The Fundamentals

» July 22, 2009 10:51 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

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Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:  “The guess on whether Buss will open his wallet and his mind to re-sign the Lakers’ most important missing piece is anybody’s guess, so we’ll start there. This is an owner who was so infatuated with Ron Artest, he allowed Trevor Ariza to walk without ever really giving him a chance to say he really wanted to stay. Mitch Kupchak may be the face of the Artest acquisition, but Buss is the brains, Buss was the mandate, and, who knows, maybe he thinks Artest is such a tough guy he can replace two guys? Artest is not. Artest cannot. If the Lakers do not re-sign Odom, they will not win a second consecutive championship, period, end of dynasty, and I’m thinking I’m not the only one who believes that. A couple of weeks ago at his basketball camp, when asked whether he thought Odom was coming back, Kobe Bryant said, ‘He better be.’ That should have been enough for Buss to sign Odom on the spot. Does he really want to pick a fight with his best player?”

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times:  “Asked about the impact new acquisition Ron Artest will have on the Lakers, Fisher framed his response in reference to Odom’s absence, saying Artest would provide strength and size up front ‘for the untimely lack of re-signing of Lamar.’ Yes, Fisher wants Odom back, and he said he’s not alone. He said several other Lakers have called, texted, tweeted and otherwise technologically urged Odom to come back to the fold. The question is whether Buss, angry that Odom was slow to respond to the club’s last offer, will make another one. If he does, Odom should grab it. That can’t happen fast enough for Fisher, whose character and leadership make his opinion count for a lot. ‘As much credit as sometimes I get — probably more than I should — as far as my importance to the team from a spiritual perspective in our locker room and whatnot, I think Lamar is equally important,’ Fisher said.”

Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail:  “It wasn’t so much a press conference Tuesday as a reunion. Officially, the Toronto Raptors were introducing multipurpose guard Jarrett Jack, the restricted free agent they snagged from the Indiana Pacers with a five-year, $20-million (all currency U.S.) deal. Unofficially, it was a chance for Chris Bosh to catch up with old friends. So while Jack was doing his rounds, looking polished in a banker’s suit, Bosh, still wearing his workout gear, was exchanging hugs with Jack’s parents, Carlton and Louise, who made the trip from Fort Washington, Md., to support their son. ‘My mom is up here all the time,’ Bosh said to Louise, who quickly asked about his father and his cousin. ‘That’s so good to hear,’ Jack’s mom said. It was that kind of signing for the Raptors. Not only does Jack provide exactly what they need to shore up their backcourt behind Jose Calderon and the departed Anthony Parker, he makes life in Toronto that much more comfortable for Bosh, with whom Jack played at Georgia Tech.”

Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee:  “After four disappointing NBA seasons, the Most Outstanding Player in the 2005 NCAA Final Four, the Sean May with the North Carolina pedigree, the former lottery pick, was applying for a job. Halfcourt drills. Fullcourt drills. Pick-and-pops. Pivots and defensive slides designed to expose a lack of lateral quickness or a tentative step. ‘I was a little worried because I had already worked out for Portland and I was tired,’ May said from Chapel Hill, N.C. ‘The Kings wanted to see if I could run, check out my knee. But it was probably my best workout.’ Consistent with the Kings’ emerging pattern of acquiring affordable role players with (1) intriguing talent and (2) even more to prove, May agreed to a one-year offer at the league minimum of $884,881. Given the salary (chump change in the NBA) and the short nature of the deal, this is one of those gambles with little risk involved. May can still play or he can’t. He remains healthy and well-conditioned or he doesn’t. The Kings have a season to figure that out.”

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:  “Pat Riley won’t be dictated to. Dictators rarely are. It is why the Allen Iverson chatter has faded. And it is why, in the wake of Carlos Boozer’s recent round of lobbying, Riley released this statement: ‘We listen to all inquiries, but there is nothing going on.’ Understand, Riley rarely responds to speculation. He merely ignores it. Yet this time, he felt an 11-word response was warranted. Why? Because he won’t be strong-armed. Boozer may well have overplayed his hand. For all of Boozer’s lobbying to dictate the direction of his impending trade from the Jazz, including last week’s comments on a Chicago radio station stressing his respect for the Bulls, he had an opportunity last month to become a free agent and put himself in position to dictate his next stop, instead of leaving himself at the trade whims of the Jazz. Instead, he took the cash, but still wants to run things. Only he can’t. The Jazz is dictating terms here. That could mean having to sing the praises of the East Rutherford swamps, because the Nets reportedly are interested.”

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:  “Even as the third overall pick, James Harden drew his share of knocks entering the draft. His athleticism was questioned, but he tested better than expected. His background is in ASU’s zone defense, but he had no control over that. He was deemed not to be assertive, but self-control is what makes him so attractive in the NBA. When he is on the floor with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green there will not be many shots for him, and that is when his playmaking and spot-up shooting will help. ‘The things we valued with him were fit on the court and off the court,’ Presti said. ‘He’s a selfless player. He’s someone we see as a connector on the floor that fits well with the pieces we have on the perimeter. His demeanor and pace to the game are things we value, as well as being a willing learner. Those kinds of things are rare for a young player. He doesn’t really have an agenda on the floor other than to play his game and fill a role his team needs. Having a guy that talented who is willing to play the right way only makes your organization stronger.’ Harden used the summer to focus on defense but also worked on his pull-up jumper and reading pick and rolls.”

