NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Meet the NBA’s trainer to the stars — From Derrick Rose to Kevin Durant to Kevin Love to Steph Curry (and many others), making the leap from good young player to bona fide superstar or even MVP honors comes from hours of work away from the spotlight. One common thread between all of these players is the man they’ve hired as their trainer, Rob McClanaghan. McClanaghan has helped mold, rebuild or deepen each player’s game in one way or another and in a great feature from Yahoo!Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, we get a look at precisely how he helped these players reach the next level in their games:
Long before Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose could resume a relentless rehabilitation regimen, the youngest MVP in NBA history and Rob McClanaghan had to go back beyond all the fierce workouts – beyond the thousands of hours of shooting and slashing and sweat – and resume the most fundamental of grade school drills: form shooting.”One hand, elbow in, eyes on the rim,” McClanaghan remembered over dinner recently. “I think it was more mentally taxing on him than anything we did, because D-Rose always wanted to do more. My job was simply to tell him, ‘Be patient. We have time.’ ”
Beginning over 18 months ago, shuttling between Chicago and Los Angeles, McClanaghan and Rose progressively did more and more. Once Rose had missed a full season and returned to the gymnasium in June, McClanaghan told him simply: “I’m going to work you out like you never got injured. Let’s go back to what we did before you ever get hurt.”
From his predraft workouts at the University Memphis to his MVP season with the Bulls, Rose has relied on McClanaghan to run his workouts, sharpen his skills and bring him back from the abyss of a torn ACL. Once again, with a torn meniscus costing Rose the rest of this season, they will return to the gymnasium together on the star’s jagged journey back.
When Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love needed the summer of his life to restore him to All-Star status, Love was back with McClanaghan, his long-time trainer, in Los Angeles.
When Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant wanted to wash away the frustration of an early exit in the playoffs, he came to McClanaghan for a summer of early morning and evening workouts. When endorsement travels sent Durant overseas for a promotional tour, he brought McClanaghan with him. Golden State guard Stephen Curry left his old trainer and hired McClanaghan.
In trying times for the NBA’s biggest basketball stars, at their most crucial crossroads, it is uncanny how they keep coming back with McClanaghan for the crux of the work growing their talents.
From a consistent presence in players’ lives to a solitary companion in rehab processes to the fixer of lost souls and games, McClanaghan has transformed himself into one of the most influential figures in pro basketball. When the next wave of college stars declare for the 2014 NBA draft, it’s almost assured agents will hire McClanaghan to oversee the preparation process for several of them.
McClanaghan became the primary trainer for several of [Arn] Tellem‘s clients, including Rose, Westbrook, Atlanta’s Al Horford and New Orleans’ Tyreke Evans. McClanaghan ran the predraft workout training for dozens and dozens of players, and soon referrals had him working with stars outside Tellem’s stable. There isn’t a general manager, or few high-profile coaches, who haven’t sat in the gym for McClanaghan’s workouts.
In the past year, McClanaghan parted with Tellem and has gone out on his own. When troubled free agent Lamar Odom needed two weeks of intense work to springboard his comeback, his advisers flew him to Rhode Island to work with McClanaghan.
In the end, his most profound influence comes working with superstar players. Over the past several summers, the balance of power in the NBA played out in McClanaghan’s gym in Santa Monica. And in a lot of ways, his court turned into comeback and redemption central in the summer of 2013.
“One of the best summers we ever had,” McClanaghan said. “Derrick is coming off his injury, K.D. is coming off a disappointing end to his team’s season, Kevin Love and John Wall are coming off injuries and they just came in there and killed it.
“What makes it so incredible is that the way the very best players bring it every day in the gym. There’s an aura to it, a level of competition that I think can be intimidating to other players who come and work out there. If you don’t bring it like them, you may get called out. They will bring it harder than the guys who are free agents, who are fighting to stay in the league. And sometimes I think lesser-talented guys don’t come to the gym because of that. They ask themselves, “Do I want to work that hard? Do I want to bring it?’
