First Cup: Thursday

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Owner Mark Cuban, after careful deliberation, has decided that the Mavericks will receive championship rings for their title that was won in June. By 'careful deliberation,' we mean it probably came after one night of partying with the players after the Miami series. Back when those things were legal. As you recall, Cuban had an off-the-cuff remark after the championship series against Miami that he thought rings had become too old-school for this day and age. Turns out old-school works for an old team. Anyway, Cuban said: 'I will get rings, but maybe not quite traditional in one way or another.' "

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, created in 1947, is an independent U.S. government agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. Can a federal mediator solve the NBA's labor situation? FMCS director George H. Cohen's goal to help end the lockout when he meets with the NBA and players' union Tuesday in New York. Cohen issued this statement: For a number of months I have participated in separate, informal, off-the-record discussions with the principals representing the NBA and the NBPA concerning the status of their collective bargaining negotiations. It is evident that the ongoing dispute will result in a serious impact, not only upon the parties directly involved, but also, of major concern, on interstate commerce--i.e., the employers and working men and women who provide services related to the basketball games, and, more generally, on the economy of every city in which those games are scheduled to be played. In these circumstances, the Agency has invited, and the parties have agreed, to convene further negotiations under my auspices."

  • Dave Krieger of The Denver Post: "David Stern is taking a predictable amount of heat for the cancellation of games, particularly from people in my business who count agents as their main sources of information. Fortunately, he'smore interested in the long-term financial and competitive health of the NBA than his reputation in the blogosphere. The fact is that E. Stanley Kroenke tried to compete under the old rules, letting the Nuggets' payroll swell beyond $80 million for a while, a number at which the team was doomed to operate at a loss no matter how well it did on the court. The businessman in Kroenke eventually took back control from the fan in Kroenke, resulting in the purge we saw before the lockout. The average annual player salary in the NBA is $5.5 million. If players are hurting for money during the lockout, they have only themselves to blame. Competitive balance and sanity itself require that Stern win this one. And frankly, as a lover of the NBA, I don't care how long it takes."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "While Amar’e Stoudemire took a tour of ESPN shows to shill his new shoes, something he would normally do by wearing them while playing basketball, he said that players have 'seriously' discussed forming their own league. No one stopped to ask if anyone has made arrangements with arenas or how teams would be comprised. No one asked about insurance or salaries or rules about salaries, which is not all bad since everyone is pretty sick of that topic, anyway. He was not even asked what the point of a league might be since all players under NBA contracts would have to return to their teams when the lockout ends, making any 'season' of a players-run 'league' pretty meaningless. ... Stoudemire has made the point that players are able to sit out a year, even two if necessary to get a deal they would accept, but he ignores that few players have made Amar’e Stoudemire money or that many union members would lose their chance to make an NBA-type living playing basketball. Most of all, he ignores that while players are better prepared to wait far longer than they have ever before, owners are prepared to wait forever. The idea of waiting for a great deal is at this point as meaningless as LeBron James asking about playing in the NFL. James is not going to be going over the middle on Sundays and Stoudemire is not going to put together a replacement league."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Even if the players try to save the owners from themselves, they know it’ll never work. Before the ink is dry on the next collective bargaining agreement, teams will be holding it up to the light in search of loopholes.The first time the NBA went to a salary cap, the Celtics figured a way around it by paying Larry Bird a higher signing bonus and lower salary. When that loophole was closed, others were discovered. The players might be getting messed with here, but they’re not going to lose. They just have to get a few concessions and declare victory, knowing that as soon as the Board of Governors shake hands, said owners will leave the room and begin subverting that which they have just negotiated."

  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: "I wonder if commissioner David Stern and superstars like LeBron James have a clue that nobody out there in a badly limping U.S. economy wants to hear about self-entitled billionaire team owners and professionally pampered millionaire athletes in a room arguing over how to share $4.3?billion – with both sides so hell-bent on their own pockets that neither can bring itself to find the necessary compromise. With joblessness over 9 percent nationally, how about Heat owner Micky Arison and star Dwyane Wade visit an unemployment office and try to explain their respective labor positions to an out-of-work welder who can’t feed his family. ... What is fairly outrageous is the NBA’s mega-rich continuing their penthouse stalemate over who gets how many millions when the people who want to be their fans are down there fighting through this economy and trying to pay bills."

  • Al Iannazzone of The Record: "With his deep pockets, principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov is changing the location of the franchise and is supposed to change its direction. The Nets are on the right path with the acquisition of Deron Williams. Keeping him remains the big task. Although no one in the organization will admit it, they have to be stressing every time Williams plays a game for the Turkish team Beskitas, hoping nothing happens to him. He is the key to the franchise’s future. Williams has the dreaded opt-out in his contract that he can exercise in June 2012. It’s too early to know whether he will if there isn’t a season. But you have to believe with the Nets’ track record of nothing going smoothly, Williams will leave, NBA season or not."

