HoopsHype rumors

October 3, 2012 | 07:08 PM ET Update

Horford said he and Smith are “drooling” over the prospects of playing the more up-tempo offense Drew has in mind with Jeff Teague being joined by Devin Harris and Lou Williams at point guard. The key to the season will be how long it takes all the new players, of which Horford is one of just five returners, to mesh as a unit. “I know we have a lot of work to do,” Horford said. “We have so many new players. We don’t know how long it’s going to take to gel. Hopefully it’s going to take just the month of October, maybe some of November, for us to start figuring it out.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The National Basketball Players Association said Wednesday it will file a grievance and unfair labor practices charge against the NBA over new disciplinary guidelines aimed at curtailing flopping. "The NBA is not permitted to unilaterally impose new economic discipline against the players without first bargaining with the union," executive director Billy Hunter said in a statement. CBSSports.com

With Wall sidelined for eight weeks with a stress injury in his left patella, last year’s leading scorer, Nick Young, playing elsewhere and starting center Nene out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis, the Wizards figure to lean on Crawford for scoring, particularly in the early portion of the season. He’s taken that responsibility to heart in the first few days of training camp at George Mason University, so much so that Coach Randy Wittman made sure to mention how much the third-year player has stood out in practice. “It’s the three best in a row [from Crawford] that I’ve ever seen,” Wittman said. “So that’s a testament to him. Like I said, he had I think probably one of the better summers of anyone on our team in terms of his growth and understanding of me and the things that he’s going to have to do to take that next step.” Washington Post

Centers Chris Kaman and Brandan Wright both got on the Dallas Mavericks' team plane to Germany today after going through some light workout drills at American Airlines Center. Kaman sprained his lower back during last Saturday's practice, and Wright strained his left quadricep muscle in Sunday's practice. Both players hope to play in either Saturday's preseason game in Berlin or Tuesday's preseason game in Barcelona, Spain. "He did a few things today, but he’s not back yet,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of Wright. "He went through some five-on-oh things kind of at two-thirds speed, but he's doing better. "I just hope that we can keep building on his situation.'' Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Portland Trail Blazers announced Tuesday a new, more restrictive policy governing media contact with players following team practices. Effective immediately, interview requests must now be made in advance and media members will be forced to stand in a designated area after practice breaks, allowing players to move from the practice court to the locker room, trainer's room and weight room without communicating with media members. Blazers Edge

So naturally, our conversation briefly shifted to women's basketball: with the Lacob family and Weyermann now working together as part of an organization that just bought into both the NBA and the D-League, how much interest is there in getting back into women's basketball and bringing a WNBA team back to the Northern California? "Well, I don't know what I'm allowed to say and what I really should say, but to be clear [Weyermann] is a president of the Santa Cruz Warriors but his overarching title is Vice President of New Franchise Development - that's his full title," Kirk Lacob responded when asked about the possibility of the organization bringing the WNBA to the Bay Area. "So he might be president of this team, but for the Warriors he still has a title: he's the Vice President of New Franchise Development. His job is to help us with any new projects that happen." For WNBA Fans

October 3, 2012 | 05:10 PM ET Update

Tracy McGrady, one of the top NBA players of the past decade, is considering playing in China this season, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. McGrady's preference is to sign with an NBA club -- preferably one that can compete for the championship -- and a source said he will wait to see if he is picked up by such a team before committing to play overseas. McGrady could wait up to four weeks before making his decision, the source said. ESPN.com

The Knicks finally made the move everyone was expecting when they agreed to terms with free agent power forward Rasheed Wallace. New York, as it is their team policy, didn't disclose the terms of the deal but it's believed to be for one year and the league's veteran minimum of approximately $1.7 million. Newark Star-Ledger

Gerald Henderson and Matt Carroll have been named captains of the Charlotte Bobcats this season. They’re among the longest-tenured players on the roster (technically, reserve center Gana Diop has the longest tenure). Also Henderson and Carroll were among the most committed players to the off-season workout program new coach Mike Dunlap has emphasized. Henderson appreciated that Dunlap consulted with him about this, rather than just announce captains. “He asked me if I wanted to be captain. He wanted me to take it on,’’ said Henderson, last season’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game. “I don’t like just being called a captain. I wanted to earn it.’’ Charlotte Observer

