Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, Dec. 25, with a special Christmas Day showcase featuring the Los Angeles Lakers @ Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m. ET,

followed by the Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. 

****    ****    ****    ****

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Grant Hill



 Smith on Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo’s move to Dallas: “The great thing about Rondo is that he has played with [veterans] Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, three other guys who like having the ball and like to score. You look at [Mavericks stars] Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons and you say, ‘Ok…he’s done this before.’ Not only did he do it, he played at a high level with veterans. It’s hard to say it puts the Mavericks over the top, but they will be one or two in terms of regular season. When the playoffs start, you can’t just give it to them, because there are other teams that have done it already, OKC and San Antonio especially.”

O’Neal on Rondo to the Mavs: “It definitely puts the Mavericks in the championship talk. Last time they had weapons of this caliber, they won a championship. He makes it easier for people. Now [Mavs guard] Monta Ellis doesn’t have to handle the ball. He can get up court and Rondo will deliver. I see them making it to the Western Conference Finals.”

Hill: “This is a power move right here. You’ve got to give credit to [Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban. He’s going all in. I like this move. Anything could happen in the West.”



Hill on the Thunder’s ability to get to the postseason: “Everybody has been talking about this mountain they have to climb, but if these guys are healthy, they are going to win enough games to get into the postseason. The most important thing is they are playing their best basketball going into the postseason. They are good enough to come out of the Western Conference when they are clicking on all cylinders.”

O’Neal on playing the Thunder in the playoffs: “No one wants to face them in the first round. It’s going to be a lot of teams watching them to see what spot they’re in and they’ll be finagling games so they don’t have to play the Thunder.”

  Hill on the injury to Warriors center Andrew Bogut: “They don’t need Bogut during the regular season, but when the postseason comes and they have to prepare, they are going to need him. They are playing great basketball now. But everything changes in the postseason; they are going to need the big fella back.”

****    ****    ****    ****

New York Knicks (97) @ Chicago Bulls (103)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley (analysts) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)



   Barkley on Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr.: “Hardaway Jr. has a chance to be a terrific player in this league. He has to be careful to not rely on the jump shot…just taking the ball to the basket will open up his outside game.”

Barkley on the Knicks: “This notion that just because they have a lot of money, everyone is going to want to come to New York and play for [Knicks President] Phil Jackson, I think that’s a flawed theory. Some of these guys will be giving up 20, 30, 40 million dollars. They’re not going to give that up just to say they played for Jackson. The Knicks are a lot of players away from being legitimate.”

Miller on why the triangle offense isn’t working for the Knicks: “When you run the triangle offense, and you have a Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal or Scottie Pippen, all your attention and your eyes are diverted to them. On this Knicks team, other than Carmelo Anthony…their opponents don’t have to double down.”

Barkley on Knicks star Carmelo Anthony: “If I needed one basket in the NBA, I would go to Carmelo. That guy is just a flat out scorer. He gets a lot of the blame, but he is not the reason the Knicks are awful.”

Miller on Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire: “Stoudemire is having the most efficient season of any of the New York Knicks, including Carmelo Anthony…balance wise, shooting wise. It’s been a nice resurgence for Amar’e.”

Miller on the lack of emotion from Knicks head coach Derek Fisher: “Why does everybody have to be [Jets head coach] Rex Ryan, ranting and screaming on the sidelines?  Everyone’s demeanor is different. All coaches coach differently. Phil Jackson wasn’t a screamer, either. This is how Derek Fisher coaches.”

Barkley on the early criticism of Fisher: “First it was [former Knicks head coach] Mike D’Antoni’s fault, then it was [former Knicks head coach] Mike Woodson’s fault…now it’s Derek Fisher’s fault. At some point as a player you have to look in the mirror and think, ‘Maybe I’m part of the problem.’ We can’t just keep firing coaches.”

Miller on why Phil Jackson and the Knicks should stick to the triangle offense instead of adjusting to the strengths of their current players: “It’s a culture and a lifestyle. If they end up getting free agents, this is how they are going to play. You have to market it and get it out there.”

Barkley on the reason this Knicks team is not buying into the triangle: “They’re not trying to buy into the triangle. They’re not worried about creating a culture. They are auditioning and are trying to put up good numbers for their future teams. Most of these players aren’t going to be with the Knicks next year. They’re just trying to get numbers.”

     Barkley on Bulls power forward Pau Gasol: “He’s rejuvenated. I think last year he didn’t feel appreciated in L.A. because he knew they weren’t going to sign him. He’s playing with great energy.”

Barkley on the Bulls: “They have the two best passing big men in the NBA with [power forward] Pau Gasol and [center] Joakim Noah down low. They are going to work well together all season.”

Miller on Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler: “Jimmy Butler should absolutely be an All-Star. It’s what he’s done at the defensive end. I love the mental approach. He learned a lot of this when he was under the tutelage of [Heat forward] Luol Deng. How he approached the game and studied his opponent, Butler is along the same cut of that in his approach on the defensive end.”

Barkley on Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: “They play his way, with maximum energy and effort. You play defense or you don’t get to play. This guy is one of the better coaches in the NBA. We should appreciate him.”

Barkley on the Eastern Conference: “When you look at the Eastern Conference there are four elite teams. The Bulls are the best team. Then you have Toronto, Washington and Cleveland. On paper, if they can ever get healthy, the Bulls are the team to beat.”

Miller on the leaders on the Bulls: “Until [point guard] Derrick Rose is fully healthy, this offense is going to be running through Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Oklahoma City Thunder (109) @ Golden State Warriors (114)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Chris Webber (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)



 Webber on the increased leadership of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook this year: “It seems that in years past Westbrook’s role was to push the pace and be aggressive. This year, there has been a switching of roles due to Durant’s early injuries. Westbrook has embraced the responsibility and increased his input. He’s been efficient and improved defensively.”

Webber on the Thunder’s strength on the road: “You have to love the way they come out, especially on the road, with their attention to detail from the start.”

Webber on the Thunder’s ability to rely on Westbrook with Durant out with injury: “It’s so great to have a player like Westbrook on your team that always stays at the same level: aggressive and ready to go. The team can focus on him and not worry about the what-ifs [surrounding Durant’s ankle injury] until after the game, because they still have a great leader like Westbrook.”

Webber on Westbrook: “I don’t know where the term ‘stopping on a dime’ came from, but he is the definition of that. He’s full speed into a jump shot. He makes it look easy.”                                                                                 

   Webber on the atmosphere in Golden State: “These are some of the most underrated fans. Even through the thin years, when their team wasn’t very good, these fans were still loud. This is what they deserve, an exciting brand of basketball with a lot of highlight plays.”

Webber on Warriors forward Draymond Green: “Being an undersized player used to be such a disadvantage, because you could only stay in the post or different areas where the coach would not allow you to play your full game. [Warriors head coach] Steve Kerr has let Green go, and he is efficient from all areas of the floor.”

Webber on the early success of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr: “He had to communicate with guys, let them know his intentions and they had to trust him. Trust is a really big thing in the NBA. Much kudos go to Kerr for having this team trusting him this early.”

 Webber on the flow of the Warriors offense: “We’re seeing shots tonight that you just don’t see all the time. Steph Curry is shooting threes and attacking. When he flows and shares [the ball] with his teammates, everything starts to flow.”

Webber on the difficulty teams have defending the Warriors: “The Warriors are not only great three-point shooters but also great three-point shooters late in the game…a tough assignment for any opponent.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Smith, Hill

  Smith on what the Pelicans need to make it to the next level: “They have all the talent. What do they need? They have a point guard who’s a star in Jrue Holiday, they have a former rookie of the year in Tyreke Evans, an emerging superstar in [center] Anthony Davis, [forward] Ryan Anderson who shoots it lights out and guys who come off the bench and contribute. The only thing they need is experience, but they have everything you need to be a contender.”


 Hill on the new starting five in Dallas: “They have the pieces. I would put that starting five up against anybody. They have to be in the conversation. I’m not 100% sure about their bench, but that starting five is as good as any, and could will a team to The Finals.”

Smith on what Rajon Rondo’s move to Dallas means for visiting teams: “When you come into Dallas, you don’t get a night off. You don’t have an advantage. You have to create an advantage when you play against Rondo.  Now teams going into Dallas will be on their heels. Rondo defends and pushes the ball on you.”

Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, Dec. 18, at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m.


****    ****    ****    ****

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith




 Smith on the Cavaliers: “They are a work in progress…they are not where they should be or could be.”
O’Neal on the Thunder: “They have a lot of ground to make up, so they need to start getting back on track. They are now coming out with a little bit of playoff intensity.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Cleveland Cavaliers (94) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (103)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Grant Hill (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)



 Hill on Cavaliers Head Coach David Blatt: “He certainly has the responsibility to meet the exceptions of this Cavs team.  It’s definitely not an easy situation. You have a team that was fighting to get into the Playoffs. David Blatt has a lot on his plate but he’s done a good job with some adversity.” 
   Hill on the Thunder:  “The Thunder have been sloppy on the offensive end. As they try to work Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant back in the mix it takes time to get that rhythm offensively.”

Hill on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “He’s unguardable, he’s relentless. He comes at you. He’s constantly attacking you at both ends of the floor.”

Smith on the best point guard between Westbrook and Kyrie Irving:   “Best is defined by winningRussell Westbrook is the better point guard because he’s been the better winner.”

Barkley on Westbrook:  “I can watch him play a lot. He’s spectacular. Before Derrick Rose got hurt, I never saw a point guard that explosive and that athletic…if he would just slow down a little bit.”

Hill on teammates Westbrook and Kevin Durant: “Those two have great chemistry out on the court.”

Hill on Thunder center Steven Adams: “Adam was a nice draft pick last year. Certainly has great size, activity inside for the Thunder…[and has] gained the trust of Coach Brooks.”

Hill on Westbrook’s athleticism: “How many guys can have that many surgeries and still not lose any athleticism? He might be the most athletic…certainly with Derrick Rose struggling to get back.”

Hill on Thunder center Kendrick Perkins: “He’s one of the best ball screeners in the game. A seasoned veteran that knows how to win.”

