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Sports Morning Headlines-Tuesday, 6/21/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

Effort seems there in NBA talks, but is time? - The effort seems there in the NBA labor talks. Time might not be.  Owners and players are scheduled to meet again Tuesday, a session that Commissioner David Stern indicated would be critical in gauging whether a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached before the current deal expires on June 30.  This will be at least the sixth meeting this month. After Friday's 4 1/2-hour session, both parties left believing the commitment to getting a deal done was there, yet unsure if there would be enough time to avoid a lockout.  "There's a very clear sense of urgency, but we're not sure between now and July 1 if we can make up the gulf that exists between the two sides," players' association president Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers said Friday.  Although the league agreed last week to leave contract guarantees as is, major disagreements remain.  Players argue that the current system doesn't need an overhaul. Owners disagree and seek a hard salary cap system and a reduction of contract lengths, all part of their desire to slash player costs by about one-third, about $750 million of the approximately $2.1 billion spent on player salaries and benefits last season.   READ MORE

Mavs rookie tattoos title trophy on neck - Dallas Mavericks rookie Dominique Jones has joined the team tattoo craze.  Following Jason Terry's lead, Jones has tattooed the Larry O'Brien Trophy on his body.  But, unlike Terry's subtle tattoo on the inside of his right bicep, Jones wants the world to know he was a part of a world championship team.  Jones, via the Dallas Mavericks official Twitter page, tweeted a picture of his new neck tattoo, featuring the trophy.  Out injured since February, Jones did not play during the postseason, but was still considered a part of the team.  He participated in the championship parade and celebration last Thursday.   READ MORE

Uncertainty surrounds NBA Draft for Mavericks - In the best of times, the NBA draft approaches wrapped in a lottery of uncertainty. Free agency has yet to further define needs, though plans have begun to take shape based on the finite nature of the known (such as cash and/or cap space, mid-level exceptions, and bi-annual exceptions); as well as the less-than-known but relatively quantifiable assets (such as tradable commodities).  Amidst a tangle of scouting reports, often speaking in a near contradiction of prediction, teams selecting beyond what is seldom more than a small handful of "surefire" prospects are left to gamble on everything from projects featuring the ever tantalizing dreams of upside, to those who may be further along the process of development capable of filling an immediate need.  For the NBA, these are not the best of times.   READ MORE

2011 NBA Draft: Buyout Terms Could Help Houston Rockets Land Jonas Valanciunas - Good news for the Houston Rockets has surfaced from's Chad Ford: Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas -- perhaps the only "true" center in lottery contention -- will likely stay overseas next season pending an official decision on his buyout terms.  Via ProBasketballTalk:  "Valanciunas update: Sources say buyout agreement close, however, buyout won't allow Valanciunas to play in NBA next season.  If Valanciunas can't play in NBA next year, he'll drop. Cavs won't take him at 4. Still I doubt he slips past the Rockets at 14."   READ MORE

NBA Draft 2011: Jimmer Fredette and 15 Best Prospects for the Houston Rockets - Jimmer Fredette, Alec Burks, Chris Singleton, Tristan Thompson or Markieff Morris could all be playing in Houston in the next NBA season—if there is an NBA season next year.  The Houston Rockets have the No. 14 and the No. 23 pick in the first round of the NBA draft this Thursday. A couple of players will not fall far enough for the Rockets to select them with the 14th pick, so we will not discuss Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams and other great players in this year’s draft.  The Rockets have a new coach in Kevin McHale and will be looking to rebuild their organization back to its championship seasons of the mid-1990s.   READ MORE

Drafting of Parker: A way to remember - The 2000-01 Spurs had won 58 games in the regular season, best in the league, but the achievement felt hollow. The Lakers, in a sweep, made sure of that.  If that sounds familiar, so should this: The Spurs of 10 years ago went into the draft with the 28th overall selection, just one better than the 29th they have this week.  No one in San Antonio saw a change coming then, either, including Gregg Popovich. “There’s nobody really in the draft,” he said at the time, “that can help us immediately.”  What followed doesn’t suggest a repeat will come Thursday.  It just shows what is possible.  Tony Parker didn’t impress Popovich initially. An intern named Sam Presti, as the story goes, put together a video to change Popovich’s mind.  The Spurs worked out Parker privately in Chicago, then brought him to San Antonio for another look. They liked him the more they talked to him.   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  Spurs' draft success keep Nuggets fans optimistic - The Denver Nuggets will have the 22nd pick Thursday in the 2011 NBA draft. Though Denver finished with the fifth seed in the Western Conference after they traded their superstar Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, Nuggets fans are still uncertain for the future as many of the players on their roster are available in free agency.  The Denver site, looks to the Spurs' past draft success as a means of selecting players late in the first round.   READ MORE




