Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Each weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your oysters.

Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Never one to shy away from giving his opinion on controversial subjects, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said steroids could be used to help athletes recover from injuries as long as they are prescribed by doctors and that it could be proved there would be no long-term damage. At a University of Pittsburgh forum yesterday, the Pittsburgh native responded to a question about the 10-game suspension of Orlando's Rashard Lewis(notes) during last season's NBA playoffs. 'I'll get killed for saying this,' Cuban replied, 'but I'm not so against steroids if they're administered under proper supervision and there is no long-term damage.' He said that steroids, which are banned by all the major sports and are also illegal to possess without a doctor's prescription, may benefit those recovering from surgery. Cuban said he hoped his comments would initiate a conversation on a topic that is considered radioactive. If the proper medical criteria are met, he added, 'why wouldn't we' use them for medical reasons."

Joe Freeman, The Oregonian: "These are curious times for the Trail Blazers. On the one hand, they possess a roster bursting with talent that is seemingly poised for a memorable postseason run. On the other hand, a ho-hum exhibition season has hardly reassured anyone that this potential will translate into success. [...] After an even-worse-than-it-sounds 108-97 loss to the Utah Jazz before 19,696 at the Rose Garden, a fuming McMillan criticized his team's effort, execution and will. 'Not good,' he said, summing up his team's lackluster performance. 'I think some of us think that we can flip a switch and that all of sudden, it's going to happen when the (season opener) comes. We got to get to work.' At the heart of the Blazers' struggles is on-court chemistry — there is none. The molding of new talent (namely free-agent pickups Andre Miller(notes) and Juwan Howard(notes) and the return of Martell Webster(notes)) with last season's key players has not gone smoothly."

Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: "Minutes after the Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 94-87 Tuesday, coach Larry Brown announced starter Raja Bell(notes) has a torn ligament in his left wrist. If Bell chooses to have surgery, he'd miss up to four months in recovery. Bell plans to seek a second opinion from a Chicago hand specialist on whether surgery is warranted. In the alternative, Bell could try rest and rehabilitation. If that's successful, he'd be back on the court much sooner. 'It's a (decision) I won't take lightly. I've only had six or seven hours to digest' the latest diagnosis, Bell said. 'I know I've got a responsibility to the Bobcats.' He's also in a delicate situation contract-wise. Bell turned 33 last month and the Bobcats turned down his request last summer for an extension. What's worse? Sitting out most of the season or risk entering free agency as damaged goods?"

Eddie Sefko, Star-Telegram: "The Mavericks liked Nathan Jawai(notes), even while packing at least 280 pounds. But they didn't like him enough to pay nearly $1.5 million to keep him. The Australian, considered a nice project for the future, was traded to Minnesota on Tuesday for a future second-round draft pick. It's a distant future, too. In fact, it will be surprising if the Mavs ever see it. They'll probably use it as a sweetener for a trade in the future. What they accomplished with the trade was to get rid of a guaranteed contract. And while Mark Cuban had to write a check to Minnesota to cover Jawai's $735,000 salary this season, he won't have to pay an extra $735,000 in luxury tax."

Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press: "Joe Dumars, president of basketball operations, has the best seat in the building when it comes to watching the Pistons practice. [...] While certain newcomers like rookie Jonas Jerebko(notes) have caught his eye, he has been doubly impressed with the passion new coach John Kuester has brought to training camp. 'I love his enthusiasm for the job,' Dumars said Tuesday. 'I think every player would tell you that's kind of defining who he is as a coach right now. His enjoyment of being the head coach is really refreshing to see. Someone embracing being the head coach the way he is ... it's been refreshing to see him walk out here and watch him work every day.' [...] Dumars said at Kuester's introductory news conference that the Pistons are in rebuilding mode, and he hasn't changed that assessment one week before the opener at Memphis. But Kuester has earned Dumars' confidence that the team will get better as the season progresses."

Frank Dell'Apa, The Boston Globe: "The Celtics have until Oct. 31 to extend Rondo's contract. Rondo could become a restricted free agent next year. Asked if the negotiations could become a distraction for Rondo, Rivers replied, "He had a better chance of that last year than this year. I think he's focused on winning. He understands he was part of a championship team. This year he can be the point guard that leads us to the championship - two completely different things. 'With that, all the spoils come, to the victor go the spoils, and I think he gets that. I don't care about [contract talks]. That will be something that will be handled. I'm not concerned about it. I don't think it will affect us. Last year it made more of an issue.' Rondo's incentive? 'To win,' Rivers said. 'If you don't win, then there's going to be problems with everybody. Again, I've talked very little to him about it, we've discussed it a little, but you can tell in his play that he's not [distracted].'"

Tim Buckley, Deseret News: "The Jazz still have received no indication whatsoever that veteran forward Matt Harpring(notes) plans to play again. Harpring, due to make $6.5 million this season, remains at home in Atlanta with chronic knee and ankle injuries that likely have prematurely ended his NBA career. 'Status quo,' Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Tuesday. 'Again, my assumption is just wait and see where he's at — and there comes a point in time when, probably, physically he will have to make a decision.' The decision to be made, specifically, is whether or not he'll attempt a comeback — and at this time it's not expected he will."

Michael Lee, The Washington Post: "In addition to improving to 4-3 in the preseason, the Wizards had to be encouraged with the progress of Antawn Jamison(notes), who started lifting weights for the first time before the game. Jamison suffered a shoulder subluxation last Wednesday in Cleveland and said he is slowly recovering the range of motion in his shoulder. 'Yeah, I've got my range of motion and can lift and things of that nature. Basketball-wise, the [medical and training staff] won't let me do any of that. But strength is up, and they're impressed as far as how fast I've been able to heal and how strong the shoulder is. Right now, it's me being patient as far as going along with the plan.' I asked if he's been able to shoot and Jamsion said, 'They wont let me shoot at all. You know I want to. They said wait.' Take your time."

RealGM/Star: "Chris Bosh doesn't want to see the Raptors change their game-day routine as some teams have this season. 'The schedule? It's fine,' Bosh told the Toronto Star. 'No sense messing with it.' The Knicks have stopped conducting morning shootarounds at home this season in favor of rest, while the Blazers have changed their typical departure times for road games. Others teams have pushed back practices on the days after home games to give the players more time to recuperate. 'I don't like being at the gym for an extended period of time. I don't like that sitting around and I don't like that idle time. I like to get in, do my job,' Bosh added."

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