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Discussion Starter #1
No rush for Williams to return to Heat

Heat coach Pat Riley said Tuesday if guard Jason Williams is out for the month of November instead of the first two weeks, the team will just have to "deal with it."

Williams had off-season surgery on the patella tendon in his right knee and the Heat has said he's expected back in mid-November. On Monday, however, Williams said that while there's a chance he could be ready by mid-November, the team might not allow him to return then.

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Wade,O'Neal see light duty at exhibition

So how was the Heat greeted in its first appearance as defending champion?

With a locker room that was locked upon its arrival for both the morning shootaround and Tuesday night's pregame.

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Brown shoots, swings while he waits for call

When Devin Brown starts to feel a little sorry for himself, maybe a little angry, he takes refuge in the one place he knows he can find both serenity and challenge.

"The only way I stay sane about everything that's been going on," says Brown, the former West Campus High School, UTSA and Spurs guard who was waived by the Warriors a few days ago, "is to go to the golf course."

The Spurs sometimes wished Brown had spent more offseason time in the gym than on some of his favorite tracks in and around town. Brown wasn't as regular at the Spurs' practice facility between seasons as some of his teammates.

Now Brown spends as much time in the gym as on the course, waiting for a call from his agent with good news about a new contract.

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Kleiza starts preseason strong

Was he the two? Was he the three?

Linas Kleiza did make a three- pointer, and that's a pretty good start to be a two on the poor-shooting Nuggets.

Before Tuesday's preseason opener, Nuggets coach George Karl said Kleiza would start at the three (small forward) and Carmelo Anthony at the two (shooting guard). But the box score showed those positions reversed.

So who played where?

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McKie's Roster Spot Uncertain

Aaron McKie could look around the Lakers locker room and see an 18-year-old, a 19-year old and then, if he held up a mirror, a 34-year-old.

The guard tries to keep things light-hearted as he heads into what would be his 13th season, but he acknowledges he is near the end of his career.

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If Jackson's found not guilty, team is left in a real bind

They need a conviction.

Not the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, although that would look good on Carl Brizzi's prosecutorial resume. No, the ones who really need Stephen Jackson to be convicted of the numerous charges leveled at him Wednesday are the Indiana Pacers -- team CEO Donnie Walsh and president Larry Bird, in particular -- thus doing for the organization what they should have done for themselves this summer.
If Jackson is convicted by a court of law -- as opposed to the court of public opinion, in which he has already been sentenced to death by lethal injection -- he's history. Suspended by the league, suspended by the Pacers, possibly gone to jail and likely gone from Indiana for good.
And if he's not convicted?
Great for Jackson.

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Kleiza in mix at shooting guard

It could be Linas Kleiza or J.R. Smith. It could be rookie Yakhouba Diawara. At times, it could be Carmelo Anthony. It could be free agent DerMarr Johnson or a player to be named later.

In other words, the Nuggets are going with the shooting guard-by-committee approach once again.

"After a while, it's going to be hard because we have to get used to playing with them," said Anthony, who starts at small forward. "I think we had that problem last year. We had Buck (Greg Buckner). We had D.J. (Johnson) in there sometimes. We had Ruben (Patterson) in there sometimes.

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Murray gets another shot with Clippers

When he last wore a Clippers uniform, Lamond Murray was one of many disgruntled players searching for an exit. The team was losing, and the environment was dismal. Murray got his wish when he was traded to Cleveland in 1999.

But the franchise has changed since Murray's five-year tenure. Coming off a team-record 47-35 season and a trip to the Western Conference semifinals, the Clippers are seen as a playoff team.

Murray, 33, is in training camp with the Clippers, the opportunity to prolong his career resting on his jumpshot, which has been a potent weapon in his 12-year career.

"I don't have too much hops left," Murray said. "But my shot is still there. I've held on to that."

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Clippers happy to be home

When the Clippers selected Yaroslav Korolev with the 12th overall pick in last year's NBA draft, the Russian immediately said something about Los Angeles that shocked some Angelenos.

"You have a lot of space, no traffic, nothing, not like in Moscow," Korolev said on the day he was drafted.

This past week, the Clippers learned what Korolev was talking about when they visited Russia for an eight-day jaunt to begin training camp. While the players and coach Mike Dunleavy came back enthused about Russian culture, the team repeatedly found itself in extraordinary traffic that hindered its practice schedule.

Instead of using their Russian trip for two-a-day practices, the Clippers found themselves snarled in traffic, adjusting to the 11-hour time difference and partaking in various public-relations events sponsored by the NBA.

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Futures of Kaman, Dunleavy Could Be Intertwined

The Clippers' level of commitment to center Chris Kaman could help determine whether Coach Mike Dunleavy returns next season.

Dunleavy, in the final year of his contract, has strongly recommended that the Clippers offer the 7-foot Kaman a multiyear extension this season, hoping to retain a player Dunleavy said he considers integral to the team's long-term success.

