Alan Hahn of Newsday: “There is a great deal of quick thinking that comes with this style. A lot of read-and-react and discipline. This is what D’Antoni has to see come training camp and in time he’ll have to make decisions on players not just based on talent, but intelligence. So you shouldn’t focus so much on whether or not Q can hit shots, but whether Duhon can find him in the corner at the right time on the drive-and-kick. It’s not about Eddy Curry posting up, but can Eddy catch it in the post, pivot and make that weakside pass to an open man? Can Jamal Crawford find catch-and-shoot rhythm coming off curls instead of needing the And-1 hitch to set up his pull-up? These guys all can chuck-and-duck. No question. But recall the Olympics again…whenever the U.S. got itself into trouble was when it pounded the ball on the floor instead of passing it. The most important thing to keep in mind when you play in this system is movement. Catch it and do something…NOW.”
Scott Bordow of The East Valley Tribune: “Is Phoenix good enough that it can sit Nash for 12 games? “I don’t know,” Nash says. “Probably not.” There’s no probably about it. As good as newly imported backup Goran Dragic might become eventually, he’ll be a rookie this season. Then consider that the Suns expect Shaquille O’Neal to come down with one ailment or another and miss around 30 games. Finally, the Western Conference is a bear. Five teams are clearly superior to the Suns: The Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans, San Antonio, Utah and Houston. Portland and Dallas are on the same plane.”
Sam Khan Jr. of The Houston Chronicle: “Ward’s path was a bit different. He starred in football and basketball at Florida State and enjoyed an 11-season NBA career, mostly with the New York Knicks, which also included seasons with the San Antonio Spurs and Rockets. When Ward, 37, was an assistant coach for the Rockets in 2007, he met Westbury Christian executive administrator Greg Glenn. The two kept in touch and that fall, Ward began his stint as an assistant basketball and football coach. He was named the football coach in January. When he was playing, Ward said he didn’t know if coaching would be in his future. “I didn’t plan that far ahead,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.””
NBA FanHouse: A ‘Redeem Team’ pit stop
Free Darko: “But I’ll be darned if this doesn’t make me like James a lot more, and realize that underneath all the stone-faced professionalism, this is an outgoing young man having the time of his life. We can pretend that sports are war, or the measure of a man, or something whose true significance fans, and not players, are responsible for generating. However, who exactly relies on this construction for their interest? Does the demographic whose name is synonymous with the mention of “demographic” in sports want a stiff upper lip, as opposed to this window out onto levity and entertainment? I guess that (as it would be for the Nautica Thorn example) it’s a slippery slope into all the old stereotypes of the modern athlete, and an evocation of Johnny Unitas’s flat-top and the brow of Dave Cowens. I keep wondering, though, if 25-34 year-old males don’t at some point catch up to the athletes of this era, or maybe even find themselves relating to exactly this capacity for frivolity.”
RaptorBlog.com: “Here’s why I relate to Pierce’s mentality. I started this blog six years ago because I saw what the so-called “professionals” were putting out there in terms of Raptors commentary and analysis and I was convinced I could do it better and in a more entertaining fashion. I believed then and I believe now that I’m the best Raptors blogger around — if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t bother doing this. It doesn’t matter whether or not I have the right to feel that way and it doesn’t matter if anyone agrees with me. What matters is that it’s that same self-confidence that led me to start this blog in 2002 and then to come back again in 2008. Is it ridiculous that I’m comparing myself to Paul Pierce? Absolutely, but not much more ridiculous than Paul Pierce believing he’s the best basketball player in the world.”
Greg Johns of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “They paid $2.3 million in attorney’s fees, $61,296 for an expert witness who bombed on the stand and $17,000 to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, but in the end, the city of Seattle came out ahead financially in its lawsuit against the Sonics’ Oklahoma-based ownership group led by Clay Bennett. The final expense tally for the city’s legal fight to hold the owners to the final two seasons of their KeyArena lease came to $2,957,898, according to figures released by the city attorney’s office following a public disclosure request by the Seattle P-I.”
WaitingForNextYear: If the Cavs play their cards right, they could have a lot of cash to throw at free agents in 2010. WFNY surveys the free agency landscape.
Cavalier Attitude: Part II of WFNY and Cavalier Attitude’s free agency roundup
Janis Carr of The Orange County Register: “Kupchak didn’t rely on second-hand reports. He traveled to Atlanta earlier this week to check on the fourth-year player from New Jersey and said he liked what he saw. “I could see improvement in his body, his conditioning and mobility,” Kupchak said. “I didn’t see any signs of effects from the surgery.” Kupchak said he expects Bynum to report to training camp at full strength, considering camp doesn’t start for another month. “He told me that he is ready to comeback (to L.A.) to start playing full-court drills,” he said. “He sounded eager to play.””
Trevor Smith of Hoops Addict: “The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to repeat their surprising run to the NBA Finals this season. Incredibly, their fate lies not in the shooting hand of Kobe Bryant, the legs of Pau Gasol, or even the shoulder Lamar Odom. Instead, the Lakers’ destiny rests on the knee of Andrew Bynum. Last season, Bynum surprised many with how far his game had developed. The young post player from Plainsboro, New Jersey showed significant improvement in his offensive arsenal, defensive timing, and maturity. From his scene-stealing 28 point performance against the Suns last Christmas to his 17 rebound game against Milwaukee a few weeks later, Bynum showed all the signs of a future star.”
