First Cup: Friday

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Warriors guard Jarrett Jack was on the verge of tears as he stood at his locker. He couldn't find the words to truly express what he was feeling, so he let his attire do the talking for him. "Usually before I would do any media, I would make sure I was dressed a certain way," Jack said after the Warriors' season ended Thursday with a 94-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. "I brought one of my best suits. But looking down at this jersey, it's just a sense of pride I don't think I've ever felt as a professional. ... Nothing in my closet is better than what I have on now." Perhaps it was the disappointing end to a magical run. Perhaps reality had hit him that he may have spent his last minutes in a Warriors uniform. And he didn't want to take it off. … Whether he takes the more lucrative offer else where, or whether the Warriors make a competitive offer to keep him in the Bay Area, that will all be figured out this summer. But Jack was never more clear about for whom he wants to play: Golden State. "I hope so, man," Jack said. "Obviously there are other things that go into seeing if that works -- we all know this is a business at the end of the day. If I could do it, if I could rearrange it, I would definitely be back at this same locker."

  • Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis and Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: The Maloof era in Sacramento, at times spirited and uplifting, at times dismal, appears to have come to an end. A Sacramento investors group has reached a deal with the Maloof family to buy its controlling stake in the Kings. The deal is expected to be unveiled today. "It's the start of a new era," said Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive, leader of the Sacramento investor group, speaking to reporters after the Warriors game Thursday night. Ranadive added, "We just need to sign some papers and finalize everything." If the NBA approves the deal, a source told The Bee, escrow is expected to close at the end of May. The source, a stakeholder close to the deal, said the Maloof family was eager to "turn the page" and was pleased it was able to sell to a group that will keep the team in Sacramento. The deal would set the team's overall value at $535 million, an NBA record. The source did not say why the price values the team at $535 million, rather than the $525 million figure the local group had offered. The sale price translates into $347 million for the 65 percent of the team controlled by the Maloofs and their business partner, Robert Hernreich. Ranadive confirmed that the reported price was "about right."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Following his response, Kevin Durant was then asked what he would say to possible critics who might hear his outlook and question his competitive fire. “I don’t give a damn. I’m going to be who I’m going to be,” Durant said. “I’m not Kobe Bryant. I’m not Michael Jordan. I’m not LeBron James. I’m not Magic Johnson. I’m me. I’m not going to ever compromise myself, my integrity and what I believe in for winning some basketball games and winning a championship. That’s just not I how I was brought up. I’m always going to fight for this game I love. I’m going to claw until the last buzzer sounds. And if that’s after a championship then of course I’ll be happy. I’m not satisfied just being in this league and losing. I’m going to work as hard as I can to try to get to that mountaintop. I enjoy playing the game. I enjoy being here. But I’m never going to come out to the media and say we wasted a year because we lost a championship. Like I said, I don’t have to be Kobe Bryant.”

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Taj Gibson still is getting ripped by Bulls fans for his ejection in Game 2 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. So the reserve power forward couldn’t even imagine what venom has built up toward Derrick Rose, who missed the season while ¬¨recovering from surgery to his left knee. “That’s what comes with the job we do,’’ Gibson said Thursday, one day after the Bulls’ postseason came to an end in Miami. “I’m still recovering from the Game 2 [ejection]. I still have fans basically ripping me to shreds. But you just have to take it with a grain of salt, keep pushing. “You’ve got a lot of people who want you to do certain things at a certain time that you [don’t] feel is right for yourself.’’ Besides, Gibson has been around long enough to know that once Rose steps on the court next season and scores his first few baskets, all will be forgiven. That’s the nature of sports fans.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: With their second-string point guard slated to become a free agent and their third-string point guard possessing an unguaranteed contract, Orlando Magic officials already have met with some potential backcourt replacements during the 2013 NBA Draft Combine. C.J. McCollum, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Lehigh, and Myck Kabongo, a 6-foot-2 point guard from the University of Texas, said they met individually with Magic officials Wednesday night. McCollum averaged 23.9 points and 2.9 assists per game as a senior before he broke his left foot in early January. McCollum has been compared to 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard hailed from a small school, Weber State, while Lehigh plays in the small-school Patriot League. Kabongo's sophomore season was limited to the Longhorns' final 11 games because he was suspended for accepting personal training instruction and taking airfare and not being truthful about it to school officials. But during his time on the court as a sophomore, Kabongo averaged 14.6 points and 5.5 assists per game. … In addition to their top-four lottery pick, the Magic own the draft's 51st overall pick. Jameer Nelson is slated to return as Orlando's starting point guard. But Nelson's backup, Beno Udrih, will be an unrestricted free agent. E'Twaun Moore, the team's third-string point guard, has one more year remaining on his contract at a league-minimum salary of $885,000. But Moore's deal is fully unguaranteed if he's waived on or before June 30.

