Ah, yes, media day across the NBA is upon us once again. The hardwood is polished, player edition sneaker boxes line the locker room, our Twitter feed is chalk full of goodies, Ira Winderman is as giddy as a schoolboy despite the fact that Brian Windhorst will cover the Miami Heat for ESPN, and the smell of freshly cut grass and hot dogs wafts through the air. Wait, scratch that last part. After a long and tumultuous summer, all 30 teams are fully assembled yet again as they prepare for their first practices which begin Tuesday. New faces are introduced to the media as well as the new numbers and jerseys that the players will don this year. The new adidas jerseys seem to carry a promise similar to that of PF Flyers. Yes, all is right with the league, faces are smiling, players are sounding allegiance to their teams, and every team garners some hope for the coming season. Well, not exactly. The Timberwolves have all but ruled out a championship run. Other teams are likely to follow suit in due time.
Since the two man staff here at the beef is not yet of the press ilk that are invited to events such as media day we will do our best to keep you informed of all the happening around the league. Here is what is transpiring across the NBA on the first day of the new season. Let the games…err, practices begin.
As of today the most pressing issue that has faced the league is where Carmelo Anthony will end up. Today, he reported to the Nuggets media day, spoke to the press, and will attend practices tomorrow. So much for the nonsensical rumor that he might not show up to camp. Who would honestly believe that anyway? The only possible scenario that would involve him not appearing at camp with the Nuggets would have been if he had been traded. They still pay him after all. The least he can do is show up. Anthony’s entire stance during the “Melo Drama,” as it is being universally called now, has been one of silence. He even went so far as to say that he never publically requested a trade. Adding further that, “I’m leaving my options open.” Really, ‘Melo? You are leaving your options open? Who could have guessed?
Anthony is likely leaving his options open because of the faltering four team deal that would end up sending him to New Jersey. Why is deal faltering? Anthony does not want to be sent to a Nets squad that will be forced to give up former All Star point guard Devin Harris, who is not too thrilled about his role as trade bait of late, to the Charlotte Bobcats which would leave the reigns of the offense in the hands of Jordan Farmar. If you ever watched Farmar quarterback in Los Angeles you too would have second thoughts about this arrangement. Naturally, Chris Paul entered the conversation because of his insistence that the New Orleans Hornets trade him after he ‘witnessed’ the scorched earth tactics of some of his fellow Beijingers. Yet, Paul could not be acquired by the Nets either later this season or in 2012 due to the teams issues with cap room if they did trade for Anthony and have him sign an extension with them.
Further complicating the proposed deal is the statement that the Utah Jazz made today concerning their role in the trade. In the original package, the Jazz were to send Andrei Kirilenko to the Nuggets. Now they are saying that they have no intention of moving the Russian box score stuffer. This is the second time a team has had misgivings about this deal. Charlotte did not want to move D.J. Augustin. Despite that, however, the deal appeared to be moving forward, albeit at the speed of molasses. As the four way trade began to catch snags other teams stepped up with offers of their own.
The Philadelphia 76ers were said to have been using the likes of Andre Iguodala to lure Denver into a trade for Antony. Then, the Golden State Warriors hoped into the fray with a half-hearted offer including Stephen Curry. Hell, even the Minnesota Timberwolves got involved. Everyone wants a piece of Carmelo Anthony. It was joked that any Minnesota deal for Anthony would require a point guard to be sent to the Timberwolves. Each of these potential deals was quickly shot down be one of the sides involved. Now that media day has drawn to an end, however, and Anthony has still not been traded, the goal of the Nuggets is to get him thinking about remaining in Denver. They might not get him to sign the extension they offered him but they could convince him to stick around a bit longer. At least that is their end goal even though it may appear futile at this point.
Jazz fans can rest easier tonight knowing that the team does not plan on moving Kirilenko and that Kyrylo Fesenko did not turn up in Houston for media day. Fesenko, after a long holdout, decided to resign with Utah. When asked why he did not take the Rockets’ offer he simply said that he did not want to move. The Jazz now have two viable options at center, the other being Francisco Elson, while Mehmet Okur is out. At present there is no set time table for Okur’s return. Even better news for the jazz is that Deron Williams has his eyes set on making new teammate, Al Jefferson, an All Star this year. That should not be that hard given Jefferson’s skill sets but his health will always be the one thing holding him back.
Unlike Fesenko, Erick Dampier still has yet to find a team to call home. However, the list he made is down to four potential suitors but only one will receive a rose from Dampier. Those teams are the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trailblazers, and the Toronto Raptors. If Dampier hopes to attend the playoffs this year in uniform rather than in the stands, he really has just three choices.