Hill on Durant:  “How unfair is it when your 6’10” small forward can execute a screen and roll and find a shooter in the corner?  Kevin Durant is showing he can do things in a number of ways.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Houston Rockets (113) @ Sacramento Kings  (109)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Brent Barry (analyst) with Rebecca Haarlow (reporter)




 Barkley on the Rockets going 7-3 without Dwight Howard: “People talk about Steph Curry, who is probably the front runner for MVP, but James Harden is right in there. They have played very well. I really don’t see how they are doing it. It’s been all James Harden. He’s been incredible.”


 Barry on guard Darren Collison: “Darren Collison has gotten off to a great start this year, more because he is a pass-first point guard. He’s complimentary to what Rudy Gay does as a ball dominant player. He’s been asked to score a lot in the absence of DeMarcus Cousins and he’s picked it up a little bit for the Sacramento Kings.”

Barry on Kings Head Coach Mike Malone developing a young team: “Mike has a very young team with a lot of new faces on the roster this year.  So they have to learn his vocabulary, the way he likes to play them and the style on both ends.”

Barry on forward Carl Landry: “He’s a capable offensive player. He likes to play around the mid-post area. If you don’t have the three point shooting, you are not going to have space for guys like Carl Landry or Rudy Gay to operate around the mid-range.”

Barry on Kings center DeMarcus Cousins: “[At the beginning of the season] he was remarkable by the numbers. Everyone that has watched DeMarcus Cousins knew that wasn’t an issue. Do we know he can play? Absolutely. It was about his demeanor and approach to the season. The leadership qualities, the on the court control of his emotions, playing both ends of the floor… it was remarkable. At some point as a player you have to step up and mature.”


****    ****    ****    ****

Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal and Smith




 Barkley on the Thunder: “They are going to make the Playoffs. The thing that is going to be interesting in the West is that they can all beat each other. If they are the No. 8 seed, the No. 1 seed is in for a dogfight. I have no idea who is going to win the Western Conference right now. All eight of those teams out West are better than any team in the East.”

Barkley on the probability of the Thunder advancing in the Playoffs: “They are going to be on the road for every series. They aren’t going to get higher than five. With [Russell] Westbrook and [Kevin] Durant healthy, they will have a chance against any team in the Western Conference.”



 O’Neal on Rockets guard James Harden: “This dude can do it all: penetrate, shoot, shoot from long range, finish at the rim.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR


NBA TV Doubleheader on Tuesday, Dec. 9, to feature Kobe Bryant & Lakers Hosting Kings; NBA TV Fan Night Presented by Sprint Telecast — Mavericks at Grizzlies

NBA-TV-LogoBryant Continues Pursuit of Michael Jordan on NBA’s All-Time Scoring List; Leads Lakers Against DeMarcus Cousins & Kings

NBA TV Fan Night Tips Off Tuesday’s Doubleheader with Grizzlies & Marc Gasol Hosting Mavericks & Dirk Nowitzki

NBA TV will feature a doubleheader on Tuesday, Dec. 9, including Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins at 10:30 p.m. ET, as the 16-time NBA All-Star Bryant continues his pursuit of Michael Jordan for third place on the league’s all-time scoring list. The night will tip off with NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint featuring two of the hottest teams of the league in action — Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks visiting Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies — at 8 p.m.  The NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint game selection was based on fan voting via, the mobile web, NBA Game Time App, and via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The NBA TV Fan Night team – host Ernie Johnson and analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony – will preview the doubleheader during the Pregame Show and offer analysis during the Sprint Halftime Report. Following the Mavs/Grizzlies game, NBA TV host Rick Kamla and analysts Steve Smith and Isiah Thomas will preview the Kings/Lakers matchup and provide analysis during halftime and NBA GameTime presented by Kia post-game coverage.

Fan voting for the next NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast — Tuesday, Dec. 23 — will be conducted from Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 8 a.m. through Thursday, Dec. 18, at midnight. Potential game telecasts:

  • Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat
  • Charlotte Hornets at Milwaukee Bucks

Expanding on the franchise’s focus on fans, NBA TV Fan Night viewers will have the weekly opportunity to vote for their favorite duos in NBA history in a bracket-style tournament. This week, fans will have the opportunity to vote using the hashtags #BestDuo1 or #BestDuo2 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to decide between the Knicks’ Walt Frazier and Willis Reed or the Spurs’ Tony Parker and Tim Duncan.

Upcoming Games on NBA TV

NBA TV will televise a doubleheader Friday night, Dec. 5, featuring Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant visiting the Philadelphia 76ers and Michael Carter Williams at 7 p.m., followed by the Kings and Cousins visiting the Indiana Pacers and Roy Hibbert at 10 p.m. The network will also air a Saturday night matchup when Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, attempting to extend its current 11-game winning streak, visit the Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m.


Friday, Dec. 5

Time (ET)

7 p.m.


Oklahoma City Thunder at Philadelphia 76ers

Saturday, Dec. 6

Monday, Dec. 8

Tuesday, Dec. 9

10 p.m.

8 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

8 p.m.

10:30 p.m.

Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings

Golden State Warriors at Chicago Bulls

Denver Nuggets at Toronto Raptors

Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies (NBA TV Fan Night)

Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers


Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. ET with an exclusive doubleheader featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers @ Oklahoma City Thunder followed by the Houston Rockets @ Sacramento Kings at 10:30 p.m. 

****    ****    ****    ****

Cleveland Cavaliers (90) @ New York Knicks (87)Marv Albert (play-by-play), Greg Anthony and Mike Fratello (analysts) with David Aldridge (reporter)




 Anthony on Cleveland needing more impact from their bench: “For the Cavs, it’s really about their starting five. They are not getting much of an impact [from the bench] and that’s going to have to change as this season progresses…if they really want to be a contender in the Eastern Conference.”

Fratello on Kyrie Irving: “Is there anybody in the NBA that has a better handle with the basketball than Kyrie Irving?”

Anthony: “There are some guys with great handles but he’s at the top of the list.”

Anthony on what Irving needs to do to improve his game: “As talented as Kyrie Irving is, the next level of his maturation is going to be able to use his talent to make his teammates better. That’s something he has to learn in order for this team to become championship caliber.”

   Charles Barkley [during halftime] on the Knicks’ Triangle offense: “The Triangle [offense] works when you have Shaq and Kobe [Bryant] or Michael [Jordan] and Scottie [Pippen]. When you don’t have good players, it’s not going to work…this Knicks team isn’t good.”

****    ****    ****    ****

New Orleans Pelicans (85) @ Golden State Warriors (112)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)



 Miller on Austin Rivers: “Sometimes he gets pigeon-holed into being a shooter. He’s at his best when he puts the ball on the floor and attacks the basket.”

Miller on Anthony Davis: “He’s made an early season bid for MVP…the way he has played, he has elevated himself to superstar status.”

   Miller on Steph Curry: “He might go down as the greatest shooter this game has ever seen.”

Miller on the difference between head coach Steve Kerr’s Warriors squad this year: “Defensively, they’re pretty much the same…but Steve Kerr has really opened up the offense. They have more flow…the ball doesn’t stick as much as it did a year ago.”

Miller on if Klay Thompson is the best two-way player in the NBA: “Absolutely…for so many years, it was Kobe Bryant who would lock you down on one end and get his points on the other end. But, in my opinion, it’s [currently] Klay Thompson.”

Miller on Steph Curry’s scoring ability: “It’s so easy for him…it’s muscle memory. He’s so good at taking the ball off the dribble and scoring.”

Miller on the development of the Warriors franchise: “We talk about the development of [a franchise] is when your young players develop. Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have gotten better each year [of their career]. That’s why the Warriors franchise is in good hands moving forward.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal



Barkley on the Warriors needing a big man: “They are an elite team but they are a big man away. Their two best players are jump shooters…the longer the season goes, those shots aren’t going to fall every time.”

O’Neal on head coach Steve Kerr: “I like the way he’s getting his guys to respond. He’s speaking their language and they’re going out there and busting their butts for this guy. Kudos to Steve Kerr, he’s doing a great job.”



 Barkley on Tim Hardaway, Jr.: “He’s going to be a heck of a player. He’s a heck of a player now, but he’s only going to get better.”
   Barkley on the Cavs: “They aren’t going to beat the Bulls [in the playoffs] playing lackadaisical. They have to play with passion and energy.”

Follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR


Notes from NBA TV Fan Night – Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014

NBA-TV-LogoNBA TV Fan Night – Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014

Toronto Raptors (117) at Sacramento Kings (109)

Fan Voting for the next NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast continues through Thursday, Dec. 4, at midnight on, the mobile web, NBA Game Time app, and via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Potential game options for Tuesday, Dec. 9:

  • Milwaukee Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies
  • Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers

****    ****    ****    **** Pregame Show

Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber

 Webber on what the Toronto Raptors will miss following DeMar DeRozan’s injury: “You lose late game free throw scoring, you lose a guy you can trust late in games. You lose a guy who can go to the line and get fouled…a guy that can be a second point guard for you, penetrate, a guy the defense has to respect. These guys are going to have to step up by committee because a guy like DeRozan, how he’s been playing, not an easy task to fill his shoes.”

Anthony on Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry: “Right now, to me, he’s an All-Star. First six weeks of the season…they got the best record in the conference and he’s one of the big reasons why.”

Webber on the Raptors after Rudy Gay left the team: “The rap on Rudy Gay was he was not a team player, if we’re totally honest…the thing that people are sensing is that Toronto is a better team, not individually, but better team in cohesiveness.”

   Anthony on Gay and how the Kings have improved since he joined the team: “Rudy Gay has also been a pretty good fit for Sacramento, as they’re trying to rebuild…they’ve [the Kings] definitely improved if you look at what they’re doing this year, and with the growth of some of their young players.”

