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First Cup: Wednesday

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "Nuggets coach George Karl, having cleared every major hurdle in his latest bout with cancer, has little doubt he'll be back for the upcoming season. 'I'm not sure it's official. Before we make that declaration, there's probably one or two more doctor's appointments that I want to get done,' Karl said Tuesday. 'But my mind slot is: Get ready.' Karl missed the majority of the last two months of the regular season and all of the playoffs last spring as he battled neck and throat cancer. With the help of his life partner, Kim Van Deraa, and other friends and family members, Karl is on track to getting back in the coach's chair. Karl has one year left on his contract. 'I'm excited about training camp,' he said. 'We have 10 practices before our first (exhibition) game, which I think is really fun.' "

  • Pete Thamel of The New York Times: "The shrill whistles, the deafening din of Thundersticks and singsong chants began a half-hour before Greece played Turkey at the world championships. Centuries of tension between these ancient rivals reverberated during each possession. ... Amid an atmosphere than makes Red Sox-Yankees or Auburn-Alabama feel like pillow fights or patty-cake, Turkey pulled away for an impressive 76-65 victory. Turkey improved to 3-0 in Group C. The game showed that any game featuring the Turks in the knockout round will be a daunting contest. 'Our fans are great today,' the Turkish guard Kerem Tunceri said. 'Before the tournament here, we talked a lot about this. When we get down they help us a lot. We have to use it.' Despite being NATO allies, there is a reason Greece and Turkey celebrate their national days of independence because of victories over the other. They have fought four wars since the late 1890s, but with foreign ministers from both counties in the stands, there is an appearance of an active effort of cooperation. The Turkish coach, Bogdan Tanjevic, who is from Montenegro, called the game a 'gentleman’s fight.' "

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Byron Scott took himself off the market and almost off the radar. He is heading into the apocalypse now known as post-LeBron Cleveland ... and starting a new supervisory job at the Cavaliers' old manufacturing plant just as Phil Jackson is vowing this will be his final season as the Lakers' head coach. Is it a purplish and golden opportunity lost for Scott? Yes, if you believe Jerry Buss saying last November that his next head coach would be someone he and son Jim have 'a special fondness for' meant Scott would be trusted to keep the current Lakers in dynasty mode. When you consider just how deeply and openly Scott is tied to the Lakers, not waiting and seeing makes little sense – until you understand that's exactly why he isn't waiting: Scott knows the Lakers so well that he trusts this isn't his only opportunity. And he's right. Scott will still be the Lakers' head coach someday, just not next year. Odds are that day will not be all rainbows and rings – and pressure – as awaits Brian Shaw in all likelihood as Jackson's successor. When Scott comes back to the Lakers, it will be a Monday morning – with much work to be done – and that will actually fit him best. He views himself as a rebuilding specialist after NBA Finals appearances in his second and third seasons in New Jersey and then quite a booster shot in New Orleans, too."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "... after two weeks of researching this, I've come across ample national sentiment that Reggie Miller has a borderline case for the Hall of Fame. They'll point to the fact he got just three MVP votes during his career, that he didn't win any championships, that he made just five All-Star teams and never made the All-NBA first or second teams (playing, by the way, at the same time as guards Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Gary Payton and others). All true. But here's my counter: Miller currently ranks as the 14th leading scorer of all time with 25,279 points. There are 15 NBA players who've scored 25,000 points or more, and every one -- with the exception of Miller and current players Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant-- is in the Hall of Fame. While Miller didn't have the eye-popping regular-season numbers -- his 18.2 points per game doesn't even rank in the top 100 of all time -- he routinely lifted his game in the playoffs, and he did so with maddening, year-in and year-out consistency."

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The money train just keeps on rolling for the Hawks, with each expenditure maintaining their proverbial “core” but squeezing their resources and roster flexibility. They paid Bibby and Marvin last summer. They paid J.J. (Joe Johnson) this summer. They may have to pay Al now or next summer. The AJC’s Mark Bradley calls it the increasing price of NBA success. Or, as one NBA exec joked, nothing ever stays the same for a good team because everyone wants to be paid or and nothing ever stays the same for a bad team because everyone is subject to being fired or traded. Rick Sund’s philosophy plays into this, too. For the most part he lets his employees finish out their contracts before offering new deals (or not). When Sund was Seattle’s GM, Ray Allen had to hit the open market before securing a deal he liked from the Sonics. Rashard Lewis become an unrestricted free agent and ended up in Orlando. The most recent exception to Sund’s reluctance to extend vets is, of course, the maximum extension offer for J.J. last summer. But J.J. seems to be an exception to Sund’s general rule. Sund has been consistent in his belief that J.J. is a franchise cornerstone whom the Hawks couldn’t allow to walk if they hoped to maintain their momentum."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "From a Spurs roster once described as older than dirt has sprung a new cadre of players characterized as younger than saplings. Unless additional 30-something players are signed before training camp opens on Sept. 27, only three Spurs -- Antonio McDyess (36), Tim Duncan (34) and Manu Ginobili (33) -- will be older than 30. Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner turned 30 in recent months. The rest of the opening night roster likely will include at least five players between the ages of 21 and 25. 'We used to talk about how old we are,' general manager R.C. Buford said. 'Now we have (three) guys above 30 but a lot of fresh, new faces. It’s exciting to me, but it probably scares the coaches to death.' Little wonder, then, that Spurs assistant coach Chad Forcier, tasked primarily with player development, has hop-scotched the country this summer working with Spurs, young and old, seeking to improve their games. 'I’ve been pretty busy,' Forcier said during a phone interview conducted, appropriately enough, while awaiting a flight connection at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. 'I’ve logged a lot of miles.' ... Forcier believes the Spurs have been as committed to the offseason improvement of their players as any team in the league. He cites the willingness of veterans such as Tony Parker and Jefferson to submit to instruction as evidence of team-wide determination."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Andrew Bogut's terrible tumble put a hurt on the Milwaukee Bucks' playoff hopes last spring. Bogut suffered a gruesome, season-ending injury when he hit the Bradley Center floor after dunking the ball against Phoenix on April 3, and the 7-foot center suffered broken bones in his right wrist, a fractured right hand and index finger and dislocated right elbow. Now the focus switches to the upcoming season and Bogut's ability to make a full recovery. He has been working diligently on his rehabilitation routine in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, and is expected to return to Milwaukee on Tuesday as players begin arriving for informal workouts in anticipation of the 2010-'11 season. It's unclear when Bogut will be ready to resume his place in the Bucks' lineup, but team officials remain optimistic about his recovery. 'Our hope and anticipation is that Andrew will be ready to go when the season begins,' Bucks general manager John Hammond said. 'The great thing about going through this process with Andrew is he's proven to us as an organization and to our fans that his effort, energy and toughness will never be questioned.' The Bucks have made a serious effort to strengthen their front court during the off-season, signing free agent power forward Drew Gooden, acquiring power forward Jon Brockman in a trade with Sacramento and drafting 6-foot-11 Larry Sanders in the first round."

