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First Cup: Friday

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "The task of receiving anywhere near market value for Carmelo Anthony in trade only figures to be more difficult with a growing perception the 6-foot-8 Denver forward is more interested in winning an Oscar than an NBA title. As a league executive told me: Anthony used to bleed basketball. But if you opened him up now and looked inside, what could be found closest to the player's heart? A love of the game? Or the desire to be a Hollywood star? As teams from New Jersey to Los Angeles respond to not-so- subtle hints from the Nuggets that the trade market for Anthony is open for bidding, it's time to ask where the cracks in the relationship between Denver and its star scorer began. Signs point to last summer, when Anthony switched representation for his business interests to Creative Artists Agency, whose more famous clients have included Derek Jeter and Julia Roberts. It should be noted that LaLa Vazquez, a former MTV personality and Anthony's wife, also joined CAA as part of the deal."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Landry Fields signed his rookie contract Thursday, completing a Knicks roster that is younger, deeper and more talented than any recent edition. It comes, however, with one minor asterisk. Kelenna Azubuike, who was expected to compete for a starting job, may start training camp on the sideline, because of lingering concerns over his surgically repaired left knee. With Fields signed, the Knicks’ roster is essentially set. They have 14 players with guaranteed contracts and no immediate plans to fill the final vacancy. (Center Jerome Jordan, another second-round pick, will begin his career in Serbia. The Knicks retain his rights.) A handful of players will be brought to camp on partial guarantees and perhaps compete for the 15th spot. ... The lineup will be rebuilt around the star forward Amar’e Stoudemire and point guard Raymond Felton, the Knicks’ biggest free-agent signings this summer. Gallinari, a rising star, will probably start at small forward. Everything else will be up for grabs when the Knicks open training camp Sept. 25 at their training center in Greenburgh."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "No LeBron James, noDwyane Wade, no Kobe Bryant. But does that mean the U.S. national team has no chance in the 2010 FIBA World Championship? Head coach Mike Krzyzewski is back for another go-round with the national team after leading it to an Olympic gold medal and restoring some lost luster to USA Basketball during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And even though this group has been dubbed a 'B' team, it still may have enough talent to give the U.S. its first world championship since 1994. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant has emerged as the leader of a young U.S. team, and Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has seized the starting point guard role and given indications he could be a huge factor for the team during the 2012 London Olympics. In fact, Rose's strong play led Boston guard Rajon Rondo to make a last-minute withdrawal from the squad before the final cut was made earlier this week."

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Chris Collins, who will enter his 10th season on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's staff, is part of the coaching group overseeing the collegiate players practicing against Iguodala and his U.S. teammates, who just happen to be coached by Krzyzewski. While Collins' main responsibility is to oversee his team's defensive play, he can't help but keep a close eye on someone who will be playing for his dad, Doug, this NBA season. 'Oh, my dad has been getting in touch with me every day asking how Andre's doing,' Collins said. 'He'll either call me, e-mail or text me. That's the way he is. He is on top of everything and very attentive to detail.' That trait is one of the reasons, if not the main reason, why the Sixers decided to hire Collins as their coach in May after firing Eddie Jordan, who led the team to a 27-55 record in his only season. Though Doug Collins just turned 59, his son doesn't see that as a red flag. 'He is just loaded with energy, and even more so when it comes to basketball,' Chris said. 'It was the right time for him to get back into coaching. He has always loved coaching. He and I have such a close relationship and he's been so helpful to me in my career. His knowledge of the game is incredibly high. His ability to relate to players is terrific, and he can teach the game as well as anyone.' "

  • Gary Peterson of The Oakland Tribune: "Stephen Curry's world view isn't complete. But it's coming along. 'What do you call the people here?' he asked by phone from Istanbul. 'Turkins? That's not right.' No, and we wouldn't suggest calling them Turkeys, either. 'Wait -- Turks,' he said. 'Yeah, Turks. They like us here. Except when we play Turkey.' Curry, the Warriors' soon-to-be second-year guard, has spent the summer with Team USA, which meets Croatia on Saturday in its opening game of the FIBA World Championship. Curry is the first Warriors player to make the U.S. national team since Chris Mullin in 1992. It has made for a hectic summer. Workouts began in Las Vegas last month, then moved to New York. Team USA landed in Madrid for games Saturday and Sunday, victories over Lithuania and Spain. It routed Greece in Athens on Wednesday. 'We're in a pretty good position,' Curry said. 'We're playing well. We've been able to go through some different situations. Now we can come in Saturday and keep our momentum going.' "