Quiet and soft-spoken by nature, Lin is not suddenly going to adopt the Kevin Garnett approach to leadership, unleashing a bombastic stream of profanities to get his teammates fired up. The mere thought is laughable, in fact. But the blooming of Lin’s confidence should allow him to be effective in his own way, setting the tone in training camp with an unremitting work ethic and the sort of egalitarian approach that can be so conducive to creating the culture of accountability he believes is necessary for a franchise hell-bent on achieving sustained success. “It was just a lot of uncertainty (last year),” says Lin. “It’s a different feeling for sure today, knowing that I’ll be around for a little longer. “I think it gives me a little more confidence to be able to be assertive and be vocal and to make plays. It’s definitely very key for me to have that confidence (to lead).” NBA.com

The first taste is free. But flopping, which used to be a go-to move in the NBA, now could cost a player $30,000. The league has announced a new anti-flopping policy that starts with a warning and steps up to some major money. During the regular season the steps will be warning, $5,000 fine, $10,000 fine, $15,000 fine, $30,000 fine. USA Today

"Flops have no place in our game -- they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a call," said Stu Jackson, executive vice-president, basketball operations in a statement. "Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the Competition Committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should -- after a warning -- be given an automatic penalty." USA Today

Hornets Coach Monty Williams sees the hair, the appearance, the countenance and envisions the kind of basketball player he hopes will fill a void the team has had at the five position since Williams took over as coach in 2010. "I see a guy who has tremendous size, defensive oriented, got some skill on the block has a pretty good IQ for the game and has a lot of passion," Williams said. "Sometimes that gets in the way a little bit. But it's a good thing. It's not negative or selfish. And he'll admit he's not your average NBA guy. But I kind of like that. "So many guys in the NBA are cookie-cutout. One guy puts on those stupid glasses, everybody's putting them on. The next thing they'll be carrying canes to the games as fashion pacemakers. It's getting out of hand with all that. He's a guy who kind of walks on his own and doesn't care what people thing." New Orleans Times-Picayune

The NBA has adapted a new anti-flopping rule that will go into effect this season and New Orleans Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez is pleased about the measure, where players could face fines up to $30,000 from the league if they repeatedly commit the violation. ``Sometimes a lot of players flop and they don’t get that call,’’ Vasquez said Wednesday after the NBA announced the new rule. ``Now you got to play straight and I’ll see less of it and that’s good for the game.’’ New Orleans Times-Picayune

``I think it’s (anti-flopping rule) good for the game because it’s getting out of hand,’’ Williams said. ``Some of the guys are good at it that it’s hard for the referees to make calls and I think the more you flop, the more you allow the refs to change games and they don’t want to do that. ``I’m not going to name names but there are some guys so good at it that it takes away from the game in my opinion.’’ In a statement, NBA Executive President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson said flopping has no place in the game. ``They either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call," Jackson said. "Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the Competition Committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should – after a warning – be given an automatic penalty.” New Orleans Times-Picayune

When ticket reps call potential buyers, they talk in terms of "packages" -- a season ticket package, a 10-game package, etc.. Well, for those who bought any of those "packages", the term has a new meaning. Starting Wednesday, they'll be getting real packages from the Nets, black-and-white boxes filled with their tickets, including some special ones. The tickets for Opening Night will be plastic, high quality plastic, commemorative tickets meant as a "keepsake," says Fred Mangione, the Nets executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "The goal of the package design is to have the wow-ness to match the excitement and euphoria of getting the tickets you've been waiting for.," said Mangione. "We didn't want to send just an envelope with tickets inside." NetsDaily

Dirk Nowitzki considered the Dallas Mavericks' trip to play in his native Germany "a dream come true." As the Mavericks prepared to hop on their team jet for a 14-hour flight to Berlin, Nowitzki admitted that he was excited to head overseas. The star forward also said he needs about 100 tickets for friends and family to attend Saturday's exhibition game against Alba Berlin, which sold out in less than an hour. "That's not bad for having never played in Germany," Nowitzki said. "I told the NBA, for all the crap I've been doing for them for 14 years, they better hook me up with a bunch of tickets." Those aren't the only tickets Nowitzki wants during the Mavs' European journey. The part of the trip he might be looking forward to the most will occur after the Mavs' arrival in Barcelona on Sunday, when he plans to attend "El Clasico," the twice-annual match between soccer superpowers FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. ESPN.com

