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dirt_dobber
09-07-2005, 01:46 PM
(Good article after you get by the Spurs propaganda)

Steve Aschburner / Sports Xchange
Posted: 16 hours ago

With less than a month to go before the opening of NBA training camps, it probably isn't too soon to proclaim the San Antonio Spurs as the most improved team in the league.

That must be a sobering thought to the NBA's other 29 clubs, given that the Spurs along with their off-season enhancements also are in current possession of the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The defending NBA champions added two still-dangerous veterans in Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel while importing another frontcourt player from overseas in Fabricio Oberto. Unlike many teams, the Spurs weren't in need of a major overhaul and weren't desperate to excite their fan base; they simply needed to address a few subtle needs.

It doesn't hurt, either, that beating out Phoenix, Minnesota and Miami for Finley delivered blows to two Western Conference rivals and one of the top title contenders from the East. Detroit and a few other clubs had hoped to recruit Finley, too, and he wound up staying in the very same division with the team that cut him loose. So Dallas figures to suffer some payback pain as well.

Van Exel, who considered retirement last season when it became clear Portland wasn't going to pick up a $14 million option on his contract, now gets the chance to chase a ring and prove to critics that he can be good for both winning and chemistry. San Antonio's coaches and players clearly won't tolerate any antics from a role player, as Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson learned when he came aboard last season.

For now, tough head coach Gregg Popovich is likening Van Exel's acquisition to the Spurs' addition a couple of years ago of forward Robert Horry. Both have been known in their careers for clutch performances, but Horry's generally have come at bigger, postseason moments.

Now Van Exel, if he is able to stay healthy and humble, might get the same chance.
"Hey, I'm coachable now," Van Exel joked at the press conference introducing him as a Spur.
Funny how that happens when players sign on in San Antonio.
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Atlantic

# Boston guard Tony Allen was sought by Chicago police over the weekend in connection with a shooting at a Windy City restaurant. The shooting allegedly occurred at a party in which Allen and Celtics rookie Will Bynum, both Chicago natives, were celebrating Bynum's new contract. A Chicago man who might have had a dispute with Allen was wounded in the shooting. The Celtics referred reporters to Allen's representatives, who declined or were unavailable to comment. ...

# Feeling a little burned in its unsuccessful attempts because of failed physicals to land Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Robert Traylor, New Jersey has turned to Houston free agent Scott Padgett. The 6-foot-9 Padgett, not a classic power forward, reportedly will play for a one-year deal worth $1.6 million, with the Nets holding an option for another season. ...

# New York coach Larry Brown hired two of his former assistants from Detroit to join him on the Knicks bench. David Hanners and Phil Ford, both former North Carolina players like Brown, will join Herb Williams on the Knicks' staff. ...

# The good news is that Philadelphia forward Chris Webber easily can whip out a checkbook and write a check for $100,025. The bad news is that he had to, as payment of his fine for misdemeanor contempt after lying to a federal grand jury investigating booster payments to the power forward during his time at the University of Michigan. While the court got paid, Michigan wasn't so fortunate, failing in its legal bid to have Webber reimburse the university for a claimed $700,000 in legal fees and NCAA penalty costs. ...

# To open a spot on its roster for a third point guard, Toronto wound up eating the $5.25 million remaining on veteran forward Lamond Murray's contract, releasing Murray. That pushes past $10 million the money owed this season to players no longer with the Raptors, including Alonzo Mourning and Nate Huffman.

Central
# Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry came into the league together as rookies in 2001, high school projects who developed more slowly than some Chicago Bulls fans would have liked. Curry edged ahead in terms of performance, but Chandler roared past him last week in compensation, agreeing to a six-year deal worth an estimated $63 million for the 7-foot-1 forward/center. Curry, of course, remains in a limbo of sorts because of his heart condition, which wiped out his market as a restricted free agent and might have him back in Chicago this season on a one-year deal worth $5.1 million. ...

