First Cup: Friday

  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "Caron Butler has never been to Barcelona before, but he does remember an image of his childhood idol, Michael Jordan, that was taken during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when Jordan and the Dream Team dominated the competition en route to a gold medal. 'Mike was walking in front of one of these buildings and looked up to see that the entire wall was covered by his photo,' Butler said. 'That was real cool. He was just walking on the street and there he was, covering a whole building. Imagine that.' Butler, who is entering his seventh season, has a long way to go to reach Jordan's iconic status, but he's working on expanding his profile. He is coming off two consecutive all-star appearances and has emerged as one of the top all-around players in the NBA."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "There are two kinds of size in the NBA: One is height, and then there's the quality that Al Jefferson, Craig Smith, Ryan Gomes, Kevin Love and maybe even Mark Madsen present. 'We've got girth,' Smith said. Enough so that Love suggests Smith -- a 6-8 forward who earned a new two-year, $4.8 million because he can bull his way to the basket -- might be playing in the wrong league. 'He should be playing in the NFL,' Love said. 'He'd probably make more money.' Newly signed David Harrison and veterans Jason Collins and Calvin Booth -- centers all -- remain out because of injuries, so the Wolves forge ahead with nobody bigger than 6-9 in a league where Kevin McHale not so facetiously says anybody taller than that anymore is 'terrible.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "His coaching aspirations aside, one thing Sam Cassell can be consulted about is what it takes to repeat as NBA champs, which he did in Houston. 'I told the guys we don't want to go through what we had to in Houston with no homecourt advantage,' he said. 'We have to win as many games as possible and get homecourt advantage. ... And in order for us to get that we know we have to put forth a big effort every night. That's what we expect.' The Celts have also come to expect a certain camaraderie. 'One thing about our ballclub, we really enjoy one another,' Cassell said. 'But we compete against each other, too. Doc keeps it that. You never know who's going to win a scrimmage.'"

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Ron Artest is unconcerned with how he will be greeted in Sacramento. He was booed in the Rockets' first preseason road game, against the Boston Celtics last week, saying that was because 'I always play (Paul Pierce) tough.' 'It's like that everywhere I go,' Artest said. 'Everywhere I go, I get booed. It's cool. I love it. I always loved it. I want to be booed or cheered, one or the other. I don't want to have my name announced and have nobody say anything. To have my name announced and everybody boo, that's great. That means they know me.' They know him well in Sacramento, but the Kings are his third former team. It might not be the best way to hype a game, but Artest insisted that to him, the opponent tonight does not matter. 'The only thing that is important is playing with my team and getting that chemistry down,' he said."

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: "Hornets assistant coach Kenny Gattison is blunt. 'If there's an assistant coach in any sport in the world who's saying he doesn't want to be a head coach, then he isn't worth his salt,' Gattison said. 'That's what we all do, that's what we work for. Hopefully one day ...' In a sports world where there historically are two kinds of coaches, those who've been fired and those about to be, Gattison, entering his sixth season as an assistant with the Hornets, patiently waits for the opportunity to join the club, relating his amusement with the process. 'We always joke and look at a guy's record as a head coach -- he's won 500 games and lost 400. ... Please let me be lucky enough to lose 400 games.' Gattison, 44, laughs."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "James Singleton, the Mavericks' 6-8 forward, has seen harsh treatment. And the NBA doesn't dish it out like some European leagues. A sixth-year pro out of Murray State, he spent three of his first five seasons overseas. Two of them were in Italy, where he had a wonderful experience. Then came two years with the Los Angeles Clippers. Last season, he was in Spain, where the experience was less than wonderful. 'The team I played for was great, but it's just a different set of rules,' Singleton said. 'They were very, very strict with everything. It's like, if you lost a game, they'd fine you. If you didn't beat a team by a certain amount of points, they'd fine you.' And, unlike the NBA, there's no players' association in Europe."

  • Jeff Caplan of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle gave Jason Kidd plenty of time to break in the new sneakers, or yun dong xie, against the Detroit Pistons. Playing for the first time since logging 12 minutes one week ago, the Mavericks' $21.4 million great hope at point guard zipped around for a preseason-high 29 minutes. So how did the shoes handle? 'Real good,' Kidd said. Before he left the Olympics in Beijing, Kidd announced that he was joining the Chinese brand, becoming the manufacturer's signature American endorser. Houston Rockets forward Shane Battier also has his own line of Peak shoes. But, why bolt an iconic behemoth such as Nike for a Chinese company few Americans have heard of? 'With the way the game is going global,' Kidd said, 'it's a great opportunity for me from a business standpoint.'"

  • Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: "I boycotted the Bobcats last season. I didn't think much of ownership, management, coaching or the product. Other than that, they were great. This season is different. As dismally as they played in the second half at Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday, they look more like a team than they have in their previous four seasons. They played like a team for Bernie Bickerstaff, the most underrated head coach in Charlotte sports history. But they were overmatched almost every time they stepped onto the court. If they stay healthy, and if Larry Brown can do what he does one last time, the Bobcats are capable of winning half their games. If they do, they will contend for the playoffs."

  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "His name is Acie Law IV, and the Hawks haven't yet seen one-fourth of what he can do. At Texas A&M, he was fearless. As an NBA rookie, he played scared. He was afraid he'd mess up, afraid he'd get benched, so afraid of doing the wrong thing that he didn't do much of anything. This isn't uncommon with rookies, rookie point guards especially, but Law knew even as he was hesitating how hesitant he'd become. 'I was tense [last season],' he said. 'I wasn't aggressive. I was real passive. I was kind of trying to play mistake-free and not to make coach mad.
    ' Over the summer he watched video of himself and barely recognized the guy he saw."

  • Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News: "Ryan Anderson doesn't exactly know how he hurt his right shoulder. But he does know when the injury hurt him most. Anderson, the Nets' second pick in the first round of the 2008 draft, was playing Ping-Pong with a friend at the Nets' practice facility in East Rutherford on Wednesday night when a sharp pain shot through his right shoulder. Anderson reported to the morning shootaround Thursday to prepare for Thursday night's preseason game against the Celtics at the Meadowlands. He said his shoulder felt slightly better, but he still wasn't able to play. Anderson said the pain was 'really bad' on Wednesday."

  • Peter Vecsey of the New York Post: "Eddy Curry's sole objective in life at this playing-catch-up point should be to build stamina. Once he finds that second wind and gains that endurance, once he's feeling good, that'll be his ideal playing weight; damn what the scale says. On the other hand, a strong case can be made for Curry far exceeding the coloring cap. 'I've got about 50 tattoos,' he estimates. 'I used to think I had more than anybody else in the league, but I think J.R. Smith has me beat. His tattoos have tattoos.' ... Curry frequented his first tattoo parlor when he was 16. Got his girlfriend's name emblazoned on his leg. Is that your wife? 'Naw,' Curry flinched. 'That's the one problem with tattoos; you got 'em for life. But she is the mother of my oldest child, and we're cool. So, it's all good.'"

  • Aaron J. Lopez of the Rocky Mountain News: "Despite playing only 12 minutes in three preseason games, former Ralston Valley High School player Nick Fazekas still hopes to make the Nuggets' opening-night roster. 'There's always a window,' he said. 'I don't think the window's closed until you finally hear that day if you're going to be cut.' Fazekas had two points and two rebounds in 10 minutes against Utah on Wednesday. The appearance came after he approached coach George Karl earlier in the week. 'I just tried to talk to him about how I could get out there and play,' Fazekas said. 'I felt like there was nothing to lose.'"