The Grizzlies ended training camp practice early Wednesday upon learning that Dana Davis, vice president of basketball operations and team programs, was found dead in his apartment. Davis, 56, had not been heard from since late Tuesday afternoon, prompting team officials to check on his whereabouts. Team personnel entered his apartment Wednesday with the help of the Memphis Police Department. Memphis Commercial Appeal

October 3, 2012 | 01:54 PM ET Update

However, a bit of a controversy flared up surrounding Deng’s decision to not have wrist surgery, which allowed him to continue playing for the Bulls last season, represent Great Britain in the Olympics and start the upcoming season on time. Deng is clearly weary of all of the debate, but while he’s learned to take the questions about his health in stride, the longest-tenured member of the Bulls is also very firm in his rationale not to have the procedure. “It took two questions before [the media asked about] the wrist,” he said Monday, while seated at the podium for the team’s media day. “The wrist is the wrist. It is what it is. I’m expecting to be asked about it all year, but I’ve just got to go out and play, play as hard as I can, do what I can do. Whether it’s one arm or two arms or no arms, I’m going to be the best that I can be. That’s the goal, just go out there and play as hard as I can. It felt great in the Olympics. Since I’ve been back practicing, it’s been feeling great and so far, so good. CSN Chicago

"Flopping" will be defined as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact. Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops. Any player who is determined to have committed a flop during the regular season will be subject to the following: Violation 1: Warning. Violation 2: $5,000 fine. Violation 3: $10,000 fine. Violation 4: $15,000 fine. Violation 5: $30,000 fine. NBA.com

Retired NBA player John Amaechi, the first former professional basketball player to come out as gay, will speak Tuesday at Framingham State University as part of the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Amaechi came out in his 2007 New York Times best-selling book, Man in the Middle. He will be speaking about the need for equality in athletics and in everyday life. His lecture is free and open to the public. It will take place on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Dwight Hall Performing Arts Center. Boston Globe

October 3, 2012 | 11:37 AM ET Update

Would Paul Pierce ever play in another uniform? Would he ever even think about it? He did this past offseason. The thoughts were almost forced upon him, in a way; there was so much uncertainty surrounding the Celtics after their Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Heat. "It was difficult not only losing, but not understanding what was next," Pierce said. "A lot of that went in my head after we lost. It was like is [Kevin Garnett] gonna retire? Are we gonna rebuild? Am I gonna be playing somewhere else? A lot of things went through my head." CSNNE.com

Pierce said they weren't passing thoughts, either. The questions and doubts lingered, and the Celtics captain wondered if his time in Boston might be over. "It really did cross my mind," Pierce said. "The way last year went with the trade rumors, the possibility of me being traded the possibility of us rebuilding, it was hard not to think about it, sometimes it wears on you mentally because you can't know what your future is gonna be or what's gonna be your next step. CSNNE.com

Former NBA players Allen Iverson and Jason Williams have been added to a roster of a team coached by Hall of Famer Tiny Archibald that will play the 2012 Chinese Basketball Association's champion Beijing Ducks on Saturday in Beijing. Iverson, an 11-time NBA All-Star, and Williams, who played on the Miami Heat’s first NBA championship team in 2006, will play on a roster that includes Damon Jones, Charoy Bentley, Shane Burrell, Zendon Hamilton, J.R. Inman, J. R. Reid and Guy Dupuy. Sporting News

"As basketball continues to grow on the global stage, these events hone in on our efforts to continually use the sport of basketball to break down cultural barriers around the globe,” said Charles D. Smith, chairman and CEO of the Professional Basketball Alumni Association. "We are equally excited for the chance to play against some of China's best players. We will give fans an exciting game where they can cheer for their former basketball heroes." Iverson, 37, the 2001 NBA MVP, would like to return to the NBA but has found no interest. He last played for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2010. China, he said, is another option, and this appearance will provide him further exposure in China. "I definitely want to return to the NBA, but if I can't get back there, I'm hoping to play ball here," Iverson told Chinese media last month (transcribed by HoopsHype). Sporting News

Larry Drew is another of the Hawks entering his free-agent year. The head coach embarks on the final of the three-year deal he signed in 2010 to take over the franchise, which included the option the team picked up this summer for the upcoming season. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

