SH Blog: Celtics are favorites to land Asik, Paul George says his ceiling is higher than Reggie Miller’s

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omer asikOmer Asik has wanted out of Houston the moment Dwight Howard joined the team, and it appears he will soon get his wish.

Much of the news from Wednesday was about all the trade discussions involving the coveted center, and the Boston Celtics are the front runners to acquire his services. As usual, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was on top of the latest updates:

The Boston Celtics have gained traction in trade talks to acquire Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The talks have centered on a package including forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a first-round pick, sources said. The Celtics and Rockets are still haggling over which future first-round pick goes to Houston in Asik deal, sources said.

Rockets center Dwight Howard and Bass played together on Orlando’s frontline, but sources insist Howard was never enamored with the partnership. Boston has been making the case Bass is much improved from his time in Orlando, and most agree he’s an upgrade over Rockets power forward Terrence Jones.

The Rockets have a self-imposed Thursday deadline to reach agreement on a trade for Asik.

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SH Blog: Kidd’s simplified schemes paying off for Nets; are the Cavs shopping Waiters?

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Damian LillardDamian Lillard is very good.

Okay, maybe we knew that already.

But watching him carry the Blazers to an incredible win against a Cavs team that was very much on top of their game tonight, and then cap it with a game-winning three… that was something else.

LaMarcus Aldridge is also very good, and so are Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum. But it’s Lillard who makes the whole thing work.

Bernucca: The Top Five NBA Finals Game 7′s

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Tim DuncanYounger NBA fans have been spoiled by Game 7s.

Tonight’s showdown in Miami between the Heat and Spurs is the third Game 7 in the NBA Finals in the last nine years. Prior to that, there had been just one in the previous 16 years.

Game 7′s are like tax returns, pizza and sex; they’re never really bad. But they can be really good, and as Game 7′s go, we haven’t had a really good one in a long time.

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Bernucca: Why are Warriors the NBA’s biggest surprise?

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The best team flying under the radar has two rookies in its starting lineup. But it’s not the Charlotte Bobcats.

It is missing its oft-injured big man. But it’s not the Philadelphia 76ers.

It has All-Star candidates at point guard and power forward. But it’s not the Los Angeles Clippers.

It is an original NBA franchise that has not won a title since the 1970s. But it’s not the New York Knicks.

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SH Blog: Chauncey Billups way ahead of schedule, Ronnie Brewer undergoes arthroscopic surgery

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As the time for training camp reaches near, we will start to hear more in detail about about the mindset and the health status of players around the league. It’s a small dosage, but we have some updates on the health situations of Chauncey Billups, Earl Watson and Ronnie Brewer today. You can also dive into the mind of second year player Brandon Knight heading into the season, how Mitch Kupchak feels about his transactions over the summer, what Tyson Chandler is doing to help support his teammates and more below:

