First Cup: Tuesday

  • Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: "Ron Artest and the rest of the Lakers took part in the championship parade Monday morning, starting at Staples Center and working their way toward the USC campus in front of a crowd estimated by police at 65,000 to 70,000. Artest puffed on a cigar and wore a black top hat festooned with purple and gold feathers that his daughter glued to it, the latest celebratory act for the player who had partied the most since the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals on Thursday. 'I slept a total of 30 to 40 minutes in three days,' said Artest, who has danced at nightclubs in his Lakers jersey since the team won its 16th title and also managed to squeeze in a recording session with noted music producer Dr. Dre for a song called 'Champion.' He wasn't the only elated Lakers player taking part on a caravan of buses as it worked its way through a throng of fans until reaching the Galen Center on the corner of the USC campus. 'We were looking at them straight in the eye,' Pau Gasol said. 'We were happy, they were happy. It was just a great moment to experience.' "

  • Robert Stewart of The Times-Picayune: "Jonathan Bender had to step away from the game he loved in 2006, when he retired from the NBA after six years of dealing with chronic knee problems. The 7-foot forward didn’t regret the decision then. He knew it was part of some kind of plan. 'It’s part of God’s plan,' Bender said. 'I didn’t regret it. I haven’t regretted anything about it. That’s what I had to do at the time. I know it was a setup for something bigger.' During that time off, Bender became an entrepreneur and founded several of his own businesses. But after the break, Bender is trying to plant himself firmly back in the NBA. Bender signed with the New York Knicks in December, and played in 25 games with one start. But Bender wants to play more than one season. So he’s bringing in the cavalry to help him stay in the league. Bender, just like former NFL and Tulane quarterback Patrick Ramsey, is using his good friend and fitness expert Mackie Shilstone to help him get into shape to continue playing at his sport’s highest level. ... Part of Bender’s recovery involves a special knee brace that he created himself. It isn’t a typical hard, plastic knee brace. It’s a series of bands that run from the waist down to the Achilles tendon, attached by a harness and a stirrup. The brace takes pressure off the knee and makes the wearer stand up straight, Bender said. Bender came up with the design, which is being tested at Purdue University, just by tinkering around a bit. 'I went over to CVS and grabbed some bands, and Wal-Mart, bands and ankle braces, just playing around,' Bender said. 'I actually came up with something that ended up taking pressure off my knees and helped me.' "

  • Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer: "It is widely believed that James, Wade and Bosh will skip their contract options for next season and become unrestricted free agents next month. But while they're all certain to sign rich new deals, the simple act of becoming a free agent will affect their bottom lines. If James goes ahead and becomes a free agent it will cost him more than $2 million in salary over the next three years alone -- even if he re-signs with the Cavs. It could cost him up to $4 million over the next three seasons if he decides to sign with another team. Perhaps that's one reason why James may plan to enjoy his free-agent process so much, it's a huge purchase. 'We don't know what it is going to look like over the long run yet, but in the short run opting out of their contracts is going to cost,' said one prominent player agent. 'They're essentially going to have to write seven-figure checks just for the right to be free.' "

  • Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com: "It's way too late in Dirk Nowitzki's career to think he's all of a sudden going to develop a low-post, back-to-the basket game. He's talked about adding that dimension to his arsenal for years, but while he shoots far less 3-pointers than he used to, and he does attack the basket with success, the offense doesn't run through him in the fashion it would if he played a more traditional power forward/center position. So, while an elite wing player like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade would obviously be the most welcome addition, short of that, the Mavs, as Haberstroh points out, need a reliable low-post scoring threat. The Mavs might lose center Brendan Haywood to free agency, although with a 7.7 career scoring average, he's not a coveted low-post scorer. Neither is Erick Dampier. I like Haberstroh's suggestion of trying to pry Minnesota's Al Jefferson, who is having a turf battle with teammate Kevin Love. Jefferson is due big money -- $42 million over the next three years -- but the 6-10, 25-year-old center could be well worth it."

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: "Officially, the Warriors traded their second-round pick -- No. 34 overall -- to the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 44 pick and cash, the team announced Monday. Unofficially, the Warriors got their second-round pick back in January. Two of them. The success of swingman Reggie Williams and forward Anthony Tolliver, both NBA Development League call-ups from last season, has diminished the Warriors' need for a second-round pick. Golden State, which has a roster filled with young players, including the one it will take with the No. 6 pick in Thursday's draft, isn't expecting to find a player in the second-round who is better than the young talent it has. 'I think you can get as good a player in the D-League as you can most second-round picks,' Warriors coach Don Nelson said. 'There are some exceptions to the rule. But generally speaking, in the D-League there are second-rounders that have developed.' When Warriors general manager Larry Riley met with the media on Monday, he said he had at least a dozen players on his wish list for the second-round selection when he held the No. 34 overall pick. The likelihood is that one of those players will be available at No. 44. So why not move down, decrease the choices and save some cash? The Warriors received in the ballpark of $2 million in financial compensation from the Trail Blazers, two sources said."

