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Discussion Starter #1
Bulls need scoring, so …

This is going to be a tough season for me. I believe the Bulls are going to be very good. I've already said they could win 55 to 60 games. So why would you want to make any trades with that kind of team?

Well, with a half-dozen new rotation players, there are no assurances that the Bulls will be as good as I believe. And it's not like the main changes—adding Ben Wallace, P.J. Brown and two rookies—will add any scoring in a league that is tilting to offense.




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Spurs finish Europe sweep

From the moment he touched down here more than a week ago, Tony Parker didn't stop moving.

He endured two-a-day practices, served as a French tour guide for his Spurs teammates, visited with family and friends, signed countless autographs at a half-dozen promotional events, rekindled his relationship with Eva Longoria and, not the least of which, delighted fans in two cities with his electric play.

So, with the Spurs well on their way to a 97-84 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv Sunday, Parker had just more item to scratch off his to-do list before departing France. After intercepting a pass, he bolted down court, slowed, leaped and punched the ball flush into ... the front of the rim.

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Off days are key for Amaré

He caught the ball in traffic and powered for baskets.

He clapped his hands, yelling out "That's good stuff!" to Jumaine Jones as he stalked the sideline pulling for his practice team. He dribbled and drove past Kurt Thomas and at one point pleaded to get back into practice.

Was this really the Amaré Stoudemire who, two days earlier, could not muster the wherewithal to practice because of sore knees? Indeed it was, with Stoudemire calling it one of his better days of his on-again, off-again camp.

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Jazz youngsters could see plenty of playing time

In the old days, rookies had as much chance of winning — and keeping — high-profile roles on Jerry Sloan-coached Jazz teams as the ball boys.
How times have changed.
Sloan seems so impressed with this season's crop of draft choices that Sunday he suggested plenty of playing time could be in store for both first-round swingman Ronnie Brewer and second-round forward Paul Millsap. The same goes for 2005 second-round swingman C.J. Miles, who while not actually a rookie — he played 23 games last season as a 19-year-old out of Dallas Skyline High School — may as well be classified as one.
"I don't want to close my eyes to these young guys," Sloan said. "If they're able to come and play, I'll give them every opportunity, probably, to play that I might not have given them in the past."

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Howard's contract status isn't a laughing matter

Josh Howard can't help but notice who's signed and who's signed for what.

And he can't help but wonder why he isn't.

Eligible for an extension for the first time in his career, the Mavericks' starting small forward might not have a new long-term contract in place before the start of his fourth season.

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Former first-rounder Alexander signs on

In their ongoing search for a shooting guard, the Nuggets on Sunday signed former first-round draft pick Courtney Alexander.

Alexander, 6-feet-6, was the 13th overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft after leading NCAA Division I in scoring averaging 24.8 points at Fresno State. But a string of injuries have kept him out of the league since 2003.

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Discussion Starter #7
Big man may feel early cut

With 18 bodies vying for different levels of training camp attention, the Celtics may lighten their load before taking off today for their preseason opener in Cleveland tomorrow.
“I don’t like cutting before the first game, but I might have to make an exception this year,” coach Doc Rivers said.
A load of big men, including Dwayne Jones, Michael Olowokandi and Akin Akingbala, are among those in the line of fire. Rivers has said that Olowokandi has a legitimate shot to stick, and that Akingbala would be a tough player to pass over right off the bat.

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Mavs rookie Ager lays it on thick

The Mavericks toyed with the idea of signing Bonzi Wells before the swingman landed in Houston.

They opted not to make a strong play for Wells for many reasons. One of those reasons is because they feel they have a Bonzi starter kit in their possession – without the potential headaches that could come along with the original version, who has had his share of off-court situations.

Maurice Ager is built like Wells. He has the same, rare combination of thickness and quickness. He's a good rebounder for his height, which is the same as Wells' 6-5. And he's quick, tough and doesn't mind working hard at the defensive end of the court.

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Skiles tutors Wallace on FTs

A week of good practices earned the Bulls a surprise day off Sunday. Coach Scott Skiles said he felt as if he ''owed'' the team some time off.

