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First Cup: Wednesday

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "So the Lakers don't want to commit significant long-term money to a 30-year-old Lamar Odom? Understood, considering where they find themselves against the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax. So the Heat isn't as concerned because just about all of its salaries come off the books after the coming season, when few are expected to be re-signed? Understood, as well. So why not make it work for all parties involved, including Odom, who certainly is worth more than the $5.9 million mid-level exception? Here's how: Work out a sign-and-trade agreement utilizing the expiring contract of Heat power forward Udonis Haslem. For the Lakers, it provides a capable option for the power rotation behind Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, one who is championship tested. And it still leaves the Lakers with Ron Artest and Luke Walton at small forward to fill in for that aspect of Odom's game. For Odom, it means being able to start a contract with the Heat at about $9 million, the figure he has been working with in his dealings with the Lakers. The difference is the Heat appears willing to guarantee more seasons. ... Has it already been discussed? Considering the Lakers' hard line, who knows? But it certainly would seem to make sense for all involved."

  • Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Hear that? No, don't turn the volume on your computer up. It's just in the air. Crickets. Loud, persistent crickets. As the world turns ... As Lamar Odom watch continues into its 29th day. I called up Lakers spokesman John Black this afternoon just to get an on-the-record quote of the day. In the offseason, few sources are willing to speak on the record except for guys like Black, who are paid to do just that. We both had a hearty laugh when I asked if he had any updates today. 'There's absolutely nothing new I can tell you on that,' Black said. Well, can you tell me if the Lakers and Odom's camp have continued to talk? 'Yes,' he said. 'They've been talking on a regular basis. That's all I can say.' And there, ladies and gentleman, is your daily Lamar Odom update. Officially speaking."

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: "But in the end, Steve Nash didn't have to commit to a rebuilding project in Phoenix. Same goes for Grant Hill, who brushed off an insulting initial offer from the team and signed on anyway. For a franchise that already is on tenuous ground, the net effect is enormous. Bash Nash, if you must. Like everyone else, he gets burned by the best point guards in the league. But he takes more charges than anyone in the building. His dedication to training and team-building are unquestioned, maybe unparalleled. Meanwhile, his performance clearly was hampered last season by the demands of Shaquille O'Neal, and the awkward attempts to implement a new system. But just like Kurt Warner, Nash can work magic in the right system, with the right group of guys. And in one of their darker hours, the Suns now are in the hands of two great sportsmen, two men who sated their egos a long time ago. With Nash and Hill, there could be no better duo to mentor and shape a new era of Suns basketball. For that, Valley fans should feel lucky. It could be a lot worse."

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "A few weeks ago, Carlos Boozer said he expects to be traded and talked about how much he'd love to play for the Bulls. This time, he backed off the trade talk, saying he agreed to keep quiet and let the Jazz look for a deal. But he was asked about his relationship with Jim Paxson, older brother of the Bulls' vice president of basketball operations and a consultant for the team. Back in 2004, Jim Paxson was general manager in Cleveland when Boozer was set free from the third-year of his rookie contract, a decision made by former owner Gordon Gund. The Cavs thought they would re-sign him for the mid-level exception, but Boozer instead bolted for Utah and a six-year, $70-million deal. Paxson didn't last much longer with the Cavs. 'I've always had respect for Jim,' Boozer said on the radio. 'Obviously he drafted me when I first came out of college, so I have huge respect for him. I've seen him many times after that. Obviously, if I came here, me and John Paxson wouldn't have any issues at all.' I looked into that issue recently and was told whether or not hard feelings still exist about the Cleveland deal, John and Jim Paxson would never let those get in the way if they thought acquiring Boozer would make the Bulls a better team."

  • John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: "The Hornets' poster boy for stealth calmly strode to a spot on the floor in the Alario Center lobby, no podium or even a chair awaiting him. He explained what appears on the surface to be a Hornets-colored heist, the trade that sent center Tyson Chandler to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for center Emeka Okafor. He wanted to as quickly as possible get back to the business of burrowing under the NBA radar in order to improve the Hornets. 'It's something that we think will help us continue to grow, continue to improve,' General Manager Jeff Bower said Tuesday. 'And we're looking forward to continuing to work on our team, continuing to get better for next season. We've spent a great deal of time in discussions with (Charlotte). There's a level of comfort with everybody involved.' Now, there's a level of comfort for Hornets fans with their team, too -- a level of comfort and satisfaction that wasn't there a couple of days ago. The Hornets today are a better team. And public impatience -- yours truly leading that pack -- has succumbed to the fact Bower, in his own time and with an assist from the Bobcats, got something good for his wait, received an award for his patience."

