First Cup: Monday

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "To address the little birdie and Charley Walters' 'report' that Ricky Rubio was in town -- or due in town -- yesterday to meet with David Kahn. Honestly, I don't know. I've worked to confirm it, which unfortunately as a beat writer is a necessity, but haven't been able to. David Kahn promised 'transparency' when he took the job but eventually said 'Sorry, we have no comment' when I texted him numerous times to ask if has, or will soon meet, with Rubio and his father. That he says no comment rather than deny it leads me to believe there's something there, which isn't surprising that the two sides would begin some kind of conversation face to face soon. Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, has not returned repeated phone messages, except, I suspect, to hang up on me when he called from a posh New York City hotel this morning not knowing exactly whose call he was returning from his cell phone. Well-placed people inside the Wolves say they don't know whether Rubio slipped into town or whether Kahn will try to meet with him and/or Fegan when Kahn hits the road this week to begin his coaching search."

  • Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press: "What if Rubio stays in Spain for another year or two, and Jonny Flynn establishes himself as a terrific point guard for the Wolves? That is entirely possible. Then what? Tell Flynn he has to switch positions? Trade Rubio? With each passing day, it appears less likely that Rubio will be in Minnesota this fall. Kahn says he loves Jonny Flynn. Wolves fans probably should take the same approach and try to forget about the other guy."

  • Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune: "NBA executives, in their search to make an impact move, take two kinds of risks. There is the calculated risk, in which all conceivable scenarios are considered. And there are irrational risks, in which an itch is scratched. You be the judge. If only Amare Stoudemire's physical past were the only matter of concern. It's not. Even if he were more comfortable wearing goggles the second time around and played at 90 percent of what he was at his peak, Stoudemire still would not give the Warriors the most essential element of a successful team. He's a No. 2, someone who at his best plays off a No. 1, a star who is equally adept at setting up teammates and producing offense on his own. A leader. Though Stephen Jackson does it in spurts, no current Warrior is established as The Man. ... The Warriors don't have a Stockton, a Nash or a Baron Davis. General manager Larry Riley, with some prodding, concedes there is a leadership void in Davis' wake. If Stoudemire were capable of filling that void, a trade would be far more tempting. That he is not is one more reason the idea of acquiring him is more appealing in theory than in reality."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "The Knicks dispatched declining Quentin Richardson, who has been wretched the past two seasons, to Memphis for Milicic, whose arrival gives the Knicks more flexibility in the David Lee sweepstakes, which begins Wednesday. 'It's low risk, high reward,' his New York-based agent, Marc Cornstein, told The Post yesterday. 'There is a reason he was drafted where he was drafted. Now it's a matter of will we see it? It remains to be seen, but I'm optimistic off this situation.' Milicic, who hasn't adapted well to U.S. living, now is surrounded by a larger support system, featuring Cornstein and a European-style head coach. But one NBA executive whose franchise had Milicic said: 'He's been in the league six seasons. He is what he is.' Cornstein disagrees. 'We're thrilled on so many levels,' he said. 'I'm excited to have him in my hometown, personally and selfishly. We've known him for a long time and are very close to him. On a basketball level, we're more thrilled. Coach D'Antoni is the ideal coach for him. He has a great understanding of European players and how to utilize his skill sets and talents.' "

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "The Pistons' biggest problem isn't a dearth of talent. It's that their head coach and best player barely speak to each other. Both Michael Curry and Rip Hamilton are to blame, prone to varying degrees of ego and stubbornness. But Curry must understand that it's incumbent upon the coach to fall on the sword, admitting his mistakes for the sake of pacifying the star's delicate disposition. That's lesson one on the first day at Chuck Daly Coaching School. Curry must make amends with Hamilton, regardless of the amount of crow swallowed, or he risks compromising his future as Pistons' coach. ... according to several accounts, what irritated Hamilton most was that Curry made his decision to start Iverson and bring Rip off the bench without privately telling Hamilton first. He announced the benching to the entire team prior to a practice. Hamilton took it as an affront to his new role as team leader in Billups' absence. He grew sullen, truly turning into a whiny basketball diva for the first time in his career. 'I'm not going to get into that,' Curry said. 'However it was done, it wasn't going to be right or good for Rip because, at that time, he didn't want to come off the bench. He wasn't happy about that. I understand that.' But wasn't communication one of Curry's strongest coaching traits when Joe Dumars tapped him as Flip Saunders' successor last summer?"

