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10-16-2003, 01:03 PM

LeBron's Up, Courtney's Down
Shootaround: Ex-Mav May Miss Season

By Tim McDarby -- DallasBasketball.com
It’s never too early to start thinking about holiday shopping. What do you give the LeBron James fan on your list? That's just part of today's Shootaround. ...
The Cavaliers Team Shop can meet all your needs from the $6 LeBron pin, to the ‘I Love #23’ $23 rhinestone pin!
They also sell 4-types of LeBron jerseys ranging from $43-550 for the ‘pro cut’.
Somewhere the NBA’s merchandising department is very happy!

Former Maverick guard Courtney Alexander of the New Orleans Hornets will miss at least two months (if not the season) after tearing his Achilles tendon Tuesday night.
"It's a huge blow to lose Courtney," Hornets All-Star guard Baron Davis said. "He was really coming into his own, giving us that scoring punch off the bench. We've got to find someone to replace him."
Alexander really had been asserting himself during the preseason and had spent most of the summer in a rigorous conditioning program.
"It was like a morgue in here (locker room), because everyone knows what Courtney put in this preseason," coach Tim Floyd said. "He was ready to go out and have a great year."
Floyd is considering using Stacey Augmon at Alexander's backup shooting guard spot, and also working Bryce Drew into the rotation.
"Stacey has really showed me a lot," Floyd said. "I'm amazed how he approaches on the defensive end. I haven't lost confidence in Bryce Drew."

It could be a long season for Detroit’s top pick Darko Milicic.
“The kid should be a senior in high school,” says his coach Larry Brown. “He’s worried about getting a drivers license and adjusting to a whole new way of life.”
Don’t think the Pistons regret taking Milicic with the third overall pick.
“He still growing and has amazing skills for a player his age and size,” said Brown. “He’s gonna have a tough road, because he won’t have near the immediate impact of LeBron (James in Cleveland), Carmelo (Anthony in Denver) and the kid Bosh (Chris from Dallas’ Lincoln High now with Toronto).”
As a matter of fact, Bosh ‘schooled’ Milicic earlier in the preseason.
"I just want to caution people that there will be nights when Chris struggles,'' Raptor coach Kevin O'Neill said. "To me, Chris Bosh has played well in each game.
"He plays hard. He knows what he's doing. What you're seeing is basically what we thought we'd be seeing."

Is there a reason for optimism in Atlanta? The Hawks are very pleased about the added size and conditioning of Jason Terry and Nazr Mohammed.
Terry, who was signed to a 3 yr/$22.5-million deal, has added about 15 pounds of muscle to his 6’2” frame and is showing coach Terry Stotts that he’s a player to build around.
"He has more confidence," Stotts said. "Whether he's the [point] or the [shooting guard], he's in a position where he's got to direct things on the floor. He's more in tune with the things he has to do on the floor."
"I have to be a lot more mature and focus on the minor details," Terry said. "Controlling the game on both ends of the court. Taking care of the ball. Getting my guys involved. Getting everybody emotionally ready -- all the little things that it takes to become a successful point guard. And all of those little things will translate into wins for us."
"I've been getting better every year, and the one thing I haven't done is become a leader consistently," Terry said. "All the great point guards are."
Mohammed has dropped nearly 20 pounds and impressed all with his newfound work ethic.
"I'm extremely determined to rebound from last year because I felt like I didn't play. It was almost like I sat out," said Mohammed, who saw action in just 35 games. "Hopefully, I won't have to endure anything like that again."
Mohammed is also comfortable with being constantly mentioned in trade rumors because of his $5-million salary.
"As long as I'm in the league, I'm probably going to be mentioned in trade rumors," Mohammed said. "I learned early on in my career (in Philadelphia) when Theo (Ratliff) had an All-Star year, and we all got traded here, anyone can be traded. But I like Atlanta. I want to be a part of something I helped build."

Remember when Michigan State’s Mateen Cleeves was the ‘point guard of the future’? Well apparently the NBA is ready for his kind of future. The Celtics cut Cleeves on Tuesday and his former coach says he might still get a chance.
"I still think he'll get picked up by an NBA team, but if he doesn't, I think he'll go play in Europe," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
"Mateen hasn't really played for two years and has been set back by injury, so he's rusty right now," Izzo said. "He didn't get much of a chance to play in Boston because they have so many guaranteed contracts and I think that was the biggest problem."
Isn’t it always something?

One night after yelling during the game about his need for another big-time contract, Shaquille O’Neal followed up his effort the next night by refusing to talk to reporters after struggling with his bad heel.
After a MRI revealed his injury as a bruise, Shaq is now being held out of exhibition action.
"We talked about it and I asked him how he felt about playing or not playing and what his feeling was," Phil Jackson said. "He said he'd just as soon not have a nagging injury affect him and maybe break into more than just a training camp injury, but also affect his regular-season play. So, we're going to try to get that soreness of the heel before he plays."
"I'm not going to make a presumption about when he can play again," Jackson said. "We'd love to have him on the court. We think playing together with Karl and Gary is really a remedy for the ball club. But, right now, the regular season's what counts."
Asked whether he feared the injury would become an issue into the regular season, O'Neal said, "I won't let it be an issue."

The Shootaround has good connections with those who cover the Lakers for a living. One tells us this whole Kobe thing is the most amazing distraction he’s ever seen and that if the Lakers start to losing, they will grow very tired of having to answer questions about America’s most popular defendant.

Jerry Sloan is ready for the season to start. He blasted his Jazz after scoring only 6 points in the first 9 minutes Tuesday night vs. the Knicks in Boise, Idaho.
"We didn't run the floor very hard. It looked like they beat us down the floor every time. We weren't a factor at all on defense," the coach said. "Look, we don't have the luxury of getting warmed up for a quarter. We'll be down 15 points ordinarily."
How down is Sloan on his team after a 27-turnover “effort”?
"Obviously, New York is a much better team than we are," grumbled Sloan.
Now them is fightin’ words.