HoopsHype rumors

October 5, 2012 | 07:33 PM ET Update

A day away from the one-year anniversary of the death of his son, a Marine scout sniper who was killed in action last October in Afghanistan, Dr. David Schmidt was in his element. Schmidt, the long-time Spurs team physician, was at the team practice facility on Friday, just hours removed from announcing that he and his wife Teresa are expanding their efforts to honor Benjamin Whetstone Schmidt. (Benjamin’s mother is a former Express-News columnist.) In addition to an individual scholarship fund that has already been established, they will also endow a history professorship at TCU, where Benjamin, who was 24, studied for three semesters before joining the Marines. “We decided we wanted to do something more to honor him, what he did, how much he loved TCU,” Schmidt said. “He wanted to be a history professor. So we decided if he can’t be a history professor, then we’ll name one for him. We thinks it’s something that will go a long way to honoring his memory and what he meant and how important TCU was to him.” San Antonio Express-News

October 5, 2012 | 06:16 PM ET Update

Josh Robbins: Yesterday, I asked Gustavo Ayon whether he wanted to remain in the NBA. His answer: "It doesn't depend on me. It depends on the opportunities that I have in basketball. At that time I'll see if I have any other options. For right now, I'm with Orlando and I think I'll be here this year and many more to come. But after this year it's not my decision." Twitter @JoshuaBRobbins

Getting a playmaking veteran with prototypical size at shooting guard was a priority for the Timberwolves entering the offseason. Wes Johnson had difficulty handling the ball and was traded to Phoenix, leaving Adelman with undersized point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea and Russian import Alexey Shved as the main options alongside Ricky Rubio in the backcourt. "He was actually the one that kind of helped me talk to David Kahn and get that relationship," Roy said of Conroy. "He just really enjoyed the team. He said Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio were all good players. So when I told him I was going to come back, he thought Minnesota was a team I'd fit good with." Oregonian

The NBA is 0-1 to start the 2012-2013 season. The Boston Celtics, who finished just one game short of winning the Eastern Conference last season, lost to Istanbul's Fenerbahce on Friday, 97-91. The Celtics have lost three in a row dating back to last season, with losses to the NBA champion Miami Heat, and Fenerbahce. CBSSports.com

Who is your favourite teammate ever? Amir Johnson: I’d have to say Rasheed Wallace. He’s a funny guy, man. A very wise man. A funny guy. That’s all I can say about ‘Sheed. He’s the one I kind of looked up to when I was in Detroit. He was just a good guy, kept everyone laughing. National Post

Williams jumped into the drills, assuming his old power forward position working against his front-court players in an effort to get a feel on how they played, and give them personalized instruction on what he looks for in certain defensive sets. For newly acquired forward Ryan Anderson, who played for three years with the Orlando Magic under former coach Stan Van Gundy, not a former NBA player, it was rather eye-opening. "Stan wasn't as athletic as Monty," Anderson said diplomatically. "But he would definitely be very vocal during practice. I like the way Monty kind of mixes it in and shows you how to do some things, rather than just telling you. But they're both great coaches in their own (way). Monty is more of a hand's-on coach, which is great. It's really helping me adjust and learn quickly." New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Jim Dolan and I had lunch as we often do, and we are very good friends, and we talk from time to time,” Thomas said. “I have great relationships with the organization, so I guess there was some speculation as there's always been about me going back there. And that's where it's at.” New York Post

The just-released NBA video on flopping includes a play where Dwyane Wade flails after a shot on minor contact last season from the Celtics' Mickael Pietrus. The narrator said Wade would be cited for flopping under the new rules because of "over-embellishment" and a reaction that "is inconsistent with marginal contact. This is a flop that will be penalized." Sulia

Former pro basketball player Greg Anthony is backing Mitt Romney for president in a new Nevada TV commercial. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas alum says in the ad that he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 because he thought Obama was a centrist. Reno Gazette-Journal

