First Cup: Monday

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Eddy Curry figures to embark to Los Angeles on Monday with his new Mavericks teammates as the team’s starting center. Considering he’s had a grand total of 25 minutes of playing time going into the season opener Tuesday, it’s not the ideal situation. But it’s all the Mavericks have at the moment. Chris Kaman still wasn’t able to scrimmage Sunday and it looks unlikely that he’ll be able to play against the Lakers. “There was a sighting. It was brief,’’ said coach Rick Carlisle of what Kaman could do in practice. “He got through some of the shooting and 5-on-0 work. But he’s not there yet.’’ Carlisle said Kaman was likely to travel with the team for the opening two-game trip but couldn’t add a definite to that statement.

  • Jonathan Feigen of Houston the Chronicle: Having gone from Sixth Man of the Year (twice) to the Hall of Fame, Kevin McHale did not have the slightest concern about the adjustment James Harden will make. Harden’s move from the Thunder to the Rockets will mean he will go from coming off the bench for one of the league’s best teams to starting as a much-needed star for a rebuilding team. He will begin games going against teams’ best defenders and as one of the focal points of their defensive game plans. “He can play,” McHale said. “He was essentially a starter they brought off the bench. I don’t think there will be any adjustment. He will play more minutes. “They actually had the same rules whether you came off the bench or started. I just played more. I don’t think that will be an issue at all.”

  • Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle: Unlike a lot of you, I’m not ready to say, “In Daryl Morey, We Trust.’’ Nothing against Morey, it’s just not proper for journalists, even sports columnists, to become too trusting of anyone. What if things go even farther south for the Rockets? I wouldn’t be able to say, “I told you so.’’That line is essential in a columnist’s arsenal. But one thing I will say for the Rockets’ general manager is that he’s dazzling, probably not an adjective often used for MIT guys. You can’t take your eyes off him because you want to see what he’s going to do next, like Michael Jordan. Or Meadowlark Lemon. The Rockets have Royce White, who takes a recreational vehicle to many road games instead of flying with the team because of emotional issues. They have Chandler Parsons, who has been described as the 6-10 Justin Bieber because young girls squeal when he emerges from arenas. They have Jeremy Lin, whose fame, jersey sales and contract far exceed his ability at this point. Now they have James Harden, who has exceptional ability and a contract worth twice as much as Lin’s but is better known for his beard, which has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts. Who is Morey adding next? Big Bird? Word is he might be looking for a job soon. He could spell the Rockets’ center, The Turkish Hammer, aka Omer “Asik and Destroy.”

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: That might not provide solace for you, Thunder fans. You're hurting. You're worried. I understand. So, I asked Presti on Sunday what he would say to you, the team's legions of passionate supporters who are lamenting Harden's departure. “We probably share their appreciation for James,” he said. “I think he's a tremendous player. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a way to meet those (salary) expectations for him. When that happens, the focus needs to turn to what's best for this franchise, what's best for this organization. “We've made an extraordinary effort to try to keep him here, but as I said before, you have to play the hand that you're dealt.” He didn't want to have to make this play. He didn't want to see Harden leave. But he didn't want to gamble away an extremely bright future either. That's pain he wants no Thunder fan to feel.

  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: What does Harden's departure mean for Thunder point guard Eric Maynor in terms of his contract negotiations? The Thunder has agreed to take a wait-and-see approach, given Maynor is coming off season-ending knee surgery. “We've had positive dialogue with Eric,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Sunday. “He's a guy who means a lot to this ballclub. Whether or not we'll ultimately do anything with him in terms of extensions I don't think (is) a reflection of him wanting to be here or our wanting to keep him in the program. I think it just may be better for us to see how things develop for the season, for him as well. … I really do think he appreciates being with this organization, and that goes a long way here.” When do Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb arrive in OKC? The plan was for them to arrive by Sunday night. The new players will meet with media after Monday's practice. Martin will wear jersey No. 23. Lamb will wear jersey No. 11.

