Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your chile spiced mango.
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe: One roster spot is still available, and everyone from Danny Ainge to Doc Rivers to back-seat general manager Paul Pierce(notes) has said that the Celtics need another piece - specifically, a shooter. With reports circling about interest in fiery if disgruntled Portland guard Rudy Fernandez(notes), Ainge acknowledged that he was pursuing trade options, though he wasn't sure a deal would fall in place. "We're just continuing to explore available players and trade possibilities and see what sort of options are there,'' said the Celtics president. "There are some trade discussions that we're having. I don't know the likelihood of those happening, but we'll continue to not rush into something unless it's something that we're really excited about.''
Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News: There already was some doubt whether the 76ers' Andres Nocioni(notes) could play for his native Argentina in the FIBA World Championships. Now, after trying to come back from a left ankle sprain suffered July 31, the rugged 6-7 forward is out. Sixers president Rod Thorn confirmed the news last night after Dr. Jack McPhilemy, team orthopedist and medical director, viewed Nocioni's most recent MRI report. "Dr. McPhilemy didn't like what he saw, and felt Andres should not play or put a lot of impact on the ankle," Thorn said. "Andres wants to play and feels very close to his country, but, in this case, it's just not prudent for him to play."
Vincent Goodwill, Detroit News: Greg Monroe has gone through an eventful summer. He was drafted by the Pistons and then spent a good amount of time in Las Vegas at the Summer League. But as for one of his first impressions of Detroit, well, he likes what he sees. Monroe was at Milliken State Park in downtown Detroit, where Coca-Cola presented a $25,000 check that will be used for an indoor/outdoor adventure play area. "It feels good to be around in a new city," Monroe said. "Being around the leaders of the city, at such an early age, it feels good." Among the dignitaries at the event was Pistons great and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. Monroe, the seventh pick in June's draft from Georgetown, is recovering from a minor procedure on his right foot after Summer League. "It's just a lot more comfortable," said Monroe, who hasn't resumed basketball activities. "It was something that gave me a little pain. I'm not hesitating on some movements I've had before. It's going to help me a lot."
Pete Thamel, New York Times: It is fitting that the Achilles' heel of USA Basketball's resurgence has been Greece. After being embarrassed in Athens at the 2004 Olympics, the Americans revamped their basketball system to better exploit their superior talent. The low point for the United States came in a loss to Greece in 2006 at the world championships, the lone significant defeat since USA Basketball was restructured by its chairman, Jerry Colangelo. That loss to Greece came in the world championship semifinals to a team without an N.B.A. player. Greece used a simple pick-and-roll repeatedly to upset an American team with Dwight Howard(notes), LeBron James(notes) and Dwyane Wade(notes). Four years later, an American team with far less star power thumped a depleted Greek team, 87-59, on Wednesday in Athens in its final game before the world championships. The Americans open pool play Saturday against Croatia in Istanbul. "We went out with a bang," said guard Derrick Rose(notes), who scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The Greeks played without two of their best big men, Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Yiannis Bourousis, which led to the undersize Americans outscoring them, 40-24, in the paint. "The score is insignificant really because they didn't have their complete team against us," Coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports:The San Antonio Spurs have reached agreement with former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry to return to the franchise's front office, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. After Spurs vice president of basketball operations Dell Demps left to become GM of the New Orleans Hornets last month, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford aggressively recruited Ferry to return to San Antonio. Ferry interviewed for GM jobs with the Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets after he was fired by the Cavaliers in May. Ferry has a strong comfort level with Popovich and Buford and believes a return to San Antonio can put him in position to become a GM again. He joins Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey and Buford to create a formidable league front office.
Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: Former Nuggets scout Masai Ujiri will become the team's new general manager, according to an NBA source. The door opened for Ujiri when the Nuggets were unable to reach an agreement with David Griffin, a former Phoenix Suns director of basketball operations. The two sides were working late into Wednesday evening to finalize contract details. A deal could be done as early as this morning. Ujiri declined comment until negotiations were final. Ujiri, 39, has been a rising star in NBA executive circles. He worked for four seasons in the Nuggets' scouting department, which included being named director of international scouting for the 2006-07 season. Prior to that, Ujiri worked as an international scout with the Orlando Magic in 2002-03. A native of Zaria, Nigeria, Ujiri attended prep school in Seattle, went to junior college in North Dakota and attended Montana State. He played basketball in college and then professionally for six years in Europe.
Bob Baum, AP: Lance Blanks is back from Africa and on the job as new general manager of the Phoenix Suns, saying he will try to employ what he learned in a decade of front office jobs with the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. Blanks was in Senegal as part of the Basketball Without Borders organization when Suns president Lon Babby chose him to oversee the team's player personnel operation. He started work in Phoenix this week and was introduced at a news conference on Wednesday. Blanks said he's "incredibly honored" to take a top job with an already successful franchise and "try to take it to higher ground."
Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: A year from now, Brian Shaw probably won't get to vacation in Cabo in relative anonymity anymore. Shaw figures to be the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, perhaps the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. So well aware of that is he that Shaw is lying low as best as he can these days, determined not to bring extra attention to himself as one of the biggest winners of this tumultuous NBA offseason. Shaw could've become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers but had the restraint to insist on a timetable to ensure the job would not be a glorified janitorial position: cleaning up the mess LeBron James left. Given that Shaw is connected to - and mostly beloved by - nearly every person in the NBA, past and present, Shaw had more than an inkling James wouldn't be in Cleveland for him to teach. So Shaw passed on what indeed wound up being the worst job in the NBA: We're talking about disheartened fan base, wacko owner, bad city, bad arena and the horrible double negative of a bad team with old players. Middling coaching jobs come along pretty often, and Shaw has interviewed for them often. Kurt Rambis wound up taking one of them in Minnesota. Byron Scott took this one in Cleveland. Shaw, 44, has held off. It hasn't always been easy, especially for a guy who prides himself on living life to the fullest - something he has done even more so since the 1993 death of his mother, father and sister in a car accident. The 11-month-old daughter of Shaw's sister survived the crash, and he fought to become legal guardian of Brianna, his niece and namesake. Shaw's patience with his job search has positioned him perfectly, even though Jerry and Jim Buss aren't tipping their hand. Jackson eventually did decide in early July to coach another season but immediately declared it his "last stand." So with Mitch Kupchak already dropping hints about maintaining the triangle offense without Jackson and having promoting Chuck Person to full-time assistant coach so the Lakers' staff might return nearly intact for 2011-12 ... the shadows in which Shaw is so good at lurking are growing short. He has made a life out of being good but not great, omnipresent but not omnipotent, a man of the people yet governor of none. So no one can know for sure how he'll be as a head coach. But it's time for everyone to start thinking about it.