  • Brandon Knight is ready to roll for the Pistons in the upcoming season, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com: “In the broader sense, Knight is even more eager to get training camp rolling and, beyond that, his second season. “Some of the things I wish I would have been better at last year, I think I will show this year because I’ve gotten so much better at them,” he said. “That’s why I’m very excited about the season. I can’t wait. I’m going to be able to do a lot more things as far as getting guys involved. I’m looking forward to getting guys to play harder and to want the basketball and look for me as a player that is going to help them have a good game, somebody that’s making everybody around them better. “I’m visualizing getting wins, visualizing the Pistons taking strides to being a championship team like it used to be. You get tired of hearing how the Pistons used to be a good team. You take pride in bringing the Pistons back to what Pistons basketball is.”
  • Chauncey Billups is “way ahead of schedule” to return from left Achilles tendon injury, from Helene Elliott of Los Angeles Times: ”Expected to need at least eight months’ healing time after tearing his left Achilles’ tendon on Feb. 6, the veteran guard is back on the court, though he hasn’t played five-on-five yet and wouldn’t declare a target for his return. When my body feels right, that’s when I’ll be back,” he said. “That being said, I’m far ahead of schedule. ”It’s not even like I had a summer. I’ve been on the whole time, doing rehabbing and other work every day. I’m looking forward to getting back to playing and being with the guys and resuming my normal life as a player.”
  • Manu Ginobili is still feeling the disappointment of losing out on the Bronze medal during the Olympics, and also touched on the uncertainty of his status for FIBA Basketball World Cup, from FIBA.com: “Now back home in Bahia Blanca, before returning to San Antonio for the new NBA season with the Spurs, Ginobili is reflecting on the summer with the national team. ”I still have mixed emotions about London,” he said. ”We were among the top four, we played well, I played well and that is why I am satisfied. ”On the other hand, I still feel pity and anger with the fact that we let the bronze medal go by a small margin.” Russia were deserving winners of the bronze, yet they claimed it by the skin of their teeth by beating Argentina, 81-77. ”It’s like as if it had been decided by a coin flip,” Ginobili said. ”But what can I say? This happens and we left a good image. We did what we had to do and I don’t have any regrets.” The next big event that Argentina expect to play in will be the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. That sporting spectacle will take place in 2014. ”I never said I would continue, and I never said I would quit,” Ginobili said. ”There are still two years, it’s a long time. ”I don’t know how I will be and everything will depend on that. ”But I do know that I will be 37 and it’s not the same at that age as another age.”
  • The Pacers have signed three players, probably as an invite to training camp, from Insidehoops: “The Indiana Pacers announced Thursday they have signed free agents Sam Young, Sundiata Gaines and Blake Ahearn to contracts. Until reported otherwise, we assume these are training camp signings, and these players must still fight to earn a regular season contract. We will update this page when new info arrives.”
  • Earl Watson had an update on the status of his rehab, from Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribuen: “Jazz point guard Earl Watson told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday he continues to make progress during his rehabilitation from April 17 right knee surgery that repaired a torn medial meniscus. ”Rehab is rehab!” Watson joked. He acknowledged, though, he may not be cleared for full action by the time training camp starts in October. ”At this point, I’d say no,” Watson said. Referring to September as a “big month” during his rehab, Watson is attempting to return to full health in time for the 2012-13 season.”
  • Don NelsonDon Nelson explained why he doesn’t feel like he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports: “Don Nelson will officially enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. But there is one notable person that thinks the NBA’s all-time leader in coaching victories should not be inducted. Nellie himself. ”I don’t really feel deserving to be in the Hall of Fame, but I am in and I’m happy about that,” Nelson told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s a great, great honor. There are a lot of guys who deserve it more than me that haven’t got in yet like Al Attles, Bill [Fitch], [Dick] Motta and those guys. They were real coaches. Man, did they ever coach. ”So I feel a little undeserving. But anyway, here I am. Here I come.” Nelson walks into the Hall of Fame with one thing that can’t be questioned. His record win total.”
Nuggets signed second round pick Quincy Miller to a three-year deal worth about $2.2 million, source tells Y! Sports.
@SpearsNBAYahoo
Marc J. Spears
