First Cup: Wednesday

  • Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "There has been some serious misjudgment of talent and know-how, from Alston and Luther Head to Mike James and Steve Francis. The Rockets are a ship without a rudder at crunch time. With his random rotation changes, head coach Rick Adelman appears clueless and every combination he tries gets to the fourth quarter and looks hapless. ... Now Tracy McGrady comes back from his knee injury, maybe Saturday night against the Spurs, maybe the following game. But it hardly matters now. You can give up on this season. The Rockets have."

  • Jason Friedman of the Houston Press: "Over the course of the last week, we've seen the media (myself included) prematurely dispose of the Chargers and Giants. And the list of buried alive victims is even longer in the political forum. Clinton, McCain, and Romney were all handed death certificates in the last fortnight. How are they doing now? So I'm through directing the funerals -- at least for now. The Rockets are the ones who will determine their fate. They can either continue digging their own grave, or claw their way out. I'll just stand back, watch, and tell you what I see."

  • Brian Kamenetzky from the Los Angeles Times' Lakers blog: "Not to be a total downer, but the lofty dreams Lakers fans have conjured over the highly successful first 37 games of the season -- I'm talking about winning the Pacific, maybe even the Western Conference -- are officially out the window with the injury to Andrew Bynum."

  • Sarah Rothschild of The Miami Herald reports on Pat Riley's latest motivational tactic: "Riley said he recently quizzed the Heat on who graces the different values of American currency. 'You can put yourself on the face of a dollar bill, guys -- if you want to,' Riley said he told the players. 'Just do something significant, like come back from the [depths], because there is nobody else who believes you're going anywhere. There is still a chance.'"

  • According to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star: "Stephen Jackson returns to Conseco Fieldhouse tonight knowing he might be booed -- just as Dunleavy was Sunday in Oakland -- but smiling because his team has gotten the better end of the deal that also sent Al Harrington and two others to Golden State for Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod. The outcome has been golden, you might say. The Warriors are 46-36 since the trade, while the Pacers are 32-51. The trade spurred the Warriors to the playoffs last season and contributed to the Pacers' missing the postseason for the first time in 10 seasons."

  • Jan Hubbard of the Star-Telegram writes: "Suggestion to Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry: Have your PR department make printouts of stories detailing the death of Bobby Phills. ... (LeBron) James' attraction to fast cars is hardly unique among wealthy young athletes. But for him to be so cavalier about possible consequences is chilling. Even guys with great character can't avoid accidents. Tragically, Bobby Phills found that out."

  • Hornets GM Jeff Bower talks about Chris Paul with Peter Finney of The Times-Picayune: "Here are the stats of the moment. Chris Paul has a chance to become the first player in NBA history to average 20 points (he's at 21.7), 10 assists (10.4) and three steals (he's at 2.8) in an 82-game regular season. Tell this to Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower, the man delighted to make Paul the fourth player taken in the first round of the 2005 draft, and Bower says, 'The best thing about Chris is he's as good a person as he is a basketball player.' Obviously, Paul is the kind of elite athlete who 'shook hands with life' at an early age. 'He's more than a special player,' Bower said. 'He knows how to handle being special on the basketball court. He's not into the ego game. He's into life.'"