Webber on how Gay can contribute with DeMarcus Cousins out for the game: “The one great thing about Rudy Gay’s game is that he has that midrange game area locked up, and he can go to the post, too. He’s an oversized two guard, oversized three, and he’s a willing and a good passer in the Sacramento system.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Anthony and Webber

 Anthony on forward Terrence Ross stepping up in the absence of DeRozan: “This is a guy that has the ability to be a creator and a tough shot maker. He’s done that consistently over the course of this season. He’s also a terrific defender, and I think as his confidence continues to grow, even though DeRozan’s out, this Raptors team, will continue to get better because he gives them that third cog offensively as a guy that can create his own offense.”
   Webber on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s prospects with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook returning: “If you have [Kevin] Durant and [Russell] Westbrook, this is a championship team. They can get to the Finals. It’s going to be hard because the west is so competitive and you can’t take it for granted, with the other teams having such a head start.”

****    ****    ****    ****

NBA GameTime presented by Kia

Johnson, Anthony and Webber



 Webber on keys to success for the Raptors going forward this season: “Ball movement, defense, and keeping us [outsiders] outside of the locker room. Because… I can’t believe a team can go far in the playoffs without their best player. I do think other players will benefit as a result of the injury to DeMar DeRozan.  This team can’t let us into the locker room because there’s going to be doubt against them just because the natural facts, and as long as they stick to defense, which is their core…if that’s your calling card…you’re always going to have a chance to be in the game.”
   Anthony on the Kings’ struggles of late, following a winning start: “DeMarcus Cousins’ impact is such that when you have him, it makes the game easier for so many other guys because you have to pay so much attention to him. But, having said that, this is an organization that has not had a lot of success. So anytime things start to go a little sideways, that doubt can creep in.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers @ New York Knicks followed by the New Orleans Pelicans @ Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m. 

****    ****    ****    ****

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith



 O’Neal on the Clippers dealing with trust issues: “When are they going to get it?  A team of this caliber, that has been together this long, should not be talking about trust issues.”
   Smith on Heat small forward Luol Deng: “I think Luol Deng is underrated. This is a guy that, at one time, Chicago said was untradeable.”

Smith on the Heat“After 11 games, I would have thought they would have won eight games.”

Barkley on the Heat: “The Miami team is a mediocre team; they are a good solid team.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Los Angeles Clippers (110) @ Miami Heat (93)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)



 Miller on the Clippers: “This Clipper team is not a great rebounding team, especially at the offensive end.”

Miller on Clippers guard Chris Paul: “When you talk about pick and rolls, this guy has eyes in the back of his head.”

Miller on Darren Collison: “The loss of Darren Collison may effect this team. I like Jordan Farmer, he’s a better offensive player than Darren Collison, but he’s not a defender like Collison.”

   Miller on the Heat: “They are building Championship habits. I like the new pieces they put together.”

Miller on Chris Bosh staying in Miami: “People are ecstatic that he stayed around and is showing his loyalty.”

Miller on Chris Bosh: “How do you utilize Chris Bosh in this system? You bring in a veteran presence on this team to surround Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to keep that level of play.”

Miller on Heat point guard Shabazz Napier: “This rookie is smooth. I loved him when he was at UConn. I thought he played under control for a point guard. He has come here and played fantastic early on for the Heat.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Chicago Bulls (88) @ Sacramento Kings  (103)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Chris Webber (analyst) with Rebecca Haarlow (reporter)



 Webber on Bulls power forward Taj Gibson: “I just love Taj Gibson. If you watch Taj Gibson, all you have to know is that he works hard, puts his body into position and makes the second, third and fourth effort to help his team.”

Webber on the Bulls maturing on the offensive end: “When you look at the Bulls, they have been known for their defense, not offense. This year, Coach Thibodeau has more offensive power – especially off the bench. It’s going to be interesting to watch this team mature throughout the season.”

Webber on Bulls guard Aaron Brooks: “You have to love his cadence. He’s just the guy, when everyone plays with him, they have to keep up with his pace because there is no time for laziness when he is on the floor. You have to love that if you are a coach.”

Webber on Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler: “This guy may be the most improved player in the NBA, offensively.  He is going to be a great player – at the end of the season heading into the playoffs – because he’s had a chance to play with [Derrick] Rose being out.”

Webber on the Bulls work ethic: “[They have the] most injuries, most heart. You have to love and admire how they go out on the court every day and give a steady dose of hard work. You just have to admire that.”



 Smith on the Kings: “This is just the first year I can look at Sacramento and say they play with effort and energy.”

Webber on Kings center DeMarcus Cousins: “He is one of the best big men in the game. This year there is no stopping him as he is becoming a better leader in this game.”

Webber on the Kings identity: “Every team has an identity…their identity is DeMarcus Cousins in the paint. It’s good that they are starting to play off of that.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal and Smith



 Barkley: “This is how the Clippers play; they are a dunk and layup machine; they have no physical toughness.”

Barkley on the Clippers half-court game: “We know the Clippers are very good in the full court. We know they are an elite team, but they have to fix their half-court offense.”

Barkley on the Clippers’ potential: “This team just has a ceiling. They are very talented, they are an elite team, but they are not going to win a Championship. They are great when they are running, jumping and dunking but they do a horrible job off the boards.”

Barkley on Clippers power forward Blake Griffin: “Blake Griffin is a very talented player, but he does not enforce his will down low. He is the one guy that can be dominant every night. But you have to wonder if he will ever develop that killer instinct.”



Barkley on the Bulls: “The Bulls just don’t have enough offensive fire power without Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol.”

Barkley on Bulls guard Derrick Rose playing through his pain: “Derrick Rose has to understand something – we are all in pain when you play basketball. You have to learn to play in pain.”

Barkley on Bulls guard Derrick Rose listening to his body: “He’s going to have to change the way he plays. Derrick Rose goes 100 percent every time. He needs to learn his body.”

  O’Neal on Kings center DeMarcus Cousins: “He’s playing like the best big man in the league.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR


Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the Los Angeles Clippers @ Miami Heat followed by the Chicago Bulls @ Sacramento Kings at 10:30 p.m.  

****    ****    ****    ****

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith



 TNT’s Rachel Nichols interviewed Bulls point guard Derrick Rose prior to the game 

Derrick Rose on his recent comments about sitting out games: “I was just worrying about myself and worrying about my future like every player in the league does. I’ll probably just think different. It’s only my seventh year but further into my career and my life, just trying to plan things out. I think people took that out of context but it is what it is. I was being myself and that’s all I can be. I couldn’t care less.” 

Barkley on Rose’s comments: “He’s a great player and a great kid…but that was stupid. We’re so blessed. I limp around but I go home to a big ol’ mansion. There are people that work harder than Derrick Rose that go home to a shack. There are consequences for what we do for a living. We’ve got the best life in the world. I’m a poor black kid from Leeds, Alabama, who grew up in the projects and I don’t mind limping around [now]. When I go home, I have a big ol’ house. I’ve got good sheets; I don’t know the thread count, but they’re good sheets. I’ve got a big car and I never have to worry about bills. Derrick Rose is making $20 million dollars a year and he’s got a couple of bad knees. There are pros and cons of what we do for a living.” 

O’Neal: “I was taught that if you could walk, you could play. You see how Kevin McHale walks now, how Phil Jackson walks now, how Charles [Barkley] and I walk…but it was worth it. When you make comments like that, it makes you look soft…but he can only be himself. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”

Smith: “I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because an MVP can’t have a low threshold of pain. It’s impossible.” 


****    ****    ****    ****

Chicago Bulls (100) @ Toronto Raptors (93)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter) 



 Miller on how Derrick Rose has altered his game: “He’s a much smarter player because of the injuries. I think he’s gotten away from that Tasmanian Devil mentality that he always has to attack, attack, attack. He’s not the same player.”

Miller on Rose’s comments: “It’s unfortunate because it would be more of a story if you were hearing things coming out of the Bulls locker room that Derrick Rose isn’t pulling his weight. To a man, everyone understands [what he’s gone through]. He’s had two major injuries in two and a half years…the execution was wrong with what he said but if there’s any guy who has heart in this league, it’s Derrick Rose. His commitment is there 100% to his team and the organization.”

Miller continues: “He’s in a no-win situation because, if he plays with sore ankles and plays badly, the headline is ‘damaged goods’ but if he sits out, he’s not fully committed.”

Miller on the passing prowess of the Bulls frontcourt:  “The Bulls have arguably the two best passing big men in the game in Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.”

Miller on Jimmy Butler’s outside shooting: “That’s the one area of his game that has vastly improved from his rookie season. That’s why he’s going to be a bona fide All-Star in this league.”

   Miller on DeMar DeRozan: “He was an All-Star last season and is so underrated as a shooting guard. He’s not seen on national TV a lot. I hope people come to appreciate the type of game that DeMar plays with.”

Smith on the Raptors: “What Toronto does better than any other team right now is they put pressure on you off the dribble. Their dribble penetration is second to none…they are the best at getting to the lane.”

Miller on the Raptors having a target on their back: “When you have a young team that’s on the verge of breaking through and wants to take that next step, two things stand out: consistency and trust. Now there’s a bulls eye on this young Raptors team because of their high expectations. Can they sustain that each and every night that they take the floor? They are expected to compete at a high level.”


****    ****    ****    ****

Brooklyn Nets (99) @ Golden State Warriors (107)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Grant Hill (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter) 



 Hill on Deron Williams: “He looks energetic like he did [when he played] in Utah. He hasn’t been healthy since he’s been with the Nets. It’s very encouraging to see him back playing at a high level.”

Hill on head coach Lionel Hollins: “He’s adapted to the personnel on this team. They are scoring more points in transition and taking quick shots. He’s a great coach and it’s great to have him back in the league.”



 Hill on Leandro Barbosa: “He’s the epitome of a sixth man and he’s in that role in Golden State. He will thrive in this system.”

Hill on the Warriors’ bench: “To have the luxury to rest your starters and have your second unit come in a play well is something that’s going to help this team throughout the season. Getting production out of [Andre] Iguodala and [Leandro] Barbosa is going to be huge.”

Hill on Andre Iguodala: “Iguodala is known for his defense, his length and he takes the challenge day in and day out to guard the other team’s best player on the perimeter. He’s going to be big for this team defensively and off the bench once he gets comfortable in that role.”

Hill on Klay Thompson: “As a young player, he’s not satisfied with where he’s at with his game. He’s taking the time to develop his all-around play.”


