First Cup: Tuesday

  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It took Danny Ferry a week to turn a franchise going nowhere into one with room again to grow. It took him a week to reach an agreement to send Joe Johnson to the Nets for a bunch of guys whose principal value rests in the expiration dates on their contracts. It took this general manager a week to ship Marvin Williams, enduring symbol of opportunity squandered, to Utah. To follow the Hawks is to expect the worst, which means the initial response to this watershed Johnson deal was to figure it would be overturned on some technicality. Maybe we shouldn’t be fatalistic. At the rate Ferry is moving, he might be able to convince the NBA to replay the final seconds of Game 6 against Boston from 1988, and make it so that Dominique Wilkins (and not Cliff Levingston) takes the last shot this time. A week ago we wondered if/when Ferry would dare to tamper with the Core Four. On Day 1 of Week 2, we got our answer. Ferry gored the Core without having to deal either Josh Smith or Al Horford, and by offloading Johnson he turned this capped-out club into one with a hangar’s worth of financial headroom. ... In four years as Hawks GM, the best move Rick Sund made was to trade for the sixth man Jamal Crawford. In seven days, his successor has halved the Core Four and moved the immovable contract. Which would seem to make Danny Ferry an irresistible force.

  • Shannon J. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel: Magic fans are over the drama. And it appears Hennigan, in his two weeks with the organization, is over it too. "We want guys that want to be here," Hennigan said when asked if he wanted to see Dwight Howard in a Magic uniform Monday. Which means, Howard could or could not be here depending on what day of the week you ask. I have no doubt the Magic organization will eventually rebound after Howard leaves. The Denver Nuggets held it together after Carmelo Anthony, The New Orleans Hornets have an even brighter future with two top 10 draft picks after Chris Paul. The Seattle Sonics pulled off the biggest rebound in NBA history after regrouping as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Teams rebound after losing great players. But it's much harder for a great player to rebound after losing himself.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks are done talking, but the drama is far from finished. News that the Brooklyn Nets are deep into talks to trade for Atlanta’s Joe Johnson broke just as the Mavericks’ meeting with Williams was wrapping up.How that impacts Williams is unknown, but it can’t be great news for the Mavericks. With Johnson due more than $80 million over the next four years, it makes it virtually impossible for the Nets to also acquire Dwight Howard. ... Basically, at this point, there now appears to be more on the table for the Mavericks than just Williams. They still have reason to feel like they have a fighting chance in the D-Will Derby. But now, the options seem to be expanding. Meanwhile, the Nets came in for their meeting with Williams after the Mavericks were done. They came in bearing news of the Johnson trade. Does that seal the deal for Williams to stay in Brooklyn? Stay tuned.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Steve Nash has received at least one contract offer. It just was Toronto, not the Suns. The Suns dined with a guard and let him know how much they want him. It just was Eric Gordon, not Nash. ... The Suns appear to be busy with the franchise's next phase, wooing young free-agency targets while Nash, 38, nears a departure decision without resistance from Phoenix. After meeting with unrestricted free agent Michael Beasley and their restricted free agent Robin Lopez on Sunday, the Suns will host a visit from Beasley on Wednesday. Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, General Manager Lance Blanks and Coach Alvin Gentry spent two hours with Beasley alone in Los Angeles on Sunday. Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver will not be hands on, intending to leave the process in his second-year brass' hands.

  • Brian Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: More change could soon arrive for Utah. The Tribune reported last weekend the Jazz are eyeing a wing scorer during free agency, and Utah still has its full $5 million mid-level exception to spend. After news of the planned Harris trade surfaced Monday, The Tribune learned Utah will remain very active on the trade market and in the attempt to sign players. With everything from sign-and-trade possibilities to multiple expiring contracts in hand, the Jazz are aggressively attempting to improve without overspending during free agency. Thus far, O’Connor has exceeded expectations. Two days into free agency, Utah’s been one of the busiest teams in the league. And the 2012-13 Jazz are still nearly five months away from tipping off.

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: Baron Davis, Andre Iguodala, Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol. What do they have in common? All four made in the area of $14 million last season. Now, Roy Hibbert is in a position to make an average of $14 million a year, assuming — and we’re not assuming anything at this point — the Indiana Pacers match the Portland Trail Blazers’ four-year, $58 million offer sheet. Hibbert is clearly more effective than the over-the-hill journeyman Davis. He’s on par with the 76ers’ Iguodala. He’s not the player that San Antonio’s Ginobili is. And, like the Grizzlies’ Gasol, he made the NBA All-Star Game last year. The point being, while the Pacers would have to dig deep to retain their center, can you argue that he doesn’t belong with the aforementioned group in that tax bracket? You cannot argue that he does not (double-negative alert). Pay the man, Shirley. Pay him.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Welcome to Turkish 101. Repeat after me: ‘‘Para; money.’’ Good. Now try, ‘‘Ücretli adam; Pay that man.’’ Very good. Now you’re speaking Omer Asik’s language. Thank you, that will be $25 million. Hey, no one said this lesson would come cheaply. Just ask the Bulls. ... Oh, Gar’s going to be seeing something. And as ludicrous as it seems, it’s in his best interest to match the Rockets’ offer. I’m guessing there aren’t many Bulls fans with an Asik Fathead stuck on their walls. Actually, it’s easy to look at Asik’s numbers and laugh at the idea of paying that type of money for a backup center. The one person not laughing, however, is Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. And if the Bulls plan on keeping Thibodeau around for a few more years, they had better give him a player that fills a very valuable role in his system. Thibodeau loves guys who do the dirty work, and Asik is filthy in that regard.

  • Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail: If the Raptors can’t entice Steve Nash to come play for them in his twilight years by overpaying both in terms of money and length of contract, what’s the point of having an NBA franchise in Toronto? For all practical purposes, that is what is at stake in the Raptors’ all-in approach to the best Canadian basketball player in history. They wouldn’t tell you that in the offices of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., of course, and Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo wouldn’t be so brazen as to make that pronouncement, but that is how failure to land Nash will be perceived everywhere.

  • Dan Woike of The Orange County Register: Lamar Odom has made it no secret that his only season in Dallas was one he'd like to forget. Surrounded by personal tragedies, Odom floundered on the court playing the worst season of his professional career. "I wasn't myself," Odom said at his introduction Monday at the Clippers' practice facility. "...Sometimes we go through things in life that hold us back. I put those things behind me. It's time to move forward. It's time to be fresh again." But whether it was fate or coincidence, Odom's fresh start is coming for the organization that drafted him 13 years ago. "It feels great to be back in L.A. It's great to be back in a Clippers' uniform," he said. "It's like déja vu all over again. I feel like I'm 19 again. Hopefully, I can turn back the clock on the court as well." ... Was Odom's season in Dallas a fluke? Would his E! reality show be a distraction? Why does he want to be back in Los Angeles? "A lot of people questioned my focus on basketball. I never knew I was going to have a hit TV show. I didn't plan it," Odom said. "But my focus to basketball is there. There are a lot of things I want to make right. I know what kind of player I am, and I want to get back to that level. I told Coach that I'm a hundred percent in. ...I'll be his soldier."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Rockets center Marcus Camby still considers the Rockets his top choice, even after the Rockets’ contract agreement on Sunday with center Omer Asik, a person with knowledge of his thinking said on Monday. Camby would like to remain in his adopted hometown, as he said often after the trade deadline deal with Portland. But the timing of a decision could be a challenge. The Rockets might not know whether they will get Asik until July 14, three days after Asik may sign an offer sheet with the Rockets. Other teams could need Camby to choose an offer more quickly. Camby is expected to be targeted by several top teams in need of a center and has interest in the Spurs, Mavericks, Knicks and Heat. He has spoken with several teams, according to the person with knowledge of the conversations, and will not feel a need to make visits to meet with coaches. Camby, 38, has said he would like to have a 20-year career, but is expected to sign a contract for two or three more seasons.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Monday, the Kings hosted restricted free agent Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic. He attended Oak Ridge High School and helped the Trojans win a CIF state championship as a junior in 2005. A four-year veteran from Cal, Anderson is coming off a season in which he was named the league's Most Improved Player. ... The 6-foot-10, 240-pound power forward, who was drafted in the first round by the New Jersey Nets in 2008, just completed his third season with the Magic, posting career-high averages of 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. The Kings have made a contract offer to their own restricted free agent, power forward Jason Thompson, and drafted power forward Thomas Robinson last week. Anderson, however, is a different kind of big man because of his shooting ability. If he joins Thompson and Robinson, the Kings could use Anderson at small forward, a weakness for years.

  • Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press: Juwan Howard is the only one of the Fab Five to win an NBA title -- Rose led the Pacers to the 2000 Finals, losing to the Lakers in six games, and Webber's Kings reached Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2002, also losing to the Lakers -- but he felt he was sharing it. "I always said, those guys, they've done so much for me in my career, giving me the comfort of being four guys who embraced me and took me in," Howard said last week. "Once that started, the relationship we built, they had a comfort and belief in my ability that I could be something special in this league. They've always supported me from Day One. All the growing pains we experienced together as college students. Yes, losing two years in a row was a growing pain and growing as far as a young adult at the collegiate level helped. When I won it, I wanted to afford them that respect. Because they won it too. I won an NBA title this year and they did (through me.)" The winding 18-year journey to a title made Howard an intriguing story as the Finals concluded, valued as much for his leadership and veteran presence as his skill. After the 2009-10 season, Howard realized he would be a nice fit in Miami as a complementary piece to Big Three. Before getting this chance, he admitted he thought a title might never come.

  • William Bender of the Philadelphia Daily News: Tim Donaghy's current employer is known in the gambling industry — and apparently to Donaghy's probation officer — as Danny Berrelli. But his real name is Daniel T. Biancullo, a North Jersey native with a 2004 federal conviction stemming from his role in a Florida sports-gambling operation that counted former Flyers star Jeremy Roenick among its clients. Last week, Biancullo, 49, confirmed his "real" identity when contacted by the Daily News, saying he'd been using Berrelli as a "stage name" for years. He said it wasn't designed to cover up his criminal past. ... Donaghy, who is prohibited from associating with felons while on probation, said he wasn't aware of Biancullo's conviction until informed by the Daily News. ... Donaghy's probation officer in Sarasota, Fla., where he lives, apparently was under the impression that Biancullo's "stage name" was his real name. "We are investigating the true identity of Danny Berrelli," said Steve Beasely, Deputy Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Middle District of Florida, said Monday. "We were not aware that Danny Berrelli had any other name."