First Cup: Thursday

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: An area with limited options for the Wizards has now become one of the deeper positions on the roster after swingman Martell Webster finally signed a one-year deal on Wednesday with the team. The Wizards reached an agreement with Webster last week but needed a few days to get the paperwork together on a contract that is worth $1.6 million, according to league sources. ... The former sixth pick of the 2005 NBA draft, Webster gives the Wizards yet another option at small forward after trading for Trevor Ariza and re-signing Cartier Martin. ... The Wizards now have 14 players under contract heading into training camp, which begins on Oct. 2 at George Mason University.

  • Ailene Voisin of the The Sacramento Bee: The problem with the annual Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame speeches is that they're both too long and too short. Take the upcoming induction of Don Nelson. The league's all-time winningest coach is one of its quirkiest, most compelling characters, an outsized personality despite his repeated visits to weight-loss clinics. "Nellie," as he has long been known, was the reigning drama queen long before Shaq started babbling about the Kings. During 31 seasons as an NBA head coach, Nelson offered something for everyone – conflict, competition, humor, ego, humility, turmoil – and that was after he won five titles as a modestly talented forward with the Boston Celtics. But the coaching ring is the thing, of course, and Nelson wanted one just as badly as Jerry Sloan. "It wasn't meant to be," a matter-of-fact Nelson said Wednesday morning. "My (Milwaukee) Bucks teams kept running into those great Boston Celtics and Philadelphia Sixers clubs. Bird, McHale, Parish. Erving, Cheeks, Malone. But what are you going to do? I've had a great life. I still have a great life."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Dwight Howard is on the road again. Two weeks after he originally was supposed to host a kids basketball camp in Orlando — a camp he withdrew from, citing the need to remain in Southern California to rehabilitate his surgicallyrepaired back — Howard has traveled to China. The former Orlando Magic superstar is visiting China as part of his annual promotional tour to the Far East for adidas, the shoe and apparel company he endorses. Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, deferred to adidas officials when asked why Howard flew overseas but did not appear two weeks earlier at his Orlando day camp. In a statement issued to the Orlando Sentinel, adidas officials said Howard was cleared to travel “just last week.” In the statement, adidas officials said: “Since Dwight’s injury our focus has been on his recovery. His health has continued to improve and just last week he was cleared to travel. We are excited that Dwight is now able to participate in fan and community events as he continues to prepare for the NBA season. Dwight is an amazing athlete and outstanding partner with fans around the world.”

  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News: What did you think about Dirk's comments that he might retire after two years? Kevin Sherrington: Not real surprising that he might retire after two years, but I'm surprised he wanted to admit it. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd said he wanted to play five more years. I wonder if he was sending a message to Cuban. By getting rid of Chandler, Cuban burned one of Dirk's last good seasons. This looks like a decent team going into next season, although we have no idea how they'll play together, or if they can mesh with Dirk. So what does that mean for Dirk's future? No matter what Cuban says about he's not really going after anyone, he'd better get a superstar pretty fast.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Q: Rajon Rondo recently said that he's the NBA’s top point guard. What are your thoughts on that, and where do you think you rank among all the point guards in the NBA? Mario Chalmers: "He's not the best, but he's in the top five. There are a lot of great point guards in the league, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Steve Nash. There are a lot of great guards in the NBA so for him to say he's the best is a pretty bold statement. I'd say that I am in the front end of the top 10." It is pure Mario, from the heart, from that special place that allows him to step up to the moment. And yet his place among the league's point guards remains a tricky proposition, since he hardly plays as a traditional point guard. As a talking point, this is a list, compiled in this blog on Feb. 29, rating the league's point guards at the time, a leap-day leap of faith that such a compilation is even possible. Clearly, with a championship ring, Chalmers has moved himself up the list, reasonably within the top half.

  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post: Donte Greene suffered an injury that likely includes at least a fractured ankle playing in a pick-up game in Charlotte. And yet today, while waiting to head for an MRI that would clarify the nature and extent of his injury, the 24-year-old, 6-11 small forward who was expected to be in Nets’ training camp, was “in great spirits,” according to his agent, Chris Luchey. That’s how much Greene wants to be a part of Brooklyn. “I’ve spoken to him repeatedly (since the injury) and he’s in great spirits,” Luchey said. “He’s so excited for the opportunity.” Greene has not signed and that signing has been put on hold until both sides get additional information about the injury. If he signs before Jan. 5 and remains on the roster, his contract would be guaranteed.

