NBA players return to workplaces
Even with the NBA lockout still technically in effect, teams opened the doors of their facilities to players Thursday for what the league called "voluntary workouts."
Some showed up. Most didn't.
But FOXSports.com had reporters staking out many of the facilities and they filed these reports.
Mike Miller's father said Thursday his son underwent surgery Monday for a sports hernia and the Miami Heat guard was told he would be out about four weeks.
So will that surgery make it more likely the Heat will use the NBA amnesty clause on Miller?
"That's interesting," Miller's father, Tom Miller, said by phone. "I don't know how they (the Heat) perceive things."
Tom Miller said his son, who has four years and $24 million left on his contract, has heard plenty of rumblings he could be released by the Heat as part of an amnesty provision in the new collective bargaining agreement. He was asked if his son is worried about that.
Say goodbye to Bosh Spice.
A tougher Chris Bosh will take the court for the Miami Heat this season. But you'll have to look beyond the bigger biceps -- the result of an offseason weight-lifting program -- to spot the change.
Bosh, the most picked-on member of Miami's Big Three, vows this season to be more, well, hardened.
"I've been working on confrontation this summer," the Heat's All-Star power forward said. "I'm serious."
Because it marked the first day Mavs players and staff could officially reunite, Thursday could've been a Parade II. Only problem is, thanks to the fog of free agency and the realities of travel, it was pretty much a parade featuring a single float. And the parade route was simply from Jason Terry's home and back.
"I was nervous my (pass key to the American Airlines Center) wouldn't work," Terry joked, referencing the conflict between players and owners that triggered the lockout.
Other Mavs -- led by Dirk Nowitzki, who is presently in Germany -- will begin to migrate to town in time for the Dec. 9 start to training camp.
Also scheduled for Dec. 9: The start of free agency, which the gathered media quizzed Jet about due to the unsettling situation involving center Tyson Chandler.
"You can't see my fingers or toes, but they are crossed hoping Tyson's coming back because he was a big part to what we have accomplished here," said Terry, aware of Chandler predicting to ESPN that he wouldn't be returning to the defending champs. "And, we've laid a foundation. To go back and take a step backwards would be terrible. Not saying that we wouldn't have a chance to win this year if Tyson does not come back, but definitely puts things up against us."
When US Airways Center reopened to players Thursday, it was no surprise that Steve Nash was the first member of the Phoenix Suns through the door. After the NBA's 149-day lockout, Nash is "desperate" to get back to basketball.
After a light workout alongside teammates Robin Lopez and Zabian Dowdell on Thursday morning, Nash addressed a number of topics, including his future with the Suns since he knows speculation about a trade out of Phoenix will certainly surface soon enough.
"I guess (speculation is) inevitable now," Nash said. "I think a lot of things will come to light or find resolution in the next few weeks with all the free agent signings, trades and stuff."
"After eight months away, that's so far ahead right now. (I'm) just desperate to get back to work."
Unlike some teams, the Bucks have a fairly good idea who will make up their roster when the season begins. Milwaukee has 12 players under contract for the season and isn't likely to be a big player on the free-agent market.
Still, GM John Hammond has been in talks with agents -- though teams still can't contact their players and a date hasn't been set to start offering contracts -- in order to shore up the roster heading into camp.
"We still have some work to do," Hammond said. "We can talk and we are having conversations, just like, I'm sure, every other team in the league."
A major focus of Hammond's effort out of the gate will be to sign forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to a new contract. He will be a restricted free agent when the league opens for business, so Milwaukee would have the right to match any offer Mbah a Moute, the team's primary defensive stopper, receives.
With the lockout settled, teams were allowed to open their practice facilities to players on Thursday morning, and two Pistons took advantage. Ben Wallace arrived late in the morning, and Charlie Villanueva showed up about 90 minutes later.
"I didn't know who was going to be here, but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw Ben's Maybach," Villanueva said. "That wasn't a surprise. No one works as hard as Ben. This is his life."
Wallace, who has spent much of the extended offseason dealing with a drunken-driving arrest that also included weapons charges, did not speak to the media. Villanueva, however, was happy to talk.
"It's just great to be back," he said. "The lockout is done, and I'm putting it behind me. I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but I'm not even thinking about any of that. I just want to play ball again."
The NBA's lockout is only tentatively over, but Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn took time Thursday to answer questions about his team and the upcoming 2012 season.
The Timberwolves welcome point guard Ricky Rubio to the mix after drafting him No. 5 overall in the 2009 draft. They'll also add rookie Derrick Williams, whom they selected with the second overall pick in this year's draft. On top of that, Minnesota hired Rick Adelman as the team's new head coach, replacing Kurt Rambis.
It was a busy summer in Minnesota. Now, with the lockout set to officially end soon, Kahn said he's eager for basketball to finally resume.
"I'm really looking forward to the season, and I think most people are," Kahn said. "I just sense in the community just in the times I've been stopped. I'm looking forward to this with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, and I hope that's shared by the community as well. It should be a fun year."
Now we arrive upon this holiday season grateful for a preserved Amway Center All-Star Game yet unsettled by the choir of NBA clubs wooing Orlando superstar Dwight Howard to cities far, far away.
And Howard is listening.
The biggest distraction possible greets Magic coach Stan Van Gundy as he awaits two exhibition games and a whirlwind of preparation before opening a drag strip basketball campaign that is scheduled to tip off for the Magic on Dec. 26 and thunder toward a March 1 trading deadline.
Beware the ides of March and we’re just pouring the egg nog.
“I expect Dwight to be focused and play better than he ever has,” offered a congenial, matter-of-fact Van Gundy. “I don’t intend to discuss this after media day. Dwight has earned this right to make a decision, and we will go from there.”
Second-year general manager Chris Grant addressed a number of important topics with the media, such as:
* Free agency: “I think we’re good from a flexibility standpoint, with the full roster that we currently do have. We’ll be aggressive. But we’re perfectly happy with where we are, and letting this young core improve and get a chance to work together.”
* The madness: “We’re basically jamming the time period from July 1 to Sept. 1 into about nine days. But it’s actually probably a good thing, right? There will be a lot of things happening over the next weekend.”
* The fans. “We know that we have a lot of hard work to do with our fans. I myself have really been looking forward to driving down to (Quicken Loans Arena) to a sold-out crowd and just rocking. We have great fans here and we appreciate them, both from (an organization) standpoint and a players standpoint. It’s important and a nice thing to have.”
Forwards Blake Griffin and Brian Cook were the only Clippers to appear. And Griffin, wearing a red hoody and shorts, had nothing to say. He brushed past reporters and TV cameras and disappeared into the weight room without saying a word.
A couple of hours later, he sneaked out a back door and drove off.
Was Griffin happy to be back? Was he in shape and ready to go? Did he think players fared well in negotiations with NBA owners?
No one knew. Training facilities might be open, but it doesn't mean players are in a talking mood.