First Cup: Friday

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star "The Indiana Pacers have hired Calvin Hill as a consultant to help the team with its image reshaping. Hill, a former NFL running back and father of Phoenix Suns guard Grant Hill, will work with Sam Perkins, the Pacers vice president of player relations. Hill has played a vital part as a consultant in helping the Dallas Cowboys clean up their image. 'He's been very active in the Dallas turnaround with the trouble they had,' Perkins said. 'He's doing well with (cornerback) 'Pacman' Jones and those guys. He's very resourceful. He knows a lot of people that I may not know as far as people coming in and talking to the players.'"

  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "There were more memories to be made in Thursday night's 96-89 preseason loss to Phoenix at EnergySolutions Arena. More than just a photo, this time Fesenko matched up against his childhood idol for a 10-minute stretch of the second quarter. 'It was really hard,' Fesenko said. 'I realize that I am not big, I am not strong. I am small girl compared to Shaq. So I have a lot of work to do -- I have a lot of work to do -- and I need to start right now if I want to make the team, at least this year.' O'Neal didn't say anything to him Thursday, but the 7-foot-1, 300-pound Fesenko said, 'One time after I push him in the back, he look at me and this look I will see probably in my nightmares.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Scott Souza of the MetroWest Daily News: "Celtics coach Doc Rivers and rookie Bill Walker are already on the same page when it comes to one thing about the forward's impressive preseason debut Wednesday night at UMass-Amherst. It wasn't just about the dunks. 'We've had a lot of athletes here that people have gotten excited about who can dunk,' noted Rivers, managing the discipline not to blurt out the name Gerald Green following yesterday's workout at HealthPoint. 'But you've got to learn how to play the game. The dunks were nice, obviously, because he got on SportsCenter. But I just thought his play was nice. I thought he played under control.' Walker said he managed to avoid the endless loop on ESPN of the windmill jam that turned his veteran teammates into a bunch of giddy fourth-graders at a pajama party. Oh, he saw video of the dunks -- he admitted to watching the clips at halftime -- but claimed the pair of jams that left the Mullins Center crowd gushing weren't his personal highlights of the night." Dunk video.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "To hear the Cavaliers tell it, the Boston Celtics are almost incidental to Friday night's pre-season game in Providence. 'Pre-season games have no significance for one team or the other,' Zydrunas Ilgauskas said after practice on Thursday. Even if the last game against the Celtics was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Boston? 'You can't carry a playoff series into a pre-season game,' LeBron James said. In preparing for their first road game of this exhibition season, the Cavs are concentrating exclusively on themselves. 'I don't even know who's on their team,' coach Mike Brown said. He was exaggerating, of course. But only slightly."

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: "Even though the Hornets will be facing the Spurs for the first time since that elimination loss at the New Orleans Arena on May 19, Coach Byron Scott said he won't be feeling the need to make a statement in a glorified scrimmage session more than two weeks before the regular-season opener. 'I don't get too caught up into preseason games as far as trying to 'win' them as I do as just trying to get a better look at what we're trying to achieve,' said Scott, who said his only agenda will be evaluation of the progress his club has made through training camp and two exhibition victories. 'But when you get into game situations, you always want to win. But I'm not going to go all out, go for broke in the third preseason game to try to win."

  • Jamal Crawford for Newsday: "I was looking around the Toronto arena yesterday before the game started and playing in front of 20,000 fans every night is what I dreamed about as a kid. For some reason, just looking around brought back thoughts I had when I was a kid ... I would gave anything to be in the NBA playing at the highest level ... sometimes when you're actually going through this you don't get a chance took take a step back and reflect. You think of the negative stuff that comes along with being in this position, what people expect from you, the many people you try to please ... life is too short ... God choose me to be in this position, he gave me the talent and it's up to me to do something more with it. You only go through this once, so I'm gonna make the most of it."

  • Peter Vecsey of the New York Post: "The fact remains, [Donald] Sterling put Baylor back in the limelight when every other owner in the league, especially [Laker owner Jerry] Buss, gave no thought to finding room at the top for him. That relationship has endured over two decades. Without a doubt, Baylor has been the league's lowest paid VP of basketball operations each and every year. At the same time, the salary hasn't been all that shabby (400G per for quite some time) and deposits were steady."

  • Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times: "Naturally, it didn't take long for names to surface around the league as possible replacements for Elgin Baylor's job. One problem. Mike Dunleavy has the position. Former Lakers coach Randy Pfund, who, until very recently, was the Heat's GM, was asked by the Palm Beach Post if he was interested in the Clippers' spot. His answer: 'I think it'd be best to wait and see if there was a job there.' But the word interim was not been attached to Dunleavy's new job as general manager. Pfund, of course, has long-standing ties to Dunleavy, having served as his assistant with the Lakers. The thought is that he won't have any shortages of opportunities, Chicago being one potential destination."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Free-agent center David Harrison signed his one-year, non-guaranteed contract after practice on Thursday at the Nuggets' Pepsi Center training facility, but does not know when he'll be able to get on the floor to practice fully with his new teammates because of a strained calf sustained when he worked out for team officials at Target Center last month. I'll bet the Wolves give Harrison a good long look, which means I'm guessing he sticks with the team into the regular season for sure. Randy Wittman said he envisions Harrison playing well with Al Jefferson if opponents defend Jefferson with their centers, thus putting a smaller player against Harrison, who instantly and easily became the Wolv
    es' biggest player when he signed, in the post."

  • Steve Adamek of The Record: "Chris Duhon is in a hurry -- to learn Mike D'Antoni's offensive system and his new Knicks teammates. That, in part, explains the seven turnovers he committed starting at point guard in his Knicks' debut during Wednesday's loss in Toronto. 'I've still got to get used to playing with everybody, their strengths, their weakness, when they want the ball, where they want to ball, where they're most effective when they have the ball,' he said Thursday. 'My mind's kind of spinning real fast right now.'"

  • Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "I know. I know. It's one exhibition game. Against a bunch of no-names wearing Spurs uniforms. But if Von Wafer can keep playing aggressively and lighting it up on offense for the next couple of weeks, I'm ready to pull Luther Head's plug. After all, what's Head going to do this season that he hasn't already shown in his first three NBA seasons? Is he going to develop a handle with the ball? Is he going to turn into a lock-down defender? He's a one-trick pony, streak-shooter, who isn't particularly adept at that."

  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "Memories this weekend will flow back to Kirkwood Park in Atlanta, Cloverdale Park in Baltimore and Lakewood (N.J.) Community Center. Those were some of the places Nuggets players took it outside as youngsters, battling on cement or asphalt. It was no concussion, no foul. It will be a lot different when the Nuggets face the Phoenix Suns on wood Saturday night at the 16,000-seat Indian Wells (Calif.) Tennis Garden. But the preseason game will still be outside, the second one in NBA history. 'It will probably (bring back memories),' said guard Anthony Carter. 'The sun might be out. The moon or something. It's just going to be fun.'"