Another player who has been involved in the trade buzz over the summer is Rudy Fernandez. For quite some time it was rumored that the Chicago Bulls had interest in the Blazers’ spark off the bench. Well, that was then and this is now. Today, Fernandez tweeted (yes, we use Twitter as a valid source of information) that he “prefers the European style” and “I don’t feel good in NBA.” Wow, talk about a buzz kill. No one will touch him with a 10 pole now let alone want to trade for him. Can anyone explain why these Spaniards dislike the NBA so much? Pau and Marc Gasol seem to like it just fine. What is it about Spain? Is it their three hour lunches followed by a siesta every day? Is it the Iberian weather? Is the work ethic in the NBA too much for them? Seriously, throw us a bone. We have no clue what their deal is.
At least one European expressed his interest to remain in the NBA today and with the same team nonetheless. Tony Parker, after having been connected to joining Amar’e Stoudemire in New York to play for the Knicks at the start of the summer, reaffirmed his commitment to the San Antonio Spurs. “I hope Spurs fans know I want to stay here … I’m going to take Manu’s example from last year,” Parker said. The only example that we can think of that Manu Ginobili has ever set is flopping 101. Essentially, Parker will continue to end up on the floor 87 percent of the time he drives the lane for the Spurs for years to come.
Gilbert Arenas is back. Gone are the days of treating the locker room like it was the OK Corral. This is a new Agent Zero. Wait, he changed his number. He now wears the number nine. So what are the fans and media supposed to call him now? That is presently up for debate on Twitter with some of the better ones being “Cloud 9,” “The Ninth Wonder,” and “District 9.” Seeing as how he plays for the team located in the District of Columbia, “District 9” seems to be the most apropos. Hopefully that one will stick.
“I’ve gotten better.” Those simple three words are how Kevin Durant described his game today. He still does not think that he is on the same level of LeBron James, however. Durant is a modest player. Obviously, Durant is not on the same level as James. No, he surpassed that level this summer. He surpassed him in Turkey, he surpassed him in scoring last year, and he will surpass him in MVP votes this year. It is a good thing that Durant has such a good head on his shoulders. It would be a shame if he became “one of them” and did it all for the celebrity of it.
In some lighter news, Eddy Curry, the much maligned and hamburger loving center for the Knicks, injured his hamstring to day during running drills in which he was lapped several times. Mike D’Antoni must have been running them hard today. It must be noted that he was lapped before he pulled his hamstring. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. Curry, looked to be the third string center going into this season despite being paid around $11 million. The Knicks are going play some of their preseason games in Europe but Curry will not travel with the team because of his injury. The whole of Knicks fandom should jointly look up to the sky, shake their fists and yell, “ISIAH!!!” Go ahead, do it. You will feel better.
The Sacramento Kings probably will not make any playoff ripples this season, but that is not stopping one of their players from wanting to make as big an impact as he can. DeMarcus Cosins wants to be the Rookie of the Year. “When I’m on the court, I’m trying to show you … especially the people that doubted my basketball skills,” Cousins said. “I want to be the Rookie of the Year. I didn’t get a chance to be the Player of the Year in college. I need my own individual award. I want mine.” That should keep the cowbells ringing at Arco. At least half of the staff at the Beef gives him a legitimate shot at taking the honor home with him this year.
Down the 101 in Los Angeles, new Clippers head coach, Vinny Del Negro, is already complaining that Baron Davis is fat. Guess he has been hiding a second chin under that beard for all these years. This story has dominated all Clippers coverage so far. Blake Griffin seems to be a complete after thought…just like the Clippers themselves. It really is too bad that Eric Gordon is relegated to play for that organization. He needs to demand a trade.
As people who follow the Dallas Mavericks have come to expect over recent years, the Mavs began their season touting their roster depth at media day. It is beginning to sound like a record skipping. (Do kids even know what records are anymore?) The Mavericks are easily one of the most consistently deep teams put together every year. This season, however, they have one glaring omission. There is not a traditional power forward to back up Dirk Nowitzki. Time at the backup four spot will likely be given to Shawn Marion but that makes for a small lineup. Playing the four is nothing new to Marion but a more serviceable big might be needed down the stretch. Depth at the guard will also be an issue with Rodrigue Beaubois being out with a foot injury to start the season. The Mavericks had hoped to start the young and explosive guard alongside Jason Kidd this season in an effort to ease him into a replacement role down the road. Those plans will have to be put on hold for the moment.
These are just some of the stories facing the teams as the season gets underway. Soon the squeak of rubber on wood floors will be heard in 30 different places as players either try to make the cut or work on finding their rhythm after a long summer. What media day brings everyone is a great sigh of relief. Now all the filler stories and rumors can stop being written and everyone can get back to the business of basketball. What the upcoming season may hold no one knows. What is certain after media day, however, is that everyone still hates the Miami Heat.