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First Cup: Thursday

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "It is hard for most Suns fans to muster some dislike for Steve Nash, but the NBA lockout puts all owners and players on the public's bad side. Nash gets it. Fans have his sympathy. He even thinks they are right. However, Nash would like fans to understand that the players' selfishness comes with a point. 'You have two wealthy sides arguing over percentage points,' Nash said. 'It's hard for fans to understand that this is a business. I don't blame them. If I were in their shoes, I'd be critical, frustrated or even angry. You just want to see the game you love. Both sides are arguing for inevitably selfish reasons, but also for what's right when they are gone. It's a big mess.' A new collective-bargaining agreement, which could last 10 years, won't benefit the 37-year-old much. The 30 days of season that have been canceled would cost Nash $2 million in salary if no days are restored. He said his loyalty is to future players. The players union reportedly has fractures, but Nash contends it is solid. 'It's strange, because it's never been the most stable group,' Nash said."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "The damage-control efforts have supplanted any attempt to break the 125-day stalemate with the league, which has already canceled a month of games. That is why players, agents and even N.B.A. officials are eager to see what message emerges from the union Thursday. 'I think there will be a lot of clarity coming out of the meeting on Thursday,' said one person aligned with the players, who has communicated with both league and union officials this week. The first agenda item, the person said, is 'to hash out the Derek Fisher situation.' Two people with ties to the union said the issue was mostly resolved in a Tuesday conference call involving Fisher, Hunter and the board. But one person said it was important for everyone to speak face to face before the matter is put behind them."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "A seasoned University of Memphis professor walked up to Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley and waited patiently. The gentleman finally shook Heisley's hand, revealed that he is a Grizzlies season-ticket holder and spoke glowingly about the team's success. Heisley smiled. 'Thank you,' the Chicago-based billionaire said. Except for his speech on business principles during the Fogelman College of Business and Economics alumni awards program, Heisley used an economy of words Wednesday --- especially regarding the NBA and a labor impasse that has wiped out the first month of the regular season. 'I know very little. I'm not on the negotiating committee so I can only tell you that I think on both sides -- all of us -- hope we have a season,' Heisley, the event's keynote speaker, told a crowd in the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis. 'The players want to play. The owners want to play. It's a difficult negotiation. But they are all working very hard.' "

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "LeBron James did not listen to coach Mike Brown, writes O'Neal in 'Shaq Uncut: My Story', and received special treatment in the season leading up to his free-agent decision. The self-proclaimed Big Diesel also addressed James' failure in last season's NBA Finals, likening it to his infamous Game 5 performance with the Cavs against Boston in 2010. O'Neal's best behind-the-scenes material involves his relationship with former Los Angeles Lakers teammate and rival Kobe Bryant. But he offers Cavs fans a glimpse of the way the franchise placated James, a two-time league MVP. 'Our coach, Mike Brown, was a nice guy, but he had to live on edge because nobody was supposed to be confrontational with LeBron,' O'Neal writes. 'Nobody wanted him to leave Cleveland, so he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do.' ... O'Neal cites a meeting in which the coach was called out for the double standard applied to James. 'I remember one day in a film session LeBron didn't get back on defense after a missed shot,' O'Neal writes. 'Mike Brown didn't say anything about it. He went to the next clip and it was Mo Williams not getting back and Mike was saying, 'Yo, Mo, we can't have that. You've got to hustle a little more.' So Delonte West is sitting there and he's seen enough and he stands up and says, 'Hold up, now. You can't be pussyfooting around like that. Everyone has to be accountable for what they do, not just some [of] us.' Mike Brown said, 'I know, Delonte. I know.' Mike knew Delonte was right. I'm not sure if Kobe [Bryant] is going to listen to [new Lakers coach] Mike Brown. LeBron never really did.' "

