Howard Beck of The New York Times: “Donnie Walsh, the team president, did not commit to much during his preseason news conference Friday, but he did make this much clear: If there is a conflict between player and coach, D’Antoni will win. After four brilliant seasons in Phoenix, D’Antoni comes to the Knicks as one of the most popular and personable coaches in the N.B.A. He demands a lot, but with a soft touch. He coaxes the best out of players, even those who have failed elsewhere. So as Walsh bluntly put it, “If you have a problem with Mike, the problem is probably you.””
Alan Hahn of Newsday: “Walsh has a similar attitude about buyouts, which is why, he says, he is so reluctant to just hand Stephon Marbury $21.9 million to go away. “I was doing this in Indiana for a long time and I can’t remember buying out a contract,” he said. “I really can’t. I dealt with it with trades, I guess. I always tried not to do that. That isn’t good management if you have to do that.” But considering he works for an owner who has showed a willingness to do it in the past, would he? “I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t asked the question yet.””
Jeff Lenchiner of InsideHoops.com: “If D’Antoni does try to install a run-and-gun type of offense, Marbury could be a success. And while he’s really a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, he’s a good enough passer to hit Knicks who actually cut. But barely any Knicks have cut in recent seasons, ever. They literally just don’t. You can’t hit a cutter who doesn’t exist. I think Marbury, along with Jamal Crawford, could benefit more than any other Knicks under an uptempo D’Antoni offense. The Knicks should keep Marbury this season, roll the dice on him, and if they’re going to throw money away on buyouts they should do it on guys who don’t have expiring contracts in the summer of 2009.”
Andrew Katz of Dime: Does the NBA need a Stephon Marbury Rule?
HoopsVibe: “Overpaying a free agent creates problems. Last year, in an effort to help fans forget Billy Donovan’s flip-flop, Orlando signed Rashard Lewis to a six year, 123 million dollar contract. So Lewis, a blending star, was earning superstar bank. The Magic justified his lofty wage by claiming the on-court product would improve. They were right. The club won fifty-plus games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Of course, in the NBA, one bloated contract often squeezes other players. And fans predicted problems would eventually ensue, neutralizing last year’s gains. That time could be now.”
Lynn Worthy of The Lowell Sun: “Boston actually continued the same defensive philosophy they’d used the previous season without Thibodeau, without Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnett, and with a much younger cast of players who were less interested in defense. Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine broke it down for me prior to one game late in the regular season. I’d asked which made the difference, the coach or the players. He responded as only Scal could. “It’s like this,” he said. “You’ve dated a lot of girls.” A charge to which I pled the fifth. He went on to explain that it’s not necessarily about the best-looking girl or the nicest girl, it’s about finding the one that’s best mate for you. That’s what the Celtics found. This year was a combination of things that provided the best fit. Folks can say what they want, but Rivers undoubtedly was part of that fit.”
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck shares a behind-the-scenes story with CelticsBlog: “The first time I saw KG carefully examine each of our 16 championship banners, I knew we were going to likely hang a 17th one. Then he turned to me and promised me we would get number 17. That was unforgettable.”
Matt Steinmetz of CBSSports.com: Ranks the top 50 players in the NBA
Mike McGraw of The Daily Herald: “Bulls general manager John Paxson believes the long-running Ben Gordon saga will end with Gordon accepting the one-year qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer. Paxson said as much in an interview with the team’s new radio voice, Chuck Swirsky, which is available at bulls.com. Paxson confirmed the sentiment in an e-mail. “We’ve been so far apart for two summers, and the qualifying offer is a good one-year deal for Ben,” Paxson said. “So yes, I do think that is what will happen.”"
Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press: “What if when Arenas does return, it takes a while for him to get into shape? What if when Arenas does get into shape, it takes a while for him to play at his best? “One thing I’m expecting to happen is that when he comes back, we’re going to see Gilbert this year, but we probably won’t see Agent Zero until the end of the season,” forward Antawn Jamison said, “or maybe towards next year.”"
