NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Jackson ready to lead Pistons — The Detroit Pistons made several moves this summer in free agency, and will enter this new season with an even younger roster than they had last season. For point guard Reggie Jackson, who is 27, it’s an opportunity to take on a leadership role, as he tells Rod Beard…
While backup center Aron Baynes is the oldest player on the team — he turns 30 in December — the leadership mantle will be spread around, with veterans taking charge for summer workouts.
“That’s kind of how it goes; we have to step up,” said point guard Reggie Jackson, 27, entering his sixth season. “The organization put that upon us and myself to step up this year and be an even more impactful leader and more of a voice of reason and direction for our guys.
“I know I have a little more burden on my shoulders but it’s something I asked for and something I wanted. We’ll figure it out collectively.”
Tolliver had been a mentor for Andre Drummond, and Steve Blake was a veteran voice for the point guards. Anthony Tolliver also was one of the most respected voices in the locker room, but signed as a free agent with the Kings this summer.
It was a unique dynamic having the most veteran and vocal players as reserves. But it worked.
“We did have steady rocks with Joel Anthony, Anthony Tolliver and Steve Blake, who really watched over us,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, they’ve moved on and we have to find a way to get it done.
“Hats off to those guys for everything they taught us. We’re definitely appreciative of it and we’ll definitely use it in the future. They’re a big part of building the culture here. Now it’s time for us to carry the torch.”
No. 2: Porzingis likes Noah’s intensity — The New York Knicks added Joakim Noah to their roster this summer, and the fiery center will play alongside one of the best young post players in the NBA, Kristaps Porzingis. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Porzingis not only gave a #MUSCLEWATCH update but also said he already admires Noah’s drive, as Ian Begley writes…
“The first conversation we had, I was in the training room. He came in with his shirt off, and I was like, ‘Oh man, you’ve been working out.’…. And we kept on talking, and he just got so intense, like he really feels it. He was like, ‘Yeah, man, this is a big opportunity; we’ve got to give it our all.’”
Porzingis relayed the story on Saturday after hosting a youth camp in Westchester.
“That’s the type of guy that we want on our team,” Porzingis said of Noah. “He brings that good energy. He brings that spirit, you know? So from the first opportunity that we got to talk, I fell in love with [his intensity].”
The Knicks hope that their fan base has the same adulation for Noah this year. Knicks president Phil Jackson signed Noah to a four-year, $72 million deal, betting that he can bounce back from shoulder injuries that limited him to 29 games last season.
With Noah on the roster, it seems as if Porzingis’ minutes at center this year will be limited to the second unit, as they were for much of last season. Many see Porzingis as a full-time center at some point in his career. Whether that is the best position for Porzingis full-time is debatable.
Porzingis would likely have to add some weight to play center full-time. He’ll enter training camp at around 240 pounds this season; he weighed between 233-235 pounds entering camp last year.
“I got a little bigger, [but] that wasn’t the main focus this summer,” Porzingis said. “It was just getting stronger and not so much bigger, although when you get stronger, it’s natural you gain weight. I want to make sure I’m comfortable at the weight.”
No. 3: Will Haslem reunite with Wade? — The departure of Dwyane Wade to Chicago from Miami, where he had spent his entire NBA career, was a sea change for the basketball scene in South Florida. During Wade’s farewell event, both Wade and longtime teammate Udonis Haslem attended, and as Manny Navarro writes, they are both hopeful they’ll be able to play together again someday…
There was a moment Saturday morning during Dwyane Wade’s final good-bye event here in Coconut Grove that you genuinely felt the love the 12-time All-Star has for Udonis Haslem.
“UD has been by my side for 13 years. Listen you know how we are. We are macho men. So we don’t say a lot of stuff to each other that we say to others. But I love that man,” Wade said at his first annual six-mile CommUNITY Bike Ride event in Coconut Grove.
“One of the hardest things about me leaving this city was that I wasn’t going to be playing with UD anymore, that I wasn’t going to be in the same locker room with him. That was the hardest decision for me.
