First Cup: Friday

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "Kobe Bryant might feel that's an important statement, but he needs to let a 27-year-old guy like the New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams make that statement in Turkey. Williams does not have the immediate championship future of a franchise resting on an aging body. His risk in playing overseas is not as great. In fact, is any NBA player's risk as great as Bryant's, seeing as one fluky juke could mean the end of era? The Lakers can't say this because they can't discuss any of their players during the lockout, but I can. Bryant owes his team more than he owes the union. Bryant owes his teammates more than he owes his love of a good foreign pickup game. More than anything, Bryant owes it to himself to take care of himself in preparation for The Last Great Run. Thinking back to his exit interview statements, who would have thought he was also exiting reality? 'This is a good summer for me to train and get strong.' Not if you end it by playing in Turkey. 'There is a difference between feeling healthy and feeling as strong as I know I can be … there's another level I can get to.' Kobe, you won't find it in China."

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: "An official with a Chinese basketball team denied a published report that the Heat’s Dwyane Wade has been offered $2 million a month to play for the Chinese Basketball League team Zhejiang Guangsha. The Chengdu Daily reported Wade has received the offer, but an official with the Guangsha team told Chinese website niubball.com that the report was not true. The team plays in Hangzhou, where Wade visited on a Nike tour last week. Wade and his agent, Henry Thomas, have said Wade will consider overseas offers if the NBA lockout stretches into the season. 'We are not there yet,' Wade told China Daily, referring to overseas offers in general. 'We are going to start working out. The time to consider that has not come.' "

  • Stefan Bondy and Daniel O'Leary of the New York Daily News: "While the legend of Kevin Durant - who dropped 66 points at Rucker Park eariler this week - continues to grow around New York City playgrounds,Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley will be remembered for a different kind of impression: a mush. The Minnesota Timberwolves forward approached and pushed a heckling fan in the face at Dyckman Park Thursday night, marring what was an otherwise electric night of summer league hoops. Beasley's squad, 914, was lined up opposite Durant's Team Nike, as fans packed the uptown court to the brim - with some even climbing on trees to get a glimpse of NBA stars going head-to-head. In the second half, Beasley began jawing with some fans under the baskets, at one point shouting at the crowd 'I get paid to do this!' One of the fans behind a metal barrier, Garland Quince, a regular at Dyckman, was targeted and approached by Beasley. The 6-10, 235-pound power forward then placed one hand on Quince's head and shoved him backward. ... As for what the Timberwolves should do with Beasley - who emerged as an All-Star candidate last season by averaging 19.2 points, but was subsequently ticketed for possession of marijuana - Quince also had an opinion. 'Yeah, they should get rid of him,' he said."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "Before veteran Raymond Felton signed as a free agent with the New York Knicks last summer, Augustin shared playing time. Even now, after starting all 82 games last season, Augustin still cannot catch a break. In June, the Bobcats used the ninth overall pick in the first round to select point guard Kemba Walker, who led Connecticut to the national championship this past season. ... Bobcats Coach Paul Silas is considering pairing Augustin and Walker together in the backcourt, though neither is taller than 6 foot 2. ... Faced again with the possibility of having to share playing time again, Augustin still thinks he’s in the best situation under Silas. When the Bobcats were shopping Augustin for a potential trade, it was Silas who persuaded owner Michael Jordan not to proceed with it. 'He’s a great motivator, and if you don’t feel like practicing or playing, he’s going to tell you,’ Augustin said. 'He’s a tough guy, but a loving coach. He looks at us like we’re his sons. He treats us that way with respect. He makes you want to play.’' Though the lockout could jeopardize the start of training camp and the regular season, Augustin is preparing as if the season will begin as scheduled. He’s been taking part in 6:30 a.m. workouts and said he won’t alter his routine."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "The NBA lockout hasn't prevented Knicks owner James Dolan from making music and having fun at the expense of his ballclub. Dolan, who has been the front man on the blues band 'Straight Shot' since 2005, debuted his new song 'Fix the Knicks' on July 27 at the Jones Beach Theatre on Long Island as the warmup act to Aretha Franklin. The rendition of 'Fix the Knicks,' which wound up on YouTube, makes references to Isiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks' swiss-cheese defense. Dolan writes all his songs -- and this one was clearly meant as a parody, and not a threat -- when he sang the lyric last week: 'I check with my friends, call Isiah Thomas. Pay no mind to those nasty critics.' "