Scott Cacciola of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:  “All the talk and speculation about his arrival became reality when Zach Randolph, all 6-9 and 260 pounds of him, walked into the press conference room at FedExForum on Tuesday afternoon. For a franchise in desperate need of inside scoring, he represents hope. And for Randolph himself, a new home with the Grizzlies means a fresh start, a chance to write his own script. ‘I just want to start a whole new chapter,’ he said during his formal introduction to the media, beaming for a bank of television cameras. Randolph, a power forward, was acquired last week from the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal for veteran swingman Quentin Richardson. With the Clippers and the New York Knicks last season, Randolph averaged 20.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and shot 47.5 percent from the field. ‘He’s a proven commodity,’ general manager Chris Wallace said. ‘He’s one of the best low-post scorers in the NBA. He can draw double-teams, which is a critical component of any successful offense.’”

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:  “Rockets center Yao Ming underwent surgery Tuesday morning to repair the hairline fracture in his left foot and another to realign the bones in the foot. The realignment procedure was done to prevent the reoccurrence of the injury that has ended his past two NBA seasons. Rockets team physician Dr. Tom Clanton, assisted by Dr. Bill McGarvey at the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute, used a bone graft in the tarsal navicular bone to help repair the fracture. The realignment of the bones in the foot flattened Yao’s arch to reduce the stress on the repaired bone. ‘Everything went according to plan and we were able achieve not only fixation of the broken bone, but also realignment of the bones to improve the stress pattern on his foot,’ Clanton said. ‘Yao is doing well and resting comfortably after these procedures. We expect him to be immobilized in a cast and using crutches for at least six to eight weeks.’ The Rockets did not provide any timetable for Yao’s return to basketball-oriented workouts or competition, but they do expect him to participate in the 2010 training camp.”

Scott Howard-Cooper of  “A rival general manager watched Anthony Randolph kill in summer league — a Vegas-best 26.8 points in four games along with 8.5 rebounds, three blocks and 60.9 percent shooting — and said, ‘He is a star waiting to happen, especially in that system,’ meaning the shoot-’em-up Don Nelson approach. ‘He’s shooting the ball better and putting the ball on the floor better, and that allows him to get to spots for a mid-range game. And at 6-11, and at those places on the floor, he can shoot over anyone.’ Six-eleven is correct. Randolph has grown another inch. More important, he has added 20 pounds. Randolph’s rise over the last five months led to an invitation from USA Basketball to participate this week in a three-day minicamp for young players hoping to line themselves up for future Dream Team duty. Randolph is a tremendous long shot to make the big club for the 2010 world championships and is in the mix this much only because enough prospects in the first wave declined, but, again: 20 years old, 22 career starts, zero votes from coaches for the All-Rookie team, yet on the Jerry Colangelo/Mike Krzyzewski radar.”

Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:  “Although I don’t blame Mike Krzyzewski for taking a second term as the senior men’s team coach, I do believe some great coaches who have been nothing but loyal to David Stern and the NBA have been insulted. Utah’s Jerry Sloan has been the poster child for consistency. He’s the longest-tenured NBA coach with 21 seasons. He’s won 1,137 games. He’s coached teams to 50 or more victories 12 times. He’s made two appearances in the Finals, losing only to Michael Jordan. And he’s paid his dues by being an Olympic assistant coach for USA Basketball. Krzyzewski has been at Duke 29 years and has won three national championships — the last in 2001. But Gregg Popovich has coached the Spurs for 13 seasons and has won four NBA titles since 1999. USA Basketball puts a large premium on coaches participating in their programs and, like Sloan, Popovich also has served as an Olympic assistant. Sloan is 67 and Popovich is 60. In 2016 — the first chance either will get to coach an Olympic team — Sloan will be 74 and Popovich will be 67. It is doubtful that either will be considered.”

John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News:  “It comes as only a small surprise that USA Basketball took the unusual step of naming Krzyzewski as a return Olympic coach for just the second time in history. The only other man to coach the United States in more than one Olympics was Henry Iba, who guided the U.S. at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, the ‘68 Games in Mexico City and the ‘72 Games in Munich. ‘When you have a good thing going you don’t mess with it,’ said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, who also announced that assistant coaches Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Mike D’Antoni (New York Knicks) and Nate McMillan (Portland Trail Blazers) have also agreed to return. ‘We accomplished a great deal and we want to keep the ball rolling. Mike and his staff did an incredible job and he’s more than entitled to have another run at it.’ Colangelo told everyone it was going to be a different ballgame when he took over USA Basketball after the disaster at the Athens Games. He said representing the United States was an honor, and he only wanted those who were completely committed to the program. Bringing Krzyzewski and his staff back is an acknowledgment that the game plan is working and recognition that consistency will be the key to keeping it going.”

Alex Kennedy of the Associated Press:  “Kobe Bryant said he was more likely to agree to play for Team USA at the World Championships in 2010 and the 2012 London Olympics now that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has committed to lead the team. Bryant and Krzyzewski won the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last year. ‘I’m very excited to see that he signed on,’ Bryant said. ‘It influences all the guys just because we’ve been through that experience before and it becomes like a family. It definitely influences me.’ Bryant, an 11-time All-Star, said a possible showdown against LeBron James, former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal and the Cleveland Cavaliers in next season’s finals would be ‘crazy.’ ‘Just the hoopla that surrounds it and all the stories that would come out of it,’ Bryant said. ‘If that match up is to happen, we have to take it one day at a time, we can’t get caught up in it being a given that we’re going to be in the finals. We have to take care of our business, but that being said, it would be a heck of a show.’”

One Response to “The Fundamentals”

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