First Cup: Wednesday

  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "When the Heat’s at its best, Wade is free to think 'score first.' He did it against the Sixers. He did it against Boston. He tried against the Bulls, until the missed shots and the turnovers began to pile up in the last two games. And it appeared those miscues might’ve affected his confidence. Because it wasn’t until the second half of Game 1 that he began to assert himself and look like the familiar Wade. Maybe those 15 second-half points will reignite Wade. Maybe that fourth quarter will reset Wade to championship mode. Maybe that blocked shot followed by a step-back three that gave the Heat an 82-73 lead will erase those memories of the Bulls series. And maybe that lob pass to LeBron for the exclamation dunk will push Wade back into 2006 form. ... Clearly, he doesn’t absolutely have to be at his best to beat these Mavericks. But it certainly will make it a lot easier. And it certainly would make all things right in Wade’s world once again."

  • Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "If they're all like this, you can start the parade. Here were the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, jaws clenched, muscles ripped, smiles on sabbatical, protecting their defensive turf in a manner Dallas hadn't run into lately these playoffs. In the Western Conference, where offense is king, Dallas shot its way through the better teams. But on Tuesday night, well, Dallas was introduced to a steady diet of defense in the Heat's 92-84 win. Bump. Slap. Contest. Rebound. That was the Heat on the first Dallas possession. And the next. And the next quarter. And for four quarters, all the way to the end, with the biggest three playing the hardest minutes. What, someone thought the Heat's big stars didn't get their fingernails dirty? That they didn't do the dirty work? J.J. Barrea drove the lane and – swat! – Chris Bosh sent it into the first row. Dirk Nowitzki got the ball and – oops! – Udonis Haslem reached in to tie it up for a jump ball. Then, late in the fourth quarter, Dallas' Shawn Marion came around a screen, went up for the shot and – blam! – there was Wade with a block. It was the Heat's ball, too."

  • Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Who says everything is different this time? Mostly different teams, in a different situation, with different motivational ploys. Sorry, but everything appeared to be the same here Tuesday night. And for the Dallas Mavericks exactly what wasn't needed was a sudden flashback to some hot early summer evenings in this town. Five years ago, of course, the Mavs were destroyed here in the NBA Finals, losing all three games at this arena, and eventually watching the Miami Heat celebrate a title. This time it was just a disgusting Game 1 loss. But if things don't change in a hurry, then this is going to be 2006 all over again, although the Mavs, based on what was observed on Tuesday night, won't be hanging around past three more games. A 92-84 loss was more of a disgrace than a disappointment. No matter how poorly the shooting, and it was awful for the Mavs (37.3 percent), repeatedly giving up offensive boards, and a new possession, is strictly a hustle and toughness issue. There is no way the Mavs can be caught timid in that kind of vital area."

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: "Either way, win or lose, hoist that big, beautiful gold ball in triumph or humbly bow his head in defeat, LeBron already owns these NBA Finals. They are his the way the 1991 Finals were Michael Jordan’s and the 2000 Finals belonged to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal -- the way the entire basketball community anxiously waited to see if the child stars had yet matured into championship adults. ... Michael needed a grueling seven seasons to win it all. Kobe needed just four to win a title, but that’s mainly because he had Shaq, who before he won was eviscerated as a B-movie-making, hip-hopping lug more interested in studio time than court time. When the Lakers won, the wait was over -- not just for Shaq and Kobe, but for a league patiently biding its time before another star-laden team could help fill the void left by Michael’s Bulls. Let’s be clear: A victory by LeBron and his Super Friends is important for David Stern’s NBA, almost as important as it is for the Heat and its 26-year-old supernova. Indeed, as the ball left LeBron’s hand at the end of the third quarter Tuesday night, deep on the right wing behind the three-point line, the league needed that swish almost as much as he did."