Bull Riding: “Redemption complete. For the Kobe haters, as you found yourself cheering in that fourth quarter, did you ask yourself Why haven’t I been appreciating this? That 6 minutes that you found yourself sitting on the edge of your seat hoping that 3-4 years of preparations were for nothing, when you felt pressure so tight, you felt you had to go to the washroom, Kobe stepped up and did what he has been doing for 12 years. Never on that stage mind you, but in front of our eyes for the longest. Still the question will remain in my head, How can the greatest player in today’s game be more loved in China, when he has given us so much more?”
The Wages of Wins: “Here is how these projections were summarized last fall: … had each Chicago player maintained what they did last year, the Bulls would be on pace to win 57 games. …What happens if all we only utilize shooting efficiency from 2006-07, but keep everything else as it is in 2007-08? Now we see the Bulls would be on pace to win 55 games. Yes, virtually the entire problem this team has is tied to shooting efficiency. If this problem were solved, this team would start winning again. So after one month, the Bulls problem was identified. The ball was simply not going in the basket that often. Consequently this team was losing. As GI Joe would say “knowing is half the battle.” Unfortunately when we look at the final numbers for the Bulls, it doesn’t appear the team made much progress on the other half of this battle.”
Tim Kawakami of The Contra Costa Times: “That means he can also brush off talk that he is only coaching to break Lenny Wilkens’ all-time victories mark–Don is 52 short of Wilkens’ mark right now. If Don had a decent team that got to 49 or so victories this year, he could be accused of hanging on another year just to break Wilkens. If he gets 32 or so this year, it’s just Don molding a young team and if he happens to pass Lenny, well, let it happen. I think it was 50/50 or better than Nelson would be this team’s coach next season BEFORE the ELlis injury. Now, if his health stays good, I think it’s a 75% shot that Nelson is coaching next year.”
Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal: “Haddadi will become the first Iranian to play in the NBA after spending the 2007-08 season playing for Saba Battery in the Iranian Super League. He was cleared to play for the NBA after U.S. government officials granted the league an Office of Foreign Assets Control license to employ Haddadi. NBA commissioner David Stern invited the Iranian national team to compete in the summer league at Utah. Iran’s appearance allowed the team a pre-Olympics tune-up. Haddadi was the only player to average a double-double (16.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) in the Beijing Olympics. He competed in five games for the Iranian national team, which did not advance to the medal round. His best performance came Aug. 16 against bronze-medal-winner Argentina when he had a team-high 21 points and game-high 16 rebounds.”
SpursReport.com: “”Here I am, back in San Antonio, happy with the bronze medal we won at the Games and ready to tackle a new season of the NBA,” says Manu Ginobili in an exclusive report to Argentina’s Spanish language newspaper, La Nacion. “I had imaging studies done on my ankle and basically, the studies indicate that the ligament is just as it was two months ago, when I had the first resonance. It is not worse, that’s important. Now the issue is that it’s not better either and it seems that the only way to recovery fully is to have surgery.” According to Manu, no date has been set. He doesn’t even know which doctor will perform the procedure, but the reality and severity of the situation is sinking in.”
Bob Sutton of The Winston Salem Journal: “Krzyzewski apparently returned with a sense of accomplishment. “This is never going to happen again (for me),” Krzyzewski said. “I know I’m a better coach after going through this.” Krzyzewski said he felt thankful to the basketball gods for the opportunity, then wondered why those same gods were punishing him when Kobe Bryant and LeBron James fell into early foul trouble against Spain. Later, Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski told the coach that “then the basketball gods gave you Dwyane Wade.”"
Clips Nation: “The depth of talent in the US ensures a great team every year, while other teams will come and go. But there will always be one or two teams capable of pushing the Team USA, no matter how good they are. It’s basketball – there are only five guys on the floor, and one player can have a massively disproportional impact (as evidenced by Germany’s fourth place finish in 2006). It’s safe to say that those Nowitzki-type players are out there and will keep showing up, in ever greater numbers, and that some of them will have other talent around a superstar. So it’s rarely if ever going to be easy.”
Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune: “New Orleans Hornets star point guard Chris Paul returned home Thursday morning, showing off his new gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to a small group of media, who took turns holding the medal and draping it around their necks. Paul, who helped guide the United States to its first Olympic gold in basketball since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said he is still riding a high since hearing the United States’ national anthem during the medal presentation. “Words can’t describe that feeling,” Paul said at Thursday’s press conference at the New Orleans Arena. “I don’t know, it’s crazy. It still feels like it hasn’t happened. I still have to look at the pictures and the videos to realize I was actually there in that moment, in that time. It’s something that I think we will share for ever.”"
Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: “In addition to the banner, which will be positioned alongside the Heat’s 2006 NBA championship banner, Wade also received a ceremonial key to Miami-Dade County. City officials also proclaimed Aug. 28 as Wade Day. ”I actually had to hold back some tears,” Wade said after the ceremony attended by fans, including hundreds of school students on a field trip. “It’s still setting in. It’s still surreal. I feel a sense of accomplishment inside, that we did something really important. It’s not going to really set in until days later. Years later.” Heat president Pat Riley said Thursday that drafting Wade with the fifth overall pick in 2003 was “the best thing this franchise has ever done.””
Jason Quick of The Oregonian: “The high-energy shooting guard for Spain, who will join the Blazers this month, excelled during the Olympics, which included a team-high 22 points in the gold medal loss to the Ameicans. And after getting a front-row view for many of Spain’s games, McMillan said Fernandez, 23, is so talented that he will “definitely” play, and play a lot, for the Blazers. “I’m sitting there (in the gold medal game) with a straight face, trying not to smile,” McMillan said. ” (Spain) are the guys we have to beat, but I’m caught. That’s my player and I want to (he claps his hands twice) but I gotta (he makes a serious face) because we are going up against him.”"