  • Dave D’Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "It was Jerry Rubin, the 1960s counterculturalist, who observed that 'the power to define the situation is the ultimate power.' Certainly that’s true in our government, in mass media, and in most arguments about the practicality of your kid’s latest tattoo or body piercing. It is also true in the labor dialogue between the posturing, blustering NBA owners and the players who suddenly seem mute and powerless. If you’ve been paying attention to lockout follies the past few weeks, the owners have walked out of talks, filed two legal actions, and essentially depicted the union reps as amateurs who cannot grasp the complexities of collective bargaining or the urgency of crafting a new agreement. In turn, the union, after a series of strategic shudders, has essentially kept silent and allowed the league to completely ignore the predominant business issue of the last half-decade: the gigantic revenue disparity between big-market teams and their small-market punching bags. ... This is their lockout. It belongs to Gilbert and Michael Heisley (Memphis) and Robert Sarver (Phoenix). They saw Stern shove franchise values so high and far that his old buddies — Gordon Gund, Jerry Colangelo, et al. — had no choice but to sell out to an embarrassment of riches. And these new guys all came in somewhere north of $250 million and aren’t seeing a return of any kind on their investment. They are ticked. They are out to bust the union, period. They can wait an entire year in order to do it. And they are very likely to succeed if Hunter doesn’t take appropriate measures — and it starts with framing the dialogue. Through the first month, he’s failing."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter gave more reason to enjoy the football season when he said 'If I had to bet on it at this moment, I would probably say no' when asked about there being a 2011-12 NBA season. I'd already resigned myself to the fact I wouldn't watch NBA games before January based on conversations I'd had with various folks around the league before the NBA locked out its players. No one on either side seemed optimistic of anything more than a 50-game season. I'd still bet on that happening before the season is cancelled. Then again, when it comes to the NBA lockout, I'm treating it like the NBA Draft. I won't believe anything until it happens."

  • Mark Whicker of The Orange County Register: "On March 29, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to authorize $75 million in bonds to improve Honda Center, build a practice facility, and take the Kings away from Sacramento. Carmichael Dave immediately fired up his Twitter account and announced that he had just voted 1-0 to give $200 to a movement he called Here We Build. Who would join him? In a couple of hours, his congregation had pledged $30,000. Two days later it was $250,000. By June, he said, it was up to $900,000. That will not build a new coliseum for Sacramento, but it began to turn around a hangdog attitude. ... The NBA wants the Kings in Sacramento the same way Major League Baseball wanted the Giants in San Francisco. The lockout complicates things. Obviously if the Kings played and won a few games, and if rookie Jimmer Fredette put up some 25s and 30s, there would be a stir. Perhaps a fallow winter, without basketball, will motivate the process even more. But it's more than just suits and PowerPoint presentations. And it's more than just filling up the dates at Honda Center. It's Carmichael Dave, and the history, and the shared experience he brings. And his friends. We don't have a Brea Bruce or a Villa Park Vern. We just think we want an NBA team. Sacramento, in its mind, needs the one it has."

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "Most coaches work too much. Too many think that if they go home at 10 p.m. and another coach goes home at 11, they should both be fired for going home before midnight. At some point, staying at the office becomes counterproductive. So much of coaching is about knowing when to back off, about taking a few hours away to refresh your brain. But it's an obsessive culture, and Frank was especially driven. Before he married his wife, Susan, he told her: 'You just gotta understand one thing: My first job, I made $5,000. I am willing to go back to that.' He would be the best husband and father he could be, but he would not give up basketball. He loves it too much. It's easy to say he will balance his family and job. It's not as easy to do. When Frank got fired by the Nets in 2009, he drove his daughters to practice almost every day. But after a month off, he started putting together huge binders filled with all his basketball beliefs, so he would be ready for his next coaching job. ... Now he will move to Detroit and leave the family in New Jersey for one more year before they all relocate to Detroit. And yes: He will show up to work at 5:30 a.m. But this time, he says he will do it for a reason. He wants to get work in before players arrive, run practice, watch film and strategize ... and go home for dinner. That is the play he has designed. Now, as coaches say, he must execute."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "One of the cast of characters in line for the Cavaliers' radio play-by-play job has been eliminated. ESPN Radio's Marc Kestecher has pulled out of the running, a source said. He recently received a new contract from the Bristol, Conn., media giant. He worked for WKNR in Cleveland in the mid-90s. He has been with ESPN for 11 years. Kestecher was thought to be a major contender for the Cavs' position left vacant by Joe Tait's retirement after the 2010-11 season. Tait, a Hall of Famer, left the position he held for 39 years. Industry insiders say the two main candidates are Mike Snyder and Matt Dery. Snyder, the sports director at WTAM-AM 1100, filled in for Tait for the majority of last season. Snyder appears to be the safe choice. Some have wondered if he was going to get the job, the Cavs would have hired him already. Dery is the pre-game and post-game host of the Pistons games in Detroit. He is also the play-by-play man for Detroit Mercy."