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The Hawks teammates should be playing out this scene at training camp on the Philips Arena practice court. Instead, they are reduced to playing in a church gym in southeast Atlanta because NBA owners have locked out players. That doesn’t mean Hawks players will be idle. Whether it’s overseas, in one of the pro-am leagues sprinkled around the country or in this nondescript church gym, the players are going to find a good game. It’s what they do. ... The spectators on this day include friends of Hawks players and another 10 or so players. Other local pros who show up include Louis Williams (South Gwinnett High/76ers), Jarrett Jack (Georgia Tech/Hornets) and Derrick Favors (South Atlanta/Tech/Jazz). Damien Wilkins, a free agent who played collegiately at Georgia and for the Hawks last season, is a regular, as is Al Thornton, a free agent who finished last season with the Warriors. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, former Georgia teammates who were drafted by the Clippers in June, get their first NBA-level competition here. ... The NBA has canceled the first two weeks of the season, and the two sides appear re-entrenched in drastically opposed positions after marathon bargaining sessions last weekend. Josh Smith said owners wanted to make sure players, who are paid bi-weekly during the regular season, miss a paycheck. 'We just have to show solidarity,' Smith said. In the mean time they will keep playing together wherever they can find a good game."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "At least one Piston isn't fretting over the NBA labor situation, taking the time away to work on economic opportunities off the court. Tracy McGrady, who was effective at times for the Pistons last season, said he is busy marketing his newest business venture, an oxygenated bottled water company. 'With the lockout in place keeping us away from what we love to do, I'm keeping myself busy building my businesses up,' he wrote in a text to the Free Press. ... After several injury-marred seasons, he was able to stay relatively healthy last season and will generate interest on the open market. But his outlook isn't surprising. McGrady, 32, always has been willing to talk about his other interests away from basketball, whether it's other sports or his businesses."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Manu Ginobili is hobbling around his Argentinian home after suffering a slightly sprained right ankle earlier this week. The Argentinian paper La Nueva Provencia reports today that Ginobili sustained the injury while working out with several members of the Argentinian national team during a pickup game in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. The injury, which is not considered serious, apparently occurred when Ginobili landed awkwardly on his ankle after attempting a 3-point shot. Earlier in the day, Ginobili announced he has no plans to begin playing on a team in Europe until December at the soonest. Even with the lockout continuing, Spurs officials can’t be happy about this injury — no matter where or how it happens."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: 'John Wall’s new shoe commercial for Reebok has already hit the Internet, but the accompanying video probably has the most compelling revelation. While explaining the design for his first signature shoe, Wall makes a very strong statement with relative nonchalance: 'I just want to be the best point guard to ever play the game.' At least he’s setting his sights high."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "You'll have to pardon Jonas Jerebko if he rolls his eyes when he's asked about his health. 'I'm fine, I'm 100 percent healthy,' said the Pistons forward, who partially ruptured his Achilles tendon during the first exhibition last season. 'Everywhere I go, that's what people ask me. But I'm fine. I'm just ready for the season to start.' NBA matters, however, are a lot murkier than Jerebko's health. Still, with the lockout in full swing and both sides far apart in negotiations, Jerebko was holding out hope an agreement would be reached before games were canceled. But after the first two weeks were canceled, his hopes were dashed. ... As a second-round pick in 2009, Jerebko is a restricted free agent, which means the Pistons can match any offer Jerebko receives. It also means he has no contract for whenever next season starts."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "They can't get into Target Center these days, so NBA stars John Wall, Joakim Noah and DeMarcus Cousins are among those expected to play in Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley's 'All Star Classic' at Osseo High School -- of all places -- next week. Beasley's Wolves teammates Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington and former Wolf Sebastian Telfair are scheduled to play as well in the Friday night, Oct. 21 exhibition game. So, too, are Boston's Jeff Green, Detroit's Greg Monroe, L.A. Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, Chicago's Keith Bogans and Beasley's longtime pal, former Dukie Nolan Smith. Missing from the list -- at least for now -- is childhood buddy Kevin Durant."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Nate Bjorkgren has a history of taking chances, and he's preparing to take one more. Bjorkgren will be in Hayward on Saturday to offer the chance of a lifetime. He'll conduct an open tryout for the Dakota Wizards, the Golden State Warriors' NBA Development League affiliate. The Wizards' new head coach had similar local workouts in Chicago when he was an assistant for the Iowa Energy, and he found Shy Ely and Stefhon Hannah, who combined for 48 points and 15 rebounds in the team's championship series-clinching win. 'Usually a couple of guys will come out of those tryouts and appear on a D-League roster, but they don't always have a huge impact on a team,' Bjorkgren said. 'There have been some nice players to come out of these things, but it depends on timing and if you find a good fit.' "