First Cup: Wednesday

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Owner Mark Cuban said the Mavericks dealt with Josh Howard's flag football episode after it happened in July. 'That said, we will be going through some advanced communication-skill sessions together this training camp,' Cuban said Tuesday. 'I have explained to him that cellphone cameras are not your friend and that what you think you said on camera is never what people will hear when it shows up on YouTube or TV. There is only one universal response that works: 'Both teams played hard.'"

  • Sarah Rothschild of The Miami Herald: "The Heat has a nice blend of youth and veterans, and a deeper bench. Questions remain at point guard and center, but overall the Heat added several players while making future salary cap space a priority. A healthy Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem, coupled with what appears to have been a solid draft and several free-agent acquisitions should make Miami a playoff team. Rookie coach Erik Spoelstra is in a good situation because he has talent and faces somewhat modest outside expectations. After last year's dreadful 15-67 season, a .500 season and playoff berth probably would be considered a major success."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: "The Pistons open training camp in 13 days, and for the first time in several years, the camp will feature an honest-to-goodness battle for one of the five starting positions. First-year coach Michael Curry will give Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell and Kwame Brown a legitimate and fair shot at unseating veteran Antonio McDyess as the starting power forward-center opposite Rasheed Wallace. 'We are looking at how we can inject our young guys into the rotation more, giving them a solid role and still get the most out of our veteran guys and be as efficient as possible,' Curry said. 'One of the things we are looking at is having 'Dyess go back to his role of coming off the bench.'"

  • Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com: "Enough about 2010. We know all about 2010. We know LeBron James can opt out. We know teams are scrambling to clear cap space. We know the Cavs, at least for now, have plenty of cap space. We know the Cavs can offer more money and more years. We know Cleveland doesn't offer the gargantuan marketing and merchandising opportunities, fan-base size and mystique some other cities may have. But who cares about 2010? Are we so paranoid as a fan base that we're losing sleep over something two years away? Are national sports writers (and me...) so bereft of ideas that all they can do is churn out the same thing we've read 100 times or more? For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the time is now."

  • Brad Rock of the Deseret News: "Wow, that was a short off-season. Seems like only yesterday Deron Williams was on the news, in the papers, on the radio. But wait. It was only yesterday. It's been that kind of summer. You saw him in the Olympics, but it's been far more than that. This was the year of all D-Will, all the time. Get used to it. Training camp is 13 days away; then he'll really be in the news. Who knew being an NBA player was a full-time job? If you're wondering what this is all about, it's that Williams is, as the phrase goes, 'taking ownership.' Technically, Larry H. Miller owns the Jazz, but it's Williams who has become their flag-bearer. Not Carlos Boozer, an All-Star and fellow Redeem Teamer who wilted in the playoffs. Not Andrei Kirilenko, whose vagaries have been chronicled ad nauseam. Williams is everywhere -- like Paris Hilton, except with talent."

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Got a concerning email from Italy ... and, no, it wasn't from Stephon. Danilo Gallinari's back still isn't 100 percent and now, with two weeks to go before training camp opens, the Knicks are starting to get concerned. You may remember I shot down early speculation that Gallinari's back would be a long-term issue or was an example of him being fragile. To that I say maybe I was wrong. And fallibility is sexy, baby. And early on we may be seeing more of Gallinari in his Armani suits than in his No. 8 jersey."

  • Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: "If I was running the Jazz, I would not consider trading the pick Utah will likely get from the Knicks in 2010. Even with Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni in the job, the rebuilding job in New York could take awhile, and the Knicks' pick in two years could be a beauty, and everyone knows what Jazz vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor did the last time he got into the lottery. In 2005, O'Connor deftly moved up three spots from No. 6 and and selected Deron Williams with the third pick. Certainly, O'Connor wouldn't mind another chance to work that kind of magic, if the Knicks cooperate."

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "Oklahoma City's NBA team has a name and a color scheme, a logo and a theme song, even a group of dancing girls. Now, the Thunder has a voice. Brian Davis is expected to be introduced as the team's television play-by-play man at a press conference this afternoon. He was the host of Sonics' television broadcasts for the past few years and is also Washington State's play-by-play announcer. He takes over for Kevin Calabro, the longtime play-by-play man who decided to stay in Seattle instead of move to Oklahoma City. With the exception of the team name, this is the biggest decision to be made in the branding of this franchise."

  • Greg Johnson of the Los Angeles Times: "The Lakers on Tuesday unveiled a ticket premium that will add as much as $55 to the cost of an admission to seven home games during the 2008-09 season against such top-flight competitors as the Celtics, Cavaliers and Mavericks. The premium to be levied on individual Lakers tickets will range from $10 on a $35 seat to $55 for a $260 seat and be in effect for home games against Boston (Dec. 25), Cleveland (Jan. 19), San Antonio (Jan. 25), New Orleans (Feb. 20), Phoenix (Feb. 26), Dallas (March 15) and Houston (April 3)."

  • Jahna Berry of The Arizona Republic: "When the NBA's All-Stars battle it out at US Airways Center five months from now, the contest could be a game-changer for downtown Phoenix. The event could help shake up the district's sleepy reputation, downtown boosters say. The game will showcase the neighborhood's resurgence, help drum up interest in future city investment and expose locals to what downtown offers, organizers say. City boosters plan to make downtown the heart of the All-Star Week celebration, which culminates with the Feb. 15 game."

  • Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times: "When allegations surfaced this year that USC basketball s
    tar O.J. Mayo had received improper benefits from a sports agency funneled through close advisors, the university pointed to its own scrutiny of Mayo and said an NCAA 'investigation' had deemed him eligible. Now, with two sources confirming that an NCAA representative met with Mayo and advisor Rodney Guillory for several hours before certifying the player's eligibility for the 2007-08 school year, there is national focus on how that NCAA pre-screening process could affect USC's possible culpability in the Mayo scandal."