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: "A few summers ago you heard Darius Miles introduced as the $48 million solution. And over a few years you witnessed Bonzi Wells turn new over a pile of new leaves, and Zach Randolph even used a deep promising metaphor to describe himself as a young fish that eager to swallow up life lessons. What I'm saying is, you've been conned before. You've been to the puppet show. You've seen the strings. Which is why Andre Miller ends up feeling like a cool breeze today. Miller, introduced officially by the Blazers on Tuesday, has missed only five games in 10 NBA seasons. He doesn't miss practice. He prides himself as being the quietest guy off the court and loudest on it. Does this make him the solution? Nope. But the Blazers are better with Miller than without him, and if you're looking to quantify what ends up as a shaky summer for the organization, there you go. Point guard wasn't the team's biggest need. But Miller gives the Blazers leadership, and toughness and he's uber-confident, which is only to say that I'd have loved to see what the team might have done with him as part of that first-round Rockets-Blazers NBA playoff series that didn't go Portland's way."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "I'm not sure what the Charlotte Bobcats are doing -- dealing Emeka Okafor to New Orleans for Tyson Chandler -- but I know for sure that the Washington Wizards had better hope that Lamar Odom is bluffing and is merely using his reported meeting with Miami's Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade as leverage to get a bigger contract from the Los Angeles Lakers. Because if Odom returns to the Heat next season, the Southeast Division will be the toughest division in the NBA from top to bottom. (The Southwest Division, with San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans and Houston, once held that title, but with Houston losing Yao Ming for the year, that could change.) Odom could put the Heat back among the Eastern Conference elite, with his playmaking skills, athleticism and rebounding filling a huge hole for a team that struggled at both power forward and point guard last season. The Heat could solve two problems with one player. Since he already played with Wade, resurrected his career in his one season in Miami and maintains an offseason home there, it wouldn't be a difficult adjustment for him. And, if Riley can lure him with his charm and a simple check for the mid-level exception, it would be a major heist -- and make the challenge of moving up the Eastern Conference ladder (heck, the Southeast Division ladder) even more difficult for the Wizards."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Somewhere Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien was smiling. He has a player who shares some of his qualities. Point guard Earl Watson loves to practice and hates to lose. Those similarities should make Watson and O'Brien the perfect pair. ... 'I feel he's the best (free agent point guard) out there,' Pacers president Larry Bird said. '(Allen) Iverson's out there, but for what we need, he's the best for us.' ... 'I've always been a fan of Earl's,' O'Brien said. 'I think he is a hard-nosed kid. He defends in a very strong way. He makes good decisions offensively. He is a real good complement to the new guys we've brought to the team.' "

  • Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun: "As July makes way for August and as teams prepare to wrap up their off-seasons, the retooling of the Raptors makes Toronto one of the most intriguing propositions in the East. Cleveland added Shaq and some complementary pieces; Boston lured Rasheed Wallace, but lost some key members of its supporting cast; Orlando added Vince Carter and an unheralded banger in Brandon Bass. The Cavs, Celtics and Magic figure to represent the elite in the East. There's no reason why the Raptors can't finish fourth, which would be a first for a team that soon will celebrate its 15th season in the NBA. ... This year's team has the potential to get out of the opening round at a time when making the playoffs simply isn't good enough. That's how good a job GM Bryan Colangelo has done. Jay Triano and his staff must now meet the challenge."

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: "The little red Air Jordan on Marcin Gortat's calf could have cost him a contract with Reebok -- and a whole bunch of free shoes. During the NBA Finals, Reebok executives asked Gortat to cover up the Nike-related ink so as not to promote their competitor. Gortat declined, saying the company didn't care about that tattoo when he signed the contract and didn't pay him enough to remove it. Well, Tom Shine, Reebok's senior vice president of sports and entertainment marketing, said in a statement Gortat never had a contract with the shoe company. Furthermore, CNBC.com reported this week Reebok did consider signing Gortat before the Air Jordan incident. The report also said the backup center got free Reeboks last year and won't be getting them anymore."