First Cup: Friday

  • Joanne Gerstner of The New York Times: "The European fashion crowd apparently likes Kobe Bryant jerseys. Bryant’s Lakers jersey remains the No. 1 seller in European stores, for the third consecutive year, according to the league’s latest sales numbers. Bryant’s jersey is also the top seller in China. LeBron James, in his former Cleveland Cavaliers incarnation, is the second most popular jersey in Europe. James’ new Heat teammate, Dwyane Wade, is in third place. Europeans are trending to purchase more jerseys of their countrymen. N.B.A. rosters are becoming more global, now made up with 20 percent international players. Lakers center Pau Gasol (Spain) has the fourth-most popular jersey. The Raptors’ Andrea Bargnani (Italy) is at No. 6, and his Raptors teammate Jose Calderon (Spain) is ranked No. 7. Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) is at No. 9. Spurs guard Tony Parker (France) rounds out the top 10."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "There's been some interesting debate about the NBA's Development League deciding to adopt the international goaltending rule, which means players can touch the ball anytime after it hits the rim. Donnie Nelson loves the rule. Tyson Chandler hates it. Dirk Nowitzki came down on the side of sticking with the NBA goaltending rule after practice Thursday night. 'I don't think it could work here,' Nowitzki said. 'Guys are too athletic and too long. I think somebody could spike every ball. There are so many athletes in the league. Plus, we want to increase scoring and make the game more fun, not take points away. In Europe, games are in the 60s. Nobody wants to see that. We want to see 110 or 120 points.' That's from somebody who has played international basketball for most of his life."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "How well the Thunder is able to focus following a small taste of successcould be a defining key to this season. The team won 50 games a year ago and came within a last-second tip-in of forcing a seventh game in its first-round series against the Lakers. Suddenly, the Thunder has become the darling of the NBA, with the national media wasting no opportunity to declare how dangerous this team is. Morris Peterson, though, remembered how everything became more magnified with the Hornets. Games grew more important. Expectations skyrocketed. The notch on general outside noise was turned up. 'It's just a lot of different things that's going on, and it can be distractions or you could choose to use that as a positive.' ... Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the potential for backsliding “hasn't crossed his mind,” adding that he doesn't think it will be an issue so long as his players work hard and prepare well."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "There seemingly has been much hand-wringing during the Magic's training camp over the whereabouts of Rashard Lewis. Will he really vacate his power-forward spot and switch to small forward, causing a seismic shift in the lineup? The short answer: No. The long answer: At times he will, when the Magic need more size at the 4 when they play the Celtics, who now have Shaq to go along with all their other big men, or the Lakers, who boast more 7-footers than Yao Ming's family tree. You can book it: Lewis will be the starting power forward when the Magic open the season Oct. 28 against the Washington Wizards. The reason? While he is a "stretch" power forward, offering untraditional 3-point shooting from the position, Lewis is their best power forward. He also wants to stay at power forward and -- this is the clincher -- there's no other power forward who Stan Van Gundy trusts more than Lewis. The other candidates: Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson and Marcin Gortat. 'Not by any means am I saying [Lewis] will move to 3,' Van Gundy said. 'If I had to guess, I'd say he'll start at 4.' Besides, moving Lewis creates change at two spots."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "After the Suns' first scrimmaging Tuesday, coach Alvin Gentry quickly noted that Hedo Turkoglu gradually will get the ball more. After the second day, Turkoglu was quick to note that he does not need the ball more if he is with Steve Nash. The honeymoon is on, with all aiming to please. One day, Turkoglu is assisting and deferring. The next, with Gentry's prodding, Turkoglu is making a series of shots. 'I just want people to know I'm not the guy that I want the ball in my hands all the time or I want to shoot the ball all the time,' Turkoglu said. 'It's just the things that I was used to. On the Orlando team, things were going through me and I was able to make plays. If you look in Orlando, I wasn't shooting all the balls either but I was able to do the things that helped the team to win the game. Steve has been doing that so many years. I know how many times he's helped players around him become great players so I hope I'll be one of them.' Turkoglu said he has new focuses -- conditioning and interior defense."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Between participating with his national team and working out on his own, Kyrylo Fesenko returned to the Jazz about 25 pounds lighter than last fall. The not-so-big man's body fat percentage also dropped significantly, from 14.4 percent in 2009 to a trimmer 10.3 percent. The Jazz have noticed. 'This is the best shape, by far, I've ever seen him in,' point guard Deron Williams said. Extra mass isn't the only thing Fesenko has dropped. Known for his goof-offish tendencies -- entertaining for some, but occasionally infuriating for coaches -- the 23-year-old is taking things more seriously. Consider him leaner and meaner, fitter and focused. 'That's definitely the image that I'm trying to show,' Fesenko admitted. But is that the image his sometimes hard-to-please boss is receiving? 'Ask coach,' Fesenko said. Good idea. Coach? Jerry Sloan admitted with limited praise that the occasional resident in his coaching doghouse has made gradual improvements heading into his fourth Jazz season."