The NBA announced Thursday (October 5) the release of a new line of NBA Halloween costumes created by Leg Avenue, offering ladies a sexy option for the upcoming holiday. The collection features dance team costumes for a variety of teams -- including the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. BallerStatus.com

October 5, 2012 | 03:45 PM ET Update

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have waived guard Sherron Collins, who was signed by the team on Oct. 1. San Antonio’s roster now stands at 19. NBA.com

The closer he gets to the end of his current contract in 2014, the more the Mavericks superstar expects to play beyond the upcoming two seasons. This is a bit of a change of heart for him. He’s always said he’ll weigh his options after his deal expires following the 2013-14 season. Now, he sees extending his career as a more likely option. “It’s kind of hard to plan longer than two years ahead when you’re 34,” he said. “But I definitely want to finish my contract strong, hopefully have a couple good years. “So if it’s still fun and I feel well, then I’m more than happy to play longer.” Dallas Morning News

Only one thing could make Jackson’s professional life better: An extension of his contract, worth $10 million in its final season. “I want it, but I can’t control it,” Jackson said, toweling sweat off his face after Tuesday’s practice. “Every day when I walk in here I’m hoping they’ll call me in and say, ‘Jack, here’s your extension.’ “I think I deserve it, but at the end of the day I’m still happy to be here and all I can worry about is what I can control, and that’s my play.” San Antonio Express-News

Hibbert appears uncomfortable when asked about the contract. Normally talkative and lighthearted, his answers grow more serious and clipped. He even played the "it wasn't about the money" card on Media Day, but he was convincing in his argument. "It was the fact that in the back of my mind I want to be with the Pacers, but at the same time I think back to the draft class and there's a few people ahead of me and I thought I'm better than those guys," said Hibbert, the 17th pick in the 2008 draft. "What I was given this summer was a statement for my hard work." NBA.com

The Pacers will accept similar numbers this season, given the balance of their starting lineup and depth of their bench. Hibbert won't have to average 20 points to justify his millions, he'll just need to continue to refine his game and maintain a high level of effort – rebound and defend, of course, but also command a double-team that creates opportunities on the perimeter for his teammates. "We just need him to be steady," David West said. "He's not one of those guys who's going to go out and try to do things he's not used to doing. Just continue to dominate the interior, and that's going to make us better as a group." NBA.com

Howard was not thrilled with O'Neal's assertion that Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum and New Jersey's Brook Lopez were better centers. "I don't care what Shaq says," Howard said flatly after Lakers practice Thursday. "Shaq played the game and he is done. It's time to move on. He hated the fact when he played that older guys were talking about him and how he played. Now he's doing the exact same thing. Just let it go. There's no sense for him to be talking trash to me. He did his thing in the league. Sit back and relax. Your time is up." Los Angeles Times

At age 34, could maturity finally have caught up with Jackson’s exuberance? “He’ll come off the bench, he knows that,” Popovich said. “At this stage of his career, he understands what makes teams tick and how rotations work and how teams are put together. Just like Manu (Ginobili) has come off the bench quite often, Jack understands that.” Mostly, Popovich is optimistic that having Jackson from the first day of training camp will produce optimal results. “I think more than anything, it’s about him being healthy, being in great shape,” Popovich said. “He knows our system really well, since he was already here. I think easing into things is going to benefit him, rather than jumping in like last year and having to get going off the bat. It kind of put him behind the curve, I thought. “Being able to do this at a decent pace will help him be more valuable to us.” San Antonio Express-News

Nowitzki is leading the way. And his appearance in front of some physically imposing youngsters Thursday hit home with him. “Time has absolutely flown by,” Nowitzki said of his career. “When I started playing on the junior national team at 14 or 15, Detlef would stop by our practice sometimes, and that’s unbelievable the inspiration and motivation we as kids got out of it when a guy comes and sits there and talks about how he got there and what he went through. “And now it’s crazy. I’m the guy sitting there telling them about my experiences and I’m the inspiration. It’s unbelievable how fast the time has turned. Now I’m the old guy.” And he’s more than willing to pass along his wisdom. “I definitely want to oversee, hopefully, a great future for German basketball,” Nowitzki said. “Schrempf was kind of the first guy to really have a great career in the NBA. And he is still around trying to help and make the game more popular and help the kids. “So I think when I’m done, I’d love to leave a good legacy behind.” Dallas Morning News

