First Cup: Wednesday

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Two of the Sunshine State’s most beloved athletes have struck up a friendship over Twitter. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and University of Florida alumnus Tim Tebow bantered back-and-forth over the microblogging platform after Howard posted a picture of himself 'Tebowing' and congratulated the quarterback for leading the Denver Broncos to a win over the Oakland Raiders. And, now, Tebow is saying that Howard and Miami Heat star LeBron James should visit Denver to be fitted for Broncos uniforms."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Given that a faction of roughly 10 owners have taken hard-line stances, including Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan, it's unclear how much wiggle room there is. The more unfavorable proposal that will follow should the union not accept the current model calls for a 53-47 split of income in favor of the owners, a rollback of current contracts and a hard salary cap. Asked what he would tell Jordan, who famously told late Wizards owner Abe Pollin during the last lockout that he should sell his team if he can't make a profit, Hunter said: 'I would give him the advice he gave Abe Pollin.' "

  • Harvey Araton of The New York Times: "In effect, the outcome of the lockout could actually represent Stern’s final victory — at least as some owners will see it. Or in the event of a lost season, his most devastating defeat — and who knows what after that. Either way, at 69, a time in life more conducive to embarking on a path to patriarchal disengagement,Stern has become more publicly embroiled and embattled than ever. One can almost imagine him on the roof of the league’s Fifth Avenue headquarters, commissioner-turned-Kong, swatting at attackers from all sides — including his back. Is Stern a menace to the players? Is he misunderstood? Is the problem more with the new environment he inhabits? 'Ownership has changed, the players have changed, the media has changed — the whole landscape has changed,' said Jerry Colangelo, the former Phoenix Suns owner and a longtime Stern ally. 'And in the past five to seven years, I’ve also seen some changes in David. He is a survivor and a competitor, but put it this way: some of the stuff has worn on him.' However hardened and hardheaded, Stern’s pain over having the N.B.A. shut down in the wake of its most compelling season in years has been obvious to those who have known him a long time. They are not fooled by the combative persona, the lawyer prosecuting his case in pursuit of a more balanced and profitable league. 'Inside, this is killing him,' Colangelo said."

  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "Stern, knowing that a lost season would be as damaging to him personally as it would to the entire league, has successfully held off the true hardliners, with the help of federal mediator George Cohen, to come up with a deal that can almost be agreed upon (as one person involved in Saturday’s negotiating session put it, 'If Obama’s guy in D.C. thinks it’s a fair deal, how can Hunter tell his players it’s not?'). And now, assuming the parties agree to meet Wednesday, which would seem like a sure thing, Stern would probably have to twist a few more arms and tell his owners to accept a couple minor system concessions for the sake of the game. The whole scenario is further proof that Stern, with two years of preparation, has played these negotiations perfectly. This deadline move from Stern was as transparent an action as there has been in these negotiations, but also a smart one."

  • Randy Youngman of The Orange County Register: "If it's true that the NBA players union already has agreed in principle to a new luxury tax proposal from the owners, as reported by sportsillustrated.cnn.com, it's a safe bet we won't be seeing the Lakers in the NBA Finals as often in the coming years. It won't be impossible for the Lakers to win another championship under the terms of the new CBA, but it's very doubtful we'll see them in the NBA Finals 16 times in 32 years (their run since 1980), seven times in 12 years (their run since 2000) or three times in the past four seasons (to date). Why? Because the new proposed luxury tax penalties will be so punitive to big-spending teams such as the Lakers, it effectively will force owner Jerry Buss to be more judicious about exceeding the luxury tax threshold."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Indiana Pacers swingmen Danny Granger and Dahntay Jones reached out to many of their teammates to get their thoughts on the NBA's collective bargaining agreement offer before heading to New York for their meeting Tuesday. The consensus, according to Jones, was that they considered the league's offer unacceptable. 'Most people were abreast of the situation and knew what was at stake,' Jones said in a telephone interview after the players' association meeting. 'We were all on the same page according to how we felt about the deal.' The players' union rejected the deal and hopes to meet with NBA officials in an attempt to put an end to the lockout, which has already caused the preseason and first month of the regular season to be canceled. 'We knew the deal wasn't what we wanted, but I wanted to know how bad the deal was,' Jones said. 'We can get past the 50-50 (revenue split), but the (luxury tax and salary cap) system is so bad in the proposal that they left us no choice but to turn it down. Hopefully, the system issues can be tweaked and it'll be something we can work with and get a deal done.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Tuesday’s meetings drew superstar (Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook) and player reps from every team except the Celtics. Included was Wolves player rep Anthony Tolliver, who took a red-eye flight from a charity game in Salt Lake City overnight Monday and arrived in time for the afternoon meeting. 'The BRI won’t hold up the deal,' Tolliver said, referring to the split of basketball-related income that has been a sticking point throughout this lockout. 'It’s 100 percent the system. As many concessions as we’ve made on the economics…it doesn’t make any sense. They’re basically wanting to walk away with 95 percent and expecting us to take the deal. We’ll walk away with 30 percent of what we want but we’re not walking away with 5 percent. That’s why we’re in a stalemate. We refuse to get taken completely to the house on every single issue.' "

