SH Blog: Phil Jackson says MJ could play three positions while LeBron can play four, McGrady signs with team in China

What is it about this desire to compare LeBron James to that of Michael Jordan? Clearly, James has a ways to go before you can put him in the “greatest of all time” category. This is not to say that he won’t get there – he is certainly on pace to put up historic numbers when all is said and done – but pitting him against Jordan right now just doesn’t seem very fair, given how much more Jordan has accomplished in his career. James is only halfway into his career, folks. Either way, it seems to be a relatively hot topic to some now that James went from scapegoat to champion. Even Phil Jackson, who knows a thing or two about Jordan’s game, shared his thoughts and compared the differences between the players. See what was said by the Zen master, where Tracy McGrady will end up this season, why Carmelo Anthony seems to be a renewed man and a whole lot more from Tuesday below:

  • Phil Jackson took some time to compare Michael Jordan and LeBron James, from Scott Gleeson of USA Today: “He’s got all the physical attributes,” Jackson said. “I think we all question the prepping that went into LeBron. His defense was shaky when he was a younger player and finding his way through that direction. He is a player that can play four positions. Except for perhaps the center spot, which he hasn’t given a shot at yet, he can play those other four positions quite well. This is unique; Michael could play three and was very good at all three of those. But as a power player that LeBron can become, I think he has an opportunity to explore and advance some of the status that he has already gained. Jackson pointed out that each player had their strengths. “I have a hard time judging that best player, but I do think that Michael had more moves in the post and he had more of a, perhaps, shooting touch with his back to the basket and all these kind of things that were part of his game. LeBron has this train out of control when he gets the ball in transition that he can go coast to coast without anyone getting in his way. And if they do, he’s going to over run them. And he’s got the power with the body, and he’s developed a left hand that’s extremely good.”
  • Tracy McGrady looks to be destined for a season in China, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “After 15 often spectacular seasons in the NBA, Tracy McGrady is finalizing agreement on a one-year contract with Qingdao of the Chinese Basketball Association, sources told Yahoo! Sports. McGrady, a seven-time All-Star, couldn’t secure a guaranteed NBA contract for this season and decided against trying to make a roster in training camp. McGrady, 33, will likely complete the deal within the next couple days and leave for China within the next one to two weeks, sources said. McGrady’s long-time partnership with former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming made McGrady a popular player in China, and he’ll be afforded star status there.”
Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady has signed his one year deal with Qingdao of China, source tells Y! Sports.
Adrian Wojnarowski
  • Dwight Howard opened up about how free he feels now and why he couldn’t be himself last season, from Sam Amick of SI: “Now I’m here, and now I can just relax and have fun and be who I am,” Howard told shortly after the reporter roundtable ended. “I guess last year I really just sheltered, or kept myself away, because it was like, I say this, and then it’s going to be turned into something else, or somebody is going to take it the wrong way and make it seem like I’m a certain type of person. So I really just tried to stay to myself. But now I’m basically free. It’s a lot of fun. This is who I am.”…  “Everybody had a perception based on what was put out there on TV, and it wasn’t the right one,” Howard said. “There’s nothing I could really do about it. So when I see that, I do get upset and it hurts me because I’m like, ‘This is not me.’ I’ve never been a distraction to a team. I’ve never been a bad teammate, never been a guy who does all these things that people said I was doing. But I’m going to show these [Lakers] guys that this is who I am. I love to have fun. I love to bring people together, and I’m going to go out there every night and give you 110 percent.”
  • Howard is getting closer to joining his teammates, as he was cleared for 5-on-5 scrimmages, according to Mike Trudell of “Marking the next step of his rehabilitation process from back surgery in April, Dwight Howard was cleared on Tuesday for full contact, 5-on-5 scrimmages with his teammates. With that clearance came a minutes limit for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, as he’ll work back in steadily instead of all at once. Howard had previously participated in 5-on-5-on-5 drills, but had been kept out of full 5-on-5 scrimmages. What’s the difference? The former rotates three teams in and out — often, the team getting a defensive stop stays on the court — while the latter mimics game action. Howard is not expected to play in the team’s second preseason game against Portland in Ontario at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening.”
  • Carmelo Anthony may be a changed man after his Olympics experience, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “Did the London Olympics change Carmelo Anthony? Through one week of training camp, it certainly seems like they did. We won’t know anything for sure until they roll the balls out on Nov. 1, but, so far, it sounds as if Anthony returned from London with a different perspective on the benefits of playing team basketball. He said on Monday that his experience at the Olympics has helped him trust his Knicks teammates “a lot more.” “I think at the end of the day for all of us, if we can trust one another out there on the basketball court it will make things a lot easier,” he said. “And being with the guys that were on that team this summer, it really put that in perspective.”
  • Anthony also claimed that when it comes to handling the ball, it’s “Felton’s show”, from Marc Berman of New York Post: “Anthony has no reservations about Felton having the rock and responsibility, after having qualms about Lin. “It’s his show,’’ Anthony said of Felton. “The ball is in his hands. He gets the ball, we space out, we do what we have to do. He runs the team so the ball is in Raymond’s hands. It makes things a lot more easier out there. It settles everything down for myself, for everybody to get in their spots, where they can be that much effective rather than me trying to bring the ball up the court, make a play for my teammates for myself, and try to do everything. I’d rather just play off of Raymond and do what I do best.’’
  • Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles explains why Chris Paul’s future may not be tied to how far the Clippers go this season: “Which is to say, perhaps Paul’s future with the Clippers isn’t necessarily tied to a specific win total this season or to a particular playoff round in the postseason. Paul wants to win a championship and a second-round exit wouldn’t be an ideal finish. Would it be enough to drive him off? The Clippers, on paper, may be the deepest team in the league but they are also likely no better than the fourth or fifth best team, behind the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Most would probably consider them a long shot to make it to the conference finals. Either way, it seems unlikely to me that Paul would tie his future to the team reaching a certain round. It’s not like he would be leaving the Clippers to join the Heat, Thunder, Lakers or Spurs, anyway. He’d probably be taking a step back in terms of supporting cast and city size, not to mention taking less money, if he were to leave Los Angeles.”
  • Paul has been cleared for full-contact sessions for practice, from Eric Patten of “Clippers guard Chris Paul was cleared for full-contact participation before Tuesday morning’s practice at MasterCard Center.“Chris practiced today pretty much the whole practice that obviously changes things when he’s out there,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He played well. He’s just got to get in better game condition. He’s been out for a while, but there’s no question he’s a factor when he’s out there no matter what kind of shape he’s in.” Paul has been sidelined since August after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Although he has gradually taken part in team workouts over the last two weeks, he has been limited to walkthroughs and non-contact situations.”
  • Carlos Boozer explained why he hasn’t been the scorer he was with the Jazz, from Joe Cowley of Chicago Sun-Times: “In three of his six seasons with the Jazz, Boozer averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. In his first year with the Bulls, his numbers were 17.5 and 9.6, followed by last season’s 15 points and 8.5 ­rebounds. Add in that Boozer will be the 24th highest-paid player in the Association at $15 million, and is owed $15.3 million next season and $16.8 million in the 2014-15, and it’s no wonder that the chant of “Boooooooze’’ from the hometown fans has far too often turned to boos. “People look at it from the wrong perspective,’’ Boozer said. “This isn’t Utah, and this isn’t just a team with me and [former Jazz point guard] Deron Williams on it. We’re playing with five scorers here, so your touches aren’t going to be the same, your looks aren’t going to be the same. It’s a different system. “All the people should worry about is if we win. Criticize me if we lose, but if we win, just praise us.’’
  • For the time being, Kobe Bryant appears to believe he may retire when his contract expires in two years, from Ken Berger of CBS Sports: “Speaking with in a quiet moment after practice, Bryant conceded that, in all likelihood, the finish line and the conclusion of his current contract will be one in the same. Bryant has two years left, and though he was careful to point out, “One can never be too sure,” he made it clear in the next breath it’s almost unfathomable he would play beyond 2013-14, which would be his 18th season. “It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.” Even after visiting the fountain of youth in the form of a knee procedure in Germany that allowed him to average nearly 39 minutes per game last season, Bryant senses that the end is near — and not only for his knees, wrist, ankles or other body parts, but also for his incomparably competitive mind. The window, he is ready to acknowledge, is two years. Two more chances to catch Jordan. “It’s not about health necessarily,” he said. “It’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?’ “
  • Byron Scott had some very positive things to say about forward Jon Leuer, from Stephen Brotherston of Hoopsworld: “I see things in certain guys that just hasn’t been tapped,” Scott said. “I had a talk with Jon earlier this summer and I think he could be a very good basketball player. One of his biggest problems is he thinks he is just okay and I don’t think he has the confidence in himself right now to be able to go out there and be able to produce on a night-to-night basis, but I think he does.”… “I like Jon a lot,” Scott said. “He is a very smart basketball player. He has three-point range. He has a pretty good post game. The thing I like the most about Jon is he has a very good basketball I.Q. and he plays hard.”
  • Dirk Nowitzki may be okay with the moves the Mavericks made over the summer, but he didn’t sound that excited about it either. Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype has the quote: “Well, the summer started very frustrating. We went after Deron [Williams] and he decided to stay in New Jersey. Then we were thinking maybe Dwight [Howard] might come to Dallas and he went to Los Angeles. And then Jet [Jason Terry] and J-Kidd decided to leave, which really hurt me because they are great friends of mine. So the summer started pretty frustrating but then I think we turned it around a little bit. We made some nice moves. I like [Chris]Kaman, I like [Darren] Collison and [OJ] Mayo in the backcourt, I like Elton Brand as a backup for me or Chris… That makes us competitive, but it’s going to be a tough year. Oklahoma and L.A. are definitely the heavy favorites in the West.”
