First Cup: Thursday

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: On a wild, busy Wednesday, the Mavericks remade their roster with an assortment of moves that netted All-Star center Chris Kaman, young point guard Darren Collison and, perhaps, veteran big man Elton Brand. All in all, it proved to be a fruitful day, a solid comeback from the disappointment of not getting the answer they wanted in their pursuit of top free agent Deron Williams, plus losing out on Jason Kidd and Jason Terry in free agency last week. ... The amnesty move with Brendan Haywood will free up enough money for the Mavericks to throw a large bid at Brand, who also was amnestied by Philadelphia.

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: The Pacers agreed to send point guard Darren Collison and shooting guard Dahntay Jones to Dallas for center Ian Mahinmi in a sign-and-trade deal, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Mahinmi agreed to a four-year, $16-million deal with the Mavericks prior to the trade to the Pacers. The Pacers likely aren’t finished making moves. Shooting guard Gerald Green, who met with the Pacers last week, is close to agreeing to deal with them to fill the role as the scoring wing player off the bench. The Pacers are also trying to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Charlotte Bobcats for point guard D.J. Augustin to be George Hill’s backup, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets are open to the three-team deal in which they would receive Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, with Howard going to the Lakers, but are primarily working directly with the Magic to acquire Howard, theindividual with knowledge of the talks said. Getting in position for the planned next move will be difficult. To create enough cap room for the kind of blockbuster trade that has been proposed, the Rockets are considering making veteran forward Luis Scola an amnesty cut, likely in the next 48 hours, a person with knowledge of the move said. That would create enough cap room for the Rockets to take on the additional contracts necessary to complete a trade for Howard. Scola, 32, is due $21 million guaranteed over the next three seasons. The Rockets could wait until Tuesday to make Scola an amnesty cut, by which he would receive his full guaranteed salary but not count against the salary cap or luxury tax figures.

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: I’m starting to like new Magic GM Rob Hennigan already. On Wednesday, Hennigan essentially told the Brooklyn Nets, Dwight Howard and Dan Fegan — Dwight’s hardball agent — that the Magic can play hardball, too. Hennigan may be the youngest GM in the league at 30 years old, but he didn’t back down on Wednesday and showed he would not be bullied and badgered into a bad deal. Dwight and Fegan tried to force the Magic’s hand and strong-arm Dwight’s way to Brooklyn, but Hennigan essentially told them in his best New York accent to ”Fuhgeddaboudit.” Let’s hear for Hennigan! Again and again-again! Hennigan, who hasn’t even been on the job a month, has already shown Magic fans something, and that something is this: He’s going to do what is in the best interest of the Orlando Magic; not what is in the best interest of Dwight Howard.

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: This league is all about catering to stars, not rewarding hard work. The NBA's made-you-look hype machine is based on center Dwight Howard getting everyone fired in Orlando, then walking away from the wreckage. When Phoenix generously shipped point guard Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver slipped further away from championship contention, no matter how much Ty Lawson sweats with his teammates during the summer. The Nuggets can strive to finish with a 50-32 record next season. They would be fun to watch. But so long as the big three in Denver includes Gallinari, Lawson and somebody named McGee, it doesn't really matter if the Nuggets give $10 million per year to JaVale or Pam. They aren't winning a championship. When well-intentioned, frustrated NBA fans shout conspiracy theories about rigged draft lotteries or favorable whistles by referees, it makes me smile. The league is tilted in favor of the stars at a much more organic level.

  • Nate Taylor of The New York Times: Mike Woodson talked as if the Knicks had already matched the four-year, $28.8 million offer sheet Lin agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets. “Absolutely,” Woodson said when asked whether the Knicks would retain their young point guard. “Jeremy Lin has always been a big part of what we’re trying to do as we move forward.” Lin is expected to sign the offer sheet as soon as Thursday, and then the Knicks would have to match it by Sunday. Woodson took it one step further: Lin will be his starting point guard this season. “You can’t lose your starting job based on injuries,” Woodson said. “Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. He’s not going to be punished for that.”

  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Asked about the potential of his remade roster, Danny Ferry said only: “I think we can be competitive.” The risk isn’t so much that fans will desert the Hawks — fans haven’t really embraced this team since 1988 — as that the anticipated follow-through won’t arrive. Ferry used the word “opportunistic” a half-dozen times in a 10-minute conversation, and having money to spend is an absolute must. The Hawks do now. But some big name has to agree to take it. There’s a chance this way won’t work, either. That’s preferable to the old way, which was never going to work well enough. By taking a risk, Ferry has positioned the Hawks to reap a reward. No, not today. But someday soon.

