First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Derrick Rose sent a self portrait via Twitter on Tuesday. It was a photo of Rose getting ready to shoot a basketball inside the Berto Center with the caption, “Feels good to be back in the gym.” The Bulls are about six weeks from the start of training camp and it will probably be around six months before they even think about getting Rose back from ACL surgery. In the meantime, he spoke about the injury for the first time with CSN Chicago. The interview is billed as taking place last month in Los Angeles, where Rose usually conducts his summer workouts. “I’m doing fine, just trying to stay positive, keep everything normal,” Rose said, according to csnchicago.com. “Coming out to L.A. and just seeing the scenery, just being out here makes me feel good; with my friends out here making me feel more like I’m at home. It’s been hard, definitely been hard. But I’ve been all right. The injury could have been way worse. You've got some people that probably feel worse than I am, but I know I'm going to be all right.”

  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: Glen Taylor said he could only guess when Rubio will be healthy enough to play after coming off March knee surgery. The Wolves will open the season Nov. 2. "The doctors said he was progressing faster than normal, and normal was supposed to be in January," Taylor said Tuesday, Aug. 14, a day before heading to China on a two-week charity mission. "Faster than normal would be December. He's going to start running and stuff in a few weeks." Without Rubio, Spain lost to the U.S 107-100 in the gold-medal game. With Rubio, would Spain have won? "I wouldn't go that far," Taylor said. "But it sure would have been fun to see him in there because (Spain) was very competitive, and he would have added an extra dynamic. But my guess is that the U.S. team just had the firepower, and if Spain would have played a little better, our guys would have played a little better."

  • Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News: This deal was done at a steep price of talent and of character. Not that Bynum lacks character. Despite his issues, he stayed out of jail and last year stayed out of the hospital. Bynum isn't a punk, and he isn't a thug. But he isn't a man, either. Not yet, anyway. Maybe, in Philadelphia, he will become one. Maybe being the franchise player will transform him. "I look at it as an opportunity to take a team and be 'The Guy' and advance my career. Personal goals would be more realistic to attain here," Bynum said. Late in games, it will be Bynum with the ball in his hands: "There, it might have been Kobe . . . I'm looking forward to seeing just how far I can push a team." Asked whether he could handle that pressure, Bynum borrowed George C. Patton's line: "Pressure makes diamonds." Some diamonds are flawed. As titillating as Bynum's talents might be, Harris would prove most intelligent if he spends a few months in courtship before he slips a diamond on the finger of Andrew Bynum.

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: Over a 16-month span that ended in May, Amar’e Stoudemire lost, in no particular order: his health, his brother, his head coach, his primacy in the Knicks’ universe, his scoring touch and, in the end, a little of his dignity. By the time the Knicks were shoved out of the playoffs in Miami, Stoudemire appeared diminished on every level, his Q-rating and efficiency rating in simultaneous free fall. “I’m still that player I was last year,” Stoudemire insisted then, vowing a return to full strength and “an incredible year” next season. The mission began last week, on a quiet ranch in Katy, Tex., where Stoudemire took the first drop-step in a midcareer makeover. The pick-and-rolling, power-dunking star is now a student of the low post. His teacher is a soft-spoken Hall of Famer with a Nigerian accent and two championship rings. Hakeem Olajuwon, a former Houston Rockets star and an oracle of the low post, is pleased with his pupil’s progress. “You won’t believe it,” Olajuwon said in a telephone interview from his ranch outside Houston.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: It had been a while since he [Jermaine O'Neal] felt that same teen love for basketball -- or a team's desire to have him -- but he captured it this summer in choosing the Suns last week for a one-year, $1.35 million contract, which he signed Tuesday. The past two of his 16 NBA seasons "felt like a blur" in Boston as a spate of injuries and a diminished role ate away at his passion. Faced with a decision to return at age 33, O'Neal drew interest -- some with bigger offers or better teams -- but coach Alvin Gentry's home visit made him feel young again. "I felt like a college recruit, to be honest, and it just felt good," O'Neal said. More important, his body feels young and good. For a man who has missed 39 percent of his teams' games over the past eight seasons, any presumption of improved health is taken with great caution, but O'Neal said he feels five years younger. He credits Boston doctors for a surgery that healed his left wrist. After getting a testimonial last year from Kobe Bryant, O'Neal went to Germany after the season to undergo Regenokine treatment on both knees, with the left being his primary concern.