****    ****    ****    ****

Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal and Smith



 Smith on the Raptors: “I really like Toronto. They came into the season not having to find an identity. They already had one coming off of last year. Teams that build off the previous year are more successful when the playoffs come.”


 Smith on the Cavaliers: “They have the best player in the world [LeBron James] but they don’t play the best basketball. I don’t know if they can learn quickly with guys that young. Being that young, with a new coach, doesn’t seem like a championship mix.”


 Barkley on Darren Collison: “Darren Collison is the reason why Sacramento is playing well. He solved all of their point guard issues.”

Smith on how the Kings need to learn how to win: “Sacramento has figured out a style to play well; now the second part of that equation is how to finish teams off. Finishing them off is paying attention to details. Sometimes the things that allow you to get the lead won’t allow you to win the game. Sacramento has to learn how to slow down.”

   Smith on the Grizzlies being a championship contender: “They don’t get enough credit. They are not only a contender [to make the playoffs] but a championship contending team. They have all the elements and all the pieces.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR


Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, October 30, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, October 30, 2014

Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, October 30, 2014

TNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, November 6, at 8 p.m. ET with an exclusive doubleheader featuring the San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets followed by the Dallas Mavericks @ Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m.


****    ****    ****    ****

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber



Smith on Cleveland’s LeBron James being a scorer as opposed to deferring to teammates: “When he did that in Miami they didn’t win. When he said, ‘I’m the best player, and I’m going to be the best player, and you guys have to fall back,’ that’s when they won championships. So, to me, he’s going to have to be the best player for them to be successful.”

Webber on the excitement building for James’ return as a special event in Cleveland: “When you go to places, New York, L.A., you notice the stars, the celebrities on the side. If you’re a superstar, you want to make sure you give them their money’s worth; you go to their movies and to their concerts. I think it’s going to be electric.”


  Smith on the New York Knicks needing to display patience: “Patience is not a New York City word. I’ve never heard that in the vocabulary of a New York franchise, New York person. So, the lack of patience, they have to get it done, figure out a way to get it done… J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony, they have to have phenomenal seasons to take them to the 54 wins they had two or three seasons ago.”

O’Neal on players improving individually once they grasp the triangle offense: “History shows the triangle has worked perfectly when you have two Hall of Famers, two great players… Every great player that has used the triangle, when you look at their highlights, it’s [Michael] Jordan in the iso, it’s Shaq in the post, it’s Kobe [Bryant] in the iso; so once these guys learn it, Carmelo can say, ‘cut through, cut through,’ I’m going to do what I do.”

****    ****    ****    ****

New York Knicks (95) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (90)
Marv Albert (play-by-play), Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller (analysts) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)




Miller on the adjustment James’ Cavaliers teammates need to make: “When you acquire the best player on the planet in LeBron James, I said early on, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waters need to be in the gym shooting 500 to 1,000 jump shots a day because LeBron James is going to be double and triple teamed, especially in the open court.”

Barkley on Kevin Love as one of the best power forwards in the NBA: “The guy’s been the best power forward in the NBA the last three or four years. He didn’t have a lot of help in Minnesota. You’re getting 12, 13, 14 rebounds a night… You can’t fake rebounding numbers…if you’re getting 14 rebounds a night, you’re a hell of a player.”

Barkley on David Blatt’s goal the first month of the season: “The first month of the season is really going to be for the Cavaliers, trying to figure out who works well together. He’s [Blatt] got to figure out [Anderson] Varejao, Love, Tristan Thompson, he’s got to get their big man rotation in order. That to me is going to be the key to the first month for the Cavaliers.”

Miller on Love’s passing: “An underrated part of Kevin Love’s game is his ability to pass the basketball, and more so, his length of court outlets.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers’ weaknesses: “One thing I think the Cavs need is they’re missing a big guy.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers not handling pressure of such a big game to start the season: “The moment just got too big for them tonight. They played flat the entire game…they played great, like the first five minutes, then the adrenaline, everything, made them tired and flat for the rest of the game.”

  Barkley on Tim Hardaway, Jr.: “I like Tim Hardaway, Jr. He’s going to be a good player in the league for a long time.”

Barkley on Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks and Kevin Durant: “Carmelo’s obviously a great player. It drives me crazy sometimes, he’s not the reason the Knicks are not any good. Kevin Durant is a good scorer, but if I need one basket, inside [or] outside, I’m going to Carmelo Anthony.”
Miller on the Knicks bouncing back for the win: “In this league, you don’t get too high, you don’t get too low. You talk about New York just getting shellacked at home in their season opener versus Chicago. And all the adrenaline is in the favor of Cleveland tonight. And New York comes out here, and got off to a slow start, and found a way.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Oklahoma City Thunder (90) @ Los Angeles Clippers (93)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)




Anthony on Russell Westbrook’s status in the league: “He’s a true superstar. It still baffles me that he catches so much criticism for a guy who’s truly a superstar.”

Anthony on Oklahoma City Thunder forward Perry Jones: “This is about as good as he’s looked as a pro. It’s been a transition for him. [He had] only the one year in college. Often times with players like that, it takes them a little longer to get comfortable, and physically be mature enough to have an impact at this level.”

Anthony on the Thunder’s approach without Kevin Durant: “They have realistic expectations. The bottom line, you want to make sure that by the time [Kevin] Durant comes back, our young guys are better basketball players. It may not be reflective in the win-loss column, but it allows you to keep your eye on the big picture.”

  Anthony on Blake Griffin’s improved jumper: “The talk was coming in, the improvement of that midrange jump shot. It just takes a lot of pressure off your body when you have that where you can knock down several of these during the course of a game.”

Anthony on new Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer: “He’s like a kid in a candy store. It is good to see.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Smith and Webber



Webber on Cavaliers’ struggles: “I want to go back to the Miami Heat. Watching this Cleveland team just made me remember how much of a well-oiled machine the Miami Heat were with LeBron… and remembering their journey, and how they they had to do that [develop] with Erik [Spoelstra] makes those fans kind of patient.”

Smith on James’ uncharacteristic turnovers: “The one thing you don’t expect him to make are mental errors. With eight turnovers it was mental errors. That means possessions when you didn’t get a shot…he is the master at getting the right shot at the right time in his runs with Miami. And, today, he was not that.”

  O’Neal on the Knicks’ triangle offense: “As a professor of the triangle, I gave them a C-minus on the triangle tonight. But, when it comes to heart and effort, I give them a B-plus. When it comes to Carmelo doing what he does, they get an A-plus.”


Webber on players needing to step up for Oklahoma City following injuries to Durant and Westbrook: “Every team I played on or watched, you see it as an opportunity for other guys to step up. Look at Chicago, the reason why I think Chicago will be such a problem this year, [Jimmy] Butler got chances to play without [Derrick] Rose, other guys got a chance to play.”
  O’Neal on the Clippers needing to put teams away: “We talk about identity, and for so many years the Clippers were viewed as soft… New owner, we’re at home, new, fresh beginning, you have to start developing that killer instinct now.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR



Transcript: ABC & ESPN NBA Countdown Season Preview Media Conference Call

NBA_on_ABCABC and ESPN NBA Countdown analysts Jalen Rose and Doug Collins discussed the start of the 2014-15 NBA season on a media conference call. ESPN’s NBA season tips off Wednesday, Oct. 29, beginning with an hour-long NBA Countdown at 7 p.m. ET with Rose, Collins and host Sage Steele. The program will feature a live performance by International recording artist Aloe Blacc. Following Countdown, the Chicago Bulls and the returning Derrick Rose will visit the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony at 8 p.m. while the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard will host the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook at 10:30 p.m.
Here is the replay of today’s conference call.
Q.  With a couple of the top title contenders this year coming in San Antonio, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, while some of the big markets rebuild, I was wondering if you think that it’s a good thing for the league that a lot of the top teams and most marketable stars are in smaller markets rather than bigger markets now?
JALEN ROSE:  Well, a couple of things.  The game has graduated with social media, international and world presence, television sponsors – to where you can get the game and get the experience on so many different avenues. You know how people today basically watch television on their phone as they’re moving around.
So playing for a storied franchise – the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets – it’s not necessary per se to continue to make big time endorsement dollars, to continue to be the face of a franchise that’s successful, to be in one of those markets.  So if you’re a really good player like a Kevin Durant who gets drafted by Oklahoma City, you can become the MVP of the league and get exorbitant dollars from a shoe company, and at that point it’s all about winning.  It doesn’t work out for everybody like it worked out for Kobe Bryant getting five championships and spending his entire career in LA or even a Carmelo Anthony who just got a max deal.
If you’re in a good situation now, instead of chasing a large market like Kevin Love could have, he chose to chase the championship rings to Cleveland, something LeBron James couldn’t get people to do a handful of years ago.
Q.  I’m going to go parochial here with the Heat.  What do you expect from them this year?
ROSE:  I’ve got to see how many games Dwyane Wade is going to play, just like everyone else.  He has a few different phases to his career and that’s what happens when you become a veteran.  You reinvent yourself on and off the floor. He’s been really mature and handled himself like a leader and a champion off the floor, but on the floor early in the career, it was drive to the basket, contest and/or block shots, one or two spectacular dunks a game, Finals MVP champion.
Then there was what I consider, I guess, The Flash versus Flashes stage where you’ve got LeBron. First year he plays 76 games.  This past year he missed 28 games. Four Finals, two championships.
Now can he be that guy again that the team can rely on to play over 65 games?  I don’t know health wise if he’s going to be able to hold up, and because of that, that’s what’s going to make it a tough season for the Miami Heat, especially based on the recent success they’ve had.
Q.  I know the city of Boston has changed dramatically since you were in the league and you came out in ’94.  What would be your impressions for the city as a free agent destination?  They’re going to have cap space next summer, and obviously Doc is not here to sell the team, nor is Garnett or Pierce or Allen.  It’s going to have to be maybe Rondo or if not, a bunch of young guys.  How do you see Boston as a free agent destination?
ROSE:  Now if you’re a city like Boston where you haven’t been able to land terrific superstar level free agents other than your big three scenario with KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. It was literally a perfect storm with Doc Rivers standing on the sideline, a young Rajon Rondo, who developed into a high-level point guard.  That was more of the exception than the rule.
I know that they flirted somewhat with Kevin Love and didn’t get too far on trying to attract him as a free agent.  I think when you’re one of those destinations like Boston, you have to draft real well and hope that one of the guys that you’re taking with all the picks you’ve been stockpiling for the last few years either becomes a player that’s already under contract from another team that really has no choice but to come and play there, even if he wouldn’t sign as a free agent, or hope that one of those players turns into a multi-time All-Star that can play alongside Rajon Rondo.  Since that has not happened, you kind of have the picks, you kind of have the money.  You’ve still got Rondo, but you’re not contending in any way, shape or form, and you have the cap space next year.
I think it’s going to be crucial to see what happens with Rondo.  They have to turn him into a player and/or a few players that are going to be multi All Stars, and then once you’re able to do that and you’re a winner again, people always want to try to play for a winner.
Q.  How much does the city itself, obviously with Miami and LA it does, but in terms of just the money you get versus the city you’re playing in, can Milwaukee or Sacramento attract free agents if they have the right amount of money?
ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I joke all of the time, keep getting them checks.  You’ve got enough money, you’ll get some players.  Now, the thing is, is it going to be the New York Knicks?  You sign Amar’e Stoudemire, it doesn’t turn out, all of a sudden you bring in Andrea Bargnani, you’re paying him over $10 million to go with Melo and Tyson Chandler. All of a sudden you’ve got the highest-paid front court in the NBA’s history, yet you’re not a playoff team.
So you want to be responsible with how you spend the money, but the second part of the league as the finances start to change and everybody knows the new TV deal is going to be in play, there are players who have role-player statistics now looking for max dollars. So when you see what they ended up having to pay for Avery Bradley, who I really like his game, he’s tough defensively. He’s learned to make an open shot, and he is somebody you can have in the game the last two minutes.  If you take his salary base, if you’re going to be a great team, he’s probably going to be your fourth or fifth highest-paid player.  So who are those other guys?  That becomes the dilemma.
Q.  My question specifically is about the Philadelphia 76ers and what you feel about Sam Hinkie’s approach toward turning this team from a loser to supposedly building it into a winner, and he seems to think it’s maybe the only way you can do it in the NBA.  Do you agree?
ROSE:  There are a lot of different ways to do it, so just because you get the No. 1 pick, that guy has only went on to win a championship with that team – if it was Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan, those are the only No. 1 picks that have gone on to win titles with the team that drafted them.  It’s not an exact science that tanking is going to get you a great player or a franchise championship player, or it’s going to turn around your forces.  You still need Nerlens Noel to become that shot blocker he was at Kentucky and play hopefully reminiscent of how Jermaine O’Neal played.  He kind of reminded me of him; Jermaine has a softer touch.  You hope he grows into that kind of player.
You hope Embiid becomes a guy that was worthy to be the No. 1 pick. He was a game changer defensively in college and all of a sudden you’ve got two rim protectors to go with Michael Carter-Williams, who was the Rookie of the Year.
But now, what price do you pay as fans?  How long are you willing to wait?  Because Philadelphia does have knowledgeable fans but also ticket prices are so exorbitant in today’s landscape. If you support your team, are you going to spend your money to support your team, which makes it bad for the rest of the league because what happens when other teams that are moderate come to town, a .500 team comes on a Wednesday night?  You have guys taking pictures like he did last year, a guy I think bought basically a whole roll of tickets for $75.  So that becomes bad for the entire league.
Hopefully if that is the plan, which they’re definitely engrained to have that as being the plan, this is the last year for that for everybody involved.
And one other thing that affects that is it’s a league issue.  It’s when you decide that you can pay rookies 500K or first year contract or people in their first contract $500,000 but a 10-year veteran is around $1.5 million. It waters down the roster to where not only do you have a team that’s struggling, but you have a team of young guys that aren’t experienced that are struggling. So they don’t understand how to be professionals and bring it every night, compete every possession, still work hard in practice, know what to say to the media, still be involved in the community.  Those are learned behaviors because of the reasons of trying to save money that teams hurt their roster from just having a competitive team on a nightly basis.
Q.  I’ve got a couple Bulls questions.  How much of an upgrade do you think Pau Gasol will be over Carlos Boozer, and how would you compare Joakim Noah’s game?
ROSE:  I think the Chicago Bulls on paper right now, you’d have to argue the players that they’re going to have playing minutes at the four and five position, and I’m including McDermott because of his size, I’m including Mirotic because of his size even though they’re rookies, and I think the team drafted well to add those two guys.  But when you have Pau – who averaged 17 points last year, still is a factor around the basket and is a really good passer high low and he’s an unselfish player and he’s a cerebral player to go with an all-NBA performer in Noah, who was the Defensive Player of the Year, and then add Taj Gibson, who they still have, who can finish over the top, who’s tough to the point where they allow Carlos Boozer to be expendable because he’s so good defensively in the fourth quarter. That’s as formidable as it gets, and that’s what I’m looking at when you compare them to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
You know what you’re going to get from Kevin Love.  You can book his 20 plus and 10 plus.  Tristan Thompson, he was close to a double-double last year.  Is he going to be consistent?  Can he stay out of foul trouble?  How many games are you going to get from Varejao?  I’m not really a big believer in Haywood at this point of his career playing quality playoff minutes.
If I had to go interior and give a team the edge, it would be the Bulls, and that’s why at this point of the season, if I had to pick who I felt like was going to come out of the East, it would be Chicago for those reasons.
Q.  So I take it you have really high expectations for Derrick Rose this year then?
ROSE:  Yes, I like a guy that can get 30 points in 24 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Coach Collins broke down a play on our Countdown show where it was 0-0 and Derrick Rose got a long outlet, dribbled up the left side, went over a high pick and roll, drove right to the basket and laid it up.  So what that showed me is that that’s another thing that’s going to make that rivalry great.  Kyrie can boogie with the ball.  I joked that he’s like, I guess, Turbo and Breakin’ outside of the store dancing with a broom.  He can really make it happen, but he has to learn as well as Love and even Waiters to compete defensively.
Chicago has a toughness about them.  They have a defensive identity, and they have the coach in the league with the highest win percentage that has never won a championship in Tom Thibodeau.  They have those pieces in place, and I think they could be ready to take that leap.
Q.  What do you think about Chris Bosh as a No. 1 option offensively at this point?
ROSE:  When you look down at the stat sheet, I think he’s still going to be 18 points, shoot a high percentage, cause matchup problems for the opposing four.  He’s shown that he can be an All Star level player, whether in Toronto, and/or a champion in Miami, who’s clutch.  He makes big shots at the end of the games.  But the difference is the wear and tear that’s going to happen with him now having to play closer to the basket, doing more post ups, and grabbing more rebounds.  That’s the biggest decrease that I’ve seen in his game is that as he’s shot more threes and basically it was because of their system that was successful for that team, that took him away from the paint, and he got less rebounds.
So he’s going to be in there trying to get more rebounds and be more of a physical presence, and it’s going to be good.  I think he’s going to be able to live up to the fact that they need him to score buckets, but they’re going to need a lot more points from that roster than he’s going to be able to deliver, I think.
Q.  Two quick questions:  One quick one with regards to the Wizards and your thoughts about the entire Southeast Division, and secondly, your thoughts about the Cavaliers’ first year coach, David Blatt?
ROSE:  I’ll go Coach David Blatt first because it was last and it was fresh.  Having LeBron James, Kevin Love and also Kyrie Irving with the fact that he is a really successful championship international coach that’s been really creative with his teams, and his players have really enjoyed playing for him, playing in his system – the way that he wants them to move the basketball and not really play a lot of isolation – for that I think they’re going to be one of the most efficient teams that we’ve seen in the league.
If I had to pick two players to play with LeBron just from an offensive standpoint, it would be Kyrie Irving and it would be Kevin Love.  When is the last time that guy has played on a team where one guy is going to get the rebound, somebody else is going to get the outlet, and he can actually be on a 2-on-1 break trying to dunk on someone?  I’m excited to see that.
Q.  Not since college.
ROSE:  I joked that the best point guard that he’s probably played against his high school was Rich Paul.  And the second question?
Q.  The Washington Wizards and your assessment of the entire Southeast Division.
ROSE:  The Washington Wizards, I really enjoyed seeing the emergence of John Wall, becoming an All Star caliber player.  It’s hard sometimes as a point guard where that’s the toughest position on a nightly basis in the league to come into your own, and he ended up staying healthy last year and became an All Star level player.  Couple him with Bradley Beal, I really like them as a young, talented backcourt.  I affectionately call them Hustle and Flow.
You bring in a Paul Pierce. The last two or three minutes of a game, Paul Pierce has shown that he’s a guy that you want the basketball in his hands because he can make plays with the best of them.
You’re really going to lose Trevor Ariza’s athleticism, his defense, his ability to switch multiple positions, and he has quick hands, so I think they’re going to miss that.  Can Nene stay healthy?  When you look at him, whether it was in Denver, every time I see him, I was like, wow, if that guy could stay healthy, he could be an All-Star caliber player, and then he just had health issue after health issue. You saw what he can bring if he’s healthy come playoff time, what he did in this past playoffs, and Gortat, who they just signed to new deal, that’s a real formidable four/five.  They basically remade their bench and those guys have got to prove their worth.
As far as the entire division?
Q.  Do you feel it to be kind of an up for grabs situation, that there’s Washington, there’s Miami, there’s Carolina, literally any number of teams that could really jump in there and take it?
ROSE:  Absolutely, but I want to grade Miami on a curve for a second.  They’re getting graded on having Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and going to four straight Finals, okay.  The other teams in this division still have a lot of work to do, and they did add Luol Deng, and I don’t think that they’re going to be an Eastern Conference finalist, but don’t be surprised if the Heat are a playoff team.
Atlanta, I love Al Horford.  He’s going to back in the lineup.  You put him back with Millsap, they’re a team no one really talks much about.  They can also be in the playoffs again.