NBA Outsider: The Six Most Underrated Players in the NBA
Lakers Blog: Phil Jackson on Ariza, and his role on the Lakers, “I don’t hesitate to say that if this team doesn’t work out the way I want it to, Trevor may be a starting player, in that first five. I may just insert him and convince Lamar to come off the bench if I feel that’s better for the team and we don’t feel as comfortable on the floor as I’d like us to feel. That’s the role I see Trevor playing for us. I think he’s going to be a person who does things defensively and offensively for us that are going to be big plusses.” Is that Plan B behind Lamar starting in that large front court? “Yeah. I have to give that an opportunity. They deserve an opportunity to see if they can play (together).”"
Lakers.com: Phil Jackson Pre-Training Camp Press Conference [Video]
Luke Walton: “My dad has always been there giving me good advice, whether it’s injuries, basketball, life, whatever. He’s lived through a lot so he’s got a lot of information and knowledge to share. He told me that the doctors were calling it a minor surgery but the first day he was like, “There is no such thing as a minor surgery. Surgery is surgery. They’re telling you four to six weeks and that means if you were working a regular job you’d be able to go back to work. It’s going to be longer than they tell you. You’ve got to be patient. Your body doesn’t know when the NBA season starts. Your body recovers on its own time and heals on its own time.” His main advice was just to be patient and keep working and keep enjoying what you’re doing.”
Ramona Shelburne of The Daily News: “Looking svelte and trim in a neat grey suit, Davis said he’s lost 19 pounds since starting the program in early August and that he’d signed on as Jenny Craig’s most high-profile male spokesperson. “I wanted to be a lot slimmer and quicker for the types of things we are going to do this season,” said the former UCLA star, who signed a five-year, $65-million contract with the Clippers this summer. I feel great now. I’m at my playing weight, I’m in good shape. So now it’s just more maintaining and making sure I stay on my Ps and Qs. Like when we’re on the road, on one of those seven or eight-game road trips, you may lose a game and you just want to pig out late at night but you gotta have that discipline.””
Corey Maggette tells the Contra Costa Time Tim Kawakami how Baron will make the transition with the Clippers: “Oh, I think he’s in for a rude awakening. I mean, that’s all I can say. I wish him the best. I’ll probably be talking to him once a week.”
Ira Winderman of The Miami Sun-Sentinel: “When it was over, Michael Beasley had the slightly glazed over look of a player who quickly is recognizing what he has gotten himself into. “Everybody’s good. You can’t take nobody for granted. Everybody’s here for a reason. Everybody can score some kind of way. You just have to come to realize that.”"
The Associated Press: “They had two children, and court records show the divorce process began late last year, roughly around the time the season began. He has not divulged details of the breakup. “When the time comes, I will make one statement and that’s it,” Wade said. “Like anyone else, I want my privacy respected.” He is also dealing with courts on another matter, a failed restaurant deal. Wade agreed to have his name and likeness used at three restaurants in South Florida and said he never invested money in the businesses, yet when they failed — even though he tried to fulfill his end of the deal by making appearances — he was sued for $25 million by the people who approached him about the project. Wade is countersuing. “Let people say what they want to say about me,” Wade said. “I hear it. I get mad about it. But it doesn’t get me down. It adds fuel to the fire.””
Dave D’Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: “Regardless of the goal — and to a man, they all said they have playoff aspirations — the widespread perception is that the success of this mission rests mainly on the mood and actions of one guy. “Everyone’s responsibilities are important,” coach Lawrence Frank said. “This isn’t going to fall on Vince’s shoulders, it’s going to fall on everybody’s shoulders to do their job. Vince obviously showed a lot of leadership capability once we made the (Jason Kidd) trade. Here’s a guy who very easily could have had (in-season ankle) surgery (which he had after the season). And doctors were more than a little surprised he was able to continue to play with cortisone shots. … But when you work so hard, that’s the greatest leadership you can have. That speaks volumes, more than any words can say.”"
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: “I have known Shaq since his days at LSU – his former attorney/representative and I were law school classmates – and because I worked in Atlanta for eight years, we spent a lot of time together (Olympics, NBA Finals, Orlando Magic, etc.). Thus, there is no doubt in my mind that he left the Magic for the Lakers in 1996 because he couldn’t resist the overtures of the legendary Jerry West, I can also tell you that he was more than a little hurt when the Maloofs (per Geoff Petrie’s counsel) didn’t pursue him when his relationship soured with Kobe Bryant. Shaq liked Sacramento that much.”