John Denton: Happy Birthday today to @realgranthill -- the classiest athlete that I've ever covered in 20 years in the biz. Welcome to the 40 club, G. Twitter @JohnDenton555

But Kahn's interest in European and international basketball goes beyond just the business of it all. It's borne of something cultural and inquisitive, giving the sense that this movement is some kind of final frontier within a sport that's becoming more globalized by the day. "I've always been personally interested in European basketball," Kahn said. "I just think it's a much more, it's kind of like you're still on the frontier of it. It's much more, there's a romantic quality to it over there." Fox Sports North

In 1985, his third summer with the team, Nelson ended up in Eastern Europe, facing off against Lithuanian star Sarunas Marciulionis, who scored 40 points against him. Nelson was amazed at what he saw, and it was through his intercession that Marciulionis eventually signed with the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first Soviet NBA player. "I'm an inquisitive guy," Nelson said. "I like people. I'm good at relationships, and people like me. So it was fascinating just to me, the different cultures, different ways of living, different belief systems whether it's religious or political." Fox Sports North

With that precedent, even Pau Gasol in the early 2000s was a tough sell to Grizzlies higher-ups. He was barely on anyone's radar when scout Tony Barone Sr. and then-GM Dick Versace first saw him in Greece. They were there scouting Anthony Parker, an American player who was playing in Europe at the time. (He's the lesser-known brother of one Candace Parker, WNBA star.) Parker played poorly and Gasol barely at all, but what the two men saw in warmups from Gasol was enough to convince them they need to invest time scouting him. Grizzlies ownership and upper management were skeptical, but they placed enough trust in the scouts to let them pursue Gasol further. The rest is history. "Once you have your first one, such as a Pau, you start to kind of pay attention a little more," Barone Sr. said. "Once you kind of invest in that area and start paying attention, I think you really open your eyes a little bit more in terms of what's out there." Fox Sports North

Marc Berman: #Knicks announce John Andraise stepping down as radio analyst. Was reduced to just home games last season. Brendan Brown will be fulltime. Twitter @NYPost_Berman

Ever the political animal, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave his team a unique bit of homework Thursday. Before practice, he handed each player a DVD of Wednesday night’s presidential debate to take home and watch. “Of course, we have so many foreign guys on our team, they were quick to point out they can’t vote, so they shouldn’t be obligated to watch the debate,” forward Matt Bonner said. “Regardless, they live here, so it’s good for them to be aware.” San Antonio Express-News

Bonner, who plans to vote for incumbent Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney in November, said Popovich’s message was well received. “Basketball isn’t everything,” Bonner said. “There are bigger things going on in the country we live in.” San Antonio Express-News

October 5, 2012 | 10:08 AM ET Update

Contrarily to reports from Israeli media, mostly from Sport5.co.il, Allen Iverson won't be joining Maccabi Haifa for the two exhibition games in NBA against Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves. Sportando's David Pick spoke with Brad Greenberg, Maccabi Haifa coach and ex 76ers GM, who denied all the rumors: 'It is natural for people to link us up but I have not spoken to Allen in years' said Greenberg. Sportando

Former NBA Most Valuable Player Allen Iverson reportedly will play for Maccabi Haifa in its two exhibition games against NBA teams -- and perhaps longer. Iverson, 37, will suit up for the Israeli squad when it takes on the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves this month in the United States, the Israeli Sport5 site reported. Sport5 added that Maccabi Haifa officials are considering signing the perennial NBA All-Star guard to a longer contract if the experiment succeeds. JTA