  • Ethan Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post: There’s a creed in professional sports that you worry about your own house, not those in the neighborhood, and certainly not those on the other side of the country. Still, when you’re less than five months removed from handling a team in the NBA Finals, and you’re expecting that team to challenge you again, you take notice when that team takes major action. So, after Oklahoma City traded the Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, to Houston for a package featuring guard Kevin Martin and swingman Jeremy Lamb, LeBron James took to Twitter to express his surprise and offer his congratulations to an Olympic teammate. Sunday, after practice in preparation for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston, James heartily endorsed Harden’s ability while holding off on any predictions about the impact on the Thunder. … Oklahoma City and the Lakers will spend the regular season sorting out roles, which is the process the Heat endured two seasons back, when James, Wade and Chris Bosh first started playing together. Now the Heat returns 12 of 15 from the championship roster, with the changes all representing upgrades. Both James and Wade said that continuity should help.

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Seldom do blockbuster trades happen with the season opener looming in the NBA, but with this new collective bargaining agreement in place, it put the Oklahoma City Thunder and star James Harden in a precarious position, leading to a blockbuster trade Saturday night. And the Pistons will be the first ones to see Harden in his debut for the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, as he was traded to Houston for a package headlined by Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb. … Pistons coach Lawrence Frank wasn't shocked by the move and won't have any tape on Harden, but doesn't expect any surprises when Harden lines up alongside free-agent addition Jeremy Lin on Halloween at The Palace. "There's the (contract) deadline for him, which was the first day of the season," said Frank of the peculiar timing. "Harden will fit right in. Their points per possession were one of the top in the league, in the preseason. They play very up-tempo."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: There are no silver medals in superstar sweepstakes. The Suns went for the gold in trying to negotiate a deal to acquire James Harden from Oklahoma City, but Houston landed the gold medalist Saturday. The Suns have assets of salary-cap space, draft picks (10 in the next three years) and players on good contracts but no offering struck Oklahoma City’s fancy, and the Thunder sought more than Phoenix was willing to give. “We were engaged in discussions on numerous occasions,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “We most recently met in person when we played them (in Tulsa, Okla., on Oct. 19). At the end of the day, there wasn’t a deal that was workable for both sides.” Babby said no proposal “got a whole lot of life.” He did not specify the pieces or the time frame of the talks but mentioned that the deliberations were not a one-sided pursuit.

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: News that the Thunder had agreed to trade the famously bearded NBA Sixth Man of the Year -- five days before the start of the season, no less -- has raised eyebrows across the league, none higher than in San Antonio. “I was a little bit surprised,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker said Sunday. “Obviously, they had a great thing going, but that’s the tough business of the NBA.” To be clear, the Spurs were not popping champagne corks at the prospect of Harden’s departure from Oklahoma City. Last anyone checked, the Thunder still sport NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook and remain a formidable obstacle to all comers in the West. At the same time, the Spurs might be glad to never have to see Harden in OKC colors again.

  • Seth Guen of the Chicago Sun-Times: Taj Gibson can’t wait for Wednesday’s deadline to pass. He and the Bulls have until then to negotiate a contract extension. Gibson is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. He addressed the situation in the wake of a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden, who was in a similar situation, from Oklahoma City to Houston. “[I’m] just getting tired of getting asked questions about it, people worrying about it,” Gibson said. “I just want to get back to playing basketball, focusing on the season and helping this team win games.”

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: A system that forces a small-market wonder to give up a star player — to a team in a much larger market, no less — seems cruel and counterproductive. It looks even worse coming just two months after the Lakers created one of the greatest quartets ever, adding Howard to a lineup featuring Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. At a glance, the system is failing miserably. The glamour team got stronger, shrugging off tens of millions in luxury-tax payments that are more than offset by a rich new television deal. … The Thunder did well in the trade, obtaining a veteran scorer, Kevin Martin, a promising rookie, Jeremy Lamb, and two first-round picks in the 2013 draft. Given their draft record, Presti and his staff will surely find another gem or two. But it is tough to replace a talent like Harden. And tougher still to invoke “competitive balance” as the rationale for a 149-day lockout.

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: Fearing a stormy Monday, the Celtics altered their travel plans and took off for Miami yesterday. They are hoping that tomorrow’s not just as bad — in a basketball sense. Doc Rivers still hasn’t decided whether or not to have his team out to watch the Heat get their championship rings in the pregame ceremony. “We played extremely well the night we got our ring,” he said. “We beat Cleveland (90-85 on Oct. 28, 2008) in front of LeBron (James, who had 22 points for the Cavaliers that night). I think this is LeBron’s payback that he gets his ring in front of us. It’s amazing how things turn around. But, to us, it’s just waiting longer to play.” With an extra opportunity to meet the Miami media today, Rivers knows there will be a new round of Ray Allen questions. “I expect them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I’m going to answer them, but I expect a lot of them.”

