NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Noah lands in New York — After missing the first few days of training camp for the birth of his daughter, Joakim Noah was finally able to participate in his first practice with his new team, the New York Knicks. And as ESPN.com reports, his new teammates are already raving about the emotional presence he brings to his new team…
“He brings a different dynamic to the court,” Carmelo Anthony said after Noah’s first practice with the New York Knicks. “Mentally, he pushes you; he forces you to compete at a high level every time on the basketball court. Everybody. Whether you’re the 14th, 15th man on the team, or myself, or Derrick [Rose] or anybody else.
“Like, he pushes you to go out there and compete every play. If not, you’re going to hear about. I think that’s something we’ve been missing, this team needed, this organization needed and I like it. We like it.”
The Knicks signed Noah to a four-year, $72 million deal over the summer, in part, because of his leadership qualities.
The Rose trade left a void at center, and Phil Jackson believes Noah can fill it as a backbone of the Knicks’ defense. Only time will tell if Noah can provide elite rebounding, rim protection and pick-and-roll defense over the course of his contract.
But his intense nature — which has its own value on and off the court — was on display in his first training camp practice (Noah missed the first two days due to the birth of his daughter).
“If you’re not on his team, you’re an enemy,” Anthony said. “I think that mentality, that’s going to kind of trickle down to everybody else. It’s a different mindset that you’ve got to have coming into the game, going into practice. Even in practice, if you’re not on his team, if you’re not on the blue or white team with him, you’re an enemy. That keeps the competitive edge for everybody out there on the court.”
The perfect scenario for the Knicks is Noah remaining healthy, productive and being an influential presence in the locker room. “Jo’s [intensity] won’t slow down as the year goes on. We hope that’s contagious for the rest of our guys,” Jeff Hornacek said.
Intangibles aside, there are some question marks for Noah coming into the season. He was limited to just 29 games last year due to a shoulder injury; some observers believe his game had slipped prior to the injury.
Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf added to that theory when he told the Chicago Tribune the following about Noah’s departure:
“What we felt was it was time. We felt Joakim wasn’t going to be a front-line guy anymore. I was pretty confident that Pau [Gasol] was going to leave. So it was important for us to get the center in [Robin] Lopez.”
Noah was asked about the remarks on Wednesday and offered a measured response.
“It’s alright. He’s entitled to his opinion,” Noah said. “I feel like I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me, that’s all that matters. I know that I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, you know? But at the end of the day, I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter in my career.”
No. 2: Rings for everyone — The Cleveland Cavaliers famously broke the city’s 52-year championship dry spell by winning the 2016 NBA Finals. And Cavs ownership is rewarding not just the players on the team, but pretty much everyone involved with the franchise. According to Cleveland.com, more than 1,000 people will be receiving championship rings in The Land…
From LeBron James down to the guy who sold you a hot dog on a Wednesday night at The Q, the entire Cavaliers’ family is getting a 2016 NBA championship ring.
Majority owner Dan Gilbert and his partners decided to present rings to more than 1,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization, employees who’ve been fitted for rings told cleveland.com.
A spokesman for the Cavs confirmed the information but declined to comment.
Of course, not every team employee will get the same, diamond crusted ring that’s going to rest on the fingers of James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and other players from last season, but ticket takers, seat ushers, security guards, Cleveland police officers and all who work behind the scenes at home games will be able to say they won a ring. And they’ll have proof.
The same goes for rings commemorating the Lake Erie Monsters’ AHL Calder Cup victory from last season. Virtually all employees involved with Monsters’ operations, including some who work for the Columbus Blue Jackets (the Monsters’ NHL affiliate) will get rings.
Employees learned about the rings earlier this month at something called the “Spectaculars,” a company-wide (Cavs, Monsters, Quicken Loans Arena) yearly meeting and employee-recognition event. The gesture extends to workers for Aramark, the contractor that supplies food-service workers for Cavs and Monsters home games.
A conservative cost for distributing rings to employees is more than $1 million.
The Cavs declined to say whether or not former coach David Blatt — who was fired in January — or former center Anderson Varejao (traded in February) were getting rings. But Gilbert is obviously in a mood to be inclusive.
Varejao, who played for the Warriors against the Cavs in the Finals, told reporters out West the Cavs had offered him a ring. Anderson, who played for Cleveland from 2004-16, said he was unsure if he would accept.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that Blatt would get a ring, but both Gilbert (through a spokesman) and Cavs general manager David Griffin would not confirm the report.
No. 3: Mavs hope for big impact from Curry — The Dallas Mavericks made some big moves this summer, adding a couple of former Warriors in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. But they’re hoping another new player with Golden State ties has an equally large impact. Seth Curry, brother of Stephen Curry, drew raves in last night’s open scrimmage. And Dallas coach Rick Carlisle says it’s not really fair to compare Seth to Steph…
Curry is an intriguing newcomer for the Mavericks. He can shoot. The bloodlines guarantee it. But he needs to do other things to prove he can be a contributor this season.
What he did in the open practice Wednesday before a nice crowd at American Airlines Center was have 15 points and a couple of assists. He hit 3-pointers when the defense left him. He has all the looks of a young scorer at the combo guard spot.
It’s no surprise he can shoot. His father, Dell, and his brother are two of the best shooters in NBA history.
But the question remains: is it hard to be your own man when you have such strong ancestry?
“Not for me,” he said. “I don’t know how other people look at it, but I know my potential and that’s what I base myself on, not what my brother does or what my dad did.”
As for comparisons to his brother, coach Rick Carlisle said it’s about letting Seth Curry be Seth Curry.
“Let’s leave that alone,” he said. “This kid is a terrific player in his own right. To me, it’s a disservice to get into all that stuff. Let this kid be himself. He’s unique in his own right.”
No. 4: Stockton to Kidd? — As coach Jason Kidd works on changing the culture in Milwaukee and making the Bucks contenders, he called upon a fellow NBA legend for some help. Kidd asked legendary Jazz point guard John Stockton to spend a few days with the Bucks, bringing the top two assist-givers in NBA history together…
“If you want to help your guys at some of the positions, you find the best and I got very lucky John could join us these next couple days,” Kidd said.
Stockton teamed with Karl Malone in Utah to form one of the top tandems in league history. The point guard played all 19 seasons with the Jazz and his team made the playoffs every year. Stockton was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
“He gave me a hard time for not saying he was a great athlete,” Kidd said. “You’re not (Russell) Westbrook or someone who is touching the top of the backboard.
“But you know how to play the game. Probably everyone counted him out, but him. Just running the show. We have Malcolm (Brogdon) and Delly (Matthew Dellavedova). I see like they have some of him. And I told him we have a pretty big point guard, too.”
Asked if Stockton could help teach a few things to 6-11 point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks coach said, “We’ll see.
“You talk about the best player at his position to be here. We’re very lucky.”
Kidd was one of the all-time greats at the position and played 19 seasons, so it’s a point guard heaven at Bucks camp. Stockton and Kidd also rank 1-2 in steals.
“Very cool,” Bucks forward Steve Novak of seeing Stockton on the sideline. “He’s a legend. He’s a Dream Team guy. He’s one of the greatest players in NBA history.
“It’s just awesome to have someone like that who you looked up to so much.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: DeMarcus Cousins says he’s “excited” about the Dave Joerger era in Sacramento … Tim Duncan showed up at Spurs practice as a spectator … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says he spent the summer working on his shot … Darrell Arthur took less money to stay with the Denver Nuggets … Anthony Carter is back with the Heat, this time as a D-League assistant … NBA team owners continue buying esports teams …