Don’t be surprised if in typical Spurs’ fashion this season they suddenly announce that they’ve come to an agreement on an extension with Ginobili. His play last year and in the Olympics this summer showed that he clearly has plenty left in the tank, and they have youth on the perimeter now in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green that allows them to reduce his workload to a reasonable rate. The mutual interest from both sides should be enough to avoid pushing off the inevitable until the summer. HoopsWorld

The Knicks really are aging right before our eyes. On Tuesday, Tyson Chandler celebrated his 30th birthday and on Thursday, Thomas celebrated his milestone with a three-hour practice with his teammates in Greenburgh. Thomas is the NBA’s oldest player, but he not only feels that he can contribute this season, he still believes he has a few good years left in him. “I never think about retiring,” Thomas said. “Until no one wants my services anymore, then I’ll start thinking about that. But until then I’m always focusing on the next season.” New York Daily News

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived guard Vance Cooksey. Cooksey, a rookie from the University of Pikeville, played with the Rio Grande Vipers and Texas Legends of the NBA Development League during the 2011-12 season. He signed with Chicago as a free agent on Oct. 1, 2012. NBA.com

San Antonio Spurs 2012 NBA Draft pick Marcus Denmon is currently playing with French squad Chalon-Elan and is playing quite well. In a few friendly matches, Denmon is averaging 16.7 points leading the team in scoring. But he is still a work in progress and the Spurs are closely watching his development on the court according to Chalon coach Beugnot Gregor via French site Le Journal . The Spurs also called last week. They are very sensitive to what is done with him. He is a real project for them. Marcus has already progressed in aggression, especially on pick and rolls. As a leader, it's starting to come. He begins to see the game, to focus on the weaknesses of the opponent. Over time, it will become natural. He still lacks that confidence. ProjectSpurs.com

To all of this -- complaints about Howard's fun-loving, seemingly careless approach to the game he has somehow not dominated enough, and to the unsavory nature of his long, awkward good-bye to Orlando -- Howard's highly decorated new teammate is mounting a vigorous defense. In an interview with CBSSports.com Wednesday, Kobe Bryant lampooned those who think Howard's clownish past will clash with the dignified cocoon of the Lakers and called out Howard's critics for what he described as "double standards." "I've heard that," Bryant said of Howard's reputation for immaturity, "but I think that people confuse that with his effectiveness. He's had an incredible career. Lack of focus is what, because he hasn't won a championship? He went against teams that were just better. He's won, what, three defensive player of the year awards? That's kind of tough to say a person lacks focus when he has three defensive player of the year awards. That sounds a little silly." CBSSports.com

"There's a lot of double standards going on in professional sports, and basketball in particular," Bryant said. "Because when it's a player's opportunity to make a business decision, they pull out the loyalty card. When it's ownership's or management's turn to make a business decision, it's a business decision. You can't have it both ways. And as a player, I've always just stuck to my guns. And when it's on me to make a business decision, I will make that business decision. And if you have to be criticized for it, you have to be criticized for it. But you must set a precedent for those coming after you that it's OK to make business decisions. Because management, at the end of the day, will do that themselves. "I think it's kind of turned into more than it should've been because I think both Dwight and Melo wanted to try to do the right thing publicly," Bryant said. "'We are loyal to our teams, but nothing's getting done here and we want to win.' So it's kind of a line that they had to toe, and it kind of turned out to be a little more drama than necessary, I think." CBSSports.com

"I take the game very serious, but I'm going to have fun," Howard said this week as the Lakers took the first steps of what will be a fascinating journey. "I don't think just because I play for the Lakers means I have to walk around and not smile and have fun. I think Magic played with a smile on his face, but at the same time he got the job done. I've been playing this game for a long time. I've been very successful at the way I play. But I do understand, at times, that I'm going to need to smile. Why not have fun?" CBSSports.com