Lance Stephenson is now with Charlotte.  Put him with Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, they’re quietly putting their team together, who’s going to make three point shots for that squad.
And Orlando, they’re dealing with Oladipo’s injury, and I really like Vucevic and Tobias Harris.  It is a division that’s up for grabs, but don’t be surprised when the smoke clears if the Heat is not a lot closer to the top than people really realize on paper.
Q.  A couple more Cavs questions:  Starting with LeBron’s thing that the offense that they’re running is unlike anything he’s done in his 11 years in the league, and in watching the preseason games, have you picked up on any of that that you could explain to us as to what they’re doing that’s so different than the rest of the league is doing?
ROSE:  LeBron gets to play as a small forward.  In Miami he was a point power forward.  Early in his Cleveland days he was basically like a point forward because he wasn’t playing post-up basketball much at that point in his career.
His whole dynamic of how he’s seeing the game has changed because his positions have literally switched.  When you have a legitimate All Star point guard in Kyrie, you don’t have to come and get every outlet pass because you know, A, that’s his job; B, you want him to make the second pass sometimes.  And then all of a sudden, Kyrie, while he may get the hockey assist, LeBron is in a position in transition to make a play for himself or for others.
In the half court, it’s basically throwback NBA basketball.  Some teams still play power basketball like the Memphis Grizzlies where they go and throw it to the elbow and drop it to the box and see if they can take advantage of a mismatch or set a small screen for the big weak side like Stockton used to do Malone, then all of a sudden we can get some action that way.
How they’re trying to do it, it’s just have five-man basketball. Pass, cut, moving like your hair is on fire, no standing around, the basketball finds the energy, the energy finds the hot man, and you hope to get a good shot and have a situation where people never feel like they have to force their offensive flow.
Q.  And then to follow up, you were on a Phoenix team with some big time personalities and stardom between Nash and Stoudemire and Marion.  When you have a group like this Cavs group where you have Love and Kyrie and LeBron, how much is that on the responsibility of the players to fit together, and how much does David Blatt shoulder that to make sure everyone is on the same page?
ROSE:  Well, the ultimate responsibility is going to fall to LeBron because I think those pieces are in place even though they hired the coach before.  He officially decided to come back to Cleveland.  When you have a four time MVP on your roster it’s going to start and end with him.  He’s the marionette that learned from the puppeteer Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade how to be a champion, how to lead the team, how to recruit players to come play in Cleveland.
He even poached a couple of the Heat players off their roster, formerly Mike Miller and then James Jones.
So when you’re now in Cleveland, his whole goal is to show a young Kyrie Irving, a young Dion Waiters how to be a pro, how to work, how to compete, and Kevin Love how to transform those numbers that he was getting into wins and losses, into more wins.
I think that dynamic is really ironed out, and there won’t be any gray area at all.
Q.  LeBron James basically transformed the Miami Heat franchise, obviously the players, the roster, everything from the organization, top down.  What’s the toughest thing for the Heat, the players on the roster and the organization as a whole going forward while that shadow of LeBron’s departure hovers over the franchise?
DOUG COLLINS:  Well, the thing about it is you know with Miami, the blueprint is in place.  You know, Pat Riley has been there, Erik Spoelstra has been there 20 years.  They call it the Miami way.  This is the way we do things.
The big thing for Erik now is he’s got to find the best way for this particular team without LeBron to win basketball games.  It’s going to be a different offense.  It’s going to be a different defense, and you’ve got a lot of different dynamics. Last year, so often LeBron was the point guard, so now you’re asking Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole to assume those duties of being the point guard and running whatever kind of offense that Erik feels they need to run to be able to be successful.
Chris Bosh has gone from being the third guy, a spacer shooting the ball and not being in the post much, shooting threes, to now being the No. 1 option, being in the paint more, scoring on the block, going back to a lot of the ways that he played in Toronto.
The big question to me is going to be Dwyane Wade.  Last year he missed 28 games and the blueprint looked like it was working until into The Finals, where it looked like he didn’t have a lot left at that particular time.  How are they going to manage him this year?  What role is he going to play?  We know that when he’s healthy, he’s still a dynamic player.
You’re adding Josh McRoberts, when he’s healthy, to be a starting power forward.  Chris Bosh is a center.  Who’s their bench going to be?
The Miami way is in place.  It’s now going to be what do we have to do in the absence of the best player in the NBA to find a way to win on both ends of the floor.  How can we maximize our bench?  How can we maximize our starters?  But to me at the end of the day it’s how effective are Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh going to be, and everybody has got to play off them.
I didn’t mention Luol Deng.  I think it was an excellent acquisition in that deal.  We know what kind of player Luol is, but it’s going to be a totally different team, and how long it takes them to come together is going to be very interesting.
Q.  And then for Jalen, as a player coming out of this, what’s your perspective?  How do you deal with this?  Just everything in general from the lack of media circus to maybe lower expectations now?
ROSE:  This is where your pride and professionalism kicks in, in particular for Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  They want to prove like, wow, LeBron was a leader and the MVP, that they weren’t just living off his fumes.  That’s what’s going to drive them.  I can be a first option if I’m Chris Bosh.  I can put up the numbers that people feel like I wasn’t able to put up because I was sharing the basketball and sacrificing myself for championships.
And for Dwyane Wade, already one of the top two guards that the league has seen, can he go back to being a guy that was blocking shots, getting steals, being active, playing multiple games a year?
It’s hard just to imagine on paper to have a maintenance plan with LeBron James that called for him to miss 28 games, and unfortunately he got fatigued come Finals.  I can’t imagine how that could go stronger this year without LeBron James on the roster.
Q.  With the Lakers not being able to land like a big time free agent in the off season, a lot has been made about the fall of the Lakers and that franchise, and a lot of the blame seems to be going towards Kobe Bryant.  How much blame for the struggles of the franchise do you believe should be pointed towards Kobe?
COLLINS:  I’m not going to put any blame on Kobe Bryant.  That guy has played for almost 20 years now.  He’s played over 50,000 career minutes.  When he’s healthy, he’s been the best player at his position throughout his time in the NBA.  He’s been all defense.
You have to understand, success is cyclical in this league.  How did the Celtics do after they lost Bird, McHale and Parrish?  How did the Lakers do after they lost Magic and Kareem and Worthy and that group of guys?  How did the Bulls do after they lost Michael, Scottie and Phil and that group of guys?
And sometimes we don’t understand, the league has changed a lot, where super teams are put together to last for a while with each other.  Look at the Boston Celtics right now. They had the run with Doc and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.  Look where they are.  It’s a cyclical part of the NBA, and what’s changed, and maybe Jalen can talk about this, is if you look at it, when is the last time the Boston Celtics signed a big-time free agent?  When is the last time that the Philadelphia 76ers have signed big-time free agent?  When is the last time the New York Knicks have signed a big-time free agent?
The days of those teams automatically signing those guys isn’t happening.  Guys are going and playing other places.  They understand that you don’t have to play in the biggest markets to have success as well as get endorsements and all.  Look at Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City; look at the team down in San Antonio.
To put that on Kobe, I’m not buying it.  The guy is one of the all-time great competitors.  I think he’s an easy target right now because Kobe is not a warm and fuzzy guy, and he’ll step up to the plate and compete every night, but I just think that’s wrong to put all this on his plate.
ROSE:  And I’ll second what Doug said because great teams in today’s era, the elite teams have three guys playing at All-Star levels; the contending teams have two; playoff caliber teams, especially in the East, can have one.  Kobe was great when he had Shaq.  He was a champion when he had Gasol.
I look back at one decision that changed the Lakers’ fortune that probably is going to put Kobe in a position not to get a sixth ring.  It was the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson.  Now, for a guy that’s won five championships with your franchise, and we know about the personal relationship he has with Jeanie Buss, but just professionally, when they decided to go to Mike D’Antoni, well, who else was in tow with Mike D’Antoni?  Steve Nash.  Well, Steve Nash we all know is already out for the season and Mike D’Antoni has been fired.
Those were the two catalyst decisions to me that put Kobe in a position to now say, of course I’m going to ask for maximum dollars.  I see the team that’s probably a shell of itself taking me into my twilight, so of course, who am I going to leave money on the table for?  So he looks at a young team and he looks at a situation that’s in flux, and he says, I’m going to be a pro, I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to show the world I can come back and average 25 points.  But when he does that, he’s coming back to a Western Conference that 32 wins won’t get you in the playoffs, and I think that’s what they’re looking at.
Q.  Feeding off that, comment on the notion that free agents don’t want to go play with Kobe.
COLLINS:  When you’re a great player in this league, I mean, LeBron James had two choices:  LeBron was either going to stay in Miami or he was going to go home.  He wasn’t going to go to his third city.  At the end of the day, Carmelo was not going to leave New York City and what that brings to him.  I think that’s really unfair to say guys don’t want to go play with Kobe.
I think there’s a lot of chatter and all that kind of stuff or whatever, but I don’t buy that at all.  I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that.
ROSE:  It relates to one All Star caliber player who’s listed around a top 10, top 15 player, and that’s about Dwight Howard, and since they didn’t click initially and Dwight didn’t stay, that was the other domino that I talked about with the other scenarios. Then all of a sudden you lose an All-Star guy to Houston and you don’t get anything in return.
Q.  Clearly the biggest storyline of the offseason was LeBron returning home to Cleveland.  What storylines are you most intrigued by as we’re getting ready to open up the season?
COLLINS:  For me, obviously to watch this Cleveland team as they grow through this period of time.  Some of these guys are going to be under the greatest scrutiny they’ve ever been under as players.  You’ve already seen it.  Kevin Love makes a little statement I need more touches to get going, and basically LeBron gets the guys together and says, guys, understand that every word we say is going to be parsed.  Don’t you find it interesting that every press conference that they had in Miami, he and Dwyane Wade did them together?  We’re going to make sure that we’re on the same page every single day, so it can’t be divide and conquer. This guy said this, this guy said that.
To watch them, David Blatt is a terrific coach.  I think his biggest challenge is going to be handling the media and all that goes with this team as it continues to grow.
I think it’s going to be interesting with the Chicago Bulls.  They’ve got new pieces.  Jalen and I differ on this a little bit.  I think they have the right pieces, but I think that’s going to take a while longer.  Derrick Rose coming back, they’re still not solidified yet with that starting situation.  I’m of the belief that McDermott would be a better starter and Dunleavy coming off the bench would solidify that second unit, but I think Tibs is concerned about having the best possible team he can have out there to start the season so they don’t get off to a slow start.
How do you incorporate Pau Gasol into the low post?  They played through Joakim Noah last year.  Now he’s playing as a power forward.  He’s not catching the ball as much.  He’s not much of a playmaker because you have Rose and you have Pau Gasol.  Jimmy Butler has already got an injury.  So there’s a lot of stuff going on there that we know they’re going to be great defensively.  Can they get good enough offensively to be a team that can win a championship?
And then to me the West Coast, I mean, it’s unfortunate the injury to Kevin Durant, but you’ve got eight teams that made the playoffs last year.  If any team is going to be able to break through, can the Pelicans break through?  They’ve got six really good players.  Do they have enough depth?  Can they stay healthy?
Phoenix Suns had a feel-good season last year.  Can they build on that?  So to me there are 10 teams in the West for eight spots.  How far is Oklahoma City going to drop with the injury to Durant?
I think as much as the Clippers had a great year last year, I think they still have some questions.  Jalen and I both talk about I’m concerned about their size on the wings and on the perimeter.  When it comes to playing teams, they really struggled against Oklahoma City last year, size on the perimeter.  That three-spot right now is by committee.  J.J. Redick has got to stay healthy.  There’s a lot of things going on out there.
To me, so many storylines in the West, but the East, last year we were talking about two teams.  Start of the year we said Indiana and Miami are going to be there in the Conference Finals, and they were.  This year in the East, we’re talking about two teams:  Cleveland and Chicago and everybody else, so it’ll be interesting to watch for me.
ROSE:  And I’ll give you a couple of quick nuggets because Coach killed it.  The return of Derrick Rose.  If he can play at an all NBA level, I feel like they should win the Eastern Conference.  LeBron’s return to Cleveland, I mean, just the maturation to forgive the letter written by Dan Gilbert, but also that means an acknowledgment of his transgressions that he felt like he could have done things a lot different with the organization and with the fans, then to turn around and be able to recruit Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, James Jones and possibly Ray Allen.  Stay tuned for that one.
On the West, working the NBA Finals and being at those games, just appreciating the Spurs fans, I just have a soundtrack in my head that just literally says, Go Spurs Go!  I think I’m so wound up that I might just blurt it out every now and then because that’s how dominant they were and how impressed I am with the way they do things.
Their offseason included re-signing Pop, re-signing Tony, re-signing Tim, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner, and they’re hoping to obviously get an extension going with Kawhi Leonard.
They’re back in tow, along with what Coach said, the Clippers.  Is it their turn?  CP3, Blake Griffin, all-NBA performers.  DeAndre Jordan is going to be in position to lead the league in field goal percentage and blocks and rebounds, probably the first guy to be able to do that in NBA history.
So I’m trying to see if it’s going to be the Clippers’ turn because I think they have what it takes to push the San Antonio Spurs.