  • Mark Woods for the Detroit Free Press: "While continuing his rehabilitation from off-season ankle surgery, Ben Gordon made a whistle-stop visit across the Atlantic on Thursday to pledge his allegiance to Great Britain, vowing to play for the national team next summer. Gordon, 27, was born in London. 'I moved to New York when I was 10 months old,' he said. 'I would visit every summer when I was younger to visit my dad. But when I started to play competitively, I stopped coming, because summer's the time when you get better.' Gordon reconnected with his extended family two years ago on a journey back to the British capital. His father, Howard, has since moved to Africa, but there was a new set of relatives to meet who had only previously seen him, late at night, on the infrequent TV screenings of the NBA in a country where basketball is not a major sport -- and where he could walk down most streets unrecognized. 'I don't feel very British,' he said in Liverpool, where the Great Britain team beat Bosnia on Thursday night to qualify for next summer's European Championships. "But there are a lot of great memories. Of different chocolates and the food. I remember eating fish and chips out of newspaper. I love British chocolate. It's the best chocolate."

  • James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo: "NBA star Luol Deng treated Merseyside fans to a sporting masterclass as he helped Great Britain book their place at next summer’s European Championships on a dramatic night at the Echo Arena. The Chicago Bulls forward showed why he commands a salary of $12 million a year with a breathtaking haul of 38 points to end Bosnia’s stubborn resistance. Britain trailed with just 18 seconds to play but in a thrilling finish the outstanding Pops Mensah-Bonsu forced over-time and in the extra period Deng’s class shone through. Qualifying for the Europeans boosts Britain’s hopes of being handed a spot at the 2012 Olympics in London. 'I just wanted to come out tonight and be aggressive,' Deng said. 'I felt like I wasn’t getting any calls and I wanted the ref to notice. In the end I managed to get into a rhythm. The support we got here was great and we really appreciate it. Now I’m excited about playing for Britain in the finals next year. I love playing for GB and it was tough watching the Europeans last year when I was injured.' "

  • Nick Collins of the Telegraph: "A total of 288 players -- whose average height is about 6ft 6in -- are set to arrive in Istanbul for the opening ceremony of the international tournament today. But the sport's governing body, FIBA, said hotels in the capital had been forced to extreme lengths to accommodate the athletes for the tournament, marketed as 'a giant get-together.' The favourites for the title, the USA, are staying at the Four Seasons hotel while most teams including Iran -- who will face America in a group match on September 1 -- have taken rooms at the Marriott. Both hotels have reportedly ordered a number of extra long beds to accommodate their guests, with the Marriott ordering in more than 100 beds measuring 7 ft. Patrick Baumann, Secretary-General of FIBA, said: 'Giants of the sport need giant beds to sleep in peacefully. We'll do everything possible to ensure the best players in the world are given every comfort to help them reach peak performance.' A hotel manager added: 'These are very big boys to accommodate, and we have put in new beds and bed extensions to assist as much as we can in making their stay comfortable.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Three months after a conference-finals run and a month before training camp, Steve Nash returned to find the Suns' house rearranged and a need for him to apply some feng shui concepts again. At 36, Nash has the onus to be great and galvanizing with five new Suns, a wing-loaded rotation and a dearth of size. 'I expect that from myself anyway,' Nash said after a workout. 'Whoever we march out there, I expect to lead the team and play at an extremely high level. I would expect that no matter who we had. I'll just embrace the challenge of plugging in new pieces, trying to make it work and make everyone feel good about what we're doing.' The changes began with Nash losing his third general manager since 2006. In June, Steve Kerr left to return to a TNT commentator job and more family time after failed contract talks changed his hope to return as Suns GM. 'I was sad to see him go,' said Nash, who visited Kerr this summer. 'He did a phenomenal job for us. I miss him already.' "

  • John McMullen of the Sports Network: "A statue honouring Scottie Pippen? My, how our hero worship has fallen. Before you start firing off the hate mail, understand I, like most NBA observers, loved Pippen's game. He was the consummate 'Robin' to the ultimate 'Batman' in Michael Jordan. He was the best 'Iceman,' M.J.'s 'Maverick' could ever ask for. But let's be honest, at the end of the day, Pippen was a sidekick. A sidekick that will be forever be displayed permanently in the United Center when the Bulls unveil a bronze statue of Pippen toward the end of the 2010-11 season. It's not Pippen's fault. In fact, the honour is probably more indicative of just how mediocre the Bulls were before and after the Jordan-era. It's not like everyone was clamoring for that Bob Love statue."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Derek Fisher will fill in Friday as the host of 'Jim Rome is Burning' at 1:30 p.m. Pacific on ESPN ... and buddy Kobe Bryant will show up in the studio as a guest for Fisher to interview. Fisher said Bryant was a huge reason Fisher re-signed with the Lakers this offseason, so perhaps they’ll discuss that and the Lakers’ free-agent acquisitions. Or they’ll just chit-chat and entertain themselves and viewers. Brandon Jennings will also be a guest."