First Cup: Wednesday

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: The Pacers – obviously – didn’t go and spend big bucks on free agents around the league. They believe they can close the gap with the Heat by keeping their core players (re-signing restricted free agents Roy Hibbert and George Hill) together. They’re going with that mind frame until proven it can’t work. That’s why they got together for workouts last week in Los Angeles. About eight players, the entire coaching staff and the training staff were out there. More players would have shown up if not for prior commitments. “That’s a sign of a team that wants to improve,” president Donnie Walsh said. They worked out and also played pickup games against other NBA players at the Clippers practice facility. ... And for those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s Paul George’s reverse-between-the-legs-360 dunk while in Shanghai recently. Notice LeBron James running on the court to congratulate Paul for his dunk. Paul and Gerald Green should have a dunk off the first day of training camp or during fan jam.

  • Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News: Quick, name the best basketball player who ever lived. Better yet, name the top three basketball players of all time. Bet you haven't thought of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar yet, right? Now think about the most underrated basketball player of all time. That didn't take long, did it? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The most underappreciated, overlooked, taken for granted basketball player ever. As evidenced by the fact we completely ignore him when it comes to identifying the best players of all time. Not to mention how it took the Lakers 13 years to finally honor him with a statue outside Staples Center - one that Abdul-Jabbar had to publicly lobby for - where he will join fellow Laker icons Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn. It's about time. But what took so long? Staples Center opened in 1999 and we're just getting around to giving the Big Fella his statue?

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: For the first time since he underwent July 9 arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has resumed court work. Says who? Says Wade. Tuesday evening, during the break between his charity events this past weekendin Chicago and his upcoming book tour, Wade posted on Twitter: "Whew..first day on the court since my surgery..oh and that look on my face was b4 the workout started..haa." Wade then posted a picture of him working out with Heat assistant coach David Fizdale. Two weeks ago, while hosting his annual adult fantasy camp on Miami Beach, Wade said he was disappointed that he could not participate in the camp, limiting his competitive interaction to a 3-point contest with the adult campers. ... Apparently that timetable was moved up a week, leaving him a month of activity before the Sept. 29 start of Heat training camp at AmericanAirlines Arena.

  • Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee: Kings fans, take a breath. This city doesn't appear ready to take your team. ... When asked by reporters if Comcast-Spectacor has had conversations with Kings officials about a move to Virginia Beach, company chief Peter Luukko said, "We are at the point right now when we have not had formal talks." Pressed by reporters on whether he has had informal talks with the Kings, Luukko responded, "We have not had any talks." Luukko, however, said he has met with NBA officials to let them know that his firm is pursuing the plan. Luukko said he also has met with NHL officials.

  • Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News: The man known simply as "Nellie" is more focused on dollars and cents these days with his expanding entrepreneur interests. His days worrying about wins and losses are over. "I can absolutely say that I'm done with coaching," said Don Nelson, 72. "I'm having too much fun not coaching. I'm living a life that I didn't know about and doing all these interesting things. There is life after basketball." But the game isn't quite done with him. On Sept. 7, Nelson will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame -- a long-belated honor considering he is the NBA's all-time leader in coaching victories with 1,335. "It means a lot to me," Nelson said Tuesday over lunch in Oakland with a group of reporters. "I always felt like I wasn't worthy. When I kept getting voted down over the years, I didn't think I was ever going to get it. I still feel unworthy. But I'm in now, so somebody voted for me."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Magic have agreed to contract terms with free-agent combo guard E’Twaun Moore and will announce his signing in the near future, two league sources told the Orlando Sentinel. Moore, who is 6 feet 4, appeared in 38 games for the Boston Celtics as a rookie last season, and he could compete with Ish Smith for the Magic’s backup point-guard job and provide depth at shooting guard behind Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick. “There’s an opportunity there in Orlando, and I think he wanted to seize the opportunity,” said Mark Bartelstein, who is Moore's agent. “Both [Magic GM] Rob Hennigan and [Magic assistant GM] Matt Lloyd did a great job of recruiting him, making their pitch and explaining why it’ll be a great fit.” Moore’s deal is expected to be for two seasons, with partial guarantees in place for both seasons.