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "The Celtics were the lone team not represented at yesterday’s meeting of player representatives, but union executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher insisted they had no problem with the absences of Paul Pierce and alternate rep Rajon Rondo. Hunter added that Pierce’s failure to attend had nothing to do with the Celtics captain’s push for union decertification. He added that Pierce didn’t make the hastily called meeting because of distance, while Rondo had some last-minute problems. 'I talk to Paul every day,' Hunter said. 'Paul was just here; that’s the problem: Paul’s been here two or three times. He was just here a couple of days ago, and to turn around and come back from California didn’t make sense right now.' "

  • Charles F. Gardner and Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel: "Milwaukee Bucks player representative Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said Tuesday night he 'can't help but be pessimistic' about the possibilities of a new labor deal between NBA players and owners. Mbah a Moute took part in a meeting with the union's executive committee earlier Tuesday as 29 of the league's 30 player representatives arrived in New York and deemed the owners' current proposal unacceptable. ... Mbah a Moute said he had talked to a number of Bucks teammates recently as the lockout has dragged into November, forcing the cancellation of the first month of the season."

  • Doug Robinson of the Deseret News: "The NBA lockout drags on. Neither side is giving in. No progress is being made as the season shot clock ticks down. ... What to do? What they really need is a model. Something in a similar business that is wildly successful. Something that works like a money machine, churning out billions of dollars. Something that nurtures competitiveness among all teams and instills all fans in every market with hope. Something that doesn't allow teams to stack talent by throwing unlimited amounts of cash at players. Something that doesn't allow the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Something that isn't like Major League Baseball. Something that is like, oh, say, the National Football League. Ever wonder why the NBA — and, for that matter, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League and every other sports league on the planet – doesn't take lessons from the winners and copy the NFL formula? Why not imitate the league that generates $9 billion in revenues annually, compared to the NBA's $3.8 billion? Instead, the NBA seems to go out of its way to do the opposite."

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "If the NBA lockout persists, Kyrie Irving might consider playing abroad. Irving, drafted No. 1 overall by the Cavaliers in June, said on his Twitter account late Tuesday night he's weighing his decision. 'If a deal doesn't get done soon ... overseas here I come,' he wrote. Irving, 19, is taking classes at Duke, where he played one season for the Blue Devils. He was limited to just 11 games due to turf toe. In September, Irving had said he planned to remain in school during the lockout, but he appears to be wavering. It's unclear if he has a potential deal waiting for him. Many overseas leagues have begun."

  • Marcos Breton of The Sacramento Bee: "So far in their labor talks, league owners have routed players by seeming unsatisfied with partial victories. They want it all: Big salary rollbacks, shorter contracts, restricted player movement, taxes on big-money teams that spend a lot on acquiring players and other demands too numerous to cite here. Stern said players have to give on all these issues by today – or else. In arena negotiations with cities like Sacramento, the NBA also has wanted it all. In Indianapolis, Memphis, Charlotte and other places, the communities took most of the financial risks while the league reaped most of the financial benefits. If the NBA expects to win such a rout in Sacramento, the entire arena effort is at risk. ... City staff, officials and local leaders have worked endless hours to explore whether this arena deal is possible. It's been a massive effort to prove that Sacramento wants to make this happen. But will the NBA and the Kings be willing to put money up for an arena construction deal as Sacramento and AEG seemed poised to do? Or will they string Sacramento out, play it against Anaheim or some other city and then try to blow up the deal while pinning the blame on Sacramento? They play that way when it suits them."