Today’s major news might make you very sad: Sasha Vujacic is no longer in a relationship with Maria Sharapova. Actually, most guys are probably happy to hear of this development (or not give a damn). In equally important news, former 90210 stars Jennie Garth and Luke Perry are not dating as previously thought.
Jokes aside, we do have some very interesting material in today’s news, including a slew of noteworthy quotes from Rajon Rondo, an explanation of Dwyane Wade’s beef with Erik Spoelstra during the playoffs, the predictions of Lakers fans and more:
- Rajon Rondo said plenty of attention-grabbing things in his recent interview with The Standard (via Hoops Hype). My favorite? He expects to beat Jeremy Lin “pretty badly” in the upcoming season: “Boston guard Rajon Rondo said he expects the Celtics to unseat Miami and win the NBA title in the coming season. The NBA’s assist leader last season said he likes Boston’s offseason additions. “I think because we have a talented group of guys… the additions of Courtney Lee, [Jason] Terry and Jeff Green,” Rondo said. “We have high expectations every year… I think we got a lot better than last year.” Rondo didn’t talk much about Ray Allen leaving Boston to sign with rivals Miami Heat for less money — except for saying, “he’s fine”. The Celtics guard was somewhat skeptical about the new lineup of another rival team, the L.A. Lakers, who now feature stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Rondo said they’ve done nothing yet and it’s all on paper. The Celtics All-Star also said he expects to beat Jeremy Lin “pretty badly” when Boston meet Lin’s new team, the Houston Rockets, RTHK reports.”
- Rondo also discussed why he loves basketball fans in the Phillippines, and that he used to play basketball in sandals all the time. Ethan Sherwood Strauss of Bleacher Report has the interview: “B/R: You talked about being interested in the basketball culture in the Philippines. I was wondering: What made you interested in that culture? RR: Just common sense. The fans are crazy there. It’s unbelievable how many Celtic fans are there, how many Rondo fans are there. They bleed basketball. It’s like being home in Boston, but kinda on steroids. Population of about 93 million, and they show a lot of love. A lot of fans understood the game of basketball, and I think they could relate to me because I’m not the biggest guy on the court, but I play with a lot of heart. B/R: I hear that they play in sandals. Did you see any of that? Could you ever see yourself playing in sandals? RR: As I grew up, I played in sandals. I played in flip-flops all the time back in the day. That’s why I didn’t really care about spraining my ankles. When I first started in the NBA, I loved low-cuts. I can play (in them), because I used to grow up playing in flip-flops all the time.”
- Zach Lowe of SI provided more interesting information, thanks to a system called SportsVU (which you can read about by clicking on the link). Here is the scoop on who is most likely to take a shot after touching the ball at the elbow: “Kobe Bryant (57 percent of touches), Serge Ibaka (61 percent), Leandro Barbosa (!) 55 percent, DeMar DeRozan (!!) 58 percent, Monta Ellis (47 percent) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (47 percent). Each of those guys touched the ball at the elbow fewer than three times per game, save for Kobe, who got it there a hair more than five times per game in the recorded sample. Ibaka touched the ball at the elbow just 1.16 times per game in 55 recorded games, meaning it’s clear he’s supposed to shoot when he receives it there, mostly in pick-and-pops. Bryant, DeRozan and Ibaka each shot around 41 percent on these attempts, placing near the bottom of the field-goal percentage rankings. Among big men who got the ball at the elbow a lot, the most likely to shoot included: Dirk Nowitzki (40 percent of touches), Amar’e Stoudemire (42 percent), David West (41 percent) and DeMarcus Cousins (45 percent).”
- From the same Lowe article, Ty Lawson and Andre Miller were ranked among the best point guards that created the best possible shots for teammates when they drove to 10 feet or fewer from the basket from 20 feet or beyond. Jeremy Lin was even better. Brandon Jennings? Not so much: “Andre Miller and Lawson ranked among the half-dozen “best” point guards in the league by this standard, with 67 percent of Miller’s potential assists and 56 percent of Lawson’s leading either to threes or shots at the rim. Only Jeremy Lin (68 percent) had a higher percentage of potential assists fall in those areas, a fact I suspect Houston’s geeky brain trust is already aware of… A point guard who does not fare well by this “potential assists” measure: Brandon Jennings, up for a contract extension before Oct. 31. Only 49 percent of Jennings’ potential dimes led to either layups or threes, a very low number, while 39 percent alone went to long two-point jumpers.”
- Remember Kyrie Irving’s broken hand? He is healing ahead of schedule and should be ready for training camp, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio:
Ryan Anderson credited Stan Van Gundy for making him the player that he is today, while also admitting that he was a restricted player with the Magic. Here is a piece of his interview with Yannis Koutroupis of Hoops World: “I had an amazing three years with Orlando,” Anderson said. “I learned so much as a player with that team and I’m really, really grateful to have spent those three years being coached by Stan Van Gundy, a guy who really challenged me and made me the player that I am now. Just having him give me the confidence that he did, especially last year. He always had faith in me but he always pushed me really hard, more than any of the other guys really because I think he expected a lot out of me and it’s a good feeling from such a great coach to have that coach have so much faith in you… It was a great city to play for and I feel really blessed to have spent three years in Orlando, but transitioning to New Orleans, I think is a great opportunity for me to go through some change. I think I’m ready to venture out and play a different role and have a little bit more freedom playing in New Orleans. I was restricted a bit in Orlando.”
