First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike Jensen of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Wilt on a stamp? Better be a big stamp. A Philadelphia-based campaign to get Wilt Chamberlain on a U.S. stamp has gotten to the right place. According to a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, the Chamberlain-on-postage idea definitely 'is under consideration.' That's no small thing. A committee sends 20 to 25 suggestions each year to the postmaster general, from 'thousands of suggestions annually,' said Roy Betts, manager of community relations for the Postal Service. According to Betts, stamp selections will be announced in August, but the committee, which meets four times a year, also is talking about possibilities for the next few years. A campaign started by Philadelphia Tribune sports editor Donald Hunt resulted in a steady steam of Wilt supporters, including NBA officials, contacting the Postal Service. Why hasn't Wilt been on a stamp already? Turns out you have to be dead five years to be eligible. The Overbrook High great, considered by many to be the greatest basketball talent in the game's history, died in 1999."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight Howard and Gilbert Arenas are in a competition to see who is the best. And, brace yourself, I think Gilbert is winning. Not at basketball, but at planking. For the uninformed, planking has become an international craze in which an individual lies face down in funny, unusual places and has their picture taken. Arenas, for instance, has posted pictures of himself on Twitter lying face down inside a grand piano and in the median of an expressway tollbooth. After Gilbert’s planking pictures hit social media, Howard took to Twitter with a tweet that read, 'Plank waaaaaarrr.' He then posted pictures of himself lying face down on top of soda machine, a Rolls-Royce and a riding lawnmower. The two teammates also have pictures of themselves planking together on a double-decker luggage cart at the Grand Bohemian hotel. Right now, from what I’ve seen, Gilbert gets the edge for originality and creativity."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Carmelo Anthony has been secretly rehabbing a bum right elbow at the Knicks practice facility, and has been prohibited from lifting weights and any on-court work, including shooting, since the season ended in late April, The Post has learned. Anthony is suffering from elbow bursitis, a condition he had earlier this season in Denver. It flared up with the Knicks in late February when he talked about the possibility of having a drainage procedure but added he 'doesn't like going under the knife.' Anthony's Westchester rehab would end because of the expected lockout tomorrow -- one of the major behind-the-scenes detriments of NBA commissioner David Stern's work stoppage. Anthony would no longer be able to talk to the coaching or medical staff or have elbow treatment at the practice facility. Toney Douglas, who had rotator cuff shoulder surgery after the season, is in the same boat, and his rehab also would take place without Knicks supervision."

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "Now the real work begins for the Nuggets in trying to retain their starting center. Nene will opt out of the final year of his contract worth nearly $12 million and, as a result, become an unrestricted free agent, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday night. It means Nene can sign with any team he wishes without the Nuggets getting a chance to match the offer when free agency begins after the expected NBA lockout, which likely will start Friday. Nene had until today to make a final decision. The Nuggets tried to sign him to a contract extension before today, the last day of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, but to no avail. Instead, Nene figures to have many suitors -- including the Nuggets -- as he explores his options."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Maurice Evans will be in New York as the NBA and the players union meet for one last time before the current collective bargaining agreement expires at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. A lockout appears unavoidable, with the sides nowhere close to a deal but Evans is hopeful that they can narrow the gap some. 'I don’t think significant progress can be made in one day,' said Evans, the Wizards free agent forward and vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. 'I expect to be in there as long as it takes. We’re going to continue to negotiate until we reach an impasse. We’re prepared to go as long as we need to go into the summer to get a deal.' ... Evans said that in spite of the rhetoric coming from both sides, the negotiations have been cordial. He was optimistic that some progress could be made with the deadline approaching."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "While Kevin Durant has been fulfilling his previously-scheduled obligations, representatives from the NBA and the NBA Players Association have held negotiating meetings in New York. Numerous players have attended the negotiating sessions. ... Durant said he is optimistic that a deal will get done and the 2011-12 NBA season will begin on time. But after leading the Thunder within three wins of the NBA Finals, Durant said it would be 'very disappointing' for Oklahoma City fans to not have NBA basketball. 'They come and support us in everything we do, not just coming to the games,' Durant said. 'All the community events we have, they always support us. I see a lot of the Thunder fans at my camp… so it's going to be tough for them not to have basketball. Hopefully we don't go past September with it. Hopefully we have a training camp and we go from there.' Durant, a renowned gym rat, said he just wants to play basketball. 'At the end of the day, that's all I want to do,' Durant said."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "With an NBA lockout looming, there is a bright side to it for Lakers draftee Andrew Goudelock. Goudelock said he is 12 credit hours short of earning his degree in sociology at the College of Charleston, and he intends to use the extra time to finish and fulfill his promise to his mother. Goudelock played four seasons in Charleston, S.C.; he was the school’s male scholar-athlete of the month for December 2010. Goudelock, who had never been to Los Angeles before coming for the Lakers’ mini-camp Tuesday, obviously will still spend considerable time in the gym preparing for his chance at making the Lakers’ next roster. He said he has had a chip on his shoulder since his junior year in high school because of how often he has been overlooked as a player. 'I felt under-appreciated coming into college, and I felt under-appreciated in college,' Goudelock said. The Lakers’ other incoming draftee, Darius Morris, is a Los Angeles native and expects to stay in town to work on his game if there is a lockout."