  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: "Wednesday evening would have been the Timberwolves' Target Center season opener against Atlanta if not for the NBA lockout. One guess is that the Wolves' starting lineup under new coach Rick Adelman would have been the same as last season - Luke Ridnour and Wes Johnson at guards, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley at forwards and Darko Milicic at center - with forward Derrick Williams and guard Ricky Rubio coming off the bench. It's unclear which, if any, free agents the Wolves would have signed. The Wolves' next game was to be at Philadelphia on Friday, then a return home to play Toronto on Saturday."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "While the NBA lockout doesn't appear to be headed to a conclusion anytime soon, one of the few issues that have been resolved is the amnesty clause. ... Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva take up nearly 75 percent of the team's payroll, so it's natural they are the most likely candidates to be released. There's a case that can be made for each: Haimlton will be 34 in February and his production has been declining rapidly the past two years. After shooting a career-low 41 percent from the field in 2009-10, his 14.1 points per game last season was the lowest in his Detroit career. Factor in the team's efforts to trade him for essentially nothing and some of his well-documented troubles with the last two coaches, John Kuester and Michael Curry, he would appear to be the most obvious candidate."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Since July 1, the images and names of Wizards players have been blacked out and redacted until further notice. They’ve been stripped from the side of the building, taken down from the walls near the locker room. Their presence is felt, minimally, only in the merchandise section of the team’s Web site. The concourse inside the arena is filled with pictures of Capitals, Mystics and Bullets. Yes, Bullets. Not Wizards. Mixed in with posters of Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alana Beard, you can find Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Phil Chenier, Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland. Part of the arena is in 2011, the other in 1981. Signs and posters along the walls are covered in red, white and blue, so there aren’t even any pictures of retired Wizards in those bronze and blue uniforms anywhere. Images of all of the Wizards’ logos – the new red, white and blue sorcerer; the Washington Monument on the basketball; and the dc – now occupy the spots near the locker room where oversized pictures of Wall, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Nick Young and Trevor Booker once hung."

  • Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com: "Looking at available free agent centers, one particular name was eye-catching as it pertains to the Sixers’ needs. Don’t worry, the name is not Samuel Dalembert, who is a free agent and will land somewhere with a contract somewhere in the $5 million per year range. The name is Kwame Brown. Before you utter something about him being a bust, hear us out. Brown is a 10-year veteran who began his career in Washington playing for, yes, Doug Collins. The No. 1 overall pick in 2001 struggled as a rookie, averaging just 14 minutes. He played for Collins his sophomore season as well, but his best year was his third season, when he averaged 11 points and 7.4 rebounds with Eddie Jordan as head coach. Brown has never been a shot blocker, but he can defend and his 6-11 body alongside Brand would form a formidable low-post presence. He has been a backup and starter throughout his career, but if the Sixers used him as a starter it would benefit the team’s bench."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "The Warriors are most likely to go simple/quick and use the expected new amnesty clause to remove Charlie Bell’s remaining $4.1M from cap calculations (but they’ll still have to pay him). It makes a lot of sense, if you analyze the different tugs and pulls in the GSW front-office set-up ... The practical reason: If they waive-amnesty Bell, they’ll get to about $10.5M under the presumed salary-cap line, and that’s JUST ABOUT ENOUGH to make Nene (or a low-post scorer like him) a very, very strong free-agent offer. $10.5M to start is almost exactly what I would project Nene asking for, in a new-labor landscape. Hmm, interesting, isn’t it?"

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Yes, I sneered when I read ESPN.com's Marc Stein report that Davis either wants to play for the New York Knicks, Charlotte Bobcats or the Lakers should Cleveland make him a free agent. ... Davis surely has the talent and could help the Lakers at point guard. The supporting cast around him would force him to swallow his ego. Winning may ease Davis' mood swings. With so much uncertainty how a lockout shortened season will evaporate the Lakers' energy or whether Mike Brown will truly win over his players, however, adding Davis to the mix wouldn't be worth the risk."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times "But as Eric Musselman prepares for the D-League draft -- in which the D-Fenders have the No. 1 pick -- on Thursday, he insists he is not putting in this work primarily to reenter the NBA head-coaching realm. 'In my mind this is the best job outside of the 30 NBA head-coaching jobs. For me, at this stage with where I am, I would rather be the D-Fenders coach than an NBA assistant. So I couldn't be luckier.' "