First Cup: Monday

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: While the clock ticks toward 11:01 p.m. Tuesday night on the Wolves' pursuit of Nicolas Batum, Kevin Love's clock is ticking toward 2015 on David Kahn and Glen Taylor. Strong-armed into taking that four-year contract extension with a three-year out, Love voiced his growing impatience with Wolves management -- the general manager and owner, not the coaching staff. When he was named to the Olympic team on Saturday night, he was the only one of the 12 players who has never made the playoffs. ... Meanwhie, their other plans -- Lakers forward/center Jordan Hill and Boston center Greg Stiemsma -- wait for Kahn to resolve the Batum dilemma and its accompanying salary-cap maneuvers before he gets to them. A sign-and-trade would make things a whole lot easier. If not, the Wolves will have to get creative -- buy out Martell Webster and/or Brad Miller, amnesty Darko! probably - just to sign Batum to that big offer sheet.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Chandler Parsons looked around at the usual summer collection of young players just months removed from college campuses or D-League rosters, when it hit him. When the Rockets return for the next training camp in the fall, the team might not look different. Suddenly, before his second NBA season could begin, he had become the team’s wise, old veteran. “It’s nuts,” Parsons said. “It’s crazy.” Patrick Patterson, a veteran of two seasons, considered that he could soon be the new Rockets’ Dikembe Mutombo and called the ongoing overhaul of the Rockets roster “mind-boggling.” Technically, the Rockets have a few of Parsons’ and Patterson’s elders on the team with Luis Scola and Kevin Martin remaining on the roster. But with the imminent departures of Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Marcus Camby and Courtney Lee, following the trades of Samuel Dalembert and Chase Budinger last month, it had become clear the team that will play this summer will look a lot like the team that will take the court next fall.

  • Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: For some reason, Allen’s decision to play in Miami for $3 million less a year than the Celtics were offering has caused an element of Boston sports fans to lose their minds. They have begun labeling a guy Danny Ainge at least twice tried to trade out of town over the past two years “Benedict Allen” and “Judas Shuttlesworth.” What do they call Ainge? They call him a businessman. Well, welcome to the other side of the business. Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been rightly praised for his success getting the Big Three Lite to buy into the African humanist philosophy called Ubuntu, which focuses on people’s allegiances to each other and the sense, as Liberian peace activist Leyman Gbowee once put it, that “I am what I am because of who we all are.” That works fine when upper management backs such a philosophy, but not so well when it tells you it’s shipping you to Memphis and then comes back a few hours later and says, “Sorry, you’re staying.” After all, players have feelings, too. And so do their wives. ... Did Allen sit in his humble Connecticut manse pondering the two offers and decide, as some fans and commentators have suggested, that this was the best way to stick it to the Celtics? Grow up, will you. What he did was what he should have done. What all of us would have done if we’d come to believe the boss had tried to get rid of us at least twice before and might well do it again.

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: So let me get this straight: Restricted free agent Nicolas Batum is being brutally honest with us all. He would like to play alongside a talented point guard. He's been frustrated by his role with the Trail Blazers, and wants to do more than stand in the corner, shooting threes. He dreams about playing on a team run by a creative, experienced and offensive-minded head coach. And we're all upset with him? For telling the truth? Feels like we've got this Batum thing all wrong. ... Batum is saying that he would rather join a franchise that plays its games in an igloo and is a perennial loser than stay in Portland another minute. He's saying he wants an experienced coach, who will open up the offense and utilize the creative talents of players. He's saying that playing alongside a talented point guard would be a rush. And what the Blazers owner needs to do right now is listen to Batum. Then, have his GM go make those things happen in Portland. The way I see it, Batum just did us all a favor.