In some unofficial polls, Dirk Nowitzki said he’s seen himself listed as high as second-team All-NBA when it comes to flopping to try to induce a foul call. He’s not completely disagreeing with that, by the way. And it’s why he’s very much opposed to the new rule from the NBA that is going to start penalizing players who flop to try to get a referee to blow his whistle. “I never looked at myself as a big flopper,” Nowitzki said Thursday after the Mavericks arrived in Germany for their preseason opener Saturday. “If you play me physical then, obviously, I’ve got to sell the call and get to the [free throw] line. That’s just part of the game. We’ll have to see how they enforce that. “I think it’s a bunch of crap to be honest with you. Are they going to come back after a game and fine you for flopping? That’s tough to do to me.” Dallas Morning News

Royce White said he will join the Rockets for practice Monday in Houston, citing the team’s blessing to travel to a large part of the season’s schedule by bus as part of his plan to manage his mental illness. The Rockets, he said, were willing to put their agreement in writing and to even have it included in his contract, but because contracts are subject to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it could be a long process to gain approval from the NBA and the NBA Players Association for a unique addendum to the standard league contract. “We’ll go forward in a good faith deal between me and Rockets, and I’m totally comfortable with that,” said White, who has been absent from camp. “We can find a way to get it into writing at some point. We do have a letter between us. It’s an agreement, not in contract form, but those are technicalities. “What the Rockets are doing is astronomically appreciated by me and should be by the mental health community.” Houston Chronicle

White has battled Generalized Anxiety Disorder in which concerns about an issue, such as his fear of flying, can often spread to a more general and increasing anxiety on unrelated matters. He has suffered from panic attacks and obsessive compulsive tendencies. Uncertainty can lead to dramatic increases in symptoms but in each case, he can treat the disorder by heading off anxiety. White said he will supply the bus he will use for much of the season’s travel, calling overnight trips of up to nine hours “no problem at all.” Houston Chronicle

“One of the things that I know is this is my responsibility,” White said. “I had a letdown. In my defense, these things are unprecedented. To travel by way of bus or doing some of the things I did at Iowa State to head off anxiety, it was indicated to me through the draft process, sometimes in a joking way, that most teams wouldn’t allow that. “My health is actually great right now. I want to keep it that way. The unknown of the season or the schedule can decrease that health. We don’t need something negative to happen. A lot of guys don’t have a stance to attack mental illness on the front end. Some don’t know they have it until something happens. The negative consequences can come. It’s just too risky. Houston Chronicle

Roy Hibbert: I hope Royce White gets help w/ his condition. Seems like a huge talent. But some1 is gonna get fired in org 4 giving the go ahead. IMO Twitter @Hoya2aPacer

Both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol suggested that the FIBA rule for international play of a warning for the first flop and then a technical foul for the next (meaning two free throws and possession for the opponent) was better. "I'd love to see it have an impact on the game itself," Bryant said. "I think in international play a technical foul is the penalty for it. Free throw and get the ball back, that sort of thing. But I like the rule. Shameless flopping is just a chump move. We're familiar with it because Vlade (Divac) kind of pioneered it in a playoff series with Shaq (O'Neal). And it worked pretty well for him." Orange County Register

Joe Johnson wanted to set the record straight on Thursday, telling reporters that he never asked out of Atlanta. “Everybody thinks I made this trade,” the Nets' shooting guard said. “I had nothing to do with it. “Every time I run into somebody when I’m in Atlanta, they ask me, ‘Why did you leave?’ I didn’t have nothing to do with it. I’m just glad that I came to a great organization and a team who wants to win.” ESPN.com

Johnson, who was acquired by the Nets in a blockbuster trade, was originally asked if he thought he’d be booed when he returned to Atlanta. The Hawks host the Nets on Jan. 16. “It’ll probably be some boos, it’ll probably be some cheers,” he replied. “I have no idea, man. What do you think?” ESPN.com

