First Cup: Monday

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Since Isiah Thomas' arrival in 2009 as coach at Florida International University, there has been more than a touch of suspicion from local NBA fans about what exactly the Hall of Fame guard was up to over on the west side of town. For the moment at least, there is only one response: A world of good. With his NBA ties and a ready-to-go gym, Thomas has put himself front and center at one of the biggest exhibitions during the NBA lockout, next Saturday's 7 p.m. game at U.S. Century Bank Arena, one to raise funds for Mary's Court Foundation, the Chicago-based charity set up in honor of his mother to help economically distressed children and families. It is an event that again has Thomas back in the white hat again. For now. And that's the thing about Thomas and his new South Florida home. Wasn't it only a year ago that he supposedly was serving as an unpaid agent of the New York Knicks, bidding to lure LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to Madison Square Garden? And now he's hosting the charity game organized by the three at the home of his FIU Panthers?"

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Did something happen between Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook? We don't know. But if there is some sort of rift between the Thunder's starting point guard and center, as one report recently suggested, the two must be awfully good actors. From the time Perkins joined the Thunder in late February, he and Westbrook took turns sticking up for the other. By the end of the season, it had become clear that the team's two biggest targets for criticism had developed, if nothing else, a mutual respect. When Westbrook's shot selection and decision making came under fire throughout the playoffs, it was Perkins who spoke loudest as Westbrook's biggest defender. ... On the court, Perkins and Westbrook had occasional disagreements. One of the more memorable happened in mid-March against Charlotte when Perkins appeared to chew out Westbrook following one possession of poor defense. But those were viewed more as routine spats. Was there something more? Kevin Durant admitted in a recent interview with SI.com that an argument of some kind did indeed transpire. But he classified it as normal, so much so that he said he had forgotten it happened. He then said 'everybody enjoys each other's company,' and added those disagreements will only make the team better."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "The league seems to be edging closer to the most inept moment in its history, which is what canceling the entire season would represent. If the owners who are OK with losing the season — Phoenix’s Robert Sarver, Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert and Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck amongthem — believe fans deprived of games they love will forgive a lost year, you have to wonder how they ever managed to make enough money to buy their teams. In a rocky economy, alienating customers by withholding a product they love would be lunacy. ... Spurs owner Peter Holt, who chairs the owners’ labor relations committee, is no chicken. Awarded a Silver Star for valor in the Vietnam War, it may be time for Holt to take control of the committee and demand its members recognize the tens of millions in givebacks the players already have put on the table. After all, Holt’s team has remained competitive in a small market because it has been one of the league’s smartest in managing the soft cap. Also, the fact the Spurs paid no luxury tax but still lost several million dollars in a 2010-11 season in which they won 61 games gives Holt a platform to demonstrate to the players that the plea for some form of systemic change is no semantic trick from Stern."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Within another 10 days or two weeks, an announcement about losing regular season games will come. All the while, the Mavericks will miss out on their first chances to be announced as the reigning NBA champions. Maybe some of the Mavericks will be working out on their own at SMU or somewhere else. And with a core of wily veterans, not going through a training camp isn't the worst thing for them. But for the sake of the game, it's a downer, to be sure. The NBA, like any other sport, can turn into an 'out of sight, out of mind' adventure in a hurry. With the Cowboys becoming increasingly entertaining and the Rangers in the playoffs, the NBA is pretty much forgotten right now in the local market. The longer that happens, the tougher it will be for the Mavericks to build on the outrageous momentum that a championship can create."

  • Lee Friedman of The Washington Post: "His public comments aside, there has been no proof that Ted Leonsis has fallen in with the hard-line crowd (Robert Sarver of the Suns, Dan Gilbert of the Cavs) of NBA owners during the labor negotiations. Those owners are pushing for a hard cap and a much smaller share of revenues going to players, and would be okay sacrificing part or even all of the season in order to protect them from, in Leonsis’ own words, 'taking their stupid pills.' What we do know is that Leonsis voluntarily bought a team in a league that by his own admission has weak financials. He’s said that the NBA needs an NHL-style salary cap (setting a historical precedent as the first and only time anyone has ever said about anything that they wished it was more like the NHL) in order to survive. While Leonsis may be a savvy businessman and marketer, buying in to a league and then holding its fans hostage because you don’t like the rules of the game doesn’t engender much sympathy from anyone. ... There are many teams in small markets who legitimately struggle and would be helped by revenue sharing — a solution that the owners must negotiate among themselves. The Wizards are not one of those teams, though. If they can’t turn a profit under the current system the fault is with the team management, not the system."

