NBA Training Camp Primer: Top Buzz and Latest News from Day 2
NBA training camps continued for a second day on Tuesday, and it goes without saying teams were too busy with their practice routines to make much news—but wouldn't you know a few nuggets of information still managed to reach the presses?
With starting lineups to be decided, extensions to be inked and injuries to be monitored, training camp is invariably never about practice alone.
Head coaches must love the constant distraction.
We're bringing you the biggest stories as they emerge from each day of training camp, and here's the round-up after day two. Stay tuned for more buzz as camps continue and bring us what are sure to be some intriguing preseason revelations.
Warriors Still Playing It Safe with Stephen Curry
On its own, the news that Stephen Curry wasn't allowed to finish his first practice might raise some very concerned eyebrows in the Bay Area.
No disasters to report this time, though—and if head coach Mark Jackson's cautious approach pays off, there won't be.
The Contra Costa Times' Marcus Thompson II reports that, "Curry said the drills and scrimmaging the Warriors completed Tuesday during the first practice of training camp were the most intense action his ankle has endured." Warriors fans will be glad to know the 24-year-old point guard didn't miss a beat and looked to be in top form physically, at least according to Curry's first-hand account.
The point guard played in just 26 games last season, eventually succumbing to ankle surgery in April. If this is the year Golden State returns to the postseason, it will need a healthy Curry to do so. The rising star averaged 18.6 points and 5.8 assists in his sophomore campaign and remained one of the league's most consistent perimeter shooters throughout each of his three seasons.
Golden State will have a little extra insurance this year after acquiring point guard Jarrett Jack from the New Orleans Hornets, but no one wants to seriously contemplate a scenario in which Jack is anything more than the second unit's veteran leader.
The Chicago Bulls Hope to Extend Taj Gibson ASAP
There's a will, but is there a way?
HOOPSWORLD's Joel Brigham reports that, "the Chicago Bulls want to extend fourth-year power forward Taj Gibson," and the interest is apparently reciprocated:
“I would like to play my whole career here. That’s a given,” Gibson told HOOPSWORLD at the start of training camp. “This is a great city, great organization, great people, and it would be a dream come true (to stay).”
Of course, this wouldn't be the first time business got in the way of a dream. The two sides have only until October 31 to work out a deal, at least until this summer when the explosive 27-year-old becomes a free agent.
Thus far, the Gibson has played the part of Carlos Boozer's understudy in two of his three seasons with Chicago. The USC product is built his reputation on powerful dunks and blocked shots, but his mid-range game is coming along too.
He helped form one of the league's best interior rotations last season, backing up Boozer and center Joakim Noah alongside Omer Asik (who subsequently signed with the Houston Rockets this summer).
Going forward, Gibson remains integral to head coach Tom Thibodeau's deep rotation, so it's hard to imagine Chicago letting him slip away.
Manu Ginobili Unphased by Flopping Rule
The NBA's decision to fine suspected floppers has generated mixed opinion both in terms of the policy's propriety and effectiveness alike. Who better to settle the issue than a man who knows a thing or two about the mindset of a flopper?
The San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili didn't go into any detail about what the rule would mean for him personally, but you can put two and two together based on his comments (via the San Antonio Express-News' Jeff McDonald):
“It’s going to be very hard to determine when it’s a flop and when it’s not,” Ginobili said. “There’s a lot of contact, a lot of heavy players, and it can be tricky. I don’t think (fining players) is going to happen much.”
Manu does have a point. Even with the benefit of reviews using video replay, it won't always be easy to distinguish the intent to flop from a player who was just off balance.
If it makes guys like Manu (or the Miami Heat) think twice about trying to pull one over on the officials, though, most fans won't complain.
Royce White Wants a Bus
After Royce White missed the first day of Houston Rockets training camp, he explained that it was essentially a preventative measure designed to prevent any triggers of his well-publicized anxiety disorder.
As it turns out, there's a bit more to the story than that.
ESPN's Myron Medcalf reports that White is currently negotiating with the Houston Rockets and lobbying for the right to use a bus for travel to away games on account of his fear of flying.
"What it's going to look like is every game that's drivable, I'm going to get a bus for myself," White said. "And I'm going to make that bus feel like home so that there's a level of consistency in a job where inconsistency is very apparent because of the schedule. I'm going to try and level that out and make sure that my stress levels stay low and that my rest is regular and that my meals are regular and that as much as I can, draw consistency from a very inconsistent schedule."
You just can't make this stuff up.
White went on to explain that whatever's good for his peace of mind is ultimately good for everyone around him, including his teammates and the Rockets organization.
Before rolling your eyes at a request like this, it's worth remembering that White's working closely with doctors to develop a sustainable plan—ultimately so that these kind of headaches don't emerge at inopportune times in the future. And who wouldn't want their own personal bus?
Minnesota Timberwolves Taking Things Slowly with Brandon Roy
Amidst his comeback from medical retirement, it's still hard to say how much the Minnesota Timberwolves will get out of Brandon Roy this year.
