Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your sneezes.
Andrew Zeligman, AP: "`Bring on the adversity,' LeBron James(notes) said. Nothing like a little two-point loss to give a team a big jolt, and that's exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers got from the Chicago Bulls in Game 3. So instead of going for a sweep, the Cavs will try to go up 3-1 when their first-round series resumes Tuesday at the United Center. In other words, they're still in a good spot. And James insisted the loss will help the Cavaliers. 'You see what happened last year,' James said. The Cavaliers swept Detroit and Atlanta, then dropped the opener against Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals before bowing out in six games. Now, they're trying to shake off a wild 108-106 loss to the Bulls on Thursday, when they cut a 21-point deficit to one in the closing seconds but came up short, adding some drama to a series that figured to be a breeze. After all, Cleveland was a league-best 61-21 while Chicago barely made the playoffs as the eighth seed with 41 wins. 'There's nothing wrong with facing adversity,' James said. 'Losing a game makes you better as a series (goes on) and you want to go through some bumps and bruises throughout a series. This is no panic mode for anybody.'"
Jason Quick, The Oregonian: "Now that the emotional impact of Brandon Roy's(notes) surprise return has faded, the Trail Blazers on Sunday turned to the tactical advantage their All-Star can provide in Monday's Game 5 of this best-of-seven series. Even though Roy's conditioning and his surgically repaired right knee are not at 100 percent, he is a threat, as evidenced by his 10 points in Saturday's stirring series debut and the respect Phoenix showed him while applying double teams. With Roy in the Blazers' offense, Phoenix will no longer be able to throw big defenders like Grant Hill(notes) and Jared Dudley(notes) on Andre Miller(notes) while also showing double teams whenever LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) catches the ball. 'Hey, they can't have Hill guard everybody,' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. Phoenix mostly defended Roy with Jason Richardson(notes) and Dudley, and toyed for a possession or two with Leandro Barbosa(notes), leaving the Blazers anxious to see how the Suns approach tonight's Game 5. The Blazers are envisioning a scenario where Phoenix has to pick its poison: Roy in isolation, Aldridge with an open jumper or Miller one-on-one. And if all else fails, the Blazers believe they can explore another option: exploiting Phoenix's decision to have 6-foot-3 Steve Nash(notes) check 6-8 forward Nicolas Batum(notes)."
Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News: "Spurs forward DeJuan Blair(notes) may be a rookie, but he knew exactly what to do after Dirk Nowitzki(notes) was called for a technical foul for getting too physical as the two battled for rebound position late in the third quarter Sunday. Knowing that the slightest hint of bravado might have given referees an excuse to call a double technical -- the better to clean up some of the chippiness that characterized the second half of the Spurs' 92-89 victory -- Blair beat a hasty retreat toward the Spurs' bench. 'No, I wasn't (waiting around),' he said. 'I was backing up.' Blair made himself a major annoyance to Nowitzki and the rest of Dallas' big men, playing a major role in the Spurs' comeback from a 14-point third-period deficit. Only 21 years old by four days, Blair scored five of his seven points and grabbed three of his seven rebounds during the final 3:13 of the period. It was his first significant contribution of the series, and his energy was contagious. Frustrated in the first three games of the series - he missed six of nine shots - he got encouragement from coach Gregg Popovich. 'I was just trying to bring energy to the game and have fun again,' he said. 'I missed a layup in the beginning of the first half, and Pop said, "Just go out there and be DeJuan."'"
Charles F. Gardner and Tom Enlund, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "If it comes down to a tight finish in one of these playoff games, the Milwaukee Bucks believe they can close the deal. So far the Eastern Conference first-round series between the Bucks and Atlanta Hawks has featured three lopsided games, two in the Hawks' favor and one for the Bucks. Atlanta dominated on its home court in the first two games, winning each game by 10 points but leading by more. The Hawks built a 24-point lead early in the third quarter in Game 1 and led by 19 points in Game 2. On Saturday night it was the Bucks' turn to grab a big lead and win with ease, boosted by a rowdy sellout crowd at the Bradley Center. Milwaukee held a 19-point lead in the first half and its biggest margin was 28 points in the fourth quarter in a 107-89 victory. The teams play Game 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, and the Bucks will have a chance to even the series before it returns to Atlanta on Wednesday night. So what happens if there is a close game in this matchup? 'They caught us off guard in Atlanta, and we were able to do that last night,' Bucks coach Scott Skiles said after a short film session with his team on Sunday. 'I wouldn't be surprised if it (a tight game) was tomorrow. At some point both teams are going to play as well as they can or close to it. Then we'll see.'"
Julian Garcia, New York Daily News: "Another potential free agent could be off the NBA market well before it even opens. And while that might be bad news for the Knicks and Nets, it could be good news for David Lee(notes). Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), a possible prime target of the Knicks and Nets this summer, has been offered a contract extension, according to Fanhouse.com, which quoted a source as saying that the two sides are 'getting closer (financially) to where they should be.' Stoudemire is owed $17.6 million next season but can opt out of his contract on June 30, which seemed like a foregone conclusion earlier in the season. But the Web site reported on Friday that the Suns are now 'determined' to keep Stoudemire and offered him an extension last week. If Stoudemire does re-sign with Phoenix, the Nets would likely make a strong push to sign the Knicks' Lee, which could lead to a bidding war between the two local teams. Though the Knicks still have their sights set on LeBron James, they have already lost out on the chance to sign one of the other players they were eyeing -- Marcus Camby(notes), who re-signed with Portland last week. Potential free agent Manu Ginobili(notes) also re-signed with the Spurs earlier this season, and the Knicks and Nets had better hope the trend doesn't continue as both clubs plan to rebuild through free agency."
