First Cup: Friday

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Spurs owner Peter Holt has been walking a tightrope as the primary NBA owner in the labor negotiations because of his role as the chairman of the league’s labor relations committee. That role has led many to believe he would be David Stern’s biggest ally once a collective bargaining deal is taken to the other owners. And it might explain why the Spurs apparently weren’t a part of a group of 10 NBA owners who were most forceful about turning down a recent compromise that was championed by Stern. The Indianapolis Business Journal, citing league sources, indicated the Spurs weren’t included among the owners who sent a letter to the labor relations committee who were strongly opposed to Stern’s offer of a 50-50 split in the basketball related income with the players. Owners for Indiana, Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Portland and Sacramento said in the letter that they believe a 50-50 revenue split would have been a bad deal for the owners. The players did not not approve the deal anyway, leading to an extension of the lockout earlier this week."

  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Guard Jason Terry acknowledged that while the average fan may view the lockout as putting a damper on what the Mavericks accomplished last June, that's not the case 'here in Dallas.' Terry said he and his teammates are still showered with plenty of love wherever they travel. 'Everywhere we go around, people are excited,' Terry said. 'They still know we're the champs until this season gets done. The most important thing for us is we want to go out and defend this thing now and go try to bring another one home. ... Once you taste it, you want to get back out there and do it again.' It doesn't look like the Mavericks will be able to defend their title anytime soon. On Monday, the players association filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA, putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Although he stopped well short of saying he's made a decision about his long-term future, Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard said Thursday he plans to take advantage of 'every opportunity' when he's eligible to become afree agent during the summer of 2012. Howard spoke briefly with reporters after he signed copies of his new book, 'All You Can Be: Learning & Growing Through Sports,' at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando. Howard has been reluctant to talk about his potential free agency, and his comments came only after he was posed a specific question about the subject. 'Well, that's 2012,' he said. 'Everybody's worrying about the wrong stuff. I didn't come here today wanting to discuss where I'm going to be next year. At that point, it really doesn't matter. The biggest thing for me is taking advantage of every opportunity that I have in front of me, and that's how anybody should look at it. I'm 25 and I have a full life ahead of me, God-willing, and I have to do what's best for me, and that's it.' Howard has said he hasn't made any choices about what he'll do in free agency."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "In an interview with the Sun Sentinel, Dwyane Wade said he plans to play competitive basketball this season, even if it means playing overseas amid the lockout. But he also said he would not allow the lockout get in the way of his marketing relationship with Michael Jordan, even with the Charlotte Bobcats owner taking a hard-line stance against the players during the stalled negotiations over a new collective-bargaining agreement. As for a former teammate using the lockout to break the locker-room code, Wade shook his head and smiled when Shaquille O'Neal's name was raised. Foremost, Wade expressed disappointment over the lockout impasse. 'I can't imagine going a year without basketball and I don't think that will happen,' he said. 'Some way, some how, I'm going to be part of a team. I can't see myself sitting out a full year, not playing basketball, at some kind of high level. Obviously, the level I want to be playing on is the NBA level and that's what we're going continue to try to do, but if that is not the case, I will try to find a way where I can play at a high level.' With the lockout in its fifth month, he said it just might be time for Plan B."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "With the NBA lockout threatening to drag on and on, Orlando Magic small forward Hedo Turkoglu is open to the idea of playing abroad. Turkoglu is weighing and considering opportunities with European franchises, his agent, Jim Tanner, told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. Tanner said that any deal would have to be 'a good fit from a basketball standpoint,' but also would have to allow Turkoglu to return to the NBA if the lockout ends. Turkoglu also would have to have disability insurance coverage."

  • Peter Vecsey of the New York Post: "Why should anyone remotely expect the NBA and its players to get their billion dollar testosterone-fueled act together without the routine dosage of duress, disdain and danger if the National Basketball Retired Players Association, with so relatively little at stake, can’t extinguish enduring internal strife? In a letter last week, NBRPA counsel Jack Marin threatened former executive director Charles Smith with litigation. ... According to those in the know, CEO Arnie D. Fielkow and president George Tinsley have reason to believe the estranged Smith has been contacting members regarding the possible start-up of a rival retired association. On Nov. 18, 2010, after two years on the job, Smith was furtively fired by Tinsley and a five-man board. Scorned women know where the ex-Knicks forward may be coming from. Board member Dan Schayes replaced Smith, though briefly. Numerous players, led by Earl Monroe, fiercely objected to how the coup was handled. Not only was Smith’s firing proceeding, by a select few, highly disputable, but the membership wasn’t given a voice or a vote."

