First Cup: Monday

  • Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News: Dirk Nowitzki staged an impromptu Q&A on Twitter on Sunday and told fans he would like to play at least two more seasons, and that he bleeds Mavericks blue. The 34-year-old Mavericks forward responded to one question asking how many more years he wanted to play with: “2 for sure and then see how I feel.” Nowitzki has two years remaining on the four-year, $80 million deal he signed in 2010. When asked why he doesn’t just jump to a “Super Team” and try to win a championship elsewhere, Nowitzki replied: “I bleed blue.” Those are positive signs for Mavericks fans after a tough summer of pursuing Deron Williams and losing out on the Brooklyn point guard. When asked if he feels the team the Mavericks have put together can win a championship this season, Nowitzki replied: “I always feel that way.” The Q&A was interesting in that Nowitzki offered that he had 20 minutes if anyone wanted to ask him a question. He stayed on Twitter for about an hour and covered a long list of topics.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: To say LeBron James' personal clock is out of whack would be an understatement. After a worldwide whirlwind that included two weeks in London at the Olympics followed his just-completed promotional tour of China, the Miami Heat forward found himself up early Sunday, finally with some free time. So he took to Twitter for a rare question-and-answer session, after posting, "Sucks when u the only one in the house wide awake!" What followed dealt with his thoughts on everything from his receding hairline to Skip Bayless to his love of Florida State football. ... Among the best exchanges was the question of "Where did your hairline go? Lol," which came with a reply of, "Man I have no idea! If u find it, let me know and we'll go pick it up 2gether." ... Then there was, "How do you feel about Skip Bayless?" which came with a reply of, "I don't feel anything! Never met or seen him a day in my life. Great for TV."

  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: If the Thunder can offer the max, presumably it will do so before the deadline to avoid any unnecessary distractions during the season. This leads to the following conclusion: If James Harden goes to market, he won't return in 2103-14. The pressure for Harden stems from whether he will remain in OKC or be drawn back to the desert. Harden instantly would become a hometown drawing card with the Suns, not to mention their starting guard. Any team that bids on Harden will make him a starter. You don't offer max contracts to reserves. Will becoming a starter lure away last season's Sixth Man of the Year? Could part of the Thunder's sales pitch include making Harden a starter? The Thunder's modus operandi has been for Presti to get the players and for Scott Brooks to coach the team, and never the twain shall meet in contract negotiations. Not so far, at least. With the extension deadline 65 days away, the clock quietly is ticking. The closer Oct. 31 gets, the louder that clock will tick.

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: If Kevin Durant doesn't fancy himself as a big-city guy, wouldn't Orlando make sense? Retooling mostly through the draft, the Magic could have young pieces in place by then, if GM Rob Hennigan has his way. Hennigan isn't opposed to signing free agents --- and the Magic have a history of spending money to grab them. But the new GM doesn't seem as if he'll ridiculously overpay for any…unless it's a superstar package of talent and humility like Durant. In the summer of 2014, the Magic will have roughly $36 million in cap space. The prospective free-agent class is stunning: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. ... Other '14 would-be free agents: Pau Gasol, Amar'e Stoudemire, Zach Randolph, Andrew Bogut, Danny Granger and Andrea Bargnani. None of them -- other than Granger, a good but not great player -- seemingly fit the Magic plan. The Magic will have even more cap room in the 2015 offseason, depending on what they do the next two summers. And there are some free-agent jewels: Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. Will the Magic be good enough by then to turn any of their heads? That's the question. It takes more than a max contract now to land them in this age of stars joining forces. ... This leads us to The Summer of Durant, with the Magic a full four seasons (and several lottery picks) into their rebuild.

  • Marcos Breton of The Sacramento Bee: No matter how vociferously I said – and tweeted – that the Kings weren't moving, people wanted to talk about how they were. I never felt so old in my life. My journalism career began in 1986, not long after Cronkite signed off for the last time. That was back when standards and fact checking and analysis based on knowledge was still the universal standard in the business. Those standards live on, but they are far from universal. When they are not upheld or are plainly overlooked by people trying to post "provocative" information online, you have a story about nothing becoming the biggest story of the day. Be careful when you blame the "media" for this rubbish. Many of us in the business hate days like Thursday. I foolishly spent the better part of that day as a half-baked Internet hall monitor – preaching standards to people who don't care about them. What's especially galling is that we know the Kings owners don't want to be in Sacramento. Consequently, there is going to be smoke in any Maloof-related fire because that is the sorry state of the Kings under Maloof "leadership."

  • Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer: So Doug Collins, one of the stars of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that lost the controversial gold-medal game to the Soviet Union, and a longtime Olympic basketball analyst, has been mentioned as a prime candidate to replace Krzyzewski. Among the others who have gained mention are Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Collins doesn't seek the subject, but when asked during this weekend's reunion of the '72 team about whether he would like to be the Olympic coach, he showed typical candor while also professing a desire to stay with the Sixers long-term. "It's a tremendous honor that somebody would even throw my name out there," Collins said. "It's four years down the road and I understand in this business you hope you are an active coach at the time." Which means obviously with the Sixers. "I am hoping that I am still active and I would like to coach four or five years in Philadelphia," he said. So much for the assumption that Collins was taking things in Philadelphia on a yearly basis.

  • Dan Cahill of the Chicago Sun-Times: Though he’s in Miami most of the year, Dwyane Wade always finds time to come back and give back to his hometown. The Heat star was in Chicago all weekend for his fifth annual “Wade’s World Foundation,’’ which pushes reading and literacy for at-risk children. The two-time NBA champion also found time to answer a few pressing basketball questions: Jordan or James? ‘‘Michael is the greatest player I’ve ever seen play. I think LeBron is in that conversation of one day becoming. It’s all speculation, in a sense. He has a long way to go. He knows that. He has one championship. Michael has six! There’s a lot to say about that. LeBron is a dominant player. ... But Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time.’’

  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: In a small city like Memphis, people with money tend to know other people with money. They send their kids to the same schools, eat at the same restaurants. It would seem obvious that if you want to make a franchise like the Grizzlies work, you'd want those people on your side, you'd want them to feel part of the enterprise. That's why Pera bolstered the lease. Not because he needs the local investment to complete the deal, but because he believes that the only way the franchise can thrive in this city is if Memphians are committed to making it thrive. Even then, it's going to be difficult. Memphis is smaller and poorer than most NBA cities. There are plenty of larger, more established markets that struggle. I'm not saying that a passionate local ownership group means the Grizzlies will automatically start selling out every night. But they have a chance now, a chance they didn't have until Pera signaled that it's not going to be business as usual.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Q:Hey, Mary: Any chance Omri Casspi gets cut in training camp? I like him to a degree, but only because I'm Jewish. His shot looked bad last year and that's what he's good at, plus he was clearly in Byron Scott's doghouse for defense and lack of hustle. Are there any particular players you could see the Cavs getting/going for in the trade market? – Jake Udell, Phoenixville, Pa. ... A:Hey, Jake: I know that Casspi didn't play well last season, but no one was more upset than he was. I know the Cavs have been pleased with the work he has put in this summer, so I don't think he will get cut in training camp. Right now, I think the Cavs want to see how the new additions look together, so I don't see any trades in the short term.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: From new women to old friends, from newfound riches to old stories of bankruptcies and from illegal drugs to social slugs, the program introduced rookies to problems that are more common than they imagined and more issues than they could master. More than anything, the point was to tell rookies there is a league infrastructure of support with confidential counseling and financial advice from the league. Also, there are hands-on relationships through a representative on each team, such as Suns Vice President of Player Programs Mark West. "I didn't know how in-depth we would go and how much it could really apply to me," Marshall said of the program. "It turns out I've really learned a lot." Each of the three full days' itineraries began at 8:30 a.m. and went to 10 p.m. October two-a-days at the Suns' training camp in La Jolla, Calif., might breeze by for Marshall compared with these days that the NBA packs with videos, pictures, blunt language and players-only talks to keep their interest. The point is that NBA players are at the center of the business and can positively or negatively affect that business and their careers with decisions they make on and off the court.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: The Pistons have failed to crack the postseason for three consecutive years, but there's a sense of optimism with recent draft picks Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond -- all of whom David heavily scouted. But as the No. 2 man in the organization, fans will start to associate him with everything that goes right -- and everything that goes wrong. David isn't overly concerned about the increased scrutiny because he knows there is no such thing as a full-proof decision. He also understands how the fans feel because he was in their shoes once. And if things improve on the floor, he could have other opportunities, like those that developed for predecessors John Hammond (Bucks GM) and Scott Perry (Magic assistant GM). But those thoughts aren't dominant. "It would be a goal of mine to eventually do it, but I can honestly say that if the rest of my career path is simply being the No. 2 person to Joe Dumars, in a lot of ways I can honestly tell you that would be a complete career," David said.