First Cup: Wednesday

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: With the Orlando Magic’s trade talks to move Dwight Howard to Brooklyn stalling, the Rockets remained in talks about a deal for Howard, with the potential to expand a deal to pursue the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, a person with knowledge of the process said Tuesday. The Rockets have been in talks with the Lakers often since a deal for Pau Gasol was blocked by NBA commissioner David Stern in December. The Magic would be interested in Bynum, but like Howard, he has indicated he will not sign an extension or commit beyond next season in order to be a free agent next summer. The Rockets are among the teams that would not hesitate to make a move for a franchise player, even with that uncertainty.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: So the Cavaliers reportedly are out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. The Cavs, as is their custom, will not confirm the latest reports on Tuesday that they will not be part of a multi-player, multi-team trade that would have brought power forward Kris Humphries from the Brooklyn Nets and allowed Howard to get his wish and play in Brooklyn. Of course, the Cavs never actually confirmed that they were part of the talks in the first place. Unlike many of his colleagues, that is how General Manager Chris Grant prefers to do business -- behind the scenes. Because it takes two -- or in this case, three or four or more -- teams to make any deal, when the Cavs are involved confirmation comes from the other teams or the agents or, sometimes, the players involved. It's an organization-wide mandate.

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: Days after adding guard Ray Allen, the Heat on Tuesday secured a commitment from forward Rashard Lewis, who agreed to a two-year, $2.8 million contract with a player option for the second year. And so, in five days, the Heat has added the NBA’s all-time three-point field goal leader inAllen, who has 2718 baskets from beyond the arc, and now Lewis, whose 1690 career threes rank fifth among active players. Both fit splendidly into the Heat’s often-used strategy of spreading the floor and creating more space for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to operate. Lewis, who also considered the Hawks and Knicks, was impressed by the Heat’s presentation to him on Sunday and is determined to resurrect his career after two injury-plagued seasons. He was willing to take the $1.35 million veteran’s minimum partly because he will collect $13.7 million from a buyout with New Orleans.

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: Five years of wonderful memories, 798 made 3-pointers, and a lot of goodwill seemingly were wiped out after a rather compelling dinner with the Heat’s Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, and Alonzo Mourning. But it was more than the convincing words of Riley; it was Ray Allen having perceived broken promises, slights, and ignorance all the while he felt he remained a good soldier. Allen slipped away quietly but with a piercing message to the Celtics. Both sides are responsible for this divorce, however. Allen allowed small issues to develop into big ones, allowing his pride to get in the way. And the Celtics misinterpreted Allen’s silence and professionalism for contentment. Allen wanted the Celtics to financially compensate him for what he believed were years of personal sacrifice, and the Celtics thought the reloading of the roster would convince him to stay put. Both were wrong, and perhaps their split will be better for both sides — eventually.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: People who tuned in to NBA TV on Tuesday afternoon might have started rubbing their eyes -- there was Austin Daye knocking down jumper after jumper for the Pistons' summer-league team. He looked nothing like the player who struggled mightily with his shot -- and with his confidence -- last season. His 8-for-10, 24-point performance in the 79-74 victory over the Magic was a stark reminder of why the Pistons used their 2009 first-round pick on the slender forward from Gonzaga. But with the Pistons stacked at small forward, it might be too little, too late for Daye to salvage his Detroit career. Daye -- who was 3-for-3 from three-point range Tuesday -- is prepared for whatever happens and is focused only on what he can control. "I don't care. I really don't care," Daye said when asked about the logjam at small forward. "I'm confident within myself. I feel like I should be on the floor, and if it's not here, then it is what it is."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: About the only definitive result from a very fluid day is that, as expected, Ronnie Brewer won't play for the Bulls next season at his $4.37 million team option and C.J. Watson also won't be back at his $3.2 million salary. Tuesday's deadline to pick up those options came and went, although Brewer said general manager Gar Forman told his agent he might be re-signed at a reduced salary. "I will definitely test the market, though," Brewer said in a phone interview from his basketball camp in Arkansas. "Whatever team I end up going to, I know I'm going to have another improved year." The Bulls explored trade possibilities for both players in an attempt to turn their non-guaranteed deals into assets, league sources said. They are doing the same with Kyle Korver, who has been told a resolution on his $5 million option will be finalized by Sunday, sources said. The Bulls are optimistic about the trade market for Korver, sources said. There are no plans for Watson to return.

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: Batum's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, declined to comment Tuesday and said via text message that he and Batum would remain silent until Batum's free agency is resolved. But Batum, who has remained mute about his free agent prospects since the end of the season, did temporarily break his silence for a story with NBA.com earlier in the day. In that report, Batum acknowledged that his preference was to leave Portland for the Timberwolves and expressed excitement about the possibility of playing for coach Rick Adelman and alongside Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Clearly last week's three-day recruiting effort by the Timberwolves, during which Batum met with owner Glen Taylor, president of basketball operations David Kahn and Adelman, was successful. "I'm a restricted free agent," Batum told NBA.com. "I know the situation. Anywhere I sign, the Blazers are going to match. But my first choice was, and is, Minnesota. That's where I want to play and that's where I want to put my family."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: The Wizards have until July 17 to waive Andray Blatche under the one-time amnesty provision, and the team is seriously considering parting ways with the 6-foot-11 forward, according to two league sources. One person with knowledge of the situation said that there is a “fair” chance that the Wizards would give Blatche the remaining $23 million on his contract. Another source said the organization remained “hopeful” that the two sides could part ways. Cutting Blatche would remove his salary from the cap — reducing the payroll by nearly $7 million next season — but he would still receive all of his money. Blatche signed a three-year, $28-million extension in September 2010 that would keep him with the team through 2014-15. But he has had two disappointing seasons, filled with uneven play on the court and questionable decisions away from the court.

