SH Blog: Pau Gasol calls himself a “beast”, David Stern calls out Dwight Howard’s agent

Friday night marked the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, which means Team USA will soon be in action. They will play the first game against Tony Parker and France on Sunday and will face plenty of challenges, according to our Chris Sheridan, who is in Europe and witnessing everything as it happens. Check out his predictions for the Olympics here. Today’s news includes some coverage of players involved with the Olympics, along with all the other relevant happenings around the league:

  • Pau Gasol has prepared his body for the Olympics, enough to call himself a “beast”, from Larry Fine: “I have been preparing myself and working to get better this summer,” Gasol, a two-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, told reporters at a news conference. “First for the Olympics and to perform at a high level to be able to achieve our goal, and then when the Olympics are over, take a little break and continue to prepare myself for what’s going to be a very demanding (NBA) season, a season where we (the Lakers) want to get back on top as a team.” NBA team mate Kobe Bryant took notice after Gasol led Spain with 19 points in an exhibition game defeat to the United States in Barcelona on Tuesday. Bryant said the 7-foot (2.13m), 32-year-old Gasol looked stronger, absorbing contact and pushing back in an impressive display that boded well for future Lakers’ success. “I’m a beast,” Gasol told Reuters. “Yeah, I feel pretty good. I feel strong.”
  • Ricky Rubio explained his desire to turn his Timberwolves teammates into a family in order to win on the court, from Adrian Wojnarowski: “It was different [with the Timberwolves],” he says.”My first year, I didn’t know how to act. We can have a great team together if we are family outside the court. With the national team, you are playing on your vacation. But everybody wants to go, because you play for Spain. But secondly, it’s because we are friends. Not just teammates, but friends. When I get hurt, I get 12 messages, one from each teammate. ‘We are going to miss you. No matter what, we’ll always going to be with you.’ “That’s a real family. You feel like you’re a part of it. I want to bring that to Minnesota.”
  • Tony Parker discussed how his eye injury put things in perspective for him, from The Associated Press: “Life can change pretty fast,” he said. Parker was lucky, and he knows it. Despite not being able to practice until recently, he’s here at the Olympics, leading a French team that’s at less than full strength and will open the tournament Sunday against a U.S. squad overloaded with superstars and expected to leave London carrying gold. The accident has altered him, made him cautious — but unafraid. “It’s so funny, because I just had my best year in the NBA and in one night it can change,” said Parker, who will wear goggles during the Olympics. “It just puts life in perspective and you think, ‘OK, next time I have to be careful,’ but at the same time you can’t stop living because then you don’t even cross the street.”
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News had to deal with a brief controversy with Kevin Durant today on twitter:
Durant on tweeting #Thunder G James Harden 'won't be hitting market': "I may be wrong. I don’t sign contracts, I don’t negotiate contracts."
Sean Deveney
@ u writing what u wanna write, what else did I say??? Tweet that
Kevin Durant
@ You did say that, that you don't get to make those choices in the end, right? I didn't imply at all you wouldn't want him back ...
Sean Deveney
  • After dealing with that brief controversy, Deveney wrote more in detail about James Harden’s contract situation and Kevin Durant’s quote: “Durant raised some eyebrows early this month when he tweeted, “Harden won’t be hitting the market,” but he clarified that Friday, saying he has no special knowledge of the team’s plans. With Durant, Westbrook and center Kendrick Perkins leading the way, the Thunder would be getting very close to the luxury-tax threshold by signing Harden to something close to a maximum contract. Durant said he was just looking on the bright side. “I am not negative,” Durant said. “I am just not going to think that way. If that’s not the case, then I may be wrong. But as of now, I think he is going to be there and I think they’re going to make a concerted effort to keep him there. That’s just me. I don’t sign the contracts, I don’t negotiate contracts. “I am just, that’s just me being me and knowing how much we value him as an organization as a guy who is part of our time.”
  • There has been much talk of size issues for Team USA, but Mike D’Antoni doesn’t see it as an issue, from Marc Berman: “D’Antoni, the former Knicks coach who is Mike Krzyzewski’s top assistant and architect of the Olympic team’s up-tempo offense, said it could be a blessing in disguise. Tyson Chandler of the Knicks is the club’s only center and Kevin Love the only traditional power forward. There have been whispers a club such as Spain, with its troika of big men in Marc and Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka, could be a legitimate threat to embarrass Team USA in London. “Tyson will play a big part of it and we can have a big lineup and then we can go small and it’s the best of both worlds,’’ D’Antoni told The Post yesterday. “That could be to our advantage because teams have to adjust to us going small. You can’t have everything. One thing we are is much faster and play at that pace and spread the floor. Our lack of size will be a problem for them.”
  • Ronnie Brewer is ready to bring some serious defensive intensity for the Knicks, regardless of his role, from Ian Begley: “We’ve got a lot of great players returning to the team and coach Woodson’s going to have a full season under his belt so I’m very excited to be a part of this team,” Brewer said Thursday during an interview on WFAN. Many believe Brewer will start at shooting guard ahead of J.R. Smith, who is more suited for a bench role. But Brewer was noncommittal when asked about his role on Thursday. He said he’ll do whatever Woodson needs him to do. Brewer prides himself on being a ‘hustle player’ and a lockdown perimeter defender — two aspects of the game that the Knicks need while Iman Shumpert works his way back from a knee injury. “A lot of people want to play defense but some people just don’t have the ability to do it,” the 6-7 veteran said. “… I take pride in defense and, in my opinion, I think defense wins championships.”
  • Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz did some trash talking against the New York Knicks, from Stefan Bondy: “I’m thrilled that fans won’t have to wait long for our Brooklyn Nets to take the floor against the Manhattan Knicks, and kudos to the NBA for scheduling their first matchup on November 1 in the true home of NBA basketball in New York City—Brooklyn’s spectacular new Barclays Center,” Markowitz said in a statement. “Between the two teams there will certainly be lots of excitement and star power in the house that night, and no doubt the arena will be filled to the ‘rim’ with Nets fans and their Brooklyn swagger drowning out the desperate cheers of the few Knicks faithful brave enough to venture into enemy territory. You know who I’ll be rooting for, so move over Knicks—you may have a ‘Kidd’ but now you have to play the big boys! And it won’t be long before a championship banner so elusive for the Knicks over the past forty years will be hanging in its rightful place from the rafters at Barclays Center.”
  • Carmelo Anthony discussed how he supported Jeremy Lin no matter what happened, from Berman: “Believe it or not, I was one of the true supporters of Jeremy Lin,’’ Anthony said. “Whether it was staying or going to Houston. That’s not something I go out and brag and broadcast about. After he signed with Houston, I talked to him. He texted me, It was a great text. What he sent me meant a lot… Money talks, at the end of the day,’’ Anthony said. “Houston threw something out there that he couldn’t refuse. The Knicks organization didn’t feel like they had to match it. I’m proud of him, happy for him. Just to see where he came from, see where he started and ending up back in Houston the team that let him go and put us in a position to let us acquire him. He’s back out there in a totally different situation and settlement. I wish him all the luck.’’
  • Daryl Morey did not expect to attain Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, from The Sports Xchange: “When the Houston Rockets reached offer-sheet agreements with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, they did not expect to actually get either one. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thought the Bulls would match the offer to Asik and was sure that the Knicks would match the offer to Lin. Morey remain convinced that the Knicks would keep Lin even after New York brought in Raymond Felton to replace him, and he expected the Knicks to match his offer right up until they didn’t. When the Rockets got both free agent targets, their rebuilding was far from complete but had its new foundation.”
  • commissionerDavid Stern accused Dwight Howard’s agent Dan Fegan of leaking information to the media, from Jeff Zillgitt: “Asked what he thought of the Howard situation, which threatens to engulf another season for the Magic, Stern chided Fegan. “It’s very unique, especially if it’s driven by a quote source that happens to be Dwight’s agent,” Stern told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview. ” ‘A source in the meeting. Oh, OK, who might that be?” Does he think it could be new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan? “No, I don’t, and I don’t think it’s (Magic CEO) Alex Martins either,” Stern said.”
  • Kobe Bryant had a big hand in recruiting Steve Nash, according to Mark Medina: “Kupchak had Bryant talk with Nash directly. The Lakers star expressed enthusiasm at such a possible pairing because it would relieve him of ball-handling duties and increase the team’s chances of winning a championship. Two days later, the Lakers had Nash in the fold with a three-year, $27-million deal. Bryant’s phone conversation with Nash showed that the two could forget their deeply rooted rivalry for the sake of a common goal — winning a title. It also showed that Bryant still has enough cache to convince both top tier and reserve players alike to join the Lakers.”
  • The Hornets had Austin Rivers and Xavier Henry go through surgeries today, from Jimmy Smith: “At least two members of the New Orleans Hornets will attend training camp this fall having recovered from off season surgeries. Rookie guard Austin Rivers underwent a procedure to remove a bone spur from his right and guard Xavier Henry on Friday had arthroscopic surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee, Hornets general manager Dell Demps said. Both players are expected to be recovered sufficiently to participate in camp, which will commence at the end of September in preparation for the Oct. 31 regular-season opener against the San Antonio Spurs. “Austin had a bone spur in his ankle,” Demps said, and the surgery went well today. I’ve been in communication with the doctor who did the surgery and we expect him to be back in time for training camp. We’re not going to rush him back, but we do expect he’ll be ready to play when training camp opens.”
  • The three-team trade involving Robin Lopez hit a snag, but was finally completed today, according to Woj:
Three-way Hornets, Suns and Wolves deal finally completed, clearing way for Minny to sign Andrei Kirilenko to 2-year, $20M deal.
Adrian Wojnarowski
  • Jason Terry was upset with the Mavericks for not offering him a contract, from Andrew Greif: “I definitely was angry at first. Once that anger subsided that first call I got in free agency was from Doc Rivers. … I knew there was only two or thee teams out there for me that would be a perfect fit. You know obviously I still wanted to earn a lot of money but I wanted to go to a contender, a team that was ready to contend right now and I think the Boston Celtics being one game away from the final last year, I think I’m the piece that can obviously catapult them to getting back to the finals this year and hopefully winning it all.”

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