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: The ever-evolving Trail Blazers roster added some depth Wednesday in the form of role players Victor Claver and J.J. Hickson, but the team's more pressing concerns -- restricted free agent Nicolas Batum and acquiring a starting center -- remained in limbo. The Blazers and Minnesota are engaged in a high-stakes poker game for the services of Batum, with Minnesota trying to entice the Blazers to agree to a sign-and-trade deal, or else be faced with having to match what Batum's agent Bouna Ndiaye has threatened as a four-year, $45 million offer sheet. Blazers general manager Neil Olshey on Wednesday repeated his earlier stance that he would match any offer given to Batum while adding he is not intrigued with Minnesota's trade assets. "From what I can see as far as what they can viably offer as of today, I would think Nicolas would have more value than whatever they could put into a sign and trade," Olshey said. Hours later, ESPN reported that Minnesota and Portland were discussing a sign-and-trade deal that would net the Blazers two future first-round picks and a veteran small forward from another team. ... And when asked why David Kahn hasn't presented Batum with the rumored offer sheet, Olshey channeled his Star Trek background to say "It's called the Wrath of Kahn."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Jerryd Bayless, a 23-year-old combo guard, agreed Wednesday to a two-year deal with the Griz, according to sources with knowledge of the agreement. The contract will pay Bayless $3.1 million (the mini-mid-level exception) in the first season. The second year is a player option. ... Memphis' pursuit of Bayless began Tuesday after guards Ramon Sessions, Aaron Brooks, Randy Foye and Lou Williams declined offers. ... Memphis' roster is at 13 players — the league's minimum — with Bayless. The organization does not intend to carry the maximum 15 players but is likely to added a minimum-salary player by the start of training camp in October.

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun The long-time NBA executive [Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo] brushed off criticism about the Landry Fields contract. “I think I’m criticized for every contract that I sign, so I just take it with the territory,” he said. “At some point, those contracts seem to validate themselves. I’ve been doing it longer than most who criticize. Free agency is a funny game, most of the time you are overpaying, in restricted free agency you tend to overpay a little more. We put a value on certain players. We see significant value in Landry Fields, Amir Johnson.” The Raptors will be right at the cap if Fields is not matched by New York, once Valanciunas and second rounder Quincy Acy join Ross as rookies signed. Veteran centre Aaron Gray is expected to ink a multi-year deal using a salary cap exception and Colangelo is still working the phones trying to improve the squad via trade.

  • Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic: The decision to trade Steve Nash to the rival Lakers was "excruciating" for Suns officials, but they ultimately figured it was the quickest way to kickstart a transition they hope will have the team contending sooner rather than later. "I'd like to call it a transition, but I don't hesitate calling it rebuilding," said Lon Babby, the team's president of basketball operations. "... We don't want to be a 7-10 team (in the Western Conference) and be satisfied. It's taken us two years to get to the runway and now we're ready to take off and bring in some younger, new talent. It's a process. It's not going to be a quick fix, that's for sure."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “There was only one thought: ‘I can’t wait to get back on the court,’?” Tim Duncan said on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after signing a contract that will take him to the end of one of the greatest careers in NBA history, all of it with the Spurs. Though the immediate disappointment of that Game 6 loss in Oklahoma City was magnified by expectations that had grown from a 50-16 regular season that bled into 10 straight playoff victories, Duncan viewed his future through the prism of veteran perspective. “We’ve been lucky enough to win four championships, more than most people do in their careers,” he said. “The disappointment of an end to a season happens to most players every season. You just get back up and get ready to go again. I loved what our team did last season. We had a great run and I’m real excited to do something special all over again.”

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood could end up addressing the Charlotte Bobcats’ needs at point guard and center, the Observer has learned. Sessions, an unrestricted free agent who finished last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, has drawn interest from the Bobcats, an informed source said. Haywood, a center who grew up in Greensboro and played for North Carolina, will reportedly be waived by the Dallas Mavericks under the NBA’s amnesty clause.

  • John Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Wednesday marked the first day that teams could consummate free-agent signings and trades, and the Sixers began by re-signing center/forward Lavoy Allen to a two-year, $6 million deal. Can anyone look at the additions to the roster and deny that the Sixers are a better-shooting team and more athletic than they were when they walked off the court against Boston after Game 7? Gone are Lou Williams and Elton Brand. ... Nick Young, 6-7, comes cheaply, signed to a one-year deal at $6 million. ... For whatever reason, things didn't go as planned in Golden State for Dorell Wright under new coach Marc Jackson last season, when the 6-9 Wright's scoring average fell from 16.4 points the season before to just 10.3. But Wright, who can play both shooting guard and small forward, gives the Sixers versatility and length off the bench that they didn't have last season. ... The Sixers are more athletic and longer, and they should be a better shooting team than they were in 2011-12. They have easily tradable contracts and they are not ruling out trading anyone on the roster. And while they haven't made major moves, the removal of Brand is a clear indication that the Sixers are not comfortable with the status quo.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Asked who is standing out on the Select Team, LeBron James said, "Kyrie Irving is, definitely. For me, he stood out more than anyone. He's a great talent. I see him in a couple of years being one of the best point guards that we have in this league, one of the top five point guards. "He has all the abilities that all the great point guards have now in our league -- ball-handling, quickness, shooting ability, and his mind is very smart, too." Irving realizes he's become the toast of the Select team. "My friends have told me," he said. "It's a good feeling."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: While many other teams introduced their freshly signed free agents yesterday, the Celtics remained quiet. Their plan is to unveil the likes of Brandon Bass, Jason Terry and Jeff Green during a Saturday press conference. And Green’s agent, David Falk, couldn’t be happier with that approach. He’s simply glad that Green, expected to sign a four-year deal worth $36 million, will reach his destination seamlessly, unlike a few other players. “Everyone does things differently,” Falk said. “You have Dwight Howard trying to dictate a trade to Brooklyn, even though it looks like it’s not going to go through, and I think he’s really damaged his reputation. Clients shouldn’t be making their own statements in these situations. That’s what agents are for."