ESPN Insider Chad Ford: "Durant looked like a great athlete at Texas. He looked quick. Why didn't he test that way? My theory? Unlike Oden and most of the other players who participated in the camp, Durant was not prepared for it. His agent, Aaron Goodwin, confirmed my view. 'Between school, travel and business opportunities, he has not had an opportunity to work out,' Goodwin told me via e-mail. Durant has not been doing the strength training that so many of the other prospects have been doing for weeks. He has not hired a trainer and now we see the results of that decision. I spoke with trainer Tim Grover on Tuesday. Grover worked out Durant in Orlando last week along with his own clients Julian Wright and Thaddeus Young. Grover said he suspects that Durant just wasn't prepared for the testing. 'He's a very good athlete from what I saw,' Grover said. 'I think those results are from either not practicing the tests or improper technique. There's no way he should have tested that low. It's not a good indicator of who he is.' Grover said that for someone like Durant, a six-week training period would have improved his results significantly. 'With a guy who hasn't really done a lot of strength training, it's pretty easy to get big results quickly,' Grover said. 'With guys who have done a lot of work in the weight room, the results come slower.'"
Stan Van Gundy may be the guy in Orlando, (or ... Sacramento) but he's still technically under contract with Miami -- which might want to be compensated with draft picks. Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel points out that Pat Riley seems to end up at odds with his former assistants. Gregg Popovich , in contrast, celebrates their every success. (Everyone is trying to copy the Spurs, as John Hollinger points out, and many of them do so with Spurs personnel.)
In the Washington Post, Michael Wilbon points out exactly how much Cleveland deserves some good sports news.
When TrueHoop joined ESPN, I was aware that I would lose a fair chunk of the sympathy vote. People might say "oh, I really dig that blog" but they would be less likely to say "oh, you have to check out this guy's blog that you have never heard of." It's like when your favorite little restaurant is on the cover of a magazine. Might be better than ever, but it isn't your restaurant anymore, you know? It's not the underdog. That's my story, anyway, when I see that in BallHype's new blog rankings, TrueHoop is a miserable 37th (well below Mark "two posts a week" Cuban), after coming in near the top of these kinds of rankings in the past. AOL's Jamie Mottram, bless him, has TrueHoop in his top five, although even there TrueHoop finishes behind a blog lauded for "lots of skin."
If the Sonics end up with Sam Presti as GM ("Lord knows Seattle has long needed a young innovator from a regal breeding shed ...") and Dwane Casey as coach, then Mike Seely of Seattle Weekly will be happy.
ESPN's David Thorpe and Jeff Weltman preview the Finals (Insider). Both envision the Spurs winning in six. Here's what they have to say about LeBron James vs. Bruce Bowen: "It is no secret that James' Achilles' heel is his mediocre shooting from 15 feet and beyond, so expecting the Spurs to make him shoot from that range is a given. But to do that, they must slough off their man and show multiple defenders in his driving lanes, which puts James in position to make those special passes that he always seems to pull off. If they elect to stay closer to home, then James might go off like he did in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pistons. James likes to roam on defense, sniffing out the action away from his man, but this could prove to be trouble if Finley or Bowen gets hot."
Things, beyond attending the birth of this child, that LeBron James would give up for basketball.
Get your Cal-State Fullerton pride going for Bobby Brown.
ESPN's Marc Stein (Cal-State Fullerton alum himself) reported that Lamar Odom is not too keen on a rumored trade to Indiana. The blog Indy Cornrows says bring him on anyway: "Yo, Lamar, do whatever you want but you can't shock us with your behavior. Do the names Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson mean anything to you? You'll be out of your league playing the malcontent card around here. Guess what? WE DON'T CARE!"
How about Rasheed Wallace as a Knick?
CNBC's Darren Rovell: "Imagine this. You live in the Orlando area and you've been thinking about buying tickets for some time. Late last week, you hear that University of Florida coach Billy Donovan is coming to coach the team. So you plunk down $3,600 for two seats behind the basket. Then, Donovan reverses course. What do you do? You might ask for a refund. The question is, would you get it?"
