First Cup: Friday

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: It took awhile and a couple of false starts, but the Celtics got their man last night, acquiring Courtney Lee from Houston in a sign and trade for JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, Sasha Pavlovic and a second-round draft pick. The paperwork is expected to be finalized today. The deal originally had Phoenix and New Orleans as facilitators, but that came apart late yesterday afternoon Pacific time. Late last night, Portland became the third team and Pavlovic was included. The amended details were still being learned as the Herald’s final print deadline passed, but the Celts will clearly be ecstatic to acquire the coveted 6-foot-5 Lee without disturbing their main rotation.

  • Roderick Boone of Newsday: Amar'e Stoudemire said the only thing that's going to cut it next season is a title. "Anything less than a championship," the power forward said on MSG Thursday during Knicks' Summer League broadcast from Las Vegas, "is a waste of a season." Stoudemire, looking leaner, said he's down to 245 pounds and has been training two times a day since May. He said he's strong, healthy and ready to go, and is thrilled with the trade for Raymond Felton. The two worked well in their short time together before Felton was dealt to Denver as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. "Awesome, awesome acquisition with Raymond," Stoudemire said.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: CNN and ESPN were at Toyota Center to report the latest chapter of a story difficult to believe. Local stations that needed a GPS to find the arena last season arrived early to herald Lin’s return. Media filled the 70 news conference seats with at least as many lining the court as Rocketsowner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey fielded questions about letting Lin go and bringing him back. And Lin, 23, spent another astonishing day as the center of attention to rival the entrance of Yao Ming a decade before. “I don’t see myself as a conquering king,” Lin said of the description assigned him in one of the day’s first questions. “It’s been an unbelievable ride, a lot of things I didn’t expect to happen in terms of the way last season went. I have to still remind myself this is all actually happening.” This was not Linsanity with its last-second shots, adoring fans and the compelling Star is Born story line of a kid succeeding in the big city. This was its result. “Look at this crowd,” said Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, who took Lin to dinner and to scout neighborhoods Wednesday. “Tell me this isn’t fun. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And he’s a great player. Even without all this, we’d be happy to have him on the team, the way he plays and the way he handles himself on and off the court. He’s incredible.”

  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Mayo's plan came to fruition Thursday when he signed a two-year contract for $8.5 million with the Mavs, with the second year being a player option. The Mavericks are expecting Mayo, 24, to startat shooting guard. Mayo, who spent his first four seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, sees this as a time to add a refreshing new chapter to his life. He even had "some dinners" with coach Rick Carlisle in Las Vegas so he could assess just where he can fit in with the Mavs. "I want to try out," Mayo said. "If the starting position is up for grabs, it's quite natural for the competitive nature to get the best of you and want to start. "I think the last two years of my career I've been pretty much sacrificing for the betterment of our team. I understood that and did that, but coming here is definitely a fresh start." Asked what Carlisle told him to do once training camp starts, Mayo said: "Just come in and play my game, bring my attitude and swagger to the team. He said just be myself, don't be a quiet guy. "Just be myself. We're looking forward to working with each other."

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: The agent for Los Angeles Lakers All-Star center Andrew Bynum said he has held no discussions with the Cavaliers and doesn’t believe a deal involving his client and Cleveland is imminent. “I’ve had zero conversations with [Cavs General Manager] Chris Grant,” said David Lee, Bynum’s agent. “I would imagine any team involved in this trade would be smart enough to talk to us.” Bynum is under contract to the Lakers, and it is common in trades of this magnitude for agents to be consulted before a deal is completed. Particularly in the case of Bynum, who can be a free agent at the end of the season. Cleveland was listed in a recent Yahoo Sports report as a potential destination Bynum would consider in free agency next summer, but Lee said he had no idea how the two were linked.

  • Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times: Unless cap guru Irwin Mandel is a magician, the prudent move should be clear: Let Asik go. Tom Thibodeau, a noted defensive coach, at least has a chance to replace Asik’s impact — if not with Darko Milicic or some other 7-footer, then by mixing and matching some other combination of second-unit players. More minutes for Taj Gibson automatically help fill that void. But the $15 million cap hit is virtually indelible, impossible to erase without pain. Asik has a role in the NBA, but he’s only going to be the next Omer Asik. With the Bulls paying Boozer $15 million, Luol Deng $13.3 million and Joakim Noah $11 million next season, they know all too well how debilitating high salaries can be when they don’t quite fit the production. So whether the Bulls are just kicking the tires on Milicic, it appears they’re already putting a Plan B in place in anticipation of losing Asik. Replacing Asik shouldn’t be that difficult.

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: Let's get real: Orlando will always be able to get some draft picks and cap flexibility for a future Hall-of-Famer. That's why the Magic need to wait and make Dwight sweat some more. Look what happened last week when the Magic turned the heat on low and refused to trade Dwight to Brooklyn. He blinked and is now reportedly agreeable to going to the Lakers. Why not turn up the Heat a little higher and little hotter and see if he'll open up his trade-request list even more? If Dwight will play for the Lakers, why not the Clippers? Maybe the Magic could work a deal for exciting, young superstar Blake Griffin. Or what about the Bulls or the Thunder? Why not see if he'll sign a long-term deal with those two teams as well? He could do a whole lot worse than playing with Derrick Rose in Chicago or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. The fact is Dwight would probably agree to play just about anywhere to avoid coming back to Orlando this season. I don't believe he has the stomach to suit up for the Magic at the beginning of the season and take the court as angry Orlando fans shower him with boos, venom and vitriol.

  • Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press: Timberwolves all-star forward Kevin Love is glad he negotiated the option to leave Minnesota as a free agent in three years instead of securing a maximum five-year contract, demanding again that management invest in a playoff-contending team before he commits long term to the franchise. Love also was pleased to see "bad blood" purged from the locker room and stressed the "urgency of the situation" with the Wolves, whose roster remains unsettled after the team failed to sign Portland free-agent forward Nicolas Batum. In a telephone interview Thursday, July 19, from England, where the U.S. men's basketball team is preparing for the Olympics, Love doubled down on comments he made about his waning patience with the Wolves to Yahoo! Sports two weeks ago during Team USA's training camp. ... "There was some bad blood in that locker room we were able to get out of there and smooth things out. That should help us out going forward." Asked to elaborate, Love responded: "Just what I said. We had bad blood in the locker room. We got that out."

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: Near the end of the Trail Blazers' summer league matchup against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, a trio of fans started chanting "M-V-P" in honor of rookie point guard Damian Lillard. It didn't catch on with the rest of the Cox Pavilion crowd and quickly faded, but the sentiment was justified. The event features 23 NBA teams and 13 of the top 14 picks from the last month's NBA draft, and Lillard has looked every bit like the most valuable player through three games in Las Vegas. He ranks first in scoring (27.7 points per game) and 10th in assists (4.7), and his unflappable demeanor unmistakably screams "leader." The best news for Blazers fans is that he seems to get better and more confident each outing. Every time I talk about this kid, it just keeps (getting better)," rookie center Meyers Leonard said. "He's unbelievable. His ability to finish around the rim, shoot, create for others, defend, play hard -- he's a special player."

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: Little things are big things to Leonsis, who said he now employs statisticians with PhDs and Stanford educations for analyses to help his clubs. He can get emotional in the moment and says he hasn’t gone all “Moneyball” on everyone. But he never lets his feelings trump empirical reasoning. That’s why, he says, he kept Ernie Grunfeld as the Wizards’ president, Randy Wittman as coach and George McPhee as the Caps’ general manager for the past 13 years. When told he had yet to fire a general manager, Leonsis replied: “I haven’t had to yet. You have to look at the arc of the team. It’s not just how the team is performing. It’s how the fan base is performing. The Caps have 98 percent renewals. 98 percent. We raised prices. We sell out every game. Again, counterintuitive, I’ll hear, ‘Well, everyone wants this.’ And I go, ‘Really? So you’re tuned in? Because if everyone wanted that, they wouldn’t renew. They’d say, ‘I don’t believe.’ They wouldn’t come to the games. They wouldn’t pay higher prices. They wouldn’t rock the red. So the decisions have been empirical. With Ernie what I found was, could we be on the same wavelength? Would he build the team with eight or nine first-round picks? Could he make trades? I thought trading Gilbert was impossible. I thought trading Rashard [Lewis] was impossible.”

