The East could be tougher than it was a season ago, with Brooklyn aiming to break into the top-four conversation, Indiana retaining its core and Miami still the reigning world champions while adding a veteran winner in Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo believes Boston belongs at the very start of that conversation. Rondo was at a sponsor’s event in Hong Kong while he makes his way to the Philippines, and said, “”We have high expectations every year… I think we got a lot better than last year.” The report from The Standard also mentioned he says the Lakers are good just on paper right now (though even barring Dwight‘s back they’re still very, very good). The Celtics added 11 players to their roster this summer and that isn’t counting Kevin Garnett, whose re-signing kick-started the entire process. Instead of blowing up the Big Three, all the emotional hugs we watched Doc Rivers give Allen and Garnett (whose contracts were up) at Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year were all for naught. Here’s why Rondo could be right: Adding Courtney Lee and Jason Terry has been a reaction to Miami’s proven small-ball strategy. Lee’s so much better than the departed Allen on defense and has shot nearly 39 percent from three in his career. Terry is going to get points not just from three like Allen but also from taking two to three hard dribbles toward the key and pulling up fast. Jeff Green‘s contract is more of a question mark because his career consistency has varied like an EKG reading on both sides of the ball. So are they better? KG is still an elite forward, Terry and Lee’s additions mean the team did not get worse at guard, and Avery Bradley will be healthy and in the mix, as well. The Celtics may have gotten a bit better. The Heat did, too. … We’re guessing that Jeremy Lin‘s popularity in Asia makes asking a question about him almost an obligation for journalists there when another NBA player arrives. That’s our reasoning for the possible question that elicited Rondo to say he will personally beat Lin “pretty badly” when the Rockets meet the Celtics. … It’s getting ugly at Texas Tech, where players are pushing back against what they see is less-than-standard treatment by coach Billy Gillispie. ESPN said they met to talk about how long they’d practiced, and one former player told CBS it was at least eight hours one day. Gillispie is very talented (his team at UTEP had an NCAA-record 18-game turnaround once) but the reports paint a picture of someone who’s angered people along the way to one of the game’s top jobs, at Kentucky, and on the way down, too, from that peak. He deserves a second year but it does make you wonder how much support he could possibly have after an 8-23 season. … You need to read this piece on how ballers who never got their shot now can. SMAA is just an acronym right now but with its goal of giving deserving guys and gals a shot on the hardwood, it could become a household name. … Keep reading to hear about how many tickets Philly has already sold for next year …
Legendary Princeton coach Pete Carril is one of the coaching minds who changed the game with his motion offense but you barely hear it uttered now. He said today he thought the system will work in LA with assistant Eddie Jordan. And talking about LA with Sam Amick got him thinking about Metta World Peace. “For me, he’s the biggest enigma I’ve ever been around because I really like that guy. … What makes him do some of the crazy stuff he does?” This was the strongest quote we came across all day: “And recognition in today’s world is a strong, strong thing. No more Hank Aarons. No more Joe DiMaggios. No more guys who performed at the highest levels but you didn’t know it. Those guys are gone. Now you have the noisemakers.” Carril leaves out part of the answer for that era’s differences because even if the DiMaggios cared like a modern player, they didn’t have the channels of media to push the message through. MWP knows he can use us, the media, to his advantage because we love the great ones but pay attention to the crazy ones, too. You just can’t let the crazy outweigh the talent. Where does MWP sit on that scale right now? … We know there’s not a whole lot of empathy out there for Sasha Vujacic, but dude announced today he and Maria Sharapova split. That’s a bad loss. … The first female to regularly work the broadcast booth for a team is going to be Ann Meyers Drysdale in Phoenix. The women’s hoops legend is expected to do about 20 games this season, maybe more. Congrats to her. … And this just in: Everyone in Philadelphia is psyched about watching the Sixers this season. According to their CEO, the team’s season-ticket sales are up 92 percent. It’s not just Doug Collins who is ridiculously excited to see Andrew Bynum shooting threes. … We’re out like Rondo.
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