David Aldridge interviewed by The Starting Five: "I was doing a radio interview last week in Boston. One of their guys was saying that the rules in the NBA are so hard and you can't get better -- which is a bunch of nonsense. The way to get better is the way Detroit, San Antonio, and Utah got better when they were down. Draft smart. Sign the right free agents. Don't overpay for free agents and coach players well. There's no secret to this. It isn't brain surgery. The Celtics could have had Brandon Roy last year, but they made a trade to save luxury tax because they didn't want to pay another year on Raef Lafrentz's salary. So they traded the pick. That's on them. I've got no sympathy for them. You have to make the right decisions. It's not that other teams are making perfect decisions, but they are making the right decisions. Joe Dumars saw something in Chauncey Billups when everyone else thought
Chauncey was a journeyman. He saw the same in Rip Hamilton. He drafted Tayshaun Prince at twenty two. Those teams have to do what every other team does which is manage your team properly. You have to be in a position to have enough cap room to afford a free agent when he's available. You have to be disciplined. Rashard Lewis is up. Rashard could help each one of those teams, but it's gonna be hard for them to get them because they are out of cap room. That's strictly management. It means you don't overpay players who don't deserve 12 to 14 million-dollar-a-year contracts. It's just not signing the free agent, it's signing the right free agent. It's drafting the right player. I go back to Detroit, they drafted Jason Maxiell last year at number twenty six. San Antonio drafted Tony Parker at twenty nine. Ginobili was fifty seven in the second round. Don't tell me that you can't do it. Every team had a chance to draft Tony Parker -- every team. Those teams you've mentioned have to do a better job of coaching, drafting, signing and trading -- which are the basics of building a team."
The San Antonio Spurs would reportedly like to extend Tim Duncan't contract, which runs through 2009-2010.
According to a press release I just got, more than 50% of the traffic on NBA.com is from outside the United States. How's the NBA's global domination going? E-mail from TrueHoop reader Eric: "I just spent a week in Italy, unfortunately had to zoom over there for family reasons. Interestingly I noted that basketball coverage was completely slack. I don't know how most Italians get their news on the NBA (cable -- I'm guessing it's the Sport Italia channel, but can't say for certain) because I watched a LOT of TV while I was with my grandfather and saw virtually nil, including in the newspapers. The Euroleague on the other hand seems to have highlights on much more frequently in comparison. Considering the relative explosion in basketball in Europe I am wondering if it is more driven by the popularity of the Euroleague rather than the NBA. I guess in the grand scheme of things it's not really that interesting, but it became more clear especially when I missed LeBron's 48 points that I only heard about when I got back."
NPR's Frank Deford is still cooking that grumpy stew, but now it's only on simmer: "Both Oden and Durant and other teenage prospects had to bivouac in college this year because of the new rule which prohibits players jumping from high school to the NBA. The NCAA is thrilled with this Head Start program for seven-footers, trumpeting it as a boon for education. This is, of course, pure hogwash. Come on. All a player has to do is stay eligible for one semester with the help of baby-sitter tutors, and then keep a bed warm in the dormitory through March Madness. Naturally, the NBA profits from this arrangement, though, because these kids bring a season's worth of national publicity into the league. Meanwhile, somewhere out there now, the NBA is still playing games. None start till after 9 p.m. Eastern and none are on a Friday or Saturday night - which is why school children or people who actually go to work in the morning have no idea how fabulous LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers has been."
Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News:"The image is the stuff of a basketball nightmare - Cleveland's 6-foot-8, 250-pound LeBron James, at full speed on a drive to the basket, and you are the Spurs' lone remaining defender, with no choice but to try to foil his shot by standing still and taking a charge. If you are 6-2, 180-pound Tony Parker, with a high-profile wedding just weeks away, would you do it? 'If it can give me another ring, I will,' Parker said after the Spurs' practice session Tuesday. 'We have to do whatever we can to contain him and slow him down. It's going to be very hard to try to stop him. We're going to do our best.' What about protecting his face for all those wedding photos with Eva Longoria? 'I don't care about that,' said Parker, set to wed the 'Desperate Housewives' actress in Paris in July. 'I'd rather have another ring and be messed up in the picture. That's fine.'" Monroe should check with Eva's parents though. I once played paintball with a groom the morning of the wedding, and the last thing we heard from the mother of the bride was "if he comes back with one mark on his face in those photographs, I'm going to kill you."
Here, straight from Eva Longoria, is the recipe for the pasta she makes Tony Parker before games. Heavy cream on game day? Kids, this is not the secret of great athleticism.
LeBron James talks about the impending arrival of his second son. He doesn't expect the baby to wait until the June 17th due date.
If you're driving around Washington D.C., that guy on the bicycle with the headphones and sunglasses that you almost hit might be Gilbert Arenas.
UPDATE: I'm almost certain I have linked to this Pat Burke Hair Tonic video before, but it's so great let's do it again.
UPDATE: Good Finals preview from Kevin Pelton.