First Cup: Friday

  • Dave Krieger of The Denver Post: "Normally, taking charge of a term-limited Nuggets roster might seem like a questionable career move for a basketball coach on a one-year contract. But when the basketball coach is emerging from his second steel cage match with cancer in five years, getting back to work looks pretty good. 'It's official,' George Karl said Thursday just before taking off for a long Labor Day weekend with family. 'I've been cleared to go for it. My PET scan came back great.' There are no guarantees with cancer, of course. Two weeks before the PET scan that showed no signs of the squamous cell carcinoma he battled this year, Karl took his annual prostate test to make sure the cancer he beat five years ago has not returned. 'In three months, I'm going to have another PET scan,' he said. 'I'll probably have three or four more PET scans in the next year. And then the second year it won't be that many, it might be only two, but you've still got to go through them.' ... Karl's recovery from the brutal regimen of chemotherapy and radiation aimed at his neck and throat remains incomplete. His mouth, fried by the radiation, is slowly returning to working order. The feeding tube in his stomach has been removed. He is eating salads and soups, cottage cheese and peaches and cereal."

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "When Al Horford said earlier this summer that the Hawks needed to add an “impact center” to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference, I’m going to guess he wasn’t talking about Jason Collins (who had no impact for the Hawks last season) or Etan Thomas (whose impact lately has been blunted by injuries). Yet as training camp approaches that’s what the Hawks have behind Horford and Zaza. They re-signed Collins early, struck out with Shaq (who had endorsements from both Al and Smoove) and Brad Miller and today added Thomas. I bumped into Al at Philips today and asked him if that’s going to be enough to help the Hawks break through the ceiling that for this franchise has been short of the East finals for so long. 'I am going to war with who I’ve got,' Al said. What he’s got at center is Zaza, who came on at the end of last season and stacks up favorably against other NBA backups though he isn’t a stout deterrent at the rim; a leaner and apparently more-motivated version of Collins; and Thomas, a tough banger in the post who will try and show that injuries have not robbed him of his rebounding and shot-blocking ability."

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: "Lamar Odom won his second consecutive NBA championship in June playing for his team, the Lakers. Now he's trying to win his first world championship in September playing for his country, the United States. Odom is the starting center for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, on a team that some consider too small and too inexperienced to become champions. But his team finished Group B play with a 5-0 record after beating Tunisia, 92-57, on Thursday and advances to the round of 16 with a No.1 seeding. 'The thought of being a world champion twice in one year is cool, you know?' Odom said in a telephone interview. 'I could brag to Kobe [Bryant] and tell him this is something he doesn't got.' Odom paused before letting out a booming laugh. Bryant was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he has never played in the world championship. 'But he's got a lot of stuff I don't,' Odom said, laughing again. 'He's got MVPs, helicopters.' "

