Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Malik Rose had issues last season, mostly over Rose's unwillingness to accept his role as a defender and rebounder. "When he tries to be Tracy McGrady, he has problems," Popovich said.

Popovich got on ref Rodney Mott for calling a foul on rookie Valter Monteiro, saying, "Come on Rodney, he's from Portugal, give him a break. He's going home after the game." Monteiro was cut after the contest.

Spurs' Tim Duncan, on Olympic officiating: "I love the NBA's refs; I will never talk bad about them ever again."

Nuggets' Kenyon Martin thinks he can be a good influence on 20-year-old teammate Carmelo Anthony. "At 20 years old, we think about things we did or may have said, and we all did stuff at 20 years old," Martin said. "That's where I can help him and mold him in the right way, keep his nose clean as possible and just limit all that stuff." Martin is 26.

Pistons coach Larry Brown was unimpressed when informed that Richard Hamilton spent the offseason working on his three-point shot. "I think everybody in the league wants to play like him, and now he's playing like everybody else," Brown said. "How dumb is that?"

Kobe Bryant offers this endorsement of new coach Rudy Tomjanovich: "He and Phil (Jackson) are completely different as far as their relationship with players and how they approach the game. Everybody here, we all love Rudy. Rudy's great for us — him and his coaching staff. It's fun to be around them. He speaks to the players every day. Every player, one through 14, can go up to him and just talk."

After Shawn Bradley took a charge, hit his head on the floor and suffered a mild concussion, Mavericks coach Don Nelson said, "When Shawn hit the deck, it was like wood hitting wood."

Hornets coach Byron Scott, talking about rookie Tim Pickett: "His biggest problem is he doesn't understand the offensive end of the basketball court, and he really doesn't understand what we're doing on the defensive end." The bench, though, he has that down.

Brown would like to see the NBA's defense rules further liberalized. "Allow any defense you want," he said. "If we've got all the great players in the world and you want to double-team a great player, that will open up shots. They can walk Barry Bonds and they can double-team Randy Moss. I don't know why it's a problem in our league that we're afraid of star players being double-teamed."

There's already talk that if the Knicks get off to a slow start, coach Lenny Wilkens could get the boot.

Seattle's Jerome James has had an epiphany: "I used to walk around here thinking that I was going to be a part of the Big Three. I thought it was going to be Ray (Allen), Rashard (Lewis) and me. I know at times I was a complete jerk."

Hornets owner Bob Johnson says we shouldn't expect him to be a Mark Cuban-type owner: "You know, running out and trying to play with the players. Acting as a quasi-cheerleader."

Dubious Achievement Department: Eric Piatkowski has a plaque honoring the fact he played in more games (616) than anyone in L.A. Clippers history.

Suns' Quentin Richardson, on whether he has any hard feelings against his old team, the Clippers: "I was just glad they let me get out of there."

Asked about the presidential debates, Timberwolves' Trenton Hassell said, "I don't really pay that much attention to what's said unless it's on ESPN."

Minnesota's Wally Szczerbiak doesn't sound like he'd be opposed to a trade. "I'm prepared, if I get traded, to go kick butt somewhere else," he said. "I was forced into playing a role I wasn't comfortable with and I don't like to play."

After a poor shooting effort by Ron Dupree in an exhibition game, Brown said of the former Bull, "I have to get the Chicago out of him."

Minnesota GM Kevin McHale said of Scottie Pippen: "He moaned all the time. I had fun. I think he was jealous of Michael (Jordan). But I never once wished Larry (Bird) wasn't as good as he was. I wanted him to be even better. You want to play with good players."

Pacers' Ron Artest, defending his choice of Dennis Rodman's No. 91 this season: "A lot of people liked Rodman as a player, but they don't act like Rodman. I'm one of those people. I liked Rodman on the court as a hustler, not when he kicked the cameraman."

How disgruntled are Nets fans? On the day individual-game tickets went on sale, there were only 13 people in line when the window opened at 9 a.m. By 9:27, after 19 customers had been served, there was no line.

Wizards' Gilbert Arenas isn't afraid of Miami. "Dwyane Wade proved that he couldn't shoot in the Olympics," said Arenas. "They've got Eddie Jones, but let's be honest: Combined, the two of them are not Kobe. Shaq is going to find out that they don't have the same role players or the bench that the Lakers had, so it's not going to be the same."

Nets' Richard Jefferson's idea of optimism: "I'm insanely optimistic . . . Just because we can't win a championship doesn't mean you're not a competitive team."


Compiled by Rich Evans from Internet and wire-service sources