  • John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: Any day an NBA team gets bigger and better is a good day, and the New Orleans Hornets got bigger and better Sunday when they agreed to trade forward Gustavo Ayon to the Orlando Magic in exchange for forward Ryan Anderson. No, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Anderson won't plug New Orleans' hole at center. Anyone who has seen him play knows he's a "stretch" four, a power forward who spends a lot more time on offense hanging around the 3-point line than he does on the blocks. He's not a burly defender who's going to guard opposing centers; in Orlando, he had Dwight Howard to do that, and when Howard went down, Glen "Big Baby" Davis - listed at 6-9, maybe a touch shorter - assumed the responsibility. But 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 39.3 percent shooting from 3-point range in 61 games - Anderson's numbers from last season - isn't to be glossed over when he joins a team that hungered for offensive production last season, and could use the help on the boards.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Feelings of shock, excitement and some nervousness washed over Ryan Anderson on Sunday night. His ties to the Orlando Magic are about to be severed. Unwilling to match a lucrative offer sheet from the New Orleans Hornets that Anderson was about to sign, the Magic have agreed to send the restricted free agent to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade deal for center Gustavo Ayon, league sources said. The deal is expected to be finalized on Wednesday, the day when the NBA's moratorium period on player transactions ends. ... The Hornets were prepared to sign the power forward to an offer sheet worth between $34 million and $36 million over four seasons, and the Magic would've had the ability to match that offer sheet and keep Anderson. But Magic general manager Rob Hennigan decided that it would not be prudent to match those salary figures because of the long-term implications for the franchise's salary cap. So instead of allowing the Hornets to sign Anderson to an offer sheet, Hennigan chose to receive an asset — Ayon — in return and maintain some cap flexibility for the future.

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: Veteran shooting guard Raja Bell told The Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday he has reached a verbal agreement with the Utah Jazz for a buyout of his 2012-13 contract. Once the deal is formalized, Bell said he’ll be free to sign with any team in the league. "I’ve been given the greenlight and we’ve agreed to terms," said Bell, who’s set to make $3.4 million this season. ... Bell’s already drawn interest from several clubs since free agency began July 1, and he acknowledged teams such as Miami, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers are interesting to him. He would not specify which organizations have recently shown interest, though, since his buyout had previously not been made public and he wants to respect the Jazz’s role in the process.

  • Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times: While other Eastern Conference contenders are adding new faces via free agency, the Bulls will satisfy their biggest offseason need with a familiar one after guard Kirk Hinrich verbally committed to a two-year contract Sunday that will pay him approximately $6 million. The deal makes sense for the Bulls and Hinrich. The Bulls get the combo guard they desperately need as Hinrich can play the point while Derrick Rose recovers from surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee. When Rose returns, Hinrich can back him up and slide over to shooting guard to fill in for Rip Hamilton. He could be Hamilton’s permanent replacement if the veteran leaves after his contract expires after next season.

  • Kyle Veazey of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies took another step Sunday toward solidifying their frontcourt, agreeing to terms with forward Darrell Arthur on a three-year contract worth just over $9 million, according to a source familiar with the agreement. Memphis tendered qualifying offers to Arthur and fellow forward Marreese Speights, both restricted free agents, in late June. The Grizzlies came to terms late last week with Speights, agreeing to pay him nearly $9 million over two years. The third year of Arthur's deal is a player option. ... Though much of the attention surrounding the Grizzlies during free agency has centered around the team's still unfulfilled need for shooting and a backup point guard, agreeing to terms with two important reserve forwards is also a significant step.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Jason Thompson will return to the Kings after an agreement was reached on a multi-year deal Sunday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Kings basketball president was limited in what he could say because of NBA rules during the moratorium on signing free agents that ends Wednesday. The deal is expected to average $6 million per season. Having Thompson's deal completed frees Petrie to look at other areas. Petrie said trades and other free agents are possibilities.

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: The Cavaliers have been approached by the Brooklyn Nets as a possible third team in a trade that would ship Dwight Howard out of Orlando, but the talks are not substantive and a deal is not imminent. The Nets are "reaching out wildly to everyone with (cap) room," one source with knowledge of the talks said. "Nothing substantive at all right now." In order to make a deal work, the Nets and Magic would need to find a team willing to take on forward Kris Humphries, who is a restricted free agent and seeking much more than the veteran's minimum, which is all the Nets can offer him to return. The Cavs have the cap space for Humphries, but initial reports had them shipping out a first-round pick in the deal to obtain Humphries. That simply isn't happening. The only way the Cavs would get involved is if they can obtain at least one first-round pick in return for allowing the Magic and Nets to essentially use their cap space in order to complete their deal.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: His total playing time in the playoffs: 76 minutes. Dejuan Blair views that as a message, and a strong one: It seems the Spurs doubt him. And because of that, he has his doubts that he will play a fourth season in silver and black. A member of the select team that is helping the U.S. Olympic team prepare for London, a trimmed-down Blair is showcasing his talent in front of NBA coaches, general managers and scouts on hand at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center practice court to watch spirited scrimmage sessions. ... Blair also presumes the Spurs want to re-sign Boris Diaw, the 6-foot-9 center-forward from France who signed a free-agent contract with the Spurs in late March and ended up with the starting center spot he once manned. Blair doesn’t question Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s decision making, as difficult as it was for him to accept a reduced role. “I had a ball last season, except for the playoffs,” he said. “I had fun on the bench, cheering. It was great to see the fellas play hard and win and everything. Pop’s a great coach, but I wasn’t what he wanted at that time. So take it as ‘what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.’ "

