First Cup: Monday

  • Joey Villar of The Philippine Star: "After overpowering a PBA selection team with a never-ending barrage of slam dunks and highlight reels the other night, Kobe Bryant and his Smart All-Stars found a quicker and more game Smart Gilas Pilipinas but still fashioned out a 98-89 win yesterday to complete a sweep of the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend. Playing before a jampacked crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Bryant and his star-studded crew still didn’t disappoint as they dazzled the crowd the way they did when they overpowered the PBA selection team, 131-105, Saturday night with rim-rattling slams, razor-sharp crossover moves and nifty passes. Against the Nationals, however, the NBA stars, who carried the banner of Smart All- Stars, had to work hard for every unforgettable moments they produced. Smart Gilas, priming up for the FIBA-Asia Championship in September, was as awed as the PBA players but played the way the NBA stars and fans would have liked it – tough and rough. 'They played extremely well, they’ve very talented players, they know how to play as a team and executed their plays,” said Bryant in a short post-game interview at center court. 'It’s a tremendous honor to play here. Thank you for the love and passion you have in the sport. I hope this will not be the last,' he added. 'We had a lot of fun out there, we had a lot of competition,' said reigning MVP and Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "That's right, Kevin Durant has tattoos — lots of them. But even Durant's biggest fans are learning, along with the rest of the basketball world, that Durant's torso is filled with ink. A picture of a shirtless Durant during his most recent visit to China is making the rounds on the Internet. The image, showing a sweaty Durant standing with both hands on his hips, reveals just about all of the two-time scoring champ's tats. They cover his entire chest and stomach, stopping just before the point of protruding from his No. 35 jersey when he's on the court. Some have described the placement as “business tattoos,” meaning one of the league's rising stars isn't jeopardizing his marketability by marking up his limbs. The truth is that's precisely what Durant has done. He's strategically stained his skin only in areas where companies and consumers could never spot his growing mural of body art. ... While many have accepted Durant's decision and continue to root for him, it's rubbed others the wrong way. To some, the tattoos represent the first chink in Durant's armor, somehow serving as a sign that Durant is no choir boy. Perhaps the condemnation from those corners shouldn't come as a surprise since the form of body art still is a relatively new concept to many in this state. Oklahoma became the last state to legalize tattooing when it passed legislation in 2006. But the majority of Durant's tats are inspirational sayings in the form of scripture or names and images that pay homage to his family and hometown."

  • Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register: "There a few things that, no matter what, the Lakers just don't do well. Like elimination, Andrew Bynum's cowardly clocking of Dallas' J.J. Barea the lasting image of a playoff run that ended up being less than a crawl. And class, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest, unwilling to swallow the sour medicinethey had earned, instead spitting it in the Mavericks' faces. And hellos, Matt Barnes being the only player who bothered to show up for Mike Brown's introductory news conference. And today we know something else the Lakers don't do well: free time. The NBA lockout needs to end immediately — if not sooner — because these guys are wholly incapable of occupying their idle minds, hands and, in the case of Artest, fingers. With each passing day, the Lakers move closer to making their next appearance on TMZ, to heaping more shame on a franchise already with blushing pride, to being Deadspin.com-ed to death. ... Rumors persist Kobe Bryant could end up playing in Turkey, which is a bad idea along the lines of drafting Kwame Brown. Didn't we just witness Bryant hitting the wall in the playoffs? Doesn't he possess a knee that regularly fights him? Why would Bryant desire to put additional mileage on a body he so often describes as being more aged than his 32 years would suggest? ... Maybe Bryant is no closer to playing overseas than he is to playing for the Ducks. But with the Lakers, anything seems possible the longer the lockout goes. And the longer the lockout goes, the more TMZ will be there to chronicle the possibilities."

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Brandon Roy said he will make no declarations that he should be a starter when the Blazers return for training camp after the NBA's labor strike is settled. No proclamations that he is back to his old self after his latest knee surgeries -- arthroscopic procedures on both knees in January. And no concessions that he is now a bench player who needs to adapt his game to compensate for what was left on the operating table. In fact, Roy wants to make it clear there will be no self-advertising whatsoever when it comes to his game. 'I just don't even want to put anything out there,' said Roy, who celebrated his 27th birthday Saturday. 'I don't want to get hopes up one way or the other. I'm just trying to work to get better. And if I surprise a million people, that's better. Hopefully, I can surprise some people.' At the same time, Roy let it be known he knows what has been said about him. That his knees no longer allow him to move with the surgical precision that made him one of the most crafty and effective players in the NBA. That he can no longer leap high enough to finish drives to the basket. And that the bone-on-bone condition of both his knees has all but ended his career. He has heard all of it, and in a way, it motivates him. 'I'm definitely fine with how some things are said, and what people are saying about me,' Roy said. 'I kind of like to be doubted and counted out. That's a good place for me. I like this role.' What exactly that role will be once the Blazers and the NBA reconvene remains to be seen. "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "After interviewing Rick Adelman and Don Nelson over the weekend, the Timberwolves intend to interview Larry Brown and possibly one or two others in this first phase to replace fired coach Kurt Rambis. When the Wolves will interview Brown, who has coached teams to both NBA and NCAA titles, is uncertain because of a recent death in his family, according to a league source with knowledge of the team's search. If they do, they will have interviewed two coaches among the top six all time in NBA career victories. Nelson is No. 1 with 1,335. Brown is No. 6 with 1,098. The Wolves so far have interviewed Bernie Bickerstaff, Terry Porter, Mike Woodson, Adelman and Nelson. Add Brown to that list and four of those candidates are age 65 or older, a sign team President David Kahn is looking for experience and track record for such a young team."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Tyreke Evans has rented a place in Santa Monica and made the basketball court at St. Monica Catholic High School and the Equinox Gym his main summer destinations. Evans' basketball workouts are monitored by trainer Rob McClanaghan, while longtime trainer Lamont Peterson keeps tabs on Evans' strength and conditioning regimen. Evans is driven more to excel after his sophomore season was plagued by nagging foot and ankle injuries. Whenever the NBA lockout ends, he plans to be ready to show a much improved game in the coming season. 'I'm anxious; I'm real anxious,' Evans said. 'I just want to go out there and show everybody I can play basketball, especially with the year I had last year. I hope we don't miss games so I can hurry up and get out there.' ... Workout regulars include the reigning league MVP, Derrick Rose, and NBA All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Al Horford. McClanaghan said he is 'harder' on Evans this summer because expectations are higher. 'Tyreke is starting to understand what it really is going to take to get where he needs to be,' McClanaghan said. 'Talent alone, he's unbelievable. Now we just need to take that talent to the next level.' Being around All-Stars has shown Evans that becoming an elite player is attainable. And he knows what he has to do to get there. 'I know I'm as good as them,' Evans said. 'I just know I have to work hard.' "

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Gilbert Arenas has a chance to rival Dwight Howard as the Magic’s most popular — and valuable — player. He could own this town like he owned all of Washington, D.C., providing he can regain his old all-star form next season. He could make people forget about the infamous lockeroom gun incident with the Wizards. He could justify being Orlando’s highest-paid player. And everybody loves a comeback story, especially when it’s told by Gilbert. There’s no debating this because so much is at stake involving Arenas, from Dwight Howard’s future to Otis Smith’s reputation and a lot of stuff in between. If Arenas can bounce back physically and mentally, the Magic have two stars. It’s going to take a lot of work and dedication in Arenas’ comeback — and not a lot of people believe Gilbert has it in him after last season’s struggles. Next season will be the biggest in Arenas’ pro career. There is a bright side to a lockout if it bleeds into the season. At least that’s the way you should look at it if you are the eccentric, entertaining point guard and Twitter master."

  • Vincent Goodwill and Eric Lacy of The Detroit News: "Lawrence Frank looks more like a ballboy than the soon-to-be coach of the Pistons. His youthful look, minus the droopy, sleep-deprived eyes, leads many to compare Frank to Doogie Howser or a high school sub. His physique won't be confused with some of the more notable coaches in NBA history, like Pat Riley or Phil Jackson or even former Pistons head coach Chuck Daly. But people close to Frank say not to be fooled by his 5-foot-8 frame: There's a fire and passion inside of him unsurpassed by many. 'He's an honest guy who accepts blame when there's blame to take,' said Joe Abunassar, who runs Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, where some of the NBA's top players go to train during the offseason. 'When Detroit steps on the floor, he'll make sure they're a good team.' Frank's journey, however, had an inauspicious, if not downright anonymous, beginning. He didn't play in the NBA. He wasn't a walk-on in college. He didn't even play in high school in Teaneck, N.J. He was cut. Not once, but four straight years. The setbacks, however, didn't deter the kid from the same hometown as pro football coaching legends Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells, whom Frank admired. In fact, the repeated failure inspired Frank."

