HoopsHype rumors

October 7, 2013 | 08:34 PM ET Update

Imagine Akognon on the floor with any number of the Grizzlies’ key offensive weapons, looking them off and jacking up shots. That happened. The move to cut Akognon, who is a good kid, signaled that the Griz aren’t simply interested in a hired gun. Playmakers will be valued in coach Dave Joerger’s offensive system. That means everyone will be required to pass the ball and make the right play, and not just shoot on the first touch. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Amar'e Stoudemire will not play in the Knicks' first three preseason games, head coach Mike Woodson said. The Knicks are taking a cautious approach with Stoudemire in the preseason, so his absence doesn't come as a surprise. Woodson said Stoudemire and injured teammates J.R. Smith and Jeremy Tyler will not travel with the Knicks on their three-game road trip to open the preseason. ESPN.com

PBI Sports & Entertainment, a Toronto-based sports talent representation firm, has launched an NBA division by hiring Billy Owens, a former NBA forward/guard who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1991 draft, as head of basketball operations. Neil Glasberg, PBI Sports & Entertainment founder and president, was recently certified by the National Basketball Players Association to represent NBA players in contract talks with clubs. Glasberg founded PBI in 2008, and the firm has specialized in representing NHL and NFL coaches as well as broadcasters. Clients include Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston; former NHL coach Marc Crawford, now coaching the Zurich Lions of the Swiss National A League; San Diego Chargers wide receivers coach Fred Graves; and Canadian Olympic gold-medal-winning figure skater Jamie Salé. Sports Business Daily

The initial results will have plenty to say about Pondexter asking Miss Tennessee for a date on Twitter last spring when the Grizzlies’ playoff run ended. Miss Tennessee said “yes,” but they never went on a date. Pondexter departed for his native California the next day so their schedules didn’t mesh. “It wasn’t like she was going out there or I was coming back here anytime soon,” Pondexter said. “But we’re good friends. She’s a beautiful girl.” Pondexter finds it a bit amusing that internet searches mostly recognize his game off the court. “At least I’m known for something,” Pondexter said, laughing. “It wasn’t like it was a bad thing. I actually need to try my luck again and see if I can get another girl to say ‘yes’ on Twitter. I was thinking Miley Cyrus.” Memphis Commercial Appeal

 

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN SPURS HISTORY

The big stars from the Gregg Popovich years crowd the top of the list.

   
October 7, 2013 | 05:07 PM ET Update

The Nets have a bevy of offensive weapons this season. Along with Johnson, the team brought back Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, two of the more explosive offensive threats in the league. Williams in particular has taken 91 crunch-time attempts since 2005, They added Pierce and Terry, two players that relish in high-pressure moments, and Kevin Garnett, a mid-range weapon as effective as anyone in the NBA. (Johnson, by the way, learned about that trade when his cousin saw it on HoopsHype. "He said, 'Man, y'all supposed to be getting KG, and Paul, and Terry.' I was like, 'Nah, ain't no way.'") The Brooklyn Game

After the Indiana Pacers' preseason debut Saturday night, when center Roy Hibbert looked scattered offensively and made four of 14 shots, the big man still earned approval. "At 290 (pounds), I'm moving a little better than I was at 275," Hibbert said while adjusting his leather coat. He turned to his locker neighbor, Paul George. "Think so, P? I'm moving a little better than I was last year?" "Yeah," George agreed. USA Today Sports

Nevertheless, while he displayed glimpses of the summer work, one night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse did not fully reveal Hibbert's overall improvement. "I worked all summer on my pick-and-pop and turn-and-face," Hibbert said, mentioning specific low-post moves. "I didn't use the pick-and-pop that much. I made some bad decisions, but I think the turn-and-face (toward the basket) opened up a lot for me. So I think the first half, I tried to utilize that. "It was the first game and I wish I could've done more, but everybody has a second chance." USA Today Sports