  • In the same interview, Nowitzki also said that there is nothing O.J. Mayo could do that Jason Terry couldn’t do: “What do you think OJ Mayo can bring to this team that Jason Terry couldn’t? DN: Well, he’s younger, he’s only 24 and I think Jet is 35. I don’t think there’s anything on the court that Mayo can bring that Jet didn’t bring, but he’s younger, more athletic, little bigger too. Jet is only like 5-10, maybe 6 feet. Mayo is a little bigger, little stronger… But we want OJ to kind of take that role Jason had: make big shots in the fourth quarter, maybe run some pick-and-rolls as a two-guy, come off the pick shooting, spread the floor from me when I’m isolated… We want OJ to play like Jet just with a bigger body, we want him to make big-time shots.”
  • Andrew Bynum is feeling good and if this was regular season, he could play, according to John Mitchell of The Inquirer: “At the end of the morning session at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, 76ers center Andrew Bynum, who has been watching his teammates practice from the sidelines, said that if the team were actually playing meaningful games he would be out there with them. “I feel pretty good,” Bynum said. “I’m definitely getting better.” The Sixers decided to rest Bynum at the start of the training camp and through the seven preseason games the team will play. Bynum received injections of plasma-rich platelets that supposedly stimulate healing in arthritis-affected areas in both of his knees last month in Germany. Bynum said that he was anxious to get on the floor with his new teammates, and he indicated that watching them prepare for the upcoming season had been difficult. In an effort to get a better understanding of the offense, Bynum said he has been taking videos home with him and watching them at night.”
  • Stephen Curry played 12 minutes in his first preseason game due to ankle soreness, from Marcus Thompson of San Jose Mercury News: “Steph Curry pulled himself out after a half because he “started to feel it a little bit.” Feel what, exactly? Curry said he felt his ankle getting sore so he called it a night after 12 minutes of action. He told Mark Jackson he was done and he stayed in the locker room to get ice. He still said the outing was good. For most of the night, he said his ankle felt “great” and he didn’t look limited while cutting, running, jumping, driving, etc. Now, they’ll monitor how his ankle responds tomorrow. If he’s problem free, he’ll play more minutes on Thursday.”
  • Kyle Lowry will sit out for a week to rehab a strained adductor muscle, according to Ryan Wolstat of Toronto Sun: “Point guard Kyle Lowry’s Raptors debut will have to wait. The team announced on Monday that Lowry will undergo therapy and rehabilitation for a strained adductor muscle suffered in his left leg last week in Halifax. There is no timetable for his return, but he missed Monday’s game against Real Madrid and will be held out of games on Wednesday and Friday against the Detroit Pistons. The Raptors next play after that on Oct. 17 when they host Washington.”
  • Jordan Hill wasn’t overly concerned about his herniated disk on Tuesday. Turns out, he knows his own body. Woj has the latest update: “Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill, the top frontline backup to All-Stars Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, doesn’t need surgery for a herniated disc in his back and will return to the lineup before the Oct. 30 season opener, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Hill, 25, will undergo core strength training on his back to rehabilitate the injury, sources said. He could return to practice within 10-14 days, but Hill’s rehab process will be fluid depending on how his back responds to treatment, sources said.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins is looking to become a leader for the young Kings, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: “DeMarcus Cousins is rarely at a loss for words. And the Kings center is working to make sure his teammates hear them. Cousins’ evolution as a leader continues in his third season. It’s a role Cousins embraces, but he’s still learning the best way to get his message across to teammates. “I’m trying (to lead),” Cousins said. “Just in a better way that will be accepted more and accepted better.” It’s one thing to be a fiery leader. But if that intensity disturbs teammates, Cousins might as well be talking to a wall.”
  • MarShon Brooks explained what he will look to do for the Nets and how his game is comparable to that of Joe Johnson, from Michael Scotto of RealGM “I’ve just got to create extra shot opportunities and go out there and just score, that’s what I do,” said Brooks. “Try to go out there and just try to be aggressive at all times. Try to keep pressure on the defense when I come off the bench. Whoever I come in for, just try to raise the energy level if we’re lacking energy in the group.”… “I think we have similar games,” said Brooks. “(Johnson) likes to play on the floor and create his own shot as well, just like me. I’ll just try to pick up anything possible, honestly. He had a couple of moves that I like that he’s been hitting people with the last couple of weeks so I’m just going to try and watch his every move and just try to borrow those little things from him.”
  • Andrei Kirilenko feels like he is at home and has always admired Adelman’s once dominant Kings style, from Jerry Zgoda of Star Tribune: “New Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko is back in the NBA after a season away and apparently feeling like he is back home, even though he spent his first decade in the league in Utah, not Minnesota. “I really feel like I belong here,” he said… Kirilenko always admired Adelman’s Sacramento teams from a decade ago, particularly after the Jazz played the Kings “like 20 times” in preseason, regular season and consecutive playoff series in 2002 and 2003. “Those teams were known by very good movement of the ball and a lot of, a lot of motion,” Kirilenko said. “And I’ve always been a guy who likes the energetic style of the game: Running, moving, pass, cut and I think this team is going to be very, very good fit for me. It’s very, very good basketball for me.” “It feels right,” Kirilenko said. “I’m not having any problems getting along with the guys, everybody is being so helpful. Kevin’s doing a great job as the face of this team, being friendly but at the same time showing good example for everybody. It’s the right place for me.”

Kobe and Nash show great promise in preseason game

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