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "Already, the NBA has delayed the start of training camps, originally scheduled to open today, through Oct. 15 and canceled 43 preseason games, including three in Portland. It's possible some, perhaps even all, of the 82-game regular season schedule will be eliminated. And though it's difficult to forecast the exact economic impact a prolonged lockout would have on the Portland area, the hit would be substantial, according to local businesses. 'The value of the Blazers team to this community is measured in the millions,' said Drew Mahalic, CEO of the Oregon Sports Authority. 'Their absence will, quite frankly, be devastating to the Portland regional community in that it impacts so many different businesses when they play.' A lot of the revenue generated from Blazers games -- gate receipts, parking dollars, food and concession funds -- pads the wallet of billionaire owner Paul Allen and helps pay for the multimillion-dollar operation of running the team. But Blazers home games also funnel money throughout the community. TriMet ridership increases on game nights. Business booms at local restaurants and bars. Hotels house visiting NBA teams."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "If there's an amnesty clause written into the NBA's next CBA, the Magic will most likely use it to pay off Gilbert Arenas and part ways with the enigmatic, fading point guard. It's an easy call to use this mulligan, given the three years and $62 million left on Arenas' contract. With the amnesty clause, a team that foolishly overpaid for a player can pay off said player and release him, with the money this time coming off the salary cap. ... The last time amnesty was used, in 2005, the so-called 'Allan Houston rule' allowed teams to lop off a salary, but they could only subtract it from the punitive luxury tax. The bad news? The Magic have not one, but two, amnesty candidates, which says something about their roster. Slumping Hedo Turkoglu is owed 'only' $34 million over the next three seasons, but amnesty rules would allow a team to use the mechanism on only one player. Arenas could then become a free agent and shop his services to the highest bidder."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Surviving financially during the lockout can be tough for rookies because they haven't earned money like the veterans. Josh Selby said he's resisted the temptation of living beyond his current means. 'Money-wise, I wouldn't say it's been difficult,' Selby said. 'It would be wonderful if there wasn't a lockout. But everybody has a loan they can take out. I'm just trying to keep a budget and make sure I don't overspend. I don't need to buy an expensive car or a home. I don't need any of that.' Witherspoon said her son is still in 'hard-work, I-don't-have mode.' 'Josh has always had a support system with his family,' Witherspoon said. Until there's a new collective bargaining agreement, Selby's core will be his main resource. 'If I want to I could chill all day and not do anything,' Selby said. 'But that's not what I'm doing. I'm working hard every day. I'm very anxious to show what I can do.' "

  • Chris Singleton for the Washington Times: "Chris Singleton was selected by the Wizards with the 18th overall pick in this spring’s NBA draft. In the third of a series, Singleton shares with The Washington Times’ Carla Peay his thoughts on an NBA dream put on hold and his plans for the lockout. ... As rookies, we’re keeping up on what’s going on, but nobody has put in a call to [players’ union president] Derek Fisher. But I know he’s talked to our agents. All we can do as rookies is get ready for the season and hope this thing gets solved. We’re all just waiting for the phone to ring. Kind of like draft night. I know people are worried about not having a season, but I think we’ll have one. If I had to make a guess, I’d say we get into camp by December, maybe get the season going by January. I have heard some talk about the negotiations, about whether some of the stars should be speaking out more, but to me, the stars have stepped up, because they are all still here. They haven’t gone overseas. Maybe if we miss the whole season, some of the stars might consider that option, but it looks to me like they are staying here and fighting for a deal. My focus is still on staying here and finishing school. I won’t really think about going overseas unless we miss the whole season."