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "Hardly anyone talks about Steve Nash and the fact that the 2000 Olympic Games hero refuses to play for Canada now, even though he's still a great player. Yes, he has chronic physical issues, as do many other veteran players who pull on the jerseys for their country at international events. And, yes, he only has a few good years left in the NBA and wants to maximize his abilities in that regard. But, again, the same can be said for other, particularly European, veterans who play in the NBA. But consider this: Canada Basketball undoubtedly would have bent over backwards to get Nash on the team. I know for a fact they would have allowed him to arrive at training camp whenever he was ready. They would have limited his minutes to what he saw fit. Hell, they probably would have lobbied to have a street named after him. But, no, never a discouraging word is said about the man. Speaking out against Steve Nash is like speaking out against Motherhood in this country. Nash is a wonderful person and had given a lot to Canada Basketball the last few years. But you have to wonder why everyone, including Canada Basketball officials, are so reluctant to knock the Golden Boy, even just a little bit, for turning his back on the program and the country. It's not like he spent the entire summer lying on his sore back."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "Joel Anthony has emerged as one of Canada’s main offensive threats in his four years with the national team, growing from an unsure youngster with suspect hands into a solid interior presence. He has been one of the few bright spots at the world championship, a veteran presence who can be counted upon, an emerging leader for a team that will be young for years to come. But the 28-year-old has no illusions about what he is and when he leaves Turkey to get back to his real job with the Miami Heat, he will put away thoughts of being a focal point for what his team does. ... 'Part of being over here is being able to do a few different things offensively,' said Anthony. 'I always play within my role, I never try to get out of character or anything like that. With this team there are different opportunities for me to do different things. Even if I was able to do that in Miami, we’ve got some pretty good guys that can do that a little bit better.' That kind of maturity speaks volumes to what Anthony is becoming as one of the longest-serving members of the national team. He is quiet by nature but his actions have turned him into someone others follow, a much needed trait on a very young team."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Some people thought Danny Granger would end up getting more minutes than Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay when the team was training in Las Vegas. It's been the opposite. Granger got a DNP-CD in USA's narrow victory over Brazil earlier this week. He's averaging 13.3 minutes a game. Iguodala let's his defense dictate his offense. He gets in the passing lane so that he has an opportunity for easy baskets on the other end. Granger let's his offense dictate his defense. That won't get it done in Turkey and it won't get it done down on Pennsylvania Street. A lot of you will probably blame Granger's defensive problems on coach Jim O'Brien because he has such an offensive mind frame. You can't put it all on O'Brien. ... If the Pacers and Granger ever want to get better defensively, it has to start with No. 33."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Before change comes inspiration. Before inspiration, someone must inspire. Here is Jeremy Lin. Even if in his own mind he's merely just another American kid playing ball, here is Jeremy Lin. He's a somewhat reluctant torch-bearer for race. He has not even begun his NBA career and is trying to pursue his dream his way. His reservations are completely understandable -- yet altogether secondary to the greater good. He is already someone to so many, and that's the thing about inspiration: It's not about the one causing the inspiration as much as it's about the effect on many. ... These days, Lin is largely secluded in the Warriors' practice gym, trying to make up for working harder as a pre-teen playing pickup games against grown men than in structured team practices. He knows he still has much to prove. Is his 5-on-5 court savvy that didn't come through in individual pre-draft workouts truly that unique? Can he really flash off picks and attack the rim with a fearless burst reminiscent of Dwyane Wade? Will he develop his jumper into a consistent 3-point shot? If so, he earns the Warriors' backup point-guard job this season, that Asian-American face becomes a lasting image in this place where they say amazing happens, and the inspiration grows. But make no mistake: Something has already changed. Someone has made it ... and made it change."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "A few hours before Israeli and Palestinian leaders met in Washington, D.C., Thursday in the latest movement toward peace in the Middle East, Omri Casspi placed himself on the fringes of the conversation. At the Peres Center for Peace youth sports camp Wednesday in Jaffa, Israel, he supervised drills. He answered questions about Kobe Bryant. He scrimmaged with a girls team against a boys squad consisting of Israeli and Palestinian youngsters. Sounding at times like a diplomat and on other occasions like a coach, the Kings' second-year forward spoke about unity and tolerance. He stressed the cultural, ethnic and political diversity of the Kings. He left the community center, he said, encouraged and better educated. 'It was really enlightening to see kids from behind the borders, playing basketball with Israeli kids,' Casspi said on his cell phone from his native Israel. 'When you see something like this, you realize that it's true, that basketball can connect people from so many countries.' "

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The Cavaliers are playing a waiting game with restricted free agent forward Jawad Williams. They made a $1.03 million qualifying offer to the 6-foot-9, 218-pounder at the end of June. Unless Williams gets a better offer from another team, he'll likely accept the qualifying offer. Cavs general manager Chris Grant is hoping to add Williams to the roster. He could become the starting small forward. If nothing else, Williams will compete for playing time with Jamario Moon and newcomer Joey Graham. 'We like Jawad,' Grant said. 'We'll get into training camp and see what happens. We have a qualifying offer out to him. I haven't heard one way or the other. Obviously, we'd like him to come to camp and compete and make his mark on being part of the team.' Williams, 27, recently worked out for the Spurs. If he gets an offer from another team, the Cavs have the ability to match the offer."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "There are times in this business when you think you’ve seen it all. Over 23 years of covering the Heat, there are times I certainly have thought that. And then there was Wednesday, when Heat rookie forward Da’Sean Butler tweeted a children’s short story. Yes, tweeted. In 28 tweets of 140 or fewer characters, he put together his compilation. Because this is not a literary review, I will leave such judgments to others. But at least now I know that I hadn’t see it all."

  • Matt Humphrey of the Orlando Sentinel: "Grab a plunger AND a handle, Orlando Magic fans. It’s time to test the toilets at the Orlando Magic’s new Amway Center home. In an event billed as the “Drano Royal Flush”, Orlando Magic president Alex Martins, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and students from Nap Ford Elementary school will simultaneously flush 443 toilets at the new arena at 10 a.m., Sept. 8. The team says more than 150 people will be involved in this task of tasks. Bathroom capacity will be of primary concern for Magic fans, particularly those who’ve grown weary of standing in line to use the loo. The old Amway Arena only feature four men’s and women’s restrooms apiece. Lines were long. Bladders were challenged. No worries. Amway Center will feature 19 women’s restrooms and 18 men’s restrooms … a change we can all believe in."