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Precautionary move: Szczerbiak given a rest

What seemed like a lot of extra bodies when training camp started looked like smart signings last night. Of the 18 players attending Celtics camp, only 13 were available against the Raptors because of injuries and passport/visa issues.

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Discussion Starter #12
Najera's fame is undeniable

El Presidente Najera.

Has a certain ring to it, no?

"I wouldn't want that," Nuggets forward Eduardo Najera said with a laugh Wednesday. "I think that would be a tough job. You just can't make everybody happy."

Najera might not be ready to play the political game, but he figures to be the most recognized man in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday, when the Nuggets face the Golden State Warriors in an exhibition game.

Najera is the only Mexican-born player in the NBA, and some of his teammates experienced his popularity in July, when they took part in a charity game organized by Najera in his native state of Chihuahua.

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Discussion Starter #13
Horry prepares like it's his last

Their season having ended in overtime in a dramatic Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs gathered at their practice facility the day after the crushing loss to clean out their lockers and have a final team meeting.

Robert Horry, owner of six championship rings and the oldest player on the roster, spoke up. He told teammates he was headed to his offseason home to work harder than ever on his conditioning so he could come into training camp fully prepared to get the 2006-07 season off to a good start.

The player known as "Big Shot Rob" admonished them all to do the same.

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Amaré rebounds in 2nd half

Amaré Stoudemire had an anniversary Wednesday. Being one year removed from his microfracture surgery was nothing worth celebrating and, for a while, he was treating it as such.

Stoudemire was disengaged in the first half of Wednesday's Suns victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Other than taking a lob pass for a layup, he was hard to notice - no rebounds, plenty of frustration and bad body language in nine minutes.

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Discussion Starter #15
No camp news is good news

It's great to be back.

OK, let's put the brakes on that a bit. It's good to be back. Great is waking up every morning and your biggest decision is golf or a movie. Great is not having to talk to Big Ed every day.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Big Guy. But every day? I would get bored talking to myself every day, and I'm much more interesting than Ed.

Which brings me to my point: this training camp is boring. If you're poised to challenge for a championship – and the Mavericks are – that's a good thing. There will be enough stress and adversity over the course of the season. When you open camp with no major question marks and no major injuries, that's a good thing. The next few weeks are about conditioning and getting even more comfortable with Avery Johnson's system.

It's the ideal way to ease into a long season.

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Knee tear heard 'round the NBA

Among NBA players, that is an adage, a warning, a bit of wisdom that has become a routine exchange between players and their agents.

It has little to do with the playing skills, reputation or personality of Green, who is a Philadelphia 76ers guard, and everything with the misfortune that struck him last year. It was so profound his name now has its own meaning in the NBA lexicon.

``After what happened with Willie Green, I had to change the way I looked at things,'' Donyell Marshall said.

``You see what happened with a guy like Willie Green, it makes you be careful,'' Damon Jones said.

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Olowokandi’s new look -- With career on ropes, veteran shows spark

TORONTO - At least one of Michael Olowokandi’s traits is different from the player who finished last season at the end of the Celtics bench.
“Look, he’s dressing better,” Paul Pierce said, pointing as his English-raised teammate donned a decidedly British outfit, pulling a deep green wool sweater over a white shirt.
Then again, make that two differences.
“There’s no more of that thing on his head. What was that, anyway?” the Celtics captain asked of the unruly, miniature dreadlocks that adorned Olowokandi’s head last season.

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Hair comes burly Big Ben to beef up Bulls

Cornrows or the 'Fro? That's what we need to know, bro. A windy chill always whips off West Madison Street as winter nears, but Ben Wallace has brought $60 million worth of warmth and absurdly overdue championship hope, comforting us with his rebounds and his blocks and his 3.8-percent body fat and, of course, the way he wears his hair.

Wednesday night in his United Center debut, for those braiding at home, Ben trotted out the cornrows. I was looking forward to the 'Fro, which can take on the shape of a dented popcorn bag fresh out of a microwave or a cat electrocuted by a live wire, but Wallace apparently saves his big puff for regular-season home games. This intimidating concept was known in Detroit as Fearing the 'Fro, which sure beats waiting for Tyson Chandler to catch the ball with two hands and muscle a point guard out of the lane.

''He's a man,'' Kirk Hinrich said.

A legitimate savior, too, I dare say.

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The old fire is back

There's no doubt last season took its toll on Kevin Garnett. He didn't display his usual emotion during some games. Had Garnett lost some of his competitive fire? So far this preseason, the Timberwolves all-star forward has shown no signs of slowing down. He has shouted encouragement to teammates, pumped his fists and sworn on occasion.

Looks like the same ol' Kevin Garnett.

"Anybody who thinks that bear is dead better bring a long broom to poke him with because he's not dead yet," Wolves coach Dwane Casey said Wednesday before the team's exhibition season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks at Target Center. "That's what my grandfather taught me a long time ago. You don't go around kicking a bear or a dog unless you're sure he's dead. That's OK, though, let 'em think he's dead."

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