First Cup: Wednesday

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "The wheelchair that was only supposed to be temporary for Donnie Walsh has become a regular accessory. The 69-year-old president of the Knicks doesn't want to fumble with walkers and isn't quite strong enough yet for a cane, so Walsh will remain in his chair when training camp opens Saturday at the MSG Training Center. And, as a result, the questions will linger about Walsh's tenure, as well. This is the final season of his contract, with a team option for 2011-12. Allan Houston's profile continues to grow as Walsh's understudy and the heir apparent, and there was an attempt to bring former team president Isiah Thomas back into the franchise. Walsh snaps at the mere suggestion that his condition had a negative impact on the franchise's execution of its big plans for the offseason. 'What I'm not accepting is this summer is a failure because LeBron didn't come,' he said Tuesday."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "The Bulls will bring nine-year veteran Brian Scalabrine to training camp on a non-guaranteed contract, which only becomes guaranteed if he lands the 13th roster spot, a league source said. That keeps the Bulls' ongoing discussions with the Trail Blazers regarding disgruntled swingman Rudy Fernandez an option, though one source said it's unlikely that deal will happen. The Bulls have offered a future first-round pick for Fernandez. ... Though it's true the Bulls have no plans to part with Joakim Noah, a league source said reports the Bulls are holding up a trade for Carmelo Anthony because of Noah have been overstated."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Daryl Morey's attempts to swing a deal for Carmelo Anthony and to sign ErickDampier should offer a pretty strong rebuttal to those that flooded the blog with the argument that the move to trade Trevor Ariza for Courtney Lee was just for cost-savings. The Rockets saved $10 million in salary and luxury tax with that move. If they sign Dampier, that would cost $4 million in tax and salary. A deal for Anthony would likely use a chunk of the trade exception, costing about $3.4 million in tax and salary if for Renaldo Balkman or $7.9 million if for Chris Andersen. If the Rockets get their way, they will be spending close to what they would have been spending had they just kept Ariza and stood pat, or more than they were going to spend before the trade. That deal, however, could be a key to a deal for Anthony because that would be how the Rockets can offer the cost-savings the Nuggets demand."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Are the Knicks back? Coach Mike D’Antoni and the team’s president, Donnie Walsh, will begin tackling that question and many more Wednesday, when they hold their annual preseason news conference. Team officials think they have enough talent to make the playoffs and end a six-year drought. They also know they are at least one player short of becoming true contenders in the Eastern Conference, which is why they are chasing Carmelo Anthony and every other disenchanted star in the N.B.A. It is also why expectations must be held in check for the coming season. Barring a miraculous trade for Anthony, the Knicks will open the season as an unfinished work. Amar'e Stoudemire is a spectacular offensive force, a five-time All-Star who ranks as one of the best at his position. The roster is deeper, more talented and more promising than any recent edition. But it is also young, and unproven in key areas, with an average age of 24.6."

  • Eric Koreen of the National Post: "Before this summer, Carmelo Anthony likely thought with the right breaks and a timely decline from Kobe Bryant, the Nuggets might have a puncher’s chance at winning the title? Now, with The Miami Three in full effect? Probably not. James, Bosh and Wade figure to rule the league for a long time. Anthony has to go to a team that already has an established superstar to pair with. Failing that, go to a team that could conceivably obtain a superstar, hence the New Jersey and New York rumours. As good as Anthony is, he would now need more help than he has in Denver -- and he has a lot in Colorado -- to throw his team into title contention. How do you make the Denvers and Minnesotas and Torontos really relevant? Well, aside from drafting Kevin Durant, you do not, really. That might be a major talking point during labour discussions. For now, though, we live in a league where competent teams such as Denver and Cleveland cannot keep their stars. As many players are fond of saying, it is what it is. In this case, it is a tiny bit sad."