New general manager Danny Ferry agreed with the decision to pick up Drew’s option and the two will wait until after the season to discuss the coach’s future. “My focus is to go out and coach as well as I can,” Drew told the AJC. “I don’t want to concern myself. I had a conversation with my representative back in the early part of the summer and let it be known that I think the last couple of years speak for themselves as far as my ability as a head coach in this league. Things that I can’t control I’ve made my mind up long before that I can’t concern myself with. I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I enjoy the players. I enjoy the camaraderie. I enjoy the challenges. With the situation being what it is, I’ve already made my mind up. My focus is to go out and coach this team to the best of my ability and we’ll see where things fall.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Drew has said the new roster has necessitated him reworking his offense to fit the current players. “I’m excited about the opportunities here,” Drew said. “I’m excited about Danny coming here. I think he and I have had a very interesting summer in getting to know one another. We’ve shared ideas. We’ve shared philosophies. Certainly, I can tell that he really wants to put me in a situation that is favorable. But when it is all said and done, my job is to coach this team. I have a year left on my contract and my job is to coach this team and put us in the best position to win as I possibly can, to make sure that every night we step on that floor we are competitive. If I’ve done that, I feel good about my situation.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Training camp opened Tuesday, and the mood of Suns fans can be best described as skeptical with a hint of curiosity. They have accepted life without Steve Nash. They understand the team is in rebuilding mode. They want to care but remain mystified by the low-profile, unconventional management figures calling the shots. Showing a commitment to Gentry, who is in the final year of his deal, would be not only the right choice but the right message. "It's not an issue for this season," Suns owner Robert Sarver said Tuesday. "I don't think it's an issue with Alvin, and it's not an issue for us. I've worked with Alvin for the last eight years. I think he's treated the organization fairly, and I think we've treated him fairly." Arizona Republic

Now James and Chris Bosh are among those wrapped up in Boardwalk Empire on HBO. Bosh was even on the red carpet for the third season premiere, and was featured in the promotion of that episode. His favorite characters? Nucky Thompson and Chalky White. “Nucky’s starting to upset me a little bit, though,” James said of the Steve Buscemi character, a gangster who has been lovestruck with a young mistress this season. “He’s getting distracted. He’s not handling his business. He needs to get it together.” Palm Beach Post

Evan Dunlap: Magic say they'll televise 13 games in Spanish this year. _Every_ game will be available in Spanish on ElOrlandoMagic.com Twitter @BQRMagic

Delonte West has always been a colorful character, to say the least. In a way, the 8-year NBA veteran seems like a holdover from a bygone era in basketball where street culture was glorified. This is, after all, the man was was pulled over in 2009 on a three-wheeled motorcycle with a guitar case containing three guns. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Delonte West watched 30 for 30′s “Broke” defiantly, instead of nodding along at the cautionary tales of his peers. West bragged about going broke multiple times and bouncing back on Twitter. The Big Lead

October 3, 2012 | 09:59 AM ET Update

This manager also mentioned the main disagreement between both parties being whether McGrady would adjust to the level of competition in the CBA, and whether McGrady would have enough time to recover from injury. "Most questions have been resolved at this point, but with McGrady's body, adjustment to the CBA is still unknown. On an NBA road trip, having a chartered flight allows the athlete enough rest, while the CBA calls for the athlete to rush for a flight, which makes getting rest a harder task. To require an NBA big name to get used to this environment seems almost impossible." 361 Sport

Another factor which has left Qingdao slightly worried, is McGrady's history of injury. A club spokesman has been quoted as saying: "The NBA has always had advanced post-game treatment procedures. With the exception of several top clubs, China's recovery techniques are best described as primitive. For a player like McGrady who has had severe injuries in the past, post-game recovery would be a bit of an issue." But the club has of course prepared for this; should McGrady join Qingdao, they would prepare a therapist, or even pay to hire an American therapist, in order to guarantee McGrady's post-game recovery. 361 Sport

However, both parties have but expressed their interest at this point. McGrady has requested for time to consider all factors before deciding. He has also stated that his asking price would not be overly high. Should he decide to play in China, it would be another new challenge in his professional career. At the moment, Qingdao manager Sheng Xishun has publicly stated that "for a player like McGrady, so long as the price is reasonable, the Doublestar would definitely take serious consideration into the option." 361 Sport