  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal: "The Grizzlies are one of just a handful of teams -- Oklahoma City, Portland and Detroit are the others -- with enough room under the salary cap to go out and acquire a significant piece. It's the last offseason when the Grizzlies will have that sort of financial advantage over the rest of the league. Next year, a slew of teams -- including some of the league's glamour franchises -- will have significant room under the salary cap. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will have to start signing their younger players to lucrative deals. So there's no more waiting around for the right moment to use their resources. There's no more letting the kids grow up. If the Grizzlies are going to act, this is the week. The question -- the multimillion dollar question -- is whether they'll be aggressive and take advantage of it."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Joe Johnson said he's heard about all the rumors involving the Hawks (Josh Smith's latest is that he's going to be sent to the Phoenix in some sort of package exchange for Amare Stoudemire, Mike Bibby's not coming back according to all the experts now that Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague have been added, etc.). And he's not buying any of it. 'I understand we don't really know what's going to happen in free agency,' Johnson said. 'We never do. But this is a business, man. And this is the tough part, the rumors and all the talk. It's just something we have to deal with. But this is the important thing people need to reme
    mber, we've gotten better every year with this group. That's not easy to do. So that means by the time training camp rolls around we need to have hung out, worked out and done everything else it takes prepare ourselves. It's all business when training camp comes around, because we have to be ready to not only match what we did last year but do better than that. And it's going to be tough.' "

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The decision not to pick up Marquis Daniels' $7.5 million team option was not an easy one for the Pacers. The Pacers would have been right up against the luxury tax if they picked up Daniels' option and if Jarrett Jacks ends up accepting the $2.9 million qualify offer the Pacers plan to make to him any day now later in the summer. President Larry Bird and general manager David Morway would have little wiggle room to make any kind of offseason moves. They've now got about $9 million to work with this summer. ... Counting Tyler Hansbrough, who will eventually sign his contract, the Pacers currently have 10 players under contract. They only have eight players that will be able to help them at the start of the season because Mike Dunleavy is out indefinitely and Jamaal Tinsley's time as a Pacer is over. Expect the Pacers to be cautious in their offseason moves because they have no intention of going over the luxury tax and they don't want to take on lengthy contracts in any trade they make."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Finding a power forward in the draft would have been delightful for the Milwaukee Bucks. Instead, the Bucks filled a big need at point guard with Brandon Jennings at the No. 10 pick and grabbed shooting guard Jodie Meeks from Kentucky in the second round. But Bucks general manager John Hammond did snare a promising power forward last week, when he acquired 22-year-old Amir Johnson from Detroit as part of the three-team deal that sent Richard Jefferson to San Antonio. Johnson has one year and $3.66 million left on the three-year, $10.8 million contract he signed in the summer of 2007. 'It's a new start for me,' Johnson said. 'I felt like I got drafted coming here. I'm ready to get out there and improve myself and play for the Bucks.' "

  • Tim Buckley of Deseret News: "With a Tuesday deadline looming for decisions by Boozer, Okur and Korver, Kevin O'Connor has no idea if he'll have to seek replacements for one, two or perhaps even all three. Boozer, many suspect, might opt out and test his value in the open market -- where perhaps Detroit will make an offer better than the $12.66 million he is due next season. Okur and the Jazz have been negotiating a contract extension, but his agent threatened that if an agreement can't be reached, he'd likely opt out rather than return at $9 million next season. And it remains to be seen whether Korver will test the market or play out his deal at $5.16 million. 'There's so many options,' O'Connor said. 'There's signing your own players. There's signing other people's players. There are sign-and-trades. There's trade exceptions. There's everything. So ... it will be complicated.' The real work will begin only after Boozer, Okur and Korver make their plans known. 'Are we prepared to work from there?' O'Connor asked. 'Absolutely.' "

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: "James Harden was not necessarily the best player available to the Thunder in the NBA Draft. But he was the best fit. Fit has been the Thunder's favorite buzzword since Sam Presti took over this franchise two summers ago. It's not very exotic to talk about fit -- does the piece fit? -- but it's absolutely relevant in the building of this franchise. And here's why. The Thunder now has four top-five picks from the last three drafts. That's a rush of top-shelf talent almost unmatched in NBA draft history. Only the Chicago Bulls, with four players from 2000-02, have done such an extreme roster makeover using elite draft picks."