  • T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times: "Some reporters concluded Kobe wasn't in favor of Brown's hiring after Kobe declined to comment. Brown and Kobe exchanged texts, talked on the phone and then resumed texting. It was like match.com, too soon to say if they will be going steady. But Brown was smart enough to know he better meet face-to-face with Kobe on Tuesday before being introduced as the team's new coach and having to explain why they haven't met. 'I felt good about our meeting,' Brown said, and what's the likelihood he would have said he felt badly had it gone that way? Brown said Kobe was headed to Europe on vacation; apparently some waiter overseas would hear what he thinks of Brown before anyone here. Kobe has three more years remaining on his contract, and the Lakers world is going to continue to revolve around him. The guy with 11 championship rings who preceded Brown learned to accept that. It's a pretty safe wager Kobe is going to remain as Uncoachable as ever. Brown's job is to make that work so the Lakers can still win as a team. 'I'm not going to sit back here and say my time in L.A. is going to be defined by what my relationship with Kobe is going to be,' Brown said, just like his time in Cleveland wasn't defined by LeBron. But then of course it was."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight Howard is ready to sign a contract extension with the Orlando Magic and that signing is imminent. This is what has been stated by WKMG Channel 6 sports anchor David 'Ping' Pingalore, who reported earlier this week that a 2-year extension with the Magic has been 'all but signed by Howard.' Ping also reported that Howard spent the Memorial Day weekend working out the details of signing an extension with the Magic. The more I check into this story, the more I wonder if this wasn’t Ping jumping the gun -- again. I hope Ping is right, but, then again, who knows? It is, after all, Ping, who never met a big story he wouldn’t take a shot in the dark at trying to break. Give him credit for being one of the few TV sports anchors who actually tries to uncover the news, but the operative word here is 'tries.' I was brought back to earth on our radio show Tuesday morning as we giddily talked about how it appeared Dwight would soon sign an extension with the Magic. That’s when fellow Sentinel columnist Brian Schmitz came on the air and threw water on our celebration. He reminded us to take a chill pill because the report did come from, um, 'Ping.' Oh yeah. Love Ping. Think he’s entertaining. Think he’s funny. Just don’t think he’s very accurate."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "But if Jerry West is instantly the team's most influential voice in personnel moves, which I believe he is, and if he's going to make a major move, which everybody in the NBA expects ... whom else but Monta Ellis could he trade? This is part of the West methodology; since coming to the Warriors, he has emphasized the need to take risks, and my assumption is that co-owner Joe Lacob understands and embraces this. West also mentioned two unpopular trades in his Lakers past -- when he dealt Norm Nixon for rookie Byron Scott and when he dumped Nick Van Exel to Denver. Both moves, by the way, involved trading away high-scoring, ball-dominating smaller guards to clear the way for more versatile, younger talent. The point of the Nixon deal: Handing the Lakers offense, once and for all, to Magic Johnson. ... After checking with a few NBA sources, two teams kept coming up -- both with the combination of potential interest and the right roster pieces to intrigue West and the Warriors. They were: Chicago, which might have been a big-time perimeter scorer away from pushing Miami to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals. Would the Bulls think about Luol Deng for Ellis? Could the Warriors sweeten that offer? And Memphis, West's old team, which has Rudy Gay at a huge salary and which offered O.J. Mayo for Ellis in the recent past. That doesn't mean it will be easy for the Warriors to trade Ellis -- emotionally or practically. It will take some guts. But again, that's precisely why West was brought to the Warriors in the first place."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Negotiators for the league and the players union will meet here Wednesday for a full bargaining session, with talks scheduled to continue next week when the finals move to Dallas. Or as Stern, the N.B.A. commissioner, said Tuesday night: 'We told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach.' Stern drew laughter with that reference to LeBron James’s now-famous declaration of last summer. Stern was generally light-hearted in discussing the labor situation, although he acknowledged that the need to make serious, tangible progress has never been more urgent. The league’s collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the month. The owners and the players have exchanged a series of proposals that have been deemed unworkable by each side. A lockout seems likely, although Stern and Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner, tried to frame the issue in semi-optimistic terms. 'I know both sides will make their best offers before' July 1, Stern said, 'because if they don’t, then there’s going to be a lockout that would be destructive of our business from the owners’ perspective, and the players’ perspective.' "

