Derek Fisher talks lockout, sounds like a politician

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Lakers guard and NBA players union president Derek Fisher is a great talker. Media love him because he’s good for a quality quote after the game. He’s prized for radio and television interviews because he is smooth.

When he went on ESPN Los Angeles over the holiday weekend to talk lockout, he sounded like someone running for office (via Sports Radio Interviews). He didn’t have much new to say, and he kept to the script.

When asked direct questions like “has there been progress” he answered the question to redefine progress.

“Like I just stated, progress is made the more times you have the opportunity to sit down and work with each other. Progress isn’t always similar to the game of basketball. … Trying to just tell how somebody played based on their stats or how many points they scored isn’t always the true value of that person’s game. In this process, just because we don’t have a deal done right now, doesn’t mean the months that we’ve put into this process prior to now have been wasted.”

What about fans who balk when seeing Eddy Curry making eight digits a year not to play, and other situations where it looks to fans like the system is broken?

“It depends on how you look at that, what your perspective is on players sitting on the bench and having a particular contract or certain amount of money that they’re owed. At some point, the contract that player signed, a team on some level felt that he was worth that amount at some point and maybe there was a coaching change or a management change or something that changed that player’s value to that team. So, is that just because the players can’t perform anymore, physically, or is it about a change in coaching style or management style. … In reality, there are very few of those compared to the other scenario where you have players like a Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant, guys that come in and in those first three, four or five years, far outpace what they’re being paid initially in their rookie contracts. It cuts both ways.”

It will be interesting to hear from Fisher when he has something actually worthwhile to tell us. Right now, no progress so we get the company line. And the lockout drags on.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.