First Cup: Wednesday

  • Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle: Will the toast of Broadway become toast in Houston? His team, the New York Knicks, had until midnight Tuesday to decide whether he would still be their Linderella. (The promise I made the other day not to engage in the trite plays on his name was confined to the sports pages.) But the Knicks’ chose not to match the Rockets’ offer to Lin by the deadline. So Houston is now committed to pay $25.1 million over the next three years to a point guard they sent away less than seven months ago for zero in return. Now I didn’t go to MIT—I can’t even spell it—but I doubt that’s the kind of business the Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, was taught when he was earning his MBA there. And I sure hope it’s not the kind of business he taught when he was the professor of a class there called “Analytical Sports Management.” If Lin doesn’t work out for the Rockets, students of that class in the future will be studying this deal like aspiring petroleum engineers study “Deepwater Horizon.”

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: The final decision for the Knicks rested with James L. Dolan, the Madison Square Garden chairman, and Dolan was the only one who could reverse it as the final hours ticked away Tuesday. But by midafternoon, a person briefed on the situation said the deliberations had ended. “It is done,” the person said. The decision was said to be financial, not emotional. Lin’s contract contains a third-year balloon payment of $14.9 million, which would have cost the Knicks another $35 million or more in luxury-tax penalties. This so-called poison pill was devised by the Rockets to dissuade the Knicks from matching, and it proved effective. “We were comfortable with the money we were going to give Jeremy, and we hoped they wouldn’t match,” Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s hard to know what was the key to their decision.”

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: Are the Rockets paying too much for Jeremy Lin? Oh yeah. But as I like to say, it ain’t my money, so I’m all in with Lin. He is one of my favorite players, so I am happy for him. And I’m happy the New York Knicks have decided to let the Rockets have him. Lin is entertaining.The Rockets haven’t been entertaining since before Ron Artest became Metta World Peace. Last fall, Lin would have been happy as all get-out to have signed for two seasons with the Rockets for well under a $1 million a year. Now, he is hitting Les Alexander’s bank account for an average of around $8.3 million per season over the next three years. Sweet. Not so sweet if you’re general manager Daryl Morey. This is a huge gamble. ... If Lin flames out and heads to the bench any time in the next three years, I can’t imagine Alexander will be so forgiving of Morey’s mismanagement of his moolah. If Asik comes here and is the dud I expect him to be, Alexander is likely to have serious Kelvin Cato flashbacks. That wouldn’t be good for Morey. Then again, if Morey hauls in Howard in the next week or so and if Howard and Lin form what could be one of the NBA’s most potent pick-and-roll combos, all this talk of his job being in jeopardy will be forgotten.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: The Wizards waived the 25-year-old Blatche on Tuesday, exercising the NBA’s amnesty provision to end a seven-year relationship that begin when they drafted him in the second round in 2005. Under the rules of the latest collective bargaining agreement, Blatche will receive the remaining $23 million that he is owed through 2014-15 and the Wizards will remove his salary from their payroll. "Andray’s time in D.C. didn’t unfold as any of us had envisioned, and we felt it was best for the Wizards — and for Andray too — if we parted ways,” Leonsis wrote on his blog, Ted’s Take. “I briefly got to know Andray, and I like him and wish him well, but he needs a fresh start somewhere, and we need to move forward with our current core group of players.” Paying Blatche simply to go away solidified the Wizards’ desire to separate from an embarrassing period in franchise history that was clouded by losing and a lack of professionalism. Blatche is the last remnant of the Wizards’ playoff teams but he also was the only player remaining from the team on which Gilbert Arenas brought guns into the locker room three seasons ago.

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: The Nuggets cut Chris "Birdman" Andersen and signed in his place free agent Anthony Randolph, a source said Tuesday. The team used the NBA's amnesty clause to waive Andersen, a source said. Randolph, a power forward and center, averaged 7.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 34 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season. ... The move makes sense for Denver because the 33-year-old Andersen didn't play much last season and the Nuggets have numerous younger big men on the roster. Last season, Andersen appeared in only 32 games, averaging 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes.

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: The Clippers have used the NBA’s one-time amnesty provision on small forward Ryan Gomes, said NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The team did so just before the league’s 8:59 p.m. (PDT) Tuesday deadline. Gomes will make his entire $4-million salary, but it won’t count against the Clippers’ salary cap and luxury-tax threshold. That now opens the door for the Clippers to sign free-agent small forward Grant Hill, as the team plans to do with the biannual exception, the NBA executives said. Hill is expected to sign a two-year deal worth $3.87 million. Because the Suns were not willing to participate in a sign-and-trade for Hill and Gomes, the Clippers were forced to waive Gomes, said the executives.

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Charlie Villanueva, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has known for a while he wouldn't be a casualty of the clause. Villanueva and Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars cleared the air about the matter a couple months ago, when Villanueva privately expressed to those close to him he thought it could happen. ... When Villanueva got healthy, Pistons coach Lawrence Frank was comfortable with his set rotation and Villanueva was left on the outside looking in. And by the time he received some time, the season, for all intents and purposes, was over. Villanueva knows what he symbolizes to his detractors. He knows fans feel he hasn't lived up to the five-year, $35 million deal that he signed in July 2009. ... The Pistons have added six new players since April, and Villanueva feels energized because of the faith the team's front office showed in him. Villanueva remains and he was asked if he was surprised if he hasn't been jettisoned yet. He paused. "Umm, nothing surprises me in this league now," said Villanueva.

