made a formal offer as of Monday.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Malcolm Thomas is out, Marcus Camby is in? Not yet. A source said Tuesday that waiving Thomas doesn’t make the Camby move imminent. But it gives the Bulls some roster flexibility as they try to round out the bench by adding another low-post presence. The Bulls, who’ve offered Camby a minimum contract, are vying with several other teams, and the Rockets are the likely front-runners. Camby, along with Nazr Mohammed, would give the Bulls more protection at the rim and a rebounding presence behind Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
- Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News: Josh Harris, the team owner and billionaire hedge funder, is accustomed to the pain and the risk of liquidation and reorganization. Sports fans are not. To use Harris-speak, the team's most valuable tangible assets now are: a forward who might not play until the autumn of 2014; a guard who might take three seasons to develop; and a pick that will not be in the top five. Then again, neither of their two picks last month was top five, either. Not among their assets: a coach. That last part matters the least. The team will be abysmal in the near future. Despite Hinkie's contention that his new coach will be long-term protected, whoever the Sixers hire is not likely to survive a couple of lottery-pick campaigns. Rest assured, it will be at least three seasons before the Sixers sniff the playoffs. Rest assured, it will even be longer before they contend. Yes, Hinkie could have chosen to keep Holiday, with a freshly extended contract and a fondness for Philadelphia. Hinkie could have chosen to add Carter-Williams and make Holiday a shooting guard. That would have meant no Noel, no extra first-rounder next year, and, very likely, still no playoffs. "I'm trying to . . . build something that is lasting," Hinkie repeated yesterday. "Special. With a capital 'S.' "
- Staff of The Dallas Morning News: On how much Dirk Nowitzki has left in the tank: Mark Cuban said, “If there is one missing piece between what everybody is saying and what we’re doing, everybody I think has dismissed Dirk like Dirk is done, and he’s on the downslide and he can’t play anymore and he’s not really the type of contributor that he was. Look, if you look at they type of mess we had in terms of our guard play and basketball I.Q., when Dirk got back and got into gear, we beat a lot of good teams and we were at a 48-50 game clip. You put a much better set of players around him and Dirk in a situation where he doesn’t have to rush back where he’s had all summer to prepare his body and get ready, knock on wood, but if we stay healthy, I think people are just dismissing Dirk in ways they shouldn’t. Like I’ve been telling people, Karl Malone won an MVP at 35, and there is no reason he can’t be considered in the MVP conversation at 35. I can also tell you that the way people are randomly dismissing him as basically being done has been incredible motivation for him.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Some of the first lessons Jason Maxiell learned as a Detroit Pistons rookie came from veteran teammates Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess. When Wallace thought Maxiell was pressing a bit on the court, Wallace advised Maxiell to slow down and play more patiently. McDyess noticed that the bulk of Maxiell’s offense came from dunks. McDyess told the rookie that athleticism eventually fades away. McDyess recommended that Maxiell should start doing more work to hone his jump shot. Now, eight years later, Maxiell finds himself in a different role. The Orlando Magic recently signed him to a free-agent deal to provide frontcourt depth and to serve as a mentor and example to young players. “I’m not a very verbal guy, but sometimes you have to be,” Maxiell said in a phone interview. “I will guide them along the way. I’m going to show them the first time and help them out the second time. And, by the third time, they should have it down pat, and then they’ll be on their own.”
- Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: Jrue Holiday is getting a jumpstart on Pelicans training camp, in a sense, taking advantage of the opportunity to create some synergy with power forwards Davis and Anderson, who are both here this week, along with Williams, an assistant on Team USA working toward preparations for next year's World Cup championships. And, as Williams points out, this week's camp featuring such a New Orleans presence would seem to indicate a reversal of team fortune. "We feel like we've kind of turned the corner," Williams said "People said we couldn't do a lot of stuff in New Orleans with all the stuff from our past. I don't think anybody saw this happening." And though Williams hopes his players this week focus on the present, Holiday is using the work to enhance his relationship with guys he'll be playing with over the 82-game regular season.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: It's not as if new Cavaliers guard Jarrett Jack needs a job reference, but if he did, Golden State coach Mark Jackson is willing to provide one. Asked his reaction to losing Jack to free agency, Jackson said, "It was torture because he's an incredible, incredible…forget about basketball. He's a great leader, loves the game, no nonsense. He had a great year for us. For me, he was a joy to coach, an absolute joy to coach, and I'll have a relationship with him for the rest of our lives.'' … The Cavs signed Jack to a four-year deal that could be worth $25.2 million, $19.4 million guaranteed. He is expected to split time with Irving and Dion Waiters in the backcourt, including playing the point and allowing Irving to slide over to the two-guard. … Jackson didn't really say how much he lobbied to keep Jack, but it was clear how much he will miss him. "It worked out extremely well for Jack…another win for the good guys,'' Jackson said.