# Forward Anderson Varejao's surgery on his right shoulder is expected to sideline him for as long as five months, which has Cleveland considering options for a replacement. Varejao, injured in international play last month, averaged 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 54 games as a rookie in 2004-05. ...

# Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups, who learned to stand up for himself when dealing with coach Larry Brown, stood up for teammate Darko Milicic in regards to Brown during a recent radio interview. Billups said that Brown was too hard on the young big man, limiting his ability to contribute and develop in two seasons together with the Pistons. "He tore the kid's confidence apart," Billups said in the interview. "It was tough for him to recover. ... The kid has unbelievable talent." ...

# A team that battled injuries (among other things) last season at least should open up with a relatively healthy squad. Indiana has no injury concerns right here, right now, heading toward the start of training camp, the Indianapolis Star reported. Jamaal Tinsley, Jonathan Bender, Jeff Foster, Jermaine O'Neal, David Harrison and newcomer Danny Granger all are said to have recovered from their various ailments and should be ready to go. ...

# Milwaukee has pledged $500,000 to the relief efforts in New Orleans through various charitable organizations. Said Bucks VP of business operations John Steinmiller of the team's donations to the Red Cross and the United Way: "We felt the urgency of the situation and how we might be able to help those organizations in the first phase of the relief efforts."

Southeast

# The Atlanta Hawks added three players to the group that will open training camp, signing guards Tyronn Lue and Salim Stoudamire and center John Edwards. Lue started 46 games for the Hawks last season but is slated to serve as a backup to newly acquired Joe Johnson in the team's taller backcourt. Stoudamire was the first pick of the second round in the June NBA draft and is believed to have received a deal worth significantly more than the league's rookie minimum. ...

# Loyalty was the key issue for Charlotte guard Matt Carroll in returning to the Bobcats for their second season. Carroll averaged 9.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 25 appearances after joining Charlotte in February and thinks the fledgling team represents his best chance to earn minutes. ...

# The chance to play with Shaquille O'Neal, a likely spot in the starting lineup and a bigger paycheck weren't enough to lure Michael Finley to Miami. Finley chose to join the San Antonio Spurs for half ($2.5 million) of what the Heat were offering him and wasn't even swayed by the presence, in Stan Van Gundy, of his college coach at Wisconsin. The veteran's decision sent Miami back into the free-agent shopping market, its $5 million mid-level exception intact but the talent shelves rapidly short on inventory. ...

# During an appearance at an elementary school, Orlando forward Dwight Howard presented the administration with a $15,000 check and good-naturedly quizzed the kids who met with him. "We've had NBA people here before," assistant principal Elvis Epps told the Orlando Sentinel, "but none of them seemed to enjoy it as much as he did." ...

# Washington guard Gilbert Arenas spent nearly $20,000 on clothes and toiletries, then delivered them to the D.C. Armory for about 400 former New Orleans residents who are due to arrive by bus seeking shelter from the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. "I'm just trying to do my part and help out as much as I can," Arenas told the Washington Post. "While everyone's watching on TV, they need to be helping at the same time."

Southwest

# The disaster in New Orleans hit especially close to home for Dallas head coach Avery Johnson, who grew up in that city and still has much of his family there. Two of Johnson's sisters stayed behind when Hurricane Katrina hit, and Johnson was attempting to contact them over the weekend. "It's devastating what has happened to everyone," Johnson said. "This tragedy didn't hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It hit America." ...
# Houston was successful in one of its franchise-defining moments, signing center Yao Ming to a five-year maximum-salary contract extension that could be worth about $72.5 million to the Chinese big man and, presumably, far more to the Rockets. "This is as important as anything I've done as an owner," the Rockets' Leslie Alexander said. ...

# New Memphis point guard Damon Stoudamire knows that, with some fans, he will face a difficult sales job in getting them to forget his predecessor, Jason Williams. "J-Will, he was kind of the face of this team," Stoudamire acknowledged recently. "When you lose somebody like that, you reserve judgment to see for yourself. That's just human nature." Stoudamire will be helped in that sales job by former Sacramento veteran Bobby Jackson. ...

