First Cup: Friday

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: The Heat is among teams that has shown some interest in free agent point guard Mo Williams. And Williams is said to have interest in Miami if he doesn’t get an offer higher than the minimum. Some Heat officials oppose offering Greg Oden anything more than the minimum because of his history of knee problems, though some teams could offer more. The question is whether Pat Riley can be persuaded by Oden’s camp, in the next several days, to dip into his $3.2 million mid-level exception.

  • Charles Bagli of The New York Times: Madison Square Garden, home to the Knicks, the Rangers, the Ice Capades, the circus and the “Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971, received an eviction notice of sorts on Wednesday. The New York City Council notified the arena that it has 10 years to vacate its 45-year-old premises and find a new home, the Garden’s fifth since it opened in 1879. By a vote of 47 to 1, the Council voted to extend the Garden’s special operating permit for merely a decade — not in perpetuity, as the owners of the Garden had requested, or 15 years, as the Bloomberg administration had intended. Ten years should be enough time, officials said, for the Garden to find a new location and for the city to devise plans for an expanded Pennsylvania Station, which currently sits below the Garden, and the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Richard Locker of The Commercial-Appeal: Players for the Memphis Grizzlies and every visiting NBA opponent pay a Tennessee professional privilege tax of $2,500 per game, up to $7,500 per year. Memphis Redbirds and their visiting opponents don’t. In Nashville, players for the NHL’s Predators and their visiting opponents pay the same state tax. But players for the NFL’s Titans don’t. Nor do the NASCAR drivers who race at Bristol.Nor do players for minor league baseball’s Nashville Sounds, Knoxville Smokies and Chattanooga Lookouts. The tax applies only to NBA and NHL players, and they’re asking the Tennessee legislature to repeal it. … The tax brings in about $1.5 million a year from NBA players, according to testimony Thursday. With Griz star Tony Allen behind him, NBA Players Association counsel David Kiefer told the panel that “While it is difficult to look through the smoke and mirrors with regard to the finances, it is very easy to see why the tax is unconstitutional.” He said at least 75 NBA players lost money on games played in Tennessee last season “and many more essentially played for nothing.”

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: It’s no secret that the 76ers’ Andrew Bynum experiment was a disaster. The acquisition of the 7-foot center in last summer’s four-team trade ultimately set the Sixers back several seasons. Bynum, who made $16.9 million last season, never played for the team due to chronically injured knees. After being urged by 94 WIP-FM personality Angelo Cataldi, new Sixers chief executive officer Scott O’Neil apologized Thursday morning to fans who purchased tickets with the hope of seeing Bynum play. “I apologize on behalf of the Sixers to any fan who invested and thought Bynum was going to be their guy and be the savior,” said O’Neil, while being a guest on Cataldi's radio show. “At the end of the day that’s our apology to every fan – not just to you [he told Cataldi].”

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: In a town where gambling is king, bet on Kyrie Irving to win. The Cavaliers All-Star point guard put on his usual display of dazzling drives and added two 3-pointers for good measure to lead all scorers with 23 points and 7 assists as his White team beat the Blue, 128-106, in the Team USA intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV. … Irving is considered a sure thing for the World Cup team and a strong candidate for the Olympic team, depending on which Olympians return. "The experience...I'll remember it forever,'' Irving said. "The last three days were great. I wanted to separate myself from this group and show what I could bring to the team for next year.''

  • Staff of The Indianapolis Star: Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill acknowledged his decision not to attend USA Basketball’s national team training camp on short notice this week will likely keep him from being invited to try out for future national teams. Instead, Hill attended the youth camps he sponsors in Texas. “I’m sure it’ll affect it,” he told Pacers.com. “I’m sure there’s going to be people that don’t agree with my decision but also there’s going to be people that do agree. If the opportunity is there again, and it’s there for me to take, then I’ll try to do the best I can to take it. I feel like in my heart I made the right decision to keep my word to these kids and that’s what matters most to me.” Hill did not address why he committed to attend the tryoutswhen he knew they conflicted with his youth camps. The national team practiced in Las Vegas from Tuesday through Thursday. Hill’s camps in Texas were Monday and Wednesday and conclude today. Hill also said he hasn’t spoken to anyone from USA Basketball.

  • Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: Earlier this month, the Sacramento Kings became the 14th NBA team to enter a single-affiliation D-League partnership, forcing the Jazz out of a shared arrangement in Reno and on to Bakersfield — where they are one of five teams affiliated with the Jam. The remaining 16 NBA teams share three D-League affiliates. While teams with single affiliations hire their coaches, provide support and direct on-court decisions, others like the Jazz have to live with the decisions of their independently owned affiliates. "There certainly is a breaking point where the system might not work as well for everyone involved," said Dan Reed, the D-League president. The NBA is moving toward a day when every NBA team has its own affiliate — one D-League executive hopes within five years — but it remains unclear how the Jazz will get there. The Larry H. Miller Group-owned organization attempted to partner with Reno before its alignment with Sacramento. Jazz president Randy Rigby has expressed an interest in putting an expansion team in St. George. What’s clear at this point, however, is not only that the D-League model is evolving rapidly, but that teams like the Jazz are at a competitive disadvantage. … He estimates that a hybrid affiliation would cost up to $400,000 a year. In the big money world of NBA basketball, where luxury is a prerequisite, that’s pocket change. Fredman puts it this way: "If teams are going to pay $3 million for a draft pick, why wouldn’t you invest ‘X’ amount of dollars to develop that draft pick?"

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: The senior men — the highest profile team of the organization even though it hasn’t been as successful as the women — begins its training camp here next week. Its world championship qualification tournament is in Caracas at the end of August and we are entering without doubt the most anticipated quadrennial for the senior men perhaps ever. We all know about the promising young talent, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Tristan Thompson and the rest who make up the most talented generation of players the country has ever produced. They are still trying to finalize the precise camp roster — we might not see that until Sunday night or even Monday morning — but suffice it to say that for the first time in a long time, there will be all kinds of competition for jobs. And by competition, I mean competition between talented players who would have legitimate claims to jobs in most years.

  • Bryan Gibberman of ArizonaSports.com: Over the course of his career, Michael Beasley's teams are a net negative of about seven when he is playing SF and only two when he plays PF. Beasley's PER is also between three and four points higher when he plays the four. Playing Beasley up a position makes the game easier for him because it creates more spacing and allows more open lanes to drive through, while he is also being guarded by slower-footed defenders. The position isn't the only aspect with Beasley that needs to be fixed -- it's about more than that. His shot selection and the way he attacks the game offensively both need to be improved. … Michael Beasley will most likely never live up to the potential he showed in college and even early on in the NBA. That being said, there is no question he can be used in a way that he won't be nearly as detrimental to the Suns as he was last year. If Beasley is willing to be coached and accept a role, there are ways for him to have a positive impact for Phoenix.

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: The Milwaukee Bucks announced Thursday they have waived 6-foot-10 forward Gustavo Ayon, who was the only active Mexican-born player in the NBA. The Bucks released Ayon before a Friday deadline that would have guaranteed his $1.5 million salary for next season. … Ayon was with the Bucks team earlier this month in the Las Vegas summer league and started the first three games. But he suffered a setback when he injured his groin and was unable to play in the last two games.