First Cup: Wednesday

  • Monte Poole of the Contra Costa Times: "Seven months after the team officially was acquired by CEO Joe Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber, Robert Rowell is out. His departure is another indication -- perhaps the strongest yet -- that Lacob intends to make good on his vow that his Warriors will not be the same old Warriors only with new names atop the organizational chart and fresh coats of paint in the corner offices. The agreement to 'part ways' with Rowell, announced in a news release Tuesday afternoon, rubs out the most persistent and recalcitrant symbol of the dysfunctional Chris Cohan era. Rowell, who over 16 years navigated a path to team president, was Cohan's closest ally. Once Rowell had ingratiated himself with the owner around the turn of the millennium, the Warriors, already inept, seemed to become petty and vindictive. Oh, Rowell was a marketing star. He found ways to package and sell an often ugly product. Even as the A's moaned about the lack of corporate sponsorship, Rowell was riding that very element to dizzying career heights. The general consensus, though, was that Rowell, like many in the corporate world, was a divided soul, coexisting as a professional expert and personal sheet of sandpaper. Suffice it to say he was infinitely better at making money than he was winning friends."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Tony Parker’s days running the Spurs’ offense could be numbered. Yahoo Sports.com reported Wednesday night that the Spurs are fielding trade offers to secure a high draft pick in Thursday’s draft. Yahoo reports that the Spurs have talked to Toronto, which is picking fifth, and Sacramento, which is picking seventh, about their first-round draft picks. Parker, who turned 29 last month, is considered to be the most marketable of the Spurs’ 'Big Three' because of his age and potential replacements at the position in George Hill and Gary Neal. But still, it’s a shocker the Spurs would want to trade into the upper part of what most observers believe is a shallow, weak pool of talent. Kyrie Irving of Duke is considered the overwhelming choice for the No. 1 pick. Most talent analysts believe he will struggle to reach the level of Parker, who averaged 17.5 points, 6.6 assists and led the Spurs in minutes played last season. League sources also said the Spurs are shopping Hill for a potential pick at the back end of the lottery as well."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Pat Riley's recommendation? Exhale. As difficult as the ending was for the Miami Heat just over a week ago, coming up two victories short against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, the Heat's president said Tuesday he does not envision the need for dramatic changes.That includes the need for LeBron James to reinvent himself, as some have suggested. 'He's got a go-to game. He doesn't have to have a go-to move,' Riley said during an informal season-ending media session at AmericanAirlines Arena. 'I mean, I love reading all the people who've never coached in their life, that all of a sudden became experts about he needed a 'go-to.' He's got a go-to game. He knows what he needs to do to get better as a player. He's 26 years old and I think there's another huge upside for him.' Riley said if there is one area where James could make a breakthrough, it's with the addition of a mid-range game. 'Trying to find separation and raising and making jumpers, a lot like what Dwyane (Wade) did, when Dwyane really broke through,' Riley said. Riley said James' passive play in the closing games of the Finals is being overstated, but that James eventually will better learn how to take measure of games and his needed impact."

  • Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail: "It was defence this, defence that and there was even an obligatory Brian Burke reference during the news conference. (I swear Dwane Casey was about five minutes away from uttering the T word -- truculence.) But this is the NBA, and Casey knows that for most players, getting theirs at contract time comes with getting theirs on the court -- and that’s especially the case for Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis, who are still making their bones. They’ll have to buy in to the whole “if you defend it, the points will come” thing. And the proof will need to be found beyond DeRozan standing in front of cameras on June 21 and saying locking down an opponent gives him goose bumps. Yet, Casey did brandish a carrot with his rhetorical stick Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre: He is going to let the horses run free. 'We want our offence to be unpredictable,' he said. 'You can still have a template … but we want to be unpredictable.' Casey’s reputation as a defensive specialist preceded, but his take on offence might ultimately have been his most interesting, especially since it was an area in which the Raptors were not totally abject this past season."

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "On the day the Minnesota Timberwolves formally introduced Ricky Rubio as the newest member of the team, club president of basketball operations David Kahn had to reassure the Spanish point guard that he is not trading him. 'Ricky Rubio will not be traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves,' Kahn said during today's press conference for Rubio on the Target Center floor. 'You can go to sleep on that.' Kahn also denied the Timberwolves were considering a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that would bring the Timberwolves seven-foot center Pau Gasol, a Spanish native and friend of Rubio's, in exchange for All-Star forward Kevin Love and the team's No. 2 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft. Other than that, as Timberwolves broadcaster Tom Hanneman pointed out when he introduced Rubio to begin the press conference, 'It's a great day for the Timberwolves organization.' Rubio, speaking carefully in English, spoke of being "comfortable" with the Timberwolves organization and his desire to help the team develop a winning tradition. The Timberwolves have not made the NBA playoffs since 2004 and were 32-132 over the past two seasons. 'This is a dream come true for me to be here,' Rubio said. 'I know the expectations are very big. We probably won't win the championship like I did at home, but I'm ready to help the team out.' "