Kobe Bryant fights through pain, rehabs constantly and thrives on overcoming injuries. But even the Lakers star has some concerns on how he will tackle the latest challenge in fully healing his left Achilles tendon and then thriving again on the court. “As I sit here with you now, I’m telling you now I’ll come back 100 percent,” Bryant said in a recent appearance in China. “But I don’t know if I’m sure. I have moments and days where I doubt myself.” Los Angeles Daily News

Mark Cuban says he learned he was being sued for insider trading when he turned on CNBC one day "and I was the headline." The billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner told jurors in federal court Monday that the news made him "sick to my stomach." Cuban testified that he could have settled the case - he's not likely to face more than $2 million to $3 million in fines and penalties if he loses - but he hired lawyers and fought back because "I did nothing wrong and I refuse to be bullied." Philadelphia Inquirer

October 7, 2013 | 02:50 PM ET Update

Miami Heat guard Norris Cole will leave the speculation to the media. His only focus is on becoming a better player as he enters his third NBA season. The chatter about him possibly being on the trading block is secondary. "I can't control that," Cole said. "The only thing I can do is control what I can control and that's to make sure I'm in the best shape, make sure I'm ready to perform and make sure when I get out there I show what I can do. Anything else, I can't control that so I don't worry my mind about that." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Cole said he heard of the recent Fox Sports report the Heat may have dangled his name in trade offers. He will leave those decisions to management, but remains comfortable in Miami. "I'm comfortable with the guys, with the coaching staff, with the team," Cole said. "This is all I know. I'm blessed to be in this position." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Obviously you were in the same city as Kobe for a long time, but seeing him up close, being a teammate, how would you describe that experience so far? Chris Kaman: I always hated him. When you play against a guy like him, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, you don't like them because they're so competitive. I respect that, but I don't like playing against them. But when you're on their team, it's a whole different story. You love the people. They're good guys. Kobe, he's just been working hard trying to get himself ready. He comes to practice and he works his butt off. I respect that as well. I'm excited for him to play. I'm hoping sooner than later. ESPN.com

Me: What is your challenge to Steph this year? MJ: My only thing with Steph, and he knows it, is that he has to do a better job taking care of the basketball. I asked him before camp started, what's the biggest thing for him in camp? And he said 'taking care of the basketball.' And I said, no. And he looked at me like I was crazy. And I said, no -- coming out of camp healthy. That's the biggest thing. So I don't want to put any demands on his body, or doing crazy stuff in the middle of practice, trying to split two guys and spin. Take care of the basketball, continually get better, and stay healthy. That's our biggest thing, anyway. We've got guys who was here a month early. So I don't have to run 'em crazy or go two a days five times. We did it twice the first two days, and in those situations, our night practices were moreso dummy offense, no contact. So there was no need. They came here early. I'm not going to punish them. They should get rewarded. NBA.com

David Aldridge: What's the rotation looking like right now? Mark Jackson: We'll figure it out. We know our top seven or eight guys, especially with Klay, Harrison and Andre. To me, there's 96 minutes, split between the three of them. Which is more than enough. So it won't be a concern. Me: Can all three of them interchange between the two and the three? MJ: Yes. Harrison is probably the one guy that can handle two, three, four. And he's more so a three. With either one of them (on the court), he's a three. But to me, yeah, they can all do it. With our system, there's no difference, really. So it's just that you're the two and you're the three. But they're doing the same thing. NBA.com

"I'm tired of losing. It's not a lot of fun coming to games knowing, 'This is going to be a tough night.' We're just at that point now, it's the fourth year, we've retained our players, we've added players, we've spent a lot of money. And I expect us to be a playoff-caliber team. I think our fan base expects that too and that's the pressure I've placed on our organization, that we have to meet the expectations of our fans -- and it's time." -- Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, to local reporters, throwing down the gauntlet for his team to improve upon its dismal showings of the last few years. Both general manager Ernie Grunfeld and coach Randy Wittman are entering the final years of their respective contracts. NBA.com

