First Cup: Wednesday

  • Greg Bishop of The New York Times: So what was Tuesday’s game, then? An annihilation or an aberration? A statement or a mirage? For Pau Gasol, defeat provided an example of what not to do should Spain meet the United States in the gold-medal game in the London Games on Aug. 12. The Americans, he said, used their sizable advantage in quickness and athleticism to run Spain ragged as the game wore on. “Other than that,” Gasol said, “it was positive.” For Chris Paul, victory meant the United States players heard their coach, Mike Krzyzewski, when he told them before the game it would register as the most important basketball contest in this city since the Dream Team won the Olympics in 1992.

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: According to a source the 76ers are close to inking former Portland Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn as their new general manager. Penn would replace president Rod Thorn, who is set to move to an advisory role with the team. Thorn is in the last of his three-year contract that was agreed to with then-owner Ed Snider. The contract also was for Thorn to serve another five years as a team advisor. It is believed that Thorn will move immediately to his new role when Penn becomes the general manager. Penn, who was released as vice president of basketball operations by Portland in 2010, is said to be a CBA guru and a master capologist.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: If nothing else, when Rockets coach Kevin McHale begins practice by calling over his starters, more than three players will head his way. The Rockets now have the two additions they pursued as soon as free agency began.With Tuesday’s addition of Omer Asik, the restricted free-agent center whom general manager Daryl Morey began recruiting from the get-go, and the signing of point guard Jeremy Lin last week, the overhaul of the roster has brought the Rockets the type of young players at key positions they believe they can build around. “The two spots you really want to have settled on your roster are your one and your five, and we feel we have that settled for at least the next three years,” Morey said. “We can build around the team.” The Rockets’ roster has been transformed to the sort that screams rebuilding, with only Kevin Martin boasting a career scoring average in double figures or more than a season’s worth of starts. But with Asik at center and Lin at point guard, the Rockets can put together a starting lineup — likely Lin, Martin, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and Asik — that looks more complete than when the renovations began.

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies continued to shuffle their roster Tuesday with a relatively small deal they hope will pay big dividends. As expected, the Griz traded forward Dante Cunningham to the Minnesota Timberwolves for guard Wayne Ellington. The acquisition of Ellington is another move in the team's off-season push to improve its backcourt. The Grizzlies drafted Tony Wroten, a 6-5 guard out of Washington, with the No. 25 pick of the draft. They also signed free agent Jerryd Bayless. ... "We're able to address the need of additional three-point shooting with this trade," Griz general manager Chris Wallace said". Wayne has had success in the past as a long-distance shooter. We're moving someone we like for someone with a skill we need. … This deal is important for us because we get three-point shooting but we don't have to go out and sign an additional player." ... The Griz hope Ellington, along with Bayless and second-year guard Josh Selby, will compensate for Mayo's absence. Selby was named co-MVP of the Las Vegas summer league. Wallace called Selby a possible wild card to the 2012-13 season.

  • Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: Here are your 2012 Chicago Bulls! Umm . . . uh . . . OK. Marco Belinelli. Vladimir Radmanovic. Nazr Mohammed. Jimmy Butler (Yes!). Omer Asik? Nope, he’s gone. Kyle Korver? He’s gone, too. C.J. Watson? So is he. Maybe John Lucas III, Brian ‘‘White Mamba’’ Scalabrine and Mike ‘‘Two First Names’’ James? Perhaps. Don’t think so. A Bulls team that last offseason seemed so improved, so solid, so primed to take on the Miami Heat and go for the NBA crown, with fine starters and a feisty Bench Mob, isn’t exactly a memory, but it’s a fading vapor. Even as the Heat celebrates and LeBron James says ‘‘uh-huh’’ to all his doubters, the Bulls seem to be saying, ‘‘Huh?’’

