First Cup: Friday

  • Jason Smith of The Commercial-Appeal: "Although it had been nearly 24 hours since they learned of the untimely death of Lorenzen Wright, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins and Griz director of player personnel Tony Barone Sr. were still in a state of shock Thursday. Hollins had been an assistant with the Grizzlies under former coaches Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello during Wright's final four seasons with Memphis in 2002-06. 'It's just a sad moment, not just for the Grizzlies and not just for basketball, but for his family and his kids and the community that he grew up in,' Hollins told a group of reporters gathered Thursday at FedExForum. 'Nobody knows all the details. It's just unfortunate. It's just sad and it is a tragedy.' ... 'He would bring his (children) to practice a lot and Hubie always embraced that' Barone said. 'You always saw 'Ren's kids with his jerseys. They never had anybody else's jersey on. It was quite obvious how much he cared for his family.' ... Former Grizzlies forward Shane Battier, one of the team's original players in Memphis with Wright, said Wright embodied the team's competitiveness."

  • Ken Sugiura of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "It was not easy to keep Lorenzen Wright down. Pete Babcock saw Wright, the former Hawk found dead Wednesday in a wooded area in Memphis, on some of his lowest days as a professional. In 2008-2009, the last year of his career, Wright was a bench player for the Cleveland Cavaliers who played little on the rare occasions he dressed out. 'Even when he was in street clothes on the bench and I happened to be there at the game, he was still upbeat and positive,' said Babcock, the former Hawks general manager who now scouts for Cleveland. Wright provided similar memories to many who encountered him in a 13-year NBA career and a life that ended violently after 34 years. On Thursday, Memphis police confirmed that Wright was a homicide victim killed by gunshot wound. He was found nine days after he had gone missing. 'The news as to how he died, it's killing us all, to say the least,' Hawks spokesman Arthur Triche said."

  • Mike Tokito of The Oregonian: "Lauren Forman remembers the day she and Brian Grant were sitting in Cafe DuBerry, discussing plansfor an event to raise money to battle Parkinson's disease. Grant wanted one of his former NBA coaches, Pat Riley, to be the event's keynote speaker. So they called Riley. 'Within seconds he's like, 'Brian, whatever you need, I'm there -- send me the info,' ' said Forman, executive director of the Brian Grant Foundation. That sort of personal response to Grant, the highly-respected former Trail Blazers forward who is one of an estimated 1 million people in the United States with Parkinson's, explains the impressive guest list for 'Shake It Till We Make It.' The two-day event starts Sunday with a dinner, meet-and-greet and auction at the Rose Garden, and concludes Monday with a golf event at Pumpkin Ridge. The two celebrities most linked to Parkinson's will be there -- boxing great Muhammad Ali, and actor Michael J. Fox, whose foundation will be the beneficiary. Also slated to appear are Bill Russell, Bill Walton, Brandon Roy, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Greg Oden, Steve Nash, Terry Porter and Rasheed Wallace. 'These guys are all flying in on their own dime,' Forman said. 'They're coming in because they care about him.' "

  • Satff for Rogers Sportsnet: "During an exclusive interview with Rogers Sportsnet on Thursday, former Raptors forward Chris Bosh responded to criticism from general manager Bryan Colangelo, refuting claims that he 'checked out' during the closing stretch of his final season in Toronto. Bosh, who decided to join the Miami Heat this off-season and will play alongside Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, said that his impending free agency had no effect on his play with the Raptors and he never gave up on the team as it slid out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. 'No, at any time, did I ever give up,' Bosh told Sportsnet. 'You know, I take that very seriously. I work hard every time I step on the court -- practice, games, shoot-around, whatever you want to say -- I take this job seriously and I take my effort on the court seriously. I play this game as hard as I can every time I step on the court. On the back of my jersey, it says Bosh,' the 26-year-old forward continued. 'The Bosh's are hard workers. We have a lot of pride in what we do in our jobs and in life. There was no time, at any time, that I ever stepped on the court -- in my NBA career, in my life -- and stop playing hard or give up.' "

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Two weeks ago, new Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire arrived in Vegas for Knicks summer league with a tattoo of the 'Star of David' on his arm. 'What's that?,' he was asked by The Post. 'What does it look like?' Stoudemire replied. When asked if that means he is Jewish, Stoudemire replied flatly: 'Yes.' Stoudemire may not have been joking. Stoudemire, who last week was forbidden by the Knicks to play for Team USA in the World Championships, is in Israel this week to learn more about Judaism and learn Hebrew. He arrived Wednesday. ... Stoudemire posted on his Twitter account yesterday: 'To clear everything up: I'm studying history & want to learn about all religions. I think I might have some Hebrew Roots and I'm researching it.' "