COLLINS:  Just to build on what Jalen said, too, to me there’s some really intriguing teams in the West.  Golden State, can they cut down on their turnovers?  Steve is really working on having a more free flowing offense.  Can they keep their defensive integrity?  You look at a team like Portland; last year their starters were healthy most of the entire year.  They win 54 – they hope to be able to have some internal improvement.  They’ve added Chris Kaman and Stevie Blake.  Can C.J. McCollum help them?  Can they have a bench?
To me, Memphis, all these teams, first of all, the success of every team as Jalen knows is all based upon health.  So given every team stays healthy, to me it’s going to be interesting to see at the end of the day who comes out of the mix.
ROSE:  And also, me and Coach really love Dallas and we didn’t mention them.
COLLINS:  Yes, sir, absolutely, I’m glad you mentioned them.  They’ve got a great coach.  I like Tyson Chandler going there, Chandler Parsons.  They’ve got depth.  They’re going to be able to score the ball, but the big thing is can they defend well enough to win a championship.
Every team, as great as their strengths are, every one of them is flawed.  There’s not a team out there that doesn’t have a flaw.  You say Spurs, the only flaw they would have is they’re older.  Other than that, they play beautiful basketball.  They’re locked in, they’ve got the corporate knowledge, they’ve never had a back to back champion.  Can they do that?  There’s so many things to talk about.
ROSE:  And also Houston with Harden and Dwight Howard, you add Trevor Ariza who I really like, can Terrence Jones become a guy that’s consistent as his career high nights.
Q.  I just want to get your impressions on Brad Stevens, his second season.  What kind of coaching job do you think he did in his first season, and how do you manage a roster like I’m sure you did where everybody is about even, you’ve got one star but you’ve got,  the rest of the guys have got chips on their shoulders, something to prove, maybe have underachieved in other places and it’s pretty even?  How do you manage that?
COLLINS:  I think Brad is a terrific coach.  The first thing, when you’re Brad Stevens, you’re walking in, you’re navigating basically an 80-game season, and you’re coming in. I mean, we saw what he did at Butler.  That team was as well coached as any team that was in college basketball.  He’s got a great feel for the game.  He’s got a nice demeanor.  He’s a terrific teacher.  The hardest part is dealing with the losses.  I mean, he’s never lost before.  The guy has been to two Final Fours with Butler.
So when you go in, and understand doing your job on a daily basis, and a lot of it was almost like a developmental league team, D League team, where your job is as much to try to get players better and create the assets of your team to put your team in a position to move forward as it is to focus in on how many games you can win.  That’s tough because as a competitor, all you think about is winning that next game.
I give him a lot of credit.  Brett Brown had 63 losses last year.  That’s tough to take to keep your energy up, the positive energy, to walk in practice every single day, to continue to teach, to do the things you do.
I’m a big Brad Stevens fan.  I think he did a wonderful job, and he’s going to be more comfortable this year because the second year going through it, you’ve got a better feel for the pacing of everything.  Your practices, the days off, who needs extra work, who doesn’t.
You know, I had a team in Philadelphia when I went there, probably Andre Iguodala on paper was our best player.  He became an All-Star my second year there.  Drew Holiday became an All-Star my third year there.  But when I looked at our team, I thought we had strength in numbers, and I thought if we could get seven guys averaging in double figures and develop a bench, we had a chance to get a lot better, and we went from 27 wins to 41, a 14-game improvement, was the second most in the league.  We got an identity of how we wanted to play, we defended, we didn’t turn the ball over.
But the two keys for me were Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young.  They were two of my five best players, and I went to them and I asked them if they would come off the bench for me to make us a better team.  They would play crunch time minutes.  Lou became the leading scorer for me.  Thad was one of my best players.  Lou was second in sixth man of the year, I think Thad was five.  Our team grew and we got better.
But it was because those players were willing to step up and play a role because they were two of my five best players and we got off to a 3-and-13 start that year, and for the guys to hang with it and for it to turn, it was a fun thing to watch.  But when you’re losing every single night and you’re trying to build something, it’s hard because I don’t care what any coach says, you go home, and it eats at your stomach when you’re losing basketball games.
I give Brad a lot, a lot of credit, and also I said, Brett Brown, to take those kind of losses, to start to build something for Philadelphia and Boston. I’ve got a lot of respect for both of those guys.
Q.  How do you feel about Sam’s approach toward rebuilding this franchise, especially the way you have kind of brought it up, especially the second year and the second round to see what’s happening now?  How do you feel about his approach and the state of the franchise?
COLLINS:  Well, I think, first of all, obviously I miss being in Philadelphia.  You know what that franchise means to me, so I always root for them.  I want them to do great.  It’s a little painful for me right now to be a former Sixer and see the losses and all.
But the one thing I remember when I left, I talked to Josh Harris, the owner, and I said, Josh, regardless of what you’re going to do, stick with the plan.  You can’t switch in mid-stream.  If it gets painful, it’s going to be painful and you’re going to have to ride through it, and once you make the choice to do what you’re going to do    and I felt they were going to do it, is to blow the team up and start all over again.  This is what we’re going to do, this is how we’re going to do, we ask you to stick through the pain of what we’re doing.
And you can see that Michael Carter-Williams last year was the Rookie of the Year.  Hopefully he’s going to be healthy and come back.  Nerlens Noel looks like he has a chance to be a high-energy activity defender, shock blocker, rebounder.  I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a big time scorer, but a guy who could be a part of a really, really good team.  Embiid, can he get healthy?  The Shved kid who’s overseas, all the draft picks and everything.
But there’s a lot of pain that goes with that, and that’s why I said I have a lot of respect for Brett Brown.  He’s a tremendous coach.  He walks in that gym every single day with great positive energy to teach that team.
It’s interesting when you get older you hope you can shoot your age in golf.  You don’t want to lose your age as a coach, and last year had I coached, it was 63 wins, that’s how old I am.  I did not want to lose 63 games.  At my age I just couldn’t go through that.
Sam has got a plan.  The most important thing is Josh, David Blitzer, and all the owners are on board, and they’ve made no bones about it with the city of Philadelphia, this is what we’re doing, stick with us.  We think it’s going to work.  Whether or not it does, I don’t think anybody knows, but that’s their plan.
Q.  Is there any scenario in which you could see Miami competing with Chicago and Cleveland in the East?
COLLINS:  I don’t see it unless there’s a major injury to one of those teams.  I think I just look at Cleveland, I think they’re going to be one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the league.  I said the first exhibition game they played, I think LeBron took seven shots, had two buckets, Kyrie didn’t play, and they had 122 points.  So they’re going to be a team that can score the ball.  I think the question is going to be for them as a champion.  Can they become a top-10 defensive team?  I think it’s going to be vital for Varejao and Tristan Thompson to stay healthy.  They’re their two big guys that they’re going to ask to give them some size.  They’re going to be a great rebounding team.  And I think at the end of the day, LeBron has a chance to lead the league in assists, and I think once again, he’ll become a first league all defender, and so I think that they’re going to be awfully tough to beat.
With Chicago, polar opposites.  Right now a team that is built on their defense.  Can their offense come up to snuff?  Can Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol give them extra points at all and make the game a little easier for them to where they don’t have to grind out every game every single night?
I’ve got a lot of respect for Miami.  I just – when I look at their team, I say, you know what, there’s still a lot of questions with Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers being your point guard, still a lot of questions about how many games Dwyane Wade is going to be able to play at a high level because of the injury to his knee that he suffered, can Chris Bosh be back to that No. 1 option, Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng filling in, what kind of bench play they’re going to get.  I know they’re going to be well prepared.  I know they’re going to compete.  I know they won’t beat themselves.  I just don’t see them being in the class of those other two teams.
Q.  As a coach, what do you think about running an offense through Chris Bosh?  Is that viable?
COLLINS:  Well, I mean, the thing about it is, I think when you look at their team, that’s the way they’re built now.  It’s interesting to me because we played them in the playoffs the one year, and Bosh was a little bit more of an integral part of their offense.  I thought that first year where they ran out of timeouts, they got him the ball at the elbows, they ran some isolations for him, they started games running plays for him, they got him the ball in the paint a little bit more, and I thought as time went on he became more of a home run hitter, where he was depending so much on that three, a little bit what you’ve seen with Kevin Love in the preseason in Cleveland. I think Jalen and I did a game the other night and 22 of his 45 shots, Love shot it in from the three point line.
Chris Bosh is going to be a guy, you’re going to go back, throw the ball in the post to him.  It’s sort of interesting, but you go back to one of his quotes last year in the playoffs, he said, I don’t play down in the post anymore; I don’t take all that pounding.  Well, that’s where he’s going to be right now and we’ll have to see how he plays.
Q.  You touched on the Bulls and Derrick Rose a little bit.  I just wanted to get more elaboration on what you think Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic add to the front court.  Do you think that’s going to be enough to get past Cleveland, and do you think Rose can stay healthy for the whole year?
COLLINS:  Well, I sure hope that Derrick Rose can stay healthy because as a man who suffered injury, my heart aches when you see a great player, and I was never a Derrick Rose, an MVP, but I was a player who played at a pretty high level and loved to play.  When the game was taken away from me, it was heartbreaking that I couldn’t play.  I hope he can play.  He’s taken a lot of grief from being hurt.  Nobody wants to be hurt, and so for him to be back out there – I saw some great play from him in the preseason, and I think the question is going to be his building on the minutes.  But his efficiency has been terrific.
I think when you look at the Bulls, I don’t think people realize that you have a lot of the same pieces back, but they’re a very different team.  To me when I see Pau Gasol out there playing as a center, and I see Joakim Noah playing as a power forward, his defensive role has changed.  Last year he was the Defensive Player of the Year as a center. Now you’re going to see him playing at that four spot a lot when Pau is in there as a five.  You’ll see him play as a five when he’s out there with Taj Gibson.
But so much of what they did last year, their offense, they played through Joakim as an offensive player, not necessarily to score but to facilitate.
Now he’s got to find his role in that offense now because the ball is either going to be in Derrick Rose’s hands or it’s going to be in Pau Gasol’s hands in the post.  So that’s a little different.
To me it’s going to be interesting at the end of the day who Tibs ends up settling on to be the starter.  It looks like Dunleavy maybe to start the year, but that second unit has got to get an identity.  I thought in the preseason they were very inconsistent.
When you had McDermott out there, when you had him out there with Mirotic, two rookies; you had Aaron Brooks, who was a new guy; you had Taj out there; and you had Kirk Hinrich, so I thought they were struggling to find who they needed to be.
I’d go on record and say I feel like at the end of the day, if somehow Doug McDermott can be a starter, I think he’s going to get better shots with that starting unit being out there with Pau Gasol and with Derrick Rose, and it’s not going to depend so much on Jimmy Butler having to make as many shots. And then I think Mike Dunleavy is a guy who has played off the bench in his career, and to me with him out there and Taj Gibson and Kirk and Aaron Brooks, you’ve got a little bit more of a veteran feel to it.
I don’t know what kind of minutes Mirotic is going to get because I don’t know if Tibs can play four bigs, and we know there’s 96-minutes between Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, and I think the interesting thing for Tibs is it’s going to be – last year, it was a given, the third quarter ended, Carlos Boozer put on his warm up, he ended the game with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.  Now Pau Gasol wants to finish those games, too, so what’s it going to be?  It might be from night to night he doesn’t always finish with the same two guys.  I think that’s a dynamic that he has to figure out.
With all this said and done and Chicago coming back, I think they have as much work to do as Cleveland in getting themselves together to where they want to be.
Q.  Quick question with regard to Coach Blatt in Cleveland.  What are some of the challenges as a first-time head coach do you think that he’s got, and do you think that he’s up to the challenge?
COLLINS:  Well, first of all, I think he’s up to the challenge.  This guy has been a success everywhere he’s been.  He’s coached everywhere, and he’s taken the talent of his team and he’s played that kind of basketball.  I know there was one team that he played, I can’t remember off of top of my head right now which one it was, but it was a team that they had to win with defense, and then he’s had some of the most dynamic offenses.
So I think he’s a guy that knows both sides of the ball.  I think to just say he’s a terrific offensive mind would be selling him short.  I love his assistant coach; he’s got T [Tyronn] Lue in there, who played for me.  I think LD, Larry Drew, is there with him, so he’s got a good group of guys. Jimmy Boylan I think is there.  So he’s got a good group of guys who understand the NBA.
To me it’s going to be managing people.  Every word that comes out of Cleveland is going to be parsed.  Miami was the most scrutinized team in the NBA when LeBron was there.  They’re going to be the most scrutinized team in the NBA with him back in Cleveland.  So to me it’s going to be just managing the media, dealing with the day to day, managing the personalities.  He has all the other stuff.  He has all the Xs and Os; he has all that stuff he needs, and I think he’s got the greatest sidekick you can have, a guy who’s locked arms with him, is LeBron.
LeBron is going home, and LeBron knows that at the end of the day, whether they rise or fall, the pressure is on LeBron James.  To me, it’s not on David Blatt.  When LeBron went back to Cleveland, he said, I’m stepping up, all the pressure is on me, it’s not on Kyrie Irving, it’s not on Kevin Love, it’s not on anybody else. It’s on me coming back to help make sure this works.
What I’m feeling from everything I’m reading and everything that he and David Blatt have gotten together, they have a wonderful working relationship.  But Cleveland hasn’t had a bump in the road yet, and until they have that first adversity where anything happens where they’ve got to fight through it, we don’t know how they’re going to be.  But I do know this:  There’s no more pressure in Cleveland LeBron is going to have on him than what he faced down in Miami on an everyday basis for four years down there.