Skiles spent some of the first week of training camp giving free-throw pointers to center Ben Wallace. Skiles -- who made 88.9 percent of his career free throws, fourth-best in league history -- downplayed the work he and Wallace had done. Skiles did acknowledge that he and his staff had studied video of Wallace's work from the line with the Detroit Pistons.

''I don't really want to go into it because I don't want to make an issue of it,'' Skiles said. ''Because I truly believe what I said at the press conference [announcing Wallace's signing]: I don't care if he makes them or not.''

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NBA heeds criticism, may return to old ball

NBA commissioner David Stern said Sunday the league will consider going back to its traditional leather basketball if Spalding's new synthetic model doesn't hold up to further testing.

Several players, most notably Miami's Shaquille O'Neal, have complained the new basketball becomes too slick when wet.

"We have sent out the most stringent testing crew to see what there is to the issue," Stern said in a round-table discussion with five reporters before Sunday's game between the Spurs and Maccabi Tel Aviv in the French capital. "Right now our plans are to stay the course, but we will monitor it and if we find there is something to it and it is a serious issue, we will take the appropriate steps because the most important thing to us is the game.

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Bulls among early winners, but not Grizzlies

Wins and losses aren’t just for the regular season. There were plenty of decisive activities in the NBA over the summer, and here’s a rundown of both ends of the spectrum:

Winners

1. Bulls. Drop a second-team all-NBA center and two high draft picks onto a team that already was playoff qualified, and it’s reasonable to expect improvement. Winning at least 50 games seems feasible and should put the Bulls in the mix with Miami, Cleveland and Detroit atop of the Eastern Conference.

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Oversleeping rookie Smith misses out on team outing

Good morning, Steven Smith: Do you know where your team is?

This was Saturday morning in Barcelona, Spain, outside the 76ers' training-camp hotel headquarters. There was Smith, the eager rookie forward from Northeast High and La Salle University who is trying to earn a job as a free agent.

Coach Maurice Cheeks had determined that the team had worked hard enough and long enough without a day off. He canceled practice and took everyone to Montjuic, a 600-foot hill and 1992 Olympic site not far from the Palau Sant Jordi Annex practice site that offers a breathtaking view of the city. As part of the NBA's "Europe Live" production, a team photo was in order.

Meanwhile...

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Nelson may miss 3 games

Still suffering from the symptoms of a concussion, Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson will miss the club's opening exhibition game Tuesday night and might miss all three games this week.

Magic Coach Brian Hill said he didn't expect Nelson to be available "until the end of the week."

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Latest NBA international tour not encouraging

No one is even shocked anymore when NBA stars are defeated in international competition.

How else to explain the silence after two, yes two, NBA teams were stroked in the past five days by European pro teams during the league's NBA Europe Live tour?

The Los Angeles Clippers became the latest victim, getting run out of the building by CSKA Moscow in a 94-75 drubbing in Russia Saturday. That was roughly 48 hours after the Philadelphia 76ers fell 104-99 against FC Barcelona in Spain.

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Discussion Starter #16
Isiah's Knicks Camp Has Been The Exact Opposite Of Brown's

The first week of Knicks training camp was not unlike the famous Seinfeld episode when George Costanza did everything opposite of his intuition. Isiah Thomas is now in the role of Costanza, but doing everything opposite Larry Brown.

Shorter practices. No more morning shootarounds. Group film sessions about hurricanes, not basketball. An emphasis on team bonding. Painting a positive spin to the media on every development, even Eddy Curry's embarrassing performance in sprinting drills at the first practice. Brown actually deserves his $10 million salary this season, as his spirit is the motivating force behind the 2006-07 Knicks.

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Discussion Starter #17
NBA champs stay the course

Last year at this time, Pistons players were scratching their heads at the changes the Miami Heat made to a roster which had taken them to within one game of heading to the NBA Finals in 2005.

This year, the Pistons are nodding their heads in agreement with the Heat's decision to return 13 of the 15 players from last season's championship team.

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Discussion Starter #18
At age 38, Payton is medical anomaly

Gary Payton knows he's somewhat of a medical miracle.

Truth be told, the 38-year-old Miami Heat guard basks in the notion.

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