Monday: First Cup

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "But if the Knicks are really looking to change the culture and move past the Isiah Thomas era, then Jim Dolan has to get with it, do what's best for his team and write a $22 million check to Marbury and have him leave. Let Dolan make the call on this one. Until then, Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni are stuck trying to explain what's going on with Marbury. Wins are rendered relatively meaningless. Losses? Well, it's not like D'Antoni has the right players for his system now anyway, but that's a column for another day, after Marbury has left the building."

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "NBA preview packages have come and gone, but here are some bold bonus predictions, based on the first five days of the season: Barring an injury, Derrick Rose will win rookie of the year easily. The reasoning here is pretty simple. Not only is Rose an extraordinary talent who seems to make winning his top priority, he is the best player on a team that could challenge for the playoffs. Miami's Michael Beasley and Memphis' O.J. Mayo will produce good numbers, but they are not their team's best player."

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: "Minutes after winning his first game as coach of the Bobcats, Larry Brown was asked about the next task -- playing one of his former teams, the Pistons. 'Can't I enjoy this for a little while,' he said. Truth be told, Brown doesn't mind talking about his two years with the Pistons. It brought him two trips to the NBA Finals and his only NBA title. 'I love those guys,' Brown told reporters. 'Joe Dumars not only put together a good basketball team, but he handpicked a bunch of good teammates. I've had a lot of unbelievable experiences in this league. But nothing beats that club.'"

  • Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Some NBA players succeed because they are more talented than everyone else. Others make it because they realize everyone in the NBA is talented, but not everyone is a professional. Most times it takes a half-dozen years to arrive at that conclusion and know what to do with it. Jordan Farmar, it seems, was born with that knowledge. 'I think what Jordan has done is he has not become complacent in his success,' starting point guard and mentor Derek Fisher said. 'That's why he's continued to seperate himself so early in his career. He's will to put the hours in. Extra time watching film, looking at what he's done wrong and what he's done right. He's already a professional and that's why he's been able to be successful at his age.'"

  • Sekou Smith The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "If the Hawks learned anything from the adversity they faced in their home wins over the Celtics during the playoffs, it's that no deficit is too great when your comeback is built on defense and effort. 'We have to play with confidence from the start,' Joe Johnson said, making clear his preference for less dramatic affairs at home and away from Philips Arena. 'We have to know that teams are going to try and come in here and get on us early and try and hold down our crowd and our confidence, because they saw this place during the playoffs. They know how tough a place this is to play when we've got it all rocking. Our job is to make sure we don't just play strictly off the emotion, and that we are more methodical in our attack. Don't get me wrong -- it's a good feeling to know that you can battle back with the help of your crowd the way we have. But you have to be more measured in your approach. You have to be more aggressive.'"

  • Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "So what's going on with Mike Conley? He's not injured. 'That question requires reflection,' Griz coach Marc Iavaroni said after benching Conley for the entire fourth quarter of a 96-86 loss Saturday at Chicago. 'Right now, Kyle is playing with more energy and physicality so I'm going with him.' Iavaroni talked about the need to watch film on Conley something he presumably did Sunday while the Griz took the day off from practice. Conley, meanwhile, reflected and worked on his psyche. The 21-year-old plans to bring a different approach into the Grizzlies' game against Golden State tonight in FedExForum. 'It could be a way of making a statement. I look at this as a challenge to me,' Conley said. 'It's one of those things I'm going to have to take to heart. My goal now is to try to earn more playing time and finish out a game.'"

  • Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star: "Nobody's saying the Raptors are the new Celtics, 3-0 and title-bound. But Sam Mitchell will say this: 'When you add Jermaine O'Neal and the attitude he has, and Chris (Bosh) and his attitude, it just rubs off on everyone. Guys gravitate to it, and they start to take on that personality. I tell our guys all the time, `You can be a nice guy off the court, but when you're on the court, you've got to do what you've got to do to win basketball games.'"

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "After the Suns beat Portland 107-96, Blazers coach Nate McMillan and players Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez each mentioned how 'physical' the Suns played. Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge told the (Portland) Oregonian that the Suns 'bullied' them. That claim was put on the Suns about as often as 'boring' in recent years. 'In the West, you have to play physical,' Suns coach Terry Porter said. 'We still have to have a presence. We're blessed to have two big guys in AmarĂ© (Stoudemire) and Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal) who really give us that at the defensive end, really protect the paint.'"

  • Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News: "The Clippers moved into a sparkling new training facility and completely overhauled their roster in the offseason. If ever there was a season the star-crossed franchise could change its luck, it was this one, right? So far though, it's seemed like the black cloud that always seems to follow the franchise and rain on all of their best-laid plans has followed them up the 405 from Manhattan Beach to their new home in Playa Vista as their two prized offseason acquisitions, Marcus Camby and Baron Davis, have spent more time in the training room than on the court."

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: "Two emotions erupted. Celebration in the Ford Center. 'Feels like an NBA Finals in here,' said one fan, who before the game predicted an 18-win season. Relief. One big sigh of relief. 'Everybody wanted to win this game bad,' said Chris Wilcox. 'It was a home game. This is a team we were supposed to beat.' I know, I know. Players aren't supposed to talk like that. But they're as clued in as the rest of us. You circle Minnesota at the Thunderdome as a victory, and if you don't get it, it's opportunity lost. Lose this game, with the Celtics coming to town Wednesday, and you're starting off el stinko."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Two signs the Wolves aren't playing the Seattle SuperSonics anymore: Prayer preceeded the national anthem and the pregame meal in the media room featured chicken fried steak in the shape of the state of Oklahoma."