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hawks GM Danny Ferry’s efforts to move the franchise’s player development program forward will include a reach back to the team’s past. Former Hawks coach Bob Weiss is set to join Larry Drew’s staff as a coach and consultant. Weiss will be heavily involved in developing players and will sit behind the bench during games. Drew said he had considered hiring an assistant with previous head coaching experience when he got the Hawks job in the summer of 2010. ... Kenny Atkinson has officially been hired as an assistant coach. He’s a former Knicks assistant who earned notice when Jeremy Lin credited him with helping his development. ... Assistant coaches Kenny Gattison and Tyrone Hill will not return. ... Former Hawks GM Rick Sund, who has remained on staff during Ferry’s transition, will take on a new role as a senior adviser to the basketball operations.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: In a move certain to be well received by former teammates who remain on the Spurs roster, Ime Udoka has joined the Spurs coaching staff. The club on Tuesday announced the hiring of Udoka, who played two full seasons, 2007-09, with the Spurs. He also played 20 games in the 2010-11 Spurs season. ... A hard-nosed defender, he often was asked to defend bigger, stronger power forwards and was a valued teammate. Veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker remain from the 2007-08 and 2008-09 Spurs with whom Udoka completed full seasons. “Ime Udoka possesses an outstanding work ethic as well as a natural inclination to teach. We are excited to add someone with his potential to our coaching staff,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

  • Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer: Not only have rumors of Omri Casspi's departure from the Cavaliers been greatly exaggerated, but the Israeli swingman wants to show Cleveland all the reasons he should still have a spot in the rotation despite a career-worst inaugural season with the team. "I love Cleveland," Casspi told Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv this week. "They gave me a lot, I owe them a big one." Casspi spoke before Israel's game against Serbia in the EuroBasket championship qualifiers, addressing not only unfounded Internet rumors the Cavaliers might buy out the final year of Casspi's contract, but also his future with the team. Casspi acknowledged that with the Cavaliers drafting Dion Waiters and signing C.J. Miles -- both small forwards -- he has to improve upon his 2011-12 averages of 7.1 points per game and 40.3 percent shooting to find a place in the lineup. Both were career lows.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: The Pistons will ask the third-year big man [Greg Monroe] to continue his progress. If he comes through, he could place his name among the best big men in the game. He faded a bit down the stretch last season because it was his first season with a heavy workload. Monroe still has to get better at the defensive end, but the organization looks at him as a franchise cornerstone.

  • Staff of The Indianapolis Star: Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Cheryl Miller will be presenting former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller at the Sept. 7 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Mass., the Hall announced Tuesday. Also being inducted next week is another former Pacers star, Mel Daniels. He will be presented by Wayne Embry and Artis Gilmore. The presenters, all Hall of Famers themselves, were selected by the incoming inductees. Miller and Daniels are part of a 12-member class. Cheryl Miller is Reggie’s older sister.

  • Doug Smith of Toronto Star: Well, then the pressure shifts to the poobahs at Canada Basketball who must now find a way to leverage all this good feeling and all this summer’s success into the thing that the drives the process as much as anything: Money. Yeah, there is still a need for funding for these various programs (I didn’t get a final figure but if this five-day camp didn’t cost somewhere near six figures I’d be very surprised) and the various teams that have to play and my man Wayne Parrish and his fellow big shots are, I’m sure, out beating the bushes trying to find partners to come aboard. Should be a no-brainer for some. If you want to get in on the ground floor with an increasingly successful international game (and check out this to see who did what this summer), now is the time. Everything else would seem to be in place. ... There is no doubt the game is growing and flourishing more than ever in Canada — and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another national organization that can match the overall success Canada Basketball’s had this summer — and there’s no reason to think it won’t keep going that way.