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First Cup: Training Camp Wednesday

  • Brian Hendrickson of The Columbian: "As the media was allowed into the season's first practice, No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden -- preparing for his first season after spending all of last year recovering from microfracture surgery -- was nowhere to be found. He emerged moments later with trainer Jay Jensen, limped down the sideline on a sprained right ankle, hopped on a stationary bike and rode it for the remainder of the workout. What followed felt like a four-alarm media emergency. ... In fact, the injury was as mild as they come -- a grade-one sprain, GM Kevin Pritchard said. It likely would not have prevented Oden from returning to practice had he chosen to do so. But when you're Greg Oden and the anticipation of your debut has been building for 15 months, nothing is a minor injury -- a reality that Oden acknowledged with a terse tone. 'I can't even fall on the ground without somebody's breath going away,' Oden said. And up to that point, the 7-foot center said he had participated in the full practice without any signs of trouble."

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "When Ben Gordon returns to the practice court today, the Bulls will have five guards on the roster who expect to play a major role this season. Four of those players -- Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes and Thabo Sefolosha -- started for at least a significant stretch last season and the fifth, rookie Derrick Rose, was the No. 1 pick in the draft in June. Since most teams play a rotation of three guards, with spare minutes maybe going to a fourth, the biggest challenge for new coach Vinny Del Negro will be dividing up the playing time. The crowded backcourt also is the biggest challenge to team harmony as the Bulls try to shrug off last season's every-man-for-himself attitude to get back to playing as a cohesive unit."

  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe: "... But at the Celtics' first practice at Salve Regina University yesterday, there was as much talk of Darius Miles's comeback as there was of the team's quest to repeat as champions. 'This is my first training camp in, like, three years,' said Miles, who signed with the Celtics in August after missing two NBA seasons. 'I haven't played in training camp in so long. I felt good. I tried to stay loose. I'm trying to learn plays real quick. Trying to get things down pat.' His knees, said Miles, 'were no problem. No problem at all. Same ol' same ol'.'"

  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: "For years no one could match them for drama. In 2003, Kobe Bryant flew in from a hearing in his trial in Eagle, Colo., as Lakers officials threw up a cordon around the El Segundo facility, trying to keep the tabloid press out. In 2005, Bryant announced he was OK with the return of Phil Jackson, even after they feuded and Jackson called him 'uncoachable' in his tell-all book. Last fall, after a summer of excoriating the organization, no one even knew if Bryant would show up. This fall there's something funny going on ... nothing. 'It's amazing what can happen in just a year's time on and off the court,' said Derek Fisher of the new, low-key atmosphere."

  • Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News: New Clippers' point guard Baron Davis played it cool when asked Tuesday about the comments ex-Clipper Corey Maggette made about his former team at the Golden State Warriors media day. Maggette, who left via free agency over the summer, was quoted in various Bay Area newspapers as saying 'Baron will be in for a rude awakening.' Davis, who said he speaks with Maggette frequently and considers him a friend, said he preferred not to speak about Maggette's feelings. 'Me and Corey are good friends. Whatever he says is what is in his brain or in his heart,' Davis said. 'I'm here and this is my focus. ... We just want to focus on the positive.'"

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Kevin Love said he already has interviewed three or four chefs to prepare his meals. He prepared for the NBA draft in June by losing 15 pounds by extensive exercise and changing his diet to include custom-made, packaged meals and appears to have gained some of that back over the summer. NBA scouts questioned his weight during his only season at UCLA. 'I've got to keep it healthy: gluten-free, low-fat,' Love said. 'I need to make sure my body is getting the right things, but it has to taste good. I can't be eating cardboard every day.' But isn't a professional chef expensive, even for a fellow who will make $3.3 million this season? 'I'm only 20 years old, but I'm learning what you can write off on your taxes,' Love said. 'I only went to UCLA for three-fourths of a year, but I did learn a couple of things.'"

  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "Then there are all those plays. The ones Pat Riley handed down to Erik Spoelstra, and Spoelstra added to and adjusted and insisted even a 19-year-old memorize like the alphabet. Fortunately, Spoelstra and his staff made learning them a bit more teen-friendly by filing them all in an iTouch device that makes an actual book unnecessary. Attention deficiency isn't a major issue when, like the alphabet, you can sing while you learn it. 'The way I do it, I find one song and I put it on repeat, and I'll go over the play while I'm listening to the song,' Michael Beasley said. 'So when I'm out on the court, if it's that play, I sing the song and it's just natural.' If Beasley's mouth is moving as he's setting a down screen, you will know why. It's one way to remain sane while facing dizzying demands."

  • Tom Enlund of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Milwaukee Bucks players curious about newcomer Scott Skiles' coaching style got a hint of what to expect at the opening of training camp Tuesday when they noticed no wall clocks inside the Cousins Center gym. 'I don't think they belong in the practice gym,' said Skiles, whose not-so-subtle message was that he expects his players to be concentrating on playing basketball instead of glancing at the clock to see how much time is left in practice. 'That never made much sense to me. Guys could be clock-watching. You don't want that. I've got a watch on. I know what time it is.'"

