First Cup: Wednesday

Weird day today. I'm at a meeting the NBA is putting on for the media, where a lot of referees are explaining difficult calls to those of us who are not referees. Interesting stuff.

  • Jerry Brown of the East Valley Tribune: "'By the time training camp came, I had been going for four months and I was already mentally tired,' Grant Hill said. 'I have to be smart. This is a long season, and the things I did in November and December really didn't matter much in April. At the end of the year, I had a long talk with (general manager) Steve Kerr and (senior vice president of operations) David Griffin, and the first thing we agreed was not to get back on the court so fast and be smart.' That means playing less minutes, and it might mean coming off the bench behind Matt Barnes at small forward to save himself for later in the game. 'We've added some really good depth with people like Matt and Goran (Dragic) and Robin (Lopez), and we should all be a fresher bunch as a result,' Hill said. 'I've started and I'm used to starting, but it doesn't matter. What makes us the best team? What gives us the best chance? I want to be at my best at the end. Whatever it takes to get me there, I'm in favor of.'"

  • David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: "The Mavericks' front office believes former coach Avery Johnson was wrong about Jason Kidd, hence the title former coach. They think Kidd has something left to give. But is owner Mark Cuban confident enough in that assessment to sign the future Hall of Fame guard to an extension? No. The first 3 1/2 months of this season are crucial. If Kidd plays well and the team clicks under new coach Rick Carlisle, fears about moving into the future with an AARP point guard will subside. But if this doesn't work, if Johnson turns out to be right, the Mavericks can move Kidd before the trade deadline in February. Even if Kidd's skills have declined, teams will be interested in the flexibility provided by his expiring contract."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News: "Speaking to the media about the upcoming season -- the Nets open camp on Saturday -- Kiki Vandeweghe was asked which players will inherit leadership responsibilities now that Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson are gone. Without hesitation, Vandeweghe said Vince Carter would have to take over that role, as well as point guard Devin Harris and some of the other veterans the Nets acquired during the busy offseason. But saying that Carter must do it and whether he actually can do it are two different things, as many Raptors fans might attest to."

  • Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee: "Nothing against Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Nothing like that. He is one of the nicest, most thoughtful professionals in the league. His agenda was collective and all-encompassing and always about the team. He simply arrived in Sacramento while suffering from bad knees and lousy timing. He turned gray before reaching 30, his movements increasingly laborious and mechanical, and terribly painful to watch. No, his decision favorably impacts the club's immediate future in this sense: The number of Kings ball stoppers has been reduced to one. John Salmons is all alone now. Coupled with the trade that sent Ron Artest to Houston, the cumulative effect should result in a quicker pace, less one-on-one play, and fewer occasions when players try to emulate Michael Jordan and overdribble into a crowd of defenders."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Roy Hibbert told me last month that he went around the Indianapolis area looking for five-on-five games. School wasn't in yet when he tried to get runs in at IU and Butler. Can you imagine the 7-2 Hibbert, sporting Pacers practice gear, walking into the local 'Y' and saying he had the next run. I wouldn't be upset if he swatted my shot in the stands. Hibbert's addiction to the gym is similar to a former Pacer that's one of the league's best all-around players when he's mentally focused. Ron Artest would often play pickup games at IUPUI and the Jewish Community Center during the offseason."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dwight Howard danced and pranced across the stage Tuesday, modeling the Orlando Magic's new 20th anniversary uniform for an adoring crowd. Let me tell you, the new ravishing retro look is to die for. It is so-o-o-o tres chic. The Magic's inaugural unis, unveiled two decades ago, were black-and-white pinstripes, but the new blue-and-white pinstripes are much more of the moment. Not so yesterday. And the blue absolutely screams at you. Scandalous, I say. The glitterati are absolutely abuzz with the idea that blue has become the new black. ... 'These new uniforms will help us look good,' Dwight says with a look of determination on his face, 'but they won't help us win. That's up to us. ... We have to put the work in to get better.' In other words, it's great the Magic have new uniforms, but it will mean nothing if they aren't willing to get those uniforms dirty."