The Trail Blazers have found a replacement for Chalupas: McMuffins. The team on Monday announced that the fast food breakfast sandwich will replace Chalupas as their giveaway promotion when the Blazers score at least 100 point at home games. Here's a release from the team announcing the new new promotion: The Portland Trail Blazers and McDonald’s have partnered on a new “100-Point Play” promotion for the next five seasons, the team announced today. Every time the Trail Blazers eclipse the 100-point mark in a game played inside the Moda Center, fans in attendance will be offered a voucher for a free McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg during egress. Oregonian

Bill Oram: Jazz announce that NuSkin out as sponsors of dance team. Now American First Credit Union Jazz Dancers. Rolls right off the tongue. Twitter @bill_oram

 

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN SUNS HISTORY

The Phoenix Suns might be the best NBA franchise never to win a title. They came close a few times thanks to the two point guards that top this list.

   
October 7, 2013 | 12:48 PM ET Update

While Tim Duncan bought controlling shares in the blue-chip stock known as the bank shot, teammate Manu Ginobili invested his resources in a little-known start-up. Thanks in large part to him and Miami guard Dwyane Wade, the winding, crafty misdirection dribble known as the Euro Step has become a household name in hoops circles. Ginobili didn’t devise the move. As a recent ESPN segment correctly notes, that credit goes to former Warriors guard Šarunas Marciulionis, a member of the first wave of foreign pioneers in the late 1980s and early 1990s that paved the way for the likes of Ginobili, Tony Parker and Dirk Nowitzki. San Antonio Express-News

The day after his first NBA game since April 28, 2012, Derrick Rose — and more importantly, his rehabilitated left ACL — experienced no ill effects heading into the Bulls’ practice Sunday afternoon at St. Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena. “I’m feeling good. Thibs has been asking me the same thing. I’m feeling all right, though. After the game, I could have played some more, but they took me out, so if anything, just watching me and making sure that I’m all right,” he said. “I think conditioning and rehab and training definitely put me in the spot that I’m in right now, where I’m recovering real quick, I’m eating right. My diet changed, and it’s actually preventing a lot of injuries, knick-knack injuries. In the future, just preparing myself the right way and staying healthy, that’s the key.” Rose played 20 minutes and 26 seconds in Saturday’s preseason-opening win over the Pacers in Indianapolis but wanted to play more. “It’s tough, especially for it to be a close game like it was and to be sitting out,” explained the former league MVP, who scored 13 points. “Just wanted to test myself a little bit more, but I wasn’t able to.” CSN Chicago

A replacement for the Chalupa has been secured. The Portland Trail Blazers have struck a five-year partnership deal with McDonald's, which will provide the team's latest in-game free food promotion, a league source relayed to CSNNW.com. The source who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the fact that the team has yet to make an announcement, informed CSNNW.com that when the Trail Blazers reach 100 points at the Moda Center, fans in attendance will be treated to a coupon for a free McDonald's Sausage Egg McMuffin effective Nov. 2, the day of the 2013-14 home opener against the San Antonio Spurs. CSNNW.com

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN TRAIL BLAZERS HISTORY

Only four Hall of Famers, but plenty of fantastic names in the Top 50 of the storied franchise.

   
October 7, 2013 | 11:23 AM ET Update

“He showed us enough he can play in this league,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see what role he can carve out, but I’m really happy right now with his performance.” Does this help Henry’s chances in making the team? “I would think so,” D’Antoni said. “But we have a long way to go.” That includes monitoring Henry’s wrist and continuing to build off his double-digit performances. “Here right now with the team we had, they’re putting me in spots where I have a high success rate in getting to the rim,” Henry said. “That allows me to be in the right spot at the right time. If you can do that, you’re able to be yourself and play the game that you played. You’re not stuck at one part of the floor and they forget about you.” Los Angeles Daily News

The divorce settlement, however, wasn’t bad as Copeland signed a two-year, $6 million free-agent contract in July with Indiana. It was a small but important signing considering the 6-foot-8 Copeland gives the Pacers what they lacked; a big man with 3-point range. That he was a rising player from an Eastern Conference rival was a bonus. “I’m not going to lie and say (money) wasn’t a factor,” Copeland said. “But it was more than the money. I never anticipated making this move. I thought I’d end up taking a pay cut. But when you factor in everything; the situation here, the role, the chance of winning a champion…even though I think the opportunity is there for New York as well. But at this stage of my career I wanted to build on what I did last season.” New York Daily News