NBA TV To Salute San Antonio Spurs With Special ‘Champions Day’ Programming Monday, Oct. 27

NBA-TV-Logo“Champions Day” to Feature an NBA TV Originals Candid Conversation with Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker Reflecting on More Than a Decade of Excellence

NBA TV’s Special Programming to Include Champions Revealed: 2014 San Antonio Spurs,

Open Court: NBA Champions Edition, 2014 San Antonio Spurs: Go Spurs Go & NBA Finals Re-Airs

NBA TV will feature special daylong programming on Monday, Oct. 27, to celebrate the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. The network will premiere three original programs – Champions Revealed: 2014 San Antonio Spurs, Open Court: NBA Champions Edition and 2014San Antonio Spurs: Go Spurs Go – along with re-airs of past NBA Finals performances and season reviews from the Spurs’ five title-winning seasons.

Anchoring the programming block, Champions Revealed: 2014 San Antonio Spurs, an NBA TV Originals production, will feature a candid conversation between the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, at 9 p.m. ET.  The four principal figures sat down following last year’s NBA Finals win to reflect on the building of a dynasty, how their relationships have developed over the years and the satisfaction of this past year’s championship season.

The three-hour primetime block of original programming will tip off with 2014 San Antonio Spurs: Go Spurs Go, a look back at last year’s Spurs championship season, at 8 p.m. The hour-long program relives the Spurs’ fifth title run with exclusive interviews, highlights and behind-the-scenes footage.

The night will conclude with a champions-themed edition of Open Court at 10 p.m., with the critically acclaimed roundtable show featuring a cast of NBA Champions – Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Isiah Thomas, along with Rick Fox, Kenny Smith, Steve Smith and Chauncey Billups – with Sports Emmy Award-winning host Ernie Johnson. The panel of NBA greats reflects on championship experiences and discusses the perseverance it takes to win a title.

Earlier in the day, NBA TV will re-air season in review shows from the Spurs’ previous four championship seasons starting at 9 a.m., followed by encore airings of Games 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals, beginning at 2 p.m.

Excerpts from Champions Revealed: 2014 San Antonio Spurs:

Popovich on the beginning of the Duncan Era in San Antonio: “[Tim Duncan] came to training camp and David Robinson watched him play and about the second practice the whole offense changed. David was now in the dunker spot and Timmy was on the block catching the ball and David never even said a word…You know this new kid comes in and all of a sudden David’s not getting all of his touches…I never said, ‘David this is the way it’s going to be.’ We just did what we did and he knew it right off the bat and he loved it. Timmy just grew and grew from there, unbelievable.”

Parker on the quality of people in building the Spurs: “I like what TD said…we talked and he said we are good people at heart. I think that is the best thing when you choose the players, they are like good people, and all they care [about] is the team. It’s easy for everybody to follow.”

Duncan on Ginobili’s maturation through tough practices against Bruce Bowen: “I remember the first year you were here when we practiced; you’d have to play against Bruce [Bowen] a lot. And Bruce used to beat the absolute crap out of you. That’s where I started believing and started seeing that he was as good as advertised because Bruce would go at him and beat him up and try to slow him down and he’d play through all of it.”

Manu on witnessing firsthand the Spurs’ chemistry and execution last season: “I start on the bench so I get to see what’s going on more and there were some plays, especially this year, where it was like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, wow, or those passes from Tony to a wing to Boris [Diaw] to you or an extra pass to the corner, it was fun… I said, ‘This is nice. We are playing at a really high level and if we could understand that this is the way to go on a daily basis it can be so special.’”

About NBA TV

NBA TV is a part of NBA Digital, the NBA’s extensive cross-platform portfolio of digital assets jointly-managed by the NBA and Turner Sports including NBA TV,, NBA LEAGUE PASS, NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband, NBA Mobile, and