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The Opening Tip: Friday, March 11

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  • Sam Amick, NBA Confidential: “Carmelo Anthony joined Amar’e Stoudemire in New York, of course, with eight months of maneuverings mercifully ending with the nine-player trade with Denver that made Madison Square Garden his new home on Feb. 22. But a Monday visit from Utah brought with it a retroactive hypothetical, as Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor made Knicks president Donnie Walsh aware for the first time that it could have been Deron Wiliams wearing the Knicks jersey and not Anthony if those days and dealings had gone differently. As O’Connor told Walsh approximately an hour before the game and would later repeat in an interview with NBA Confidential, he targeted the Nets’ and Knicks’ assets and decided to play the waiting game. Somebody would lose in the Anthony sweepstakes, and that team would immediately hear from O’Connor to discuss a marvelous Plan B. New Jersey played that role in the end, jumping at the chance to give the Jazz the same package they’d presented to the Nuggets in order to land Williams after Anthony went to New York and signed a three-year, $65 million extension.
    O’Connor said other teams had inquired about the All-Star point guard in the days leading up to the deal, but not the Knicks or the Nets. New Jersey general manager Billy King said the possibility was first raised after Anthony was traded. … While Walsh is certainly thrilled to land Anthony, he admitted the notion of landing Wililams would have been appealing had he known he was on the market. Asked if things might have turned out differently if he was privy to that information, Walsh said with a shrug when asked by NBA Confidential, ‘it might have.’”
  • Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: “Rockets center Yao Ming can’t know whether he will play again, but he is certain he’s not ready for his career to be over yet. Facing the possibility that his inability to play without injury would end his career or prompt him to choose to retire, Yao said for the first time since his injury he hopes to come back from the stress fracture that ended his season in November. ‘I’ll try continuing,’ Yao said Thursday. ‘A lot will depend on this foot.’ Asked if he believes he will play again, he said, ‘That’s the direction.’ In the final season of his contract, Yao added he hopes to be back with the Rockets.”
  • Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports:  “Kobe Bryant had come back into the empty arena, his gray Lakers T-shirt soaked with sweat as the shots kept arcing into the night. The clock lurched toward midnight, the clean-up crew stuffed popcorn boxes and wrappers into trash bags and the NBA’s most maniacal talent wouldn’t leave the gym. He had returned to shoot for an hour and a half on the Heat’s floor, to go back to work, launching hundreds of jumpers and inspiring a spectacle born of obsession and manipulation. This was for him. This was for them. This was because Bryant can still see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in June, that the Miami Heat are still championship contenders. This was a complete mind game from Bryant, but also a concession of respect that he hasn’t counted out the fledgling Heat in the Eastern Conference the way some have gone and buried them. This is the way he sends messages, the way he shows respect. The Lakers have lost twice to the Heat now, and part of Bryant understands he won’t win his sixth title unless these Lakers can beat them four times this spring. … He was beating himself up on the floor late Thursday, stealing the stage and sending a bleep-you to James and Wade: Enjoy your night out after a big March victory, because I’m staying back to turn out the lights in your gymnasium. Bryant wanted the workout, wanted the chance to cleanse himself of missed shots and missed opportunities in the final minutes. Mostly, he wanted James and Wade to understand the lengths they’ll need to go to take his title away. ‘This is my job,’ Bryant would say 2½ hours after the game, slumped in a chair courtside. ‘This is what you’re supposed to do …’”
  • Marcus Thompson II,  San Jose Mercury News: “[Warriors owner Joe] Lacob has yet to make a move to excite the loyal following. He fired coach Don Nelson, whom he described as ‘a problem.’ But he didn’t hire the proven replacement many craved. Then the trade deadline passed with the Warriors getting only a second-round pick. And the team probably will miss the postseason for the 16th time in 17 years. ‘You don’t learn everything about a business overnight, or even in three months,’ Lacob said. ‘I think that’s what’s hard for people. They don’t get that. If you’ve never been in a business or run a business, you think we can just come in and it’s all obvious.  For a fan, it’s very easy to just snap your fingers and say do this or do that. Or fire this guy. Or hire that guy. Or trade for this guy. But it’s not that simple. I may think I know, but you want to take a little bit of time to make sure you understand exactly what you’re doing.’  And he is confident of better days ahead.”
  • Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: “Andrew Bynum finally had a bad night.  In a sign of how far the Lakers’ center had progressed, it was difficult to call 13 points and 12 rebounds a bad experience, but he insisted on it. ‘It took me a while to get going today. I don’t really know why,’ Bynum said after the Lakers’ 94-88 loss Thursday to the Miami Heat. ‘I was roaming. I just wasn’t being quite as active. I’ll watch the tape a little bit.’  Bynum saw his rebounding spree (50 in the previous three games) ease up a bit after he took only one before halftime.  It was a main talking point of a fairly even first half: Bynum had only one rebound in almost 16 minutes?  Turns out he sustained a minor injury, landing on the foot of a Heat player in the second quarter and saying he tweaked his right ankle.  ‘I’m lucky,’ he said, smiling. ‘I might not have good knees, but I’m sure I have good ankles.’ Bynum said he would be fine for Saturday’s game in Dallas, one of the Lakers’ last big regular-season road tests.”
  • Israel Gutierrez, Miami Herald: “Beating the Los Angeles Lakers can do a lot for a team. The Heat, however, might have gained more from defeating the purple and gold than any team this season. Than any team in recent memory.  Breaking a five-game losing streak Thursday night against the Lakers, and sanity is restored.  Hope is preserved.  Confidence is renewed. ‘What better game than this game to get back on track,’ Dwyane Wade said after the Heat also ended the Lakers’ eight-game win streak.  And what better way to make things normal again than with Wade leading the way. It’s what this franchise knows best, Wade coming up with the huge plays down the stretch. It’s what Wade has been wanting to do, publicly pleading to do. And it’s one of many elements of this Heat instant recovery that is so encouraging.”
  • Paul Coro, Arizona Republic: “[Steve] Nash is suffering from pubic symphysis injury. It is not a groin or lower-abdominal problem, but the discomfort turned to pain last weekend during games, and Nash has worked out twice a day this week to refine his movement patterns.  He endured the same injury in November, when he missed two games, but said he can continue playing during this crucial playoff push while putting in the work on off days to get well.   Nash said he was in pain last Friday at Milwaukee but described the area as tender during Tuesday’s game because of soreness from his workouts. ‘It was a demanding game because I was fatigued, but I didn’t get any setbacks, so that was important,’ Nash said. ‘I’m not moving well. I can’t shoot well. I just don’t have the facilities to do it right now. I’m just trying to contribute any way I can and not put myself in positions where I hurt the team.’ Houston did not play Nash any different Tuesday, continuing to stay with him off screens and double him with the ball. He had 14 assists but took only five shots, the least he has in 2011.”
  • Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News:  “Owner Mark Cuban didn’t necessarily agree with [Rick] Carlisle’s analysis of the Mavericks’ play at New Orleans, which resulted in a one-point loss. ‘I don’t think we’re soft at all,’ Cuban said. ‘But he wanted to send a message and the message got through. You can’t worry about how the media is going to treat it. You’ve got to worry about the message that gets through, so we’ll see what the guys do. … But I don’t think our guys are soft. I don’t think there’s a soft bone in their body.’  Cuban said the fact that several Mavericks stood their ground after [Dirk] Nowitzki was pushed into the bench area is another sign that the Mavericks have shed their soft reputation.  He did agree with Carlisle that it’s not about throwing punches or elbows. ‘Throwing a punch is what a [sissy] does,’ Cuban said. ‘There’s 1,001 ways to respond to things, particularly basketball players.’”
  • Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: “Rick Adelman is not the only one unsure if he will return as Rockets coach next season. While Adelman has been ambivalent about his decision, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said Thursday he would consider his options with general manager Daryl Morey after the season. ‘At the end of the season, I’ll sit down with Daryl and we’ll talk about it,’ Alexander said. ‘Nothing has been done yet, or thought about yet in that regard.’ In the final season of his contract, Adelman also has said he will consider whether he wants to remain as coach after the season. The uncertainty expressed by the coach plays into Alexander’s decision.”
  • Charles F. Gardner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “In an interview before the Bucks played Cleveland on Wednesday, the 29-year-old [Drew] Gooden said he intends to return this season. He has set a target date of March 23, when the Bucks play a home game against Sacramento. … Gooden had been projected as the starter at power forward, but he was in and out of the lineup in the first few months due to the injury. He played in 25 games and started 15 while averaging 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds.”
  • Published On 8:34am, Mar 11, 2011
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