It’s time to start counting the weeks, not the months, until NBA season starts, and we’ve got a whole bunch of ways to help you get ready. Start with Chris Bernucca’s column to find out which NBA stars might not be playing on Opening Night, and also be sure to check out Kent Williams’ awesome NBA depth chart, whether as a cheat sheet for a fantasy draft or just because it’s really cool.
- Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com talked to future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who thinks the New York will still be a Knicks town even with the arrival of the Nets, and had this to say to some of the Knicks’ star players: “O’Neal thinks the Knicks’ stars, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, need to take things “more personally” to succeed against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. ‘I think when Carmelo plays against LeBron (James) and (Dwyane Wade), he should take it personally, like he’s always talked about last (among the three). When Amare plays against(Chris) Bosh, he should take it personally,’ O’Neal said. ‘That’s what I always used to do. I played against guys, I used to take it personally that you’re not talking about me. They need to do that. In order to beat Miami, they’ve got to.’ “
- Joe Brescia of the New York Times has a brief but interesting interview with Dwyane Wade, who was recently in New York for a signing of his new book, which he talks about in the interview. One of Brescia’s questions is who guards Wade the toughest in the NBA, which Wade answered: “I would say it’s more about the teams that play defense more than an individual player. The Boston Celtics’ team defense is tough. The game is different now. It’s not one guy that shuts you down. It’s a team. They play a defense that stops you from getting to the paint.”
- At the Olympics, the Russian team brought home the bronze medal behind excellent play from Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko. The two Russians will be teammates again this season with the Timberwolves, and Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a piece on Shved’s planned arrival for his first season in the States, and Kirilenko’s return to the NBA after playing in Russia: “Kirilenko will spend these next 10 days in Russia training and preparing to move his family to Minnesota, where he intends to get his boys (ages 10 and 5) enrolled in hockey programs, not basketball. Shved will arrive with his brother, who is fluent in English and who along with Kirilenko will help Shved adapt to a foreign and a different brand of basketball.”
- Ben Bolch of the L.A. Times writes about new Clippers acquisition (from the crosstown Lakers), Matt Barnes: “Chris Paul recruited Matt Barnes. Blake Griffin forgave him. And with that confluence of events, the former Lakers small forward officially became a Clipper on Friday, signing a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum of about $1.2 million. Barnes was already in enemy territory a few weeks ago when he worked out with Paul at the Clippers’ training facility. ‘Chris Paul was talking about how tough we were going to be next year, assuming I was a Laker,’ Barnes said in a telephone interview. ‘I told him I was a free agent and he said, “No, you’re about to be a Clipper.” ‘ Barnes said the All-Star point guard pitched signing Barnes to Clippers management, though there was one potential hang-up: Barnes had shoved Griffin to the floor during a preseason game last December, earning a flagrant foul. So before agreeing to acquire the nine-year veteran, Barnes said, the Clippers checked with Griffin to receive his blessing. Barnes said he also spoke with Griffin on Thursday.”
- The buzz over the Kings leaving Sacramento has died down slightly over the last few days, but here’s some news that could start it back up again: Louisville is seriously discussing the possibility of bringing an NBA team to the city, as Marcus Green and Dan Klepal of the Louisville Courier-Journal write: “A group of community leaders convened by restaurant franchisee and former professional basketball player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman met with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Friday to discuss the possibility of a National Basketball Association team coming to Louisville, Fischer’s office said. In a statement, Fischer said the meeting gauged the “level of interest” and the “conditions necessary to attract a team.” … ‘There was a lot of excitement in the room about what an NBA team could mean for Louisville’s global recognition and as a job attractor and economic engine. There are many elements involved in a journey such as this,’ the mayor said. ‘This must be a win for the University of Louisville, as well as other stakeholders. I’m excited to be part of the dialogue and I continue to believe we should be ready if an opportunity presents itself.’ ”
- A couple minor transactions, both from NBA.com: the Jazz signed second-round pick Kevin Murphy, a 6’7 guard out of Tennessee Tech, and the Lakers signed rookie guard Darius Johnson-Odom, a 6’2 guard out of Marquette who was an Honorable Mention All-America last year.
- Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld has a really interesting piece on how teams plan their travel, and how some teams are planning flights differently to allow players to — gasp– get a good night’s sleep. It’s a really good read, so definitely click through. I’ll leave you with this excerpt: “Czeisler, who has actually been hired by teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, and Minnesota Timberwolves to help them plan their travel schedules, says many organizations are doing their players a disservice by simply scheduling their days in a way that robs of them of a good night’s sleep. ‘Teams are planning everything based on, ‘Well, we need to go here, then there.’ But nobody is accounting for the fact that players need to sleep,’ he said. ‘In fact, there were many things in the team’s schedule structurally that did not allow them to sleep. Once you understand that, it then becomes about developing a strategy tailored to their game and fine-tuned with their travel schedule that will allow the players to sleep.’ “