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Grizzlies suitor: a game-on guy

East Coast real estate developer Brian Davis has an agreement to become the Grizzlies' majority owner and ambitions of leading a $500 million to $1 billion transformation of the neighborhood around FedExForum.

"There are people who view Memphis the same way that they viewed Atlanta about 17 years ago, 18 years ago," said Davis, 36, appearing at a Monday news conference to announce that his group, including his former Duke basketball teammate Christian Laettner and several anonymous investors, plans to buy out Chicago billionaire Michael Heisley.

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Without big Ben, Pistons thrive on underdog status

the Pistons feel fortunate to have signed Nazr Mohammed, a 6-foot-10 veteran who will likely start at center this season.

"I'm real interested to see how it pans out," said captain Chauncey Billups. "I know there's a lot of things Flip had in his playbook that we just didn't do last season. I don't know if that's because Ben was out there or not, but I know there's a lot of things he held back. We'll see."

Carlos Delfino wants to play this season, whether it's in Detroit or somewhere else.

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Ridnour downplays status

Luke Ridnour did not spend media day at Sonics training camp complaining about his contract situation or his unsettling status as the starting point guard.

Ridnour attempted to downplay his circumstances Monday as the Sonics opened up their 40th training camp with interviews with media and photo shoots while in game uniforms. He insisted he plans to focus on basketball and use his U.S. Olympic tryout experience to improve his game and cement his position as the team's primary floor leader.

Truth be told, however, Ridnour is fighting for his job in the next few weeks. He ended the 2005-06 season on the bench in fourth quarters and unnerved by the presence of backup Earl Watson.

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Sonics shift focus back on court

So, finally, the Sonics are making some on-court news. The team's ownership change, potential relocation and arena negotiation may not take a back seat to the team's 40th season, but it may share the spotlight as the team begins its first practice today.

To refresh you with the Sonics after a summer's worth of controversy and turmoil, they are coming off a disappointing 35-47 season during which the organization fired head coach Bob Weiss and the players were forced to learn a new system under Bob Hill.

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Training camp, Baby!

Though they could never be accused of being even remotely alike, Seattle SuperSonics point guard Luke Ridnour sounded mystifyingly similar to Gary Payton at the team’s annual media day Monday afternoon.

One of the biggest issues as the Sonics head into training camp today is what exactly is Ridnour’s role with this team and what is the status of his contract extension.

When questioned about both topics, Ridnour was evasive, even when pressed in different ways by reporters. He even used some of the same colloquialisms that Payton used when he was in a Sonics uniform.

“I think we are in the mode of whatever happens, happens,” said Ridnour, in the final year of his rookie contract, paying him $2.425 million this season, and eligible for an extension. “If something gets done, it gets done; if not, we will wait till next summer. I am not even going to focus on that. I am just going to play.”

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This season will decide Mitchell's fate

When Chris Bosh walked into Raptors training camp a couple of seasons back, he was immediately harassed both verbally and colourfully. There was trash talk of the unprintable variety. There were taunts against his manhood and his work ethic and his quiet demeanour.

And none of it would have rankled Bosh, except that the off-colour hurler of words also happened to be his team's newly inserted coach, Sam Mitchell.

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Alexander's confidence reflects new strategy

As always, Leslie Alexander preferred to talk about basketball.

He acknowledged that so much of the Rockets organization would seem at a crossroads. Eventually, he will choose a new team president or CEO. A new general manager, Daryl Morey, will be in place after the season. Coach Jeff Van Gundy is heading into the final guaranteed season of his contract.

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Key players back Carlisle

Rick Carlisle will eventually sign his contract extension. Before he signs it, though, the Indiana Pacers coach asked two players if they wanted him to stay with the team long term.


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Players already feel like champs

The No. 1 topic at Heat media day was the club's remodeled facilities, which coach Pat Riley adorned with reminders of the championship season.

"I was shocked," forward Antoine Walker said Monday. "It kind of typifies how Riles treats us as players and proves how he wants everything to be first class."

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Davis 'serious' about adding Laettner

Potential Grizzlies majority owner Brian Davis has a few more hurdles to jump before he assumes control of the team.

