First Cup: Friday

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "When it comes to trying to figure out where NBA owners and players are in negotiations for a new deal, the one-time Knick and current players union VP Roger Mason Jr. apparently is no Perry Mason. Mason's contention that there will be an NBA season was challenged Thursday by Derek Fisher, president of the NBA Players Association, after owners and players met for close to six hours for a second straight day in Manhattan. 'Roger's a very valuable member of our committee,' Fisher said. 'I think he's well-aware that we're no closer to having a season today than we were at any other point. I think he's clear on where we are now.' Mason's tweet on Wednesday - 'looking like a season' - caused a bit of a stir since he did not attend that session or yesterday's. Mason later claimed that someone had hacked his account. The two sides will meet in full on Tuesday."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Various incidents trigger Lakers forward Lamar Odom to reflect on losing his mother at age 12 to colon cancer. It happens whenever Odom takes out a pair of white, purple and gold Nikes before every game and writes out Cathy, referring to his mother, Cathy Mercer. Memories spark whenever he accomplishes something, such as when he approached the lectern last spring to accept the NBA's sixth man of the year award. Odom's gratitude toward having a life insurance policy when Mercer passed away served as inspiration to becoming a spokesman this summer for Life Insurance Awareness Month, appearing in a recent PSA on behalf of the nonprofit Life Foundation."

  • Dale Kasler, Tony Bizjak and Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee: "At a gala unveiling Thursday, Mayor Kevin Johnson's Think Big Sacramento task force offered up a smorgasbord of funding options that includes ticket surcharges, private investment, the sale of city-owned land and – perhaps most important – a quasi-privatization of city parking. Hotels andrestaurants near the railyard will likely be asked to tax themselves. Naming rights and luxury suite dollars would be earmarked for construction costs. There's even the possibility of drawing in foreign investors under a U.S. government program that offers green cards to those who put money in. Yet almost all the details remain to be fleshed out – from the level of surcharges on arena hot dogs to the amount of rent to be paid by the main tenants, the Sacramento Kings. The City Council – and possibly other area governmental bodies – will likely be asked to guarantee the bonds that would be sold to fund the project. That could be a political land mine. It's also not clear what would happen with the $65 million the Kings already owe the city. ... If no package is in place by March, the Kings' owners say, they intend to seek NBA permission to move. Johnson vowed to have "what we think is the final plan" ready by January. The building itself would open in 2015."

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "But sadly for Team Canada, and the national team program, Steve Nash stuck to his guns and refused to suit up for the team. The man was a social butterfly this summer, bouncing from one city to another, doing this, that and the other thing. But devoting a couple of weeks to the national team was apparently out of the question. But, hey, he's Steve Nash, and in the eyes of many, he can do no wrong. If he was a superstar Canadian hockey player or soccer player, he would be roundly vilified for turning his back on the national team the past few years -- and the last couple of Olympic qualifiers. The national basketball team would have bent over backwards for the Phoenix Suns star in terms of how much he practiced and played. But he's Steve Nash. And because he's a two-time NBA MVP and friendly to the media, you're not supposed to take him to task for snubbing the national team in their hour of need. Well, screw that. His country and the program needed him, desperately. And as I pointed out before, this would have been the perfect summer for Nash to have rejoined the program. It looks like the NBA season won't be starting on schedule and playing for Canada would have afforded Nash a chance to play at a competitive level."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "For more than half a decade, Leo Rautins was the face of Canadian basketball in many regards, the neophyte coach who was to help build a battered program that had fallen on tough times. He was to spread the gospel and talk up the game, get young kids energized about playing for their country and help usher in a new era for an organization that had fallen on tough times. But he also had to win, had to get the national senior team back to some level of international significance, and in the wake of one of the more disappointing results of the past 20 years, he’s decided it’s time to call it quits on his coaching career. 'This is the best decision for this program,' Rautins said after Canada bombed out of the FIBA Americas Olympic qualification tournament with a 91-89 loss to Panama on Thursday afternoon. Despite an obvious passion for the program, Rautins had become something of a lightning rod for discontent. And while it wasn’t entirely his fault that some of the best Canadian players decided against playing, and he was hamstrung with a roster of players culled from various low-level European leagues and young kids being asked to compete against men, he was the guy out front and he felt it made sense to let the program try to flourish without being a hindrance."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Frank Vogel is not focusing on coming up with a defensive scheme to slow Chicago's Derrick Rose or finding a way to get Danny Granger easier shots on offense. With the NBA lockout in full effect and no end to the labor issues in sight, Vogel's focus is on his family. 'I miss out on a lot of stuff during the season. That's why I make sure I'm helping out every possible moment I can,' he said about his daughters. 'Everything else is put on hold outside of my family. I have to get back and take advantage of every moment I can with them.' No longer is Vogel arriving at Conseco Fieldhouse at 6 a.m. or pulling into his driveway at home well after his family has gone to bed. Vogel, 38, is home in time to help with homework and give the kids baths at night. He calls himself an 'assistant coach' in the morning, helping his wife of 10 years, Jenifer, make breakfast and walk the kids to the bus stop. 'I joke with Frank that when the season starts, the blinders go up,' Jenifer said. 'I would say the blinders are half up because he's constantly thinking. But he's more available now.' "