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: Not only has Heat swingman Mike Miller decided against retirement, but he also now expects to avoid the back surgery that many thought was inevitable. “The plan is to avoid surgery,” Miller said Tuesday while hosting a basketball camp for children in Hialeah. “We’re doing everything we can. I fully intend on being ready for training camp.” And he’s optimistic about playing a full 2012-13 season. Miller, who has said he has multiple bulging discs, was in pain throughout the playoffs but still drained seven three-pointers (in eight attempts) in the Heat’s series-clinching win against Oklahoma City. But Miller feels “a ton” of improvement since the playoffs: “There’s no comparison.”

  • Iliana Limón Romero and Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: If Fran Vázquez ever plays for the Orlando Magic, it won't be before the 2014-15 season. The Magic's 2005 first-round draft pick has decided to keep playing in Europe. Again. In an interview Tuesday, Vázquez's agent, José Cobelo, confirmed that Vázquez has agreed in principle to a new contract with Unicaja Málaga, a team in Spain's top league. ... The Magic will continue to retain Vázquez's draft rights unless the team trades away those rights. Vázquez has never played in the NBA. And it looks increasingly like he never will. He is 29 now and will be 31 years old when the 2014-15 NBA season begins.

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Kyle Lowry was Toronto’s marquee off-season acquisition, but Landry Fields could also play a prominent role going forward. In the former New York Knick, the Raptors believe they have acquired a versatile player who will mesh well with the new roster. “(Fields) will address multiple needs. Versatility, defending multiple positions and also scoring with good efficiency,” general manager Bryan Colangelo said on Tuesday. ... He will have more of a chance to contribute in Toronto but will also have to try to justify the three-year, $19-million US contract he received. Alan Anderson will be brought back by the club for the veteran’s minimum and will battle for playing time as he did down the stretch last season during an eye-opening run.

  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: Doug Collins has a plan. During an informal gathering with the media Tuesday, Collins discussed how he wants to move Spencer Hawes to power forward with the idea of starting free agent Kwame Brown at center. Collins said his goal is to begin training camp in late September with a first five of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala, Hawes and Brown. He believes the 7-foot-1 Hawes is best suited at the “four’’ position because Hawes is more comfortable there and “wants to float around on the perimeter and shoot the ball anyway and stuff.’’ Hawes was mainly a high-post center on offense and has range with his jumper, though chasing down athletic power forwards could be an issue. That will leave “Kwame (to) do the heavy lifting and play against all the big centers,’’ according to Collins.

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: Summer league took a scary turn for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, when Nolan Smith was wheeled off the arena floor on a stretcher and rushed to an area hospital after taking an elbow to the head and collapsing to the court. Smith suffered a concussion during the incident, but was released from the hospital late Tuesday night after CT scan results came back normal and he had full range of motion. "It hurts my heart to see him go down because I know how hard he works," Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard said. "I know how good of a guy he is. You never want to see one of your soldiers go down."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: For Kawhi Leonard, it didn’t take long for the memories to come flooding back Tuesday. Out the locker-room door, past the framed photos of UNLV greats, hang a right down the tunnel, and suddenly he was back on the floor at Thomas & Mack Arena, reliving a moment from his past. As an All-American at San Diego State, Leonard played in Las Vegas on numerous occasions, most recently in the Mountain West conference tournament his Aztecs won in 2011. “Walking through the tunnel and looking at those pictures brought some memories back,” said Leonard, now a second-year small forward and the undisputed leader of the Spurs’ summer-league team. Then, Leonard did something seldom seen during his All-Rookie first season in the NBA. He smiled. The goal for Leonard this week has been to channel his inner Aztec. So far, so good. Handed the reins of the Spurs’ summer squad and instructed to be The Man, the newly turned 21-year-old has responded by averaging 25 points in the first two games. Leonard had 27 in Tuesday’s 92-81 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, using an array of scoring moves last seen at San Diego State.

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Josh Selby insists that he's not trying to make a statement. He's only doing what the Grizzlies have asked of him — and that's to go out and score the basketball. After two Las Vegas summer league games you can consider the second-year guard out of Kansas very obedient. Selby scored 35 points Tuesday night despite the Grizzlies' 83-77 loss to the Washington Wizards in the Cox Pavilion at UNLV. Selby's point total, which came on 12-of-22 shooting, is a high for Las Vegas during this summer. "I was trying to do enough to get us the win," Selby said. "I'm disappointed that we lost. I didn't do enough to win. … I don't really care about the 35 points I scored." The coaching staff is pleased with Selby's consistency. He's made 19 of 33 shots, including 12 of 16 3-pointers, since the Griz began summer league play last Saturday.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Thomas Robinson has been hard on himself through three summer league games. He's shooting just 35.1 percent (13 of 37) while averaging 5.3 turnovers. So before boarding the team bus after practice, Robinson challenged Darnell Jackson to a three-point shooting contest and dropped back like a quarterback to throw the basketball toward the hoop at the opposite end of the practice court at Cox Pavilion. "I'm trying to take some of the stress off myself," Robinson said. "I've been beating myself up about these games, so I'm trying to get back to having fun." Kings coach Keith Smart said Robinson is a willing student. One lesson Smart wants Robinson to learn is how to temper his emotions.