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "Kenyon Martin is reading the tea leaves. They are telling him this is probably his last year with the Nuggets. If that's the case, he says he can deal with it. It's just that he would have liked the organization to show him the respect of at least offering another contract. But the Nuggets haven't. And Martin, who will make roughly $16.5 million in the last year of a seven-year, $90 million deal, isn't taking the snub lightly. 'I feel me being here and what I've done for this (team) ... (an offer) would have at least been extended, and it wasn't,' Martin said Thursday. 'I don't know who made that decision, but the decision was made. And I ain't happy. They know it. Everybody knows it.' The 32-year-old forward is battling yet another knee injury, which required surgery in June. But without an extension, Martin said he will take his time returning to the team. If he had an extension, 'I'd be playing right now.' 'I'm not rushing whatsoever. The day I come back is the day I come back,' Martin said. 'Think about it: Ain't nobody in a hurry to give me a contract, so why would I be in a hurry to rush back and risk further injury? Makes all the sense in the world, right? Trust me, I've thought about it plenty.' "

  • Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com: "When Doug Collins told Elton Brand he wanted Brand down to 255 pounds by the start of training camp, Brand was already there. Disappointed and frustrated by his numbers and the Sixers' forgettable 27-55 season, Brand altered his offseason training regimen this year. He bought a specialized 64-inch bicycle with a heart monitor and went for 2 1/2-hour rides in Southern California, often going from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back. In addition to helping get his weight down to 254, the bicycling helped replace scrimmaging on the basketball court. While he still did some drills, staying away from full-court games allowed him to feel fresher coming into his 12th NBA camp. 'I definitely benefited from that,' said Brand, who weighed 265 in 2009-10. 'It saved the legs. When I was younger, I used to play all day, every day. I felt good, in tip-top shape, earlier last year, but kind of burnt out with rehab and stuff like that. I feel the (positive) effects now. Training camp, I'm not going to say it's easy because if coach sees that in the paper, it'll never be easy again. But I'm doing pretty well.' "

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "At his Celtics introductory press conference, Shaquille O’Neal dropped in a line about Doc Rivers’ late practices almost as an aside. But the Big Snoozer apparently takes his rest very seriously. The Celts have been beginning their training camp workouts at 11 a.m. and during the season they practice at noon or 1 p.m. many times. Rivers consulted with a sleep expert a couple of years ago before adjusting the way the club travels and works. It’s just one of the reasons O’Neal appreciates his coach. 'In my experience, the guys that played at a high level that become coaches usually have a great rapport with the guys,' Shaq said yesterday. 'You know, like 11 o’clock practice, 12 o’clock practice, I ain’t never had that in my whole career. I’m used to staying up, not being able to sleep, go to bed at 3, gotta get up at 8, gotta go at 10, then the rest of the day be messed up. Doc understands sleep deprivation and all that stuff. You know, older guys love stuff like that.' "

