First Cup: Wednesday

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel: "A day after it was confirmed that Michael Beasley had entered a Houston rehab facility, a clearer picture regarding the status of the Miami Heat forward has come into focus. Sources familiar with the case said Beasley's stay at the facility is primarily related to the NBA's substance-abuse program, with this visit planned in advance. In addition, while concerns have been raised about Beasley's mental well-being in the wake of web postings by the 20-year-old and comments from those close to him, those concerns have been overstated, according to a source familiar with the situation. Under league rules, neither those affiliated with individual teams nor those in the league office are allowed to comment on individual cases regarding the NBA's substance-abuse policy. However Tuesday, a source familiar with the situation said Beasley is expected to be back with the team by the Sept. 28 start of training camp at AmericanAirlines Arena."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "After lingering fluid was removed from the eye July 10, Amare Stoudemire spent 22 hours a day face down for 10 days. It forced him to reflect and re-examine. 'I cherish the moment,' he said. 'Because I feel like if I had to retire because of the injury, how will my legacy be? Will I be a Hall of Famer? Would I have a championship? Is my legacy what I dreamed it to be? At that point of time, I'd say no. So now, I'm back with a vengeance. I want to make sure that my legacy is starting to build. It is going to start this year.' He never considered retiring, but the gravity of his eye injury reminded him how tenuous his time in the spotlight can be. Stoudemire has much to prove, whether it is being a better defender, rebounder and leader, or that his health (eye or knees) holds long enough for a lucrative, long-term deal. Many feel Stoudemire is motivated by his contract situation. He said that is not the case. He points to the improvement over his career to show that his hard work of late is no different than in prior years. 'That's the one thing I wanted to show the staff -- that I'm dedicated,' Stoudemire said. 'I'm ready to take that step to making it back to the playoffs and to be that force that I was before the Terry Porter era.' The Suns will not enter contract-extension talks with Stoudemire until they see his return to action. Stoudemire said that takes the pressure off him but for becoming more of a leader. At 26, he has been in the NBA longer than nine of his teammates."

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "Terry Porter is a Portlander again. In his heart, he never left. The one-time Trail Blazer guard hasn't lived here since he left via free agency in 1995, 'but since I first got to Portland (in 1985), it's always really been home for me,' says the Milwaukee, Wis., native. On July 25, Terry, wife Susie and their three children journeyed from Phoenix to their new home in a familiar location -- Dunthorpe, where the family lived in the final years of Terry's 10-year run with the Blazers. ... 'No matter what the career situation is going forward, Portland will always be our home base.' It's been that way for Rick Adelman, now the head coach of the Houston Rockets. And for Jerome Kersey, and Cliff Robinson, and Chris Dudley, and the late Kevin Duckworth. They all chose to make Portland their home during the latter part of their playing careers and beyond."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "After the most eventful summer of his San Antonio tenure, Gregg Popovich is ready to get back to work. You can only relax so much,' Popovich said during an informal fat-chewing session with reporters Tuesday at the Spurs' Northwest-side headquarters. 'You can only chase players so much. My stomach is starting to churn. I'm getting anxious.' In a sense, Popovich is like a kid at Christmas brunch. His new toys have been unwrapped. He is eager to start playing with them. Training camp doesn't begin for another month, but the wheels have already begun to turn in Popovich's head -- the neat tricks he can try with his new athletic swingman, Richard Jefferson; the new offensive elements veteran forward Antonio McDyess can bring; the raw rebounding potential inside rookie forward DeJuan Blair, waiting to be unleashed. When the Spurs open the season Oct. 28 against New Orleans, they could boast as many as eight new faces. 'We're calling it 'change the music,' Popovich said. 'We'll come to camp with a few different faces, a different chemistry, a little bit different team personality. We'll see how that comes together.' "

  • Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post: "DeAngelo Hall has done a pretty fine job endearing himself to D.C. fans, making plays on the field, not making a ruckus off it, and repeatedly proclaiming his love of all things burgundy and gold. But just in case that wasn't good enough, on Monday afternoon he embarked on an extended discussion of his basketball superiority to J.J. Redick. 'I used to do J.J. Redick,' Hall said when discussing his amateur hoops career. 'I used to give him that work.' Come again? 'Kill him,' Hall explained. See, basketball was Hall's first love and the sport he took most seriously, so he competed in high-level AAU tournaments with and against guys like Jarrett Jack, Rashad McCants, John Gilchrist and, yes, Redick. He and Redick were teammates when they were about 15 or 16, but the season before that, Hall's Chesapeake team had won a state AAU title over Redick's squad. 'He was like the best player in the state,' Hall recalled. 'He was so easy [to guard]. You just deny him the ball. You know what I'm saying, he wasn't quicker than me, more athletic than me. I don't know why guys didn't just do that the whole season, just deny him the ball. We went box-and-one, that's all we did, and I manned him up.' "

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Though he won't turn 23 until Oct. 27, Lou Williams is entering his fifth year with the Sixers. Taken with the 45th pick out of South Gwinnett High School in Georgia, the 6-2, 190-pounder needed time to adapt to the NBA style. He proved to be a valuable asset to the team during the 2007-08 season, when he came off the bench to average 11.5 points a game. Following that season, he was rewarded with a $25 million contract over 5 years, and last year upped his average to 12.8. But with Andre Miller's departure in the offseason, Williams is in a role he hasn't really played since his high school. 'I realize the responsibility of being a starting point guard,' he said. 'I'm just excited more than anything. I'm not nervous. I'm not scared. This is something I've been ready for for a long time. I'm just ready to get it going. Professionally, it's new waters, but it's something I've done from 8 to 18. I think it will be territory that's revisited. It's something that I've been used to my whole life. Coming off the bench was
    an adjustment for me. I think that this is something that won't take me as long to get adjusted to, because, like I said, I did it my entire career when I wasn't a professional.' "

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: "Luc Richard Mbah a Moute remembers being 15 or so when he left his home in Cameroon to attend a NBA-sponsored camp in Johannesburg. ... Next week, the Bucks' small forward will become the NBA's first player to make the jump from camper to counselor in the seven years the league has been involved with Basketball Without Borders, the three-continent program from which gifted players throughout the world have a chance to experience the game from those at its highest level. Mbah a Moute will return to Johannesburg -- accompanied by the likes of Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Bob Lanier -- to teach and deliver the kind of message no one before had been able to make. 'That's something I'm excited about, to go and tell those kids that I was in their shoes,' Mbah a Moute said. 'I was sitting right there myself and thinking, 'How can I get to the NBA?' I wish there was one guy when I was there who said, 'I was in your shoes.' It would have made it easier for me. It would have given me a lot more hope that, yeah, man, I can make it. If a guy who came to this camp can make it, I can make it, also.' Now, Mbah a Moute can be that guy."

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: "Chris Paul's offseason excursion to the Far East was his first since winning the gold medal in last summer's Beijing Olympic Games and his fourth visit to the area. And each time he returns, it seems, the Chinese embrace him with the same affection usually accorded native son Yao Ming. However, while nearly all in China look up to Yao, they are on eye level with Paul. Paul related the story of two young, elite point guards who attended the camp he presented in China and who, at their own expense, flew to Winston-Salem, N.C., to have more time working under Paul. 'They're really good players over there,' Paul said. 'And what I really enjoyed about them was they really paid attention. They worked hard, and they were really good. And the thing I think works so well when I go over to China, most of the population in China is not very tall, like myself. So I think they can relate to me as a point guard. They love guys like Kobe and LeBron over there, but a lot of times it's hard for them to relate to them.' "

  • Jordan Godwin of the Houston Chronicle: "The Rockets verbally agreed to a contract with free-agent power forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu last week, and the contract is expected to be signed later this week. With size and athleticism, Mensah-Bonsu brings a physical presence to the Rockets' power forward position. He will compete primarily with Joey Dorsey throughout training camp. The Rockets are currently waiting for paperwork to be cleared with Mensah-Bonsu's national team. The 25-year-old is a Brit of Ghanaian descent who played college ball at George Washington."