NBA Media Day has come and gone, and along with all the usual hijinks that take place, there were actually some notable things said. Let's take a look at some of them.
Kobe rips D'Antoni, praises Scott
It's pretty well known that Kobe Bryant wasn't a big fan of former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni, and Bryant said as much Monday.
"D'Antoni and I didn't have the same philosophy on winning. For me, it's winning and no in between...it's championship or a waste of time," Bryant said, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.
Bryant is truly psychotic when it comes to winning, but his implication that D'Antoni didn't really care about winning is a bit odd given the circumstances last season. Still, this is just Kobe being Kobe.
Bryant went on to praise D'Antoni's replacement, Byron Scott, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:
"It's a philosophical thing," Bryant said. "He agrees with me and it's the Lakers organization we're here for one reason only and that's to hang championship banners, not division banners or conference banners or anything else. We don't do that. We focus on winning championships and that's very important for our young guys to understand."
Unfortunately for Bryant and Scott, the Lakers will be extremely hard pressed to even come close to competing for a championship in the next few seasons. Even if Bryant bounces back from his injuries, the talent simply isn't there to keep up in the loaded Western Conference. Having the correct "philosophy of winning" won't change that.
Rondo talks injury, contract expectations
The Rajon Rondo Saga took another turn last week when he broke his hand after reportedly slipping in the shower. Rondo showed up to Boston Celtics Media Day with a cast and reiterated his story, attempting to dispel any rumors that he got injured in any other way, according to SB Nation's Paul Flannery.
Naturally, there was also talk about all the trade rumors and a possible contract extension with Boston. Celtics president Danny Ainge said the team has tried to get Rondo to sign a new deal, but admitted it made little sense for the point guard to do so because of how the new collective bargaining agreement is set up.
If Rondo is still with the Celtics at the end of the season and contract negotiations continue, he has an expectation of what kind of contract he wants:
Asked if he thought he deserved a max contract, Rondo paused for a moment as if contemplating a deep thought before answering, "Um ... Yes, I do."
Ainge agreed with the assessment, citing Rondo's track record and how that relates to the current market. Rondo's recent injury woes and the Celtics' position in the league complicates matters, which is why this will be a fascinating situation to watch unfold.
The second rebirth of Derrick Rose is underway
The Bulls star comes back again for a team that has changed and a city where he only needs to be himself instead of a larger-than-life savior.
Rose sees a title in his near future
Derrick Rose has missed most of the last two seasons due to two consecutive major knee injuries. When he played last season and in the FIBA Basketball World Cup earlier this summer, Rose looked like a shell of the player that won MVP in 2010-11.
But despite all this adversity, Rose is as confident as ever. The Chicago Bulls star still believes he'll be celebrating a title in Grant Park in the very near future, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago:
"I try my hardest to stay away from (the predictions)," Rose said. "But we know we have an opportunity ahead of us. It may not be this year, it may not be the next year or whatever, but I know that we have one (in us). I know I'm going to win a championship soon so I'm not worried about that."
With Rose returning and several new pieces in place, including Pau Gasol, the Bulls have high expectations heading into the year. Anything less than an Eastern Conference Finals appearance will be a disappointment, and while the Cleveland Cavaliers are a formidable challenge in their way, the Bulls have confidence that they can win it all.
For the Bulls to reach their lofty goals, Rose has to be the Rose of old. It'll take some time to get back to form, but if he can stay on the court, the hope is he can be his old self by the time the postseason rolls around. If that happens and the rest of the Bulls stay relatively healthy, Chicago will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.
Harden admits 'bad' defense
James Harden is one of the NBA's most talented offensive players, but his porous defense has become a running joke around the league. Harden addressed his sub-par play on the defensive end of the floor and vowed to be better, according to Ben DuBose of Sheridan Hoops:
"I know at times my defense is pretty bad," said Harden, who averaged over 25 points and six assists in 2013-14, leading Houston to a 54-28 record and the West's No. 4 playoff seed.
"I have to be better. I have to be great on both ends."
Harden believes his time with Team USA this summer will benefit him moving forward, and he credited Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant coach Tom Thibodeau with helping him become better on the defensive end:
"The coaches were unbelievable," said the 25-year-old Harden, who despite his miscues was an All-NBA First Team selection last season. "It's not the fact that I can't do it. I know I can be a really good defender. It's about the focus and small things that I kind of lose track of. And I know that. But in order for the Rockets to get where they need to go, I have to be better."
Dwight Howard took notice of Harden's play with Team USA, saying that his Houston Rockets teammate played "great defense." That may be typical Media Day optimism, but if Harden does show significant improvement on defense, the Rockets will be a much more legitimate championship contender.
Suns had Morris twins split up $52 million
Twins Markieff and Marcus Morris re-upped with the Phoenix Suns for four years, but the way the two got their new contracts was a little bit different than usual. Instead of negotiating with each player individually, Suns president Lon Babby came up with a sum of money for the both of them and allowed them to decide who got what, according to Dave King of Bright Side Of The Sun:
"I did something I've never done before," Lon Babby said to Bright Side of the Morris negotiations. "Once we agreed on the amount of money, I gave them the first crack at how to divide it up."
"I didn't want there to be any disconnect," he explained. "What I knew would happen is that they are each the best advocate for the other one. So Markieff is going to be worried about what Marcus is getting and Marcus is going to be worried about Markieff. I didn't want to mess up that dynamic, so I gave them a chance and they came up with a good solution."
Babby offered the twins a total of $52 million, and the brothers agreed on a split rather quickly. Markieff agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal, while Marcus took a four-year, $20 million deal. Markieff was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate last season and is slated to start this year, so it was only natural that he got the larger deal.
Markieff and Marcus Morris, Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Garnett considered retirement
Kevin Garnett has had retirement in the back of his mind for several years, but he's ready to go full bore this season, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York:
"[Retirement is] always somewhere in there, especially when you come up short of your goal for the year," Garnett said. "But I must admit these last three years I've thought about life and where basketball is as far as priority. So yeah, in the back of your mind you think about it. But the decision is yes or no. It's not like 50-50 I'm in the middle of the road or gray area. I'm a person that when you commit to something, you commit to it. It's that simple."
Garnett is 38 years old and in the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, so this year could finally be it. But the veteran big man didn't commit to anything and feels good about the upcoming season.
Wade wants to play 82 games
Dwyane Wade has been limited over the past few seasons due to balky knees, and he played just 54 games last year in an attempt to keep himself fresh for the postseason. That kind of plan appears to be out the window this year:
Wade said last season's maintenance plan was not necessarily his idea, that it "almost worked," but goal is to play every game this season.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 27, 2014
With LeBron James off to Cleveland, Wade will likely have to take on a bigger role in Miami. This doesn't bode well for him making it through the entire season healthy, but it's a noble goal.
Monroe says decision to sign qualifying offer was just 'business'
Greg Monroe turned down a long-term contract offer from the Detroit Pistons this offseason, instead opting to sign his $5.5 million qualifying offer in order to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. But Monroe said that doesn't necessarily mean he's leaving, explaining that it was simply a "business decision," according to the Associated Press:
"The Pistons offered me a long-term deal, but after talking it over with the people that are most important - my agent, some friends and my family, I decided to turn it down," he said.
"It isn't that I want to get out of the city of Detroit or this area - I have loved it here since I arrived - it is strictly a business decision based on my future as a basketball player."
There are questions about how Monroe fits on the team with Josh Smith and Andre Drummond around, and there's a chance Monroe comes off the bench, which could play a role in his desire to stay in Detroit moving forward.