First Cup: Friday

  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: "It'll be interesting whether Timberwolves small forward Michael Beasley's recent ticketing for allegedly having marijuana in his car and speeding, coupled with the Wolves' drafting last month of small forward Derrick Williams, will make Beasley expendable once the NBA lockout is resolved. The problem now for the Wolves is that they probably won't be able to rely on Beasley, as they once hoped they could. And by trading him, they would have to sell low. Looks like he just became the Wolves' sixth man."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "A year ago, as LeBron James sat across from longtime sportscaster Jim Gray, James insisted he was not trying to reshape the NBA ecosystem, just merely win. Eleven months later, he came within two victories of an NBA title, closer than in any of his previous seven seasons in Cleveland. But still short of a championship. Now, a year after his announcement, the threat of a more restrictive salary cap could raze what James created. 'Our goal in these negotiations,' Commissioner David Stern said, 'is to come up with a system where all 30 teams over a period of time have the ability to compete.' That, the team executive said, won't happen, regardless of the new collective-bargaining agreement, because the NBA, he said, remains a league driven by a scarce commodity, superstars. 'There's only 12 guys in the league of the Howard, Williams, Paul ilk, and if you don't have 'em, you're screwed, the team executive said of those next to potentially come available. And then came July 8, 2010, when LeBron James, formerly a standalone star, decided he no longer wanted his 'talents' to stand alone. 'The model to win had always been, on the surface, players want to be the alpha male,' the executive said. 'But now, there's a recognition of a fundamental fact that you need help.' "

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "One year ago Friday, LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. Barring an unforeseen occurrence, they will remain there for the next five seasons at a tidy price tag of $95,337,500 -- minus whatever the NBA lockout might erase. The contrast between the event and the anniversary couldn't be more stark -- from the Summer of LeBronathon to the Sounds of Silence. The lockout is just one week old but certainly has the potential to last a full year. That's how dug in both sides are. Whenever it ends, James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of their Heat running buddies will still be in South Beach, the Bulls' new nemeses for reasons beyond the Heat eliminating them from the Eastern Conference finals. James', ahem, decision to join Wade in South Florida robbed the Bulls of unparalleled perimeter talents from the greatest free-agent class in league history. It's a hole the Bulls still will be looking to fill whenever the lockout ends."

  • Terry Foster of The Detroit News: "Why did Dan Gilbert have to buy the Cleveland Cavaliers? Why couldn't he hold out a few more years and purchase the Pistons? The Pistons have their new owner and my guess is Tom Gores won't be the savior that many expect. He's fun. He seems like an OK guy. But he is not going to be our Mark Cuban, who wants to win at any cost. I don't think Gores will be a guy that makes Detroit his permanent home. Cuban lives in Dallas and is willing to fight for the Mavericks and their fans. Gores will bring stability to the Pistons, but I don't get the feeling he'll bleed Pistons red, white and blue. Gilbert lives and dies with his Cavaliers. He fights for his city, even when it makes him look foolish to people outside of Cleveland. When LeBron James left the Cavaliers high and dry, Gilbert attacked James and guaranteed that the Cavs would win an NBA title before James in Miami. That seems foolish now, considering that the Heat lost to the Mavs in the NBA Finals, and the Cavs had a terrible season. ... Detroit needs a voice. It needs a champion. It needs somebody who will step up for it in the sports world. Gilbert is that guy. He'd fight for the Pistons and he'd fight to put the Pistons and Wings in a downtown arena. We know Gilbert loved the Pistons. He was a season-ticket holder and a Pistons fan. Gilbert should have been our guy. The timing just wasn't right."

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "When weeks turn to months and emotions bubble over during the lockout, I hope everyone will remember the true villains in this whole thing. Bad owners. Not good owners. Not players. Not the NBA. Bad owners wanted to be bailed out the last time the league locked out its players, and a little over a decade later, they want to be saved again. When is the NBA going to stop asking its players, its good owners and its fans to keep cleaning up the messes made by these rubes? When is everyone going to say enough is enough? ... Listen, I'm not sitting here saying that bad owners are the only ones who are poor with their finances. There are plenty of players who are bad with their money. They are immature and irresponsible. They overindulge and overextend. And sometimes, things go terribly, horribly wrong. Penthouse millionaires become skid-row bums. But the difference is impact. In the case of the players, the one hurt most by a fiscally foolish athlete is the man himself. With bad owners, they hurt their entire franchise."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "It might be hard to believe, with him one year removed from going No. 1 overall in the NBA draft, but Wall was virtually unheard of outside of North Carolina nearly four years ago. But his performance before his junior year in high school at the Reebok Headliner tryout in Chicago -- where he drove 18 hours from his home in Raleigh to attend -- led to an invitation to the Reebok All-American Camp in Philadelphia. While at the All-American camp, Wall scored 28 points in a game against the highly touted Brandon Jennings in an outing that propelled him to stardom. Wall signed a lucrative contract with Reebok last summer, when his shoe company took a one-year hiatus from hosting a prep camp. Reebok has returned this summer with the inaugural Reebok Breakout Challenge at Philadelphia University and Wall has taken a prominent role. The new camp was created to help under-the-radar players get recognized and Wall worked out with the kids, participated in drills and offered some support. Jason Terry and Jameer Nelson are also involved in the camp. He plans to participate in the camp through Saturday. 'When I came here, I wasn’t anything special,’ Wall told ESPN.com. 'And I want these guys to know about that. If they come here and they work hard, you never know what could happen. "