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: The Oregonian mentioned the Bulls as a potential destination for Portland shooting guard Rudy Fernandez. League insiders wonder if the Blazers are really serious about moving Fernandez. The Bulls’ inquiries earlier this summer were rebuffed. At this point, if Fernandez is unhappy with his limited role in Portland, the Bulls may not be his best option, considering they’ve already added Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer at two guard. According to reports, the Blazers are willing to accommodate Fernandez'trade request and are looking for a first-round draft pick in return. I've seen rumors of the Bulls offering Taj Gibson for Fernandez, but cannot imagine that happening. You don't trade a competent big man for an unproven guard."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Columbian: "When Portland coach Nate McMillan put his ideal first and second teams together last season at the start of training camp, Fernandez was viewed as the perfect backup to Brandon Roy. Where Roy thrives in a methodical, half-court offense, Fernandez excels in the fast break. This gave McMillan two top-tier, diverse but complimentary guards. And before injuries set in, the rotation became scattered and the championship picture shattered, there was no question that Fernandez was an essential piece of Portland’s future. Now, a little more than two months before the start of training camp for the 2010-11 campaign, the Blazers’ window of opportunity appears smaller and feels tighter. Fernandez will never be the man who brings another ring to Rip City. But the two-year teammate of Roy’s could help keep that window open. It’s Fernandez’s call to make. And it could easily become the Blazers’ loss if he icily glides away."

  • Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune: "One day, when Derrick Rose's children play sports and possibly win a championship, he wants to be able to go home, point at his wall and say, 'Yeah, but do you have this?' That thing would be a gold medal. 'I really want it,' Rose said. 'That's something I can brag about to my kids if they play sports. Like if they win a championship, it doesn't matter, I won a gold medal. Until you win one of them, that's when you can come talk to me.' Rose, who had his second annual basketball camp in Deerfield on Thursday, said it's an honor to be one of 15 finalists vying for a spot on the Team USA roster that will compete in the FIBA World Championships next month. And he hopes to be with the team for the 2012 Olympics in London -- no matter what he has to do to get there. 'I told them, some way, somehow, let me get on the team,' Rose said. "''ll be the towel boy, whatever-boy, doesn't matter. Just let me be on it."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Now, real questions confront the Heat. No longer is it about which end-of-bench types will battle in training camp for longshot roster spots. No, with Thursday’s addition of Eddie House, the Heat now is confronted with legitimate decisions, namely which 12 players to dress on game nights. Suddenly, someone you have heard of is going to have to wear a suit on game nights. ... With someone of the ilk of Jamaal Magloire or Juwan Howard or James Jones sitting out on game nights, it would appear unlikely the Heat could attract an additional proven veteran, with uniform time (let alone playing time) now at issue."

  • Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: "Last season was a nightmare of injuries for Arnie Kander and the Pistons. The Pistons had a full contingent of players for just 11 games (winning seven). Richard Hamilton was injured in the season opener against Memphis and played in only 46 games. Tayshaun Prince had his games-played streak snapped at 497. New Pistons Ben Gordon (ankle and groin) and Charlie Villanueva (plantar fasciitis) also were hobbled. In all, the team lost 155 man-games to injury. In 2008-09, it was 57. The year before that, 45. The year before that, 46. And in 2005-06, it was 65. 'The number of injuries we saw last year is definitely something that we have not been accustomed to seeing,' Kander said. 'I give our players credit because they have been dedicated to our summer programs, and everybody is progressing well.' Gordon was scheduled to play with the Great Britain national team this summer but opted not to while recovering from left ankle in April. Gordon wants to be at full strength this season. 'Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva have been in town most of the summer, putting in a lot of work,' Kander said. 'Given the fact that our veteran players have been working hard, as well as our young guys, we should be in a good position as we get closer to training camp.' "

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "So the Rockets found a team to take David Andersen off their hands. Toronto might give up a second-round pick and, according to my sources, some nets (that's singular, as in the nets for one goal, which is just the way many of us describe them, and I don't know why) for Andersen. Oh, and actually, the Rockets had to pay the Raptors to take Andersen, so they could end up paying $1 million bucks for those $10 nets. (Thank goodness they aren't chain nets.) Don't you love the fancy, government-type math where deals like these are described as 'saving' a team money? Hilarious. Pay, oh, $4 million or so for a car. A car that doesn't run. (Or defend, or rebound.) Then a year later you pay, oh, $1 million more for somebody else to put said car in their name so you won't have to pay the $2.5 million insurance tab. Yep, you saved money all right."

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "For all the grooming he does with his players, Nuggets coach George Karl takes as much pride in coaching coaches, notably his young assistants, of which he has a stable. On Thursday, one of his favorite pupils, Jamahl Mosley, said he's leaving to take a job as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mosley said he wouldn't have had the opportunity for advancement without the tutelage of Karl and Tim Grgurich, the Denver assistant who mentors young coaches and players alike. 'With my loyalty to the Nuggets and George and Grg,' Mosley said, 'I definitely wouldn't have touched this job if I didn't think it was a chance for me to take everything they gave me and see if everything they taught could be used.' "