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: The Timberwolves made a "generous" offer to free agent Ronnie Brewer, but the former Chicago Bulls shooting guard preferred to sign with the New York Knicks, Brewer's agent, Henry Thomas, told the Pioneer Press on Tuesday, July 24. Brewer, an unrestricted free agent, signed a one-year deal with the Knicks on Tuesday. "Minnesota was very interested in Ronnie and was very aggressive about it," Thomas said. "For the things that were important to him, he felt that the better move was to go to New York. Ronnie was more comfortable with the opportunity there." Thomas declined to go into detail about Brewer's preferences or the terms of the contract offered by Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn.

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: The Timberwolves are targeting former NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko and are willing to pay the free-agent small forward as much as $9 million per season for at least the next two seasons, league sources said Tuesday. To clear enough cap space to do so, they reportedly plan to trade small forward Wes Johnson, their No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft. Yahoo!Sports reported Tuesday that the Wolves were nearing agreement on a three-way trade with Phoenix and New Orleans that would send Johnson and a future No. 1 pick to the Suns in a deal that would shed Johnson's $4.3 million salary and clear space on the Wolves' salary-cap books.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: A.J. Price’s role diminished in each of the past two seasons with the Indiana Pacers, but having to be a backup point guard – sometimes even to the backups – mostly served as a source of motivation. Price had to learn to take a professional approach so that he would be prepared whenever an opportunity arrived. That attitude served Price well earlier this month, when the Pacers renounced their rights to him. Price didn’t view becoming an unrestricted free agent negatively; it was merely a chance to prove his value to another team. “It helped me greatly, because it’s made me hungry. It’s made me thirsty again,” Price said of experience with the Pacers. “Made me want to get that, to where I want to be. That’s what I plan to do this year – I plan to play like I’ve never played before.” Price signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum on Tuesday with the Wizards and his new team is hoping that approach will help Price serve as a reliable option to spell John Wall next season.

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: The Trail Blazers’ search for a head coach still appears to be in the early stages, as general manager Neil Olshey has yet to inform any candidates that they have reached the second round. On Tuesday, Warren LeGarie and Steve Kauffman - two agents with the most clients in the Blazers’ process - said Olshey has yet to reveal his intentions since he interviewed their clients. Olshey interviewed at least 10 candidates last week in Las Vegas, after which he said he wanted to reach out to more candidates who were involved in Basketball Without Borders before advancing to the second round.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: The three-year contract that will take Spurs captain Tim Duncan to the end of his career with the Spurs will pay the two-time Most Valuable Player just over $30 million, according to NBA executives privy to details of the deal that have been released by the league. Duncan, whose contract last season called for him to be paid $21.2 million, will get $9.65 million next season and $10.4 million in 2013-14. The final season of the three-year deal, at Duncan’s option, is for an even $10 million. The 36-year-old Spurs star last season averaged 15.4 points, a team-high 9.0 rebounds and a team-high 1.52 blocks.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Rookie Jeff Taylor, taken 31st overall, might end up being the most cost-effective draft pick in Bobcats history, particularly if his 38 percent 3-point shooting from summer league is indicative of his skills. The guy defends and he can play either small forward or shooting guard. They Bobcats look pretty deep at the wing spots. I get why some of you were frustrated with Kemba Walker shooting 35 percent at summer league. But that isn’t the only pertinent statistic: Over 158 minutes, he took 36 trips to the foul line and made 29 assists. He played more like a point guard – penetrate, and either get himself fouled or find an open teammate – than at any time his rookie season.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: The Suns plan to be "Back in Black" next season. A leak of the spring adidas NBA catalog prompted the website uni-watch.com to post a story about teams' upcoming uniform changes, including a return of the Suns' popular black jerseys that featured a diagonal name and sunburst from 1992 to 2000. Suns President Brad Casper acknowledged the catalog sneak peek and that the franchise was looking at a "Hardwood Classics" uniform to include next season. The Suns have been planning a uniform re-design for the '13-14 season.