First Cup: Friday

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Mark Jackson wants to make it abundantly clear that there is a distinction between his job as the Warriors' coach and his role as a pastor when it comes to Warren Braithwaite. Braithwaite's drug arrest last month led to a Star magazine article that discussed his relationship with Jackson. 'At the end of the day, Brother Warren doesn't have a relationship with Mark Jackson, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors,' Jackson said in a phone interview Wednesday. 'He wouldn't say, 'Mark Jackson, my friend' or 'Mark Jackson, my coach.' He would say, 'Pastor Mark, my spiritual father.' ' "

  • Janis Carr of The Orange County Register: "In what should surprise few, Pau Gasol said he will play basketball in Spain if the NBA labor dispute knocks out the entire 2011-12 season. Specifically, the Lakers forward said playing for Barcelona Regal would be his “first option” but nothing no deals have been signed. Gasol currently is playing in the European Championships in Lithuania, where he scored 20 points to lead Spain past Portugal, 87-73, Thursday for its second victory in two days."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "To this day, the Lakers front office and Kobe Bryant have conflicting accounts about what led to the team acquiring Pau Gasol. Bryant has said he believes his infamous summer of 2007, when he demanded to be traded, added urgency to make a move. General Manager Mitch Kupchak has acknowledged the need to appease Bryant, but maintained that all trades hinge on the negotiations. Regardless of whose account is more valid, Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett told Sports Illustrated's Dan Patrick that the drama surrounding Bryant actually kept him from going to the Lakers when they were in trade talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007. 'I was pretty close [to going to L.A.] to be honest,' Garnett said. 'What disturbed me about the whole Laker situation was Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time. They was pretty bad. That situation was something I didn't want to get into. It was my choice. There was a lot going on and I didn't want to be a part of it.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Suns player union representative Jared Dudley is taking the morsel that the two sides agreed not to talk publicly about the details of their meetings as a positive. In only the second negotiating meeting since the lockout began July 1, the sides met for six hours Wednesday in New York with attendance limited to only the heads of the player contingent (National Basketball Players Association President Derek Fisher, NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter and attorney Ron Klempner) and the owner contingent (Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and San Antonio owner and labor relations committee chairman Peter Holt). 'I think we're a little behind but it's a positive that they agreed not to talk about it,' said Dudley, who is training daily at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. 'I think it's a positive that they met and they both decided they're not going to take shots at each other in the media.' Dudley said he has been one of the more talkative players at the previous meetings but compares leaving negotiations in Fisher's hands to trusting the Suns offense in Steve Nash's hands."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "Andrea Bargnani is moonlighting as a writer a little bit during the European basketball championships, and was asked this week who would win a three-point shooting contest between him and Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki. 'I’d have to go with Dirk,' the Raptors big man wrote. 'He’s the best in the game right now. The guy just won the NBA title, he’s been MVP of the regular season and also the Finals. What more can you ask for?' Seems Bargnani knew what he was talking about. In the day’s biggest game at the European championships Thursday, Bargnani missed a key three-pointer late in the fourth quarter and Nowitzki followed with a basket of his own as Germany pulled away to beat Italy 76-62 in first-round action. Bargnani’s miss might not have been unexpected: He was 3-for-14 from the floor for just eight points while Nowitzki had 21 points and 12 rebounds."

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: "They’ll take it. Canada nearly blew a seven-point fourth quarter lead before pulling out a thrilling 73-72 win over the Dominican Republic on Thursday in Argentina. Two clutch free throws by Aaron Doornekamp put Canada up by four with 2.9 seconds left, negating a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings. The victory squared Canada’s record at the FIBA Americas Championship and put the team in good position to advance to the quarterfinal round. The top four teams in each group advance. A victory over Group A weak link Cuba on Friday morning would do the trick, while a third win over Venezuela on Saturday could push Canada to second in its group. Venezuela thrashed Cuba 106-69 to move to 1-2. 'We’re still not where we want to be, but progress has been made,' said head coach Leo Rautins. 'Any win helps. You don’t want to go to the end praying for one.' "

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "This time, former Texas star Cory Joseph made sure there was no quick decision to be made by a referee. Faced with making a critical in-bounds pass for Team Canada with four seconds left and his team clinging to a two-point lead, Joseph got off his pass in time, and to a teammate who already had made two pressure free throws, Miami Heat center Joel Anthony. Fouled quickly, Anthony made both free throws, rendering Francisco Garcia’s buzzer-beating 3-point basket meaningless. Canada taking a 73-72 victory. 'No repeat of March Madness, thank God,' said Joseph, called for a questionable five-second violation in the waning moments of Texas; NCAA tournament loss to Arizona in March."

  • Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Doug Collins has spent a good portion of his summer in San Diego, but also spent time in Philly during the 2011 NBA Draft, to be present during player workouts. We'll have a more detailed article later this week about Collins' summer, but just as an update, here's one thing Collins said: 'My coaches and I are going to get back together the day after Labor Day. We’re going to fly in Sept. 6 and get together, and we’re going to spend about 10 days together. We’re just going to go through all of our stuff: review last season and watch a lot of tape. We’re going to start planning training camp as if it’s going to go on as scheduled. At that same time, I’m going to bring in four or five guys because we’re going to eventually have to hire an assistant coach to take over for Quin. We have some work that we can do, so that’s what we’re going to be planning on doing.' Quin Synder, who spent last season on Collins' staff, left over the summer to take an assistant coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixers will likely be hiring an assistant coach to replace him sometime during September."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Nolan Smith will join Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker in Utah for two exhibition games. The rookie Portland Trail Blazers guard's participation was confirmed Thursday. 'Nolan is a very dynamic and accomplished player who I loved watching throughout his career at Duke,' Fredette said. 'Much like Kemba, Nolan is very competitive and will want to put on a great show for the fans in Utah. He is always looking for ways to get better, so playing against other top rookies will be an opportunity that I’m sure he will enjoy.' ... The contents will be held Sept. 21 at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City and Sept. 22 at the Marriott Center in Provo."