September 23, 2009
Each weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your smoky paprika home fries.
Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak, Sac Bee: "After learning that Arco Arena is considered unsuitable to host a major college basketball tournament, Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday that Sacramento could lose the Kings if efforts for a new arena aren't stepped up. 'If we don't have a clear path to an arena in the not too distant future, then we as Sacramentans need to know that (the Kings) very well may look elsewhere,' Johnson said. The mayor made his statements after finding out the NCAA had bypassed Sacramento's bid to host the regional round of the men's basketball tournament. Arco Arena has hosted the money-making event four times since 1994. Sacramento Sports Commission officials said they were told the city's bid to host tournament games through 2013 had been denied because of concerns over the conditions at Arco Arena."
Jonathon Feigen, The Houston Chronicle: "Seeking any advantage available, the Rockets looked for the most cutting-edge science out there in regard to athletic performance. They consulted with the best minds, considered the most effective methods, and hired Darryl Eto to implement the techniques he honed over years of working with world-class athletes in a variety of sports. So now, sometime during today's workouts at Toyota Center, Rockets players will play tag. 'You never knew how beneficial tag was when you were younger,' forward Chuck Hayes(notes) said. 'You work on your core, your stop-and-go movements and your quickness.' There are greater goals in the Rockets' move to functional training than determining who is 'it.' In their tag-like drill, the offensive player can sprint; the opposing player must chase him with defensive slides as he would in a game."
Sean Deveney, The Sporting News: "Restricted free agency is only getting tougher, and Bobcats guard Raymond Felton(notes) is the latest to figure that out. After discussing a long-term deal last week, talks between Felton and Charlotte have broken down, and multiple sources now say that rather than continuing negotiations, Felton will simply sign the one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer put forth by the Bobcats. That will allow Felton to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, putting another name into the already deep pool of 2010 free-agent players. In the meantime, Felton will look to boost his value with a good season. 'Raymond is just ready to put the focus back on basketball,' Felton's agent, Kevin Bradbury, said. 'He doesn't want any of this to affect the team at the start of training camp. So, we'll look forward to him having a great season, the Bobcats having a great season and we will talk more with the organization when it is appropriate.'"
Howard Beck, The New York Times: "Sometimes, the replacement [refs] turn out to be pretty good. In fact, 17 of the NBA's current referees began as replacements. That group that includes some of the league's most respected referees, as well as some of its most controversial. Joey Crawford joined the N.B.A. during a strike in 1977. Danny Crawford, Ken Mauer, Eddie F. Rush and Derrick Stafford got their start during a lockout in 1983. Twelve others, including Bill Kennedy and Leon Wood, broke into the NBA during the 1995 lockout. 'I think it speaks to the fact that our current staff of referees are the 60 best in the world,' (the league's president for league and basketball operation, Joel) Litvin said, 'and the referees who will replace them are probably pretty close to being the next best 60 in the world.' The world, it seems, will soon get the chance to judge for itself."
Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post: "Suddenly, that Nuggets preseason game against Partizan Belgrade is a little more enticing. The Nuggets have acquired James 'Flight' White, a skywalking, YouTube dunking sensation — who might have the versatility to make the team's roster. 'Looking at the roster, they have 12 guys now, so I figure that I have a good chance making the team if I go out there and work,' White said by phone. On Tuesday, the Nuggets traded the draft rights of Axel Hervelle (who never played for Denver) to Houston for White, who has played in 10 NBA games. But last season, he averaged 25.9 points for Anaheim in the D-League, tying the league high. 'I'm definitely excited, and excited that the Nuggets were looking at me and inquiring about me,' the 6-foot-7 White said. 'I'm just a guy who likes to make plays on both ends of the court. I like to get out in transition, run the floor, make plays like that. And on the defensive end, get steals and try to defend the best guy that's out there.'"
Terry Pluto, The Plain Dealer: "Here is what we know about the Delonte West(notes) situation: The Cavaliers will be without their starting guard for at least a few games this season. West is likely to face a suspension from Commissioner David Stern for being arrested on weapons charges. He was carrying three different guns while riding a motorcycle last week in Maryland. In the recent past, Stern delivered a three-game suspension to Sebastian Telfair(notes) after the guard pleaded guilty to 'criminal possession of a weapon.' The commissioner suspended Stephen Jackson(notes) for seven games after the forward fired a gun in a parking lot. West may or may not face some jail time, depending upon how the legal system views his case. The Cavaliers will do everything within their power to help West, who has admitted to a history of depression and a bipolar mood disorder. With the blessing of the team, West missed 10 days of training camp last season when he went into a treatment center for his mental illness. The primary concern for Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, General Manager Danny Ferry and coach Mike Brown is to work with West and his doctors, creating the best environment for the 26-year-old guard to handle his emotions. What the Cavs don't know is how many games he can play, given the latest developments. They don't know if he will have another emotional setback, or how he will react to his arrest and legal issues."