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "Assuming Kurt Rambis doesn't return next season, the next coach will have to find a way to blend Williams with forwards Kevin Love and Michael Beasley if all three remain in Minnesota. But Williams insists his heart and personality have not changed. During his youth-baseball days in La Mirada, he was a 'buddy' for kids with disabilities in adapted games, helping players in wheelchairs swing their bats, then leading them around the bases. 'That's the thing I'm most proud of about my son ... that he's a humble, caring and giving person," said Rhoma Moore, Williams' mother. "That runs in our family. He was brought up that way. Always strive for your goals, but do it the right way.' He remembers all the details of that day at Tam's six years ago, including escorting the man inside and helping him make his order. He wants to do more. Whenever the NBA settles on a new collective bargaining agreement, Williams said, he is looking forward to doing his part in the Timberwolves' community service projects. 'I see a lot of people who are not really themselves anymore when they get to this point,' Williams said. 'I know money and status changes you a little bit, but I want to do what I can in the community. A lot of kids look up to me the way I looked up to athletes when I was growing up. I want to do the same for them.' "

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Lance Young, who represents forward Justin Harper, said Thursday that although he and Harper have discussed potential opportunities in Europe, it's probably in Harper's 'best interests' to remain in the United States and wait for the lockout to end. 'We're exploring all opportunities for Justin,' Young said. 'I think that's the bottom line. We have talked about Europe. As a second-round pick, he's not guaranteed anything. But right now the European market, just like with our economy here, the European deals are down 20 to 30 percent compared to what they were a couple of years ago. I just think a guy like Justin would be a player that could really help the Magic, and I think that staying around here is probably in his best interests right now.' Henry Thomas, who represents shooting guard DeAndre Liggins, said foreign teams have shown 'some interest' in his client. 'My responsibility would be at least to field the offers, and if they are significant enough, then at least share them with him and evaluate them,' Thomas said."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "After the December trade, the Suns used Pietrus extensively in the beginning before sending him in and out of the rotation in January. Then he played in 26 consecutive games, although his role and time sharply decreased in the games before he suffered his quadriceps-tendon strain when landing on a blocked shot attempt. Pietrus was not expected to be out long but wound up not returning for the remainder of the season. The Suns left him in Phoenix to rehabilitate during a five-game trip in April. When they returned, Pietrus said he could barely walk and did not return to play. Last month, his agent said he would not be surprised if the Suns made a trade because of the overload of wing players but was optimistic how a training camp would help Pietrus. It is true that Pietrus could be a different player with a full season. He had never been traded in the middle of a season previously and can bring a defensive intensity that is not always seen in the rest of the roster. He can find ways to score and hit the 3-pointer but he also can follow any make with a couple of horrendous shots. The Suns are faced with the same dilemma on the wings if Grant Hill re-sings to join Pietrus, Jared Dudley and Josh Childress, especially with Alvin Gentry and Lon Babby saying the Suns need to add a go-to wing scorer. If there are indeed 'a lot of teams' interested in Pietrus at $5.3 million, the Suns would be willing listeners to trade offers."

  • Staff of the New York Post: "There's more on the line for Kris Humphries than his next NBA team. Humphries and fiancee Kim Kardashian are in talks for a spinoff reality show on E!, dependent upon where the power forward signs as a free agent, Hollywoodlife.com reports. 'Kim and Kris have been filming different parts of their lives, including wedding prep, but their show hinges on Kris’s contract negotiations,' an insider close to the production told the website. 'Currently he’s a free agent, but it all depends on what teams he ends up with and their rules for their players and outside commitments.' Humphries is unable to sign with a team until the NBA lockout, which began earlier this month, is over. Humphries made $3.2 million last season. The Nets want him back, at a reasonable price, and all indications are he wants to return. ... The couple intends to continue on E!'s "Keeping up with the Kardashians" in addition to a new show, conditions permitting."

  • Jason Smith of The Commercial-Appeal: "Like White, Varnado, who's from Brownsville, Tenn., now finds himself in a wait-and-see state of mind with the NBA lockout clouding his immediate future. Last season, the 6-9, 225-pound Varnado elected to play for Tuscany Pistoia in Italy rather than attempt to make a Miami squad that was logjammed at the forward position. Varnado was an immediate star in Italy's second division, earning all-Italian Lega2 first-team and all-Imports team honors while averaging 15.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and a Lega2-best 3.1 blocked shots. In just his second game of the season against eventual Italian Lega2 champion Fastweb Casale Monferrato, Varnado, who earned the nickname 'Tornado' from Italian fans, had 22 points, nine blocks, nine steals and five rebounds. ... 'My plan right now -- of course with the lockout -- is to kind of wait and see where that stands. Hopefully it doesn't last too long because Miami wants me to come to training camp with them when this lockout's over. If it lasts too long, my plan is to go back (overseas).' Miami retained Varnado's rights, as well as those of former University of Memphis forward Robert Dozier, who was selected by the Heat in the second round of the 2009 draft and has spent the past two seasons in Greece."

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: "Jim Boylan will be back on the Milwaukee Bucks' bench next season. Whether Kelvin Sampson is, still remains to be seen. Boylan, who has been a Bucks assistant coach for the last three seasons, has turned down an offer to join the Phoenix Suns coaching staff. The Suns were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA last season and were looking at Boylan to fill their newly-created 'defensive' coach position. Boylan, who played a prominent role in the Bucks being one of the best defensive teams in the league last season, had been in discussions with Suns officials for several weeks. The scuttlebutt is that after negotiations dragged on and the parties couldn't come to an agreement, Boylan decided to sign a new one-year contract with the Bucks."