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy seems to be keeping track of each accomplishment in his NBA comeback, and he added another one to the list Sunday, Oct. 28. Roy survived the Wolves' seven-game exhibition season without any complications or setbacks involving his highly scrutinized knees, which forced him to retire last December. "I was excited about that," Roy said after Sunday's practice with a smile on his face. "My goal was to play in all the games, even the back-to-backs, and I was able to do that. I wanted to get in shape and push my body. After all that, I feel really good."

  • Chris Vivlamore and Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: One year later, the Hawks’ ownership group considers itself fortunate that its deal to sell a majority stake in the team to a Los Angeles businessman fell through. “Extremely” fortunate, Bruce Levenson said. “Extremely.” In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Levenson — the ownership group’s co-managing partner and NBA governor — described in detail for the first time how and why he and his partners moved from having one foot out the door to a full re-engagement. Levenson said the group has made no effort to sell the team since the deal with Alex Meruelo was called off Nov. 4, 2011. He said the group hopes to add minority investors, but is focused on building the franchise and owning it long-term. Levenson’s account of the group’s intentions appears confirmed by the Hawks’ hiring this summer of general manager Danny Ferry, who says he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he hadn’t been convinced of the stability and commitment of ownership. It’s a substantial change from a year ago.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: DeQuan Jones won't forget what happened June 28. He waited for NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver to announce that a team had drafted him in the second round. He waited. And he waited. But Silver never uttered the words "DeQuan Jones." In retrospect, that painful night might have been the best thing that ever happened to Jones, a 6-foot-8 swingman who played four seasons for the Miami Hurricanes. That excruciating disappointment fueled him and propelled him on an unlikely journey to a spot on the Orlando Magic's regular-season roster. "I'm ecstatic," Jones said. Jones could not stop smiling when general manager Rob Hennigan and assistant general manager Scott Perry sat him down inside Amway Center on Saturday and told him he had made the team.

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Griz improvement has to be evident not only to earn the trust of Griz coach Lionel Hollins but also compete with the best in a Western Conference filled with squads boasting depth. "Potentially," Hollins said, "our bench has improved." The key new Griz reserves are Marreese Speights, Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington and Darrell Arthur (when he's completely healed from a leg fracture). Memphis' new bench might not displace those of Denver and San Antonio as the league's best-scoring second units, having averaged at least 41 points last season. There is, however, a sense that the Grizzlies' 2012-13 reserves could be a vast improvement over last season's crew that averaged 29.9 points a game, in the bottom third of the NBA.

  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: So this isn't really a "second chance" for Sixers coach Doug Collins and free-agent center Kwame Brown. They can't just erase what happened a decade ago when Collins coached the Washington Wizards and Brown was their top draft pick - the first player to ever be selected No. 1 overall directly out of high school. Things did not work out well for either. Collins was fired after two seasons. Brown started down a path that labeled him as one of the biggest draft busts ever. But as the Sixers prepare for the start of the 2012-13 season on Wednesday night, neither Brown nor Collins is looking at this as a chance to make up for what happened before. History is what it is. It doesn't change. The future, however, is a different. It's a story that still can be written.

  • Adrian Dater of The Denver Post: When Nuggets management gave McGee a four-year, $44 million contract this summer, they paid a premium to keep a talented 24-year-old big man off the NBA's open market after his sensational playoff performance against the Lakers. The Nuggets paid a premium for his potential as a shot blocker, defensive presence and intriguing offensive talent. But McGee is far from a proven talent. Denver coach George Karl is the first to acknowledge McGee's ability. After practice Sunday, Karl said McGee is the team's most talented center, period. But he also said a couple of things that can safely be classified as a lukewarm endorsement of McGee's preseason performance. "I'm not happy, and I'm not disappointed," Karl said. … Is McGee upset about not being the starting center? That may be a loaded question, one McGee probably is tired of hearing. If it is bothering him, he is doing his best not to let it show. "I wasn't the starter last year," he said.

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: The Pacers will open the season with a family connection on the team. They have decided to keep guard Ben Hansbrough, younger brother of Tyler Hansbrough, on the roster. Ben Hansbrough gives the Pacers the league maximum of 15 players. The Pacers can cut Hansbrough at any point because his contract is non-guaranteed.