If you’re someone like me who takes great joy in finding under-the-radar players and watching them rise up the ranks, then you should definitely check out Tommy Dee’s list of eight NBA training camp invitees who could make Opening Night rosters.
Most camps open Tuesday, and Monday is media day. We’ll have you covered from different hotspots around the country.
Two other cool features went up on the site this weekend: Check out the Top 20 NCAA recruits from the Class of ’13, committed and uncommitted, by Adam Zagoria, and the projected top 10 picks in the 2003 draft, by Joe Kotoch.
And with that, we have an absolutely loaded slate of the latest NBA news:
- Rasheed Wallace is joining the New York Knicks. But how much can he help them? Will he take minutes away from Steve Novak? Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld delves into these issues.
- One of the most fun parts about the end of the offseason is when teams publicly comment on rumored trades. Here’s one regarding Tyreke Evans, courtesy of Jason Jones at the Sacramento Bee: “Evans is eligible for a contract extension by Oct. 31 or the Kings will have to wait until the end of the season to work on a long-term deal. The plan discussed at the end of last season was for Evans to play out the 2012-13 season and go from there. Since then, Evans has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors. The most prominent rumor, which arose before the NBA draft in June, had the Kings sending Evans to Houston for point guard Kyle Lowry and draft picks. The Kings said that deal never was on the table.”
- Along similar lines, Courtney Lee says he took less money to play for the Celtics, according to the AP: The guard came to Boston from Houston after a sign-and-trade deal. He said Sunday that “the expectations every year for this team is to win big and that’s one thing I want to do is win big.” Lee says his friendship with Rajon Rondo played a large role in the move to Boston.”
- Speaking of new Celtics who are excited to be in Boston, here’s Darko Milicic, via Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast: ” ‘I’m done trying to prove I’m the No. 2 pick and that [expletive] stuff,’ Milicic told CSNNE.com. ‘This year, it’s all about Celtics, to show that I am a team player. It’s not about me. It’s about us as a team.’ Milicic added: ‘I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever I need to do to help this team. So now, if I have to go kill someone on the court, I’ll kill someone on the court.’ “
- As excited as Darko seems to be in Boston, it seems that Minnesota is just as excited to be rid of him. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes that the T’Wolves “paid center Darko Milicic — the guy Love referred to when he said the Wolves have rid their locker room of “bad blood” — $7 million to void the final two seasons of his contract and go away to Boston as a free agent.”
- And here’s yet another new Celtic looking forward to wearing the green. This time, it’s Jason Terry, who, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reports, is looking forward to the sixth man role: ” ‘The stat from last year that was thrown out to me a week ago embarrassed me,’ he said. ‘I was disappointed. It said that in Game 7 (against Miami in the conference finals) the bench scored two points. That won’t happen while I’m a Celtic. It starts with me, and the stars are going to do what they have to do. It’s such a long season, you have to count on your bench,’ Terry added. ‘I want us to pride ourselves in saying that we have the best bench in basketball. If I look at us on paper, we’re right there. You can match us up with whoever, and I think we’re pretty darned good. We’ll set the standard very high, and we’re looking to make some noise early.’ And Terry does indeed expect that noise to resonate. Thus far, he’s heard nothing but confident talk from the leaders of his new team. ‘I won’t let these guys down,’ he said. ‘KG has already talked to me about what it means for him to win another championship. Rondo tells me every day about what it’s going to mean to win another one. Paul Pierce is looking great — in great shape and condition. They’re champions. They’re veteran players who are going to help these young guys coming off the bench, and help them understand what it means to win a championship.’ ”
- Jeff Green isn’t a new Celtic, but he might be the happiest to start camp, considering it’s his first one back after heart surgery. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes: “The first day of training camp is rarely a joyful event. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers ran his team hard through a three-hour session that, even for the best conditioned players, surely left their lungs burning and muscles aching. It’s an unceremonious welcome back to the grind of NBA basketball. And yet there was Green, with an unshakable grin, chatting up anyone who would listen and even those that wouldn’t. ‘I was happy to be back on the floor,’ said Green. ‘People don’t make a big deal out of practice, but I was glad to have a practice under my belt and get going. … I was trying not to smile too much during practice. I had to keep a straight face. I mean, it’s hard. I let some emotions go, telling all the players I’m happy to be back, just encouraging them. Just talking a lot for no reason, because I was just glad to be back on the floor.’ “
- Here’s George Karl, responding to a question from Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post about who would be his starter at center: “Training camp is going to tell me who plays. My idea right now is Mozgov would start with Faried and JaVale would stay with (reserve point guard) Andre Miller. But again, I don’t (care) about starting lineups, and you guys are already stirring the pot. It’s all about how many minutes you play, who you play with, how well you play and how we play (when you’re on the court). Kosta Koufos is in the mix, too. Let’s make sure you understand that. In the last 15-20 games of the season, when Timo got hurt, Kosta not only played well but good enough to get us to the playoffs.”
- Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida gives us an update on Rashard Lewis via Sulia: “‘Right now, I’m not looking forward to starting,’ Lewis told FOX Sports Florida. ‘I just want to come in and get healthy and get my legs back under me and get my wind going. I’m looking for coming off the bench.’ But Lewis, who said Erik Spoelstra has said nothing so far about starting or not, said that’s not his preferred role. ‘That’s not my preferred role but that’s how I’m looking at things,’ he said. ‘I’m going to let Coach just make that decision.’ “
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is working on his jump shot, writes Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader: “Though believing that former Kentucky standout Michael Kidd-Gilchrist needed to improve his perimeter shooting, first-year Charlotte Bobcats Coach Mike Dunlap waited for the right moment to broach the subject. That moment came as Dunlap watched Kidd-Gilchrist’s frustration rise as he missed shots more often than the other players in an informal shootaround. ‘I went to him when no one was around and I said, ‘Can we get this thing to where you want it?’ Kidd-Gilchrist eagerly accepted the offer. ‘God, coach, let’s do it,’ he said.” The rest of the piece has some cool technical info on what MKG is doing with his shot, so definitely click through if that sounds interesting.
- Eric Patten of NBA.com has a cool piece on DeAndre Jordan: ” ‘Dude [Jordan] is a monster, that’s all I’ve got to say,’ Turiaf added. ‘He’s very athletic, he runs very fast. He’s a great rebounder, a great defender. To me, and I know I’m going out on a limb, but he reminds me a lot of the Bill Russell type of player that blocks shots with his left hand and can impact a game so much on both ends of the court.’ Jordan aspires to be like Russell, even changing his jersey number from 9 to 6 prior to last season in order to pay tribute to the winningest big man in NBA history. Yet despite Jordan’s seemingly unlimited potential, the 24-year-old is still settling into his role as the Clippers’ anchor.”
- RT.com has this from Alexey Shved on jumping to the NBA alongside Andrei Kirilenko: ” ‘I have already been in training for the last two weeks and I just want to get there [in Minnesota] and start playing,’ he said. ‘They say the first season in the NBA is always the hardest, but I hope one particular friend will help me out when I get there, and I hope everything will be ok. … He’s been playing in the NBA for 10 seasons and he’s vastly experienced. He’s always the kind of guy you can go to for some advice. He’s a great person to have around, and is a good friend of mine, both on and off the court,’ Shved said. ‘I am sure he will help me out when I get there, and I’ll try and take his advice on board.’ “