Hope everyone in the States is enjoying the holiday weekend.
We’re now into September, and that means we’re less than two months away from the start of the new NBA season. We have fresh items for you to check out: LeBron’s pink kicks, and A.J. Mitnick’s extensive update on the qualifying for Eurobasket ’13 that is definitely worth reading all the way through.
You should also check out Chris Bernucca’s previews of the playoff pictures in the Western and Eastern Conferences, and Moke Hamilton’s column on which NBA teams still have exception money to work with.
Here’s the latest news from around the NBA.
- Scott Layden, who once traded Nene, Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson to Denver for Antonio McDyess when he was running the New York Knicks, has a new front office position with the San Antonio Spurs as assistant GM. He has spent the past several seasons on the bench in Utah as an assistant coach. From Adrian Wojnarowski Yahoo Sprts, who broke the story: “Layden had a well-regarded run as the Jazz GM before embarking on a tumultuous 4½-year stay in New York in 1999. As Jazz GM from 1992-99, Layden’s draft picks and deals played a significant part in the organization’s two trips to the NBA Finals and three straight 60-victory seasons. One of Layden’s primary responsibilities will be administering the Spurs’ scouting department. Houston Rockets VP of Player Personnel Gersson Rosas had also been a serious candidate for the Spurs job, league sources said.
- Check out this tweet from Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com: “Talked with a (non-Kings) exec who said feeling around the league that it is “more and more remote” team stays in Sacramento. Just the vibe.”
- But where are they going? A place that keeps coming up is Virginia Beach, but Mike Gruss of the Virginian-Pilot thinks that’s unlikely. Here’s an excerpt from a fantastic piece that looks at whether the Hampton Roads area can sustain an NBA team: “I put together a spreadsheet of stores from five sought-after chains within a 50-mile radius of every NBA arena. I found that the average NBA market has 1.25 Ikeas, three Crate & Barrels, 3.5 Brooks Brothers stores, almost five Anthropologies and at least five Apple retail stores. If you’re afraid the major media markets like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago skew the data toward big cities, we can deal with the median, too. The median NBA market has one Ikea, one Crate & Barrel, two Brooks Brothers, three Anthropologies and 4.5 Apple Retail Stores. Compare that to Hampton Roads: zero Ikeas, zero Crate & Barrels, one Brooks Brothers, zero Anthropologies and one Apple Retail store. Those numbers create, in basketball lingo, a matchup problem. Hampton Roads doesn’t look like other NBA markets. Hampton Roads shoppers don’t have the same choices as people in other NBA markets. Why? By their actions, high-end retailers have said they don’t think we have the money. And if we don’t have the money for high-end shopping, how are we going to afford pricey NBA tickets and foam fingers? Most likely, we won’t.”
- Another option is Louisville, which Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal writes seems realistic: “Less than two years since it opened, the KFC Yum! Center still carries its showroom shine. It is a gleaming, gawk-worthy reality and, at least from a structural standpoint, what the real estate types like to refer to as ‘move-in ready.’ What it needs is another tenant, a professional team or some other entity that can fill up a calendar currently overcrowded by open dates. What it needs, Mayor Greg Fischer believes, is a city prepared to pounce should an opportunity arise.’If an NBA team comes knocking, we want to be able to open the door,’ said Chris Poynter, the mayor’s communications czar.” However, Sullivan goes on to write that while an NBA team in Louisville seems realistic, there’s a major problem: “The Yum! Center’s doorman, however, reports to the University of Louisville. … U of L’s lease essentially precludes serious discussion of professional hoops hereabouts. So long as the ’Ville controls the Yum! Center’s schedule, and retains a financial incentive to remain inflexible, efforts to take the taxpayers off the hook in the event of debt service shortfalls will face Yao Ming-high hurdles. If the NBA were to come knocking right now, in fact, it would find Greg Fischer and his open arms effectively barricaded behind pages of fine print.”
- Here’s an excerpt of an interview Ethan Sherwood Strauss of Bleacher Report did with Rajon Rondo. In it, he gets asked whether Ray Allen leaving had anything to do with him, and brushes the question aside with this: “I think Doc answered that question pretty much. I don’t have anything to say about that.” In case you forgot what Rivers said, here it is: “I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.” Also be sure to click through for an entertaining interview about what Rondo’s up to this offseason, what’s the weirdest thing he’s eaten while touring the world, and a lot more.
- Gregg Popovich has a mailbag on Spurs.com, and in his most recent one, he got asked about Kawhi Leonard, and had some high praise: “I think he’s going to be a star. And as time goes on, he’ll be the face of the Spurs I think. At both ends of the court, he is really a special player. And what makes me be so confident about him is that he wants it so badly. He wants to be a good player, I mean a great player. He comes early, he stays late, and he’s coachable, he’s just like a sponge. When you consider he’s only had one year of college and no training camp yet, you can see that he’s going to be something else.”
- Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com has an update on the Knicks’ plans: “A source familiar with the Knicks’ free-agency plans told ESPNNewYork.com that the team is considering signing forward-center Sean Williams, who was waived by the Rockets this week. There has been some speculation that the Knicks are interested in unrestricted free agent Josh Howard, but according to the source, they are not into him. Instead, the team wants to add a big man — likely to serve as a backup to Amare Stoudemire on the depth chart. Currently, they don’t have one.”
- Another New York team is also looking for frontcourt depth, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times: “The Nets’ ongoing search for frontcourt depth has led them to Houston, and a meeting with Andray Blatche, who was cut this summer by the Washington Wizards. Blatche, 26, has been working out in Houston with a number of other N.B.A. players, under the guidance of John Lucas. He was set to meet with Nets Coach Avery Johnson sometime this weekend, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting. It was not clear whether the Nets were prepared to make Blatche an immediate offer or were simply exploring their options.”
- Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype: “Free agent guard Blake Ahearn and the Indiana Pacers have agreed to a deal, one source told HoopsHype. Ahearn, mostly known as a shooter, finished the 2011-12 season with the Jazz after getting called up from the D-League. Ahearn’s deal with Indiana is a make-good training camp contract with some guaranteed money, the source said.”