Doug Smith of The Toronto Star: “In a never-ending quest for self-improvement, Sam Mitchell swears that he will swear no more and points to two months of profanity-free living as proof. Those, however, were two summer months with spent mainly with his wife and four daughters; a much sterner test of his willpower comes with the onset of the NBA season and the Raptor coach knows it. “Now, I haven’t had Kris Humphries on the court yet, I haven’t had Jamario (Moon) yet,” Mitchell joked yesterday. “Those are going to be my tests.”"
Curtis Pashelka of The Contra Costa Times: “Anyone questioning the decision to make Stephen Jackson the captain of the Warriors probably should have been at the team’s downtown practice facility Friday. The 30-year-old guard/forward was nothing but optimistic as he met with Bay Area media members, saying this year’s team is better “on paper” than last year’s 48-win squad, that he’d like to retire with Golden State, and maintaining that he won’t let any contract negotiations he has with management this season be an ongoing distraction. “I’m not going to shoot you no (B.S.). I think we’re definitely better (than last year),” Jackson said. “We’re bigger, we’re younger. Last year we played with six guys. At the end of the season, me and (Baron Davis) didn’t have any gas. We were tired. This year we can go deeper in the bench.” Jackson felt there was too much talk about contracts in the Warriors’ locker room last season, calling it a “cancer” that took the team’s focus off of winning games.”
Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: “In our daily dose of Dirk today, he looks at Jason Kidd and how the coaching change to Rick Carlisle can do nothing but help, particularly when it comes to Kidd dealing with other players, particularly Josh Howard. “I loved playing with him, to be honest,” Nowitzki said. “My stats and my fun definitely went up after he got here. I started to play well and get better shots. And I thought he would help other guys too. Like, I thought Josh was going to get in the open court and run and slash, but for some reason they never really played well together. I don’t know what it was. But I still think I like Jason on this team. It’s hard for him to drop the ball in and spot up on the weak side. It’s hard for him to be efficient that way.”"
Chris Herrington of The Memphis Flyer: “On the downside: Mayo does not have great size for a scoring guard, though I wouldn’t really label him undersized. He lacks the mammoth wingspan that lets someone like Dwyane Wade play so much bigger than his height. And, at least at the moment, he doesn’t look like he takes care of the ball well enough to play the point much. He’s a good, not great athlete. On a more optimistic note, Mayo seems like a big-time shot-maker: He seems adept at finding space and launching — and making — shots anywhere on the floor. He has a presence about him, and, by all accounts, is an intense worker and more intense competitor. If he pans out, he could inject some much-needed swagger into this team.”
John Reid of The Times-Picayune: “That challenge begins today with the opening of training camp. One of the biggest objectives for Hornets Coach Byron Scott will be to make sure his team is not overconfident from last season’s success, but remains driven to remain one of the league’s elite teams. To get that point across, instead of emphasizing the 25 team and individual records set last season, Scott showed the videotape of the San Antonio Spurs celebrating at the New Orleans Arena when they eliminated the Hornets in Game 7 of their second-round series last May. ”
Rockets director of player development Brett Gunning: “Ron has probably stood out as the hardest worker that I’ve been around since I’ve been here. He hates to leave the gym. He is a perfectionist in that, if he’s working on a certain shot, he will not move on until he has perfected that shot. So that attitude and that effort have been great to be around.”
Darnell Mayberry of NewsOk.com: “Give it some time, Kevin Durant. OKC will learn your name and face soon enough. The 2007-08 NBA Rookie of the Year was just another face in the crowd to many of those in attendance at Friday’s Hurricane Ike benefit concert featuring artists Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at the Zoo Amphitheater. It was a strange sight to see some people walk right past a future NBA All-Star without so much as making eye contact. Some, not all, literally treated him as though he were a panhandler as he graciously tried to hand out Thunder Blue bracelets that read, “Oklahoma City Thunder.””