First Cup: Friday

  • Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Like millions of Americans, Karl Malone pulled for Team USA and watched proudly as it marched to the gold medal during the just-completed Olympics. Asked if 'that team' could have beaten the original Dream Team, however, Malone smiled and said, 'Beat us? What team? ... What team are you talking about?' When it was suggested the speed and finesse 'Redeem Team' would have been unable to stop the Dream Team inside, Malone quickly added, 'Or outside.'"

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Most of the Blazers have reported to Portland, fulfilling Nate McMillan's informal request to have the team in town by Aug. 25. Training camp opens Sept. 30. The only players who have not reported are Travis Outlaw, Joel Przybilla, Raef LaFrentz, Ike Diogu and Rudy Fernandez. McMillan said he told Fernandez to take at least a couple weeks off before getting to Portland. Outlaw is expected to arrive early next week. 'For us to have that many guys at this time is good,' McMillan said. 'They don't have to be here. So that's good.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "Hoping to bolster their frontline with more rebounding and shot blocking, the Grizzlies signed Iranian center Hamed Haddadi on Thursday after clearing immigration hurdles. Haddadi is the second international player signed by the Grizzlies this offseason. They agreed to Spanish center Marc Gasol, brother of former Griz star Pau Gasol, earlier this summer. ... Memphis did not significantly reduce the money it will have to spend under the salary cap next season. The Griz are expected to be among the big spenders in free agency next summer with at least $20 million to lure a free agent."

  • Travis Diener for Pacers.com: "Our point guard position really has changed. As an NBA player, everyone's going to deal with competition. You're not going to have just one point guard on a team just like you're not going to have just one center on a team. We've got a guy in T.J. Ford who I've played against numerous times. He fits the system extremely well. He could be the fastest guy in the league with the ball in his hands from end to end, and he has the ability to pass extremely well, also. And we get a guy like Jarrett Jack, who is bigger and stronger and can be a presence on the defensive end of the floor. I think we did a great job of bringing in guys that can help this team. Throw in the guys we drafted and I think we've got a chance to surprise some people and win a lot of ballgames."

  • Keith Langlois for Pistons.com: "When the best deals of the 2007-08 season are compiled and analyzed, Boston's heist of Minnesota for Kevin Garnett will be No. 1 and the Lakers' swindling of Memphis for Gasol will be No. 2. But you can bet that an honest polling of Joe Dumars' peers would result in the unloading of Mohammed's contract while taking zero in obligations beyond the 2008 season drawing heavy consideration for No. 3. Which is a roundabout way of saying that while it's occasionally nice to have a bad contract on the books, no GM worth his salt would ever turn down the chance to be rid of one and all of them. While Pistons fans were pulling their hair out this summer as free agency opened and the names most often linked to them as solutions to their apparent void at backup small forward – Mickael Pietrus, James Jones, James Posey, C.J. Miles -- were signed on contracts elsewhere, Dumars waited it out and avoided the sort of desperation signing that would have come back to haunt him later."

  • Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee: "... these past few months, as [Bobby Jackson] prepares for another season, Jackson has been conflicted about his past, and admittedly, consumed by his father's future. 'My dad left when I was a little kid,' Jackson related the other day. 'I probably saw him four or five times until I became a senior in college. My mom tried to initiate a (reconciliation) with him, but I didn't want anything to do with that. Then when she died in 2003, I started to realize that you only have two parents. I asked myself, 'Do I want to get to know him? To let him get to know my kids? Can I forgive?' I decided he needs to be there.'"

  • Al Iannazzone of The Record: "Publicly, the Nets are saying they're going to be OK. But there are some doubts privately. One source said they probably will struggle because of their youth, but added they're not done making changes. A potential good sign for the Nets is that Carter and Harris orchestrated a team workout last week -- they may have been prodded -- in an effort to build chemistry, familiarity and an us-against-the-world mentality. Fourteen of 15 roster players were there. Only Yi Jianlian, a member of the Chinese Olympic team, wasn't. They may reconvene early next month in advance of camp. The Nets never had an August turnout like that. Already, they're different than Marbury's 2000 team. Maybe they won't be as bad."

  • Scott Souza of MetroWest Daily News: "After a largely quiet summer at HealthPoint as Celtics players rest up from the title run, things have gotten a bit busier of late. Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen and Glen Davis have been around for a few days here and there, while yesterday rookies J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and recent signee Patrick O'Bryant were all practicing on the court. While Giddens returned to the practice facility this week for the first time since he was introduced to the media the week after the draft -- instead, choosing to go back to Dallas and New Mexico to work out during the summer amid an unusually long contract negotiation for a first-round pick -- Walker has been on the parquet since shortly after knee surgery in early July."