First Cup: Friday

  • Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: "Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has taken an unusual step to try to strengthen his ailing right knee, undergoing an innovative procedure in Germany about a month ago, according to four people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly. The treatment is a derivation of platelet-rich plasma therapy. PRP procedures are less invasive than many surgeries involving the knee and are viewed as either an emerging solution to knee problems or a financial gamble on unproven science. Bryant, who turns 33 next month, has been bothered in recent seasons by an arthritic joint in his right knee. He has undergone three other knee procedures since 2003, including surgery last July to remove unspecified loose bodies. ... In addition to Bryant, tennis star Rafael Nadal, golfer Tiger Woods and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward reportedly have undergone PRP treatments for their knees. Other NBA players also experimented with PRP last season, including reserve Golden State guard Acie Law on his wrist and Portland guard Brandon Roy on his hamstring."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Nenad Krstic enjoys a sense of security today that is about to elude many of his former NBA peers. The former Celtics [team stats] center, after signing a two-year, $9.8 million contract early in June with CSKA Moscow, is glad he found a deal early. Despite all the talk from players about playing in Europe during the lockout, Krstic believes the overseas option is vastly overrated. 'I don’t think you will see a lot coming here,' Krstic said yesterday from his home in Kraljevo, Serbia. 'Europe is not in a great situation financially. There are only four or five teams now that can offer much to NBA players, and those teams right now are almost full. That’s a problem for NBA players, I think,' he said. 'It was a reason why I had to go right away. I got maybe the best contract in Europe because of that.' Krstic also has flexibility, in the form of a player option for his second season with CSKA. ... Krstic stressed yesterday that his diminishing role under Celtics coach Doc Rivers was not the reason he signed with CSKA, and didn’t wait for a Celtics offer. The Russian team’s offer was simply too good to ignore, even if Krstic made more last season ($5.8 million) than he will in his first season with CSKA."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "Something is wrong with a league where the second-highest-paid player in the league is .... you'll never get this in a million guesses ... Rashard Lewis at $20.5 million a year. (At No. 5, there's Michael Redd. At No. 7, Andrei Kirilenko. And the list of under-performing or injured players with massive,franchise-choking long-term deals goes on.) Something is wrong when seven of the top 10 payroll teams make the playoffs and seven of the bottom 10 teams miss the playoffs. A small-market team can be successful. We know that. The Pacers were a perennial playoff team and were in the NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs are the best-run franchise in pro basketball. The Oklahoma City Thunder are building the best young team, largely through flawless drafting. In smaller markets, though, there's no room for error. You can't miss on a draft choice. You can't overpay on a long-term deal. You can't throw money at mistakes. If you're a Pacers fan, this feels like an especially lousy time to have a lockout: Too many good things are happening, too much momentum. Big picture, though, the lockout is exactly what the Pacers, and the NBA, need."

  • Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: "The NBA has more in common with Major League Baseball than it does the NFL. If you're a fan of the Kansas City Royals, you were thrilled by their fast start this season. Then reality intruded, and the reality is that you knew on opening day the Royals weren't going to the playoffs. On Thursday morning their record was the worst in the American League. Every team in the NFL has an opportunity to be royal. While major markets and billionaire owners watched, Green Bay beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV. The NBA's labor impasse could be nasty. The NFL was never going to lose regular-season games. The NBA might. The league will vigorously attempt to impose a legitimate, adult, salary cap, and the players will vigorously attempt to reject it. Neither side will fully capitulate. But the next CBA will include some semblance of a real cap. When it does, small markets such as Charlotte no longer will be quite so small."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "The players, however, have negotiated as if still in the old world. They considered the owners’ 'concession' to allow guaranteed contracts meaningless because they already have guaranteed contracts. But that is based on a system the owners consider irrelevant. That might not seem fair, but no one cares about fair. In negotiations, it is not about what is right, fair or just. You get what you can negotiate. The owners want protection from themselves. That might not seem right, but it is the priority. Every time the players say they should not be responsible for protecting owners from making mistakes or as Derek Fisher put it, that employees should not have to guarantee the profits of the employers, they ignore the reality that is the basis on all of this. It is not about what should be. It is about getting the best deal the other side will accept. The owners will insist on a system in which they know they will make money. They won’t consider the momentum of a great season at all. The ratings, the attendance, the huge increase in attention are all about business. This is about business, too, and this -- not building on last season’s success -- is the top priority. That’s why the owners will make few concessions as the months pass and the players can work only to limit the damage. It is also why this lockout is built to last."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "With training camp three months away, negotiations between players and owners lack a sense of urgency, so there's no way to forecast how long the work stoppage will last. But the Grizzlies don't plan to remain idle, particularly on the business side. The marketing, sales and community investment staffs will continue a normal business cycle, meaning the roughly 150 people employed by Hoops LP -- the Grizzlies' parent company -- will not miss a paycheck or work assignments in the near future. There is talk that the franchise, following league protocol, could implement furloughs if the lockout lasts beyond three months and causes the NBA to miss games. For now, the organization still is planning for its annual block parties, various service projects, summer camps and community festivals. Dance team auditions will still be held July 9. Griz-related school programs will also be unaffected by the lockout. The only aspect of operations that will immediately get cut off is communication. From owner Michael Heisley to basketball executives to coaches to business-side employees, no one in the organization is permitted to discuss publicly the labor situation. The team risks a fine up to $1 million for violating the league's gag order."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and Jimmy Butler stopped by the Berto Center to work out Thursday. On Friday, thanks to the NBA locking out players in lieu of reaching a new collective bargaining agreement, that building will be off limits to everybody but management. 'It was strange, man,' Korver said by phone. 'You see the strength coach intern, who I worked out with all year. We're friends now. But I can't work out with him (Friday). It's ridiculous. You're saying goodbye to everyone that's there, no matter how big their role is.' Somebody who plays one of the biggest roles, coach Tom Thibodeau, made a habit of drilling players as they dropped in for workouts last summer. Now that contact is a casualty of the labor strife. 'I asked Thibs what he was going to do, and he said he was going to watch film,' Korver said. 'And I was like, 'How much film can you watch? You going to watch every game again?' And he said, 'Yep.' "

  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "The NBA and the NBA Players Association met Thursday, then the league didn't even wait until the late-night deadline for negotiations to announce the lockout. This one could last a long time. While conventional wisdom holds that the NBA's successful postseason would make the league less likely to jeopardize the next season, that's merely wishful thinking. The NBA enjoyed robust ratings during the playoffs and teams still lost money. Commissioner David Stern won't start another season until a system more favorable to the owners is in place. Some of his owners actually will lose less money during a lockout than they did during the season. For Wolves fans, the lockout comes at a bad time. David Kahn has built a roster that is at least interesting and at best promising. The lockout means that by their next opening day, Ricky Rubio will have reached legal drinking age, and Tanguy Ngombo will be collecting his pension."

  • Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: "Advocates of a new downtown Sacramento sports arena rolled out a study Thursday that puts an eye-popping number on the building's projected economic benefits: $7 billion over 30 years. The study, commissioned by Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena task force, said the new facility would shower the region with $157 million a year. That includes spinoffs such as sales at restaurants and hotels, as well as $6.7 million in taxes. The $7 billion estimate includes assumptions about inflation. While a lot of the money would come from area residents -- and wouldn't be new dollars for the region -- task force members said the building would still bring huge benefits. ... The task force – formerly known as Here We Build, now named Think Big – has yet to unveil a plan for raising the $387 million or so needed to build an arena. But it's expected to be a "public-private partnership" that would take revenue from multiple sources. Lehane said a report on arena financing is expected Sept. 8. The Sacramento Kings are almost certain to leave town if a financing plan for a new building isn't in place by next spring."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Alan Ostfield has no regrets. That was his message when reached by phone Thursday after news of his ouster as Palace Sports & Entertainment president and CEO was made public. 'I knew that when I committed to stay on to get the organization through this transition that this outcome was a distinct possibility,' Ostfield said. 'This wasn't about me or one particular person. It was all about transitioning this organization on to the next phase from the wonderful ownership of Mr. (Bill) Davidson. And we accomplished that.' No other members of Palace management were affected. The move is part of the management transition of Tom Gores and his private equity firm Platinum Equity's purchase of the Pistons and PS&E for $325 million, which was completed in early June."