Chris Tomasson, FanHouse: "Shannon Brown said it would 'make a lot of sense' to opt out of his contract this summer due to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement soon to expire. But the Lakers guard will reserve any final judgment until after the playoffs. Brown last summer signed a two-year, $4.148 million deal using the biannual exception. He's making $1.99 million this season and has a player option worth $2.149 million for next season. The general assumption is that Brown will opt out and seek a new deal because it remains to be seen what the NBA landscape will be when the current collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, 2011, and there could be a lockout. So is the assumption correct it would make sense for Brown to opt out? 'It would definitely make a lot of sense with how my contract is,' Brown said in an interview with FanHouse before Saturday's Game 4 of a West first-round series against Oklahoma City. 'It would make a lot of sense. But I'm going to play the rest of these games out and then think about it then.' One thing is for sure. Brown, who said his contract situation is in 'the back of my mind,' said he wants to remain next season with the Lakers. 'Oh yeah,' he said. 'I don't want to go nowhere. I definitely want to stay here.'"
Ted Kulfan, Detroit News: "Austin Daye promises we'll see a different Austin Daye(notes) when training camp begins in late September. That 6-foot-11 stringbean frame is going to be transformed. 'Ten pounds of muscle,' Daye said was his goal after the regular season ended a couple of weeks ago. Daye will work with strength coaches in Las Vegas to help him add that much-needed muscle. If he accomplishes that, it'll be a huge step forward in his pro career. And it's a career many in the Pistons organization, and around the league, believe will be a very successful one. Everyone raved about Jonas Jerebko(notes) when Pistons rookies were mentioned this season. And for good reason. Jerebko's contributions were incredible for a second-round draft pick from that basketball hotbed of Sweden. Still, Jerebko had played pro ball in Europe, was older (23; Daye is 21), and adapted to the NBA game quicker. Daye, last season's first-round pick, struggled at times. The inconsistent playing time and learning the rigors of the NBA had an effect. Remember, this is a kid who would have been a junior at Gonzaga. Physically Daye could pass for a gangly high-schooler. But, oh, those skills. You saw flashes of the perimeter shooting, the ballhandling and passing ability. Defensively Daye has a ways to go, but with those long arms and size, he can create problems on that end of the court, too. Daye's upside is incredibly intriguing. 'I have to get ready to go, and get better,' said Daye of the upcoming summer. 'When I reflect on college and leaving early, my main thing was how much better I would get playing against the best players in the world. I felt I made the right decision leaving.'"
Benjamin Hochman and Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: "It's called PRP therapy. And everyone's doing it. Kenyon Martin(notes), Andrei Kirilenko(notes), Hines Ward, Tiger Woods. The revolutionary therapy that helps the body heal has put the Nuggets' Martin (knee) on the floor in the playoff series against the Jazz -- and has Kirilenko (calf) optimistic he can return sometime during the postseason. But the fact is, it's not an automatic healer. It got Martin on the court, but the veteran power forward admitted he is not completely healthy. On Sunday, Martin was valiant in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points, including a jumper and a beautiful and-one to cut the Utah lead, once 20, to seven. He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, but said he has been playing through pain in his left knee. 'I've just been trying to do mind over matter and do all I can,' Martin said. 'Gut it out. I'm just trying to put us in the best position to be successful. That's what it's all about. I'm just trying to do all I can to help us win, nothing more, nothing less.'"
Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal: "It is well-documented that second-year player O.J. Mayo(notes) is an undersized shooting guard at 6-4, so the Grizzlies coaching staff has invited the former USC standout to participate in summer league. The goal is for Mayo to significantly improve his point guard skills. Mayo, though, hasn't decided if he'll participate given his USA Basketball commitment. Mayo and Rudy Gay(notes) will be among the young NBA hopefuls vying for a spot on the USA squad that will compete during the World Championships at Turkey. The Griz are looking to improve their versatility so Mayo's ability to play point guard at times could lead to a bigger, more potent offensive lineup in doses."
Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press: "What do the Pistons need to get the franchise back to its winning ways? Start with a big man and another shooter. The Pistons had the worst frontcourt in the league this season, and had the worst three-point shooting percentage in a league that is growing more dependent on long-range bombs. More than one person around the league has said the team probably will be in the market for a starting-caliber point guard. That's a bit surprising considering the amount of public support the Pistons have given to Rodney Stuckey(notes). Landing that point guard won't be much of a problem if the Pistons parlay their 5.3% chance at winning the lottery into Kentucky point guard John Wall. But since that isn't likely, the team probably would have to use the trade route."
Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer: "According to multiple sources, the 76ers will almost certainly contact coach Larry Brown after the Charlotte Bobcats are eliminated from the playoffs. The Sixers will likely discuss their coaching vacancy with Brown, who this season led the Bobcats to their first-ever playoff appearance. But it's possible that the Sixers also could discuss a front-office position, according to the same sources. Although Ed Stefanski is still serving as the Sixers' president and general manager, his position is not secure."
AP: "Franklin Mieuli, whose deerstalker cap, substantial beard and casual style made him one of the NBA's most colorful figures in his 24 years as owner of the Golden State Warriors, died Sunday. He was 89. Mieuli died of natural causes in a San Francisco Bay Area hospital, the Warriors said in a statement. Mieuli was the principal owner of the Warriors from the time they moved to the Bay Area in 1962 until he sold them in 1986. He won an NBA title with the team in 1975, still the club's only championship in nearly a half-century in California. 'Franklin was truly one of the innovators in our league, who was so proud of the Bay Area and his ability to maintain a team there,' NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement Sunday night. 'I have always fondly remembered ... his warmth and his belief in the importance of sports to a community.'"