A report earlier this week suggested that Steve Nash might be considering retirement after being diagnosed with nerve root irritation. However, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni quickly refuted the notion that Nash was debating ending his career, and the point guard himself echoed that stance today. Asked if he had thought about retiring, Nash replied, “No, not at all,” according to Bill Oram of the O.C. Register (Twitter link). The 39-year-old’s plans don’t seem to have changed since two weeks ago, when he announced his intentions to play out his current contract.
Here’s more from around the NBA:
- Despite Anthony Bennett‘s poor start, the Cavaliers have ruled out the possibility of assigning him to the D-League’s Canton Charge, a source tells Bob Finnan of the News-Herald. According to Finnan, the Cavs feel like the first overall pick is best served practicing and playing against NBA talent.
- Tom Ziller of SBNation.com explores the Cavaliers‘ disappointing first month, wondering if GM Chris Grant could be on the hot seat.
- Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star takes an extended look at how Larry Bird has built the Pacers into a title contender.
- With the Nets set to play in Minnesota tonight, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune observes that Andrei Kirilenko‘s decision to turn down his $10MM player option has greatly benefited the Timberwolves.
- The last time he was playing on an expiring contract, Spencer Hawes believes he psyched himself out by consciously trying to improve his stock for free agency. As he tells Lang Greene of HoopsWorld, Hawes isn’t thinking about his expiring deal as much this time around, opting to focus only on what he can control as he approaches free agency.
For some, it may be difficult to fathom that 12 years have already gone by since Jason Kidd landed with the Nets through an offseason trade with the Suns, and that tonight, the franchise is honoring him by retiring his No. 5 uniform (video link via USA Today) in the rafters. Once he arrived in New Jersey in 2001, Kidd appeared more than ready for the revitalization process and leadership role on a team that had missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons prior to his arrival:
“(He) told the players, ‘I don’t care what went on here before. We will make the playoffs,’” recalled Rod Thorn, the team president who had made the trade. “Guys were looking at Jason like, ‘What the heck are you talking about?” (ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor).
The team would go on to win 52 games that season en route to two straight Finals appearances and six consecutive playoff berths. Though Kidd would ultimately fall short of leading the Nets to an NBA title as a player, he now takes on the opportunity of coaching a team with championship aspirations. How far he’ll lead Brooklyn this year remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Kidd could be in the midst of his most special chapter with the Nets’ franchise. Here are some of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:
- Newsday’s Roderick Boone found that Heat superstar LeBron James wouldn’t comment on whether or not the Nets could contend for a title along with the Heat. Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, had this to say: “(Brooklyn) they did what they said they were going to do. They want to compete for a championship” (Twitter links).
- Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com reports that Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum is now near his usual playing weight of 285 lbs and is inching closer to a return to the court.
- Earlier tonight, Cavs coach Mike Brown revealed that first overall pick Anthony Bennett has been dealing with asthma and sleep apnea (ESPN via the Associated Press). Though Brown says that the breathing issues are noticeable, it doesn’t appear that it’ll affect the way he tries to use Bennett in his rotation this season: “It’s been tiring to watch him because every time I watch him he’s (gasping)…It makes me tired, so I try not to look at him. I tell him, `If you need a sub, just tell me. Otherwise I’m not going to look at you.”
- Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum calls Joel Freeland his “training camp MVP,” while head coach Terry Stotts admits that the 6’11 center has had a good training camp thus far. Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes that Freeman’s quiet transition into a Nick Collison-type of player could produce an opportunity to find a spot in Stotts’ rotation.
- Nuggets coach Brian Shaw likes what he sees in Wilson Chandler, and team GM Tim Connelly was quick to name him as the most likely to have a breakout year: “He got here about two months ago. He’s in great shape. He’s got the right mindset. Playing for a guy like coach Shaw could really allow him to take that next step” (Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com).
Let’s round up all of the links coming out of the Eastern Conference on Thursday night:
- In Canada for tomorrow night’s matchup with the Raptors, the Knicks, at this point in training camp, seem thrilled Toronto gave up on Andrea Bargnani this offseason, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, who tabs head coach Mike Woodson as one of Bargnani’s biggest fans in the early going.