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Five weeks ago, it was Kentucky’s Brandon Knight versus Connecticut’s Kemba Walker for the right to be named the second-best point guard in the 2011 NBA Draft. Now, Knight clearly holds the advantage, while Walker’s stock is reportedly falling. Instead the 19-year-old Knight is competing against former Wildcats teammate Enes Kanter as the Jazz’s window narrows for selecting at No. 3 overall. Knight made his ascension clear last Thursday after running through a solo workout with Utah. As soon as he finished the session, a highly confident Knight said that the only player he would compete against before selection day was Duke’s Kyrie Irving — an equally skilled point guard long expected to be chosen No. 1 overall by Cleveland. Factor in that Knight’s bold statement followed a workout between Walker and Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette that several witnesses assert the latter clearly won, and there is little doubt that if the Jazz go small at No. 3, Knight is the one."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "After years of scrimping and saving and losing, after years of wandering NBA purgatory as one of the least compelling teams in the league, the Indiana Pacers now embark on their most important summer since 1993. Finally, there is hope. Finally, there is a young core of promising young players. Finally, there is salary cap flexibility, something Pacers bosses Larry Bird and David Morway worked diligently to acquire. Now comes the Pacers' summer of reckoning, a chance to change the face and alter the direction of this bedeviled franchise. ... Free agency is an interesting option, but it's not the primary reason the Pacers positioned themselves for this summer. Still, there are some names, notably New Orleans' David West and Dallas' Tyson Chandler. So the summer of reckoning begins Thursday night. Soon thereafter interim coach Frank Vogel will get the official word on his hiring. (Don't stress over the fact Vogel isn't a big part of the draft; NBA coaches pay almost no attention to college players.) Then they will start looking at free agency and trades and ... the lockout. The Pacers are done taking their lumps. Now it's time to administer some."

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "There is renewed emphasis on the NBA draft from the Nuggets' new-generation front office, and its first shot at making the right move comes Thursday in the first draft under executives Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke. Talk about pressure for the first-timers. 'I put pressure on myself anyway, every day, regardless of whether it's the draft or not,' said Ujiri, the Nuggets' executive vice president of basketball operations. 'I don't feel any different. Every draft I've worked I've always felt like it's about the team and it's about us, and it's about trying to find the best player. The pressure, I think, it's a good pressure.' The Nuggets have the 22nd pick in Thursday's draft. Yes, they'll look at taking a player with that pick. But nothing has been ruled off the table as the Nuggets search to acquire talent to improve a team that finished 50-32 last season. Asked if all options were on the table, Ujiri said: 'Yes, all options. I've looked at it in every single way, and we'll continue to do that until 5 o'clock on Thursday. I think it just depends what comes to you and what's happening at the time and what's available. You have to read the draft.' "

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Cameras from celebrity news outlet TMZ recently caught Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant on the street in Los Angeles and asked him what there is to do for fun in Oklahoma. When Durant mumbled 'nothing' as he continued to walk away from the camera, his response created controversy and forced Durant to explain his comment on social networking Web sites Twitter and Facebook. 'I dissed Oklahoma cuz I didn't wanna sit n talk to TMZ and all I said was the word nothing..y'all forgot all the times I scream OKC? ok cool' Durant posted Tuesday on his Twitter account. Since he entered the league in 2007, Durant, the NBA's reigning two-time scoring champion, has spent his summers traveling throughout the country. Teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden both live in the Los Angeles area, and Thunder players over the past three seasons have scheduled visits to each other's hometowns to work out. ... Durant also has proved his commitment to Oklahoma. Last summer, Durant signed a five-year contract extension and specifically turned down a popular clause known as a player option, something that allows players to get out of their contracts and enter free agency a year earlier. The deal will now keep Durant with the Thunder through the 2015-16 season. Durant also recently closed on a $1.8 million home in the luxurious Gaillardia area. Nonetheless, a certain segment of fans and media members seemingly refuse to believe Durant is happy in Oklahoma."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Spero Dedes’ departure creates an opportunity next season on KSPN/710 for John Ireland, who was the team’s TV sideline reporter on KCAL/9 since 2002-03. He has also teamed with Mychal Thompson on radio shows before. Bill Macdonald would’ve been the radio voice if Dedes had taken the TV job, but instead will get to take the seat he had back in January 2006 as a fill-in for TV voice Joel Meyers, who was off doing a national NFL radio broadcast and missed Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game. Meyers wasn’t pleased about the way being paved for Dedes and not being retained after this season, thus severing his ties with the Lakers. Some of his relationships, including with Stu Lantz, became strained. Despite continuing to do their final broadcasts together on TV, Meyers and Lantz no longer spoke off the air -- Meyers unhappy that partner Lantz, who was being renewed, didn’t help him more."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "When I tracked him down Tuesday at his office at UPS headquarters in Chicago, LaRue Martin hadn’t yet seen his segment on HBO’s 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.' Through an advance DVD courtesy of HBO’s publicity department, I watched it at home Monday night. 'I’m waiting to watch it with my wife when they first show it tonight at 11,' Martin told me. Doesn’t seem right. But Martin has been enduring such indignities ever since that fateful night 35 years ago, when the Trail Blazers made him the first selection in the 1972 NBA draft. One of four segments on Gumbel’s Emmy-winning show features Martin, entitled 'The Big Bust.' (It will run periodically on HBO through July 16.) They aren’t talking about Holly Madison, either. The reference is to the player widely regarded as the worst No. 1 pick in NBA history. Blazer fans remember Sam Bowie’s selection over Michael Jordan in 1984 with unbridled disdain, but for historical perspective, Martin over Bob McAdoo was probably worse."