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First Cup: Friday

  • Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register: "Reports indicate Bryant is, in fact, interested in playing in Turkey. His representatives even initiated contact over there. So our question is this: Why? Why exactly would Bryant desire to put more mileage on a body he so often describes as being more aged than his 32 years would suggest? He certainly can’t be short on money. He surely works hard enough on his own to stay sharp during an extended work stoppage. He doesn’t exactly need the practice. Speaking of which, recall that in an attempt to preserve his tiring legs, Bryant rarely even practices with the Lakers any more. Yet, here he is, evidently negotiating to play more basketball during a period of downtime that, at least in theory, actually could extend his NBA career. We’re guessing this has something to do with global branding and international exposure and a bunch of stuff that seems way to grand to be real. All we can say is good luck, Kobe. And, if it does happen, we don’t want to hear anything more about the wear and tear of playing in the NBA and for USA Basketball."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Kobe Bryant's signed for three more seasons for $83.5 million, but that doesn't mean the 2013-2014 season would be his final season. Knowing Bryant's thirst for championships, it's conceivable the Lakers could keep him, but no one can predict what will happen because it will depend on how Bryant's physical condition holds up. But given his current state and the fact that the Lakers seem to indicate they're preparing for Andrew Bynum to be the future of the franchise, let's just assume Bryant hangs up his laces then. That means Bryant has at least two full seasons and however long the 2011-2012 campaign lasts to score 10,520 points, the amount needed to surpass Abdul-Jabbar. Should next season go off without a hitch and the Lakers are able to host the Oklahoma City Thunder Nov. 1 in their season opener, Bryant would need to average 42.76 points through 246 regular-season games in those seasons to reach him. For clarity purposes, say the 2011-2012 season is shortened to 50-games like it was in the 1998-99 campaign. Bryant would then have to average 49.16 points through 214 regular-season games in those seasons to surpass Abdul-Jabbar. And if there's not a 2011-2012 season at all, that means Bryant would have to average 64.15 points per game through 164 games. It isn't practical to think Bryant would reach those numbers since he didn't average that much even in his prime."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "While household names such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade have publicly expressed their desire to compete internationally if the NBA work stoppage doesn't get settled soon,Blake Griffin isn't ready to cross the water just yet. 'I haven't really looked into going over there and playing for a team,' Griffin said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. 'But you never say never. I don't know what kind of situations are out there. We'll see how the end of this offseason shapes up, and I'll probably make a decision from there.' Griffin, the reigning Rookie of the Year and Slam Dunk champ, said he is optimistic that the league will reach a new deal on a collective bargaining agreement so the season is not lost. 'I hope so,' Griffin said. 'I know all the players want to be playing. We don't want to miss the season, so hopefully it does get done and everything goes how it's supposed to.' Griffin said he would only have interest in playing overseas under the right circumstances."

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: "And each time an American player signs a contract with a European team, there’s the possibility he could be taking a job away from a U.S. colleague who is making a living on the international fringes, in the hopes of getting an opportunity to display his talents on the game’s brightest stage. For former UNO and Warren Easton High School swingman Kyndall Dykes, however, the credentials burnished last season in the Romanian league — Dykes was Eurobasket.com’s Romanian League Player of the Year — provide a sense of job security, no matter who might end up on the roster next season. ... He said this week he’s unconcerned with the NBA exodus that appears to be growing. 'At this point'” Dykes said, 'for this season, it’s not a concern because I know where I’m going. But as far as if the lockout continues and a lot of guys come overseas, it could be a concern in the future, maybe next season, because a lot of guys might try to stay. And that could cut down on some jobs for people.' "

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Helping himself and helping others are not nearly the same, but this is a massive summer for Andrew Bynum, a rare chance to be healthy in the offseason and actually use it to improve his body and his game. He is doing his promised boxing training and looks well on his way toward making the next season his first All-Star campaign (if the lockout is settled early enough for an All-Star Game). Improving his game that much will earn back some Lakers fans appalled by Bynum's sense of entitlement now. That's just the way it works, fair or not. Beyond that, Bynum deserves some time to improve himself otherwise, too. He's still doing some stupid stuff, for sure, but let's stop judging for a moment and bear in mind that you're not supposed to have figured out how to play the game of life at age 23. Bynum is neither the moral compass nor the leader of the Lakers. He's just not ready. That's OK, even if some of the things he has been doing are most definitely not."

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "I've spent two years practically pleading for the Lakers to trade him because he'll always be such a physical risk. The Lakers have always resisted because of the potential of his size and his youth. Well, right now, he's nothing more than a big dummy who, at age 23, is old enough to know better. Right now, his supporters in the Lakers front office are dwindling to the point where they can probably all fit under Jimmy Buss' baseball cap. The only thing that Bynum seemingly understands less than respect is remorse. It took him two days to apologize for the nationally criticized clobbering of Barea, and it will take at least that long for him to apologize for this handicapped-parking incident. I gave him a chance Thursday, but his agent David Lee said Bynum could not be reached for comment. In fact, the only sounds we've heard from Bynum since this disclosure was the slamming of his car door on an NBC4 reporter who ambushed him earlier this week."