No. 2: Bulls’ offense continues to sputter in loss to Knicks — In case you were wondering, the last time the Chicago Bulls failed to score at least 80 points in three straight games — a slump they’re currently in — it took place back in 2001 … the height of the post-Michael Jordan rebuilding years. With last night’s loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Chicago finds itself in 14th place in the East and stumbling fast. Bulls.com blogger Sam Smith details the issues with Chicago of late:
Give the Bulls this: They were hustling and still running despite having to play so much and so long and with so little help. They were going to the floor for loose balls and fighting over screens. But defense and rebounding doesn’t add any points to the total.
Mike Dunleavy is regarded more as a catch and shoot scorer. But with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler out, Dunleavy has basically emerged as the lone offensive option.
But noticing the Bulls not only weren’t making outside shots or even preferring to take them, the Knicks as the Bucks did basically sunk into the lane and invited the Bulls players to shoot. It’s also why the turnover numbers remained astronomical and are difficult to remedy for now.
If you cannot make shots or pose a threat to, then the defense sags back into the lane. That closes off passing lanes and reduces the spacing. The Bulls are a good passing team and always looking for the extra pass, the interior pass, the backdoor. But with five defenders basically inside, there’s little room to get a pass through and lots of ways to create turnovers. The postups for Gibson and Carlos Boozer, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds, are thus also clogged. And there isn’t always a lot of active movement to spread the defense, not that they’re biting that someone might actually make a long shot.
The Bulls, 8-12 and two and a half games ahead of New York for 14th in the Eastern Conference, in back to back nights lost to the teams with the two poorest records in the Eastern Conference. Of course, they have also beaten the only two teams in the Eastern Conference with winning records, Indiana and Miami.
“I think that we showed some fight tonight,” said Joakim Noah. “We just got to stick together as a team. We’ve been losing a lot of tough games right now, but we can’t pout. We have to stick together through the hard times. We’ve got some guys coming back. Keep grinding and I know this is going to turn around. It’s tough. Losing sucks. We’ve been through a lot this year. A lot of adversity. But I think that we have a positive group. You can’t get too down on yourself. We’ve just got to move on to the next game. As guys come back, as guys understand what their roles are, our team will be a lot better.”
It has been perhaps the most frustrating and ineffective stretch of basketball for the Bulls in more than a decade with the loss of Rose, multiple injuries, a vanishing offense and a series of last second losses.
But in the end, as furious and fearless as they were on defense, that’s how mostly inept and incomplete they Bulls were on offense as after tying the game with 3:38 left the Bulls didn’t score again until there was 10.8 seconds left and they trailed by seven points.
“Part of the problem is we have a lot of moving parts so we have guys who are not used to playing with each other,” said Tom Thibodeau. “But we can’t use that as an excuse.”
No. 3: Report: Frustrated Asik switches agents — Rockets center Omer Asik has been waiting for weeks, seemingly, to find out where he will be traded to. As he endures the trade rumors associated with his name and potential deal being bandied about, Asik will have a new agent filtering the news for him. According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, Asik has switched to the mega-group led by agent Arn Tellem:
Disgruntled Rockets center Omer Asik is changing agents, switching from Andy Miller to Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, league sources told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.
Asik’s decision to change agents was first reported on Twitter by the Turkish basketball site Superbasket.org. He must submit paperwork to the National Basketball Players Association to formalize the change, and then Tellem must wait 10 days before commencing representation.
Asik has been unhappy with his role in Houston since the Rockets signed Dwight Howard as a free agent this past summer. He has made a formal trade request, and Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been ramping up his efforts to trade him. Asik was lured away from the Bulls as a restricted free agent in 2012 with a three-year, $25 million deal. The actual payout on the third year of the deal next season is $15 million, which could be a deterrent to consummating a deal.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: A good look at why Jeff Van Gundy didn’t call last night’s Bulls-Knicks game in New York … Speaking of Chicago, reports indicate they will soon sign guard D.J. Augustin to a deal … Clippers reserve forward Antawn Jamison passed the 20,000 point mark in his career …
ICYMI Of The Night: Lob City’s crew is known for their power finishes, so when they have a rare miscue (like this one from DeAndre Jordan), it’s worth a look …