Joe Johnson got a new tattoo this summer. "It's almost like my skin peeling open," Johnson says of the ink, which flows down the inside of his right forearm. "My skin peeled back, and inside, I'm like a machine." It's true -- instead of tendons and bone, the tattoo scrapes his body to reveal gears and pipes, the guts of an imperturbable contraption. “Produced in Little Rock” is imprinted in the middle, a reminder of his origins. He is a machine: fine-tuned, cool and collected, instinctually programmed. The Brooklyn Game

While the Wizards continue to figure out how to carry on without him, Emeka Okafor is rehabilitating and recovering under the supervision of a cervical spine specialist in New York. Out indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck, Okafor participated in Wizards media day festivities and the team dinner in Virginia later that evening. But the veteran big man returned to New York – where he also maintains his offseason home with his wife and newborn daughter – before the team started practicing at George Mason. Washington Post

Johnson left the game in the first quarter because of a strained left foot, finishing with only two points and three rebounds in eight minutes, while shooting 1-for-5 from the field with two turnovers. "There was some burning sensation in his foot," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're hoping [it is] not bad." Johnson has an MRI exam scheduled Monday to examine the injury. ESPN.com

Jayhawks coach Bill Self says Wiggins is the most-hyped player Kansas has had, probably, since Danny Manning, who won a national title at Kansas and went No. 1 overall in the 1988 draft. "Maybe even before Danny, maybe since Wilt," Self says. Yes, Chamberlain. USA Today Sports

"We never talked to Andrew about being a one-and-done," Self says. "We just talked to him about being a college kid, coming in and trying hard, helping us, and we're going to help him by putting him in a position to showcase himself. … It was always unspoken that we understood, if he did what he was supposed to do, we won't have him here on campus very long. "The thing about Andrew that's common with all 18-year-olds is he's just a kid. He wants to be a kid. I don't think he's got the growing up fast-forwarding just yet. I think he's realizing that his college stint could potentially not be that long, and he wants to experience college." USA Today Sports

“We played three kids,” Leonsis said, talking about Washington’s first game of the season. “People talk about how the team is aging. We have the eighth-youngest team in the league. I like when we interject some of the new kids into the lineup….We’re healthy, and my expectation is that this is the deepest team since I’ve owned the team. I don’t see any weaknesses, and I see that we’re prepared for injury. I mean, that’s one of the things in sports that sometimes we under estimate: injuries happen, your second-line guy, your third-line guy. Washington Post

 

SOCIAL MEDIA PICTURES: PHOTOS PLAYERS POST

Just like everybody else, NBA players are spending more and more time on social media sites and photo-sharing services. Check all the pictures they are posting on Instagram, Twitter and more here.

   
October 7, 2013 | 09:46 AM ET Update

Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw will not be bringing Phil Jackson with him to the Mile High City. "No," Shaw said with a laugh Sunday when asked if he had any plans to coerce the Zen Master out of retirement to join his coaching staff. "He can be my Tex? No. No." ESPN.com

"I want to invite him to come and watch us practice and just kind of see how I'm doing," said Shaw, who recently helped former Lakers assistant Frank Hamblen connect with former Lakers player and current Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue to observe Clippers training camp in San Diego. ESPN.com

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has reached out to the former Lakers coach, a man he played for and coached with during his time in Los Angeles, and the best piece of advice he received from Jackson was patience. "I'm laid back by nature, anyway," Shaw said. "Phil had a lot of patience and he allowed for the players to kind of figure some things out on their own. I've been kind of trying to do the same thing, not spoon feeding them everything, but just enough and see who has the ability to figure out what they need to do." Denver Post

Andersen spoke with Heat sideline reporter Jason Jackson during a timeout and told fans he took less money to sign with the Heat this season. Andersen signed for the veteran’s league minimum. “I’m building something I can leave behind for my legacy.” Miami Herald