Dave D'Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: "[Rod] Thorn on Yi: 'He is better around the basket. He's got a left-handed jump hook, he's got a little right-handed jump hook,' he said. 'I think you'll see him be around the basket more offensively with trying to score rather than just hanging around the 3-point line.' In short, he can take a hit and finish, instead of falling apart like a paper tiger. 'That's a pertinent point, you'll see an improvement there,' Thorn said. 'In some of the workouts ... more than half his points are coming inside, on these little jump hooks. Because he's so tall, and his form is so good with them. And his upper body is stronger, so he can take those hits better. That's the key, no doubt.'"
AP: "New Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders knows what he's getting into with Gilbert Arenas(notes). Saunders knows Arenas has his own ideas about how his talents can best be used. Saunders knows Arenas is not shy about saying what he thinks. Saunders knows that a healthy, happy Arenas is one of the keys to transforming the Wizards from a last-place, 19-win team back into a playoff participant, something the coach is sure will happen this season. And Saunders knows — well, says he knows — that he will have the last word when it comes to any head-butting that might take place with the All-Star point guard, a player Saunders believes is going to be as good as he was before having a series of operations on his left knee. 'He expresses opinions. We're not going to agree a lot. That's part of the process as you go through. But when it comes down to it, you have to understand one thing. When I say we're going to play a certain way, that's the way we're going to play,'' Saunders said with a laugh Tuesday, 'whether you like it or not. He's starting to understand those things.'"
Chris Tomasson, FanHouse: "The word is out in the NBA. Oklahoma City might be hiring. In this tough economy, any job for a player these days is a good one. And there is talk the Thunder, with 14 guaranteed contracts and no worries about the luxury tax, might be a rare team that has no problem with a 15-man roster. That's why veteran forwards Michael Ruffin(notes) and Ryan Bowen(notes) will be heading to the Thunder camp on nonguaranteed contracts, looking to earn a job. 'I think I've got a chance,' said Ruffin, a nine-year veteran who played last season with Portland. But also thinking that way is Bowen, a nine-year man who played last season with New Orleans. 'They tell us they have a spot,' Bowen's agent, Guy Zucker, said of Thunder officials. 'And they're looking for somebody similar to Ryan. So we think we have a good chance. They've got a young team, and they're looking for [a good veteran influence]. Ryan is incredibly professional, he's unbelievably smart, he's experienced, and he has no ego.'"
Ross Siler, Salt Lake Tribune: "Added up, Jarron Collins(notes) (201) and Matt Harpring(notes) (693) played a combined 894 minutes in the 2008-09 regular season. That's out of 19,880 minutes total for the Jazz, a shade under 4.5 percent if you're doing the math. Collins said Tuesday that he's heading to training camp with Portland after spending eight seasons in Utah. All indications, meanwhile, are that Harpring will not be able to play this season on account of his continued ankle and knee problems. With the above numbers in mind, it's reasonable to assume the Jazz will be able to fill the void left by Collins and Harpring on the court. Where the Jazz could take a greater hit is in terms of veteran experience and professionalism."
Frank Dell'Apa, The Boston Globe: "Rasheed Wallace has been training with the Celtics in Waltham. But on this day, he was going for the full immersion tour of Boston, joining the youngsters on a Duck Boat ride. 'I don't know too much about the city, I don't know the best restaurants and all that stuff yet,' Wallace said. 'But I'm pretty sure the guys on the team will tell me about that. I have no complaints. Everyone here has treated me with open arms. It's been a good experience, and as far as the guys in the locker room, we can't wait to get started.' Wallace is eager to plug into the local sports scene. He passed a quick quiz regarding the number of local professional teams. 'Definitely, guys are huge Pats fans, huge Red Sox fans,' Wallace said. 'They support their teams well up here and that's what a city should do. You have a whole lot of professional teams — there's five up here — and they're behind them 100 percent and that's good. That's what a community, a city, needs.'"