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Many people might expect an NBA lockout to happen come July 1. Walt Perrin isn't operating under that assumption. That explains why the Jazz held a pre-draft workout Tuesday with four guards -- BYU's Emery, Westminster's Michael Stockton, Kansas' Brady Morningstar and Virginia's Mustapha Farrakhan -- who are not expected to be picked at the NBA Draft in three weeks. Perrin explained his current job duties as being three-fold: 'One is bringing in draft guys in our range,' he said. 'Two is bringing in draft guys in a range where we may be able to move a pick and get a pick. And three is (to) look at guys for summer league. And that's what we're doing.' It's uncertain whether summer leagues remain a possibility with the lockout threat. 'But,' Perrin added, 'I've got to be prepared to have one.' "

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Shooting ability? Check. Ball handling ability? Another check. Defensive ability? That's a different story. Check back later. Brigham Young point guard Jimmer Fredette's scoring ability made him a phenomenon last season. Now he wants to turn his attention to the defensive end of the court. Fredette's out to prove to teams during his predraft workouts that he can be an adequate defender in the NBA. ... Fredette worked out for the Pacers on Tuesday, along with Tennessee's Tobias Harris, Florida's Vernon Macklin, Kansas' Marcus Morris, Duke's Nolan Smith and Jeremy Tyler, who most recently played in Tokyo. The Pacers have the 15th and 42nd picks in the June 23 draft. They could go in a number of directions with their picks because they have several holes to fill on the roster. ... Jimmy Butler (Marquette), Jon Diebler (Ohio State), Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA), Joffrey Lauvergne (France), Jamine Peterson (Providence) and Kyle Singler (Duke) will work out for the Pacers today."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "There's a chance Duke point guard Kyrie Irving's predraft tour might consist of one stop. 'Our priority is Cleveland,' agent Jeff Wechsler said from his office in Florida on Tuesday. Irving, 19, might work out only for the Cavaliers. Don't expect him to work out with any other players. 'For my safety, I'm not going to work out with anyone else,' he said at the NBA draft combine in Chicago on May 20. The Cavs own the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in the June 23 NBA draft. They are expected to use the first overall pick on the 6-foot-3 1/2, 191-pound Irving. Wechsler said they have yet to establish when Irving would come to Cleveland for his predraft workout. 'At some point, he will (come to Cleveland),' he said. 'We have not set that (date) yet. He was down in Miami working out. He's an impressive young man.' "

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: "The Milwaukee Bucks will get an up-close-and-personal look at one of their primary draft candidates Wednesday. Marcus Morris, a talented forward from Kansas who is considered a sure-fire lottery selection, will work out for Bucks officials at the Cousins Center in St. Francis. Morris is believed to be one of a handful of players the Bucks are seriously considering with the 10th overall selection in the draft. ... Morris, whose twin brother Markieff is also considered a first-round candidate, will be facing some heady competition in Thursday's workout. Trey Thompkins of Georgia, generally regarded as a late first-round pick, will also participate in the workout. ... The Bucks are also expected to work out Virginia Tech point guard Malcolm Delaney, College of Charleston shooting guard Andrew Goudelock, Nicholls State swingman Anatoly Bose and Marquette University guard Dwight Buycks."

  • Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee: "In his quest to convince residents from Lincoln to Galt that paying for a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento makes sense, Mayor Kevin Johnson is convening a task force larger than the state Senate. Johnson announced Tuesday that he is forming a 60-member commission made up of elected leaders, and business and labor representatives from across the region to come up with a plan to finance a new arena. They will be charged with hammering out a proposal over the next 100 days. It's not yet clear what portion of that funding might come from public sources. A proposal unveiled last week for erecting a $387 million sports and entertainment arena in the former Sacramento railyard site did not include a financing plan. Instead, that piece of the puzzle will be fashioned by the commission, with the idea, city officials said, that the region as a whole will have to contribute financially."