Ron Washington portrayed in new Brad Pitt movie - After his team's run to the World Series last season, Rangers manager Ron Washington has become somewhat of an icon in North Texas.  And this fall, thanks to some help from Brad Pitt and Aaron Sorkin, Washington could be a household name around the country.  The trailer for "Moneyball," based on the book by Michael Lewis, premiered this weekend. The movie follows the career of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and his use of sabermetrics to turn the A's into World Series contenders on a shoe-string budget.  One of the scenes features a meeting between Beane (played by Pitt) and A's catcher Scott Hatteberg, played by Chris Pratt, where Beane is trying convince Hatteberg to move to first base.  Sitting next to Pitt is an actor portraying Washington, who disagrees with Beane's assessment that the position change will be easy.   READ MORE

Quick pitch: Rangers take quick lead in interleague battle with Astros - All they needed, it appears, was to get home.  Finally returning to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington after a 10-game road trip did the trick for the Rangers. They jumped out to an early lead against Houston and never really let the Astros into the game in an 8-3 win Monday.  It gave the Rangers the early lead in the Lone Star Series, the annual interleague six-game series between the Rangers and Astros. The Rangers have won six of the last seven Lone Star Series, giving them control of the coveted Silver Boot Trophy.   READ MORE

Rangers spread hits around in outburst - The Rangers' offense, quiet for much of a 10-game road trip that ended Sunday, came to life in Monday’s 8-3 win over Houston.  Cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre had three hits and two RBIs. Josh Hamilton, hitting in front of Beltre, added two hits and batted in a pair of runs.  The Rangers also got production from the bottom of the order.   READ MORE

Astros 20 games under .500 after loss at Texas - The Houston Astros already are hitting some really low points.  J.A. Happ lasted only 2 2-3 innings in his fifth consecutive defeat and the Astros dropped to 20 games under .500 after an 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers in the Lone Star Series opener Monday night.  Houston was already down 7-0 against left-hander Derek Holland when Happ (3-9) threw his last pitch. It was the left-hander's shortest outing of the season.  "Sometimes when you fall behind that much, sometimes guys try to do too much and get it back all at once," second baseman Jeff Keppinger said. "When you fall behind like that it's really tough because they get the confidence and their pitcher feels like he can make pitches now, he doesn't have to be scared and nibble around. He just came right at us."   READ MORE

Astros can't recover from Happ's struggles - There was a first-inning error that wound up leading to two Rangers runs and a missed tag at second base -- or a missed call, as second baseman Jeff Keppinger contends -- that helped Texas keep things alive in the second inning and score three more times.  As far as Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ is concerned, none of that mattered.  Happ couldn't limit the damage in either of the first two innings, allowing the Rangers to score three runs in both frames and cruise to an 8-3 win over the Astros in the first game of the Lone Star Series on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.   READ MORE

Pence feels better, plans to return Tuesday - Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who missed his third consecutive game Monday with a sprained left elbow, is expected to return to the lineup in Tuesday's game against the Rangers.  Pence, who suffered the injury Friday in Los Angeles, felt so encouraged Monday that he was able to take some swings in the batting cage. He was able to straighten out his elbow for the first time since injuring it trying to slide into first base.  "It feels good," Pence said. "From where I was, the inflammation was in there and we detected what the problem was. It's like a sprained ankle on the elbow. I know it's feeling pretty good and I'm pretty optimistic about getting back soon."   READ MORE



2011 Dallas Cowboys: What to Expect from QB Tony Romo This Season - Tony Romo's 2010 campaign was derailed five-and-a-quarter games into the season. A blown assignment by fullback Chris Gronkowski led to Giants linebacker Michael Boley driving Romo into the turf, breaking his left collarbone on impact. This one missed assignment not only cost Tony Romo his season, but also cost the Cowboys a chance to rebound from a 1-4 start.  That was eight months ago.  Tony Romo is back throwing passes in the team practices he organizes during the lockout. Organizing practices shows leadership qualities, which Romo has been unfairly criticized about his entire career. This will be the year Romo rises up and takes the Cowboys to the next level.   READ MORE