Darren Wolfson: Notes on CSKA Moscow tonight vs #Twolves: Kahn/Ronzone regime tried, like many teams, to acquire G Miloš Teodosic. He's hurt, so is out. (1) Twitter @DarrenWolfson

Of all the ways to describe his new free agent guard, the best Cavs coach Mike Brown could come up with in describing Jarrett Jack is “crusty.” He meant it, of course, in that grizzled, tough veteran sort of way — not the smelly, stale form that is only cured with a bar of soap and some hot water. “He’s kind of crusty. There’s not a lot glamorous when you look at him,” Brown said. “He’s not trying to look good or look beautiful out there. He just wants to win and get the job done.” Akron Beacon Journal

Now Turiaf unknowingly has joined the chorus, encouraging the second-year Russian guard to play with more joy and less concern for his errors while coach Rick Adelman just wants Shved to become more “engaged” when he’s playing off the ball. “If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,” Turiaf said. “If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Now he is a year wiser and stronger — “I make muscles,” he says — even if the wiry 6-6 combo guard still weighs the same starting a season when he no longer has fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko by his side. “He’s my great man, my good friend and he really helps me,” said Shved, who says he still talks to Kirilenko every other day after his pal signed with Brooklyn last summer. “But he has his life and I have my life.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

A year ago, there was no training camp at all for Bradley, who was recovering from double shoulder surgeries after having the previous season halted in the playoffs. This year, though, has been different for the guard from Texas. There are no injuries and there’s no lockout, and after a full summer of preparation, Bradley was ready to go on the opening day of camp last week. “It feels good,’’ said Bradley after practice Sunday afternoon. “I’ve been making a lot of improvement in my game. I feel good about everything. “You kind of get a rough start (without a regular camp). I get a rhythm now and I feel more comfortable going out there playing the preseason games. I feel like I’ll be ready for the season.’’ The Enterprise

“It feels weird, but it’s pretty cool,’’ said Bradley, who not long ago was a little-used teenager. “I got a chance to learn from a lot of great players, how to play basketball the right way and how to be a professional, on and off the court. I’m just going to try to teach some of my teammates how to do the same. “It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve gotten a chance to play for the Celtics. It’s been a dream for me. I’m happy to be here and keep that culture going. I see Rondo, his approach. Even though he’s not playing, he’s on the sideline and he’s going hard in some of the drills that he’s in and helping us out. I want to do the same thing he does.’’ The Enterprise

Finland is applying to get a wild card to take part in 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. The Finnish National Team (Susijengi) passed the first round at Eurobasket in Slovenia beating also Greece. Sportando

At the end of the year, at least partly out of self-preservation, Colangelo chained himself to Casey … and was promptly fired (or re-assigned, if you prefer the vague language of press releases). New Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke brought in Masai Ujiri from Denver to replace Colangelo, and it seemed likely Ujiri would hire his own coach. “Anytime you have change like that, it’s always unsettling,” Casey said in a one-on-one interview on Wednesday evening. “I wasn’t the only one in the organization in that situation. It was unsettling.” National Post

Andray Blatche is a fun-loving guy. He probably loved fun a little too much with the Wizards and wound up being amnestied in 2012, with no team willing to take him on, despite his obvious talent and youth. He used that as motivation last season after Billy King and Avery Johnson gave him a chance to redeem his career. But he still loves that fun. On Sunday, he posted a short Instagram video of him practicing his Euro-step ... on Fifth Avenue ... in the middle of the day. The technique was lacking but for comedic value, it was unsurpassed. Of course, this being New York, no one on the avenue seems to notice or care. As for his real career, Blatche seems bigger and more committed, according to team insiders. "Andray has been very good," said one. NetsDaily

It probably goes without saying that LeBron James puts on pretty cool birthday parties for his kids, and the Chosen One confirmed that assumption Sunday, when he posted a photo of his son LeBron Jr.’s Xbox-themed 9th birthday cake to Instagram: FOXSports.com

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