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: "During his press conference, Stephen Jackson said he considered himself to be not only 'underrated' but 'underpaid.' After the press conference, Jackson candidly told me he hopes to change the latter. Jackson said he had lobbied for a contract extension with the Bobcats and that his insistence for additional years was 'directly' tied in him being traded to Milwaukee. Jackson has two years left on his contract: $9.26 million this season and $10 million for the 2012-13 season. Jackson said he wants to play four more seasons, meaning he's seeking a two-year extension from the Bucks that would expire when he is 37 years old. Is Bucks general manager John Hammond, who has constantly preached about getting the Bucks' financial house in order, be willing to grant a player on the downside of his career an extension? That remains to be seen. What we won't need to wait on is whether Jackson will remain a happy camper if his contract isn't extended. When I asked how important an extension was to him, Jackson responded quickly and emphatically, saying, 'It's mandatory.' "

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald "Neither Glen Davis nor Doc Rivers publicly admit to having a problem, though Danny Ainge said he wants the men to talk out their oft-emotional differences if they are to spend another season together. If that opportunity arises, anyway. Davis, at least, asserts that he wants to return. 'Man, I do,' Davis said yesterday. 'Do you know how much I’ve grown and learned with those guys? I want to keep playing with Ray (Allen) and Paul (Pierce) until they leave.' Too much is unknown, though. In Ainge’s quest to find a capable big man this summer, Davis is probably the Celtics’ best chip in a sign-and-trade deal. 'I’m preparing like it’s any other summer, because you never know with the CBA,' Davis said. 'As soon as that deal is done, free agents are going to be going like crazy to get signed. But there’s no way to gauge what (a contract) is worth.' Davis added that his agent, John Hamilton, has urged him to just relax and see how everything plays out. It’s a cliche, but applicable here -- his intent is to focus only on what he can control."

  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: "The fight to be the Charlotte Bobcats' starting point guard next season will be one of the most competitive on the team, with incumbent D.J. Augustin trying to fend off rookie Kemba Walker. But coach Paul Silas brought up an interesting point Wednesday, wondering aloud if the two undersized point guards could play alongside each other during some stretches of a game. 'Can these two guys play together?' Silas asked. 'I'm not sure about that right now ... If they do, I'm sure we're going to have to do something other than play a man-to-man (defense), so we're going to have to figure all that out. If we can figure out how they play together defensively, we're going to have a real plus on offense with their running ability and quickness and so forth.' Augustin and Walker are both around six feet tall, which means they are susceptible to post-ups and would have a serious height disadvantage against some of the league's bigger guards. However, they will likely be the two fastest players on the team."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "Wanted: By the Indiana Pacers. A power forward. Somebody who can draw an occasional double team in the low post. Somebody who can defend the basket, block some shots, grab some rebounds. Now taking applications. Let's start here: As much as the Pacers want a power forward in free agency and plan to pursue one once the inevitable lockout ends, let's not dismiss Tyler Hansbrough. In what was essentially his rookie season last year, Hansbrough began getting decent minutes in former coach Jim O'Brien's final month, then continued to improve with more minutes under still-interim-but-soon-to-be-head-coach Frank Vogel. In February, he averaged 16.8 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes per game, including a stretch of 20 or more points in seven of 10 games. So it's not like the Pacers are bereft of talent at power forward. If you bring back Jeff Foster for a year or two and retain Josh McRoberts for the right price, you have a very energetic and competitive group. That said, they should make an upgrade, and they have every plan to do so in free agency."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "It is fitting that Sean Williams' road back to the NBA traveled through the desert Wednesday. Once nicknamed 'Mirage,' Williams always has been an illusory talent who can't help but demand a second glance. The Suns gave him one this week, when they included him, 13 other NBA hopefuls and first-round pick Markieff Morris in a two-day minicamp. With a checkered past, the New Jersey Nets' 2007 first-round pick is out to prove he is not the misfit whose immature and illegal behavior overshadowed his talent. After a year spent trying to restore his image with the D-League's Texas Legends, Williams received his first NBA evaluations since the Nets waived him last year with workouts for Memphis and Phoenix this week. ... Williams' NBA stint nearly mirrored his troubled times at Boston College that dropped his draft stock to No. 17 in 2007. He was a risk then but New Jersey was blinded by the 6-foot-10 power forward's athleticism and defensive prowess. At Boston College, he had a marijuana arrest and was dismissed from the team for repeated rules violations. With New Jersey, he was arrested in 2009 on a Nets road trip when he threw a computer monitor in a cellphone store. He was waived in January 2010. Williams played 14 games in China and two in Puerto Rico before asking Dallas General Manager Donnie Nelson for a spot to play for his D-League affiliate near Williams' hometown of Arlington, Texas. He averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks for a Texas team coached by Nancy Lieberman, a friend of Suns coach Alvin Gentry for 35 years. 'She speaks highly of him,' Gentry said. 'He's real athletic and does some good things as far as shot-blocking.' "

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Free-agent forward Joe Alexander was talking about all the “young guys” at the Hawks’ minicamp, but he was one of them not so long ago. 'It feels like it’s gone fast,' Alexander said. 'It depends who you are around, I guess. When you are around these college guys, you feel old.' Alexander is only 24 years old, but he’s well into the second phase of his professional career. The Bucks drafted Alexander No. 8 overall in 2008 out of West Virginia, but he quickly fell out of favor. Milwaukee didn’t extend his contract after his rookie season -- a rare move for a lottery pick -- and traded him to Chicago the following season. Alexander signed with New Orleans as a free agent in September, but was waived before the start of the season. Now Alexander is trying to make a comeback after a strong season in the NBA Development League. He made a good impression during the three days of Hawks camp, which concluded Wednesday. 'He has certainly played with a lot of consistency,' coach Larry Drew said. 'You can tell he knows how to play. He’s certainly someone we are going to have to take a look at.' "