Cowboys' Roy Williams determined to help Cowboys win - For Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams there is a good side and a bad side in regards to the NFL lockout.  The good side is that the seven-year veteran gets some extra rest. The bad side is that he and his teammates are missing out on valuable practice time together.  Williams recently discussed the lockout with the Odessa American.  "I talked to a player who was contemplating retirement, but the lockout has gotten his body back to where it needs to be," Williams said. "For us older players, it's good."  After being drafted by Detroit with the seventh overall pick in 2004, Williams spent a little over four seasons with the Lions. Of the 100 NFL games that he has played, Williams has spent the last 40 in Dallas.   READ MORE

Nnamdi Asomugha has real chance at becoming a Cowboy - It's no secret that Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is the most coveted free agent in the NFL.  The 2003 first round pick has reached the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons and was a first team All-Pro cornerback in 2010.  In his weekly Monday Morning QB column, Sports Illustrated's Peter King  discussed the free agency of Asomugha and want teams have the best shot at landing his services.  King called the Asomugha sweepstakes, "The race for the best defensive free agent since Deion Sanders."  In his list of most likely suitors, only the Philadelphia Eagles ranked ahead of the Dallas Cowboys.   READ MORE

A Titan Sized Look at the Houston Texans in 2011 - The crew over at Titan Sized provided a nice write-up on what they expect from the Houston Texans this season. Brandon Clark and the boys  over at the division rival site do a great job and constantly provide a fresh outlook on the Titans and everything AFC South related. Be sure to check em out. Thank you Titan Sized. The Rise of the Texans - I’ll admit, I don’t hover around the TV overtime a slight mention of the Texans runs across the bottom of the screen. I haven’t found myself waiting for a half hour to hear the advertised update on what Brian Cushing tweeted, BUT I do feel that I have seen enough of the Texans games over the last 5 years to be able to occupy you for a few minutes and give you my perspective.   READ MORE

Kubiak heading to Persian Gulf on NFL-USO tour - Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is one of four NFL coaches who will travel to the Persian Gulf in late June on the NFL-USO Coaches Tour.  Kubiak, Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim E. Mora and his son, former NFL coach and current NFL Network analyst Jim L. Mora, will meet and greet members of the U.S. military for several days at various bases overseas.  "I am very excited and feel so fortunate to be invited," Kubiak said. “To get this opportunity is so flattering. Just to have the chance to say thanks and take a little bit of the Texans over there with me will be special."  This is the third annual NFL-USO Coaches Tour. Kubiak was invited last year but couldn’t go because one of his sons was getting married during the trip.   READ MORE

Texans Need to Do Whatever it Takes to Get Back FB Leach - Pro Football Weekly reports something everyone already knows – the Texans need to get back FB Vonta Leach.  "The Texans would be making a mistake by not re-signing All-Pro FB Vonta Leach, the way Pro Football Weekly hears it. It is better to overpay than to let a valuable asset like Leach walk. TE-H-back James Casey has done a nice job bulking up but he is not Leach."   READ MORE


Players optimistic about Glen Gulutzan - Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow did his homework on Glen Gulutzan, who was formally introduced as the team’s new head coach at a press conference Monday morning at American Airlines Center.  When Gulutzan’s named surfaced as a leading candidate for the Dallas job, Morrow called around to guys he knew who have played for the Stars’ new bench boss. What he heard were glowing reviews.  “They've all said, 'This is the guy you want leading your team,'” Morrow said.  Morrow was one of two Stars players at Monday’s press conference. Forward Toby Petersen was the other. He also had heard positive things about Gulutzan, who comes to Dallas after two years as the coach of the team’s minor league affiliate, the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.   READ MORE

NHL Draft profile: J.T. Miller - The latest in a series of profiles on top prospects for the 2011 NHL Draft looks at forward J.T. Miller, who played for the USA Under-18 team this past season.  Background on 2011 draft prospect J.T. Miller. Note: Rankings are final.  2010-11 Season-Finished third on the USA Under-18 team in scoring with 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games. Led the USA in scoring at the 2011 World Under-18 Championship, registering 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) in 6 games as team won gold.  READ MORE

NHL draft profile: Zack Phillips - The latest in a series on top prospects for the 2011 NHL draft looks at center Zack Phillips, who plays for Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.  Background on 2011 draft prospect Zack Phillips. Note: Rankings are final.  2010-11 Season-Registered 95 points (38 goals, 57 assists) in 67 games for Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Picked up 24 points (9 goals, 15 assists) in 17 playoff games as Saint John won the QMJHL championship. Had 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in 4 games as Saint John won the Memorial Cup.   READ MORE



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