NBA AM: Perkins Offended By Lakers
On paper, the Los Angeles Lakers arguably had the best offseason of any franchise in the league. The team acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in two separate trades and were able to sign free agents Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks to deals far below their preconceived market values.
After two consecutive seasons of embarrassing playoff flameouts, the Lakers have once again risen to the top of numerous preseason ranking polls as early favorites to emerge out of the Western Conference and compete for a title.
The early season anointing has led to Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins issuing a reminder of the current Western Conference hierarchy last time he checked.
“We are the Western Conference champs,” Perkins told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. “So at the end of the day, we’re not chasing nobody except for the ring. We’re chasing Miami to get a championship. It’s no guarantee who is going to be where. But we earned the Western champs so we’re not chasing the Lakers, we’re chasing a championship and that’s what it’s about.”
When the news of Howard going to the Lakers were made official, Perkins says it gave him more motivation to work during the summer and is also a bit relieved all of the pressure has seemingly shifted over to Los Angeles.
“I just said it’s time to go to work,” Perkins said. “I knew the hype was going to be over there on that end and all that. But I’m glad the attention is off us because we’re the type that likes to put our hard hats on and do stuff and keep it under the radar. And at the end of the day, when you look at the box score, Oklahoma won. That’s the way we like to keep it.”
Oklahoma City lost in the NBA Finals 4-1 to the Miami HEAT, but the veteran center said the experience was essential for the growth of the young Thunder’s emerging core.
“Now, we know what to expect,” Perkins said. “So it’s less talking and more playing on my end. We know what to expect and we know what it takes. We know that it takes the little things and we’ll be ready.”
San Antonio Spurs Eyeing Josh Howard
The San Antonio Spurs are reportedly seeking to add a veteran presence to their frontcourt to backup second year forward Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs remain thin at small forward with only Stephen Jackson the only other alternative for minutes at the position.
According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, free agent forward Josh Howard will visit San Antonio today to visit team officials. Howard, a former All-Star, has battled an assortment of injuries the past few seasons but managed to log 43 out of a possible 66 regular season games with the Utah Jazz in 2012.
Howard hasn’t ruled out a return to the Jazz but Brian Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune says Raja Bell’s ongoing buyout negotiations with the franchise could become a hindering block in a new deal.
The Spurs also reportedly worked out veteran free agent forward Tracy McGrady last week but no deal is imminent on that front.
HEAT Disappointed In Dexter Pittman’s Development?
The Miami HEAT have resisted the urge to add to their center crop for most of the offseason although free agent big men Chris Andersen, Mehmet Okur, Josh Harrellson and Hassan Whiteside could all add varying degrees of depth.
But that mindset could be changing as we near the start of training camp.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, a team source says the franchise has been disappointed with the development of third year center Dexter Pittman. The source says training camp will be a crucial time for Pittman, who averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds in 35 games last season.
Doc Rivers Reiterates His Focus Is On Miami HEAT Only
Last season, the Boston Celtics came just one game away from making their third NBA Finals appearance since the 2008 campaign, losing to the eventual champion Miami HEAT in seven grueling games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash this past summer, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers became inundated with questions on what those acquisitions mean to Boston.
Rivers made it clear his focus isn’t on any of the teams on the west coast, but beating the HEAT is his top priority for the 2013 campaign.
“Honestly, I don’t care about the Lakers,” Rivers said to Bob Ryan during Boston Community Development Group’s Hoop Dreams event. “I have my eye squarely on Miami. I come up to my players during the year-they’re in the facility now-I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That’s gotta be our focus.”
Rivers also stressed the need for his team to get to the free throw line more and said the best way to beat Miami would be to engage them in a “thinking meet” and not a “track meet.”
“We have to get to the foul line because when you get to the foul line-that’s one of the big things now in our league-if you can get to the foul line, you can become a dominant defensive team because you get to set your defense every single time,” Rivers said. “If you keep missing shots against Miami, you’re going to let them run back and forth. I told our guys, ‘I’m smart enough to know that if we get in a track meet with Miami, they’re probably going to win, but if we get in a thinking meet, we will win that game.’ We want them to think. We want them to play under thought, not with their instincts.”
The Celtics have been busy during the offseason adding Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Jason Collins to the roster.
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