*Jul 24 - 00:05*

David Stern blames Dwight Howard’s agent for all the leaks


Oh, great. David Stern is getting involved in the Dwightmare. That will make everything better.

One of the most annoying parts of the entire Dwight Howard trade saga has been the constant flow of leaks trying to spin the story — and keeping the news cycle going on the story. The latest of those has been the “Orlando doesn’t really know what they want, they need to just make up their mind” spin.

Which Stern told the USA Today falls on Howard’s agent Dan Fegan. And he’s sort of right.

Here is the money quote from Stern.

“It’s very unique, especially if it’s driven by a quote source that happens to be Dwight’s agent,” Stern told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview. ” ‘A source in the meeting. Oh, OK, who might that be?”

Does he think it could be new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan?

“No, I don’t, and I don’t think it’s (Magic CEO) Alex Martins either,” Stern said.

Let’s backtrack for some “understanding the media 101.” No source tells the media something without a ulterior motive in mind. People don’t leak stories because they think the reporter is cool (well, at least in the case of the rest of the media). In sports (especially trades and contracts where money is involved) it is just like politics — everybody is trying to spin the story to put pressure on the other side and look like the good guy.

So yes, it’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention to the leaks that Howard’s camp — which includes Fegan but is much broader than that — is the one pushing the “Orlando just has to make up its mind” meme. Because they want the deal to get done and get Howard to Los Angeles or Brooklyn. Their motive is to push the deal forward. Same with the leaks out of the Cleveland area, where they want better terms out of the deal but want to see it move forward.

Orlando, they are in no such hurry. They watched Denver wait out Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks and they are playing that same game. They are not the ones pushing to get a deal done, they are being patient and waiting for a deal they like.

We can debate how smart a strategy this is — the Nuggets got bailed out by Knicks owner James Dolan, that’s not going to happen here — but if Orlando doesn’t like the deal they can wait. That is GM Hennigan, but you can bet those orders come from the owners the DeVos family as well.

Anyway, Fegan will fire back at Stern soon, and we can talk about this all over again. Great. Just great.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

Leave a comment

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
Leave a comment

DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”