As far as our understanding goes, the club is putting forth full efforts into getting McGrady into the league, and as such has specially postponed its tryouts. When asked if the Qingdao coach supports the notion of McGrady joining the league, the spokesman replied that the coach has been convinced, and agrees to the team's ongoing negotiations with McGrady. 361 Sport

I’d be shocked if Sam Young didn’t make the roster. Coach Frank Vogel put Young with the starters when they shut Danny Granger down for the final hour or so of practice to rest his left knee. The main reason Vogel put Young with the starters is because he wants the second unit – Augustin, Green, Lance Stephenson, Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi – to play together as much as possible. Still, the Pacers like Young’s toughness. Indianapolis Star

While the basketball world collectively ponders the state of James Harden’s contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder – and Thunder fans wring their hands – the player himself isn’t the slightest bit concerned. In fact, he has clarity on the issue. The NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year is certain the two parties will reach contract extension terms by the October 31st deadline. “I have confidence in my agent and the organization to get it done,” Harden told reporters gathered for the team’s annual media day. “They know how important it is. I’m sure it will be done.” HoopsWorld

“Everything is going to work itself out for the best, I think,” said a hopeful Kevin Durant. “James is a key part to our team, very excited to have him here. It’s something you’ve got to ask Sam and those guys in the front office, but I’m excited about the first day of camp and having James there. It’s going to be fun. I think going on his fourth year, just being with him that long, and the rest of the guys that long, just excited to start the season.” HoopsWorld

“You’ve got to just leave it up to James’ agent and the Thunder organization,” agreed Kendrick Perkins. “Obviously everybody would just love to say, ‘Oh yeah, we got our team, James signed,’ but it’s not that easy. In a perfect world, it would be, but it’s still business they’ve got to take care of. At the end of the day, we still love James and embrace him and he’s still part of our team; so he’s here, and we’re trying to kick off training camp.” HoopsWorld

Millsap said Monday that he would "absolutely" like to re-sign with Utah. It raises, however, the question of how the Jazz can commit to both Millsap and Favors. Salt Lake Tribune

Rasheed Wallace is already behind the 8-ball, and coach Mike Woodson sounded frustrated. Wallace missed the Knicks’ first practice — a three-hour workout heavy on conditioning — because his contract is not finalized. Agent Bill Strickland told The Post he’s still hammering out the final “minor details” of Wallace’s pact, and “I fully expect and anticipate Rasheed will be with the Knicks this season and it should be very soon.’’ New York Post

When, on the cusp of free agency last May, Duncan christened himself a “Spur for life,” it was a heartening moment to fans who hoped he might end his Hall of Fame career in the place it began. The sentiment turned out to be devastating to any chance Duncan had of playing hardball with Spurs management at the negotiating table. “I’m an awful negotiator,” Duncan said, chuckling. “My agent was mad at me the whole time.” San Antonio Express-News

Rookie forward Royce White did not attend media day on Monday and did not travel with the Rockets to McAllen for the start of two-a-day practices because of what the team termed “a personnel matter.” The Rockets would not elaborate. Asked when he expected White to join the team, coach Kevin McHale said, “I have no idea.” The anxiety issues of White, an All-American at Iowa State last season, were a factor as he slid in the draft before the Rockets selected him with the 16th pick. White, who had been in workouts with teammates last month and even joked about his fear of flying at a team function for season-ticket holders last week, told KRIV-TV that he and his doctors were formulating a plan to deal with his anxiety issues. But White did not say why such a plan was still undetermined or when he would be with the team. Houston Chronicle

Morey also would not comment when asked when White would be with the team. Asked how he felt about not having White in camp, Morey again considered his answer carefully before saying only, “Obviously, it’s always better to be here than not.” After the Rockets’ second practice Tuesday, Morey issued a statement: “We are committed to Royce’s long-term success, and we will continue to support him now and going forward.” Houston Chronicle

Unlike White, Morris and Parsons attended those practices and believe they did benefit from watching the drills. Parsons said White can catch up, even if it is unclear how far behind he will be. “It’s frustrating, because you see and read about and hear your teammates practicing all together, and you feel like the odd man out,” Parsons said. “I think it’s our job to make him feel as comfortable as possible while he’s not here to catch him up. He’s going to watch so much film, by the time he gets here, he’ll know exactly what the coaching staff wants. “I sent him a text and gave him a call just to say I’m here for him. If he ever needs anything, I’m here. ‘Just take your time.’ We want him here. We need him here. We look forward to him being on the court.” Houston Chronicle

The fact that Bryant can make such a bold statement without anyone so much as batting an eye is a testament to the respect that he commands. "It's hands-down Kobe's team," Magic Johnson told The Times. "It's never going to change until Kobe is not on the team. "Kobe is the leader as of today, and this year, and whenever he's playing, because he's been there, he knows how to win, he knows how to perform in the clutch moments. Dwight needs to learn how to do that. Will it ever be Dwight's team? Yes, someday it will, but right now this is Kobe's team. Make no mistake about it." Los Angeles Times

LeBron James is no youngster anymore. He'll be reminded of that next week in China. "They called me ‘Little Emperor' when I first started going over there," James, 27, said Tuesday when asked by FOX Sports Florida about going abroad for two preseason games with his Miami Heat. "It's ‘Big Emperor' now since I'm a little older …. I feel a lot older than I did when I first went over there." FOXSports Florida

James last year averaged 27.9 points, a career-high 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists. He shot a career-best 53.1 percent from the field. "I understand that we got a lot of help, we got a lot of guys," James said. "I don't need to have a huge year. Hopefully, the best thing about our team I wish that we could all stay healthy. If I can (average) less than a little bit of my averages and keep me fresh once the playoffs start." If the forward averages less than the 37.5 minutes he did last season, it hardly would be a surprise. The Heat have added guard Ray Allen, a 10-time All-Star, and forward Rashard Lewis, a two-time All-Star. "I don't set a goal of what I'm going to do statistically," James said of what he possibly could do for an encore after his incredible season. "I just kind of play my game and let the chips fall where they may." FOXSports Florida

Shooting guard Anthony Morrow is one of those talents and figures to earn consistent minutes this season in Atlanta under head coach Larry Drew as the Hawks replace Johnson by committee. Morrow played collegiately at Georgia Tech and is familiar with the Atlanta area. The fifth year guard will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but is letting it be known his first preference would be to play well enough this season to earn a multi-year offer from the Atlanta Hawks. “Definitely,” Morrow told HOOPSWORLD on his desire to sign a multi-year deal in Atlanta. “I would love to be here long term. It’s like home for me. I’m familiar with here. It would be great. I’m looking forward to it, when that day comes. So I just want to come out and focus on having a great season.” HoopsWorld

As losses piled up and morale deteriorated, the point guard lost his temper and positive body language — notching his first and second career ejections, along with career worsts in turnovers and shooting percentage. The locker room often became a comedy club after bad defeats, sometimes with Williams as the ringleader of the jokes, sometimes with him sitting in front of his locker in seething silence. But the blasé attitude went out the door with the majority of the roster, according to Williams, who said he is leading a more motivated and capable group. “It was hard. I’ve never been in that position before,” Williams said of the 22-44 season. “So at times I’ve showed frustration, but I think anybody would have. I think no matter who it is, if you were there every day and you saw what was going on in the locker room, you’d be (ticked) off sometimes. You’re getting your (butt) kicked and then you’re in the locker room laughing about the game afterwards. I don’t think that stuff is funny. That’s what we had to deal with last year. But I don’t think we’re going to deal with it this year, because just talking to the guys that’s not what we’re about. We’re talking about not losing two games in a row. We were just trying to fight to win two games in a row last year. . . . It’s night and day, last year to this year, what we have in training camp.” New York Daily News

But the best sign might be Blatche’s willingness to own his past. “A lot of mistakes,” he said of his Washington tenure. “But I was a young guy. And not to make no excuses for myself, I did a lot of things. And I also didn’t do a lot of things. But I was punished for the things I did and I learned from it, and I’m moving on.” Johnson is not looking back, either. “No concern whatsoever,” he said of Blatche’s missteps in Washington. He added, “It’s a clean slate.” New York Times

"One of the tendencies is this: Everything you say is (nods head affirmatively, to indicate comprehension), and really it's (shakes head negatively)," Frank said. "They don't (understand). So what you have to be, like with anyone, is, 'Hey, I get it if you don't understand.' Just think about the cultural assimilation one has to make." Booth Newspapers