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "For the second straight day, 76ers coach Doug Collins met with his assistants and front-office people at the team's offices at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to discuss how to run training camp, what players need to improve where, and mull over a list of possible assistant coaches to replace the departed Quin Snyder. Not too far away, Sixers forward Elton Brand conducted his business of keeping his 32-year-old body in shape for what he hopes will soon be the start of his 13th NBA season. Collins, dubbed by many of his players as 'the great communicator' because of his affection for phone calls and text messages, and Brand, the eager-to-listen pupil and team leader, have not, cannot and will not speak to each other in the foreseeable future, however. Because of the NBA's current lockout situation, caused by the lack of a collective bargaining agreement, coach and front-office members are forbidden to have any communication with players. Think of a baby having his pacifier taken away. But like a parent, Collins showed his players the importance of communication - before, during and after his first season - even if he isn't allowed to orchestrate it. 'He set a precedent,' Brand said recently after a workout in a local gym. 'He told us before the lockout where he wants us to be.' "

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Former Austin Toros coach Quin Snyder’s career was in shambles after he resigned from his job midway through the 2005-06 season at the University of Missouri. Snyder received a coaching break from the Spurs when he was hired to direct the Toros, the Spurs’ D-League team. It help turn his career around. And Snyder, who was an assistant under Doug Collins last season in Philadelphia before joining Mike Brown’s new staff with the Lakers hasn’t forgotten about what Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford did for him. 'I think Coach Pop and R.C. Buford believed in me at a time that maybe some people didn’t,' Snyder said in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. 'During that three and a half year period, I was grafted into that (Spurs) coaching tree. The leadership that Coach Pop demonstrates and the respect that he has for his staff, and his staff has for him, is unique. I’m also grateful to the guys on his staff who allowed me to grow as much as I did during that time.' Serving as a coach for the Spurs’ developmental team gave Snyder a tangible sense of building them in the mold of the parent NBA team."

  • Jake Appleman of The New York Times: "The event, called Hoops for a Cause, raised money for the Amar’e Stoudemire Foundation, which helps at-risk youth. The clothing is available only at Macy’s and is part of Roy’s secondary line, Rachel Rachel Roy. Every year, Roy collaborates with a new “artist.” She has worked with an R&B singer (Estelle, on jewelry), a model (Jessica Stam, on handbags and sportswear) and a surfer (Karina Petroni, on footwear). Roy said she teamed with Petroni because she has a fear of open water. 'I feel that if I’m not learning and evolving, I’m not happy,' she said. As the crowd waited for Roy and Stoudemire, six women stood on large black cubes modeling the clothing on a path leading up to two pop-a-shot booths. Customers could spend $50 to play the game, with each basket contributing $5 to the Amar’e Stoudemire Foundation. Most of the clothes looked understated, comfortable and sporty. Stoudemire stuck with the message about the clothing. 'You want to go to any sporting event, any basketball game, any courtside seating, you need this apparel,' he said."