First Cup: Wednesday

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The work has been put in. Whether there is an opportunity for a collective payoff remains to be seen amid the NBA lockout. Tuesday, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem completed a week of workouts at Nike's Beaverton, Ore., campus. The four are expected to also participate at each of the four stops on the upcoming 'Homecoming Tour' of NBA lockout charity games that begins with an event hosted by James Dec. 1 at the University of Akron. The workouts came in the wake of James spending time in London, where he granted an interview with The Guardian that included his views on where he and the Miami Heat are headed after coming up two victories shy of a championship in last season's NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks."

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: "As a prelude to what state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith calls a 'national movement,' the Queens Democrat will lead a group of restaurant owners, season-ticket holders and disgruntled basketball fans in demanding refunds and gathering signatures on a giant petition Wednesday in front of Madison Square Garden. And if David Stern and Billy Hunter don’t settle their differences in the next four weeks, Smith said the protest will move across the country in 'A Day of Solidarity' on Dec. 11. Smith said he has contacted officials in Chicago and Los Angeles who are willing to organize similar protests in front of their respective NBA arena. ... The NBA canceled 324 games because of the lockout and guaranteed refunds for purchased tickets with interest. But Smith and his followers are calling for refunds on all season tickets — whether the games are eventually played or not — if the lockout continues past Dec. 11. By 'occupying' the NBA, Smith hopes someone — maybe even himself — occupies the seats at the negotiating table."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "He has changed Twitter handles and workout locales with frequency, but Jimmy Butler has yet to change into a Bulls uniform for his first NBA game. Of the myriad subplots to the NBA lockout, being a first-round draft pick registers rich with intrigue. You're part of a team but can't talk to management. You have reached a lifelong goal but can't sign a contract. You have new teammates but don't know them well. 'It is really odd; I'm not going to lie,' Butler said Tuesday from his home in Tomball, Texas. 'I want to live up to being an NBA player. So in my own mind, I put pressure on myself to be ready. Whenever the season does start up, my wind will be right. And my skills will be up to par. At least that's what I'm hoping.' Indeed, without the benefit of Bulls-supervised offseason workouts or the rigid structure of a Tom Thibodeau training camp, Butler is basing his NBA-ready belief on the unknown. The Marquette product even concedes this. 'I really don't know what to expect,' Butler said."

  • Nick Groke of The Denver Post: "Turns out George Karl isn't the only coach J.R. Smith can infuriate. Smith's stint in the Chinese Basketball Association isn't going much better than his roller-coaster career with the Nuggets. The former Denver guard signed a $3 million contract to play for Zhejiang during the NBA lockout. But Smith suffered a knee injury in the season-opening game Sunday. And now he's in a public spat with the team's management. After Sunday's game, in which he scored 20 points in a loss, Smith said via Twitter: 'Headed to the airport! I refuse to put my all into people who don't do the same for me! Call me selfish but that's just the way I feel.' Selfish? J.R.? Never."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "President Barack Obama’s all-star campaign fundraising game picked up some more big name supporters on Tuesday, as NBA legend Magic Johnson and Paul Pierce were added to the roster of participants. Dwight Howard, though, withdrew from the game, which will be held Dec. 12 in the District, and has been replaced by none other than ...Wizards restricted free agent and Senegalese center Hamady Ndiaye, according to the Obama campaign Web site. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Amare Stoudemire and Wizards guard John Wall have committed to play and headline the game that will raise money for the Obama Victory Fund, which supports both the president’s 2012 reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "If the NBA were actually in basketball business — a quaint notion, to be sure — Jeff Green would be a restricted free agent. If a collective bargaining agreement is reached and the lockout ends, he will be free to negotiate with any club he chooses. Including the Celtics. But even if Green signs an offer sheet elsewhere, the Celts will still be able to match the deal. What Green does will be a business decision, but he left no doubt he has some unfinished business here. ... At this point, however, his opportunities remain unknown. How much will he be able to make? How many teams can legitimately compete for his services? 'I guess that all depends on the rules,' Green said. 'That’s the only thing that can determine where I end up. So I’m just playing it by ear. I have no clue what’s going to happen with me, but hopefully I’m in a good position. I wouldn’t mind coming back here. I love Boston. Boston welcomed me with open arms. To be honest, my career started here.' Green then smiled and referenced his 2007 draft selection by the Celtics, who already had him shipped to Seattle for Allen. Now he’d like to play with Allen a bit longer — and show the good people of Boston he can really play."

  • Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com: "Walking into Hagan Arena one day after St. Joe’s beat Tulsa in the DIRECTV Charleston Classic 79-75, you could feel something was different. People were in the stands for a practice. Yes, we said practice. Coach Phil Martelli joked that’s what a win of that caliber will do for a program. Truth is, Jameer Nelson had tweeted that he was going to practice with the Hawks on Monday. The Tulsa win was nice, but No. 14 still attracts a crowd eight years after he helped orchestrate the perfect regular season on Hawk Hill. ... Nelson was not the only NBA player in Hagen Arena Monday. Former Sixers guard Willie Green is an intern for the Hawks this fall. Green expressed this past summer to Martelli and his staff that coaching might be in his future, but he had no practical experience. Martelli had no problem including Green in meetings and practices. ... Green is an unrestricted free agent so he can’t risk getting hurt by playing with the Hawk squad. But Nelson led by example the way he always had at 54th and City Avenue."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "The management braintrust running Real Madrid had an interesting decision at the start of the lockout. To fill a glaring need at power forward, they weighed the merits of Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka and Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spanish-based Tu Basket reports (Hat tip: BallinEurope.com) that Real Madrid opted for Ibaka because they worried about Aldridge’s adaptation time to Europe in his first overseas playing stint. Additionally, they also preferred Ibaka’s block-heavy defensive game rather than Aldridge’s offensive-first mentality. Interestingly, however, the Real Madrid management didn’t consider Aldridge’s friendship with point guard Sergio Rodriguez from their playing with the Trail Blazers."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "The NBA’s labor dispute is hitting this region hard, just as many people predicted it would. Game-night workers, businesses near Amway Center and local hoteliers are all are being hurt by the ongoing lockout, which is in its 145th day today. The city coffers are impacted, too. City government officials emphasize that the Magic are obligated to pay the city $2.8 million even if the entire season is canceled, so the city has some degree of protection from the effects of work stoppage, especially as it incurs some expenses in running the building. 'It was one of our lead negotiating points in the contract when we did the negotiations with the Magic,' the executive director of the city’s venues, Allen Johnson, told me in September. 'We never anticipated a [lockout]. We never wanted one.' But the city is missing out on the additional revenue Magic home games generate, although city officials note that the city also incurs a total of $62,800 in expenses per game."

  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press: "Ben Gordon and Vernon Macklin were on a basketball court Tuesday afternoon. But the Pistons weren't there to play ball. They were at Detroit's new Volunteers of America facility donating turkeys in hopes of helping 100 families eat this Thanksgiving. 'It always gives me a great feeling to know that I have something to do with something positive in the community,' Gordon said. This is the event's first year, and it's one that hits home with Macklin, a rookie forward who grew up in an underprivileged household in Virginia. 'I was once one of those families,' Macklin said. 'My family had times when we were in need and to be in a position to help out, it feels great to do it.' "

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Derek Fisher isn’t being overwhelmed by that side hobby as NBA players’ union president for the time being, so he took a moment Tuesday to do some other unpaid labor — except to more satisfying results than recent collective bargaining. Fisher handed out turkeys at the Salesian Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles and Family Youth Center on behalf of the union, which has been restructured for now as a trade association helping NBA players. The National Basketball Players Association’s annual Great Turkey Giveaway was set up to feed more than 7,000 families across the country for Thanksgiving, with 1,000 Grade A turkeys given away in Los Angeles on Tuesday."