- Woodson also said on Thursday that rookie and No. 24 pick Tim Hardaway Jr. has “put himself in a nice position” to get minutes in the Knicks rotation, writes Al Iannazzone of the Long Island Newsday.
- Despite going undrafted in June, it sounds like Matthew Dellavedova is on track to make the Cavaliers‘ final roster as the third point guard, writes Bob Finnan of the Cleveland News-Herald. The Cavs signed the Saint Mary’s product to a two-year deal with a small guarantee about a month ago.
- Despite a shaky preseason debut on Tuesday, No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett says he is simply trying to find his groove after offseason shoulder surgery, writes Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who adds that the highly-touted rookie is currently concentrated on improving his conditioning.
- Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report breaks down the five candidates in Miami with a chance to crack Erik Spoelstra’s nine-man, championship rotation: Michael Beasley, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason Jr., James Jones and Joel Anthony. Skolnick also mentions Greg Oden, who may be a factor for the Heat in 2014.
- Greek import Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the Bucks took in June at No. 15, has flashed big-time talent two preseason games into his NBA career, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, who says some scouts adamantly labeled the “Greek Freak” a bust without giving him a sufficient look (Twitter links here).
The Cavs went through their Wine & Gold scrimmage today and it appears No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett is struggling with his conditioning, reports the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd. He was winded after playing just four minutes in the scrimmage.
The scrimmage ended early after second-year center Tyler Zeller took a nasty fall and Anderson Varejao landed him on, adds Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Zeller suffered a strained left hip, which is not considered serious, but he was impressing coach Mike Brown before the scary fall.
Here's more on the Cavs and some notes on the Pacers' possible new sixth man while most fans are taking in all the early preseason action tonight…
- Kyrie Irving dominated the Wine & Gold game writes Boyer, with some flashy moves on his way to scoring a game-high 17 points during the intra-squad scrimmage.
- Bennett looks to be 10-15 pounds overweight writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto, echoing Lloyd's report from above. But Pluto also relays Brown's belief that Bennett has NBA 3-point range; although, he still needs to work on his defense.
- Pacers coach Frank Vogel alluded to James Harden and Manu Ginobili when talking about the possibility of Danny Granger coming off the bench, tweets the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner. But she adds, via Twitter, that Granger would share starters' minutes with Lance Stephenson.
Almost 12 years after being selected by Cleveland with the 8th overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, DeSagana Diop discusses his opportunity to play for the Cavaliers again (Bob Finnan of The News-Herald and Morning Journal). The seven-foot center is on a make good, non-guaranteed contract.
Head coach Mike Brown offered his take on Diop's chances to make the roster: (Diop) was brought in to have an opportunity to make this team…I don’t think he’s guaranteed, so this is going to be a process for him of trying to make this team. We like his size…Obviously, he’s an NBA veteran who has played heavy minutes in this league at the center position. If he can go, it can help us not only at game time but at practice time, too."
Here are some more notes to share out of Cleveland tonight:
- Dion Waiters is in much better shape and has a better frame of mind heading into his sophomore season, writes Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com.
- The Plain Dealer's Jodie Valade profiles guard Matthew Dellavedova, who has a two-year partially-guaranteed deal with the Cavs. The 6'4 point guard had reportedly first caught the eye of coach Brown at St. Mary's while Brown's son Elijah had been attending a recruiting visit last year.
- Valade had more comments to relay from Brown, who implied that money and position won't be a factor when determining the final roster: "If I think somebody can help us play and win? He's gonna make the team…Just because a guy has a little bit of money or something like that, that doesn't necessarily mean he's on the team."
- Brown added that big men won't necessarily have the edge over guards, even with the injury history of Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, and Anthony Bennett: "Yeah, with the history of (Bynym, Varejao, and Bennett), you want to make sure you have some depth (in the frontcourt)…(but) I'm not going to take a big who can't play just to fill depth in that area. So it's going to come down to who I think is going to help us win, and the right fit for the team."
