First Cup: Thursday

  • Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle: "A moped. Monta Ellis put $66 million on a moped. Of course he did. Ellis blew up his ankle and will be lost to America's Favorite Ninth-Place Team for between two and four months, depending on whose diagnosis you believe. He did it while being what kids always believe themselves to be -- bulletproof. And while we get that Ellis was precluded in his contract from riding a moped and didn't want to blow his deal completely, the lie and the subsequent delay in revealing that lie made the whole incident look sinister, as though the moped story itself might just be a lie too."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Match the offer. It's not a no-brainer. It's not an easy call to make. But before media day on Monday, the Rockets need to send the offer sheet Carl Landry signed back to the Bobcats and say that they will be keeping Landry. He got himself a good deal, $9 million over three years, the last season at the team's option. The Rockets had offered about $5.4 million. The contract the Bobcats offered would put the Rockets' over the luxury tax line and adding Joey Dorsey will push them even further into tax territory. Do it, anyway."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "At one point late last season, P.J. Carlesimo was hesitant to evaluate the development of rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. But the Thunder coach on Wednesday praised their progress this off-season so much that he said both have a leg up going into next week's training camp. 'They look very good,' Carlesimo said. 'Those guys have had a real productive summer. They obviously had way above average rookie years. But they've really taken advantage of this summer. I don't think they've done a good job. They've done an exceptional job with how hard they've worked all summer, starting with summer league in Orlando. ... I will be shocked if they don't, not just pick up where they left off, but play at an even higher level right from the beginning,' Carlesimo said. 'It will be noticeable to people that these guys are better players."

  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: "Stephon Marbury carries a reputation of chaos in sneakers. He can be selfish and pouty and bring an ego befitting his nickname: Starbury. He is coming off an injury and unquestionably is a few years beyond his prime. For sure, one can see why many in NBA circles might regard him as less an answer than an anathema. The Heat should sign him in a minute. If not sooner. Miami should hope he becomes available -- that the New York Knicks release him as expected -- because for all of the things Marbury is not (an ideal teammate with a perfect attitude), here is what he most certainly is: Better than what the Heat has at point guard."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph, the Alonzo Mourning autobiography to be released Sept. 30, is many things, but, for the most part, is not a sports book. Instead, the 256-page release from Ballantine Books focuses mostly on the Heat center's turbulent upbringing, battle with kidney disease and transplant, and the way those times have changed him into a more introspective person."

  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "Juan Dixon was a free agent shooting guard without an NBA team this summer. But he ultimately found a home in a familiar place -- with the Washington Wizards, the team that drafted him out of the University of Maryland in 2002. Yesterday, Dixon repeatedly used the word 'comfortable' when describing how he felt after signing a one-year partially guaranteed contract with the team late Tuesday afternoon. 'I'm very excited,' Dixon said. 'It's a good opportunity to come back close to home and continue my career with the Wizards. I'm very comfortable. I'm very familiar with the system. There are a couple of players on the team who were here when I was here, so I'm very comfortable.'"

  • Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal: "Sure, the Griz have had their share of knuckleheads through the years. But the idea of fighting for a job as if a player's livelihood depends on it is something that hasn't been part of the culture with the Grizzlies. I suspect that's about to change after recently watching informal workouts/pick-up games. For the first time in Memphis Grizzlies history -- and I'm the only beat writer the team has worked with -- a fiery, healthy, competitive spirit is evident AND we're talking about practice. We're talking about practice, y'all. ... I must say it's refreshing. Competing in practice and not dogging it for fear of getting hurt or shown up by a less coveted player can only lead to a team collectively 'getting after it' when the lights come on."

  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "While Iverson's preference is to be with the Nuggets in 2009-10, the Camby trade has created more uncertainty. 'It was kind of a shock,' Iverson said of the deal in which Marcus Camby was sent to the Clippers for the right to swap second-round picks in 2010 and a $10 million trade exception. 'I didn't expect it. ... We didn't get any players, right? That was probably the strangest part of it all. ... Like everybody else, you sit around and wonder like, 'Why did it happen and how could something like that happen.' But, like I said, it's a business.' Iverson will see if the business of basketball results in his having a new address come February."

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Elton Brand, preparing diligently for the 76ers' coming season, asked to see last season's playbook. 'There is no playbook,' coach Maurice Cheeks said. 'That playbook doesn't exist anymore.' The new playbook isn't necessarily built around Brand, the power forward signed in the summer as a free agent, but it is built to maximize use of his skills as a low-post player at both ends of the floor."

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Brandon Roy, returning All-Star. Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, who is bigger and stronger than ever. LaMarcus Aldridge, a 17.8 point, 7.6 rebound player entering his third season. Rudy Fernandez, one of Europe's top players. Jerryd Bayless, the Summer League Most Valuable Player. Travis Outlaw ... OK, stop. Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan has heard enough. Yes, the Blazers are better, McMillan agrees. And yes, even his expectations for this season have escalated to the point where he doesn't shy away from the word 'playoffs.' But as next week's training camp nears, the no-nonsense coach does not want to hear anything more about how great his team is, or will be. 'I know what everybody is saying,' McMillan said. 'And we can't get caught up in that trap of thinking that we are really good, or grea
    t, or that we have arrived. I have never been one to talk about what we are going to do and I won't start now. We have to show what we are going to do out on the floor.'"

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Rookie Sun Yue met with reporters Wednesday, a couple of days after arriving in his new city, half a world away from his home in China. The Lakers' second-round draft pick from 2007 answered questions in English while sitting at a table before being surrounded by more than a dozen Chinese-speaking media members in a corner of a room at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo. In all, about 30 media members were in attendance. Even Mitch Kupchak seemed surprised. 'Quite frankly, this is a very unusual turnout for a player who was drafted two years ago who we hope to be on this team for many, many years to come,' the Lakers' general manager said. 'The fact remains, though, he has to earn his way onto this club.'"

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers: "There are mornings when Joe Dumars arrives early at his office which overlooks the Detroit Pistons' practice court, and he sees Arron Afflalo drenched in sweat. 'It's been like that since he got here,' said Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations who drafted Afflalo in 2007. 'He's one of those players that you don't have to talk to about trying to get better. If you watch him play and watch how he prepares himself on a day-in, day-out basis, his work ethic is exactly what you want and need on your team.' As training camp will start next week, those early morning workouts should result in more playing time for the second-year guard."

  • Matt Steinmetz of The Examiner: "Said Rick Barry: 'People just don't have any idea how good Oscar Robertson was. They don't understand. The numbers are ridiculous. If there's anybody in the game of basketball who has been overlooked in terms of his greatness, it's been Oscar. No doubt about it. In his case, numbers don't lie. If you're getting 30 points or 20-something points and getting double-figures in rebounds as a point guard and 10 assists a game, that's sick. For 82 games. He was unbelievable and somebody should do a movie about this guy. He is the greatest athlete in the history of sports in this country who has been overlooked. Look at LeBron (James) and his numbers. But they pale in comparison to what Oscar did for so many seasons. It would be ridiculous how many endorsements this guy would have. Plus, the fact his nickname is 'The Big O.' C'mon. Seriously, this is a guy who's never gotten the credit he deserves for the greatness he has shown.'"