The Fundamentals

» July 19, 2009 1:36 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Shira Springer of The Boston Globe:  “Those closest to Rasheed Wallace know him to be an intelligent player and a devoted family man. At home, Wallace is far removed from the crazed on-court persona that earned a season-record 41 technicals in 2000-01, as well as fines, suspensions, and private rebukes from NBA commissioner David Stern. Few people see the private side. Wallace’s youngest children – 5-year-old Rashiyah, 12-year-old Nazir, and 13-year-old Ishmiel – create Romper Room-like chaos, while Wallace tries to bring order and calm. He paints Rashiyah’s fingernails and plays video games with Ishmiel and Nazir. He reads a biography of Che Guevara in his two-story office. He cooks. He proudly shows off his collection of superhero and super villain figurines, all precisely posed on office bookshelves. Hulk. Grave Digger. Spider-Man. Godzilla. Then, with equal pride, Wallace draws attention to the eclectic collection of gallery-quality artwork he selected for his home. ‘The only opinions that matter are from my wife, my kids, my mom, my brother,’ said Wallace.”

Scott Cacciola of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: ”During the national championship game in 2000, Florida’s Teddy Dupay fouled Michigan State’s Mateen Cleaves from behind on a breakaway layup, spraining Cleaves’ ankle. Cleaves, the team’s senior point guard, limped to the locker room before returning to lead the Spartans to the title. Zach Randolph, a top-tier recruit, arrived the following fall. And when the two teams met again during the regular season, Randolph clocked Dupay with an elbow. It was not an example of terrific sportsmanship, but Randolph’s teammates appreciated the significance: This was payback. ‘He was a great teammate,’ said Jason Andreas, a center. ‘He always had your back once you proved you were there to be his teammate, too.’ In some ways, that one episode has taken on symbolism over the years: Randolph can be loyal to a fault. It is one of his strengths, but perhaps his greatest weakness, too. He badly wants those around him to like him, and if that quality manifested itself with a crushing blow to Dupay’s chin — a moment of virtue or foolishness, depending on your point of view — then it also has landed him in far more unsavory situations. ‘The problem is, some people have taken advantage of him being so personable,’ said Moe Smedley, his coach at Marion (Ind.) High. ‘He can’t say no.’ Randolph has long been vulnerable to bad influences, an arc that extends from the NBA back to his childhood.”

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:  “The Lakers’ offer before it was removed was for four years at $9 million a season. But only three years of the deal were guaranteed. The Lakers held the option for the fourth season and had guaranteed Odom $3 million if they decided to buy him out. The Lakers also offered Odom a three-year deal that would have paid him $10 million a season. Either way, at least in the Lakers’ eyes, Odom would have been paid at least $30 million with the opportunity to earn more. Lakers owner Jerry Buss withdrew his offer Tuesday because he was unhappy that Odom and his people waited so long to respond to the team’s offer and because Odom spoke to Miami Heat President Pat Riley to discuss a deal. Buss is still upset. Odom had conversations with the Heat about signing for the mid-level exception of $5.8 million. The Heat would have given Odom a five-year deal for $34 million, and probably the opportunity to opt out after three seasons and become a free agent in 2012. Calls to Odom from teammates Derek Fisher on Thursday and Kobe Bryant on Wednesday failed to settle the issues.”

Mark Lelinwalla of the Daily News:  “Now that he’s a Laker, Queensbridge product Ron Artest is lobbying for the defending NBA champs. The former St. John’s star says he has reached out to fellow Queens star Lamar Odom, who has yet to re-sign with L.A. and turned down a four-year, $36 million offer. And Artest thinks their home-borough connection will do the trick. ‘I hope that helps,’ said Artest, who drew a crowd as he made an impromptu appearance with the Queensbridge team in the Hoops in the Sun tournament at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Saturday. ‘I hope he comes back to play with us. I already reached out to him and will (again).’ Artest’s remarks came on the heels of Heat superstar Dwyane Wade telling The Associated Press earlier in the week that he wants Odom ‘back home (in Miami).’ Odom and Wade were Heat teammates in 2003-04.”

Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune:  “Millsap was asked about the offer sheet that transformed his life. He made an NBA-minimum $797,581 last season as a former second-round draft pick, but will receive a $10.3 million upfront payment from his new deal.  ‘It feels great, but my job’s not done now,’ Millsap said. ‘It’s just beginning. The money’s there. Now it’s time for me to get out there and showcase my talents.’  If anything, Millsap said having financial security ‘settles me down,’ adding that his attitude, personality and work ethic would stay the same.  Having watched Millsap and his brothers grow up, his agent and uncle, DeAngelo Simmons, said: ‘To see him reach this point is an all-time high on my list.’  How much interest Portland had in signing Millsap — as opposed to forcing the Jazz to match — remains in question. Millsap revealed that he never talked with Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard or coach Nate McMillan as part of the process.”

Jim Reeves of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:  “No one blames the real culprit here. His name is Dirk Nowitzki. Ridicule him. If he weren’t here, none of this would have happened. Here’s what that shavetail Nellie Jr. and the evil mastermind Mark Cuban are truly guilty of: (1) trying to keep Dirk here and (2) trying to maximize whatever good years he has left. It seems to have escaped notice that Nowitzki can opt out of his contract after next season and, who knows, might just do that if he’s not happy with the way the landscape looks around here. Anyone really think that Dirk, at 31, is going to stick around while the Mavs go through a rebuilding process? And if Dirk is here, goes the thinking, the Mavs have at least a long shot’s chance of probing deep into the NBA playoffs. Dirk is why Kidd is back. Dirk is why the Mavs wanted to get more athletic by adding the versatile Marion. Dirk is why the Mavs are trying to make the best of what most perceive as a three-year window before his skills begin inevitably eroding. Thus, a three-year deal for Kidd.”

John Canzano of The Oregonian:  “The best moves in life are simple ones. They make sense. They come natural, and easy, and end up as no-brainers. And anyone who has changed jobs, made an offer on a house, or picked a college understands that when something feels forced or rushed or uncertain in that this-doesn’t-feel-right manner, it’s because it’s not the right move. If the Blazers end this summer with no significant personnel move, and with the same team returning for another season, would you feel any less confidence in their ability to entertain and compete? I wouldn’t. The expectations we’ve put on this group are massive, and distracting, and that’s what sport is sometimes. But what we’re watching is an organization that is trying so hard to make this happen, forcefully so, and there’s something about it that ends up as painful.”

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Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:  “Rookie Earl Clark has shown the skills that made him the 14th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft but has not countered the rap on his intensity. ‘It’s a learning experience,’ Clark said after an eight-point, five-rebound game Saturday in which he made 4 of 12 shots. ‘I’m having fun playing with these guys. I’m coming along fine. I’m just doing what I can. I only can do what I can control. If I could go out and show it (his intensity), it’d be easier. Sometimes it’s hard when you can’t do things you really know you can do.’ Clark impressed the staff with his work ethic this week, requesting extra work sessions. ‘He has to find a way to have some intensity and play harder,’ Suns summer coach Dan Majerle said. ‘If there’s not a fire there, he won’t play. He’ll figure that out. When he gets around the other guys, he better have a fire, or he’ll get his (butt) kicked every day. He’ll learn really quick what it takes to compete in this league. He has a lot of potential. I like Earl. He’s going to be OK.’”

Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee:  “Spencer Hawes should have been here. No excuses. His last-second bailout was lame. Yes, he is approaching his third season. Yes, he is a starting NBA center. Yes, he participated in the summer league the previous two offseasons, impressing the Kings with his commitment and conditioning routine that stripped fat and added contour to his slender frame. But the Kings won 17 games. Damn right, Hawes should have been here. Does he want to be a player or a winner? Does he want to be a player or a leader? His absence here made you wonder. This is a crucial time for the Kings, who are attempting a roster makeover and addressing a number of issues, among them an ongoing imbalance between finesse and physicality, and an almost chronic need for forceful, mentally tough players. Hawes, a towering presence in the locker room, surely has been knocked down a few pegs, at least temporarily. Because he is such a significant piece, his development essential to the team’s overall success, the hope was that he would accompany the Kings’ other youngsters to Sin City.”

James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press:  “Last season, Charlie Villanueva got in trouble for updating his Twitter account during halftime of a game with Milwaukee. Naturally, asked the big forward what he’ll do now that he’s a Piston. ‘I haven’t talked to coach (John Kuester) about that,’ Villanueva said, laughing. ‘But (Pistons president) Joe Dumars is all for it. He gave me his blessing.’ Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like the Joe we know. But we’ll see when the time comes, eh? Villanueva admitted he is ‘heavily addicted’ to Twitter (you can follow him at He recently lost a contest against Chris Bosh of the Raptors to accumulate 50,000 Twitter followers first, but the competition still brought about good things for the area. ‘When I hit a little over 46,000 followers, I said for every follower I get after that, I’ll donate a new pair of shoes to needy children,’ Villanueva told the site. ‘That’s 3,172 happy kids, to be exact.’”

Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:  “David Harrison failed a random drug test and was suspended five games by the NBA on Jan. 11, 2008. The league instructed him to attend a mandatory rehabilitation program in Rayville, La., after the season. Before the season was over, the Pacers had suspended him again, for one game, after an ejection and a locker room outburst in San Antonio on March 7. Soon after, the season ended and the Pacers opted to not offer him a contract extension. On his last day with the Pacers, Harrison had a short conversation with team president Larry Bird, his biggest defender in the organization.  ‘David did some things that I don’t want to get into,’ Bird said in a phone interview last week. ‘But what I wanted to do is just help him as much as I could. Emotionally at times,David would get down on himself and do some things. But as far as a person, I can’t say I ran into a better one. I’ve been in this league for 30 years and a lot of guys have come and gone. There’s a lot of them you get attached to, and David was one of them.’ Harrison said letting down Bird is the biggest regret of his professional life. As he speaks, he tears up.”

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:  “Dumars noticed how Kuester would command the players’ attention during shoot-arounds and practices as an assistant under Larry Brown during the championship season of 2003-04. He figured he had the makings of a top guy. When he saw him during the Cavs’ postseason run, he was convinced. ‘To watch him be able to coach the way he did last year in Cleveland, we all took notice,’ Dumars said. ‘But that just basically solidified what we already thought about him. You can’t command that huddle in playoff overtime games and have the head coach give you that clipboard if you can’t command that team’s attention.’ Kuester’s name was immediately floated when Curry was fired; and after things fell through with Collins and Johnson, Dumars didn’t hesitate to turn to Kuester. Dumars thinks Kuester will be successful because of the way he relates to players. ‘You have to be able to get guys to play hard for you,’ Dumars said. ‘You have to have enough of a human touch to be able to get guys to do what you want them to do. I think he possesses all those things.’”

Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News:  “On the eve of the playoffs, Stern had nothing but terrific things to say about the state of the NBA, ‘despite,’ he admitted, ‘a challenging economy.’ He cited an increase in TV ratings by double digits and a similar boost in traffic for the league’s Web site. Plus, the league was coming off its third-best regular-season attendance all-time, with arenas ‘filled to more than 90% capacity again this year,’ he said. Only six weeks ago, at the Finals in Los Angeles, he raved about ‘a season for the ages … everything came together for us.’ If you did not know any better – or you were living in China or India, two places the league has been rushing to set up shop in to sell merchandise to the expanding middle classes – you figured the NBA was in high cotton. But to hear Stern tell it this past week, his league is in trouble. At the summer league in Las Vegas, he divulged that less than half the 30 teams made a profit last season. He didn’t say how many teams lost money, but it’s probably at least 10. Then he went on to say that many teams next season could face at least a 10% decline in ticket revenue, with overall revenue expected to decline 5%, in part because of fewer corporate sponsorship deals. He went on to add that there’s a need to ‘look for a system’ that ‘returns the league to profitability.’ Well, which is it? Is the NBA going great guns with its current system, or is it just scraping by and in need of an overhaul?”

2 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. KneeJerkNBA Says:

    Nice site!

    On Dumars/Kuester: it’s hilarious that he tells this longwinded story about how much Kuester impressed him in a huddle. Admit it, Joe- you hired Kuester ’cause he didn’t cost 6 mil a year. In two years or less, Detroit will be looking for another coach. The sad part is that it will probably have more to do with the lousy defense of Gordon and Villanueva than Kuester’s ability to run a team.

    On Stern: does anyone else find it ironic that the league continues to pour cash into the India and China markets while half the teams in the NBA are losing money? Typical corporate douchebag- outsourcing to meet the bottom line while the local product flounders.

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    Appreciate the kind words.

    I think it’s a little early to write Kuester off as a never-will-be. His resume is pretty impressive. And he did a fantastic job as Cleveland’s “offensive coordinator” last season.

    As for Stern and the financial state of the NBA, I’d like to see the league implement a more comprehensive revenue sharing policy.