NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: ‘Melo willing to move to small forward for Bargnani — Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani fell out of favor in Toronto and was shipped to New York in a deal that was mostly a cost-cutting one for the Raptors. Injuries limited Bargs to just 66 games over the last two seasons, but he’s feeling better and has impressed teammate Carmelo Anthony early on in training camp. There’s talk, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, of Anthony possibly moving back to small forward to free up a frontcourt starting spot for Bargnani:
During yesterday’s halfcourt sets, Bargnani wore the starting blue jersey with Anthony, Tyson Chandler up front, and Metta World Peace wore white.
Coach Mike Woodson said his starting lineup hasn’t been determined, but a frontcourt of Chandler-Bargnani-Anthony is a distinct possibility. The Knicks coach hinted at Bargnani’s familiarity with that role.
“We’ll use camp to evaluate to see where we are,’’ Woodson said. “He’s been a starter pretty much all his career, but time will tell. I’m going to have some options this year.’’
Starting Bargnani means Anthony would have to return to small forward. Having World Peace start would allow Anthony to stay at the 4. But it should be noted Toronto insiders say Bargnani always performed well against Indiana’s David West and Miami’s Chris Bosh — likely the East’s two most formidable teams.
Anthony said he is comfortable at either position.
“Playing the 3, 4, it’s all the same. I’m cool with it,” he said. “It’s up to Coach Woodson. It’s early right now to pick a starting lineup. By the end of the week, we’ll start figuring things out.
No. 2: Nash itching to rebound from down season — Last season couldn’t have gone much worse for former two-time MVP Steve Nash. He played in a career-low 50 games, had his worst season since 1999-2000 in points and assists and watched as a solid-on-paper Lakers squad crumbled under various dramas. In a great story with Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears, Nash opens up about his and the Lakers’ lost season, L.A.’s attempts to re-sign and court Dwight Howard and more:
“I probably shouldn’t have played in the playoffs,” Nash said. “I was limping around. But we were so decimated [by injuries] and I was just trying to help. We had long breaks and I just wanted to give it a shot. But I couldn’t even sprint.”
Howard had said he built a solid friendship with Nash last season. Nash was among the Lakers contingent that tried to convince Howard to re-sign. Among the talking points, Nash tried to sell Howard that he should take into account the Lakers’ long list of injury problems last season – including an Achilles injury to Kobe Bryant.
Deep down, Nash thought the efforts would fall short.
“I never really felt like he was that happy here or wanted to be here,” Nash said.
Additionally, Spears provides the following quote from Nash in regards to how soon Bryant might return to the L.A. lineup:
No. 3: MVP bringing back his familiar pregame powder toss — Hop on any form of social media and find you favorite NBA players and chances are you’ll see at least one of them reference NBA 2K14 somewhere in the timeline/feed/etc. The new basketball video game, which features reigning MVP LeBron James on the cover, has been garnering a lot of buzz. James used that game — plus his own Instagram account — to let fans know he’ll be bringing back his familiar pregame powder toss, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
It was iconic. And then it was gone. Now, apparently, LeBron James is about to again take a powder.
Hidden as a hashtag on an Instagram post referencing his placement on the cover of the just released edition of the NBA 2K14 video game came this early Wednesday morning:
Given up amid his turn for the serious as part of his successful bids for NBA championships the past two seasons, James can be seen on the 2K14 cover displaying the powder toss, as seen in the Instagram he sent out.
The caption accompanying that cover shot on the Instagram read in full:
“What y’all been on tonight!?! Cause this what I’m on. I remember playing Bulls vs Blazers and Double Dribble like these are the best(which they were at the time). Crazy to me that I’m on the cover of a video game man! #NBA2K14 #CoverBoy #RealestHoopGame #StriveForGreatness #PowderTossComingBackToAnArenaNearYou”
No. 4: Bogut wants to stick around in Golden State — Since being acquired by the Warriors in a March, 2012 deal, Andrew Bogut has played in 32 regular-season games and a dozen playoff games (all last season). He looked more like his old self during the team’s 2013 playoff run and, as a free agent next season, says he hopes to stay in Oakland with the up-and-coming Warriors, writes Tim Kawakami in a Q&A with Bogut in the San Jose Mercury News:
Q: And you’ve got the little matter of pending free agency coming up after this season. Which makes this a contract year. Have there been any talks with the Warriors about an extension? They’ve said they want to sign you, pretty clearly.
BOGUT: I want to stay.
Q: So you’ve had talks?
BOGUT: There haven’t been. But I want to stay here, if I can. I like the organization, I like the direction, I like the owners, I love the coaches, I love the players.
I honestly want to stay here. But I’m not (overlooking) that I’ve been hurt, so my value has been diminished a little bit. And obviously I want to have a good year.
But I’m not one of those guys who wants to have a good year, get my deal and then shut it down. I wouldn’t do that. People might think that because of last year and the injury, but it’s a unique circumstance.
I just want to keep playing. I want to get to the playoffs and make a run at that and then let the chips fall where they may.
If I get an extension, I get it. If I don’t, I don’t. But we’re not really talking about it right now. The focus is training camp.
And I think a big fellah on the open market isn’t all so bad, either, judging by the last (off-season).
No. 5: Suns’ Gortat bracing himself for a trade — Most pundits aren’t picking the Suns to do much of anything special this year. Case in point? Grantland.com, in the midst of its best-to-worst previews of every team, has Phoenix as the second-worst team in the NBA. The goal for new coach Jeff Hornacek and the rest of the Suns’ bunch is to improve on last season’s 25 wins, which were the West’s fewest. Part of doing so may involve making mid-season deals. Veteran center Marcin Gortat is already readying himself to be one name that could be bandied about in trade talks, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:
There were three centers added behind Gortat, who took notice that the team drafted Alex Len with the No. 5 pick and then traded for Miles Plumlee and Slava Kravtsov during the summer. Gortat already fears the in-season trade rumors in the last year of his contract, even though McDonough mentioned that he hoped that Gortat, Dragic and Channing Frye are young enough veterans to be part of the next great Suns team.
Gortat endorsed the summer makeover, swore to not relinquish his job and predicted that the Suns would be “a good running team.” But without prompting, the Suns’ highest-paid player at $7.7million made a thinly veiled reference to his contract status and a scenario that likely will linger until the February trade deadline.
“This is a business,” Gortat said. “We all know where I am right now, and we all know what’s going to happen probably. It’s business. I totally understand that. I totally understand the situation. I totally understand the management and front-office people. There are no hard feelings. At the end of the day, I’m a pro. I’m going to try to do everything that’s necessary to win the basketball game.
“Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’m grateful for everything I had with this team. This team took my game to another level. Quite honestly, it was Steve (Nash).”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Tyreke Evans is likely to come off the bench in New Orleans … Bismack Biyombo still knows his place among Charlotte’s big men … Samuel Dalembert is ready to be the new-look Tyson Chandler for the Mavs … Rudy Gay is hoping offseason eye surgery helps his game
ICYMI of the night: Tough-luck news out of OKC, where star point guard Russell Westbrook will miss at least the first 4-6 weeks of the season after having another surgery on his injured right knee: