First Cup: Thursday

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "In the first sign that NBA players and owners want to avoid a long lockout, the two sides have agreed to meet Monday in New York, according to an NBA source. It will be the first official negotiating session since the owners instituted the lockout on July 1 and it's a positive sign considering the two sides waited 46 days to meet during the previous lockout in 1998. Does the NFL settlement have anything to do with the NBA suddenly deciding to meet? Who knows? But it is an indication that the two sides realize the seriousness of the situation. The NBA preseason does not begin for about 10 weeks, giving the two sides plenty of time to talk and they will likely need it because they are far apart on several key issues, including a hard salary cap, revenue sharing and percentage of Basketball Related Income."

  • Shannon J. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel: "Memo to David Stern, Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the NBA stars – the public needs to hear from you. If you’re like me, then maybe you’ve noticed the leaders in the labor negotiations have been eerily quiet. Even more peculiar is how silent the NBA stars have been when it comes to fighting against hard salary caps in the 2011 NBA lockout. Stars like Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning were on the front lines for players in the 1998-99 lockout. But that clearly hasn’t been the case this time around. We’ve heard a lot of talk about overseas teams the league’s most recognizable players are considering taking their talents to. We’ve heard little to nothing about the issues in the lockout and – most important – where these players stand. Considering the fact that small businesses and those individuals working for the team are the most negatively impacted by labor unrest, the public has a right to know."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Unless Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony join the same overseas squad to develop much-needed chemistry, it’s a bad idea for either of the Knicks superstars to be talking about playing abroad. Stoudemire still has a bad back and isn’t doing anything physical – or even traveling – until Aug. 15.Anthony still has a bad elbow (bursitis) that he was rehabbing entering the July 1 NBA lockout. Anthony wasn't even allowed to shoot, The Post reported. The two of them should worry about their health more than about Europe/Asia, especially because they don’t have access to the Knicks’ medical/training staff or facilities because of the lockout. ... Stoudemire mentioned playing overseas, possibly with eyes on Israel. But he has shut it down for now, resting completely until mid-August, according to a source. That is when a group of Knicks, including Anthony, get together in Los Angeles for informal workouts and summer rec league play. Knicks rookie center Jerome Jordan won’t be there; he leaves for Slovenia on Aug. 15. He has agreed to play there until the lockout ends. For Stoudemire and Anthony, their offseason ballplaying should end in SoCal."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "The start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London is exactly one year away. Since the introduction of the American “Dream Team” in 1992, men’s basketball has been one of the Olympics biggest and most anticipated events. And it figures to be that way again in London. That is, if NBA players choose to represent their countries. The Olympics are a huge part of David Stern’s globalization of the sport. And the league has its fingerprints all over USA Basketball, starting with managing director and former majority Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo running the show. But if the lockout stretches through at least one season through the early summer next season, it’s extremely doubtful that the players would give in and join up with their national teams. This promises to be perhaps the United States’ best team since the original 'Dream Team' in 1992. Kobe Bryant has committed, eager to match Michael Jordan for his second gold medal. The United States has a deep collection of transcendent young talent like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose along with emerging superstar players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade."

  • Barry Horn of The Dallas Morning News: "Caron Butler’s right knee has been diagnosed as good to go, agent Raymond Brothers confirmed Wednesday. Where he will be playing when the NBA returns from its lockout remains to be seen. Brothers said Butler, a free agent, was cleared to play by the Mavericks’ medical staff several days ago. Butler ruptured his patellar tendon in a New Year’s Day loss at Milwaukee. He missed the rest of the Mavericks’ championship season. “He would have been able to play in Game 7 against the Miami Heat,” Brothers said. 'But now we have the official clearance.' Game 7 of the NBA Finals wasn’t necessary as the Mavericks wrapped up the league title in six games. Brothers said the 6-7 forward prefers to return to the Mavericks. Butler was the team’s third-leading scorer when his season ended."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "The first time the Rockets offered Chris Finch a job, he didn't know what to think. Mostly, he wondered how they knew about him. He did not expect that it would bring him from coaching jobs around Europe and as the coach of England's national team to his next job offer: to be part of Kevin McHale's staff with the Rockets. Finch, however, accepted the position to coach the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as the Rockets took over operations of their NBA Development League affiliate. He took the Vipers to the D-League finals in each of his two seasons, added a championship to the titles won in England and Belgium, and will return to England on Friday as an NBA assistant coach. As the coach of England's national team, he'll open training camp Saturday in preparation for September's European championships. When the new Rockets staff — McHale, Kelvin Sampson, J.B. Bickerstaff, Brett Gunning and Finch — got together for several days of meetings this week, none had arrived via a more unusual road than Finch. ... Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thought enough of Finch to discuss promoting him with former Rockets coach Rick Adelman in the days following the season. After Adelman agreed not to return as coach, Finch, 41, became a candidate for an assistant position when McHale was named coach."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "The Milwaukee Bucks are reaching into their past to bolster their coaching staff, choosing former all-star guard Sidney Moncrief to fill the position vacated by Kelvin Sampson. A league source confirmed Wednesday that Moncrief would join coach Scott Skiles' staff for the 2011-'12 season. Moncrief has stayed in contact with the organization and worked on several game telecasts last season, filling in for analyst and former Bucks guard Jon McGlocklin. The 53-year-old Moncrief has some previous coaching experience, as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors when Don Nelson was the team's head coach. ... He played in 767 NBA games and averaged 15.6 points while being named an all-star five times. In his 10 seasons with Milwaukee, he averaged 16.7 points and 5.0 rebounds."

  • Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: "Lawrence Frank is expected to be named coach soon. Brian Hill, who was a Pistons assistant coach under Kuester last year, hired Frank in 1997 when Hill was head coach in Vancouver. Frank spent three years scouting opponents and having bench duties under Hill. Hill, who was also a head coach in Orlando twice, could help with the transition from Kuester to Frank because Hill helped Frank get a foot into the league. ... Pistons assistant Pat Sullivan worked on the Frank bench in 2005-08. He could be a candidate to remain in Detroit because he already has a relationship with Frank. ... Reports indicate that Frank could bring along Roy Rogers as an assistant, which could leave Darrell Walker, an assistant last year with the Pistons, looking for work."

  • Colin Stephenson of The Star-Ledger: "There is no stopping it now. 'It’s coming,' Nets general manager Billy King said Wednesday of the Barclays Center, his team’s billion-dollar arena under construction in downtown Brooklyn. 'You know it now. I think all the negative people not believe it’s going to happen — we don’t have to show pictures anymore.' King was standing in what will be the main concourse of the building, addressing reporters about the structure, which is about 60 percent complete and on schedule for its anticipated opening in the fall of 2012. With the NBA lockout in effect and teams basically under a league gag order as far as talking about the work stoppage or players, the Nets are left to focus their efforts on the new building, which is growing daily at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "While the league laid off 114 employees last week in a move it said was not lockout-related, Suns employees were assured via e-mail in June that they would not face layoffs or pay cuts for the rest of 2011, although some still have left for other jobs. That e-mail stipulation is consistent with what most team employees elsewhere in the league have been told. The Suns' coaching staff did have lockout-related pay reductions that were negotiated in their contracts. Basketball operations staff continues to report to work, perhaps taking advantage of the available off-season time that it did not have last summer when the new front-office staff was hired after roster changes were complete. Coach Alvin Gentry was planning to spend at least a week meeting with new assistant coach Elston Turner about plans for next season's defense, which Turner will coordinate. ... Most feel there will not be a resolution to the lockout for months, given that the previous lockout 13 years ago lasted for six months. Insiders believe that an agreement will have to be reached by mid-October for the season to go on as usual and by early January to have even an abbreviated season."

  • Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis and Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: "Five years ago, Sacramento tried to finance a downtown sports and entertainment arena by asking voters to tax themselves. The result: an overwhelming 'No way!' With just weeks to go before a Sept. 8 deadline to reveal a new arena financing plan, the mayor's brain trust is taking a new approach they say will be more palatable. New taxes are unlikely. Instead, it's pay to play. Aides to Mayor Kevin Johnson say they're focused on user fees such as ticket surcharges for people who attend arena events. That revenue could be coupled with event-night parking fees at downtown garages, new corporate sponsorships, and up-front money from private companies that could build and operate the arena for the city. Another idea: The city could sell up to a dozen parcels that it owns to developers, raising $30 million to $60 million, according to a financing update that will be discussed today at a meeting of Johnson's 70-person regional arena committee. The report does not indicate which parcels those are. Officials say they're even considering renting the arena's rooftop to telecommunications companies for cell towers."