First Cup: Friday

  • Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: "Chris Mullin said he doesn't expect to be a player on the free agent market in the future -- namely the offseason of 2010, which is shaping up to be loaded with difference-makers and franchise players. Mullin said the commitments he's making now -- especially to Monta Ellis and center Andris Biedrins, who are expected to sign lucrative long-term deals this summer -- take the Warriors out of the running for signing any of the big-name free agents coming up the next two offseasons."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Scott Skiles is directing the Milwaukee Bucks' summer league training sessions this week before the squad leaves for Las Vegas. Call it 'setting a tone.' Whether he is shouting out directions to first-round pick Joe Alexander or guiding second-rounder Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Bucks coach is instilling his brand of teaching at the Cousins Center."

  • Dwight Jaynes of The Portland Tribune: "Seems strange to me that the Trail Blazers would want to extend coach Nate McMillan's contract right now, with two years remaining on it. Now, I realize there is no salary cap on coaches, and Paul Allen is wealthy enough to just pay someone off if he wants to fire that person, but still ... a lot can happen in the next two years that could change the front office's opinion of who should be running this team. What if, for example, Brandon Roy or Greg Oden suddenly decides he doesn't, for some reason, want to play for McMillan? I know, it sounds wacky, but these things happen in sports. If it does, you aren't going to dump the player, you're going to dump the coach."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "Jermaine O'Neal needed to go. Not because he's a bad guy or a lousy teammate, but because it was time, both for him and for this franchise. And he will prosper. O'Neal, who has spent the past three offseasons rehabbing after surgery, is finally healthy and concentrating this summer on conditioning. More important, though, he has been given an emotional jump-start, a chance to compete for a long-shot championship, an opportunity to play with a solid point guard (Jose Calderon) and an established forward (Chris Bosh). I'll make this prediction: O'Neal will be an All-Star in 2008-09. On Indiana's side, this trade works both in the short and long terms."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "A couple of staffers asked me in the hallway the other night whether I thought Okafor was in Los Angeles, being schmoozed by the Clippers. I said I thought the Clippers were busy recruiting Atlanta's Josh Smith, but in the end, what do any of us know? That's the imprecise world of NBA free agency. I'd say there's an 80 percent chance Okafor is a Bobcat next season and a 50 percent chance he's around for the long haul. It takes courage and conviction to turn down the $60 million-plus Okafor did last summer, to become a restricted free agent. Now he gets to enjoy being wooed by the Bobcats and others."

  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: "Elton Brand has already had an impact at the box office. Since signing, the Sixers had sold 550 season-ticket packages as of late Thursday afternoon, according to a team spokesman. Fans purchasing new season tickets through July 31 will receive a free autographed Brand jersey."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "James Posey is a hometown 'favorite.' Just don't equate that with hometown 'discount.' Posey is one of the top free agents available on the market. The 6-foot-8, 217-pounder, who prepped at Twinsburg High School, has drawn interest from at least six teams. Included in that group are the Cavaliers. 'Yes, we are talking (to the Cavs),' agent Mark Bartelstein said on Thursday. Posey, 31, is expected to get the full mid-level exception -- starting with $5.6 million in 2008-09 -- for three years. Sources say the Cavs might have to extend it out four years in order to land Posey. And, therein lies the problem. Most teams don't want to give him a four-year contract, including Boston. The Cavs lived to regret giving four-year deals to Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones."

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "With a bulky ice pack attached to a different body part after each game, Heat rookie Michael Beasley apparently is chilling in his transition to pro basketball. The physical demands of the NBA -- even at a watered-down summer level -- are growing on Beasley, the second pick in last month's draft. ''Everybody wants to beat up on the rookie -- I mean everybody,' Beasley said. 'It's a rough game. I think I've got more bruises and cuts these few games than in my whole basketball career. I got [ice packs] lined up in my [hotel] refrigerator, ready to go. [But] I'm always going to bang. I can always take a hit.'"

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "George Hill introduced himself to San Antonio on Thursday with a large share of humility and a clear vision of the important role he will be expected to play during his initial season in the NBA. 'If the veterans want me to carry their bags, or get doughnuts or McDonald's,' said the 6-foot-2 guard from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), 'I'm down with that.' Soon enough, Hill will discover most of his teammates are so old they have moved from deep-fried pastries and giant burgers to healthy meals pre-packaged by the Spurs' strength and conditioning staff. You can bet, though, that the mid-30s bunch that still makes up the bulk of the Spurs' roster will appreciate Hill's sincere modesty."

  • Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "The Mavericks still have work to do on their roster, but they have a strong core group. I don't think they are going to be a champion next season because there is only one of those each year, but -- and I guess I'm a minority of one on this one -- I think they have a chance to go deep into the playoffs."