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: "While some NBA teams insist their young players should try to gain weight to help them better cope with a long, physically-demanding season, the Bucks aren't one of them. 'Totally overrated,' Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of supposed undersized players needing to put on weight. 'We're not a big weight-conscious team. We're concerned about body fat. Body fat is what slows guys down. Brandon's body fat is low.' Brandon Jennings started all 82 regular-season games and then seven more postseason games against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite being the smallest player on the court in the vast majority of those games, Jennings seldom encountered any major problems against more ruggedly-built players. Like his coach, Jennings doesn't seem the least bit concerned by his featherweight-type frame. 'The weight, it'll come over time,' the 21-year-old Jennings said. 'I like my quickness and doing that (adding weight) might take away some of my quickness. Right now, I like where I'm at.' "

  • Ailene Voisin of the The Sacramento Bee: "The NBA is not very happy with Sacramento right now, but then, who is? The state is without a budget or a surplus, and after almost a decade of intermittent discussions about a modern sports/entertainment complex befitting California's capital, the Kings still haven't stuck a shovel in the ground. 'No one is packing up and backing up the trucks,' NBA Commissioner David Stern said Thursday, referring to the latest failed arena deal involving a three-way land swap, 'but we just don't have any new ideas. There were several good ones reduced to the convergence plan, and everyone got behind it except for one enterprise (Cal Expo). Cal Expo exhausted us. If something comes up that's workable, we would be all for it. But we don't see anything workable right now.' Folks, this isn't good. Stern is a pit bull. He doesn't quit unless he's soundly defeated. Yet after four years of personal involvement -- at the Maloofs' request -- the commissioner passed the blueprints back to the Kings. Yes, this is still the best market for the Kings, but for how much longer? One year? Two years? ... Before leaving his office Thursday for a flight to Europe, Stern added: 'It's up to the boys (Maloofs). But a year from now, they're going to need to figure something out. We'll be waiting.' "

  • Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: "Doc Rivers got a memo from the NBA this offseason on an updated dress code and promptly launched it into the nearest trash basket. 'I saw the dress code and I didn't even look at it,' admitted Rivers. 'I thought, 'I don't think I'm breaking the dress code, so I'm pretty good with it.' ' Apprised Thursday of the league's new decree requiring collars on coaches, a change directed at Orlando head man Stan Van Gundy and his penchant for turtle necks, Rivers expressed disappointment. 'I like Stan's style,' he said. 'I really thought Stan had set the bar on the dress code. We should stay with that; It was nice... I actually [wore no collar] a couple times, even tried the collar with no tie, I just didn't like it.' Rivers doesn't think the league needs to regulate any coach's attire. 'I don't think anyone dresses poorly,' said Rivers. 'I think coaches dress pretty well. That's fine, though. If [the NBA] thinks we need to look different or something, I'm fine with it."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "On Tuesday came some good news from the NBA: The league will begin the season with more than $100 million in new full season-ticket revenue, a record amount, according to the Sports Business Journal. Through Sept. 22, NBA teams had sold more than 50,000 new full season tickets, a 40 percent increase from the same date last year. The league’s season-ticket renewal rate is more than 80 percent, up from 75 percent a year ago. Last year, eight teams had full season-ticket sales of at least 10,000. Already, 10 teams have sold more than that figure this season. One of those teams is the local quintet. The Trail Blazers’ renewal rate for season tickets is at about 85 percent, says Sarah Mensah, the club’s senior vice president/chief operating officer. That despite higher ticket prices for about 80 percent of the seating in the Rose Garden. Mensah wouldn’t give a figure, but she says season tickets make up 60 to 70 percent of the Garden, which seats 20,000. That would put season tickets at 12,000 to 14,000. The Blazers were among the top five in the NBA in season-ticket sales last season."