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "Most hardcore Magic fans know this, and Van Gundy reiterated it on Thursday: He doesn't like mid-range jumpers. He said free-throws, layups and three-pointers are the three types of shots he wants his team looking for, because those are the most efficient ways to put points on the board. Van Gundy talked about the way he gets his team to work hard in the weight room: By incorporating it into practice. At the suggestion of an assistant coach, the Magic end every practice by directing half the team to hit the weights and half the team to go through shooting drills; then, once the horn sounds, they switch. When another coach asked Van Gundy why his team shoots so many three-pointers, Van Gundy said it was a mix of his coaching philosophy and the personnel the Magic have had in seasons past. He couldn't speak at all about the Magic's personnel, however. Van Gundy, aware the Orlando Sentinel was in the audience, made a clarification early in his speech. 'Because of NBA rules and David Stern's fondness for taking my money – 100 grand in each of the last two years – my biggest goal is that I don't lose any money,' he said, referring to the NBA's mandate that coaches don't publicly talk about the lockout or mention the names of any players. 'Everything is going to be very generic when it comes to players.' "

  • Ely Portillo of The Charlotte Observer: "The Charlotte Bobcats made big strides last season on the business side, selling more season tickets and drawing in more corporate sponsors in the wake of Michael Jordan's acquisition of the team. But holding onto those gains could be tough if the NBA owners' lockout of their players swamps part or all of the upcoming season. 'Both the league as well as the teams will have a serious challenge securing new corporate sponsors,' said Bill Chipps, a senior editor at sponsorship consulting firm IEG. 'Obviously, companies don't want to sign a six- or seven-figure deal for a sports property that might not happen.' 'Every sponsor is hoping this is short-lived,' Chipps said of the NBA lockout. A half-dozen sponsors who spoke with the Observer this week said they're sticking with the team."

  • Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: "An East-West showdown between the best players from the Drew League in Los Angeles and the Goodman League, which plays outdoors at Barry Farms in Southeast, is scheduled for Aug. 20, according to a post on the Goodman League Facebook page. According to a report on the Sports Illustrated website, Los Angeles natives Baron Davis and Dorell Wright are handling some of the logistics. Goodman League sources said the game is tentatively set to be staged at Georgetown's McDonogh Gym but might take place at Coolidge High in the District. Because of the travel schedules of the NBA players who could be involved, the rosters are unlikely to be finalized until much closer to the game itself. Kevin Durant, a D.C. native, has cultivated his reputation with huge performances in outdoor Goodman games. Wizards guard John Wall and his former Kentucky teammate, Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, also recently made their Goodman debuts in an indoor game, with Wall scoring 41 points. Nick Young and JaVale McGee, who both reside in Los Angeles during the offseason, have played in the Drew League."

  • Staff of The Plain Dealer: "David Lighty's career will continue overseas in Italy. He leaves next month. 'Playing in Europe will be like a vacation for me,' Lighty said. 'I get the chance to do what I love by playing basketball and I'll do it overseas. I hope to get a chance in the NBA after playing in Europe. We'll see what happens.' The league received a jolt when Miami's finest, LeBron James, joined an Akron squad with Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce Jr. last week. One of the best highlights of the game was when James tossed the ball off the backboard followed by his dunk. The response? Someone yelled from the crowd --- 'You didn't do that against Dallas.' "

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: "The NBA lockout has not prevented the Raptors from making another strong off-season move. As expected, Alex McKechnie has come aboard as Toronto's director of sports science, overseeing all athletic training, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning. McKechnie spent eight full-time seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and 12 in total. The team won five titles in that span and he is credited with extending the prime years of Shaquille O'Neal's career. He is an innovator in core training and movement integration and is extremely highly-regarded. 'I am delighted to be a part of such a quality organization and look forward to working with the Raptors, as well as living in a great city like Toronto,' McKechnie said in a release. The Glasgow native arrived in British Columbia in 1974, as a physiotherapist at Simon Fraser University."

  • Cindy Boren of The Washington Post: "Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will grace three different covers for the video game 'NBA 2K12.' Adam Larson is the artist behind the images of each athlete and, with Jordan proving this week that he can still dunk at 48 and eight years removed from his NBA playing career, it’s fair to say Larson exercised a little artistic license. It’s a funny twist of fate that a labor issue would lead to a retired Jordan’s likeness being used on a video game cover. Throughout most of his career, Air Jordan refused to take part in the NBA players’ general licensing agreement. That meant that if Topps trading cards or EA sports games wanted to use his likeness, they had to negotiate separately with him. Even casual gamers of a certain age will remember years of NBA video games featuring a mysterious, unnamed, dominant shooting guard who resembled Jordan in every way and was on the Bulls roster. But in retirement, Jordan has developed a stronger relationship with the gaming industry. He appeared on the cover of NBA 2K11."

  • Randy Ellis of The Oklahoman: "Chesapeake Energy Arena will be the new name of Oklahoma City's downtown arena formerly known as the Ford Center under a new naming rights agreement jointly announced Thursday by the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chesapeake Energy Corp. Under the 12-year naming rights agreement, Chesapeake will pay the Thunder $3 million the first year, with a 3 percent annual escalation clause for each year, thereafter. The agreement includes Chesapeake branding throughout the building including on the basketball court, prominent premium placement on the high-definition scoreboard and new state-of-the-art interior and exterior digital signage. Most of the signage is expected to be in place by the start of the Thunder's 2011-12 season."