First Cup: Monday

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: They’re going for it. Not two years from now. Not eventually. Now. The Pacers gave up a pretty fair amount to obtain 33-year-old international player Luis Scola, but they brought in a player who is going to be a perfect complement to play behind David West at the power forward position. He is a massive upgrade on the guy who was there, the departed Tyler Hansbrought. He’s averaged 14 points per game throughout his career, including 12.6 last year with the Phoenix Suns. It’s amazing the Pacers found someone to take Gerald Green’s silly contract off their hands; his departure will be addition by subtraction. A good young man, but he has minimal basketball IQ. If you want someone to participate in the Slam Dunk competition, Green is your guy. If you want to win at a high level in the NBA, he isn’t that guy. … Everything the Pacers do is with an eye toward somehow unseating the Miami Heat, and staving off competition from the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and other improving Eastern Conference teams. This is a nice move, a move for NOW.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets that Marcus Camby left were about to be so young, had he returned, he would have looked like a camp counselor driving the bus. He was in the first wave of last summer’s exodus from that team, leaving only a pair of rookies behind. Heading into his 17th season, Camby fit far better with a Knicks team crowded with players of his own generation than a Rockets roster that would become the youngest, least experienced in the NBA. Most of the Rockets he re-joined Sunday might not have been out of kindergarten when Camby’s NBA career began, but somehow, one season later, he fits. Camby, 39, signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Rockets in part for the chance to return home. … Re-enter Camby. With Howard, Asik and Smith at center, there are not clear minutes waiting for him. With Camby coming off a season in which he played in just 24 games the Rockets would not consider Asik significantly more expendable than they did before signing Camby. Even if they are to eventually trade their backup center, it would still have to be much more about what they can get than what they got on Sunday.

  • Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Even though he is on cusp on a new beginning, Mike Brown can't help but avoid the past. With teams focusing on the future, the hottest topic of the 10-day event was the same from the summer of 2009. Where is LeBron James going to play next? … Despite James winning consecutive championships and most valuable player of the year awards, the talk remains on his next move. You don't hear any discussions about the Heat possibly becoming the first team to three-peat since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002, no one is talking about James perhaps ending his career in Miami. Instead, there is only speculation of James playing everywhere from Dallas to Los Angeles to New York to even returning to Cleveland. … The speculation began early as last fall when a story appeared on ESPN.com saying the Lakers would pursue James in 2014. Those rumors have since only gained steamed as the season approaches. One Eastern Conference general manager called the speculation "foolish," but also said teams have to start preparing for free agency "three years in advance." "The way that free agency is happening right now, there's always going to be speculation," said the general manger, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

  • Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Somewhere down the line, when their catch is fully examined, the Sixers hope to have found a few pearls. The history of the league suggests that what you usually find is oysters. This does not particularly deter Hinkie. "Any player we're investing in, we do it because we assume they're undervalued," Hinkie said. This is the true basis of any analytical approach to assembling a roster, whether it is Billy Beane's Moneyball theories in baseball or Hinkie's current dredge work in the NBA. Get rid of players who are actually less valuable than the consensus of the market indicates, and acquire players who are more valuable. It doesn't get any simpler than that. The trick, of course, is making sure your opinion of market value is smarter than the next guy's. That takes a while, and a lot of shucking, to find out. Ownership has bet heavily on Hickie's brains, but we are years away from judging the wisdom of that wager. … And anyway, the Sixers have no intention of competing this season. It would be counterproductive for them to do so. Hinkie's path for the franchise is the logical, analytical one to take in order to reach that elite level. In the interim, obviously, you might not like the 76ers very much. It is advisable, however, to acquire a taste for oysters.