- With that being said, Brown still hasn't ruled out anyone yet (Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio).
- Mary Schmitt-Boyer of The Plain Dealer notes that Brown is thrilled with the progress his team has made after five grueling practices so far.
Hoopsworld's Yannis Koutroupis explores the possible implications from a potential contract extension for Paul George and suggests that Danny Granger has now become an expendable piece. Losing Lance Stephenson - who is coming off of a career year and may have likely played himself out of Indiana's price range next summer – would be a bitter pill to swallow, opines Koutroupis. Here's more out of the Eastern Conference:
- Granger believes that Indiana can contend for a title next season and calls the addition of Luis Scola "our biggest free agent pickup" (Scott Agness of NBA.com).
- ESPN's Chad Ford (via Twitter) notes that Luol Deng has been working out at BYU-Hawaii over the last several weeks and says that the Bulls forward appears to be in fantastic shape.
- Erildas Budraitis of RealGM catches up with CSKA Moscow's Jeremy Pargo, who last played for the 76ers and Cavaliers during the 2012/13 season. The 6'2" point guard admitted that he probably won't think of returning to the NBA for another one or two years and calls his exit from Cleveland "unfortunate."
- Earlier today, Yahoo's Marc J. Spears reported that Cavs number one overall pick Anthony Bennett resumed playing five-on-five basketball this week.
- Nets star Deron Williams is even more eager to get the season started after hearing head coach Jason Kidd and teammate Jason Terry say they expect him to be a part of the MVP conversation in 2013/14 (link via Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report).
- Despite NBA commissioner David Stern's recent efforts to quell tension between the Knicks and Nets owners, the players don't seem to be necessarily following suit. When Paul Pierce was asked today about J.R. Smith calling him a bitter person recently, the Brooklyn forward tersely responded with "Who? Who are we talking about right now? Exactly" (Tim Bontempts of the New York Post).
Earlier this month it was discovered Chris Hansen, the venture capitalist behind the Seattle group bidding for the Kings franchise, had funded an Anti-Kings-Arena group. Many believed the news would derail any future NBA franchise in Seattle. While others wrote that it would not affect a future team in the former home of the Supersonics.
Today, 95.7 The Game radio host Ric Bucher spoke with an influential NBA owner about whether the Hansen discovery would have any bearing on Seattle landing an NBA franchise. The anonymous owner's response, via Sulia, "none."
But, Bucher goes on to write – with an important caveat that the translation might have been altered in the text – that the Seattle group might have to write a $1 billion check for the expansion fee.
Bucher adds that he did not think expansion was going to happen during the Sacramento-Seattle back-and-forth, but that the $1 billion cost lining the coffers of the NBA owners would be hard to pass up if Hansen and his group agreed to pay. If the Seattle group balks at the price, then no harm no foul – and, no 31st team.
Here's what else is happening around the league as we come up on just a month remaining before training camps start…
- Moke Hamilton of HoopsWorld believes the future is now for the Cavs and it's time for Kyrie Irving to lead them to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James donned the No. 23.
- Marc Porcaro of Secret Rival went through the short- and long-term futures of the Sixers and Suns on Twitter tonight, discussing their current draft picks over the next three offseasons, and possible changes to their current rotations.
- At the FIBA Americas tournament in Venezuela, tournament favorites Puerto Rico beat Canada after a strong fourth quarter, reports the Toronto Sun's John Chick.
- If Canada qualifies for the FIBA World Cup in Spain next summer, Andrew Wiggins' AAU coach Tony McIntyre told SNY.tv (via ZagsBlog.com) Wiggins will play along with fellow Canadians: No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk and incoming Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis.
- J.R. Smith tells Newsday's Will Sammon he doesn't know whether he'll be ready for the Knicks' training camp in the first week of October.
- Jonathan Givony of Draft Express posted part 1 of his detailed scouting reports on the top of the 2014 high school class. The first part focuses on point guards like Tyus Jones and Australian Emmanuel Mudiay, the latter of whom may skip college to declare for next summer's NBA Draft.
- Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman tweets that DeAndre Liggins was arrested in Oklahoma City tonight on complaint of domestic abuse. Liggins is on a non-guaranteed minimum contract this season, so he'll have to make the team to earn that money.
The Cavaliers announced that they have signed No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. With Sergey Karasev (No. 19) and Carrick Felix (No. 33) also in the fold, Cleveland has now signed all three 2013 Draft selections.
The Cavs surprised everyone with their selection of Bennett on draft night. While most reports had Cleveland zeroing in on Kentucky's Nerlens Noel or Georgetown's Otto Porter, they instead went with Bennett, an undersized forward out of UNLV. Scouts were enthralled with Bennett's athletcism leading up to the draft, but his shoulder issues prevented him from working out, which caused concern for some talent evaluators.
In his freshman year at UNLV, Bennett averaged 16.1 PPG and 8.1 RPG. The youngster has solid range for a power forward but will have to improve defensively.
The new regime in Boston, led by former Butler coach Brad Stevens, is looking to fill out the rest of the staff positions during the down days before NBA training camps open at the beginning of October. ESPN NBA Insider Jeff Goodman tweets that they're looking to bring former Celtics swingman James Posey back into the Celtics fold as an assistant.
Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com adds that the Celtics have benefited from bringing in former players who can provide more hands-on instruction to their young roster. The C's had brought in former Lakers guard Tyronn Lue in that role in previous seasons to act as a practice body while providing additional tutelage.
Here's what else is happening around the Eastern Conference:
- In an open letter Ethan Sherwood-Strauss wrote for ESPN.com on Friday, he asked Andre Drummond about attempting to shoot free throws underhanded in an effort to improve his historically abysmal 37 percent average from the line during his rookie season.
- CBS Sports' Matt Moore reports that Drummond declined the offer on Twitter and Moore looks at some other big men that may have wanted to adopt the underhand free throw form popularized by Hall of Fame guard, Rick Barry.
- Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Sixers fans need to calm down. The team isn't leaving Philadelphia despite concern stemming from the purchase of the New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center by Sixers owner Joshua Harris.
- During the NBA's Rookie Transition Program in Tarrytown, New York two weeks ago, the New York Times' Joe Brescia spoke with Anthony Bennett about recovering from the torn labrum in his shoulder, and how he'll mesh with the Cavaliers' other power forward Tristan Thompson, and star point guard Kyrie Irving.
- Bobcats assistant Bob Beyer was charged with resisting arrest outside a bar in Saratoga Springs on Thursday.
The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson spent some time with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau today, and the coach provided him some insights into the the team's offseason plans–including the signing of the Bucks' Mike Dunleavy.
Of Dunleavy, Thibs said that he complements Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer "extremely well," and "he moves well with the ball. We think he's a great fit" (Twitter link). Speaking of Rose, whom Thibodeau gushed about last month, the Bulls coach continued to praise his star's progress to Johnson via Twitter. According to Thibs, the summer has given Rose even more time to build his confidence and his leg strength, finally adding "He looks great."
Johnson's conversation with Thibodeau failed to touch on the relationship between Bulls general manager Gar Forman (Twitter link) and former assistant Ron Adams, who the Celtics may be looking to add to their bench.
Here's what else is happening around the Central division tonight…
- Racine Journal Times columnist Gery Woelfel relays the same Thibodeau thoughts on Dunleavy and adds, via Twitter, that the Bulls got a strong endorsement for Dunleavy from his former college coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
- The Cavs appeared to have an excess of front court players after drafting Anthony Bennett with the number one pick and signing Andrew Bynum. That's the roster question the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer answers in her Saturday night mailbag.
- Cavs GM Chris Grant says he's been high on free agent signee Jarrett Jack ever since the guard came out of college. That's when Grant, then a member of the Hawks’ front office, was part of an unsuccessful effort to trade up to select Jack. Bob Finnan of the News-Herald provides details via Sulia.
- Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines that the Cavs’ recent draft picks and free agent signings allow them more flexibility and options.
- Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star suggests the Pacers’ biggest off-season move may have been hiring Nate McMillan as an assistant coach.