First Cup: Tuesday

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune "There are no collective bargaining talks currently scheduled in a lockout that will be four weeks old on Friday. Most league observers assume that, unlike the NFL, the NBA will miss games. Some owners have told Commissioner David Stern their teams will lose less money sitting out an entire season than operating under current financial conditions. That's why, even before Monday's NFL agreement, the NBA's labor issues always were more dire. Simplistically, the NFL's issues were mostly centered on how to fairly split a $9 billion pie. By several accounts, all teams but the Lions and Dolphins turned profits last season. Conversely, the NBA claims 22 of its 30 franchises are losing money, with losses totaling $300 million. Throw in other sticking points, such as the owners' desire for a hard salary cap and the limiting of contract guarantees, and there is a massive bridge to be crossed between the NBA and the players' union. The NFL union decertified and filed an antitrust suit to use the courts in an attempt to lift the lockout and get owners to negotiate in good faith. That hasn't happened yet in the NBA, although several prominent agents explored that topic with union boss Billy Hunter in a meeting late last week. Typically, negotiations never get serious until a deadline for canceling games looms. The NBA is months away from that — and miles away from an agreement."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the of Journal Sentinel: "Brandon Jennings isn't thinking about going to Europe to play basketball, at least not yet. Jennings has been working out in Baltimore since the lockout started, and the 21-year-old Milwaukee Bucks point guard has hardly slowed down his training pace. He has added boxing and mixed martial arts to his regimen while working on his basketball skills with former Duke guard Jason Williams. While no progress has been made in nearly a month since the start of the owners' lockout, Jennings is not worrying about it. 'I feel if it does drag out, any player would consider going overseas,"'Jennings said. 'Right now, I'm just working hard to get better and better.' Jennings played in Italy as a 19-year-old, turning pro after finishing high school. When he returned for the 2009 NBA draft, the Bucks selected him No.?10 overall, and he immediately became the team's point guard and started all 89 games (including playoffs) during his rookie season."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Fans have a right to question president of basketball operations Joe Dumars because they are the consumers, those who had to endure Dumars' previous two hires, Michael Curry and John Kuester. Skepticism is understandable. ... There was another candidate who could have created a buzz -- Pistons great Bill Laimbeer. No doubt hiring him would have created excitement and sold a few tickets. ... But that line of thinking is shortsighted. Experience counts for something, and Laimbeer has none as a head coach in the NBA. There are no guarantees with Frank, who by most accounts is a good coach. It's fair to wonder whether he will be able to navigate the land mines that have blown up in past coaches' faces. But at this juncture in franchise history, the Pistons have to make the move with the highest likelihood of success, and Frank offers that. Laimbeer, despite considerable success in the WNBA, is still trying to establish himself in the NBA after two seasons as an assistant with the Timberwolves. The Pistons couldn't take a chance on him."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "I'm hearing Rick Adelman didn't come to town on Saturday to interview with David Kahn and Glen Taylor as planned, but instead talked by phone with Kahn at some length about the job. Translated, that probably means he has some interest in the job, but just how much -- or what factors he is weighing -- is the big question. Whatever interest he has surprises many around the league who figure he'll only come back to coach a veteran team or expected him to take a breather from basketball for awhile during a summer when he has a couple of big family weddings to attend. I've tried reaching him several times, but without any success. If he indeed is sincerely interested, I'd expect he'd still come to town at some point to meet with Taylor. I don't believe Taylor was part of the discussion between Kahn and Adelman that I've been told took place over the weekend."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "NBA teams are beginning to lay off employees during the lockout that has now lasted close to a month. The Cavaliers, however, have not experienced any layoffs yet, a source said. The NBA league office recently laid off 114 employees, although they said it wasn't because of the lockout. Observers say the work stoppage could cause the NBA to miss games. The start of the regular season is around Nov. 1."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "I was all in favor of the Pacers getting Mayo at the deadline last year. He would have instantly been the Pacers’ go-to player because of his ability to get to the basket. I still think Mayo would make the Pacers a better team but I’m not sure if he’s as high on their priority list (power forward) as he was back in February for a few reasons. Paul George closed the season strong and he’s an offseason of lifting weights away from being even better. George Hill can play both guard positions. Lance Stephenson, who, at the rate he’s going, could work his way into the rotation next season, can play both guard spots, too. There’s also Danny Granger, Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush on the wing. I’d be shocked if the Pacers didn’t try to trade at least one of their wings once free agency starts. J-Mac won’t be in the mix of any trades because he’s an unrestricted free agent."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Center Kyrylo Fesenko is reportedly close to signing a contract with professional Ukrainian team Dnipro. But Fesenko's agent, Stu Lash, said Monday that he is unaware of the deal. On the surface, the move would make sense for Fesenko. The 24-year-old is a native of the Ukraine, will compete in the 2011 EuroBasket tournament for his home country and still has personal ties to the region. Fesenko was recently linked to Spanish club Baskonia, though, and he has been pursued by other international teams in the past. Fesenko is also expected to receive attention from NBA teams once the lockout ends and free agency begins. The 7-foot-1, 280-pound Fesenko averaged 2 points, 2 rebounds and 8.6 minutes last season in 53 games for the Jazz. He is no longer under contract with Utah, and will become an unrestricted free agent once the 2011-12 season starts."

  • Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: "It’s the offseason. It’s an exhibition game. It’s in the Phililppines. What better place for JaVale McGee to prove that he is one of the lockout’s biggest stars. A little dunk/block/plank combination will do the trick: McGee finished off his second trip to Asia since the season ended with another memorable plank in the Hong Kong airport (even if the description overheard at the end of this video is worth noting). The entertainment factor is off the charts. But is there any chance that planking in the middle of a game shows that even when McGee is playing basketball – that is his profession, by the way – his focus seems to be somewhere else?"

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "Bill Schonely goes into the hospital Tuesday to have a new defibrillator inserted into his chest. 'Keeps me ticking,' says the Trail Blazers broadcasting legend, 82, whose current apparatus has lasted for seven years. 'If I have any problems with my electrical system, it lets us know.' Prayers be with you, Schonz."

  • David Damron of the Orlando Sentinel: "The Orlando Magic agreed in 2007 to build five community gyms to help seal a public-financing deal for the new $480 million arena, and today, its team-themed facilities burst with youth leagues, day campers, workout warriors and Zumba lovers. However, these new gyms are also going to cost taxpayers twice as much to run as the county originally estimated, a review of budget records shows. Instead of breaking even, the five facilities are expected to generate a $1.25 million annual deficit to operate, once user fees are balanced against staffing and other costs. After-school and summer programs at other facilities would continue to be capped or shrink to offset most of the steeper operating costs at the Magic gyms. 'The community was told these were going to be a bonus and not take away anything,' Commissioner Ted Edwards said. 'The residents didn't get what they were promised.' The projected deficits are coming into focus this summer as county leaders craft a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That blueprint, which will face a final vote this fall, basically holds the parks and recreation budget steady, with funding slated to slip from $15.1 million to $14.7 million."