  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: By the end of this week, John Wall should have a full commitment from the Wizards. They’re expected to make him a designated player by extending him a five-year deal, in addition to the $7.45 million he’ll earn in the final year of his scale contract for the 2013-14 season, that will be worth more than $80 million. This is Wall’s commitment: “My whole goal, this is my fourth year, I need to be in the playoffs. There’s nothing more, nothing else needs to be said about that. I just need to be in the playoffs. Leaving the season early every year is not fun. It’s no excitement. Just go home and watch basketball.” Wall made those comments several weeks ago in Las Vegas as he watched the Wizards compete in summer league. That’s also when CSN Washington first reported negotiations were underway on his deal between Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld and Dan Fegan, Wall’s agent. The Wizards haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2008 and Wall never has won more than 29 games in a season since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2010. But everyone, from Grunfeld to Wall to coach Randy Wittman, believes the franchise is on the right track.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Shooting guard Gerald Henderson confirmed by Twitter on Sunday that he has re-signed with the Charlotte Bobcats. “IT”S OFFICIAL!!! … I am a Charlotte Bobcat again!” Henderson wrote on his confirmed Twitter account ( @GhJr09). “I am glad to be back and am ready for another season in the Queen City.” Henderson, drafted 12th overall in 2009 by the Bobcats, became a restricted free agent at the start of this month. A knowledgeable source confirmed to the Observer on Friday that Henderson agreed to a three-year contract with a total value of $18 million. Henderson will have the option to terminate that contract after the 2014-15 season. He accepted less money in return for that player option…. It is possible the Bobcats will add a third point guard and a sixth big man – likely each signed for the veteran minimum salary – before training camp begins in early October.

  • Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: The 2013-14 pay scale suggests the 26th pick make $925,700 next season. Its maximum value is around $1.1 million. But Roberson will only bring in $740,560. On the surface, the move is a frugal one. Some have even grumbled that it was cheap, a small market franchise going against standard NBA thinking to save a couple hundred thousand dollars. But in the grand scheme, it's far more complicated and financially beneficial than that. Because this minor move, along with a few others during this penny-pinching offseason, may end up saving OKC's only professional franchise millions down the road. … So despite recent maneuvers that would suggest otherwise, Thunder management isn't opposed to dipping into the tax. They're just concerned about avoiding it this year. Because starting next season and for the foreseeable future, with the escalating contracts of its star players, OKC is all but guaranteed to violate that threshold. So if they can find a way to escape it in 2013-14, and despite being about $500,000 away it seems like they are desperately determined to do so, the franchise's “repeat offender” clock will be pushed back a year.

  • Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe: Celtics coach Brad Stevens has added another member to his staff, and again it’s someone with connections to Butler University, where Stevens was the head coach before the Celtics hired him in July. Former Butler point guard Ronald Nored, who most recently was an assistant coach at South Alabama, will reunite with Stevens in Boston, a league source confirmed to the Globe Sunday. Another league source confirmed that Nored’s role will be with player development, and that he’ll also be involved with the Celtics’ NBA Development League team. … Another member of Stevens's staff in Boston is 23-year-old Drew Cannon, a basketball analytics specialist whom Stevens brought to Butler, making Cannon the first statistics-based hire on a college basketball staff.

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Canada Basketball is set to open camp ahead of the 2013 Americas Championship for men. The event will take place in Venezuela and runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 11. The top four teams qualify for next year’s World Cup in Spain. Canada will tune up for the competition with its camp, which runs from July 31 to Aug. 15 at the Air Canada Centre, and with two games against Jamaica at the Jack Donohue Classic on Aug. 8 and 10 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. It’s not yet clear exactly who will comprise Canada’s roster, but NBA players Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), Cory Joseph (San Antonio), Kelly Olynyk (Boston) and Joel Anthony (Miami) will be on hand. No. 1 overall selection Anthony Bennett should make an appearance, but can’t play because he is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Canada’s top prospect, Andrew Wiggins, is preparing for his freshman season at Kansas and has not yet decided if he will attend any parts of the camp. …. Senior men’s head coach Jay Triano and general manager Steve Nash will meet with the media on Monday morning.

  • Randy Hollis of the Deseret News: Many years ago, television and radio commercials told us that "Ford has a better idea." Well, when it comes to gauging the productivity of professional basketball players, there's a bright, insightful guy out there named Sotero Muniz who firmly believes he's got a better idea, too. Muniz, 81, is a Utah native who graduated from the University of Utah, spent a lengthy career working for the U.S. Forest Service and now resides in Polson, Mont. And, for the last dozen years or so, he's been busy perfecting a complex mathematical formula and methodology he calls "Basketball Productivity Ratings" — BPRs for short — that he feels could revolutionize the way NBA players are viewed and valued. Muniz was prompted to begin looking into a way to measure players' productivity several years ago, when he was watching an NBA game on TV and saw a coach make a substitution which, in Muniz's mind, made little or no sense. "Why is he putting that guy in?" Muniz recalls wondering at the time. Certainly there must be a way to evaluate a player's performance, he thought, which could aid coaches in knowing which players they would want on the floor in certain situations, thus providing a more rational substitution pattern and a logical way to determine and divvy up players' minutes. Thus, BPRs were born.