  • Tyson Chandler will help Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony organize a “pre-training camp”, from Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York: “Tyson Chandler knows what it’s like to be a part of a great team. He won a championship with the Mavericks in 2011. That’s why he wanted to help organize, along with the Knicks’ two other key veterans — Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire — the team’s “pre-training camp,” which starts on Monday and includes most of the players. He told a small group of reporters at the new Knicks jersey unveiling on Thursday that’s what great teams need to do. ”I’m proud of the guys for being willing to come back early and come together to bond as a team,” Chandler said. “It’s a sign of maturity and that guys are willing to give up a month of their summer and come back and train and get to know one another. I think it’s only going to help us down the road.”
  • Hakeem Olajuwon discussed how he feels badly for the Rockets’ situation and the pain of losing Yao Ming, from Yannis Koutroupis of Hoopsworld: “It is tough (to see them struggle),” Olajuwon said to HOOPSWORLD. “I know management especially is trying to get back to the glory days, having a championship caliber team. It’s very difficult when you’re in the middle, where you don’t get a chance to pick the best (in the draft). We have an average team, maybe get in the playoffs or first round. Being in the middle is very difficult. How can you end that cycle where you stand in the middle of the pack all the time? That’s been their challenge.”…“That was tough especially knowing Yao and how bad he really wanted to play,” Olajuwon said. “I could see the disappointment in his will. It was like a joke. I thought maybe ‘ok that’s not true I’m not reading that right’. To really realize that was like ‘wow, that’s it’. I felt for Yao. He responded positively. He took it very well, moved on. It was tough for the Houston Rockets, especially the owner with all the investments in China and Asia and how that put the popularity of Rockets in Asia. Just to see it for so short, then that was it. Just for the NBA as a whole, I think it was a huge loss for the league and especially the Rockets.”
  • Dwyane Wade is leaving the Nike Jordan Brand for Chinese shoe company Li-Ning, from David Astramskas of Ball is Life: “During that time in 2009, a shoe company in China was unknown to most in the US despite having Shaquille O’Neal on their roster who signed in 2006 after ex teammate Damon Jones convinced him of the potential.  For the next few years, Li-Ning quietly built up it’s roster full of NBA players including Baron Davis, Evan Turner and Chuck Hayes – yes Chuck Hayes. The days of Chuck Hayes popularity is dead with the signing of marketing machine & future hall of famer Dwyane Wade.   Details about the deal have not been released yet.  It will be real interesting to hear what Nike/Jordan Brand has to say.”
  • Ronnie Brewer will be sidelined for a while after undergoing arthroscopic surgery, according to Zwerling: “The New York Knicks announced Friday that newly acquired shooting guard Ronnie Brewer underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is expected to be sidelined approximately six weeks. Brewer tweeted on Friday that he will be ready for the season opener, Nov. 1 against the Nets in Brooklyn. ”If y’all haven’t already heard I had successful meniscus surgery. Started rehab this morning. Minor setback for a major comeback,” he tweeted. “I appreciate the prayers and get well soons from everyone. Much appreciated. Will for sure be 100 (percent) for season opener.” The team said Brewer had suffered a medial meniscus tear in the past two weeks.”
  • Andray BlatcheAndray Blatche will definitely sign with the Nets, according to Michael Lee of Washington Post: “Nearly two months after the Wizards gave him $23 million to go away,Andray Blatche has found his second NBA home with the Brooklyn Nets. Blatche’s agent, Andy Miller, confirmed on Friday that his client will sign a contract with Brooklyn some time next week. Blatche told Hoops World on Wednesday that he had hoped to soon get back on an NBA roster and he chose the Nets over theMiami Heat. Miller said the decision came down to the opportunity for playing time in Brooklyn, where the Nets plan to use the 6-foot-11 big man at power forward and center.”
  • Mitch Kupchak kept it modest when talking about the revamped roster of the Lakers with Sam Amick of SI: “SI.com: The curiosity about your team is obviously through the roof even more than in most years, which is saying something for a franchise that’s always front and center. I wanted to hit the rewind button and go back to last December, when the trade for Chris Paul didn’t happen and then things were tough from there. To go from that to this is pretty remarkable, no? Kupchak: On paper, we’ve made what we think are improvements. I think we’re going to be in the hunt. I don’t know if we’ll lead the pack or be second in the pack or be fourth in the pack or fifth, but I think that we’ll be in the hunt and we’re better than we were a year ago. Is it time to celebrate? Absolutely not. You’re going to have to wait a year and see how it all plays out. Last year was a difficult year for everybody associated with the NBA. If you had your coaching staff in place, and you had your team in place, you had an advantage. Teams that made coaching changes, or made personnel changes, with the shortened season, it became difficult to play your best basketball. And then without getting into great detail, the way we started the season with the trade that had to be undone and a lot of feelings were hurt. That didn’t help our coaches, who were new to Los Angeles in a strike-shortened season. But that shortened season applied to everybody.

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