Melody Gutierrez of the Sacramento Bee: "Kevin Martin knew he netted more than a sweet YouTube clip Monday when he crossed over Rudy Fernandez to dunk on Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge in the Kings' 112-98 loss to Portland. Martin also won a $1,000 bet with teammate Mikki Moore on who would be the first to dunk on Oden. 'I had to go get my money,' Martin said. Asked if he knew Oden and Aldridge would be there when he crossed over Fernandez, Martin laughed. 'Them guys have 7-(foot)-5 wingspans, so even if you don't think they are going to be there, they are going to be there,' Martin said. 'I'm glad they were there. I got a little richer today.'"
Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Crisis mode for the Lakers! Where are those MRI's from 2006, when Kobe Bryant had surgery on that knee?! How scary does it sound that the official statement from the Lakers was that Bryant would be "re-evaluated -- today?! We need more exclamation points! The whole hullaballoo is ridiculous, but that's the way it can get when the NBA's and the Lakers' worlds would turn so dramatically if Bryant were to be seriously injured. The reality is that Bryant just tweaked his knee -- landing with his right leg a bit too straight after bumping into teammate Josh Powell while still in the air -- and sat out the second half as a precaution. No one with the Lakers is concerned at all."
Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "A warning: By nature, I'm a contrarian and also a believer in the law of large numbers. I bring that up because, despite the 0-7 preseason, I think the smartest thing this continuously flawed Bobcats franchise has done of late is hire Larry Brown. You might not have noticed, but by definition preseason games don't count. They're public, so I'm paid to watch and scrutinize them, but I wonder: If the rehearsals for Phantom of the Opera didn't go well, would they have shut down the show before opening night? That's not to say there aren't problems. They're abundant. But the problems are more about the flaws in the roster than how the players are responding to Brown. They like that the guy sees, corrects and forgives. He's tough, but he's fair. And they need him to correct in the worst way."
Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "Steve Francis has a $2.6 million contract that is guaranteed for the season and presents a bit of a dilemma for the Rockets. They'd like to free up the room, but who would take him? And simply cutting Francis doesn't take his money of their payroll. You have to wonder. Are the Rockets coaches even concerning themselves with Francis? If he shows up, fine. If he doesn't, that's fine too. Maybe Adelman is just figuring he'll put him on the end of the bench and hope he goes away. Maybe if he comes to see that he's not anywhere in their plans, Francis could consider retiring, and the Rockets could apply for a medical waiver to remove his salary. At 31, he's not too old and decrepit. But coming off his recent seasons and coming off knee surgery, it will take harder work and greater commitment than at any time in his basketball career. You have to wonder about Steve Francis. Does he have it in him?"
Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "You already know that Sean Williams has probably slipped to third on the center depth chart, but he's oblivious to all that, and the coach will never state it publicly before the time comes to declare his rotation next Tuesday afternoon. For now, he only admits this much: 'Ah, I'm a little back-pedaling,' Williams said this morning, when we asked about the direction his preseason has taken. 'Just trying to run everything right, be in the right position and everything, and learn from that. It's time to click, you know?' He's trying. Nobody doubts that. This is no longer the goofy rookie that everyone just tolerates - he's still the exuberant teammate who will hug anyone that comes into his line of vision, but it's different now. He acts that way because he feels like he's a part of something. But despite all his hard work over the last five months, for some reason, he's not moving the needle."
Alan Hahn of Newsday: "This is a good group of guys. Amazingly good to deal with, considering the recent history of issues and controversy and blog wars between a player and reporter. They are just as aware as any of us about the culture issue that surrounds the team and the shock that is just starting to be felt by a new regime that intends to instill some long-lost accountability within the franchise. So you can understand the bunker mentality that exists right now. A few players got together in the locker room to incubate Jamal Crawford, who showed as much visble frustration as a gregarious man can show when he addressed questions about his lackluster performance so far in the preseason. Jamal's reply -- 'It's the preseason ... I don't take it that serious.' -- brought images of Allen Iverson. It's practice, man ... I mean we talkin' practice!"
John Denton of Florida Today: "Magic general manager Otis Smith has been away from the team the past three days scouting other NBA rosters. Smith is contemplating adding a third point guard to the roster in the wake of Mike Wilks' season-ending knee injury. Smith also could dangle Bogans and/or Brian Cook to possibly lure another point guard or power forward."
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Salim Stoudamire, who is having to deal with a strained groin in his fight to make the Spurs' roster, participated fully in Wednesday morning's shootaround and could play in tonight's preseason game against Washington, according to the team's medical staff. Rookie point guard George Hill, who is battling a sprained thumb on his left (non-shooting) hand, also went through practice Wednesday, but will be held out of the game for precautionary reasons. Hill is expected to return for Friday's preseason finale against Miami."
Dwight Jaynes.com: "Sure, he's going to deal out a whole lot of punishment, but he's going to take plenty of it, too. Because of Greg Oden's power, teams are going to deal with him in a different way than they do with players of average strength. They aren't going to want to see those monstrous, two-handed dunks. Even though Oden shoots foul shots much better than Shaq, teams are still going to try to keep him from dunking -- the points are too easy and it's, in some cases, too humiliating to see a player that dominant throwing the ball down on your head. But the problem is, to stop him from dunking is going to take a pretty big effort. Maybe by more than one player. So you're going to see some pretty ph
ysical stuff. You're going to see people hanging all over him, in fact. We're already seeing it and he's just begun his career. It's going to get much more physical for him and I hope he sees it coming and continues to work in the weight room to get as much muscle on his body as he can, as protection."
Scott Howard-Cooper of the Sacramento Bee: "Shaquille O'Neal and Grant Hill want to buy the Orlando Magic. Not right now. Shaq has two seasons on his deal, won't walk away from $20 million per, may play beyond that contrary to previous reports that 2009-10 is definitely his last, and Hill is in a contract year and interested in returning. He may not be done for a while either. But the Suns teammates are serious about this. At some point, probably soon after they retire, O'Neal and Hill, former Magic players who still make their permanent homes in a mega-money Orlando enclave, will talk with executives to see if the team is available. How serious? They have already talked about it together, a lot. They have already made their feelings known to CEO and president Bob Vander Weide, the son-in-law of owner Rich DeVos. They have, both report independently, already lined up additional investors."