  • Dave D’Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "This is not a cynical endeavor to rain on anyone’s parade, especially because Shaquille O’Neal’s interest actually coincides with our own, so his stated desire to see NBA basketball in Jersey is a perfectly fine — maybe even altruistic — goal. The problem, however, is that when he wants to 'bring a team back to my hometown of Newark, and we have some talks going on now,' we’re not too confident that these talks have taken place with anyone other than some imaginary friend. Because the very notion of investing $250 million to $300 million in a business that would be consumed and bled dry by two competitors — in a league that is hardly at its peak of popularity — is not exactly what you call a savvy business strategy. ... The NBA has something called exclusivity rights, which applies not only when you move into someone else’s territory, but when you move within 150 miles of someone’s TV market. That means a team filling the Newark vacancy would pay a fee to both the Knicks and Nets for sharing their space. It is, especially now, impractical. But most of all, we just find the timing of this 'announcement' a bit strange. It’s the kind of thing that most people would say, 'I think I’ll keep this to myself until a more suitable time.' "

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Jan Vesely, whom the Wizards drafted sixth overall last June, mentioned in a recent telephone interview that he would consider returning to his team the past three years, Partizan Belgrade, if the lockout lasts much longer. He added that 'things look bad' for the NBA before the players’ union elected to disband on Monday and put the entire season in jeopardy. Though Vesely’s NBA career could be delayed much longer, his agent, Alexander Raskovic, said the latest developments haven’t rushed the 6-foot-11 forward into make a decision to return to Serbia. 'Not yet,' Raskovic wrote in an email. 'We are studying the situation. We will see.' Raskovic said Vesely has already started to play pickup games and practice at a high school gym in Prague. They plan to meet next week with Partizan team president and former NBA player Predrag Danilovic to determine 'what is the best for [Vesely] to do' for the next month or two. 'We will see in the next seven days,' Raskovic wrote, 'and make the Plan B in case' the NBA season is canceled. If there is no NBA, Raskovic said Vesely would certainly play for a team in Europe for the rest of the season."

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "It should have been a special night at The Q: A packed house to see the Miami Heat and its Ohio-born, Cleveland-bred player. And, as an added bonus -- LeBron James. Instead, Friday is just another day in the NBA lockout life of former Cleveland State standout Norris Cole. Another day of conditioning and preparing for a training camp that might start in two weeks, two months or next October. 'It's tough, but all you can do is stay ready,' said Cole, who became the eighth CSU player drafted into the NBA in June. 'I'm a guy who likes to get my gym time in anyway. When I was [at CSU], if I wasn't in class or eating or sleeping, I was in the gym shooting the ball.' ... While NBA players missed their first paychecks on Tuesday, Cole is not in jeopardy of falling behind on payments for a Bentley or yacht. He's made no major purchases since being drafted. 'I knew the lockout was a real possibility,' the 23-year-old said. 'I'm pretty conservative with my money anyway. I'm not wasteful with it.' "

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Doc Rivers stood at the end of the floor at a Boys & Girls Club gym in Dorchester yesterday, and watched young kids scramble to turn over small orange cones. Beyond the occasional blind walkthrough with his coaching staff, this fitness clinic on behalf of the Celtics and healthcare leader Covidien is about as much court time as the Celtics coach has logged in the last three months. But there is a silver lining. 'It’s like I was telling (Celtics president) Danny (Ainge),' he said. 'The blessing of this is that I’m nowhere near ready to not do this. I miss it. So there’s some good things to this, too.' There’s a lot of the strange, as well. Rivers found himself in the same golf tournament as Ray Allen last month in Florida. The NBA forbids anyone on the management side from contacting players during the lockout. So Rivers and Allen, walking in opposite directions, shook hands and kept moving. 'That was strange, really strange,' he said. 'We walked by each other, so you could shake hands, but you couldn’t say much to each other. Just the way it is, but I miss it. I miss being around them — all of them.' "