DeMarcus Cousins showed up in the best shape of his NBA career. It's a good thing, too, because Kings coach Keith Smart is setting the bar even higher for the third-year center. Smart is focusing on defense for this training camp and is asking Cousins to take a bigger role in leading the Kings from the bottom of the league in points allowed and field-goal percentage allowed. "One thing I've already put to him is, 'You should be honorable-mention All-Defense this year,' " Smart said. " 'If you put your mind to it, you should be honorable-mention All-Defense.' " Sacramento Bee

Kobe Bryant said Tuesday that he decided not to undergo the German blood-spinning procedure on his surgically repaired right knee again during the past offeseason. Bryant had he was “a little busy” over the summer — he helped USA Basketball to a gold medal in the Olympics — but also was feeling good enough about the knee in its current state to stay after the Lakers’ lengthy opening practice Tuesday and do extensive individual shooting work. The only other Lakers player left on the court at that point was long-shot rookie center Ronnie Aguilar, shooting free throws at a distant basket. Orange County Register

Australian Andrew Bogut is desperate to shake off an injury plagued past after joining NBA franchise Golden State Warriors from Milwaukee Bucks. Bogut is still recovering from an ankle injury which ruled him out of the Boomers’ recent Olympic campaign but the former No.1 draft pick is expected to be fit for the season opener at Phoenix on October 31. "I'm very anxious, I haven't played basketball since January," Bogut said on Monday. "I'm sick of doing all the rehab and physio. I just want to get out there, put the ball in the basket and be around the team." FOXSports.com

The Suns go 7 feet 4, 6-10 and 6-10 across the front line. And that's just the player development staff. The Suns hired former Arizona Wildcats center and 12-year NBA veteran Sean Rooks as a player development coach while newly enshrined Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson also will assist player development for at least the month. It is part of the Suns' May pledge to bolster the player development staff, now headed by Lindsey Hunter and helped by Suns Vice President of Player Programs Mark West. Arizona Republic

What's the most difficult thing, playing 48 minutes against the Thunder, being a dad or writing a book? Dwyane Wade: Being a dad. Writing a book was therapeutic. The book tour was harder than writing a book. Being a father is an everyday challenge. It goes on and on. Its one of the most gratifying things you'll ever do, but it's also a tough challenge. Los Angeles Daily News

Basketball great Bill Walton is ready to recap his amazing career and even more amazing recovery. Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday that Walton, 59, is working on a memoir that will come out in the fall of 2013. The book is tentatively called "Back From the Dead." It will cover everything from Walton's triumphs with UCLA to his overcoming a stutter and becoming a broadcaster to the collapsed spine that left him hardly able to move for three years. The book will be co-authored by veteran sportswriter John Papanek. ESPN.com

Waller, a big Bulls fan who actually played baseball at Senn High School, was 18. He came from a blue-collar family with two parents and two brothers. Although he had graduated from high school, he admitted he had no ambition and no real game plan for his future beyond hanging out with his fellow gang members. He and a friend were sitting in a car when some rival gang members drove up and started shooting. A bullet pierced his spine and kidney. In trying to get away, the friend accidentally drove toward a hospital, which saved Waller’s life. But Waller wasn’t sure it was worth saving at first. “I thought my life was over,” he said. Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ironically, he found he was a better athlete in a wheelchair than he had ever been out of a wheelchair. “When I was growing up in the ’hood, you needed to jump really well and be super-fast and superathletic, but in wheelchair basketball, your vertical leap isn’t that important,” Waller said, joking. Height is an advantage, because a player can hold the ball up that much higher while looking to shoot or pass or extend his arms that much higher on defense, but speed, strength and agility, including strong chair skills, are more important. “The difference between me before the wheelchair and me after the wheelchair, especially after I’d gone down to Illinois, is that I was the hardest-working guy on the team,” Waller said. “Nobody was going to outwork me. I’d become addicted to success. I’d finally learned that cause- and-effect relationship between hard work and results. It really fueled this desire to win and compete and this willingness to work harder than the rest.” Cleveland Plain Dealer

L.A. Clippers star Matt Barnes is apologizing for calling the cop who arrested him a fa**ot and a pu**y. In case you're really bad at "Wheel of Fortune," one word is derogatory toward gays ... the other toward women. Barnes tells TMZ, "I would like to apologize for the unfortunate language I used. I know that certain words are extremely hurtful." TMZ.com

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