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: The player in mock drafts most frequently pegged as going to the Trail Blazers is UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, and sure enough, the Blazers were one of the teams that interviewed the controversial wing at the NBA draft combine in Chicago this week. "They asked me how I liked their team, and I said it was a great team," Muhammad said of the meeting. "I've talked with Damian, I know LaMarcus (Aldridge) is a good guy, and they have (Nic) Batum at the three. I feel like I could really fit well with their program, and I think they are looking for a guy who can do a lot of things like me." Muhammad said he also interviewed with Toronto, Minnesota and Houston. Muhammad (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) averaged 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists while sharing the Pac-12 Conference freshman of the year award this season. The 20-year-old was suspended by the NCAA for the first three games of the season and forced to repay $1,600 in impermissible benefits he accepted, and was later shown to be one year older than he initially let on. He said many of the NBA teams he has interviewed with in Chicago have asked him about the circumstances surrounding his suspension. … the Blazers met with Muhammad, Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse wing James Southerland, Indiana big man Cody Zeller and San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Maybe it’s just being meticulous, but the Charlotte Bobcats seem to be interviewing players in Chicago who wouldn’t fit a top-five draft pick. The Bobcats finished 21-61 last season, second-worst record in the NBA. That means they can do no worse than the fifth pick in Tuesday night’s draft lottery. However, they spent time in Chicago interviewing at least two players – Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams and Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk – who don’t figure to go before the early- to mid-teens. Carter-Williams, who models himself after New York Knicks veteran Jason Kidd, is interesting, in that he’s a 6-6 point guard who could offer both a contrast and a complement to 6-1 Bobcats playmaker Kemba Walker. The Bobcats played a lot of sets with two point guards last season, pairing Walker with Ramon Sessions and later Jannero Pargo.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: A group of current assistant coaches the Suns are planning to interview includes former Suns player and Utah assistant Jeff Hornacek, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford and two Houston assistants — former Washington State, Oklahoma and Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson and J.B. Bickerstaff, the son of former NBA head-coaching veteran Bernie Bickerstaff. CSKA Moscow assistant Quin Snyder, a former Missouri head coach and NBA assistant coach, is also in the mix and some here at the combine feel the Suns would be willing to look at collegiate head coaches such as Villanova’s Jay Wright, Butler’s Brad Stevens or Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg. Clifford and Sampson are candidates for vacancies in Milwaukee and Charlotte. Charlotte is also considering Snyder and Hornacek, who also is being interviewed by Philadelphia. Milwaukee and Detroit are looking at Bickerstaff. McDonough and the Suns staff are here for the NBA draft combine but the coaching search presses on to the point that assistant coaches who are tied up with postseason work — Indiana’s Brian Shaw, San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer, Golden State’s Mike Malone and Miami’s David Fizdale — might become less likely candidates.

  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: With the NBA combine underway this week in Chicago, the Utah Jazz are busy studying their options, working through every possibility, tossing them in the air like a dough slapper at Pizano’s. They have two picks in the coming draft, one in the lottery, a likely No. 14 selection, and another at No. 21. There is both skepticism and sunshine as to whether the Jazz can add to their half-vacant roster a player or two who will actually help them improve what is already a young core. There’s been talk that this draft is weak, that it won’t benefit the club in any meaningful way, particularly at the positions where Utah is most thin. "There will be a player there that, hopefully we draft, but if not, drafted after us, that becomes a good NBA player," he says. "[It’s] our responsibility, our call, our job. … We’ve got to do it right and if we don’t do it right often enough, then we shouldn’t have the job." Those words might sound as though they are selling what the Jazz have said they will sell until the team once again becomes what it used to be — a real contender: hope.

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: The Bucks are expected to draft a guard with their first pick, the 15th overall selection. But they have shown interest in three big men: Rudy Gobert of France, Gorgui Dieng of Louisville and Mason Plumlee of Duke. They have interviewed all of those players and are expected work them out before the draft as well. ... The Bucks also interviewed shooting guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia and Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State. .... Let’s say Franklin is one of the most confident players in camp. He said his offensive game is similar to New York’s J.R. Smith’s — “I can score in so many ways.’’ — and his defensive game is similar to Memphis’ Tony Allen.

  • Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press: Even six weeks away from the NBA draft and being a possible top-five selection, Trey Burke remains as composed as ever. Burke adapted quickly to college at Michigan because he was mature beyond his years on the court and now, as the draft approaches, he remains steady. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to choose his father, Benji, and his cousin Alonzo Shavers as his agents. He said today at the NBA predraft combine that he and his father discussed the possibility for the past five to six months. It’s why he’s still working out in his Columbus, Ohio, hometown, as he has for the past five years with the same trainer. … Wednesday in Chicago featured interviews with the Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets and Indiana Pacers and six more teams were to come tonight. The Pacers threw him the best curveball, asking “why are sewers round?” and Burke hit it right back at them, saying “so people can get out.”

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Former Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas said he's been working out with ex-Portland center Greg Oden. "Man, he looks unbelievable," he said at the draft combine. "He's running. He's lifting weights. You might be seeing a comeback. He looks like he's ready to go. He's running, getting in shape. I'll tell you one thing. For a big 7-footer that's all he does, running and getting in shape. He's looking right." Thomas said Oden is working out at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Indianapolis. Oden, who helped Ohio State to the NCAA championship game in 2007, has had five knee surgeries in his career. The Cavs had some interest in signing him as a free agent.

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Although construction on the New Orleans Pelicans' new 50,000 square foot practice facility is not scheduled to be completed until August, Coach Monty Williams is already predicting that will be a huge selling point when free agency begins on July 1. The new facility, located at the Saints complex in Metairie, will have a 32,000 square foot practice court area, accommodating two courts, offices for coaches and basketball operations staff, bleachers, as well as a theatre for film review. The practice courts will be made of maple that will be easier on the players' feet and legs. There's also a 12,000-foot area housing the locker rooms for players and coaches, as well as the equipment room and training rooms. The price tag for the new facility is $15 million.