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10.1 The Cooler

Jazz/Nuggets open the preseason; replacement refs are on the job

By 10.01.09
Paul Millsap

Paul Millsap

Today is a big day if you’ve been going through basketball withdrawal, as the first NBA preseason game tips off at 9 p.m. EST, Jazz versus Nuggets. Deron‘s shakes against Chauncey‘s shot, Carmelo‘s O against Kirilenko‘s D, Boozer‘s excessive chest hair against K-Mart‘s excessive tats — even if it’s only for a few minutes here and there before guys like Arron Afflalo and Kosta Koufos get most of the minutes, we’ve really missed the League. And if the backups do get a lot of time, that means we’ll at least get a good look at Ty Lawson and Eric Maynor … Kirilenko (quad), C.J. Miles (hip flexor) and Kyle Korver (knee) might not play, but Jerry Sloan‘s biggest personnel problem will be figuring out what to do with Boozer and Paul Millsap. We hear Millsap could get some minutes at small forward … Looking at the big picture, the dominant storyline of Jazz/Nuggets is that it’ll be the first game using replacement refs. As a fan, is this referee issue a big deal to you? Or does it not matter who’s calling the fouls and taking the verbal abuse? … On the eve of the preseason, the NBA laid down some indirect Twitter guidelines: No cell phones and other “communication devices” can be used from the last 45 minutes before tip-off until after the post-game media session. So if you were looking forward to a bunch of, “Yo tweeples its halftime and we’re up 56-50,” updates, you’re out of luck. Does this new policy cover walkie-talkies and those cup-on-a-string communication devices, too? … Apparently James Harden is going to be the next Greg Oden. In two days of camp, OKC’s top pick has already been hurt twice: First it was an eye injury on Tuesday, then yesterday he rolled his right ankle. Neither injury is believed to be serious, but if he keeps this up, Harden will be Matt Harpring by Halloween … Meanwhile, Chris Bosh is out for the first week of practice (hamstring), and the Emeka Okafor/Tyson Chandler trade currently isn’t working out for either side: Okafor is going to miss all of camp with a sore knee, while Chandler is out for the next 2-3 weeks due to that same ankle he had problems with last year … If we told you one Western Conference (likely) starting point guard failed his team’s conditioning test, would you have picked Baron Davis or Andre Miller first? And would there have even been a third option? Dre Miller was the culprit, earning himself a week of “detention” with the team’s strength and conditioning staff. Does this make Steve Blake — who set a team record in that same conditioning test — any more likely to keep Miller away from his job? Not really, but Blake is trying to make it interesting … The Sixers have a point guard battle going between Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday, and the veteran Williams has the early lead. You know, we say “veteran,” but doesn’t it still seem like Lou is 17 years old? … And here’s a surprise: Sean May passed his physical test. He reported to Kings camp at a svelte 261 pounds, well below the 265 limit they put on him in order to get all the money on his non-guaranteed contract (about $890,000). If he’s in shape and ready to contribute, May can add something to a young Sacramento squad that — as we covered in our latest NBA preview capsule — is building a nice foundation but will go through some rough times right away … Remember that story about Rafer Alston wanting a trade out of New Jersey? Asked about it at Nets camp, Skip did the “Who told you that?” non-denial denial. “For somebody to put that out there right before camp is irresponsible,” Alston said. “I immediately called and told them that story didn’t come from me.” Notice he didn’t say he wants to play for the Nets, just that he didn’t tell the media he wants a trade … We’re out like May’s extra self …


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