  • Jeff McDonaldof the San Antonio Express-News: For the first time in his career, Danny Green came to Summer League as a spectator, and not a player. Still, even after signing a three-year, $12 million contract to return to the Spurs last week, Green could recall his days as a fledgling Cleveland Cavaliers summer-leaguer hoping to play well enough to impress the right people. ... Green called his contract, the first guaranteed deal of his NBA career, “a stress-reliever.” Green is one of three starters the Spurs re-signed in hopes of keeping together a roster that advanced to the Western Conference finals before losing to Oklahoma City. Power forward Tim Duncan and center Boris Diaw are the others. The Spurs also re-upped with backup point guard Patrick Mills.

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: With the maximum 15 players now under contract, there are questions about just who will play for the Nuggets next season. Nuggets coach George Karl took time on the phone Thursday to discuss numerous hot topics. Q: With McGee, Kenneth Faried, Al Harrington, Kosta Koufos, Timofey Mozgov and Randolph, you now have six players at the power forward and center positions. How will you handle this? A: "There's no question, it's too many. It's a situation that if everybody is healthy, it's going to be a tough thing. There's no question that 1-2 players, might even be three, might not be happy with the minutes they get. But I always tell people that it's a much better situation than the opposite one. Having good players usually figures its way out — sometimes that's by trade, sometimes it just works out."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Kings first-round draft pick Thomas Robinson played without a number on his jersey Thursday. Robinson has worn "0" since his senior year of high school and was even showcased on the Kings' website wearing that number Thursday. But the Kings have added veteran guard Aaron Brooks, who has worn "0" his entire career. The Kings will introduce Brooks at a news conference today at 11 a.m. Don't be surprised if Brooks is holding up a jersey with a "0" on it while the rookie looks for a new number.

  • John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer: The 76ers on Thursday got center Kwame Brown's signature on a contract that will pay him $6 million over the next two seasons, his agent said. "It's done. We signed today," Chicago-based Mark Bartelstein said when asked about the status of the deal that Brown and the Sixers agreed to last Friday. ... On Tuesday, Sixers coach Doug Collins said that Brown will open training camp as the team's starting center. That will shift last season's starting center, Spencer Hawes, to forward.

  • Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel: The BMO Harris Bradley Center board of directors and the Milwaukee Bucks have been discussing a new six-year lease that, if approved by the National Basketball Association, will provide stability for both sides as discussion continues over the possibility of a new, multi-purpose arena. Details of the lease were not released. Information on an extended lease came from the minutes of the BMO Harris Bradley Center's March meeting, which were released this week. If approved by the NBA, a six-year lease would be, by far, the longest lease the two sides have had in years. In general, the Bucks and the BMO Harris Bradley Center have gone year-to-year on leases.

  • Michelle Kaufman of The Miami Herald “Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m experiencing life, and that’s what they need to focus on, life. For many of these kids, just having someone take the time to notice them can make a big difference.” Last week, James Jones made an appearance at a camp in Little Haiti and shared the same message. Next week, he will focus on basketball fundamentals at the 2012 Dibia Elite Basketball Skills Camp, which he runs with former UM teammate Brandon Okpalobi at Ransom Everglades High School in Coconut Grove for ages 8-18. Jones’ dream, he said, is to expand his life-enrichment camps all over South Florida. He grew up in Miami, attended American High in Hialeah and is committed to this community. He proved that when he accepted the league’s minimum salary to sign with the Heat in 2011 rather than make more money elsewhere. That, he said, is why the NBA title was extra special for him.