If the NBA is a restaurant, the preseason games are its appetizers: often tantalizing, but only occasionally tasty. Chris Bernucca has a look at the yummy aspects of the first few games, namely what can be learned about some of the league’s top teams.
We’re also continuing our series of guest columns on why fans of all 30 NBA teams have reason to feel good about their squads, with the latest installment covering the Grizzlies from Tom Lorenzo of StraightOuttaVancouver. And whether you are a regular NBA fan or a fan-slash-fantasy hoops enthusiast, keep on checking out our daily fantasy columns. Here’s today’s Fantasy Spin from Kent Williams.
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- Lang Greene of HoopsWorld starts us off with this note regarding Josh Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent following this season: “Smith will not sign an early extension with the Hawks, not because he doesn’t want to play in Atlanta, but because the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) makes it foolish business to give the franchise an early autograph. If Smith were to sign an extension before June 30, the deal could only be for a maximum of three years. By simply waiting until the start of free agency Smith would be eligible to sign a five year contract with the club. The simple math in this instance shows if Smith signed early he’d be leaving at the very least $25-30 million on the table.”
- Jeremy Lin is citing problems with his knee as the reason for his struggles so far in the preseason, writes Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. But Lin, who underwent surgery to repair a meniscus he tore in March, might have bigger problems in the future, according to a source Lawrence talked to: ‘More than a problem with his knee, what I saw again from Lin is that he is limited as an athlete,’’ was how one person with years of NBA experience put it after seeing Lin’s debut. ‘Offensively, he should be fine. But when he has to guard opposing point guards, especially guys with speed like Russell Westbrook, he is going to really struggle.’ “
- Here’s a Facebook status posted by Kobe Bryant that appears to be a fairly thinly veiled response to former teammate Smush Parker: “Leadership is responsibility. There comes a point when one must make a decision. Are YOU willing to do what it takes to push the right buttons to elevate those around you? If the answer is YES, are you willing to push the right buttons even if it means being perceived as the villain? Here’s where the true responsibility of being a leader lies. Sometimes you must prioritize the success of the team ahead of how your own image is perceived. The ability to elevate those around you is more than simply sharing the ball or making teammates feel a certain level of comfort. It’s pushing them to find their inner beast, even if they end up resenting you for it at the time. I’d rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I wish they both went hand in hand all the time but that’s just not reality. I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses. This is my way. It might not be right for YOU but all I can do is share my thoughts. It’s on YOU to figure out which leadership style suits you best. Will check back in with you soon.. Till then Mamba out”
- Joe Freeman of The Oregonian has this awesome look at Adam Morrison’s NBA comeback, which currently has him fighting for a roster spot with the Blazers: “Six years after a Portland radio station orchestrated a “Draft the Stache” campaign to try to help lure Morrison to the Blazers, the one-time college cult hero and former NBA lottery pick finally has donned the Blazers’ trademark pinwheel logo. But the question remains: Will he wear it beyond the exhibition season? … The 6-foot-8 small forward arrived into Portland without a guaranteed roster spot, willing to fight and scrap and do enough in October to earn a second basketball life. By all accounts, Morrison has performed well over the first two weeks of camp. Coach Terry Stotts has praised his work ethic, shooting ability and defensive effort. Teammates have credited him for providing a positive veteran presence to one of the NBA’s youngest locker rooms. Morrison, 28, said he had invitations to attend two other training camps, but settled on Portland because it was close to his home in Spokane, Wash., he was told he would be given a legitimate shot at making the team and the Blazers had an obvious need for a backup small forward. In his first exhibition game, he excelled against the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring nine points in 13 minutes to show he might just be able to provide an offensive spark off the bench.”
- LaMarcus Aldridge says he’s a “number 1” guy to Chris Haynes of CSNNW in this piece: “Depending on who you talk to, there’s only a select few of players in the National Basketball Association who are capable of being “the guy” on a championship caliber team.Right now, the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t one of those teams and many have said that in order for them to be one, they need to acquire a superstar via free agency or trade to be that number one guy. All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge disagrees with that line of thinking and says there’s no need to bring in a number one guy, he’s already in Portland. ‘I think every team in this league feels that I’m a number one and that’s why they double-team me and they scheme me the way they do it,’ Aldridge told CSNNW.com. ‘If I wasn’t a number one, teams wouldn’t double-team me and teams wouldn’t try to take me out.’ “
- John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer has this worrying note about some of the Sixers’ big men: “It’s time for certain members of the 76ers to get their conditioning up. This was the message Sixers coach Doug Collins issued outside the team’s locker room after the Sixers dropped a 108-105 overtime decision to the Brooklyn Nets at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday. The Sixers are 1-1 in the preseason. ‘Our team, we’ve got to be in a little bit better condition,’ Collins said. ‘I’ve been worried about pushing the guys in camp. We’ve got some older guys in camp that you worry about getting injuries. But I told our guys we’re not in the shape we need to be in to play.’ Collins didn’t mention any names after the Sixers rallied behind the strong play of Nick Young (team-high 21 points) and Maalik Wayns (18 points), but it was clear that he is talking about big men such as Kwame Brown, who looks to be north of 280 pounds, and second-year forward Lavoy Allen. Allen’s conditioning is not where the Sixers want it to be, and missing three days of training camp last week while awaiting the birth of his child didn’t help matters.”
- And finally, here’s Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe with a look at the potential European expansion of the NBA that has quieted down in the last few years: “There was a time when Stern had dreams of a team or even a division in Europe, a first in American sports. He was determined to devise a way for a group of teams in London, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and Berlin to compete with the 30 stateside NBA teams and even have a real world championship series. Regardless of how uncomfortable the idea made fans who believe 30 teams was enough — and regardless of how inconceivable it might be to have a team in a time zone six hours ahead of the Eastern US — Stern was going to add the London Abbeys to the NBA. But that idea seems to have fizzled along with the international economy and the lack of NBA-worthy venues overseas. What Stern realized is that many of the arenas that house Euroleague teams are not up to NBA standards. For example, the Ulker Sports Arena in Istanbul, a sparkling new venue that houses Fenerbahce Ulker and features an adjacent practice facility, fits only 13,000, which would make it the smallest arena in the NBA.”
Dan Malone is a third-year journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He blogs on weekends for Sheridan Hoops.
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