First Cup: Tuesday

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Nene sat out the final game of pool play for Brazil on Monday with soreness in his left foot, but the Wizards have been monitoring the injury and remain optimistic that it will not be a problem when training camp begins on Oct. 2, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. Nene is expected to be available on Wednesday when Brazil (4-1) plays Argentina in the quarterfinals. Brazilian Coach Ruben Magnano rested Nene against Spain, but his team still won, 88-82, in a game that it didn’t need to win and possibly set up a more difficult path for a medal. Brazil is seeking its first Olympic medal since 1964. ... After playing his first game in London, Nene said the plantar fasciitis that bothered him shortly after he joined the Wizards at the trade deadline had flared up again. With the Olympics concluding on Sunday, the Wizards expect Nene to have ample time to rest and be ready for the upcoming season. Nene missed 10 consecutive games with the foot problem in April but returned to play the final five games, all Wizards victories.

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: With the British 90-58 trouncing of China in its final game, Deng's role as ambassador for basketball to his adopted country, the one that offered his family political asylum from Sudan, could be complete. Now his preparations to start Bulls' training camp on time begin in earnest. In his strongest implication yet that he either will forego surgery on the torn ligament in his left wrist altogether or postpone it until after the 2012-13 season, Deng said he planned to start camp on time. "Did I look like I needed (surgery)?" Deng said Monday evening. "I'm fine right now. I feel great. There are a lot of things I want to improve in my game that I want to focus on now. I want to be a better player than I was last year. I have time to make decisions and be healthy by the time we start (training camp)."

  • Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: It was wonderful to see Andres Nocioni — the old ‘‘Noce’’ of Bulls fame, the guy who first found out he would be a starter for the 2004-05 Bulls during the Athens Olympics — doing his thing. That is, Noce fouled LeBron James at the beginning of the U.S.team’s 126-97 victory over Argentina and was astounded — astounded — at the call. Ah, memories. But this was a game full of them. One of them, occurring at the end of the third quarter, with the United States up 102-76, was this: dirty play. Remember that kind of stuff? Carmelo Anthony, who’s 6-8, rose for a long jumper, and 5-10 Argentine point guard Facundo Campazzo hit him in the groin. Melo mellowed out on the floor in agony. That’s cheap. That’s cheesy. U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Anthony’s drop to the hardwood as if poleaxed, ‘‘He wasn’t celebrating the shot.’’ It was an angry moment in a hard-fought game, and the ensuing scrum put even more fever into the Americans’ goal of winning every game in London by as much as possible. ‘‘It was wrong,’’ Kobe Bryant (11 points in 21 minutes) said angrily of the jab. ‘‘We told him, ‘You don’t do that.’ ’’

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: Off the court, this team is fighting another battle. To a man, they are staunchly defending their right to compete in all future Olympics, tired of being muted subjects in David Stern's kingdom. This represents a remarkable shift since the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, when many of the top NBA players stayed home, when the Olympics were considered a no-win proposition. It was there that Team USA went 5-3, where Tim Duncan famously declared, "FIBA sucks." There are many reasons for the improved attitude: The Olympics seem to be enjoying a renaissance in America. High-definition televisions have enhanced the viewing experience tremendously. The Games produce enormous television ratings, drawing a large female demographic. They attract tremendous corporate support. As basketball continues to boom in global popularity, there is great benefit to players who participate in the Olympics. It helps their personal brand. It makes them even more attractive to sponsors. They find that mixing red, white and blue can produce a lovely shade of green.

  • Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News: When someone told Kobe Bryant after Monday's game that the elimination bracket pairings could match the United States against Russia in the gold-medal game, the reaction wasn't a shrug from the Laker who often seems too cool for school. Bryant understood right away what such a matchup would mean. This summer is the 40th anniversary of the most controversial basketball game in Olympic history -- the former Soviet Union's upset of the United States in the gold-medal game after a series of botched refereeing decisions. That infamous 1972 loss in Munich was the first defeat for a U.S. basketball team at any Olympics, and the American players were so angry that they refused to accept their silver medals. They still haven't claimed them. Bryant knows the whole story. That's why he was intrigued by facing Russia for the gold this time. "Imagine that," Bryant said of the potential anniversary rematch. "That would be something special. We're looking forward to whoever we face. But imagine the story with that. It would be incredible." Before that, of course, there are two more elimination games to play. Based on Monday, Team USA will handle those opponents speedily. Perhaps not in eight seconds over 100 meters. But come Sunday, they should be claiming another gold medal.

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: Chris Finch's final game as head coach of Great Britain's men's basketball team will be long remembered. The Rockets assistant coach's name will be etched atop Britain's Olympic win list, as Monday's 90-58 rout of China was the first official victory in an Olympic tournament for the 2012 hosts. The only other time the English had a basketball team make it into the tournament was when it was granted automatic entry as hosts in 1948. That team lost all five games in the tournament, and managed only a consolation round win over Ireland. Finch, who played and coached professionally in England, took over as the national team coach in 2006, charged with assembling a program. Basketball in the UK has come a long way under his direction, advancing to the European championships for the first time (2009 and 2011) and now winning an Olympic game. But the team will not advance into the quarterfinals out of Group B. Finch said he hopes the Olympic experience will help the game's popularity in Great Britain.

  • Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press: Jalen Rose doesn't take a liking to the nickname that he says the "lazy" media gave the U.S. women's gymnastics team. That would be the "Fab Five" which, as we know, was the nickname given to the five freshmen of the 1991 Michigan basketball team that competed for a national championship in consecutive years. But it was a nickname also widely used during the London Olympics while the women's gymnasts made their run toward a team gold medal. “To use the nickname just points and screams of lazy journalism by the national media, that’s really what it is,” Rose told 97.1's Jamie Samuelsen. “It’s no fault at all of the young gymnasts. But I really wish they would have come up with an even more creative tag for them and their gold medal pursuit.” Rose, covering the Olympics as a commentator for ESPN, was a part of Michigan's 'Fab Five' along with Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson and finished as NCAA Tournament runners-up in 1992 and 1993. ... Rose actually was granted the trademark to the 'Fab Five' last year, according to Businessweek.com. An attorney in Washington said that Rose has an "opportunity" and that he should approach the women's gymnastics team about the use of 'Fab Five.' Rose says he "loves" the U.S. Olympics team and doesn't believe they're responsible for the nickname.

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: Dwight Howard is physically able to attend Dodgers games in Los Angeles, but he can't attend his own youth basketball camp in Orlando? Really, Dwight? Seriously? According to an official at his annual basketball day camp for children, Dwight Howard will not attend this year, and families who paid the camp's $199 registration fee were sent e-mail messages Monday to inform them Howard will remain in Southern California in order to continue rehabilitating his back. ... I've said it once and I'll say again: It’s hard to believe Dwight is physically unable to attend a youth basketball camp, walk around the gym, offer some words of encouragement, take pictures and sign some autographs for the kids. Not only has Howard let down his teammates and the City of Orlando, now he has let down many kids, too. The Dwightmare continues. It seems Dwight Howard is not only doing his best to get traded from Orlando, he's doing his best to be hated in Orlando, too.

  • Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News: Longtime Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor will relinquish his duties as GM and move to a top executive position within the franchise, according to several media reports. The initial report came from Yahoo! Sports, which also claims, according to NBA league sources, that San Antonio assistant GM Dennis Lindsey is the top candidate to replace O'Connor and that a deal is being finalized. Also, a report by the San Antonio Express News confirmed that Lindsey will be the new Jazz GM. Lindsey, 43, played basketball for Baylor University, graduating in 1992, and has been with the Spurs for five years. In June, Lindsey was being considered for the open general manager position for the Orlando Magic, which went to Roy Hennigan.

  • Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: The newly hired GM can handle the day-to-day personnel management, with O’Connor functioning as the ultimate decision-maker in the absence of the strong personalities of Miller and Sloan. Viewed that way, this move makes perfect sense. Jazz CEO Greg Miller lacks the interest level and basketball savvy that his father possessed, and coach Tyrone Corbin has not earned enough influence in the organization to have a huge say regarding the roster. So this is just another step in the Jazz’s evolution toward normalcy in the NBA. After being owner-driven and coach-driven for nearly a quarter-century, they’re becoming like just about every other pro sports organization. Miller is signing the checks and Corbin will have a forum, but generally speaking, two levels of basketball people will be making the basketball decisions. The semantics are interesting, of course. Saying that O’Connor is being "kicked upstairs" is misleading, because he already occupies a penthouse office in the Jazz’s practice facility.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: The Kings could have waited a few months and made Keith Smart prove himself more before deciding he was their coach beyond the 2012-13 season. But in Smart's first six months, Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said he had seen enough. The Kings announced Monday that Smart had agreed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season. ... Smart took over as coach after Paul Westphal was fired Jan. 5 amid a feud with center DeMarcus Cousins and other players openly questioned his direction. ... Petrie said critics who think the team should have waited to give Smart an extension might also have considered him a lame duck coach if he hadn't received it before the season. "I think it gives us stability and gives him a reasonable period of time to implement the style of play and type of teaching he wants to use," Petrie said.

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: The Milwaukee Bucks have taken another significant step toward upgrading their interior defense. The Bucks received a verbal commitment Monday night from unrestricted free-agent center Jeol Przybilla, one of the league’s better defensive centers. The 7-foot-1 Przybilla agreed to a one-year deal. He is expected to sign the contract later this week. Przybilla’s decision comes one week after he met with Bucks general manager John Hammond, Bucks coach Scott Skiles and Bucks assistant manager Jeff Weltman in Milwaukee. “We’re excited about this,” Bill Duffy, Przybilla’s agent.

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: The New Orleans Hornets hired Joel Meyers as their television play-by-play announcer, former NBA player David Wesley as their color analyst and Jennifer Hale as sideline reporter for their broadcasts this upcoming season on Fox Sports New Orleans. Meyers, a two-time Emmy winner, brings more than 20 years of broadcast experience to the organization, most recently serving as television play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2005-2011 which followed two years on the club’s radio broadcast. Meyers had previously served four years as the voice of San Antonio Spurs’ television broadcasts before joining the Lakers. In addition to his work in the NBA, the St. Louis native has also worked for NBC covering the NFL, two Olympic Games as well as the NBA and professional golf.