Problem is, Johnson isn't playing in Atlanta or Phoenix anymore. He's in Brooklyn, home of one of the biggest stories of this NBA season. Home of the Russian billionaire playboy owner and his superstar hip-hop protege. Home of a team Johnson believes can win the NBA championship. So if Johnson has his way and helps the Nets get anywhere near the NBA title, his peaceful and serene little existence is history. The guy from Little Rock will be the toast of the biggest city in the nation. In a word, he'll be "rock-starrish.'' "I know, I already know,'' he said, shaking his head at the thought of all the hoopla. "It'll be crazy.'' ESPN.com

It's also noteworthy because Johnson's not a talker. He doesn't make bold pronouncements just to hear himself speak, to get a charge out of his teammates or to create a media buzz. So for him to claim the Nets can challenge in the East should not be dismissed as the senseless rantings of a blabbermouth. "I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it,'' he said. "We got the pieces necessary to do it. We got a great center [Brook Lopez], one of the best point guards in the game [Deron Williams], Gerald [Wallace] at the 3, some hardworking 4s. We got the guys you hate to play against but you love them on your team. So I think it's going to be a pretty surprising season, honestly.'' ESPN.com

In Landry Fields, the Raptors may have found someone who could be that Garbajosa-like player. The ‘glue guy’ term is one Fields, even in his rookie year was hearing. And he has his own definition of that kind of player. “I hear the term a lot,” Fields said Thursday. “A glue guy is kind of unheralded at times. It’s a guy every team needs who doesn’t necessarily show up in the statistics box with superstar stats but even when they don’t they are still effective on the court, whether that’s making right cuts so somebody else is open or running the floor, so he draws another person’s man and that person is open. It’s the guy who does the little things to help teams win. Every team has to have a guy like that.” Toronto Sun

“I think we’re the deepest team in the league,” Jordan said. “We definitely have guys who can start for other NBA teams coming off the bench.” HoopsWorld

A physical player with surprising athleticism for his size, "Fes" developed into a fan favorite despite receiving limited playing time during his stint in Utah, where he played four seasons before signing with Indiana in the middle of last season's lockout-shortened schedule. "He’s a little bit more mature—a little bit. Still very athletic. Great locker-room guy, great sense of humor. Huge body—he’s 7-2, 7-3, very wide—but moves well with his weight. He can help us," said Carlos Boozer about his former Jazz teammate, who still doesn't have a driver's license. "No! I asked him that, too. He’s a little older now. when we drafted him, he was a little younger. I think he still has a driver. He said, ‘I think it’s time for me to get my license.’ I said, ‘Yeah, it might be.’" CSN Chicago

Now, Jaric is ready to play in the U.S. again, partly due to the recent birth of his second child with wife Adriana Lima, a renowned supermodel. Jaric acknowledges that his famous spouse often overshadows his own career, but the 33-year-old (34 next week) isn't fazed by it in his fight to get back to basketball's top league. "All my life, I’ve had that and I’ve never cared too much about what people say because people are always going to find an excuse. My father was a basketball player when I was young. People said, ‘Oh, he’s there because his father played,’ but now it’s my wife. It’s always something. I never pay attention too much. Basketball is my life and it’s the most important thing in my mind right now," he told CSNChicago.com. "It was very tough because I played two half seasons in Europe before that and I didn’t want to go back to Europe anymore. I had a couple of very good offers and it was a big decision for, but I needed to put my family before anything else because of my second child. We couldn’t just travel anymore from Europe to the States and I needed to make tough decisions, and refused pretty good offers from Europe in hopes that a good NBA team picks me up. Hopefully this year, that happens." CSN Chicago

As far as when Rose can start playing along side Hinrich, Bulls GM Gar Forman was a guest on ESPN 1000 Thursday, and reiterated that he felt Rose would be back at some point this season from his ACL surgery. "He's doing great, and he's right on schedule," Forman said. "He's attacked this rehab and has been very focused, and we're really pleased with where he is right now. "But it's a process and it's a long process. It's still too early to pinpoint an exact time when he'll be back, but everything as of right now is right on schedule, and he's doing terrific.'' Chicago Sun-Times

