Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

Geoff Calkins, The Commercial Appeal: "The Grizzlies really should get rid of their ushers. The seat numbers are right there on the tickets, aren't they? Can't people find their own seats? Then they should cut back on dancers. So many dancers. Wouldn't one really good dancer be enough? Especially if it were Linea? One ball boy should be plenty, too. Let the kid run back and forth between the two hoops. And one combination radio/TV guy. Why should the Grizzlies pay for Pete Pranica and Eric Haseltine to call the same game? I bring this up because the Grizzlies recently decided to let go of their scouts. Yes, all of their scouts. 'I prefer a smaller group,' said Chris Wallace, the Grizzlies GM. You have to love Wallace, don't you? He could have put a positive spin on the yellow fever epidemic. 'I prefer a smaller city,' he'd have said. [...] A team makes a couple of picks a year. Any moron can identify the top few players. Wallace, Tony Barone, Tony Barone Jr. and Kenny Williamson — all still with the franchise — can get out there and see those players themselves. But it's hard not to look at this move as additional evidence that the Grizzlies care less about basketball than the bottom line. No scouts? For a team that has said it is committed to building through the draft?"

Marc Berman, New York Post: "The Knicks' tango with Ramon Sessions(notes) could wrap up tomorrow, according to his agent. Chubby Wells, agent for the young Bucks point guard, told The Post yesterday Sessions could accept a Knicks offer either today or tomorrow. 'We've been playing footsie with the Knicks the last two weeks,' Wells said. 'I'm sure we'll clarify something in the next couple days with the Knicks or another team and figure out what's going on.' The Clippers, who waived guard Mike Taylor(notes), are the other team involved, but the Knicks appear to be the frontrunners because they are able to offer Sessions a starting role. In a nutshell, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni is lobbying to sign Sessions, 23, but team president Donnie Walsh is concerned a long-term deal starting at the mid-level exception of $5.8 million will compromise the Knicks' 2010 salary cap space, even though free-agent forward David Lee(notes) could be headed for a one-year pact."

Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel: "Matt Barnes’ first visit to Central Florida as a member of the Orlando Magic lasted only 19 hours, from late Thursday into mid-afternoon Friday — barely long enough to visit team headquarters at RDV Sportsplex, speak with Stan Van Gundy and talk face-to-face with local reporters. But in that brief period, Barnes learned what his new role with the defending Eastern Conference champions will be. Van Gundy told Barnes that he'll be asked to guard dangerous scorers such as LeBron James(notes) and Paul Pierce(notes). And, if Rashard Lewis(notes) continues to start at power forward, Barnes will compete with Mickael Pietrus(notes) for the starting job at small forward. 'I feel that I’m going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of toughness, a defensive mindset, someone that can make plays and knock down open shots,' Barnes said. 'This is all the qualities I have in my game, and all the things that the Orlando Magic stress. So I feel that this will be a good fit.'"

Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press: "[Glen] Taylor also spoke about [Ricky] Rubio's sticky contract situation. The 18-year-old point guard is under contract with DKV Joventut in Spain for another two years, a deal that has a buyout of around $6.6 million. 'It appears to be just a wait and see thing,' he said. 'He wants to come, so that's not a problem. It's just that money deal. The team that he has played for is, so far, kind of held on to a higher figure than what his family feels they can afford to give him.' When Kahn flew to Spain to meet with Rubio's family and Joventut officials, he was hoping to help Rubio's representatives reduce the buyout to a level that would make it easier for Rubio to pay. Kahn called the trip 'productive' but has not commented specifically on how things went. The way Taylor sounded on Sunday, it doesn't appear much headway was made in that area."

Pierce W. Huff, The Times-Picayune: "New Orleans will forever be in the heart of Charlotte Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin(notes). When Augustin and his family relocated to Houston after Hurricane Katrina, he was heartbroken about having to leave the Crescent City and miss his senior year at Brother Martin. For the past few years, Augustin said he has hoped to do something to give back to his old hometown, and this week he has that chance. Augustin will host the first D.J. Augustin Basketball Camp for children ages 8 to 15 at Brother Martin on Monday through Thursday. Augustin also will have a point guard camp for some of the country's top-rated point guard prospects from Thursday to Saturday at Xavier. 'This (New Orleans) is where I grew up and where I learned everything I know,' he said. 'The camp is free, and Augustin wouldn't have it any other way.'"

Mike Baldwin, The Oklahoman: "Etan Thomas, acquired in a trade with Minnesota, isn’t a savior. The 31-year-old power forward hasn’t even been a starter much of his NBA career. But if he can stay healthy, Thomas could help address the Thunder’s biggest deficiency — interior play. Oklahoma City lacks an inside presence, which is Thomas’ strengths. During his seven-year career he’s been assigned the dirty in-the-paint jobs. Thomas is a chiseled body accustomed to drawing the assignment of guarding the league’s elite big men, something the Thunder sorely lacks. [...] Thomas’ influence might be invaluable in the locker room. He’s played in 20 playoff games, experiences he can pass along to the organization’s foundation pieces — Kevin Durant(notes), Jeff Green(notes), Russell Westbrook(notes) and James Harden(notes). On a roster full of 25-and-under players, Thomas also can impart off-the-court wisdom."

Brian Windhorst, The Plain Dealer: "This week Dan Gilbert will be putting on yet another hat. The Cavaliers owner has been given an important responsibility by NBA Commissioner David Stern, who has named Gilbert as a member of the Board of Governors' Labor Relations Committee. The group is scheduled to begin talks with the National Basketball Players Association on Tuesday about a new collective bargaining agreement. That's a lot of verbiage and capitalized words. Basically, Gilbert is one of the five new members on the committee representing the 30 owners against the players. And it isn't going to be easy. The CBA doesn't expire until 2011 and owners possess a rollover clause to 2012. Normally new talks wouldn't begin until a year from now and maybe later if the owners picked up their option, as they did the last time it was an option in 2003. But expecting some sticky issues, both sides have decided to begin now. Stern put Gilbert and several other young owners on the committee — including Phoenix's owner Robert Sarver and Oklahoma City's Clay Bennett — in part because they represent new blood and a new attitude that have come into the ownership circle over the last decade. Gilbert, Sarver and Bennett have more than a combined $1 billion invested in their teams, unlike some of the veteran owners who bought cheaper many years ago."

Tim MacMahon, Dallas Morning News: "Nothing is official, but it's likely that James Singleton(notes) will return to the Mavs. They need him. Singleton won't play major minutes. With Drew Gooden(notes) and Tim Thomas(notes) crowding the frontcourt picture, Singeton might not even play as many as he did last season, when he averaged 14.3 minutes in 62 games. But Singleton would play a significant role as a energy source/enforcer when he's summoned off the bench. [...] Singleton is the Mav best suited to get Dirk's back when necessary, assuming he's on the roster, which is exactly why he needs to be."

Philadelphia Daily News: "The 76ers are finalizing a deal to bring back combo guard Royal Ivey(notes) on a 1-year contract. The two sides have agreed to terms, although a contract probably will not be executed until at least the end of the week. Ivey, who joined the Sixers last season, opted out of the second leg of his 2-year contract. A source familiar with the situation indicated the deal is for slightly more than the league minimum."

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