First Cup: Monday

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: "Carmelo Anthony’s reality show debuted last night on VH1, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that ESPN released an article two hours later saying the Nuggets are finally listening to trade offers for their franchise player. For the past week, Melo has been promoting the show and partying in NYC and elsewhere, telling the Daily News that he’s more focused on fashion week than basketball. One night he was hanging with R&B singer Chris Brown, another night he was checking out the Jay-Z/Eminem concert. You can’t knock the man for enjoying his offseason, but you can assume he won’t be in a Denver uniform for much longer, if at all. Now that the promotional tour is over - and now that we’ve realized Anthony’s level of commitment to his wife’s work - there is one question the Nets should be asking themselves: How badly do you want this player? It should be noted that while Anthony was touring NYC in sunglasses, oft-discussed trade-chip Derrick Favors was hitting the weight room and the court at the Nets training facility. Then again, Favors never won an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal or dropped 28 per game in the NBA."

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "If the NBA is gone in a year, will you miss it? You should. NBA training camps open in less than two weeks. Outside of the Miami Heat drawing attention for being a super team, and Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony drawing attention for being a super future free agent with leverage, the biggest story of the new season will be the collective bargaining agreement. Specifically, the fact there isn't one yet. And if there still isn't by the end of the season, a work stoppage would be on the horizon, leading Nuggets coach George Karl to admit the issue is 'a cloud that could hang over and become heavy.' The NBA and NBA Players Association are scheduled to meet before the start of training camp. A meeting in early August between the sides was amicable but not productive. What there doesn't seem to be a lot of is fan interest. Just a bunch of yawns. It is in stark contrast to the NFL. Fans want their football, and when the subject of a possible pro football lockout comes up, they voice it loudly and clearly. But do NBA fans want their basketball? ... I have to believe something will get done. No one in basketball wants to take the chance of pushing an already tenuous fan base over the edge. But if those fans don't care in the first place, they won't miss it if it's gone."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Under any other set ofcircumstances, Russell Westbrook would have returned home from the 2010 FIBA World Championship last week with a heap of hype to accompany his gold medal. Instead, the Oklahoma City Thunder's point guard remains in the most peculiar of positions, brutally lodged somewhere between Kevin Durant's shadow and a short list of players primed to explode onto the national scene. Welcome to the life of Westbrook. ... His game-changing athleticism in the world championship evoked memories of his jaw-dropping first-round playoff series against the Lakers and made us wonder, 'What's next?' for the fastest developing player on OKC's roster. Allow your mind to marinate the question and the answer might become lost in a pulp of limitless possibilities."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Zach Randolph and Mike Conley are looking for contract extensions. Marc Gasol can only strengthen the idea that he is due a big raise from the $3.48 million he'll earn this season. Under rules of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, Gasol isn't eligible to negotiate an extension this season. Gasol's deal expires June 30, 2011, when he becomes a restricted free agent. The Griz will have a right to match any offers Gasol receives. Chris Wallace shrugs off any notion that contract issues will be a distraction. Wallace pointed out that the strength of the Grizzlies is their front line, making Gasol and Randolph an inherent priority. 'Marc is a player that will be able to separate the issue of a new contract from his tasks of preparing to play, and going on the court and playing at a high level,' Wallace said. One potential snag might be how super agent Arn Tellem feels about the Grizzlies. Gasol has switched agents and now employs Tellem. Gasol's older brother, Pau, made the same move before signing a maximum-salary deal with the Griz before he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008. More recently, Tellem worked on Griz rookie Xavier Henry's behalf during a summerlong contract dispute that ended last week. The Griz wanted a Henry deal with performance incentives, and Tellem vehemently rejected the offer before Heisley removed the clauses. While Tellem used a threatening posture throughout the negotiations, the Griz are confident Gasol's situation will be handled independently of Henry's."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "In a ruling issued this summer, an arbitrator found that the agent, Andy Miller, had illegally interfered with Quincy Douby’s relationship with another agent, Keith Glass. Miller was ordered to pay $40,000 in damages. The sum is modest, but the judgment is noteworthy, representing one of the few times that an N.B.A. agent has been punished for, in essence, stealing a client. Agents complain about the practice all the time. But lawsuits are rare, and sanctions even more so, because cases are difficult to prove. When Glass won his case, it was the equivalent of hitting a game-winning shot at the buzzer from the opposite baseline. 'This certainly has the potential to be a significant case,' said Gabriel Feldman, a law professor at Tulane and director of the university’s sports law program. 'It’s rare for an agent to successfully sue another agent for client-poaching, or tampering, or tortious interference, or whatever you want to call it.' The ruling by the arbitrator, George Nicolau, was issued July 24 but remained confidential until a copy was obtained recently by The New York Times. In the decision, Nicolau concludes that Miller entered into an agreement with Douby while Douby was still under contract with Glass, in violation of state law."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "I read a lot in your comments about how shaky the Bobcats are at point guard and center. I totally agree. But as a guy who is constantly accused of being a glass-half-empty sort, I'm surprised you miss the point that they've never entered the preseason with more collective talent and experience. That's no small thing, by the way. In order to fix the roster, the Bobcats have made a slew of in-season trades the past two seasons. Some were good. Some were bad (see: Gana Diop). They acquired Boris Diaw and Raja Bell in Larry Brown's first season. Then they got Jackson early in Brown's second season and Tyrus Thomas just before the deadline. Brown welcomes change, and is better than most coaches at adapting on the fly. But change is hard (just ask Diaw, who I think is still trying to find his role, post-Jackson). The point here is the Bobcats are a better team than they've ever been entering training camp, and less likely to be shaken up than any team in the Brown era. Some continuity might be a plus. They have material to work with in Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Diaw and Tyrus Thomas. Maybe for once a Brown team won't have to make up for a slow start. I'm not saying they'll surprise. I'm simply saying (barring major injury) they'll be no worse than the team that clinched the playoffs last season."