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Power forward Ersan Ilyasova will be coming back to the Milwaukee Bucks. The 6-foot-10 Ilyasova opted to stay with the Bucks by agreeing to a five-year, $45 million deal. A league source confirmed the framework of the deal Sunday, although guaranteed dollars and bonus structure have not been fully disclosed. ... Ilyasova's deal puts the Bucks barely over the $58 million salary cap, but they still can acquire players through salary exceptions and trades. The Bucks have their full mid-level exception of $5 million to use if they choose to do so. The Bucks have not renounced their cap hold on unrestricted free agent Carlos Delfino. But it appears unlikely the Bucks will bring back the Argentine forward for a fourth consecutive season. ... The amnesty procedure is part of the new collective bargaining agreement and applies only to contracts signed under the previous bargaining agreement. Veteran guard Beno Udrih, who picked up his player option of $7.8 million for next season, would be a possible candidate for amnesty if the Bucks elect to use it.

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: NBA players have a reputation of often taking the smallest slight and turning it into the biggest act of disrespect. For Pistons forward Greg Monroe, all he has to do is take one look at USA Basketball's selection process for its Select Team and the Olympic Team, and feel that his omission is a huge slight. He was snubbed by the selection committee, he feels, especially when he looked at the Select Team's roster that competed against the National Team in Las Vegas. ... "I am just a little bit disappointed," Monroe said. "I think, (although) some people don't think so, I should've at least been invited. All of those guys deserved it." ... There's a feeling in some circles there is a quiet backlash against Monroe's agent, David Falk, who has been influential in the NBA for the past three decades. ... Although he isn't the vindictive type, it's clear: It's going to take more than peroxide to take the sting away from this slight. "If I can't get on the Select Team (this year), I'm not expecting to be on the team in 2016," Monroe said. "I'm not going to sit here and wait. There's much more things I have to worry about here in Detroit and getting this team where it needs to be."

  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: Are the 76ers close to making another move? Team president Rod Thorn replied via email, “Can’t say right now” when asked Sunday night if anything was close to happening. Later, he said it “could be either” a trade or free-agent signing. There were rumblings the Nets were looking for a third team to take rebounder Kris Humphries in a trade in which Dwight Howard would go to New Jersey. ... In other Sixers news, Thorn said second-year big man Lavoy Allen “may play a couple games at the end” of the Orlando Pro Summer League. Allen hadn’t been expected to participate prior to agreeing to a two-year, $6 million contract to remain a Sixer last week (they also retained center Spencer Hawes with a two-year, $13 million deal).

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Of the 30 first-round picks in 2010, Cole Aldrich has played the fourth fewest minutes. His 315 minutes rank ahead of only Craig Brackins (121), Elliot Williams (149) and Daniel Orton (187). It gets worse. Of the 27 first-round picks in 2011 that have started their NBA careers, Aldrich, in two full seasons, has logged more minutes than just four of last year's rookies. Hence the significance of summer league, which begins for the Thunder on Monday at noon at the Orlando Pro Summer League. For up-and-coming players like Aldrich, summer league annually provides a chance to do something that sometimes eludes them during the season — play.

  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When the Hawks reached an agreement to trade Johnson to the Nets, local reaction was euphoric. No more albatross contract! No more sour Joe faces! Lost in the latest bit of giddiness was the memory of a similar giddy day in the summer of 2005, when the other Hawks owners had deposed Belkin as their NBA governor, and the sign-and-trade for Johnson had finally gone through and a celebration was staged on the floor of Philips Arena. A free agent of substance had committed himself to a team coming off a 13-69 season, and for a downtrodden franchise that marked a new beginning. Seven years later, nobody was sorry to see him leave, but if not for Joe Johnson, this city might never have realized the Hawks were still in business.