First Cup: Thursday

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: "The executives charged with conducting the latest round of job interviews at One Center Court believe there are a plenty of options available to the Trail Blazers when it comes to filling their vacant general manager position. They're encouraged. Great, hire someone. And do it soon. ... The whisper now is that San Antonio, which granted Portland permission to interview Lindsey, is growing impatient with the process and will soon close that window. Also, there's growing activity around the league behind the scenes that has me thinking Portland better soon get someone in the big chair at the practice facility. Two NBA sources told me Tuesday that they believe there's consensus among owners on a few important lockout issues. One of those issues being an amnesty clause that would give NBA teams the ability to release one player, pay his salary, take no luxury tax liability, and also, not have that player count against the season salary cap. This is different than the last round of amnesty, which didn't give the cap relief. And if true, it would likely allow Portland to strongly consider releasing three-time All-Star Brandon Roy, creating an additional $15 million in cap relief next season. Which is only to say, the Blazers need a general manager in the chair now, as this develops, if they're going to fully maximize the advantages of making such a powerful play."

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "This summer hasn't gone quite the way Omri Casspi had planned. Elated after being obtained by the Cavaliers from Sacramento in a trade for J.J. Hickson just before the lockout went into effect, Casspi thought he would be playing for his native Israel in the EuroBasket championships in Lithuania. Then he thought he would make his way to Cleveland to get to know his new home, including its vibrant Jewish community, and get ready to join his new team. Instead, he's working out in Los Angeles, trying to recover from a knee injury that kept him out of EuroBasket. He's disappointed that Israel was unable to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London and bummed that it looks as if the lockout will be a long one. ... Casspi, the only Israeli-born player in the NBA, explored returning to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but he eventually decided against it for a variety of reasons, including his injury and taxes. He said if the lockout extends into the new year, he may revisit the idea, but for now, he's just waiting like everybody else. 'I'm working out every day. I'm just trying to be in the best shape I can be in,' said Casspi. "

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "When the NBA last locked out its players in 1998, Rashard Lewis was a teenager living in his mother’s house. He didn’t know what it meant to miss NBA checks because the Seattle SuperSonics had yet to pay him after selecting him in the second round. But Lewis has much more to lose during this lockout, with a salary that would makehim the second-highest paid player in the league next season at $22 million. ... Lewis believes he shouldn’t be blamed for the six-year, $118 million contract he signed with the Orlando Magic in the summer of 2007. 'Talk to the owner. He gave me the deal,' Lewis said. “When it comes to contracts, the players aren’t sitting there negotiating that contract. I’m sitting at home and my agent calls me, saying, ‘I got a max on the table.’ I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘Naw, that’s too much. Go out there and negotiate $20 or $30 [million] less.' I thought my agent did a good job of negotiating my contract, and at the time I was coming out of Seattle, averaging 23 points, playing well. It was perfect timing for me,” Lewis continued. “At the same time, I understand the owners don’t want to overpay players, but you’ve got to do better negotiating. Try your best to save money.' "

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "For the first time since they walked out of AmericanAirlines Arena after losing Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, James and Wade will find themselves on the court together in a (somewhat) competitive situation, with the Heat teammates agreeing to participate in an Oct. 1 exhibition organized by New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul at the Gaines Center at Winston-Salem State University. Also scheduled to participate in the game that will raise scholarship funds for the school and Paul's foundation are New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Washington Wizards guard John Wall. While it is Wade's first offseason exhibition appearance, it is part of a busy exhibition schedule for James, who will play in an exhibition Sunday in Philadelphia alongside Anthony, Durant and Paul."

  • Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "As the days creep closer to Sunday’s anticipated 'Battle For I-95,' it’s only natural that rumors would begin to swirl. The latest rumbling is that former-76ers guard Allen Iverson may join Team Philly as they take on Team Melo at the Palestra. One of the most popular athletes in city history, Iverson will be in town Saturday night to host 'The Return', a VIP event at the Vault Ultra Lounge at 460 N. 2nd Street, near Christopher Columbus Blvd. When reached by The Inquirer’s Kate Fagan, game organizer Rahim Thompson said “no comment.” He also tweeted that response when asked by someone else. Iverson has the same agent, Leon Rose, as fellow game participants Carmello Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Paul. Rose’ receptionist said she had no information on that matter and directed an inquiry via email."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Whether the NBA lockout ends sooner or later, the Pistons are one of several teams with crucial decisions to make. One could argue the lockout has been a little harder on them than most. So whenever the locks are removed from the practice facility in Auburn Hills, a few things likely will be addressed: Who are the guards?, Where does Prince land?, Is Stuckey's staying?, Will center Ben Wallace return or retire? ... So, from the looks of things, the Pistons will have to explore the trade market for the first time in a long time. It all comes down to what the salary cap structure will be. The Pistons are in the bottom third in payroll ($48.2 million)."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "The Grizzlies just experienced their first employment casualties due to the NBA lockout. Seven people were laid off by the franchise although some workers will have an opportunity to return to work whenever the league’s labor dispute is resolved. Video coordinator Trish McGhee, assistant equipment manager Vince Ford and scouting coordinator Wendy Smith were among the workers relieved of their duties. The Griz also released a receptionist, mail clerk and members of the claim services staff. The lockout is in its 83rd day. Representatives for both sides will resume negotiations Thursday in New York."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Dan Gilbert can’t be mentioned in the same financial breath with moguls Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, but the Cavaliers majority owner is still one of the richest men in Michigan with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion. The 49-year-old was ranked 293rd in Forbes 400’s richest Americans on Wednesday. The 55-year-old Gates is ranked No. 1 on the list with an estimated net worth of $59 billion. He’s the founder of Microsoft and a noted philanthropist. Buffett, LeBron James’ 81-year-old buddy, is ranked second at $39 billion."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Excerpts from an interview Wednesday with Charlotte Bobcats forward Bismack Biyombo after a press conference in Provo. ... Status of contract situation?: 'I can guarantee a lot of people. There's a lot of things going on with that and we're working on that and hopefully before the season start we can get it done. I'm pretty sure [this] season I'm going to be there and I'm in my team jersey playing for Charlotte and be in the league. For sure I'll be in the league. A lot of people heard different stuff, but I guarantee people I will be in the league. We're working on the contract and everything and it'll be OK. There is no worries about it.' "

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Mavericks' coach Rick Carlisle took his considerable music skills on tour Wednesday morning, visiting with kids at W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy and Middle School for close to three hours. The theme was how music can help a person through life and this summer has been a pretty good example of how it can. Not surprisingly, the overriding soundtrack was Queen's 'We Are The Champions.' Carlisle met separately with the sixth, seventh and eighth graders in three different sessions, all of which packed the school's auditorium. 'One thing I know,' Carlisle said of every champion's anthem, 'is it sounds better played on the piano than sung by certain people - myself included.' That, of course, was a call-back to Dirk Nowitzki's way-off-key rendition of 'We Are The Champions' on the balcony of American Airlines Center in the celebration after the Mavericks won their first title in June. ... Carlisle, a self-taught pianist who has plenty of talent when he's on the keyboard, also played the 'Linus And Lucy' song from Peanuts television shows lore."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has joined other local celebrities in selecting music for soundtracks to Navy Pier's Fall fireworks series. The so-called 'Chicago Celebrity Playlist' debuts this Saturday with music group Wilco having selected the soundtrack for the 10-minute fireworks show. It begins weekly. Thibodeau's soundtrack, which includes music from Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay, will be heard on Oct. 1."

  • Jeff Call of the Deseret News: "Former BYU superstar Jimmer Fredette's first professional game will take place at a very familiar venue — the Marriott Center. Jimmer's All-Stars exhibition contest tips off Thursday night (7 p.m., MT, BYUtv), featuring top college players from last season, including several, like Fredette, who were first-round picks in last June's National Basketball Association draft. Fredette, the No. 10 pick overall by the Sacramento Kings, will be joined by former Cougar teammate, Jackson Emery, and his former coach, Dave Rose. ... This exhibition game is being staged because of the ongoing NBA lockout. Due to the lockout, unsigned rookies have not been able to sign contracts. A portion of the proceeds from this exhibition game will be given to the Vestibular Disorders Association to fund a nationwide awareness campaign."

  • Bobby Bonett of Newsday: "When John Starks visits Urban Tech programs, he jokes that most of the students only know of him from videos on the Internet -- specifically 'The Dunk.' 'YouTube has kept me alive,' the former Knicks guard said. 'The dunk ... that's what they talk about quite a bit.' But what Starks is really there to talk about is the work done by the National Urban Technology Center, an educational group that provides computer training and essential life skills to students and adults through schools and community-based organizations. Starks joined the group several years ago and has been a member of their board for more than two years. He was honored with the Humanitarian Award at at Urban Tech's 2011 Gala Dinner on Tuesday night in New York City."