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Sam Presti has preached sustainability since this franchise first docked in OKC. Sustainability was in short supply in the decision-making of the Hornets and Magic in recent years. Just check out the contracts given to Peja Stojakovic (Hornets) and Hedo Turkoglu (Magic). Those all-in decisions meant the future was now. But sustainability means being competitive virtually every year. Maybe not championship-level, but competitive. That's the San Antonio model and, to a certain extent, the Utah model. Those franchises are the answer to the boom-and-bust histories of the Hornets and Magic and the like. Sustained competitiveness is not a pipe dream in small markets. We've seen it accomplished in places with smart management and fiscal responsibility. That's why the Thunder won't overspend for Serge Ibaka and/or James Harden. Presti would love to have both building blocks signed on for the long haul, but you can't play with just four players. The four stars and a roster of cut-rate journeymen would not win a title or even come close. Presti will not risk the fiscal stability of the franchise. And frankly, it's too early to tell if some of the NBA bluebloods will, either. The Nets apparently will belly-flop into the luxury tax, because of Russian Monopoly money. The Knicks will, because they can and don't have better sense. But we don't even know for sure if big spenders like the Lakers and Mavs will bust the bank and pay the potential huge luxury tax.

  • Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Mark Cuban overpaid for a real bad ballclub in 2000, but it was a team that already had a young Dirk, a young Nash, a young Finley and an old Don Nelson in place. That's what brought the Mavs back into prominence. Maintaining that prominence took a weird turn and a wrong turn after the world championship and, when the Lakers added Howard last week, that officially killed the grand scheme. Credit here goes heavily to Donnie Nelson for somewhat bailing out Cuban and also wiping out what should have been doom-and-gloom, which was replaced with a "hey, that's a heck of a lot better than anyone thought."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets on Wednesday waived center Josh Harrellson to make room for forward Carlos Delfino. Harrellson was acquired by the Rockets from the New York Knicks as part of the Marcus Camby sign-and-trade on July 11. Harrellson saw action in two games with the Rockets at 2012 NBA Summer League. He averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 37 games (four starts) with New York in 2011-12. Harrellson’s contract was not guaranteed, although it would have become guaranteed on Thursday. Earlier this week, the Rockets agreed to terms with Delfino on a $3 million contract for one season with a team option for another season. The Rockets’ roster is now at 20.

  • Brant Parsons of the Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Magic have re-signed free agent point guard Ish Smith, and will add another point guard behind starter Jameer Nelson before camp opens. The Magic traded Nelson's back-up, Chris Duhon, to the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster trade involving Dwight Howard. Smith has signed a guaranteed one-year contract at the veteran's minimum, with two additional years not guaranteed.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Barring a trade, the 2012-13 Pistons roster is set. The team announced Wednesday morning the signing of second-round draft pick Khris Middleton. Middleton, who was the 39th pick, played three seasons at Texas A&M. He is considered a silky smooth scorer with a good jump shot. He arrived at the Pistons practice facility Wednesday and immediately joined the off-season conditioning program. The 6-feet-8 swingman joins a roster with several small forwards — including veteran Tayshaun Prince and 2011 second-round pick Kyle Singler. The team now has 15 players under contract for next season. With the additions of Andre Drummond and Slava Kravtsov, the Pistons’ roster appears overloaded with frontcourt options, so you could see a move to shore up the backcourt.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Miami Heat second-round pick Justin Hamilton has signed to play the upcoming season in Croatia, where he holds a passport, for Cibonia Zagreb of the Adriatic League, his agent Wednesday told the Sun Sentinel. Under NBA rules, the Heat will retain the rights to the center out of LSU, who will not count against the team's salary cap or luxury tax for 2012-13. It is similar to the approach the Heat took in gaining additional overseas seasoning for previous second-round draft picks Jarvis Varnado and Robert Dozier. "We all kind of made a decision together that him going overseas for a year and playing in games with pressure, at a high level, continuing to work on his body, would be good for everybody," agent Justin Zanik said. Zanik said Hamilton's contract with Cibonia Zagreb is for one season.

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Former Hawks guard Joe Johnson is like many of the rest of us: relocating for his job and looking to sell his crib. Most of us aren’t putting our house on the market for $4.7 million, but still. The listing at estately.com notes J.J.’s “grand estate” includes eight bedrooms and eight full baths among its 13,822 square feet. There’s a weight room, a recording studio, and a basement spa that appears to include a salon with a barber’s chair (helping to explain why J.J.’s waves always were so tight). Personally, I would never buy a place with a weak Walk Score (at least it’s ITP, though). Then again, if I could afford this mansion, someone else would run my errands and I’m pretty sure I’d have a few friends willing to move in visit every once in a while.