CBS Sports Garry Parrish on the impact of Kansas freshman Joel Embiid who is emerging as the top 2014 NBA draft prospect:
LAWRENCE, Kan. — It was clear in the preseason, if you spoke with anybody on the Kansas staff, that Bill Self and his assistants believed they had something special in Joel Embiid.
The freshman big was getting a fraction of the attention reserved for Andrew Wiggins.
But his so-called ceiling, they quietly insisted, was just as high.
Perhaps even higher.
I realized this for the first time in late September when I attended a KU practice while in town. I returned home still intrigued by Wiggins, of course, for all of the obvious reasons. But the lasting image from that trip was one of Embiid — alone on the court, perfecting post moves, smiling when his coaches instructed him to show me his Dream Shake.
Everything Embiid did seemed so natural.
SI’s Ian Thomsen on the mutual respect and bond between under rated Spurs PG Tony Parker and his coach Greg Popovich:
Some NBA coaches wouldn’t know how to say it. Some NBA stars wouldn’t know how to listen. Those people have nothing in common with Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker.
“Pop, he was like, ‘Are you going to shoot sometimes during the season?’ ” Parker recalled. “He was just messing with me. He was telling me he wanted me to be more aggressive.”
Parker had been shooting poorly as San Antonio headed out last week on a six-game trip through the East. Popovich knew what to say and how to say it: He has been coaching Parker for 12 seasons and knows how to criticize his point guard without doing harm to their relationship. Over the first four games of that road trip — all won by the Spurs — Parker was shooting 61.9 percent and averaging 26.5 points. The relationship with his coach continues to grow.
The NY Times examines Jay-Z’s influence on re-branding the new Brooklyn Nets, a small investment yielding big results:
When the developer Bruce Ratner set out to buy the New Jersey Nets and build an arena for them in Brooklyn, he recruited Jay-Z, the hip-hop superstar who grew up in public housing a couple of miles from the site, to join his group of investors.
Mr. Ratner may have thought he was getting little more than a limited partner with a boldface name and a youthful following that could prove useful someday. But Jay-Z’s contributions have dwarfed the $1 million he invested nine years ago. His influence on the project has been wildly disproportionate to his ownership stake — a scant one-fifteenth of one percent of the team. And so is the money he stands to make from it.
Now, with the long-delayed Barclays Center arena nearing opening night in September and the Nets bidding in earnest for Brooklyn’s loyalties, Jay-Z will perform eight sold-out shows to kick things off. But away from center stage he has put his mark on almost every facet of the enterprise, his partners say.
The Point Forward’s Zach Lowe outlines several teams who fared well this summer during the NBA’s Free Agency signing period:
It’s offseason evaluation time! We’ll be splitting up the team-by-team assessments into several posts over the next week or so, starting here with teams that, at least from this vantage point, have little hindsight-based hand-wringing to do. Other posts will include teams that have us worried, teams that generally stood pat (and whether that was a good thing) and the teams that have us most intrigued based on the moves they made and the directions open to them now. Keep that last part in mind if you think your team had a successful offseason and it is not mentioned below.
For today: The Lakers, Hawks, Heat, Warriors and Hornets made some fairly dramatic moves and should be very happy with them.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN takes a close look at the route new Blazers GM Neil Olshey took from actor to hustler to NBA Exec:
July 2, 2010 was a bright Friday in Cleveland. Early that afternoon, Los Angeles Clippersvice president of operations Neil Olshey and team president Andy Roeser arrived at the headquarters of LRMR, the marketing firm owned by LeBron James and Maverick Carter.
The Clippers, set to pitch themselves as the best match for James’ talents, were being ridiculed like an eccentric presidential candidate on a quixotic campaign. They didn’t seriously think an athlete as brand-conscious as James would suit up for them, did they?
Olshey had heard the snickers from around the league and the web. Privately, he was well aware that, next to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat, the Clippers were the paupers at the garden party. Basketball luminary Sonny Vaccaro had helped Olshey broker the meeting as a favor, and Olshey’s expectations that James would be his starting small forward in 2010-11 were modest.
“We were on an audition and everyone else was on a callback,” Olshey said. “The other teams that were in there were already further down the road with [James] than we were. We were trying to play comeback ball.”
The Clippers took a minimalist approach with their presentation. Olshey couldn’t brandish any championship rings, and he wasn’t flanked by a hip-hop icon. There were no PowerPoints diagraming how becoming a Clipper would make James a billionaire, or rosy testimonials about the franchise’s storied history.