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "The 2010-11 team will mark the youngest group the franchise has assembled to open a season in 30 years and fifth-youngest in franchise history. According to research compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, you have to go back to Red Holzman's second stint as coach in the early 1980s, when the 1980-81 team, comprised of phenoms such as third-year star Michael Ray Richardson, supersophs Bill Cartwright and Sly Williams and three rookies, including Mike Woodson, averaged 24.5794 years of age. ... Youth can be the new broom that sweeps clean a troubled franchise such as this. These are players still hungry to make their mark in the NBA, not recycled veterans looking to finish off their last big payday and tune out a coach on the hot seat. So maybe Eddy Curry -- who, as far as I am told, has yet to show up at the MSG Training Center for pre-camp workouts with the rest of his mates -- is the last piece of that woebegone era the Knicks hope is truly gone. [But I contend that even Curry has too much to play for (only his career and his family's financial health) to pay postage on this season before it even begins.]"

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "As a pro, Ben Gordon had never had three straight months where he didn't average double figures. From January through March, however, he didn't average more than 9.7 points. Former Piston Vinnie Johnson said players coming off the bench need two things: time and shots. 'Just like any other shooter, it's going to take time to adjust or they will struggle,' said Gordon, who averaged 20 points over his first 15 games. 'If that ever happens again -- I don't see it happening -- I'll be ready.' Gordon, 27, won't get in the business of politicking for playing time or being a starter, saying: 'No matter what the situation might be, be prepared for it.' The addition of Tracy McGrady doesn't make things easier for the coaching staff, which has an interesting conundrum doling out perimeter minutes. 'That's their job, that's the tough part of coaching,' said Gordon, who shot a career-low 32 percent from 3-point range last year. 'They gotta be able to play people the right way so we can be successful.' Gordon believes Kuester had a better feel for how to use him in the season's final games. 'The games toward the end of the season, I played long stretches, getting into a flow early,' Gordon said. 'If you pay attention to how I was being played, you noticed.' "

