First Cup: Wednesday

  • Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star: "The players got what they wanted a long time ago — the shelving of the proposal for a hard salary cap. The owners continue to get what they want with each passing day. It made sense for the players to press their case this far. It makes no sense to continue, unless we recognize that the players can no longer accept a deal that they can’t categorize as a win. It’s foolish to speak of ‘fault’ in these situations, because that connotes that the viewers are owed something tangible by an entertainment business. But however much the players end up losing in this bargain, they will have only their pride to blame. They were supposed to start playing Tuesday. We’re still at the blinking contest stage — no talks are scheduled. Meanwhile, the season slips away and this impasse — as illogical as it is — must logically continue until a victory, however pyrrhic, can be declared."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "Time is of the essence if a labor agreement is to be struck that could save a major portion of the 2011-12 NBA season. No further meetings are set for another session at the bargaining table between the owners and players sides. It had better happen quickly. 'If something doesn’t break within the next few days, or the week at the latest, I’m afraid we will lose the (entire) season,' one source says. If a deal were reached within the next week, the source says he believes we could salvage a 68-to-70 game regular season."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "For months, Commissioner David Stern has insisted that the league’s 29 owners are unified in the goals, methods and necessity of the lockout, which is in its fifth month. He maintainsthat stance, Arison’s glib posting notwithstanding. 'He believes his tweets were taken out of context and understands our concern about them,' Stern said Tuesday in a telephone interview. 'And he’s very much on board with the other 29 owners about the deal that we want.' If fans and commentators view Arison’s words as a declaration of self-interest, an attempt to distance himself from the more hawkish factions, Stern said he understood it. Arison himself conceded 'that it might have had that impression,' Stern said, 'but he didn’t intend it to.' The punishment leaves its own stark impression. The $500,000 fine is five times that of those levied on two other owners — Charlotte’s Michael Jordan and Washington’s Ted Leonsis — for labor-related comments. Without confirming the amount, Stern acknowledged that the fine was tailored to the circumstances, but not because of what Arison wrote. 'It was more about his timing,' Stern said."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "We are in the 124th day of the NBA lockout that has produced a few memorable moments. Was it Roger Mason’s accidental 'Looking like a season. How u' tweet? David Stern’s 'enormous consequences?' Dwyane Wade’s 'I’m not your child?' JaVale McGee’s 'ready to fold?' Cavalier owners’ Dan Gilbert’s 'Trust my gut?' Or Billy Hunter’s 'snookering?' Nike just released a commercial that said, 'Basketball Never Stops.' But the NBA has come to a screeching halt, isn’t coming back in November, and might not be back by Christmas. We have to settle for watching Durant playing flag football with a fraternity at Oklahoma State, try to keep track of which NBA player is hosting a charity basketball game and where, let Heat owner Mickey Arison contribute $500,000 to the financially-strapped NBA offices for his Twitter comments about the lockout, and read players’ union president Derek Fisher’s letter to remind players that he is fighting for them, denying reports to the contrary. Yeah, Kevin Durant. I’m bored, too. I guess I can watch Nick Young and McGee rapping at a Benihana?"

  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Tonight, the 76ers were supposed to tip off in Toronto against the Raptors. The Sixers' home opener at the Wells Fargo Center was supposed to be Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Didn't happen, won't happen. Because of the lockout, which began July 1, the NBA canceled last night's games, tonight's games and all remaining games through November. What surprises me is that it doesn't really bother me. I'm not one of those haters who somehow gets some measure of personal satisfaction by saying, 'Nobody cares about the NBA.' I love the NBA, even with all of its faults. As soon as the owners and players settle this thing and get the games back on the court, I'm back in. Just as with the NFL, I won't hold a grudge. But until games actually are being played again, I could not care less about what's going on with the NBA. ... the bottom line is that once the deal is made, both sides will make a ton of money. Once these guys accept that and get this thing solved, call me, and then I'll care about the NBA again."

  • Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post: "Ho-hum ... The NBA was supposed to open its 66th season tonight with the defending champion Dallas Mavericks? hosting the Chicago Bulls?. The Nuggets were supposed to open their season Thursday night at Portland. Does anybody really care? I mean, outside of the players and owners who can't agree on how to split about $4 billion in what's become known as BRI (Basketball Related Income), is anybody clamoring for the NBA's return? A recent poll in The Denver Post asked: Whose side are you on in the dispute? With more than 2,500 votes cast, it's clear who the winner is: Apathy."

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: "For the critics who believe the first few months of the season don’t carry much weight anyway? Really? Tell that to a Heat team that needed every game through the first four months of last season to define roles and get comfortable playing with each other. I’m not going to lie. I missed the NBA on Tuesday night. Maybe I’m in the minority, but there was something comfortable about the end of the World Series passing the torch to the NBA, all under the shadow of the NFL and college football. Now, we are all left wondering when the lockout finally will end. And left wondering when 500 jump shots a day will matter again."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Overbey instantly became more popular. His Twitter account added roughly 400 more followers in less than 24 hours. He was sought after for interviews by local television stations and newspapers, as well as sports talk radio stations in Oklahoma City, Texas and Kansas. He even appeared on ESPN, recapping the event to 'SportsCenter.' 'That was pretty sweet,' Overbey said. Overbey initially was hesitant to accept media requests. He felt Durant might not have wanted him to pump life into his random act. But when Overbey texted his newest, most famous friend, Durant gave the green light. Before hanging up with a reporter at the end of his last interview Tuesday, Overbey interrupted a goodbye to make one request. Make KD look good. "To see how a guy that successful, at that age, can be so humble despite having such a presence but still have the character that he does, it's incredible,' Overbey said. 'It really is.' "

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Former Davidson basketball star Stephen Curry had a car accident in the Charlotte area last week, but he walked away from the crash uninjured, according to his father. 'He's fine,' Dell Curry told the Observer in a brief phone interview Tuesday night. 'He ran into the back of someone who stopped short.' Curry, now a point guard for the Golden State Warriors, is waiting for the NBA lockout to end. In the meantime, he's been taking classes this fall at Davidson and rehabbing from off-season ankle surgery."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "There is no doubt O.J. Mayo will be on the Grizzlies' roster when the NBA settles its labor dispute with the players. But for how long? Mayo's career is at a crossroads. And the Grizzlies -- facing high expectations after a playoff run to Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals last season -- are right there in terms of evaluating Mayo's future with the organization. The 6-3 shooting guard brought a household name and bucket loads of points in 2008, going on to average 18 points his first two seasons as a starter. But those Griz teams weren't playoff qualifiers. Mayo, as a reserve, turned in career-low numbers when Memphis broke through with a historic postseason run. Veteran Tony Allen and second-year guard Sam Young emerged while Mayo endured a role reduction. ... Mayo hired Rob Pelinka to replace LaPoe Smith as his agent. Pelinka represents Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, and is the fourth agent Mayo has used since deciding to leave USC to turn pro. The biggest challenge Mayo faces is to dispel the concerns some Griz decision-makers have about his skill set. Mayo is undersized at shooting guard without the versatility to be a play-maker at the point. He's generally considered a good shooter but lacks the athleticism, explosiveness and defensive attributes that coaches covet at the position. "