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: With last week’s signings of draft picks Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tony Mitchell, Pistons fans are wondering about point guard Peyton Siva, a second-round pick. Siva has more name recognition than your average 56th pick because he is coming off a senior season in which he led Louisville to the NCAA title. But he could be a victim of the numbers game. The NBA allows only 15 players on the active roster and, with the signings of Caldwell-Pope and Mitchell, the Pistons have reached their allotment. There remains the possibility of a trade creating a roster spot, but president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said he is comfortable if this is the roster he will take into the regular season, although he remains open to dealing. He doesn’t feel compelled to deal just to create a roster spot. Dumars said he would like to keep Siva’s rights — which could mean an overseas stint. To keep his rights, the Pistons are required to tender an offer to Siva by Sept. 6. But he doesn’t have to sign until Oct. 15. So Siva could decide to go to the Development League and if he doesn’t sign the tender, the Pistons would retain his rights.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: Jonas Valanciunas had moments of domination against inferior competition en route to being named the league’s Most Valuable Player, Terrence Ross remains enigmatic with more potential than polish and Quincy Acy remains a delightfully hard-working tweener who may or may not have an NBA position. It’s pretty much what the team’s brass and coaching staff expected when the Las Vegas vacation began two weeks ago. Valanciunas was unquestionably the most pleasant surprise, he arrived bigger and stronger, more capable of adapting to the intricacies of NBA defence and more able to handle the speed of the game. He was the best big man in the 22-team event — even if he was playing against marginal NBA talent — but remains a work in progress. But there was no regression, he was better than he had been at the end of last season. “We’re still working on the fouls, obviously, and moving his feet but that’s all progress in the summer,” said the general manager. “We’re going to touch (base) with him a few more times this summer, even when he’s with his (Lithuanian) national team.”
- Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: On Tuesday the media was allowed access to watch about 85 percent of Team USA's mini camp session, which was Day 2. In that time, it was pretty clear who were the two best point guards of the day – Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. Irving is simply on another planet right now and that isn't anything new to report. His ability to turn it on and off was a pleasure to watch. Lillard is doing an excellent job of making his presence felt on both ends of the floor. Yes, he was consistently knocking down the outside shot and coming off the pick-and-rolls only to let it fly and watch it go through the net. We knew he could do those things, but his defense is what stood out. For the second consecutive day, Lillard was featured as his team's off-guard, meaning he had to guard players two to three inches taller than him. He did more than held his own today.
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Don’t count Derrick Favors among the people fretting about who, what, when, where, why and how the Jazz are going to put points on their fancy new scoreboard with their revamped new team in 2013-14. The recently turned 22-year-old flashed a grin when asked about how the Jazz offense will cope in the Post Big Al/Not-So-Big Paul Era. “It’s time,” Favors said, “for two other people to be the new leading scorers.” The two candidates best positioned to take over an offensive responsibility that’s been shouldered by Jefferson and Millsap are participating together this week at Team USA’s minicamp. Who knows if Favors and Gordon Hayward will be able to match the 7,600 points Jefferson and Millsap combined to score over the past three seasons? One thing is certain. The soon-to-be fourth-year veterans can’t wait to have increased offensive opportunities — and the accompanying responsibilities.
- Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: Karl Malone is still a workaholic when it comes to hitting the weights or taking grueling bike rides near the family’s home in Ruston, La. Three days before his 50th birthday, in fact, Malone asked a reporter to call him back "in three hours," when he’d be finished working out. "To be honest with you, it helps make me a better person," he said. "It takes the edge off. When I sweat, it gets me going." There’s another reason Malone still weighs 256 pounds — his playing weight. One of his new projects is mentoring the Jazz’s young players — specifically power forward Derrick Favors and center Enes Kanter. "I always had a suspicion, at some point, I’d be back involved with some organization," Malone said. "When I stepped back on the floor, I wanted to look like a coach. I wanted to look like I belonged. I thought it might help the young guys listen to me." Yes, Malone is the same guy who has always used the fear of failure as a motivational tool. "I don’t want to disappoint my family, my real fans or myself," he said. "… I’ve always wanted to prove something to Karl Malone and I still do."