  • Andrew Macaluso of Dime Magazine: "If Deron Williams chooses to opt-out of his contract in 2012, where would he end up? How about following his roots in Dallas to play with the Mavericks. Deron starred at The Colony High School near Dallas, and last year at the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas, that was the happiest Williams has looked in two years. Another thing to consider is that the Mavericks will have substantial cap room in 2012, right when Deron can choose to become a free agent. If Deron ends up in Dallas, he would have a much better supporting cast than with the Jazz. ... The Mavericks have one of the best shooting big men in the history of the NBA in Dirk Nowitzki. Don’t get it twisted though – he’s not a choke artist like fans believe. This is a guy who is 7-0 and has averaged 23.0 points and 8.5 rebounds for his career, all on jump shots. But let’s face it; Dirk’s never had a great point guard in his prime during his time in Dallas other than Steve Nash – and he still couldn’t lead the Mavericks to a title. ... The best part of all is that Deron has the chance to play for the arguably the best owner in basketball, Mark Cuban. Cuban is the kind of guy that will gladly go into luxury tax in pursuit of a title, which he’s done numerous of times. Deron just wants to win, and at this point, he can’t win in Utah. Maybe Chris Bosh was right, it’s time players stop mixing loyalty when it comes to free agency."

  • Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: "Veterans Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, rookie Greg Monroe and recently acquired Tracy McGrady have been working with conditioning coach Arnie Kander in hopes of coming to training camp in great shape. 'A lot of players have been in our gym, and that's good news,' coach John Kuester said. 'They realize how important they are, and their making adjustments to make themselves better is very important for us. I'll tell you this, what Tracy has done so far is put in a tremendous amount of time with Arnie. I had a chance to watch him work out, and he was moving extremely well.' McGrady could be a key offensive component if he's half the player he was five years ago. 'One of the things that we see (in McGrady) is a player that had high potential at one time, and he is somebody that is working religiously with Arnie, and that's so important...' Kuester said. 'McGrady is somebody that can give us a high-risk, high-reward situation.' "

  • Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: "It's not carved in stone, but the likelihood is Andy Rautins has played his final basketball game at the 2010 world championship. A knee injury that got aggravated Sunday in a loss to Lithuania kept Rautins in street clothes for Tuesday's game with France. Head coach and Andy's father, Leo Rautins said Tuesday night his son was probably done for the duration. 'The pain is too restrictive and he's got a high threshold,' the senior Rautins said. 'He has played through a lot of (crap).' Worse from Leo's perspective, he feels he probably asked a little too much of his son. 'I feel like I compromised that father/son relationship (on Sunday),' Rautins said. 'I know him so well. Put it this way. If it were any of my other players, I might not have played him when I did.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Channing Frye joined Suns workouts this week, putting nine contract players in town. Jason Richardson, Hakim Warrick and Jared Dudley are expected to arrive next week. ... The Suns hired Nenad Trajkovic to assist player development. Trajkovic worked in player development for BDA Sports, an agency that represents Steve Nash, Earl Clark and Warrick. He has coached for 30 years, including stints as head coach for five European pro teams and the Yugoslavian and Latvian pro teams. Trajkovic has spent his first days with the Suns working with their big men."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "Terry Kofler, who had been the New Orleans Hornets' only athletic trainer since their inception in 1988 when they were based in Charlotte, N.C., will not be retained for this upcoming season, team officials announced on Tuesday. Since Dell Demps was hired in July as general manager last month to replace Jeff Bower, the Hornets' basketball operations department continues to undergo restructuring. The departures have included scouts Kip and Kelly Bass, director of basketball administration and player development Andrew Loomis, former assistant coach and scout Rob Werdann, video coordinator Irving Roland and strength and core trainer Jack Manson. With Kofler's departure, equipment manager David Jovanovic, executive vice president of operations Sam Russo and Harold Kaufman, vice president of communcations, are the only holdovers that have been with the Hornets since their inaugural season in 1988-89."