# It's low on the city's list of priorities at the moment, and maybe not entirely altruistic, but the general manager of a basketball arena in San Diego has offered his building to the New Orleans Hornets as a temporary home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Ernie Hahn of the ipayOne Center told the San Diego Union-Tribune: "They're going to have to play somewhere pretty quick and it's not going to be ideal because they're not playing in New Orleans." Oklahoma City and Nashville have made similar overtures, while the NBA sorts out the logistics and limitations in New Orleans. Hornets GM Allen Bristow said the team would hold its training camp at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs from Oct. 4-12.

Northwest

# Denver wound up as the surprise winner in the great Earl Watson sweepstakes, agreeing to a five-year deal worth about $29 million for the feisty point guard. The Nuggets initially seemed like a long shot for Watson, who attracted more public interest from three or four rivals, but apparently were pursuing him through agent Dan Fegan for a long time. Watson, who averaged 7.7 points and 4.5 assists, is said to be looking forward to playing for coach George Karl, a factor in his choice of Denver. ...

# Minnesota thought it was trying to instill chemistry and familiarize players with a new coaching staff and philosophy. But the NBA took a different view of its weekend gathering in Las Vegas in August, seeing it as a salary-cap violation and fining the club $200,000. This is the Timberwolves' second breach of the salary cap in six years, including the illegal contracts signed by forward Joe Smith in January 1999. The team declined to comment on the latest violation. ...

# Portland's reputation for outlaws was part of its winning formula, according to recently departed Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire. "People in Portland might not like to hear this," Stoudamire told The Oregonian, "but what we had, what made us good, was that we were nasty. We weren't nice guys, we were a nasty team to play against. ... Then the off-court stuff started to happen and people were traded, and as the players changed, the attitude changed." ...

# By signing center Mikki Moore to a two-year contract, Seattle added depth -- if not a lot of bulk -- under the basket. The slender Moore becomes part of the Sonics' group effort at center after spending last season with the Clippers, for whom he averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds. ...

# Utah continued to shore up its backcourt, signing San Antonio free agent Devin Brown along with journeyman point guard Milt Palacio. Brown, though he grew up in San Antonio, actually was born in Salt Lake City.

Pacific

# A $7,000 monthly tab for child support is pretty hefty, but it's nothing compared to the $45,426 sought by the mother of Golden State guard Jason Richardson's 5-year-old daughter. A Michigan judge upheld the lower figure, ordered back in August. Richardson is scheduled to make almost $9 million from the Warriors this season, with a multiyear deal that will pay him more than $14 million in its final season. ...

# It took awhile, but second-round pick Daniel Ewing finally signed his contract with the L.A. Clippers, agreeing to a deal worth $1.8 million over three years. Ewing averaged 11.6 points and 2.1 assists over four seasons at Duke and showed promise by contributing 8.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Clippers' entry in the Las Vegas summer league. ...

# It didn't go so well when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar served as a big man consultant for the Clippers Michael Olowokandi either didn't want or couldn't benefit from the legendary center's coaching but Abdul-Jabbar is going to try it again with his old club. Abdul-Jabbar will coach the L.A. Lakers' big men, with special emphasis on 17-year-old rookie Andrew Bynum. "In the last 10 years, we did not have a group (of centers) that would have been as receptive," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. ...

# Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire is in line for a five-year extension worth $72.6 million, the same deal Houston center Yao Ming recently agreed to with the Rockets. Stoudemire is due to be paid $2.6 million in 2005-06 in the final season of his rookie contract, then would bump up to $12 million for 2006-07. ...

# The Sacramento Kings, along with the WNBA Monarchs, have been brainstorming for ideas to raise donation money to help with the relief efforts in New Orleans. One possibility, according to a Kings spokesperson, is to auction off special "experiences," such as meetings with players, coaches or owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. The teams also have discussed the possibility of helping families of the New Orleans Hornets.

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dirt_dobber
09-07-2005, 02:02 PM
Link to the above story:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/4844596

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