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "If you're skeptical, I understand. But if you're skeptical because Frank is short ... well, I'm just not sure I buy that logic. I didn't realize a coach has to see over the top of a defense. Hey, Yao Ming just retired -- maybe the Pistons can hire him as an assistant, then Frank can sit on Yao's shoulders and win coach of the year. Frank does not look like your image of a coach. He doesn't have Pat Riley's hair or Phil Jackson's power-forward frame. So what? Neither does Gregg Popovich. This is what I really like about this move: Joe Dumars went for the best coach this time. That's all. He didn't react to a previous mistake. The popular move would be to hire former Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer. This especially would have been popular with other NBA teams. Have you noticed that no good team has tried to hire Laimbeer? Or that the Timberwolves, who employed Laimbeer as an assistant the past two years, appear to have no interest in making him their head coach? He was a terrific player for the Pistons. He is not considered a viable head-coaching candidate by people in the NBA."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Kelvin Sampson doesn't know when it happened, and it doesn't matter, but sometime in the last three years, he changed. He was no longer a former college coach working in the NBA. He was far from a coach biding his time until he could get back to the college game. The players in his mind wore NBA colors, moved through NBA plays. After 25 years as a college head coach, he saw himself on NBA benches and practices. ... Sampson, 55, did not intend to make the jump when he finished the 2007-08 season as a consultant with the Spurs. He had been cited for exceeding the number of phone calls permitted to recruits under NCAA rules while he was the coach at Oklahoma. During his second season as Indiana coach, the program was found to have made phone calls and text messages that exceeded the restrictions placed on Sampson because of the violations at Oklahoma. Sampson would not answer questions about the allegations or his departure from Indiana, but at the time he denied the NCAA charge that he provided false or misleading information. He agreed to a buyout of the five years remaining on his Indiana contract. The NCAA issued a five-year 'show-cause' order on any member school that sought to hire him, effectively barring him from college coaching until 2013."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Warriors, like all NBA players, are locked out of their team's practice facilities, but that hasn't stopped Dorell Wright from finding a game or 20. The Golden State swingman has been a mainstay at the Drew League in South Central Los Angeles. Wright has also played for SF City in the San Francisco pro-am league and in a celebrity game in Seattle. ... While Wright has been as active as anyone in the league, some Warriors are taking it a little easier. The players, who have been locked out since the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement July 1, each have their own way of staying in shape and dealing with the lockout. Point guard Stephen Curry said some guys need competitive games, and others are using solo sessions to work on some finer details. Curry, who is getting married this week, is rehabbing from offseason surgery on his right ankle and finishing up his degree at Davidson. He expects to be healthy and ready to play in November, but few think the league will be operating by then. Power forward Ekpe Udoh is working on his degree at Baylor and doing workouts there in Waco, Texas. Shooting guard Monta Ellis has made some appearances at youth camps in the Southeast and shoots nearly every day at the courts on his 6.5-acre Tennessee estate."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "The Celtics are about to lose a second unsigned player to a European team in less than a month. E’Twaun Moore, selected by the Celtics last month with the 55th pick in the NBA draft, was close to an agreement with one of at least three teams yesterday, including one in Italy’s top league. Nenad Krstic, acquired by the Celtics last February as part of the Kendrick Perkins trade, signed a two-year contract worth $9.8 million with CSKA Moscow last month, thus escaping the vacuum created by the ongoing NBA lockout. Count Moore as another who won’t be waiting for a lockout resolution. 'We’re going through successful talks,' said agent Mark Bartelstein. 'Nothing has been agreed to yet, but we’re talking to a couple of teams. Can we get a deal done? We think so.' Bartelstein estimated a deal should be completed by tomorrow for Moore, the Celtics’ second-round choice in the NBA draft. Moore was also the Purdue teammate of the Celtics’ first-round pick, JaJuan Johnson. Kevin Bradbury, the agent for Johnson, told the Herald earlier this month he was checking international options for the 27th overall pick. Bartelstein didn’t rule out negotiating an escape clause that would allow Moore to return to the Celtics if the lockout ends."

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: "Bulls draft pick Nikola Mirotic produced 29 points and 11 rebounds, leading Spain to an 82-70 win over Italy in the U20 European championship game. The 6-foot-10 Mirotic was the tournament’s leading scorer. In nine games, he averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds, shot 59.5 percent from the field, 85.1 percent at the foul line and knocked down 10-of-25 attempts from 3-point range. The Bulls traded two picks and cash to Minnesota in order to select Mirotic with the 23rd pick of this year’s draft. The Montenegro native is under contract with Spain’s Real Madrid and not expected to join the NBA for a few years."