The former All-Star center who was traded twice after he announced his retirement last spring is back at Timberwolves training camp, invited by the coach he played for on three different teams. Rick Adelman invited Miller to Mankato for a few days because he thinks his big guys will benefit from the wisdom Miller accumulated running Adelman's famed "corner" offense in Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota. Miller, 36, accepted the offer thinking it will help him decide whether he wants to pursue a coaching career rather than just retire to his homes in Sacramento and Indiana, and because there's good deer hunting in southern Minnesota this time of year. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Adelman said he isn't sure if Miller will return in a recurring coaching role after the team returns home to Minneapolis from Mankato on Friday. "I don't know, I don't know where the deer are so I'm not sure when he's leaving," Adelman said. "He's such a smart player. With the group we have, a lot of stuff we're doing is what we did in the past and he's really smart about that. I thought he could help the big guys and make them understand what they have to look for." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Little more than two months later, the two cornerstones of the rebuilding efforts – Wall and Nene – are both sidelined with injuries before the training camp began. Leonsis expects to have Wall in about seven weeks, and for hopes Nene will be available for the season opener on Oct. 30, but he tempered expectations slightly when asked on Thursday about his draft-night comments. “We would all find it unacceptable if we finished with the second- or third-worst record in the NBA this year,” Leonsis said. “That would be a failure and the failure would start with me.” Washington Post

Ted Leonsis on if he is concerned about Wall putting too much pressure on himself: “I don’t know. And yes and no. I am thrilled with his self awareness. That he’s our leader who we’ve rebuilt the team around and he worked incredibly hard this offseason to take that next step. His physiognomy changed. He’s bigger. He’s stronger. His athletic gifts are off the chart. He worked a lot on his shot … But he’s a student of the game, so he’s everything you’d want in a young player, mature leader, someone who puts that pressure on him. At the same time, it’s incumbent on us, to build a team around him, that has options … We have to continuously add to the team to make it great and that’s Ernie’s job. That’s my job. That’s the coaches. And John accepts that. He understands that he’s not in this alone.” Washington Post

NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, wife Ashley, and former NBA player Penny Hardaway have agreed to join the group of minority owners for the Memphis Grizzlies, said a person familiar with the deal. The Mannings and Hardaway join a minority group that includes singer and actor Justin Timberlake and a couple of Memphis businessmen, the person told the Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because prospective buyer Robert J. Pera's purchase of the Grizzlies is pending approval by the NBA. Philadelphia Inquirer

Natalie Nakase, the first female head coach in bj-league history, recently began working as a video production intern for the Los Angeles Clippers. A former UCLA women's basketball captain, Nakase told The Japan Times she's excited about this new opportunity with the NBA club. "It's been a dream job and I am learning so much about the NBA every day," said Nakase, who led the Saitama Broncos from late November until the end of a rocky 2011-12 campaign. "We will be helping the coaching staff scout teams and prepare them for their opponents. I'm extremely excited for this season." Japan Times

Former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin is said to be in talks with Harvard University — his alma mater — to create a merchandise line for the school, according to a Bloomberg News report citing anonymous sources. Nike, which signed Lin to an endorsement deal before the NBA's first American player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent became an instant — if short-lived — sensation with the Knicks last season, would create the new line, Bloomberg said. New York Daily News

Hmm, Dwyane Wade stops wearing Jordans and Russell Westbrook, in search of a new shoe deal, starts wearing them? It looks like another dimension to a growing rivalry. Sulia

After the basketballs were picked up at the end of practice “Happy Birthday” could be heard throughout the Berto Center. But just a few minutes later Rose was back rehabbing, unavailable to discuss his big day. “We should make him go (rehab) twice,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of a birthday gift. Rose isn’t going home completely empty-handed though. “I got him an iPhone already,” new Bull Nate Robinson said. “The iPhone 5.” Why the new phone? “He’s 24,” Robinson said. “He’s still young. I want to make sure he’s cool.” ESPN.com

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