- Ira Winderman of South Florida Sun-Sentinel pointed out some notable content from Dwyane Wade’s new book, including an explanation of the infamous heated moment between Wade and Erik Spoelstra during last season’s playoffs: “Wade discusses his confrontation with coach Erik Spoelstra in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers, stressing that a balky knee minimized his coach’s possible intent of the moment. “He might have been trying to see what would happen if he could get me to play mad, which is when I usually play well,” he writes. “But this was me playing frustrated, very different from playing mad.” He writes effusively of the championship contribution of Spoelstra, whom he says, “opened my eyes to new lessons of what being a champion is all about.”
- Who are the smartest spending teams in the NBA? Kurt Helin of NBC Sports breaks it down with help from businessweek.com: “Bloomberg’s businessweek.com decided to do that kind of study (for all four major sports) but tried to take a big picture view — they looked at the last five years and they gave bonuses for finishing over .500 and winning playoff games and championships. So how did the NBA shake out? Here is their top 10: 1. Lakers 2. Celtics 3. Heat 4. Magic 5. Spurs 6. Thunder 7. Mavericks 8. Hawks 9. Nuggets 10. Bulls. Looks to me that by adding weight to playoff wins you basically made this a “win and you’re at the top” contest. The Lakers have been one of the biggest spenders (because they have the revenue to do it) but to be fair have been smart about it and won titles. Boston and Miami much the same, and Dallas has been the biggest spender of them all up until last season.”
- Mike Bibby is unlikely to be re-signed by the Knicks, according to Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York: “A source close to Knicks unrestricted free agent Mike Bibby told ESPNNewYork.com that it’s unlikely the veteran point guard will return to New York. “We do expect a need for him [with a team] once camp starts or just before,” the source said, “but we don’t think it’s going to be with the Knicks.” The Knicks can afford to re-sign Bibby because he’s open to the veteran’s minimum, which is what he made last season. But the team now has four point guards on the roster:Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Smith, J.R. Smith’s younger brother. (Chris’ contract, for now, is only for training camp.)”
- The Knicks’ uniforms will have a slightly different look for the upcoming season, according to Marc Berman of New York Post: “Months after the Brooklyn Nets’ new black-and-white hip color scheme and uniforms have gained popularity, the Knicks have made alterations to both their home and away uniforms. Their new jerseys will be unveiled next Thursday, a club official said. Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will model the new jerseys, though one person familiar with the situation said the change is “not major.’’ The last time the Knicks had significant uniform alterations was 2001, when a thick bands of blue on the sides were removed. The Knicks’ color scheme has been orange, blue and white — the city’s official colors — except for 1979-83 when red was added. The change is also an attempt to sell more jerseys but their leading jersey-seller last year, Jeremy Lin, is now with the Rockets.”
- Lakers fans are obviously expecting big things from their super team for the upcoming season. In fact, 87 percent majority of fans believe the Lakers will win the championship, from Mark Medina of Los Angeles Times: “At a time of skepticism over our nation’s future, here’s one thing leaving Laker fans optimistic. The purple and gold will win the 2013 NBA championship. Based on a series of poll questions, there’s very little sapping the enthusiasm of Laker fans. There’s an 87% majority of fans who say the Lakers’ title chances are already a foregone conclusion. A 38% plurality simply gush over the Lakers’ overwhelming talent in the Lakers’ Fantastic 5 starting lineup. Even 50% believe the Lakers will collect 64 to 72 wins, meaning many expect the purple and gold at least to be within striking distance of matching the Chicago Bulls’ 72-win record set in the 1995-96 season.”
- If you want an extensive breakdown of Michael Beasley’s game and how he could help the Suns, this video by Mike Schmitz is a must watch.
- Jeremy Lin and David Lee went shrimp fishing in Taiwan, via Trey Kerby of TBJ.
- Kevin Durant put on a “show” in Hong Kong during his Nike Tour, and the fans went absolutely wild for him.
- Sasha Vujacic has broken up with the uber-popular tennis star Maria Sharapova, according to Deadspin: “Did you remember Maria Sharapova and Sasha Vujacic were dating? Neither did we. But somehow they were together for two years and were all set to get married in November. Well, Sharapova shot down the marriage rumors a few days ago and didn’t tell us why. And now Vujacic tells La Gazzetta dello Sport that the relationship is off, and it’s been that way for three months. This helps explain why Sharapova left him out of her victory speech after winning the French Open in June (Vujacic was in Turkey, where he’s still playing).