NBA PM: Nash Says Bryant “Sealed Deal” to LA
After going through numerous postseason battles against the Los Angeles Lakers as a member of the Phoenix Suns, perennial All-Star point guard Steve Nash now finds himself on the other side of that rivalry. Coming into his first season as the floor general sporting purple and gold, Nash says the move from the Suns to Los Angeles was a done deal after Bryant issued his approval.
“Well it definitely needed [Bryant's] blessing,” Nash told the Burns and Gambo show on KTAR is Phoenix. “I primarily did this for the kids, and then a great byproduct is that I get to play for a contender. … It was great that [Bryant] signed off and he was so enthusiastic about it and positive. You could feel it.
“He was genuine and excited and that kind of sealed the deal.”
Even though he’s focused on securing his first championship and putting LA back on top in the Western Conference, Nash says joining the Lakers was no easy task for him.
“Going to L.A. was not an easy thing,” Nash said. “I think I said a week before free agency it would be hard to put on a Lakers jersey, and I meant that. We’ve gone through some playoff battles and they’re a rival and an enemy to some of the Suns fans, but at the end of the day the Suns were moving in a new direction and in some ways I felt like I couldn’t cut off my nose to spite my face.”
That new direction for the Suns was the deciding factor, according to Nash, in the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player leaving the desert to head to LA. Despite the likelihood that Phoenix would’ve still been an also-ran in the Western Conference next season, Nash says rejoining the Suns was still his first choice.
“I wanted to come back, to be honest,” Nash said of remaining in Phoenix. “One, primarily with my children being in Phoenix, but second, I felt dissatisfied with the last two seasons, not being in the playoffs. And I felt a big part of me wanted to leave the franchise in a better place than it was the last two seasons, and be a part of moving it forward.”
If the sign and trade to the Lakers would’ve fell through, Nash believes with certainty that he would’ve ended up with either the Toronto Raptors or New York Knicks.
“It would’ve been Toronto or New York,” Nash said of his other options. “Those were the two next teams, and I don’t know. I would’ve crossed that bridge had the Lakers situation fell through.”
With the dust now settled, it’s clear that LA was Nash’s best choice among his potential options this summer. With Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol already in place; the Lakers are likely to be top contenders to challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference throne.
Terry Stotts Bringing Championship Savvy to Portland
For the 14th time in franchise history, the Portland Trail Blazers introduced a new head coach yesterday with offensive expert Terry Stotts taking over a young and talented team in Portland. With 18 years of coaching experience under his belt (115-168 as a head coach with Atlanta and Milwaukee), the former assistant will look to get the Blazers back to the postseason after a one year hiatus from the playoffs.
Over the previous four seasons, as the assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks under head coach Rick Carlisle, Stotts played an integral role in Dallas securing the first NBA Championship in franchise history.
“Terry is one of the elite offensive minds in the NBA, has extensive experience with multiple organizations and was instrumental in the Dallas Mavericks winning the 2011 NBA Championship,” Blazers’ general manager Neil Olshey said via press release. “He understands the vision for the future of the franchise, appreciates the process involved and will create an environment on the court that will produce championship habits.”
Following Dwane Casey’s departure to the Toronto Raptors this past year, Stotts is the second of Carlisle’s assistants to be snatched away after the Mavericks’ championship season in 2011. Carlisle credited Stotts for not only his great offensive acumen but also his help to the Mavericks’ zone defense packages while in Dallas. Now as the Blazers’ head coach, Carlisle says he believes Stotts has all the tools to do a quality job in Portland.
“He has a great disposition,’’ Carlisle told Jason Quick of OregonLive.com. “For Portland’s situation, he is going to have the perfect mixture of patience and knowing when to put his foot on the gas pedal and get after the guys. One thing about Terry: He always allows himself to see the big picture. He doesn’t react to something that shouldn’t be reacted to, and he always looks for little things that can help bring the greatest net-positive change.
“He was the kind of guy for me that anytime I needed to make a big decision, I went to him, because he has a great overview for the game and a great feel for people.’’
With LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Damian Lillard (among others) already in place in Portland; Stotts must be licking his chops in anticipation of getting the most out of the Blazers with his offense. By way of good health and a little luck, Portland is likely to be right back in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race next season.
UConn’s Ryan Boatright Expects to be “totally different player” as Sophomore
On the verge of his second season at the University of Connecticut, HOOPSWORLD caught up with Huskies’ point guard Ryan Boatright recently at the Adidas Nations Tournament in Long Beach, California. Playing in 25 games this past year as a freshman for UConn, Boatright averaged 10.4 points, four assists and 1.2 steals per contests.
Coming into the upcoming season for the Huskies, Boatright believes another year under head coach Jim Calhoun’s tutelage is going to pay dividends on the court in 2012-13.
“I’ll be a lot more ready than I was last year,” Boatright told HOOPSWORLD. “I didn’t know what to expect last year, now I know what to expect. I know how the competition is in the Big East and I know how fast the game is and how much stronger I’ve got to be.
“With one year under my belt, I’ll be a totally different player.”
In terms of his goals competing in the Adidas Nations Tournament, Boatright says Calhoun and his staff at UConn want him to concentrate on being more of a leader on the floor.
“They wanted to see if I could run a team,” Boatright told HOOPSWORLD. “Everybody know I can score, everybody know I’m athletic but they wanted to see if I could run a team and get everybody involved. I felt like I did that this camp.”
Even though the Huskies are facing a postseason-ban for the upcoming season due to poor academic performance, Boatright tells HOOPSWORLD that doesn’t affect his mindset going into next season.
“It don’t affect me at all,” Boatright said. “Everybody at school, we just look at it like we have a chip on our shoulder. We’re ready to prove everybody wrong. Nobody expects us to be good, so we’re all on the same page and we all have a good attitude about it so I’m looking forward to the season.”
Every NCAA basketball player hopes to eventually have their name called in the NBA Draft and Boatright is no exception. Even though he admits he thinks about the possibility of being a professional, Boatright says his focus is simply on getting better.
“I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t think about it but I try not to make that my main focus,” Boatright told HOOPSWORLD. “I just try to get better and get my team ready for this year and if I’m blessed to be able to go [to the NBA] next year, then I will. If not, I’m going to stay until I’m ready. ”
With plenty to prove next season, Boatright could be primed and ready for a breakout season under Calhoun with the Huskies.
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