Urban Interaction

Urban Interaction

If it's Friday, it's time for some give and take. I'll take questions, and little Matt Steinmetz will stand on a milk crate, peer over the wall that separates our cubicles and give me grief for my answers. Away we go What would the Giants need to do to "take" Miguel Cabrera off the Tigers' hands? That would be the trade of this decade a la the Barry Bonds free-agent acquisition in the 90's
--Cannonball, San Francisco, Calif.Wow, I'm guessing it would take Matt Cain and a very good position-player prospect or two, at the very least. In other words, it's not going to happen -- for three reasons. One is that the Giants don't want to part with Cain, who seemed to have finally turned the corner last year in terms of turning his obvious talent into consistently strong performances. That he's the youngest starter in the rotation (until Madison Bumgarner is officially installed) and under contract for this year (4.25 million) and next (6.25 million club option) make him far more attractive to keep than to move, even it meant landing a big bat like Cabrera.Another is that the Giants can't afford to move any very good position-player prospects. There are about five guys that they're expecting to be excellent players at the big-league level within a couple of years, and they're going to form the nucleus of the club for the next decade. Then there's Cabrera's contract. He's due 126 million over the next six years. No way the Giants take that on.Who do you think might be the breakout player of the year for the A's in 2010?
--Jerry S., Los Gatos, Calif.I'm going to go with Gio Gonzalez. I think he learned a lot of hard lessons last year and did a lot of growing up. If he ever puts it all together mentally and physically, he's got the kind of stuff that could make him one of the better lefty starters in the American League.We'll know whether I've made a horrible pick the day he reports to camp, though. If he shows up soft and flabby and 20 pounds overweight, like he did last spring, it'll be clear that he hasn't learned or grown up as much as I think he has. You got me all fired up about the Giants signing Kiko Calero, but I haven't heard anything about it since your story? Anything new on that front?
--Lyle F., San Rafael, Calif.Nope. I've been pretty busy running other things down this week, but I've touched back with a couple of my sources and they say there haven't been any serious discussions -- yet.My guess is that the Giants are prioritizing their desire to add a left-handed bat, although I still don't understanding the obsession with a lefty. I'd be far more concerned if my team were too left-handed than too right-handed, but that's just me. I saw you on TV from a Stanford basketball game the other night. What do you think of my Cardinal? Anyone stand out other than Jeremy Green and Landry Fields?
--Caleb H., San Carlos, Calif.They are what we thought they'd be. They're a team that needs to play as well as they can to hang with the big boys, and they played very well against the Trojans on Wednesday. They still almost lost that game, though, primarily because they stunk at the free-throw line down the stretch.One of the guys who struggled late at the line was one of the players with whom I was otherwise very impressed: sophomore forward Andrew Zimmerman. He's not a "wow" guy by any stretch, but he did a lot of subtle, dirty-work things that help a team win close games. He got his hands on a lot of balls, knocked down open shots when USC sagged off and did a nice job of getting after it on the boards.Your boy Steinmetz called you out in his mailbag yesterday, saying that without having seen you play, he already has you pegged as a "mechanical" big man who turns the ball over too much. Got any hoop in your background? Is his scouting report accurate?
--Thomas D., Sunnyvale, Calif. There's a lot of hoop in my background, actually. It's my favorite sport. I just happened to be better at throwing a baseball, so that's what I played at USF. But I did start for a conference championship basketball team in junior college, and I can tell you with certainty that my Canada College would have boat-raced the Div. III band of ragamuffins for which Steinmetz served as a practice dummy.I haven't seen Matt play, either, but unlike him, I'm willing to show some respect and assume the guy can ball a little bit. But he's way off on the scouting report. He'll realize that if he ever puts down the I-don't-want-the-big-guy-to-hurt-me crutch, because as arrogant as he is, he'll sag off me because of my size and find himself needing an umbrella to protect him from the feathery mid-range jumpers I'll rain on him. Give me three predictions for 2010: A's team leader in wins, Giants team leader in homers, number of wins for the 49ers.
--Nathaniel R., Rocklin, Calif. Justin Duchscherer, with 15. Pablo Sandoval, with 31. Niners win nine games.

Kings teammates on Gay's Achilles injury: 'It kind of hurt my soul'

Kings teammates on Gay's Achilles injury: 'It kind of hurt my soul'

SACRAMENTO -- The news couldn’t be any worse for the Sacramento Kings. A 106-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers sent the Kings to their sixth loss in seven tries on the homestand. But an injury to Rudy Gay had the locker room as quiet as it’s ever been.

“Somber, very somber,” Garrett Temple said of the team’s mood. “We have a team of good character guys. Guys that have the right mindset and it’s tough to see people get hurt, especially a guy like Rudy. I’m going to be praying for him and hopefully he can bounce back stronger than before.”

Gay, 30, went to the floor hard in the late third quarter after trying to make a move on the baseline. He laid on the floor for a few seconds before slapping the ground in disgust. Eventually he had to be carried off the court by Willie Cauley-Stein, Omri Casspi and the team’s medical staff.