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks and free-agent guard Lou Williams have agreed to a multiyear contract, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. Terms of the deal were not immediately known but the Hawks likely will sign Williams by using part of their mid-level salary-cap exception. The person with knowledge of the deal said the contract would allow the Hawks to maintain the salary-cap flexibility they gained by recently agreeing to trade Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. Williams opted out of the final year of his contract with Philadelphia, which was to pay him $5.4 million in 2012-13.

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: The Warriors, according to league sources, agreed Tuesday to trade small forward Dorell Wright to the Philadelphia 76ers for a $4.1 million trade exception and the rights to Edin Bavcic, a 28-year-old Bosnian power forward who was drafted in 2006. The deal can't become official until Wednesday, when the NBA's moratorium on player movement ends. But trading Wright, the Warriors' starting small forward the last two seasons, takes his $4.1 million salary off the books for this coming season. The Warriors now can re-sign restricted free-agent swingman Brandon Rush and still use their $5 million midlevel exception and $2 million biannual exception without fear of going over the limit that would require them to pay the luxury tax. And the trade exception can be used for up to a calendar year, so Golden State general manager Bob Myers has that chip in his pocket until next July.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: NBA teams can start signing free agents Wednesday, and it appears that Eric Gordon will sign a four-year, $58 million offer sheet with the Suns. That is not necessarily a good thing for Phoenix. Signing and submitting the offer sheet to the league office removes the possibility of New Orleans negotiating with the Suns on a sign-and-trade deal, something that the Hornets have not budged toward considering, even after the shooting guard said publicly that he did not want New Orleans to match, criticized how the Hornets handled him since December and that his heart is in Phoenix. Once Gordon's offer sheet is finalized, the Suns' only possibility to land Gordon would be for New Orleans to decline to match the offer. The Hornets steadfastly have indicated publicly and privately an intention to match the maximum-level contract.

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: If you're clamoring for the Nuggets to make a deal, don't forget that the deals they made in the past 16 months have set up a potentially slow summer for the team. The Nuggets haven't been afraid to make a bold move — they traded Nene, remember? But the Nuggets have 12 players under contract. That total doesn't include free-agent guard Andre Miller, who has accepted a three-year contract to stay with the team. NBA free agents can be signed starting Wednesday. The Nuggets are negotiating with JaVale McGee and his representatives to retain the 7-footer, who could receive a contract worth about $10 million per season. NBA teams are monitoring the movement of post players this summer. Orlando star Dwight Howard could be traded. That potential deal with Brooklyn may involve free-agent center Brook Lopez. Portland tried to acquire Roy Hibbert, but Indiana will match the Trail Blazers' offer and keep him. That means Portland could be in play for McGee.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: This looked and sounded military: A single water break in two hours of strenuous exercise. Speak only when spoken to. Eye contact with the instructor isn’t optional. Expect to be critiqued, and always be ready with an answer for why you did what you did. This wasn’t Marine boot camp. It was the first day of summer league practice in Mike Dunlap’s tenure as Charlotte Bobcats coach. You knew something was different from former Bobcats coach Paul Silas’ laid-back approach when Dunlap called a dozen players into a circle, yelling “eyes up!” to demand rapt attention. It’s easy to intimidate the eight or so free agents just hoping for an invitation to training camp in October. But Dunlap had the same attention from the four Bobcats under contract. They see a guy intent on helping them get better. The criticism is balanced with encouragement. “I think right now he’s tearing us down and then building us back up to what he wants us to be,” said forward-center Byron Mullens, entering his fourth NBA season.

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: Simmons, Williams and Salmons were exhibits 1, 2 and 3 for why I wrote last week that it would not be a bad thing if the Bucks let Ersan Ilyasova go in the free-agent market. But now Ilyasova is back with a soon-to-be-signed five-year deal approaching $45 million with incentives, close to the poor long-term investments the Bucks made in Simmons, Williams and Salmons. Is this another case of a limited-revenue franchise getting itself right back into the same mess? It's the risk that should frighten any Bucks fan: In a guaranteed-contract league like the NBA, a player could always engage the cruise control after getting paid. Yet with Ilyasova, the gamble may not be as great. Even if the Bucks did overpay to keep competitors away, the concerns could be lessened and the rewards maybe accentuated against the risks of a long-term deal.

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Serge Ibaka might soon have a new Hall of Fame coach. Hakeem Olajuwon has reached out to Thunder coach Scott Brooks to determine if and perhaps when he might be able to work with Ibaka on his offensive game. Olajuwon's representatives contacted Brooks, who teamed with the former Rockets star, via text on Tuesday. Olajuwon originally expressed his interest in working with Ibaka to Fox Sports last month, saying the Thunder's runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year “needs it.” Brooks on Tuesday told The Oklahoman that he loves the idea. “I played with Hakeem for three years,” Brooks said of his stint with Olajuwon and the Rockets from 1992-95. “He's one of the best to ever play the game. Anytime you can get players that played at a high level that can share their insight, you have to take advantage of it.”

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: James knows discipline: Bernard James spent five years in the Air Force, reaching the rank of staff sergeant, and he knows how to deal with tough situations. At 6-10, he was asked if he was intimidating. “Sometimes, when the situation required it,” he said. “I think I was pretty fair with my guys. But sometimes, you get a knucklehead and you got to put the smack-down on him.” As long as he keeps that attitude, he should be just fine in the NBA.