That didn't stop Davis from making a roster move.

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Knicks pledge loyalty to Thomas

Those most responsible for the win-or-else mandate hanging over the head of Isiah Thomas are hoping to provide a little more wiggle room.

Loyalty comes in many forms.

Thomas assembled the entire Knicks roster. He brought Stephon Marbury home. He gave Eddy Curry a second chance. He drafted Channing Frye into the NBA. He made Jamal Crawford a rich young man.

"I think it's definitely a different situation than what a lot of other people in his situation went through, being that he's done right by a lot of us," Curry said at yesterday's Media Day before the Knicks flew to South Carolina for training camp. "There is pressure to go out there and, in a sense, play for him and win some games."

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Nuggets not buying lower expectations

The Nuggets will check out their new digs today at Fort Lewis College. Perhaps they'll look for a bulletin board.

Forward Eduardo Najera heard Monday that The Sporting News has picked the Nuggets ninth in the Western Conference, meaning they wouldn't make the playoffs. He'd like to spread the news.

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What about Bob?

Bob Sura is going to take a few more weeks to test his knee and decide if he can come back.

It makes sense for him to be sure one way or another. He has shown an ability to play effectively when not physically at his best and once he decides it's over, he won't be turning back, so he understandably wants to be sure.

The uncertainty also sounds as if he won't be able to make it back.

I can't help but still think he might.

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Wizards open camp with lofty expectations

Grunfeld and Wizards coach Eddie Jordan heard their players' entreaties to keep the team's nucleus intact so the team would not have to go through the learning process it endured last season when Larry Hughes left for Cleveland, Kwame Brown was traded for Caron Butler, and eventual top reserve Antonio Daniels was signed as a free agent.
As a result, there were some early growing pains -- they were six games below .500 midway through December -- but eventually reached the playoffs as a fifth seed.
This season just reaching that point won't be considered good enough.

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Cook, Lakers Discussing Deal

Brian Cook has one year left on his contract, but he said Monday that the Lakers and his agent have begun contract extension talks.

Cook said no salary has been discussed but that he hopes to sign a multiyear deal with the Lakers before the month is over.

The Lakers picked up Cook's option for his fourth season last year, meaning he'll earn $1,817,141.

That showed Cook and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, that the Lakers liked the 6-foot-9 forward.

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Cuban: Team will continue to train in U.S.

The San Antonio Spurs are having training camp in France. The Los Angeles Clippers are in Russia. Philadelphia is in Spain.

And the Mavericks are in Denton.

This is by design. The Mavericks like the larger facilities at the University of North Texas and the bonding that they will do for four days. But they were asked by the NBA to train in Germany so that Dirk Nowitzki could be showcased in his homeland. Owner Mark Cuban elected to pass.

"No chance," Cuban said Monday. "I think it's ridiculous. It's hard enough on these guys as it is to prepare and avoid distractions and learn the system. It's been suggested that we go over because of Dirk. I fight it every chance I get.

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Wolves: Garnett blasts past but loves team's future

Trying to steer the conversation away from the Timberwolves' flops and failures of 2005-06 and toward the season to come, Kevin Garnett offered a wink and a predicament to his inquisitors.

"Last year was like pure ... ," Garnett said, at which point he dropped in a word that absolutely is not allowed to reach your breakfast table via newsprint. Or airwaves, for that matter.

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Nets' nucleus remains intact

The Nets now know what they would look like without Jason Kidd. Fortunately for Jersey, the experience only lasted 90 minutes.

The Nets' media day yesterday began without Kidd, who phoned ahead to say he'd be tardy. So the annual training camp-opening show went on temporarily without the team leader.

But once he arrived, the Nets once again had their entire base in place. Their top six players in terms of minutes played are all back from last season.

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No rest for Wade, though hand hurts

Now that Dwyane Wade's busy summer is over and Heat training camp starts today, he plans to take care of the right hand injury he suffered during the NBA Finals.

Wade, who plans to have an MRI on the hand soon, is scheduled to practice this morning and said he's confident he'll be ready for the start of the regular season on Oct. 31.

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