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Evan Turner expects to become a 76er. The Ohio State junior guard has refused to participate in predraft workouts for other NBA teams. He's even jokingly told the Philadelphia-area media to 'be nice to me in the future.' 'I would kind of be surprised, definitely,' Turner said of possibly not becoming a Sixer. But the decision, obviously, will be made by the Sixers -- not Turner. And team president and general manager Ed Stefanski has stated that using the second overall pick on Turner in Thursday's draft is not a lock. Exploring all of their options, the Sixers are listening to trade offers from teams looking to move up in the draft. The expectation is that the Washington Wizards will use the No. 1 overall pick on John Wall, the Kentucky guard. The Sixers are expected to keep the second pick and use it on the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Turner. However, there have been reports that they may select Derrick Favors, a 6-10 power forward at Georgia Tech, instead."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Geoff Petrie is known for keeping his NBA Draft thoughts to himself - cracking the Pentagon can't be this hard - but he was adamant about one thing earlier today: It would take a phenomenal offer for him to move the No.5 pick. The Kings basketball president sounds stressed out, as do most GMs with high Lottery picks, but is convinced the Kings will get a quality player. Assuming they keep they keep the pick, and also assuming that one of the teams choosing ahead of them will throw a complete wrench in the process, as usual, the Kings are still looking at a group that consists of Wesley Johnson, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus and Greg Monroe."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The auditions are over. Eleven cities. Lots of push-ups and sit-ups in his hotel room to get stronger. Countless jump shots to prove to teams he's a better shooter than he showed last season at Butler. The questions will continue, but Gordon Hayward can't do any more to improve his draft stock. All the former Butler standout can do now is put on his designer suit, sit with family members at Madison Square Garden and wait to hear his name Thursday night during the NBA draft. 'I've learned that I'm a competitor because these guys (in the workout process) are great guys and they wouldn't be at these workouts if they weren't good,' the Brownsburg native said after working out for the Indiana Pacers on Monday. 'At times you're going to get beat, they're going to make a good play, but it makes me angry every time they score on me.' Hayward burst onto the national scene when he led Butler to the NCAA title game at Lucas Oil Stadium. That was then; this is now. NBA teams have broken down every aspect of his game on video and during workouts. Hayward's quest is to prove he's a better shooter than the 29 percent 3-point accuracy he displayed last season and show he can guard players on the wing. He also wants to prove he can handle the ball."

  • Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: "Sometimes it's good to be bad. At least for the first 82 games of the season. One of the unintended benefits of the Celtics' late-season tumble to fourth place in the Eastern Conference is that they've stumbled into a lofty pick with the No. 19 selection in the 2010 NBA draft. While Boston's final three postseason opponents -- the Cavaliers (whose 30th pick is owned by the Wizards), Magic (29), and Lakers (whose 28th pick is owned by the Grizzlies) -- all boast selections in the back end of the draft, Boston shimmied all the way up to the teens, securing the best possible position for its record. Boston benefited from winning a four-way tiebreaker among teams that finished with a 50-32 mark, vaulting from as low as No. 22. The Celtics are fortunate the NBA doesn't enforce the same rule as the NFL, where the two teams in the championship game assume the final two spots in the draft. Especially since this year's pick could be so vital to the success of the 2010-11 squad."

  • Harvey Araton of The New York Times: "Because he will retain a minority stake in the Brooklyn-bound Nets, Bruce Ratner is happy to gush about the team’s prospects, especially now that he will not be losing $25 million to $30 million a year anymore or footing the bill for the new coach, Avery Johnson; the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s college draft; and the planned roster upgrade. But from here on out, the Nets, he agreed, are a subject better left to their new principal owner, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who, at 6 feet 8 inches, is certain to stand out more than Ratner when the Barclays Center opens at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues for the 2012-13 N.B.A. season, according to projections. Prokhorov, a wisecracking Russian billionaire many times over, was received in New York on a recent news media sweep like a visiting head of state, while Ratner’s tumultuous six-year ownership was gleefully swept by the news media into the dustbin of New York-area sports. Not so fast, comrades. As the owner of 55 percent of the planned arena, Ratner will have a sizable stake in what could become a fascinating battlefront -- downtown Brooklyn against Midtown Manhattan, or the Barclays Center versus Madison Square Garden."