Archive for October 6th, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has waived forward Jeff Adrien and guard Paris Horne.

The Bobcats roster now stands at 16 players.

NBA preseason began on Friday. The first Bobcats preseason game is Sunday afternoon against the Washington Wizards.

James Harden still coming off Thunder bench

It comes as no surprise, but after four days of training camp James Harden continues to practice with the second team despite starter Thabo Sefolosha nursing a leg injury.

Harden, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, is expected to remain in his role this season once the Thunder returns to full strength. Harden, however, took his assignment in stride when told he just can’t seem to crack the first unit.

“Can’t,” Harden said, laughing. “Can’t do it. Them my guys. Me and Nick Collison, that’s my guy.”

Harden then said players have just filled in for starters Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins (wrist) and the second unit has remained largely intact.

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman

Michael Beasley

It is out with the old (Grant Hill turned 40 on Friday) and in with the new (Beasley is 23) for the Suns at small forward, where Beasley is expected to take the starting role Hill held for the past five seasons. Beasley is learning two positions because of his size (6 feet 10, 235 pounds) and athleticism at power forward.

That transition has been smooth on offense, but his attention and focus, two areas he has lacked as a pro, have been on defense.

“This is the first year I really applied 100 percent to the defensive side,” Beasley said. “I’m not really worried about the offense. Offense, I’m just trying to learn the plays. Defense, I’m just trying to be aggressive, trying to kind of guard two people at one time, trying to learn both positions and trying to stay on the glass as much as I can.”

In between two-a-day sessions during training camp at the University of California-San Diego, Beasley said he has been watching video of his defense.

– Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic

J.R. Smith wants to start for Knicks

J.R. Smith wants to start for Knicks

J.R. Smith always had been content to be a backup — the mercurial sixth-man gunner. Not this October. The controversial Smith made it clear he prefers to start for the first time in his career.

He has a good chance, because free-agent signee Ronnie Brewer had knee surgery in early September and won’t start practicing for two weeks. Iman Shumpert, incumbent starter at shooting guard, may not be back until January as he rehabs from ACL surgery. The shooting guard position is Smith’s for the taking. He admitted concern about being pegged as a bench player, perhaps because of a bad-boy rep.

“I’d rather start. I’ve been playing [eight] years, coming off the bench,’’ Smith said yesterday. “Whether it stays [that way] or goes, I’m going to be same person I am. I prefer to start. I’d rather be a starter. If not, I understand that.’’

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol wants to be more of a giant

Gasol has promised himself and teammates that he’s going to do less facilitating this season. Gasol’s goal isn’t to be selfish, but to better identify times when he can impose his will.

“I can get better mentally — knowing when to be aggressive and when the team needs me the most,” Gasol said. “I’ll keep making plays for my teammates but, at the same time, I have to dominate at some point and take over.”

Like a preacher in church on Sundays, power forward Zach Randolph all but bellowed a big fat “Hallelujah.”

“I’ve been telling him that from Day 1,” Randolph said. “Be aggressive. Pick your spots. Big fella is so talented and he plays the right way. But sometimes you’ve got to be aggressive. Sometimes coach wants him to score. He’s the best skilled center in the game by far.”

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Jared Sullinger

First impressions can be varied when a player joins a team, but Jared Sullinger’s initial work has highlighted one very specific quality for his older teammates to see.

And it’s not his most obvious strength as a rebounder and post player, though those talents certainly stood out in Sullinger’s team-high 16-point, eight-rebound performance during the Celtics [team stats]’ 97-91 loss to Fenerbache Ulker last night in their exhibition opener.

“His IQ is very high,” Kevin Garnett said of the rookie power forward. “I watched him a couple of times while he was (at Ohio State), and we saw a little of what he can do skill-wise. When you play with him you can actually see the IQ.”

Paul Pierce landed on the same spot.

“I think he has a great basketball IQ,” he said.

– Reported by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald

Shane Battier

Shane Battier smiles and laughs when he talks. It’s one of the many personality traits that would one day make him a good politician.

Here’s another. Battier will look at you with a straight face and tell you he’s not one of the NBA’s serial floppers.

“Listen, I don’t flop like a lot of these guys,” Battier said. “I know a lot of people say I flop, but I’m too old for that.”

Then, after a few minutes of bantering, Battier will tell you he’s “wholeheartedly against” the NBA’s new “anti-flopping” rule.

“Reputation may play a big role in it,” Battier said.