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers: "During Tuesday's first practice of training camp, Detroit Pistons forward Amir Johnson had to pick himself off the floor after unsuccessfully battling Kwame Brown for a rebound. Moments later, Arron Afflalo put Richard Hamilton on his back. Soon after that, Afflalo suffered a few scratches on his shoulder and forearm while being defended -- and at one point, was stripped of the ball -- by Will Bynum. And that was just the last 30 minutes of practice. Things look to be quite different under first-year coach Michael Curry, who put his players through a rigorous three-hour practice dominated by physical play that left players banged, bruised and with a better understanding of what he expects from them this sea
    son."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "The Cavaliers have invested millions of dollars in preventative maintenance. It includes all sorts of different pieces of equipment in their new practice facility to a small army of support personnel all the way to a hot tub the size of a studio apartment. But there's a new tactic being used in this new season, one more of philosophy than machinery. Now in his fourth season, Cavs coach Mike Brown opened the first two practices Tuesday by showing some new restraint. Once known for his marathon practice and shootaround sessions, he is attempting to think long-term and be concerned about some aging and overworked bodies on his team."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Just because he's done this a few times before -- try five times in the past four seasons -- doesn't make it any easier for Mo Evans to move into a new locker room. His latest move, however, comes with some added intrigue. Not only is he moving into the locker stall, roster spot and role vacated by former Hawks swingman Josh Childress, Evans has already moved into his No. 1 jersey as well. Childress moved on to Olympiakos in Greece after negotiations on a contract extension with the Hawks failed. That opened the door for Evans, who was also courted by Olympiakos before signing his three-year deal with Atlanta. Now he has to get up to speed quickly in order to assume the duties of Childress, who finished sixth in the voting for the NBA's sixth man award last season."

  • Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail: "They call him King, a clever if somewhat obvious nickname for someone with the last name Solomon. And there's no doubt that Will Solomon, a little-known point guard who could have a major impact on the Toronto Raptors' fortunes this season, gave up a king's ransom to leave Europe and return to the NBA this season. 'I left close to $2-million on the table,' he said at the Raptors' training camp in Ottawa, as he wrapped his knees in ice following his first practice with the team. 'But this is about me giving the NBA a shot again and focus on my career and see what I can do in the NBA.' That's fine for Solomon, who is slated to earn the NBA veteran minimum of $711,517 (all currency U.S.) this season, taking home a fifth of what he might have made in Europe. But for the Raptors, it's about finding some insurance at the point guard position if Jose Calderon should somehow falter in his first year as a full-time starter."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "What's new with the caped crusader, Dwight Howard? Must be the shoes. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who won the all-star dunk contest last season wearing a Superman outfit, has officially aligned with his alter ego in a working relationship with the comic-book trademark. He says he will wear the Superman emblem on the back of his basketball shoes in games, with more marketing tie-ins to come."

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "If he can play and still has that deadly stroke, then how come he didn't try to hook up with a contender? Karl Malone did that late in his career with the Lakers. When Reggie Miller thought about making a comeback last season, he considered the Celtics. Who wants to come back to this? 'I thought about going to a team like that, but this is much bigger than trying to go and satisfy my desire to win a title,' Allan Houston said. 'This is about...I am a Knick. This is about trying to do whatever I can to help the Knicks improve and lend whatever experience I have. This is not about me saying, 'I've got to go win my ring. ... You know, when I was younger, I had people like John Starks and Patrick (Ewing) and Oak (Charles Oakley), and they taught me what it means to work and what it takes to win,' he said. 'This is about me passing on whatever I've learned to the guys. So I figured, if I'm going to do this, why not do it here, where I have my legacy?'"

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "A day into Larry Brown's first camp as Bobcats coach, the culture change was evident. For all his teacher/scolder/nag reputation, Brown likes delegating authority to players and assistant coaches. Brown doesn't plan to fine players this season when they get out of line. He's trusting three veterans -- Felton, Richardson and Gerald Wallace -- to police the younger guys and each other. The idea: If you empower people -- give them some say in how things work -- they're accountable to each other, so things run more smoothly. That contrasts dramatically from how Brown's predecessor, Sam Vincent, ran things in his single season on the job."

  • Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "A year ago, the Boston Celtics added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a lineup that was already anchored by Paul Pierce and their 'Big Three' were considered an instant favorite to win it all. The Celtics wasted no time proving they were the team to beat. They won their first eight games, 20 of their first 22 and stood 29-3 after winning at Detroit on Jan. 5. That's showing you mean business. It's time the Rockets took a page out of that book. They have added Ron Artest to a lineup that already had Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming and there is no reason they shouldn't be a force right from opening night on Oct. 29."

  • David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: "Mark Cuban is in a reflective mood. It happens. Even tycoons take time away from their financial pursuits and conquests to breathe. The topic is his beloved Mavericks and former coach Avery Johnson. Cuban presides over a franchise that was two wins shy of a championship and now can't get out of the first round. He accepts responsibility for that humbling descent and vows to be more active this season as he moves forward with coach Rick Carlisle. Feel free to clap or shudder at this stage. Your reaction depends on your perception of Cuban."

  • Janny Hu of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Who says Corey Maggette can't play defense? The Warriors' biggest free-agent addition poked fun at both his reputation as a less-than-active defender and the criticism he took from ex-coach Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday as he swatted aside concerns over his one-dimensional game. 'I'm a good defender, I don't know what Dunleavy was talking about,' Maggette said, joking about his own reputation. 'I'm just playing. ... Sometimes you slack on defense and you get that (reputation). But my job is to come out here and play extremely hard on both ends of the court.' The Warriors, though, likely are looking more at offensive effort from Maggette, as the team brought in the $50 million consolation prize from this summer's free-agency sweepstakes to provide scoring."