The initial report is a torn left Achilles tendon. An MRI is set for Thursday morning, but CSN California has learned the diagnosis is correct. There is no timeline for what comes next for Gay, but surgery is required for the team’s second leading scorer.

“Rudy’s a good guy and for him to go down like that this time of year, in this point of his life is kinda tough,” Lawson said. “I’m probably one of the closest to him on the team. It kind of hurt my soul.”

It was a non-contact injury for Gay and the veteran appeared to know the severity of the injury right away.

“Once I seen him on the ground, I felt sick, I felt like something in me just dropped,” Lawson added.   

Gay made his way into the locker room while media was still present. He wore a dark hoodie and a walking boot and moved with the aid of crutches. He grabbed his belongings and left without speaking to the media.

The veteran forward has had issues with his Achilles in the past and even underwent shock wave treatment over summer on the area to prepare himself for the upcoming season. He missed time over the previous two seasons with Achilles tendonitis.

Gay was set to opt out of the final season of his three-year contract extension signed in November of 2014 and become an unrestricted free agent. If he opts in, he is owed $14.4 million next season by the Kings.

Even before the injury, the Kings had began to sputter. After leading by as many as 22 early in the game, Indiana had cut the lead to ten at the point of the injury and momentum had clearly shifted the Pacers way. Without Gay on the court, All-Star Paul George scored two points to end the third and another 11 in the deciding fourth quarter to finish the night with 24.

DeMarcus Cousins tossed in a 25-point, 12-rebounds, 10-assist triple-double, but he shot 0-for-9 in the second half as the Pacers collapsed on the All-Star center.

After falling to 1-6 on the seven game homestand, Sacramento is scheduled to hit the road for a brutal stretch away from Golden 1 Center beginning Friday in Memphis.

“We’ve got an eight game road trip, we’ve got to come together closer and closer, not drift apart,” Lawson said.   

The Kings will play eight games in 12 night’s including three sets of back-to-backs. Gay is clearly out of action, but the team may be without forward Omri Casspi on the trip as well.

Casspi was injured in practice earlier in the week and underwent an MRI on Monday. Tests revealed a strain to his right plantaris tendon and he is expected to miss 1-2 weeks.

“It’s tough, other players are going to have to step up that weren’t playing,” Lawson said. “Hopefully everybody’s been working hard to be ready for this moment.”

With the loss, Sacramento fell a season-high nine games under .500 at 16-25, but they remain just a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase.

“Guys are going to have to step up, next man up, next man up,” Temple said.

Durant building 'Thunder Stopper' reputation after 40-point effort

Durant building 'Thunder Stopper' reputation after 40-point effort

OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant, Thunder Stopper? With a second consecutive magnificent performance in decisive wins over his former Oklahoma City teammates, Durant may be adding a nickname.

Durant on Wednesday night posted his first 40-point game as a Warrior, carrying them to a 121-100 win over the Thunder at Oracle Arena.

He has scored 79 points in two games against OKC, taking only 40 shots to ring up such an impressive total. He was 13-of-16 Wednesday night and 15-of-24 in scoring 39 points in a 122-96 win on Nov. 3 at Oracle.

Though Durant downplayed his production, his coach and teammates were not surprised he has been so good against the team with which he spent nine seasons.

“It’s still kind of fresh, but we can’t deny the history of him with OKC,” Stephen Curry said.

“Every player in the NBA wants to play well against his old team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “For most guys, you feel that extra juice when you play against a team that you played on.”

Durant not only finished with a season-high point total but also added a team-best 12 rebounds, along with four assists and three blocks. He practically stamped his signature on the game.

“My teammates are doing a good job of freeing me up,” said Durant, who drilled 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. “I put the work in and prepared myself for every game. I just happened to knock them down.”

It’s not just that Durant was facing his former team, though. He was, once again, on opposite sides from longtime teammate and erstwhile friend Russell Westbrook. The two have not had much to say to each other since Durant’s decision last July to leave OKC and sign with the Warriors.

Little changed Wednesday night, though the two had a brief exchange in the second half, as Durant headed to the line to shoot a pair of free throws.

Asked if the two have talked, Westbrook said, “Nah,” despite the brief dialogue.

Durant carefully avoided saying anything remotely inflammatory about Westbrook or any of his former teammates.

“It’s good to see everybody,” he said. “Once the ball is tipped, you’re just playing. You’re just hooping. It’s as simple as that. But it’s definitely good to see everybody.”

Durant’s lone lowlight came when he blew a dunk with 1:45 left in the first half, taking flight about 10 feet from the basket and slamming the ball off the back of the rim and nearly to halfcourt.

“I thought I made it,” Durant said, “and then I heard the crowd.

“I was kind of upset. I tried to dunk it too hard, I think. I might have jumped from a little too far out. As I was close to the rim, I felt myself coming down a little earlier than usual.

“But, yeah, I should have made that one. That would have brought the crowd to its feet. But, hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity.”

The crowd was on its feet plenty, as was the case during Durant’s previous display against OKC. The Thunder won’t be back to Oakland this season.

Durant will have another chance to go after his former team and burnish his credentials as a Thunder Stopper when the teams meet on Feb. 11 in Oklahoma City.