First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "Parting can be sweet sorrow. Or in the case of Ben Gordon, who verbally agreed to join the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, he feels sorry for some of those he's leaving behind in Chicago. 'To the fans, I generally had a great time being here,' Gordon said in a phone interview. 'For my true fans, I feel bad for them. The longtime fans of the Chicago Bulls - I just felt like they're being cheated. Not with me, but just things that happened in the past. I feel like the fans deserve a lot better.' Gordon didn't give any specific examples. Like most professional sports teams, the Bulls have made some moves that worked well and others that didn't."

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "No other general manager in the NBA has done it. And here is Joe Dumars, trying to do it twice. Dumars built the 2004 NBA champion Pistons without one sure Hall of Famer on the roster. How difficult is that? Those Pistons are the only team in the last 30 years to pull it off. Obviously, Dumars would love to have a Hall of Famer on his team. But they are hard to land. So instead, he is doing what he has done exceptionally well in the past: finding high-caliber, high-character, unappreciated talent that fits into a system, and -- this is crucial -- signing reasonable contracts to maintain flexibility. So Ben Gordon, the Chicago Bulls' best player, has agreed to become a Piston. Charlie Villanueva, a rising talent, has done so as well. Their arrivals put the Pistons back in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, and they allow Dumars to keep maneuvering until he has all the right pieces. Remember, he didn't add the final starter on the 2004 champs, Rasheed Wallace, until February of that season. "

  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal: "We should have known better. Heisley did what he always does. He went for the cheaper solution. He shopped from the discount bin. Never mind that Randolph doesn't fit into Heisley's three-year plan because -- I hate to be picky -- his contract is up in two years. Never mind that Randolph will have a hard time keeping up with a team that has said it wants to run. If the Grizzlies had signed David Lee as a free agent, they'd have been on the hook for four or five years. With Randolph, it's just two. And the first year won't cost the Grizzlies much because they don't have to pay Richardson's salary. So that gets it down to one year of meaningful spending. That's better than four or five years, right? And it's that math -- the fundamental calculation that is driving the Randolph acquisition -- that makes it difficult to celebrate today. Why does it always have to be about money with this franchise? Why not, just once, go get the guy who fits best? There is nothing that makes Randolph a better fit for the Grizzlies than Lee. But Lee would have been more expensive, so Randolph it is."

  • Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle: "Marcin Gortat, who has never made huge money and wasn't part of a college recruiting process, seemed touched when Morey showed him how hundreds of messages were pouring in. By mid-afternoon Wednesday, Gortat had received more than 2,000 messages telling him how he'd love being a Rocket. There's also a tough-love side to this story. Gortat's agent mentioned wanting a full mid-level exception. That amounts to around $30 million over five years. The Rockets aren't offering nearly that much and apparently aren't prepared to go higher. They've assigned a value to Gortat, and if, say, the Mavericks are offering more, the Rockets are prepared to lose him. While Morey wants a competitive team next season, he seems unwilling to take his eye off the big picture. Unless the Rockets can acquire a superstar this summer, they want to retain their payroll flexibility for next summer, when there'll be a bumper crop of free agents available. That flexibility is Tracy McGrady's best chance of playing another season for the Rockets. As much as the Rockets would like to show him the door, they're not going to trade him unless they get an impact player for the long haul in return. At the moment, no available player fits that description."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "While there might never be another season like 2008-09 from a statistical standpoint for Wade, it is safe to say Dwyane is capable of about five or six seasons of such personal productivity. Is he willing to surrender one while waiting to see if there is a better 2010 situation during free agency? That, if I was Pat Riley, is what I would hammer home. Make it all about now. Now. Now. The one thing about Riley is that when given the go-ahead, things happen. Shaq extended, suddenly James Posey, Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and a championship appeared. Yes, Dwyane has every right to watch and wait, just as LeBron and Bosh are prepared to do. But he's never going to get 2009-10 back. And without a tangible Heat upgrade, he could be looking at a fourth consecutive season without advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The hill in the Eastern Conference continues to get steeper for the Pacers. Washington, Atlanta and Detroit have already made significant moves to improve their roster. You're not about to see president Larry Bird and general manager David Morway suddenly start hammering away on the panic button. The Pacers say be patient, they have a three-year plan. You're probably thinking that's easier said than done, especially since you haven't seen the Pacers in the playoffs since 2006. The Pacers are optimistic they'll be able to sign some good players this summer. They just plan on doing it with a 'Dollar General' shopping mentality. Don't expect the Pacers, who have about $8 million to spend, to overpay a player. They want to add players at bargain prices."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Leon Powe, recovering from his third knee surgery, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Celtics by the Tuesday night deadline. As a result, Powe became an unrestricted free agent. Five teams reportedly called with interest in the power forward after midnight, including Miami, Memphis and Orlando. 'Of course I was disappointed, because I want to come back,' he said yesterday. 'I love the fans. It was just a wonderful place to play.' Powe walked away from his conversation believing his time as a Celtic was finished. Asked whether he got the sense the Celtics might be interested in re-signing him later this summer, Powe said, 'I wasn't feeling a vibe like that. I knew they wouldn't (extend a qualifying offer), so I just have to move on. They told me, 'Good luck with another team.' Doc told me that he wanted me there, and he would do whatever he could to make sure I came back, but Danny came to me yesterday saying that they only have a two-year window, and I would be taking up a roster spot for someone else.' "

  • Al Iannazzone of The Record: "Yi Jianlian left China more than a month ago and has been on U.S. soil working on his body and his game. The Nets hope it translates onto the basketball court in the fall. Some in the organization are banking on the athletic 7-foot forward producing consistently and picking up some of the scoring slack left by the trade of Vince Carter to Orlando. Yi has had fewer commitments to his national team this off-season and has been able to work on areas of his game that needed improvement. He's up about five pounds, has worked on becoming more effective inside, and looks forward to his third NBA season. 'For me, every year is important,' Yi said Wednesday at the Nets' training facility. 'I have to play better than I did in the second half last year, so this year I get some time in the summer to do some stuff. I think I can improve in the post and be ready next season. If Vince is here or Vince is not here, as an individual I have to improve and play better.' "