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Quentin Richardson can tell you all about himself, providing illustrations, if you'd like. New to the Orlando Magic, Richardson unveils the storyboard of his life in a quiet, nearly deserted downtown coffee shop. He pulls off his Michael Jordan T-shirt, revealing a startling, elaborate tapestry of ink. Follow his finger, follow his world. Every tattoo that covers almost every inch of his torso tells a tale. His mood and emotions change with each explanation of an etching. 'My Pops….' the affable Richardson begins, laughing as he speaks of his father, Lee Sr.. 'He says, 'Why you want to write all over yourself? If you want to write, go write a book.' ' He has, in a way, indelibly, proudly. The collection of tattoos seemingly offers Richardson a sense of permanence he can embrace. At 30, little in his personal and professional life has been long lasting, from the tragic, senseless losses of loved ones to his nomadic,10-year NBA career. He never thought he'd have to leave behind so many people and so many places, watching 'this adventure' test his character, if not his sanity."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "James Anderson is poised to spend his life toiling in much bigger gyms than Junction City's barn. The little boy once known for dribbling down Main Street has grown into a first-round NBA draft pick. Anderson is gone now, off to start life as a pro, and the void in Junction City is both palpable and bittersweet. 'We're proud of what he chose to be,' said Joy Mason, a teacher who twice had Anderson in history class. 'We hate that he's gone, because we miss him, but we're proud of him.' Hammett, who stepped down as the Dragons' basketball coach after Anderson graduated, jokes that the NBA will probably sell a couple hundred more satellite-TV packages in Junction City. Townspeople already are planning caravans to see Anderson play in December when the Spurs visit Dallas, the nearest NBA city. They will probably all wear their official James Anderson Day T-shirts. Wherever Anderson goes, whatever he does, an entire town will be watching, with pride."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "The result of the 2010 Dodge Barrage dodgeball championship might be a bit unsettling for Jazz fans. The team from Utah, after all, was defeated by the team from Los Angeles. Making matters worse for Deron Williams' squad -- featuring the All-Star point guard, Al Jefferson, Ronnie Price and some guy from Chicago named Kyle Korver -- was how this L.A. team also included a player sporting a "Black Mamba" No. 24 shirt. It wasn't, however, Kobe Bryant. Even better news, this tournament was just for fun and pride. Better than that, actually. It was for charity. All proceeds of the second-annual day-long dodgeball event will be evenly split to benefit the charitable foundations of Williams (Point of Hope), Price and Korver. The tourney included 64 teams -- up from 48 last year -- at $500 a pop. 'This is my favorite (fundraising) event,' Williams said before his defending champion Ghostbusters squad took second place. 'I like the golf tournament, too. But this is just a fun event for everybody, I think.' "

  • Detroit Free Press Staff: "Who would Dan Gilbert like to see purchase the Pistons? That's easy. 'I'd like to see the Ilitches buy the Pistons, you know, and put that new stadium in Detroit,' Gilbert told Free Press columnist Tom Walsh in an interview this past week at Quicken Loans' new downtown headquarters. 'Like most people, I'd like to see a Detroit organization own and operate the Pistons.' Gilbert owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate who tried to hire Spartans coach Tom Izzo this summer, made his fortune with Quicken Loans/Rock Financial, and a few years ago branched out with Fathead, the popular line of sports memorabilia. For several years, Rock Financial was the presenting sponsor for the Pistons."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "An envelope containing the N.B.A.’s referee schedule arrived in Steve Javie’s mailbox the other day, as it has every September for the last 25 years. This one felt different. 'It felt like Christmas Eve,' Javie said gleefully. 'I didn’t know if I would get one again.' Only a month ago, Javie was perched on the edge of retirement, unsure if his creaky right knee could endure another season of daily pounding. He missed nearly all of last season, including the playoffs. It appeared that the N.B.A. would lose one of its best officials. But a combination of treatments has given the knee some comfort and Javie some hope, and he plans to be back on the court, whistle at the ready, this fall. 'I’m very cautious right now; I’m cautiously optimistic,' the 55-year-old Javie said. ... Even Javie is unsure how long his comeback will last. He has no cartilage left in his knee, a result of 30 years of wear and tear. When he runs, 'it’s bone on bone,' he said. Javie could have reconstructive surgery, but it would require a year of recovery, and the prosthetics are not designed for the abuse of an N.B.A. schedule."