“Like we always say ‘Blood couldn’t make us any closer.’ I appreciate this guy for all the fines he took for sticking up for me. If I scored 20,000 points I’ll give him 10,000 for the screens he set for me to get there. I did the rest. But he did the beginning part of it. This is just mutual respect. This is a brother. I made a promise to him that we were going to finish our career together. As of now, I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. So I’ve got to make it up to him eventually. But this is my brother man. And I love this guy.”
Haslem was the only former Heat teammate at Saturday’s event — the last Wade will have in Miami before heading to Chicago to begin playing with the Bulls. While Heat fans are still heartbroken over Wade’s departure, it’s clear Wade hasn’t completely gotten over the breakup either.
More than anything, though, he’s going to miss the city, his multi-million dollar water front home and Haslem, who broke into the league with him back in 2003.
“You know that song there’s level to this, there’s going to be levels to this,” Wade said. “It’s not an overnight thing. I talked to Chicago and they understand that. I’m trying to get adjusted to it. I’ve been in one NBA city for 13 years in my career. It’s different. But I’m a guy who is a fast learner. I am going back to familiar territory in the sense of my family is in Chicago. But it’s going to be different. But I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life and it starts in a bout a week and a half. I’m excited. It’s my 14th year in my career. That’s one thing I always told myself: as long as I’m excited to keep playing this game and I’m excited to go in the gym and work out and keep doing all the things I need to do I’m going to keep going. I have excitement and I just want to keep going.”
Wade wants to keep going for now. So does Haslem. And if there’s a chance they could reunite one day they’d both love it.
“Sometimes people say that blood is thicker than water. But with me and this guy it’s not about blood. It’s about the blood we put in, the sacrifices we put in and everything we went through together,” said Haslem, who spent a lot of time with Wade this summer, traveling to as far as China with him.
“I really can’t say much. One thing is when you have a real relationship with somebody you support them through thick and thin. He’s done a lot for this city, he’s done a lot of me, so we appreciate him. No matter where he is and where he goes we’ll continue to support him because we’re family.”
“I’m going to damn sure try,” Haslem told me. “I mean, I don’t know. I guess I’ve got to wait until next summer to see how that goes. But, I never give up without a fight. So there’s ain’t no time to start now.”
Would Haslem consider leaving the Heat to do so?
“I didn’t say that,” Haslem said. “I was thinking more him of him coming here. I never said that. I won’t ever say that. When I said play with him again, I never said leave.”
No. 4: Dirk Speaks — As he nears the end of his career, Dirk Nowitzki is starting to look toward the end of the road and think about what might be next. During a recent podcast appearance, he spoke about what the future might hold…
Go out like Kobe or go out like Duncan?
Dirk Nowitzki: You know, I loved the way Kobe went out … with a 60-point game? That’s so Kobe like. The whole arena was standing up the whole fourth quarter. So much fun to watch. But I’m more like a Duncan guy. More a quiet guy. I don’t need the limelight as much. Maybe not quite the just e-mail, Hey, by the way Tim Duncan is retiring. I thought that was a little low profile. Maybe there’s a little press conference or something. I don’t know, I don’t really want to think about it because I know it’s gonna come up soon anyway. I’m just gonna enjoy the last couple of years.
On possibly coaching
Dirk Nowitzki: I will never be a team coach. I already found that out. It’s not my thing, the motivating guys, the different plays. That doesn’t interest me much. But what Holger did with me; I could do that. Something individual-based. Development. But I think once it’s done, I’m gonna need a little break. I’m gonna need to get away from the sport, travel a little bit with my family, enjoy the kids. I’ll definitely stay around the sport.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Masai Ujiri says Toronto “is home to me” … The Hawks have invited veterans Will Bynum and Ryan Kelly to training camp … Plastic Man (Stacey Augmon) will be an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks this season … Shaq‘s e-sports team is expanding … What are those? Matthew Dellavedova signature shoes are coming soon …