First Cup: Tuesday

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Mo Williams' flight into Cleveland on Sunday was four hours late. Turns out, it was perfect timing. The travel delay allowed Williams to unexpectedly bump into LeBron James at Hopkins airport for a clear-the-air type of discussion between the two former teammates that Williams says was 'much needed.' Williams and James were close during their time together with the Cavaliers, and Williams was one of the players stung the most by James' departure to the Miami Heat this summer. ''Part of me is still sour ... but I wish him the best,' Williams said Monday between holes at the Cavaliers' Youth Fund Golf Classic at Westfield Country Club. 'He's got enough people rooting against him, he doesn't need one more.' Hours after James announced he was leaving the Cavaliers, Williams tweeted: 'We were so damn close. So damn close now we have taken leaps and bounds backwards.' He wouldn't go that far Monday but understands how much more difficult the road ahead appears without James. The Cavaliers are no longer the best team in the Eastern Conference."

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "If you want to know how big a star Kevin Durant has become, search his name on Twitter. The Thunder swingman had the Internet's popular social-networking site buzzing after he led Team USA to another victory at the FIBA World Championships. He'd scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He'd almost single-handedly held off Brazil's upset bid. Durant was being talked about not only by folks from across the United States but also by people from around the world. There were 140-character comments in Spanish, Turkish, Italian and Portuguese. Playing in the world championships is only broadening Durant's popularity. It is growing his brand. It is widening his stardom. That, Thunder fans, is great news for Oklahoma City. ... Over the years, players in Durant's position have fled to bigger markets for a variety of reasons. While the Thunder can control some of the variables that will influence their young superstar, the franchise can't turn him into a worldwide phenom. Know what can help the process? Scoring a team-high 21.0 points a game and looking like a man among the boys at the world championships. That's the kind of thing that is adding more shine to his already brilliant star. Good for Durant. Even better for Oklahoma City."

  • Andre Iguodala for the Philadelphia Daily News: "I know my role on this team. The main thing is we got the win. All the other stuff doesn't matter. It only matters what the score is at the end of the game. I had a job, which was to make it tough on [Leandro] Barbosa to score and he had to pull out his best moves to score in the second half. I've known [my role] ever since being a part of the USA Basketball system, knowing that we're going to have some great scorers. You got the Dwyane Wades and Kobe Bryants and on this team you got the Kevin Durants of the league. I feel like I can fit into any system no matter who I'm playing with. With this group, I feel like I go out there and try to shut down whoever their top scorer is. We switched it up [on defense] a little bit . We were giving them too much freedom coming off and we applied a little more pressure in the second half and it seemed to work. I think, in the past, USA teams, if they aren't scoring baskets then they're struggling on the defensive end and that's how we had those three losses that we had. I think tonight we just continued to stick with it. We showed some character as far as if we're not scoring, we're going to pull it out on the defensive end and get stops as well."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "From a national standpoint, Team USA's at-times sloppy 70-68 victory over Brazil on Monday was notable in that it kept the Americans undefeated in the FIBA World Championships. The San Antonio-centic storyline, however, was Tiago Splitter. Splitter, the 25-year-old Brazilian center set to join the Spurs this season, saw his first extensive action against a team consisting completely of NBA players. With the game televised live on ESPN, it provided a sneak peek at what we might expect to see from Splitter in silver and black come October. ... Obviously, one game is hardly much a sample size from which to draw any lasting conclusions. However, if Splitter can provide the Spurs with what he provided Brazil on Monday -- a solid if unspectacular post presence -- he will earn his NBA keep."

  • Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com: "Tyson Chandler was receiving strong reviews from USA teammates as well as coach Mike Krzyzewski as he appeared to nail down the starting job at center. In fact, it seemed almost odd that the starting center for Team USA would come to Mavs training camp in less than a month as the backup to Brendan Haywood. However, in the three games that Team USA has played over the past three days, Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom has started at center as Krzyzewski goes with a smaller lineup, and Chandler's role has continually decreased. After playing 11 minutes with four points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in Saturday's opening win against Croatia, the 7-foot-1 Chandler, the only true center on the roster, has managed no points, two rebounds and one blocked shot against Slovenia and Brazil in just 13 total minutes. ... It will be interesting to see if Krzyzewski finds spots to utilize Chandler or if he trends toward the end of the bench."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "The fatigue/injury factor that has diluted the talent pool at the ongoing World Championships in Istanbul strengthens the case for the international game as a showcase for the younger stars. In other words, let the kids play ... and let Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, etc., use the offseason to rest their bodies and rehabilitate their injuries. Of course, while the rest of the world values the World Championships, the United States places a greater premium on the Olympics, which means there will be the usual pressure on NBA stars to compete in 2012 in London."

  • Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: "No matter what transpires over the next few days for the Canadian senior national team here on the coast of the Aegean Sea, this summer will be looked back on as one of the best Canadian basketball has ever enjoyed. And while the senior men’s national team haven’t had a lot to do with that good feeling, strides there have been made too. In fact, Canada’s growth in international basketball has been surpassed by only two countries over the past five years according to a points system FIBA uses to track these things. 'With the success this summer, particularly with that bronze medal by the Cadet (Under 17) team, we now rank third in FIBA points of all the 213 FIBA countries in world age group championships since 2005/2006,' said Wayne Parrish, the Executive Director and CEO of Canada Basketball who is in Izmir with the senior men’s team. 'The only ones ahead of us are USA, which dominates, and Australia which is slightly ahead of us. I think that is a good indication of where we are going.' "

  • Fred Mitchell and David Kaplan of the Chicago Tribune: "New Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says he is prepared for the scrutiny that comes with being a head coach in the NBA. 'That goes with the territory,' Thibodeau said Monday before the team's charity golf outing at White Pines Golf Club in Bensenville. 'There is no one who is going to put more pressure on me than I am going to put on myself. Whatever comes, comes.' Thibodeau, who recently completed his move from Boston, said he hopes to complete his staff of assistants soon. 'We're talking to a couple of people still,' he said. 'By the start of training camp, we will have everyone in place.' "

  • Bill Bradley of The Sacramento Bee: "If there's smoke, should there be a three-alarm blaze? According to a report making the rounds on the Internet, the Kings are among three teams favored to trade for Nuggets superstar forward Carmelo Anthony. If that seems odd, then take a look at the other two rumored favorites: The Timberwolves and the Nets. While the Nets make sense, the Kings and Wolves don't fit because Anthony has been talking about leaving Denver for a high-profile East Coast team (i.e., the New York Knicks). He could come here because the Maloofs, who own the Kings, like high-profile players who can win games and draw fans. However, any deal for Anthony would take a contract extension (he's a free agent after this season) and require a few choice players and draft picks. Is it worth trading for Anthony if it upsets the rebuilding project?"