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Lester Hudson hasn't put on hold his dream of continuing to play in the NBA. The Memphis native simply is no longer waiting for an end to the lockout. Hudson left town earlier this week for China, where he will join the Guangdong Southern Tigers. Under Chinese Basketball Association rules, Hudson must play the full season without an opt-out clause should the NBA lockout end. The CBA's regular season runs through the middle of February. Hudson, 27, will play with Washington Wizards free agent Yi Jianlian and former Indiana Pacer Fred Jones. Phoenix Suns restricted free-agent guard Aaron Brooks has agreed to a one-year deal with Guangdong, according to Yahoo! Sports."

  • Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times: "Have some compassion for the players. Look what can happen if an NBA player has too much time to kill. Consider Kris Humphries. Have a little empathy for his breaking heart, now that ex-wife Kim Kardashian has ripped it out and stomped on it like it was a prop in a TV show. Come to think of it, it was a prop. ... Kris Humphries is in real pain, people. Or at least real reality-show pain. ... This lockout can only get worse. The longer it continues, the more players Kim is liable to marry and divorce. Look out, Thabo Sefolosha! End this lockout. Give Kris Humphries a reason to live again. Let him dunk on somebody just so he can feel like a man again. ... So all of you poll people who say you don't care about the NBA, please reconsider. Think of someone besides yourself. Think about Kris Humphries. Wish for his safe return to reality."

  • Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: "Nevada regulators Thursday approved the transfer of the Maloof family's Palms Casino to its creditors. The Maloofs, who own the Sacramento Kings, have just 2 percent of the Palms under the deal approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The new majority owners are two investment firms that held the resort's debt, Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital. George Maloof will continue to run the Las Vegas property, which opened 10 years ago this week. The Palms fell victim to a weak economy and a $400 million debt burden. The Maloofs announced their agreement with Green and TPG in June after months of negotiations."

  • Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "John MacLeod spent 13 1/2 seasons here, the second longest tenure in league history at the time he was dismissed. And his teams averaged 51.6 wins a season over one six-year stretch. The Suns never did return to the NBA Finals under MacLeod after that 'Sunderella' season, but he took the club to the playoffs nine times during his tenure, losing twice in the Western Conference finals. ... Jerry Colangelo said he believes MacLeod belongs in the Ring and is likely to get there at some point. 'You have to look at who's up there and who is coming down the pike,' he said. 'Is Al (McCoy) next? Steve Nash? In terms of who has to be considered, he would be included. Those are now considerations for the existing ownership and management.' We left a message for Suns owner Robert Sarver, but evidently there is some other pressing matter in the NBA. 'The bottom line is, John was the right guy at the time, and he did a terrific job,' Colangelo said. 'I'm sure he'll be given due consideration.' MacLeod is 74 years old. It's time."

  • Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly .com: "Sunday, new Sixers owner Joshua Harris will be running in the Philadelphia Marathon. Last year, Harris ran the New York marathon in an impressive 3 hours and 53 minutes. Doug Collins is a fan of his new boss and is a little jealous of his athletic prowess. 'When I was playing before I retired, one of my goals was to run a marathon,' Collins said. 'But what happened, I blew out my knee, my feet were bad and I couldn’t do it. But I always wanted to run a marathon. So we are excited that Josh is running Sunday and afterwards he’s having a party at the Wells Fargo Center. I might be in charge of icing down his calves afterwards, I’m not sure.' "

  • Staff of The Dallas Morning News: "With some free time on his hands with the NBA lockout, Mavericks center Tyson Chandler participated in a prank in the video series 'Your Friends Will Never Believe You' that appeared on Yahoo this month. The premise was that, with no NBA job to go to, Chandler was an employee at a shoe store in the Los Angeles area to the surprise of customers who went there to shop. Chandler helps a customer who appears bewildered that an NBA champion center would be helping him find shoes. Among the humorous parts of the video are Chandler assuming everyone wears size 14 shoes, and the explanation of his manager that the only reason he was employee of the month is because he can reach the top shelves."