  • J. Michael Falgoust of USA TODAY: "The NBA game evolves not just on the court, but in the front offices, too. Two offseason hires in particular, Dell Demps of the New Orleans Hornets and Rich Cho of the Portland Trail Blazers, bring unique and diverse backgrounds to the role of general manager. Demps, 40, is a former NBA player who went on to get his master's in business administration from the University of the Pacific. He was director of pro personnel, or scouting, for the San Antonio Spurs for five years before joining the Hornets. ... Demps is a believer in analytics and taking calculated gambles, especially with the Hornets, a former luxury-tax team that was limited to 37 wins last season. ... Unlike Demps, Cho, 44, wasn't much of an athlete. 'I don't have the pedigree that some of the other GMs in the league have,' says Cho, under 6 feet tall and less than 160 pounds. 'I'm just a short little Asian guy.' ... Although Cho appeared to be ahead of his time with his empirical methods, he's careful not to take too much credit. He cites Wally Walker, Thunder GM Sam Presti, Atlanta Hawks GM Rick Sund and even former SuperSonics coach/current Blazers coach Nate McMillan for their positive influence. Nor does he anticipate the NBA will be overrun by front-office types of his stripe. Some owners will prefer former players to run their clubs."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Every year before training camp, the Mavericks say the same thing about Dirk Nowitzki -- that he will get more help and more rest. And every season, Nowitzki remains the beast of burden for them, ridden hard for 82 games, and then asked to be even better in the playoffs. Rick Carlisle is certain the notion of a more sensible workload for Nowitzki is more than lip service, as the Mavericks get ready for next week's training camp, which will be Nowitzki's 13th. Where that help comes from is yet to be determined. But it will happen, the coach firmly believes. It has to. 'One of our strengths is going to be our depth and our balance,' he said. 'That's got to manifest itself in spreading our scoring out, getting one or two more guys in double figures and getting Dirk from 26 to 22 or 24. Getting help for Dirk is a priority for sure.' The same goes for Jason Kidd, who starts this season on 37-year-old wheels. The problem with knocking down the minutes that Nowitzki and Kidd play is that it will cost the Mavericks regular season wins, unless the supporting cast refuses to let that happen."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Thunder center Nenad Krstic underwent surgery Tuesday morning in Oklahoma City to repair a fractured right index finger. Krstic will miss a portion of training camp, which begins Tuesday, but is expected to be ready for the team's season opener Oct. 27 against Chicago. But with the injury comes the first meaningful question going into the 2010-11 season. What does this mean for the center position going forward? Already in for one of the fiercest fights to keep his starting job as camp opens next week, Krstic's setback might have now swung open the door as wide as ever for one of his younger teammates to waltz into camp and supplant him in the starting unit. While Krstic is on the sideline, could we see the promotion of promising second-year big men Serge Ibaka or Byron Mullens, or perhaps rookie Cole Aldrich? It's a fair question, one that likely will require a fair amount of deliberation from Coach Scott Brooks as camp labors on. Each player has his strengths and weaknesses."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Entering the 2010-11 season training camp next Tuesday, Beno Udrih is hardly expendable. Udrih showed his worth backing up Tyreke Evans, and eventually became a starter after Martin and Rodríguez were traded in February. Udrih averaged a career-high 12.9 points and tied his career-high with 4.7 assists per game last season. He also shot 49.3 percent from the field -- another career high. Along the way, he impressed the new coaching staff with his smarts and with how well he played alongside Evans. 'He made a good case for being a starter (this season), and looking at the makeup of our roster now, that's how I view him,' Kings coach Paul Westphal said. The Evans-Udrih situation had the potential to be difficult. Udrih didn't play in the season opener, and it was obvious the Kings were quickly becoming Evans' team. By the end of the season, Udrih had established himself as a leader. 'Everyone's always on trial in the NBA,' Westphal said. 'Instead of pouting about it, he accepted the challenge and carved out a nice niche for himself.' "

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: "If you’re super rich, speak Russian and live in New York City, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is supplying you with the perfect reading material. It’s a magazine called 'SNOB' (that’s right, Prokhorov is richer than you and not ashamed of it) and it went on sale in the U.S. last week for a price of $8. There’s no English translation, so this is strictly for the Russian-speaking snobs who want to read about extravagant ways to spend Rubles. (In Russian, S.N.O.B. is an acronym for the Russian words accomplished, independent, educated and thriving). According to this Bloomberg report, Prokhorov invested $100 million into this Snob project, which he hopes will attract the large population of Russian immigrants in Brooklyn to games in the Barclays Center. 'Russians who live in the borough and come to games easily will be an important target audience for ticket sales,' Prokhorov said. 'There is certainly a crossover here with the potential Snob audience.' "

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "If you want to see LeBron, Kobe or the Boston Celtics this season at Amway Center, be ready to shell out some cash. The Orlando Magic sent out packages to season-ticket holders recently, and the group pricing flyer gave some insight into how much single-game ticket prices could vary from game to game. We’re talking hundreds of dollars difference between seeing Los Angeles and seeing Golden State. ... The top tier consists of two games -- Miami on Nov. 24 and Los Angeles on Feb. 13 -- with the cheapest upper-bowl tickets costing $110 and going up to $385 if you want to sit in the Terrace I section. Comparatively, the cheapest upper-bowl tickets for Tier 7 games -- including Detroit on Nov. 30 and Minnesota on Nov. 3 -- run for just $10. The Terrace I tickets for those games cost $105."