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First Cup: Wednesday

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "What looked like a crazy stunt three days ago has turned into a bona fide nightmare for the Hawks, who simply couldn't win in this situation (if they increased their offer to Josh Childress they'd lose all credibility in future negotiations but if they lose him, they lose all credibility with the public). No one is pretending that free agency is anything other than a bare-knuckle brawl for cash between the team and the players and their agents. Losing Childress this way, if it does indeed happen, is a third round TKO for the Hawks, who had their chances to lock Childress up long-term with a legitimate contract extension and never did." (More on Childress reportedly eyeing a contract in Greece.) (UPDATE: Word Childress has accepted an offer. Childress' agents have scheduled a press conference to address these issues.)TrueHoop First Cup

  • Tom Knott of The Washington Times: "Gilbert Arenas has craved to be acknowledged as the alpha male. Now he is. His contract numbers emphasize it. So it is time for him to respond accordingly in deed and spirit."

  • Steve Springer of the Los Angeles Times: "Frustrating. Disappointing. Comical. Which of those words best describes the U.S. men's basketball team in the 2004 Olympics? For Dwyane Wade, it's all of the above. 'It was very comical,' said Wade, a member of that team and the 2008 squad. 'You just had to shake your head. Everybody on that team was a good individual player, but when you tried to put it together, it didn't work. It was like a bad mix of food.'"

  • Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Nobody on Team USA is going to tell Jason Kidd to act his age. Especially when he's having so much fun playing basketball -- and playing at such a high level. This is the 35-year-old Kidd's last hurrah playing for his country. He already has a gold medal from the 2000 Olympics, and he fully expects to earn a second gold next month when the 2008 Games get under way in Beijing. 'As long as I can play at a high level and give something to the team, I want to be out there,' he said Tuesday. 'It's always a great honor to represent your country, and it's always a thrill to play with guys this talented.'"

  • Rick Noland of The Medina County Gazette: "Danny Ferry is not in Las Vegas, but he had spoken to assistant general manager Lance Blanks and assistant trainer Mike Mancias, who are both on hand. He said the organization continues to support James' decision to play in the upcoming Beijing Olympics, just as it has endorsed his decision to participate in international competition throughout his pro career. Along with Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, James has been the face of the 2008 U.S. squad, which has been dubbed 'Redeem Team' as it attempts to recapture the gold medal. 'This has been a positive thing for LeBron,' Ferry said. 'He's learned a lot and grown from doing it. I'm happy he's had such a positive experience so far.'"

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "With Mike D'Antoni just having sold his house in Phoenix and still looking to set up roots in Westchester, he now will be with Team USA as an assistant coach until -- he hopes -- after the gold-medal game in Beijing deep into August. He goes from coaching Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins to LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. 'I'll be back around Aug. 25,' D'Antoni told The Post. 'If I'm back before that, you can throw me in the Hudson River.'"

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Maurice Cheeks listened to the litany of charges leveled at Samuel Dalembert with more than a measure of surprise. The 76ers' center, recently dismissed from the Canadian National Team in the midst of an Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens, Greece, was described by Canadian coach (and former Sixer) Leo Rautins as: Often late for practices and meetings, inattentive, indifferent, alienated from his teammates, inexplicably demanding more shots. 'Hearing some of the things said about him, that caught me by surprise,' Cheeks said in a telephone conversation yesterday. 'That's not the Sam that I know.'"

  • Melody Gutierrez of the Sacramento Bee: "Three days after Shelden Williams accompanied his fiancee Candace Parker to the ESPY Awards, it looks like she could have used an escort to The Palace in Auburn Hills. Parker was one of three players and an assistant coach ejected from Tuesday night's WNBA game featuring the Los Angeles Sparks and Detroit Shock after a brawl broke out on the floor."

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: "One rival executive said the available centers are so bad that the Heat is better off with an undersized front line of Udonis Haslem, Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley, supplemented by Alonzo Mourning (by January) and small doses of Mark Blount. 'Is it conventional? No,' coach Erik Spoelstra said. But 'teams have gone in the direction of playing smaller.'"

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Kurt Thomas told the Express-News his new pact was good for the next two seasons. For Thomas, who will turn 36 in October before opening his 14th NBA season, that qualifies as a long-term deal. It could be the last pro contract he ever signs. 'Every player in the league wants a little security,' Thomas said Tuesday from his home in the Dallas area. 'It's been a goal of mine to play 15 years, and this will take me to my 15th season.' It is a goal the Spurs are all too happy to help Thomas reach."

  • Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "So, which Matt Barnes did the Suns sign Tuesday? Is it the Barnes who was the darling of the Golden State Warriors' playoff run in 2007, when they stunned the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks? Or the Barnes who the Warriors made no effort to re-sign after he spent much of last season in coach Don Nelson's doghouse? We believe there's a very good chance the Suns stole the version that gave the Mavericks fits in those playoffs and
    caught the attention of Suns General Manager Steve Kerr, who covered that series as an analyst for TNT."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Jarrett Jack, T.J. Ford and Travis Diener complement one another because each brings a different dimension. Ford, 6-0, has the quickness, Diener shoots the 3-pointer well and Jack is a solid defender. 'I think one of the main reasons I was brought here was to bring some toughness as far as on the defensive end,' Jack said. 'I think that's something I can definitely bring. With all of us, like coach said, we've got seven new guys. I'm just looking forward to us going together as a cohesive unit throughout the course of the season.'"

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "GM Kevin Pritchard is trying to keep his eye on the big picture -- which for the Blazers is in three years. That's when they envision becoming a serious contender in the Western Conference. The question bouncing in Pritchard's mind is whether Koponen with two years of seasoning in the Blazers' system would be better than Blazers starter Steve Blake in three years. Pritchard is also fond of having roster flexibility, which could give him the option of making a 1-for-2 trade at the February trading deadline. He has also talked about valuing the chance to rake through the ashes of the free agent market late in the summer to see if he can steal a capable player who slipped through the cracks."