The early indications are all positive, but the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda reports head coach Rick Adelman isn't eager to test his luck.
"We're going to have to be cautious with him," Adelman said. "Like tomorrow, it will be interesting to see all these guys who have been hurt, how they respond tomorrow. After the first day, they're going to be a little sore. But Brandon, he can flat-out score. He's a smart player. We just have to monitor him and make sure we are cautious with him and not push him too much."
Meanwhile, Roy is obviously eager to show what he's got, and the Timberwolves are eager to make the most of it. But, this is still a transitional phase, and the organization doesn't want to risk losing such a valuable weapon in a season where anything short of a playoff berth will be viewed as a failure.
The Timberwolves desperately needed a shooting guard after coming up short with guys like Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster, and it doesn't hurt that Roy was one of the best. He also brings the team some veteran leadership, a key addition given that it's two most prominent pieces are Kevin Love (age 24) and Ricky Rubio (age 21).
Tobias Harris Could Win Bucks' Starting SF Job
Second-year forward Tobias Harris could see a significant increase in his role with the Milwaukee Bucks after averaging just 11.4 minutes with the team in a rookie season in which he put up five points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
In an ideal world, head coach Scott Skiles would likely start defensive specialist Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at the small forward spot, but he's currently out of the picture after having knee surgery this summer. That leaves Harris and the Mike Dunleavy as his next best options.
The Journal Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner reports that while Skiles isn't thrilled with the prospect of starting such an inexperienced player, he's similarly reticent about taking his favorite sixth man (Dunleavy) off the bench. To hear Skiles explain it, having a second-unit scorer is just too vital:
"I had Rodney Rogers in Phoenix; I had Ben Gordon in Chicago. When you've got a guy like Mike you know night in and night out, you look down on the bench and you've got a guy that can be productive. It's hard to give that up.
"Then when that guy is comfortable in that role, it's very valuable. My preference would be to keep it that way but I'm not going to pre-judge that. I want to wait and see what happens."
For now, Skiles isn't making a final decision, allowing training camp to serve as the final arbiter. Just don't be surprised if Harris goes from a relative unknown to making a name for himself in the Bucks' up-and-coming rotation.
O.J Mayo Will Definitely Start for Mavs
In case there were still any doubts about what role O.J. Mayo will play for the Dallas Mavericks this season, head coach Rick Carlisle has put them to rest.
The Star-Telegram's Dwain Price reports that the team's recently-acquired shooting guard will start as expected:
#Mavs coach Rick Carlisle on guard OJ Mayo: "He’s going to be a starter for us, whereas he’s been a sixth man for Memphis.''— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) October 4, 2012
That's good—if not expected—news for Mayo, whose production dipped markedly when he was demoted to the bench in his third season with the Grizzlies. After averaging 18.5 and 17.5 points in his first two seasons, Mayo scored around 12 points per game in his next two campaigns.
More importantly, his efficiency dropped too.
The Mavericks are hoping Mayo can become a second or third scoring option behind Dirk Nowitzki and bring the team a much-needed combination of youth and offense. If all goes well, Mayo and his modest contract will look like the steal of the summer.
Brandon Rush May Be in Lead for Warriors' Starting Job
The Golden State Warriors are anything but short on small forwards.
The organization landed Richard Jefferson in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs in February and then later drafted Harrison Barnes out of North Carolina. But if the lineups head coach Mark Jackson put on the floor to begin training camp were any indication, Brandon Rush could be the guy landing the starting job.
Jackson teamed Rush up with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee—all locks to start at their respective positions.
For now, though, it's officially too soon to read into it.
“That’s just the way I broke it up from the first day,” Jackson said. “But there’s nothing into it only because you’ve got to make teams. One thing, though, is I wanted Steph and Klay to be together because they haven’t played much together.”
We'll see about that. The 27-year-old Rush improved his three-point accuracy to a 45 percent clip last season and earned over 26 minutes a game in his first season with the Warriors after spending his first three years with the Indiana Pacers.
Though Barnes reasons to be the club's long-term solution at the position, the pressure for Golden State to begin turning things around could very well lead Jackson to prefer a more veteran option for the time being.
LaMarcus Aldridge Is at Full-Strength After Surgery
The Portland Trail Blazers have no more than an outside shot at making the playoffs, but any chances they do have will depend on a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge.
Fortunately, the hip surgery he had back in May hasn't slowed him down to start training camp according to Ben Golliver:
As expected, Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge is 100 percent healthy after hip surgery.— Ben Golliver (@blazersedge) October 1, 2012
Coming off his first All-Star season, Aldridge is poised to remain the club's go-to player thanks to his dangerous mid-range game and much-improved post skills.
The power forward averaged 21.7 points and eight rebounds in 2011-12, and he could build upon them even further given how much his increasingly young roster will depend on him to do just about everything.