And that’s exactly what Indiana coach Frank Vogel is hoping will happen this season when the NBA begins administering its new “anti-flopping” rule. The league announced this week that it will begin the tricky work of reviewing flops and dives around the NBA and slapping repeat offenders with fines.

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

Danny Granger

Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger is just like the rest of his teammates during most of practice.

He stretches with them and takes part in the same drills and scrimmages. But there comes a point in every practice when Granger makes his way to the sideline and becomes a spectator.

That’s because the Pacers continue to limit Granger’s practice time to avoid any flare-ups with his left knee.

“It is frustrating,” Granger said. “I’m just glad we still have plenty of time before the first game (on Oct. 31). I’m still conditioned, and when I’m on the court, my wind isn’t that bad.”

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

Gerald Wallace

Basketball fans know him as “Crash,” the small forward willing to give up life and limb for a loose ball — the player the Brooklyn Nets will match up against LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. But the Alabama product is so frightened of New York City that he refuses to drive over the Hudson River, let alone live close to the Barclays Center.

Trips into Brooklyn require a chaperone from his home in Fort Lee.

“I have a driver,” Wallace said. “If I’m going to the city, that’s pretty much how I’m getting in.”

Off the court, the Nets have been marketed as the gritty black & white urbanites, the vision of Bed-Stuy-born Jay-Z and Russia’s Mikhail Prokhorov. But there’s an unmistakable southern accent dominating conversations at the practice facility, whether it’s with Avery Johnson from Louisiana, Joe Johnson from Arkansas, Reggie Evans from Florida or Wallace from Childersburg, Ala.

The adjustment is probably most difficult for Wallace, a 30-year-old of few words with a voice so deep it has been mistaken for Barry White’s. While Joe Johnson says he’s “like a chameleon,” able to shift from Little Rock to his Manhattan home with ease, Wallace is more country than most.

“I’m afraid of New York City,” the 6-foot-7 forward said.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

Dwight Howard strikes back at Shaq

Dwight Howard strikes back at Shaq

After all this time, everybody still falls for Shaq’s Don Rickles act.

I mean, everyone: Shaq’s intended target, the media, the fans.

O’Neal said when he broke into the league making outrageous statements and jabbing opponents that it was all “entertainment,” like pro wrestling.

Shaq continues to throw barbs, especially Dwight Howard’s way. He says Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez (Brook Lopez!) are better offensive players than Dwight.

“I don’t care what Shaq says,” Howard said. “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.”

– Reported by Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel

Jason Richardson

Doug Collins couldn’t have asked for a more fitting backdrop.

Moments after watching his 76ers play a spirited scrimmage at St. Joseph’s Hagan Arena that required an overtime period to settle, the coach discussed a favorite topic: spacing on the floor for his shooters.

Behind him, newly acquired sharpshooter Jason Richardson launched three-pointers, getting in some extra practice at training camp.

One key to the offense is having a big man capable of commanding a double team, drawing would-be perimeter defenders away from good shooters who are capable of making opponents pay.

In center Andrew Bynum, the Sixers feel they have that covered.

The other component is shooters, something the Sixers were woefully short of last season. They believe they have addressed the issue with the acquisition of players like Richardson, Dorell Wright, and Nick Young.

– Reported by John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Knicks legendary broadcaster John Andariese, a team radio staple for 40 years known around the Garden as “Johnny Hoops,’’ has stepped down from his color analyst position, the Knicks announced Friday. Andariese called the Knicks’ last championship — in 1973 with Marv Albert.

Andariese will be replaced by Hubie Brown’s son, Brendan Brown. The Knicks had reduced Andariese’s role last season, having him do just home games.

The decision comes on the heels of The Post reporting Wally Szczerbiak will replace Kelly Tripucka on MSG Network’s telecasts, teaming with Alan Hahn in the studio. Last season, radio play-by-play man Spero Dedes took over for veteran Mike Crispino, who remains as a backup.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

Thomas Robinson

It was a simple game of 4-on-4 in his second day of practice.

But it only took a few seconds for Thomas Robinson to show why the Kings are so happy to have him.

There was a missed shot and a rebound to be had, and the rookie from Kansas made sure no one else would grab the basketball.

Robinson sprinted toward the basket and snatched the ball off the rim for a powerful dunk.

Hustle, athleticism and enthusiasm all in one fell swoop.

The Kings have needed someone to play like that for a while.

– Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee

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