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: The Lakers are done with KCAL/9 and Fox Sports West, and their locally broadcast games will be on the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet channel (and Time Warner Cable Deportes, the new Spanish-language sister network). If the provider you use for TV in your household is Time Warner Cable, you're set – because that is the only cable or satellite distributor we know right now will have Lakers games. If you have DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Cox Cable, Charter Communications or anyone else, you could rightly feel antsy that you won't see on Oct. 1 TWC SportsNet launch day the exclusive footage already filmed of Howard's face as he put on a gold Lakers jersey for the first time in a quiet locker-room moment after all the hullaballoo of his inaugural news conference. ... It should be said that Time Warner Cable knows how dicey these negotiations can be from being on the other side, earlier this year costing Knicks fans much of Jeremy Lin's whirlwind emergence in a dispute with MSG and today still holding out as a distributor against NFL Network and missing Padres games all season on Fox Sports San Diego. But the notion that Lakers games won't be on TV in Southern California is ludicrous. This isn't 2002, when Cablevision completely underestimated the Yankees' new regional sports network and held out against it. YES Network has turned out to be a fantastic success for a simple reason: People in New York love the Yankees and love watching the Yankees. Some things are simple and true. Lakers fans love having Howard and Nash before they even play a game, for example. And people in Southern California will love watching the Lakers on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, even if this is the first you've heard of the network's real name or you can't help starting to sweat those tricky carriage deals not yet being done.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: In what has become an annual tradition, the Spurs have been given virtually no shot to win the NBA championship this season. So says an informal poll conducted by Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick, in which 20 coaches and front-office executives made the Miami Heat overwhelming favorites to defend their title. How big a long shot are the Spurs? They aren’t mentioned once in the entire article. (Although they are listed in an accompanying poll, in which they’ve earned a whopping 2 percent of the vote.) The Spurs have long learned to deal with such dismissiveness, which was rampant even in the not-so-distant days in which they were actually lifting trophies. Besides, can anybody imagine Gregg Popovich or Tim Duncan losing sleep over such things? Me neither. The thing is, the bottom IS going to drop out at some point, and the Spurs are no longer going to be able to continue staving off the inevitable advance of age among their standard bearers. Barring the addition of another Hall of Fame 7-footer, it’s only a matter of when. ... Should the Spurs prove their doubters wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time. But with each passing season, it only gets harder.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: As much of a barrier buster as Ann Meyers Drysdale has been in her life, being tabbed as a Suns broadcast analyst for up to 20 games this season is not unchartered NBA territory for a woman. In fact, she was the first woman to do the job in the NBA 33 years ago. When Meyers Drysdale became the first female player to sign an NBA free-agent contract with Indiana in 1979, her brother acted as her agent and negotiated broadcasting work into the deal. The Pacers cut her, but she worked six games as their color commentator before leaving to play in the Women's Professional Basketball League. ... Eddie Johnson will continue as the Suns' main television analyst, alongside new play-by-play man, Steve Albert, with Myers Drysdale taking over the backup role Scott Williams previously held. "I learned from Don (Drysdale, her late husband) about my confidence and capability," said Meyers Drysdale, the Suns organization's only Hall of Famer now that Jerry Colangelo's ties ended two months ago. "There are going to be people out there who won't like this decision and people who haven't heard women call men's games. But I've proven myself and I know what I'm talking about."

  • Aaron Edwards of The New York Times: Other sports sites in the city have areas where people can continue to eat and drink after games or concerts. Ainsworth Prime closes two hours after events at Madison Square Garden, and Hard Rock Cafe closes an hour after night games at Yankee Stadium, according to their Web sites. But residents have protested a similar policy at the Barclay’s Center, which is close to a largely residential area. Additionally, opponents of the project have been complaining of an increase in the number of surrounding businesses seeking liquor licenses, which they fear will entice people leaving basketball games, concerts and other events at the arena to linger in bars and clubs in the area and continue to imbibe. Forest City Ratner, the developer for the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site that includes the Barclays Center, has played down those concerns. “Community boards and nearby residents are concerned that people could be rowdy or noisy,” Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City, said. “Obviously there are strict rules in place in terms of drinking,” The staff, he said, was trained not to serve alcohol to anyone who appeared to have had too much. “We want a policy that is courteous to our neighbors,” he added.

  • Staff of The Oregonian: Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts has added Dale Osbourne to the coaching staff, it was announced today by the team. "I'm very excited about Dale joining our staff," said Stotts. "His diverse coaching background and experience at the college and D-League level will be very valuable in the development of our younger players both on the court and off." Osbourne joins the Trail Blazers from the Tulsa 66ers, where he served as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder's NBA Development League affiliate. USA Basketball selected him as an assistant coach for the 2011 Pan American Games, where the team medaled for the first time since 1999.