SH Blog: D’Antoni says Lakers “not even close to being a good team”

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  • Ted Leonsis, owner of the Wizards (and Capitals) says he’s more than willing to invest in the Wizards, countering claims that his team could have traded for James Harden if they’d been willing to give him a max contract: “I would like to debunk though a statement and notion that originated in The Washington Post that a potential trade would have put our team in the luxury tax and thus we “turned down” a deal because we were “unwilling to commit” financially. That is simply not true. First, we would not have gone into the luxury tax – that is simple math. Second, economics were not a factor. I am not shy about making financial investments in our teams. Simply look at the history of the Capitals and see the progression of our payroll. Additionally, the Wizards used the amnesty provision this past offseason as a financial tool to reconfigure our team. It is public knowledge that we have taken on some of the most significant contracts in the NBA and NHL. We have a track record, and these are concrete examples. Our fans know we will invest in our teams.”
  • Big news for the Wolves: Ricky Rubio is back. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: “For the first time since March 9 of last year, Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will don a jersey and play in an NBA game. He will play for the Wolves tonight against Dallas at Target Center. The team announced the news minutes ago. ‘I’m excited to get back on the floor with my teammates and play in front of the best fans in the NBA at Target Center,’ Rubio said in a release sent out by the team. ‘After a long recovery, this is the first step in my getting back on the court and helping my teammates. Thank you to the fans for their support over the last nine months.’ “
  • Mitch Lawrence has a piece up for the New York Daily News about some of the NBA’s biggest surprises. The Warriors and Knicks are getting a lot of publicity, and rightly so, but Lawrence also notes that the Hawks are headed in the right direction both for this year and the future: “Going into the weekend, they had won 11 of their last 13 games. The surprise is that when the Hawks broke apart their team after last season, they sent out more talent than they got back. But in trading Johnson to the Nets and Marvin Williams to the Jazz, they dumped about $130 million in salaries while adding perimeter scorers Louis Williams (via free agency from the Sixers) and Kyle Korver from the Bulls, along with Devin Harris from the Jazz. Those three are part of the new supporting cast for Josh Smith and Al Horford. The Johnson trade and the fact that the Hawks can have upwards of 10 players who can turn free in July will allow them the cap flexibility to go after Dwight Howard, an Atlanta-area product, this summer. They made a big push to get him last August, before the Magic traded him to the Lakers, by offering Horford, their All-Star center.”
  • Andrea Bargnani isn’t happy with the way the Raptors are playing, according to the AP: “Toronto forward-center Andrea Bargnani offered a blunt assessment of the struggling Raptors, telling an Italian newspaper that the club is “pretty much the worst team in the NBA.” … Bargnani told Italy’s La Gazzetta Dello Sport that Toronto’s start was “tragic” and “a desperate situation.” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Friday he intended to speak to Bargnani about his remarks but said he would be “surprised” if the comments had not been “lost in translation.” “
  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun talked to Bargnani about the quote, and the forward had this to say: “Nobody is satisfied. Not me, not DeMar, not coach, nobody. That was my sentence pretty good answer to a pretty stupid question,’ said an irritated Bargnani.”
  • But then the Italian reporter who got the original quote showed up (click through for discussion with more context):
    @ I'm the Italian journalist who interviewed Bargnani. I didn't misquoted him. The whole interview is recorded...
    @dchinellato
    Davide Chinellato
     The lesson here? Make sure you know when you’re being recorded. And journalists, always record your interviews.
  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports on an emotional victory for the Rockets over the Celtics: “They had defended through most of the game as McHale wanted and ran on offense as they must. But when McHale left the court, tears welling in his eyes, he had shared time and emotions with Garnett and the Celtics for the first time since his daughter Sasha’s death last month. ‘Oh you know, KG and I, we go way back,’ McHale said, his voice trailing off as he spoke and then cracking as he told how Sasha got her name and of the Celtics massage therapist Vladimir Shulman who helped name her. ‘He’s a good guy. There will always be a special place in my heart for Kevin. We spent a ton of time together when he was a young guy. It was very nice.’ “
  • The Mavs have been treading water without Dirk Nowitzki, but they’d certainly love to have him back. That could be soon, according to the Dallas Morning News: “He’s done some light sliding to his left and right, but still hasn’t put the knee to the test in terms of hard cutting. When he gets cleared to start doing that by athletic trainer Casey Smith and his personal coach, Holger Geschwindner, Nowitzki will be ready to go through a practice. Nowitzki said last week that when that happens, he figures it’ll be another week or two before he’s ready to play in a game. That would put his return somewhere around New Year’s Day, although the team has been careful not to pin any timetable to Nowitzki’s return. Friday was the first time Nowitzki has taken part in any shootaround.”
  • Another injury update, this time on John Wall, from Ric Bucher of CSN Bay Area: “Source: John Wall’s knee issue is similar to the one that prompted Blake Griffin to cut short his summer-league stint prior to his rookie year. Griffin, of course, kept thinking the patellar-tendon pain would eventually subside and kept working out. Whether that directly led to the knee-cap fracture that cost him his entire rookie season is not clear, but the Wizards don’t want to find out. Hence, the caution with Wall. Best-case scenario, from what I’ve been told, has Wall back to practicing in next week or so and playing at start of New Year. Worst-case: closer to All-Star break.”
  • Dei Lynam of CSN Philly has a look at the Sixers, who are the next stop on the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2012-13 Meltdown Tour, without Jrue Holiday. Here’s a bit relating to Evan Turner: “Now in his third season, Turner is looking like the cream of that draft crop. Wall has yet to play this season and showed little growth the previous two. DeMarcus Cousins is talented but troubling with his behavior. Greg Monroe does a nice job for the Pistons, and Paul George scored 28 points against the Sixers last night. Still, Turner has the best all-around game and has more room to grow than his draft peers. Turner was impatient getting to this point and viewed his coach as an obstacle in the early going, as opposed to the ally Collins is today. ’Evan’s perception of his first two years is, “Well, I didn’t play,” ‘ Collins recounted. ‘I always say “Yes, you did Evan. You were one of our minutes leaders,” but it was I didn’t play because I didn’t start. So a lot times this year he says, “Well this is really the first time I am getting a chance to play,” and I say “Evan, please.” I joke with him about that.’ “
  • Adrian Dater of the Denver Post has an interesting piece on advanced stats in basketball. It’s an interesting piece with quotes from Lionel Hollins and George Karl, so click through if you even have a passing interest in what stats mean and how they’re being used: “Most NBA teams, including the Nuggets, now employ “stat geeks” to crunch data, though not in such a high-level capacity as John Hollinger. Of Hollinger’s hiring by the Grizzlies, Nuggets coach George Karl said: ‘The only thing I know is, he’s the one guy that expresses stats I can understand. Some of the other guys, I’m not sure I understand what they’re saying. But I think all organizations are searching for the edge right now with the top guys in statistics. I don’t know how many teams in the league have that guy, but in a few years I think everybody will have one.’ As for the most overrated stat out there, Karl kept it old school: ‘Points,’ he said. ‘A guy scores 30 points, but he had to take 30 shots to get them, I’m not too impressed.’ “
  • 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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