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Is Meruelo willing to eat salary and then also double down by adding to the payroll to replace the player(s) let go? Does he even have the cash flow to do so even if he wanted to? Or would the reported lack of cash flow make Meruelo even more likely to use the stretch provision on Joe Johnson. and then not try to replace him with comparable player, thus trimming Meruelo’s annual expenses significantly while tying up long-term cap money (and no doubt angering my blog people)? Would ASG be willing to waive players and then add payroll while the sale of the team is in limbo? Would ASG do it if the sale of the team falls through? If so, would the current owners use one of the provisions now or leave that to the next buyer, assuming they find another one? Shoot, could they even wait to use the amnesty or stretch provision? Just getting the roster to the minimum would push them over the current luxury-tax threshold, and I’m assuming that still is a no go no matter which owner(s) calls the shots. My hope is that soon after the lockout ends the answers to these and so many other Hawks questions will finally be answered."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Peter Holt seems to understand the debt he and Robinson and other Spurs owners owe to Tim Duncan. Chairman of the owners’ labor relations committee, he said as much to reporters after negotiations blew apart on Oct. 20. In refuting the notion the Spurs proved it possible for a team to thrive financially and win championships in a relatively small market, Holt said the Spurs had lost money in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and would have run in red ink sooner if not for good fortune in the draft. ... Now Duncan will pay dearly — about $211,000 per game — with each one that isn’t played in what could be the final season of his brilliant career. ... This is not to suggest Duncan should confront Holt the same way, but wouldn’t his presence add a rich texture to the fabric of the union’s stance? And perhaps he might be just the right union member to make the same suggestion to Jordan, now owner of the Bobcats, that Jordan offered to Pollin."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "After months spent making the best of a bad situation, Kevin McHale and the Rockets have gotten good at it. On Tuesday, they were supposed to be preparing for their season opener, McHale's first game as Rockets coach. The NBA lockout prevented that. Instead of spending the day in Salt Lake City, they were in Houston. Instead of dealing with Al Jefferson, they delivered food and supplies at a Target Hunger facility. It was good work for a good cause, but even with the restrictions on comments imposed by the NBA during the lockout, McHale made it clear there was a place he would rather have been. 'As much as I like being here and doing these types of things, I'd much rather be on the floor right now trying to figure out what type of team we have,' McHale said. 'That's just not where it is right now.' "

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Kendrick Perkins vowed to come back in better shape. This off-season, the Thunder’s center was completely committing himself to that cause. He wanted to wash out the taste of a season he deemed a personal disappointment from his mouth. He challenged himself to lose 20 pounds over the break and come back at 265. Judging by the video below, Perkins looks better than ever. ... You can see Perk’s arms look trim and defined, his waist and midsection look to be as slim as ever and, perhaps most importantly, his agility and explosiveness looks to have returned. If that’s all true, look out. The Thunder could be an even bigger problem next season than people think."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "The Bucks acquired guard Beno Udrih from the Sacramento Kings as part of a three-team draft day trade a few months ago. Udrih and veteran guard Stephen Jackson were the key acquisitions in the deal, and coach Scott Skiles and general manager John Hammond made clear at the time that both would have big roles to play with the team. Speculation about the Bucks' intentions regarding an amnesty clause in the prospective labor deal has focused on Udrih, but sources close to the organization indicated there is no plan to use the amnesty clause on Udrih or anyone on the current roster."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "It probably didn’t generate much buzz around the Gregg Popovich household yesterday — if it was even acknowledged. But the retirement of Tony LaRussa as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals gives the Spurs coach a unique distinction among those directing professional sports teams. Popovich has more tenure with his team than any current coach in any of the four major North American sports. Popovich took over from Bob Hill on Dec. 9, 1996. It was only a few weeks after Bill Clinton had been elected to his second term as president. Bill Parcells was coaching the New England Patriots, Marv Levy was still coaching the Buffalo Bills and Tommy Lasorda has just walked away from managing the Los Angeles Dodgers."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "The Orlando Magic might not make a trans-Atlantic road trip this March, after all. With each day that passes without a new collective bargaining agreement, it becomes less likely that the Magic will play their scheduled March 7 and March 8 regular-season games in London against the New Jersey Nets. The games in London would face obstacles even if the league’s owners and the players’ union reach a deal in the days or weeks ahead. This is all common sense. If a new CBA is reached, the league will attempt to compress as many regular-season games as possible into a shorter window of time. And that condensed schedule might make it impractical and unfair to ask the Magic and the Nets to make such a long road trip."