First Cup: Monday

  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo: "After dismissing his agent and separating with his longtime AAU coach and adviser, Miami Heat rookie Michael Beasley suddenly is the subject of a feeding frenzy of power-broker agents trying to represent him, multiple NBA and NCAA sources said. When reached by text message Saturday, agent Joel Bell didn't deny that Beasley, the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, had fired him, saying only, 'I don't have a comment at this time.' Several top agents -- including Aaron Goodwin and Andy Miller -- are trying to fill the vacuum left behind by Bell and Beasley's adviser, D.C. Assault director Curtis Malone. Players Association rules forbid Beasley from hiring a new agent until 15 days from the day he files paperwork firing Bell. Sources say that Malone sensed Beasley's unhappiness with Bell and had recent overtures with other agents about becoming the player's agent. This way, Malone could position himself to survive the purge of Bell and still stay close to the former Kansas State power forward. Beasley wanted bigger and better endorsement deals than Bell delivered him, sources said. Those may have been unrealistic expectations given Beasley's poor public image, but that was apparently part of Beasley's thinking in letting Bell go. For now, the bigger shock to those in the basketball community is this: Malone is out, too. 'Michael had a falling out with both of them -- Bell and Malone,' said a source close to Malone. 'He's out on his own now.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald: "A rift between Heat rookie Michael Beasley and agent Joel Bell over endorsement deals could have the second overall draft pick searching for new representation. Beasley confirmed Sunday he has had disagreements with Bell but denied reports that he has reached out to other agents. Bruce Shingler, Beasley's live-in personal assistant and long-time friend, also denied a Yahoo.com report that Beasley had fired both Bell and another long-time advisor who coached Beasley prior to his lone college season at Kansas State. 'There have been some differences over terms, and things haven't all worked out like we thought,' said Shingler, who was with Beasley in Miami on Sunday. 'But that stuff out there is not true. It's a lot of rumors.'"

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "Nene sounds ready to put the past two years behind him. 'A lot of things that I had in my life -- all these injuries, all these physical problems -- I know for a lot of people's eyes these are bad things,' he said. 'But for my eyes, that is a good thing. They made me learn a lot of things spiritually. From what happened to me, the chemotherapy, the cancer, if you want to be an example you need to be an example in every aspect of your life, on and off the court. I have that experience. After the chemotherapy, a lot of people said, 'You're my hero because you're so young, and you've been through all of this stuff. You passed and you've come back strong.' A lot of people take me as an example. That is good.'"

  • Frank Dell'Apa of The Boston Globe: "Darius Miles's dream scenario also relates to Kevin Garnett, his boyhood idol. When Miles decided to leave high school in East St. Louis, Ill., for the NBA, he joined Garnett on the cover of Sports Illustrated. 'KG was my favorite player when I was in high school; he still is,' Miles said. 'They sent a private jet to take me from the West Coast to Minnesota. That was my first time meeting him, and for someone you look up to, to know your name and who you are, and get to talk to him, was great. I always patterned my game on his. Since I've been in the league, we've had our wars. When I was younger, I was real aggressive attacking the basket, and dunking was a statement. We had some high-level battles, but we play totally different positions.' Miles said he has been tailoring his workouts to fit a complementary role."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "So you think you're the only one anxious for the start of the Hawks' season? Anxious can't do justice to what Solomon Jones has been feeling since the Hawks' Game 7 loss to Boston in May. Like most of his teammates who have been working together at the team's practice facility the past two weeks, Jones has been chomping at the bit all summer in anticipation of the start of training camp, which is just weeks away. Jones played sparingly in his first two seasons with the Hawks. But he is angling for an expanded role this year."

  • Chris Beaven of The Repository: "Contract negotiations and hard feelings often go hand-in-hand in the NBA. That doesn't appear to be the case with Delonte West coming to terms with the Cavs, even though it probably took a little longer than each side preferred. Still, throughout the process, West was a regular at Cleveland Clinic Courts this summer. And he wasn't there to negotiate in person. He was there to work on his game and to get a better feel for what the coaches wanted from him."

  • Mark Woods for the Chicago Tribune: "If new Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was here, he'd witness a different Luol Deng than from his NBA persona. More assertive, more vocal. 'One of the issues we have is that you sometimes need to stop the other guys from standing around and just watching Lu,' said GB assistant Nick Nurse, who also coaches the Bulls' D-League affiliate in Iowa."

  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "After a summer of slashing, the numbers are all but in. The Nuggets set out during the offseason to reduce their payroll significantly, with how the team might perform on the court an apparent secondary concern. After staring at perhaps having a payroll for this season in excess of $86 million, the Nuggets instead are looking at a payroll of $77.48 million, which would be $6.33 million over the NBA's luxury-tax threshold of $71.15. The final pieces came when it was revealed guard J.R. Smith's salary-cap number for this season will be $4.985 million and when second-round pick Sonny Weems and his agent, Roger Montgomery, said Weems is on the verge of signing for the minimum of $442,114."

  • Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman: "The Thunder places more emphasis on off-season workouts than most NBA teams. That was never more evident than this summer when Brian Keefe, the team's director of player development, flew around the country to conduct individual workouts. Keefe flew to Washington, D.C., to work with Jeff Green and Kevin Durant, who live in the nation's capital in the off-season. Keefe flew to Atlanta to work with Damien Wilkins. He visited Durant in Austin when he was taking classes at the University of Texas. 'Just about everybody has been touched at least one time,' said general manager Sam Presti. 'We might stay two or three days or a week. When Kevin and Jeff were in Las Vegas this summer we had a coach there. Ru
    ssell Westbrook was out there as well. We try to reach out to all our guys in the off-season and spend time on the floor with them.'"

  • Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman: "Oklahoma City NBA fans know Presti as a former San Antonio Spurs front office assistant overseeing an extreme team makeover using high draft picks and some shrewd salary-dumping trades. Here's what you might not know: He's an accomplished drummer whose CDs benefitted a children's hospital. He once took six charging fouls in one Division III basketball game. His college professor calls him the hardest-working student he's had in 38 years as an educator. Once you consider all that -- and the story about how he talked the Spurs into drafting Tony Parker -- you might see that the only 'chic' thing about Sam Presti are those trendy eye glasses."

  • Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: "He's serious, which tells you something about the new CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group, who happens to be the eldest son of the former CEO. You can safely bet your Utah Jazz, Salt Lake Bees and Miller Motorsports Park season tickets that Greg Miller won't be following his father as a frequent guest on sports-talk radio, a regular on the 10 o'clock news and star of his own automobile dealership TV commercials. You knew that guy, Larry H. Miller. You won't know Greg Miller nearly as well -- which is exactly how the new boss wants it. 'I'm very content to stay behind the scenes and let my people lift me to success,' he said. 'I learned a long time ago that surrounding myself with talented people and working together to achieve our goals is more important than being out front, trying to steal the spotlight. That just isn't important to me.' Give former Utah Jazz star John Stockton an assist in molding Greg Miller's management style: 'I learned a lot about what I wanted to be in that regard from watching John. He shunned the spotlight. He wasn't afraid of it. If he needed to sit at the podium after a game and answer questions, he would. But he certainly didn't need it [and] I've always admired that about him. John's been very influential in that regard.' Asked if his behind-the-scenes approach makes him a little different from his father and much different from someone like flamboyant Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Miller laughed and said, 'I've never met Mark, but I don't think he and I would have a whole lot in common.'"