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First Cup: Monday

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: Knicks legend Walt Frazier believes ultimately Carmelo Anthony will realize leaving money on the table to chase a title elsewhere is fool’s gold and he’ll feel compelled to finish what he started in New York. Frazier said there’s nothing more valuable than winning a title with the Knicks, so taking some $30 million less to attempt it elsewhere doesn’t make a lot of sense. “When he weighs all his options, there’s a lot of money to leave on the table,” Clyde told The Post at his midtown restaurant Frazier’s Wine and Dine. “I know he likes New York. If you can guarantee: If he leaves, you can win a championship, yeah, do it then. But it’s not guaranteed. You know the Knicks are going to spend money. Might as well wait this year out and hope next year they can bring in some guys that can really help him [win the title].” Frazier made his comments before a fan Q-and-A with former Cosmos goalie Shep Messing to promote his restaurant as a World Cup viewing station.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: The Bulls’ push to acquire New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is heating up heading into NBA draft week, and perhaps no one wants his services more than coach Tom Thibodeau. According to one of Anthony’s former coaches, Thibodeau has reached out to him and to several other coaches who have worked with Anthony with numerous calls. "I even told Tom that there may be days he will want to blow his own head off when it comes to Melo’s defense, but he keeps saying he knows he can make it work," the coach said. "It’s not that Carmelo can’t play defense, it’s just how often. And he knows every trick in the book on getting around that." That the Bulls are in full-court-press mode on Anthony comes as no surprise, considering center Joakim Noah courted him during All-Star Weekend in February and continued the recruitment throughout the second half of the season.

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: With speculation swirling seemingly by the hour and the clock ticking toward Kevin Love’s approaching free agency a year hence, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Flip Saunders insists he feels no need to trade his three-time All-Star by Thursday night’s NBA draft, if he indeed ever trades him at all. Saunders recounts the past as he surveys his team’s immediate future, citing Thursday as an “artificial deadline” that did not produce a draft-day blockbuster deal every recent time an NBA star eventually forced his way out of town before he could walk away free. Saunders notes that Orlando superstar center Dwight Howard was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2012, New Orleans sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in December 2011, and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York and Utah’s Deron Williams to New Jersey near the 2011 February trade deadline. “Let me ask you this,” Saunders said. “What great player has been traded at the draft?” All four unhappy, aforementioned players eventually were traded before they became free agents, but Saunders maintains he could still bring Love back for next season.

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: R.C. Buford may be the most overlooked general manager in sports. He is hardly one to chase the spotlight. He represents the philosophy of his organization perfectly, allowing the team’s success do the talking, making astute moves such as signing Boris Diaw or acquiring Patty Mills with little fanfare as that duo contributed to a championship. Buford talked about the future of the Spurs without Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, although they are likely to stay together at least one more season. Buford, a former assistant coach under Larry Brown and lead scout, is preparing for life after Duncan and Popovich — whenever that comes. “The Spurs Way has been different over the course of time,” Buford said. “It’s been built to fit the strengths of our teams. [Popovich and I] grew up under Coach Brown, and Larry thinks there’s a wino on the street with a perfect out-of-bounds play. He’ll listen to anybody. And I think we grew up under that burden.”

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: The Kings’ courtship of Rudy Gay did not begin with a meeting in Sacramento earlier this month. It began in December, when the Kings traded for Gay in a seven-player deal with Toronto and knew he could become a free agent after the 2013-14 season. The Kings’ effort paid off Sunday, when Gay informed the team he would opt in for the final year of his contract, worth $19.3 million, for next season, league sources confirmed. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized. Gay had until June 30 to decide whether to return to the Kings or become a free agent. With Gay on board for next season, the team will look to negotiate a contract extension this summer.

  • Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: Stan Van Gundy is a big proponent of diversity in the workplace and in the Pistons’ organization. While the president of basketball operations and coach of the Pistons has had his full attention on this week’s NBA draft, he said recently that diversity would be a key in filling out the rest of the organization. Van Gundy said he would make a point to talk to each current employee before making a determination on keeping him or her or going in a different direction. “Obviously the culture around here has to change,“ he said. He did say that before he hired general manager Jeff Bower he made sure individuals with diverse backgrounds and ethnicities were interviewed.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The clock could be ticking on Arron Afflalo’s tenure with the Orlando Magic. Magic executives like what Afflalo brings to the team, and a league source told the Orlando Sentinel that Afflalo and his agent have not asked for a trade, but it may make sense for the Magic to trade Afflalo sooner rather than later. Why? Primarily for the same reason the team traded J.J. Redick in Feb. 2013. As you’ll remember, Redick was on course to become a free agent during the summer of 2013, and if the Magic had retained Redick beyond the trade deadline, there was a strong chance Redick would sign elsewhere, leaving the Magic with no asset in Redick’s place. In essence, the Magic, who were not interested in overpaying to keep Redick in free agency, did not want to lose Redick for nothing, and the team wound up trading him, Gustavo AyĆ³n and Ish Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih. ... Afflalo has a player option for the 2015-16 season, and he plans to do the smart thing and become a free agent during the summer of 2015. If the Magic keep him on their roster until next summer, they would run the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency.

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: Only a select number of teams will get a glimpse at Joel Embiid's medical records and the Celtics will apparently be one of them, according to a league source. Embiid underwent surgery on Friday to repair a fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot, an injury that will sideline him for at least four months. Boston, which has the Nos. 6 and 17 picks in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday night, is expected to get some information relative to Embiid's most recent injury, but full access to his medical records is unlikely. Austin Ainge, Boston's director of player personnel, had little to say when asked what the Celtics knew about Embiid's injury.

  • Ben Standig of CSN Washington: You at home can decide if the fashion choices are winning or perhaps a little odd. On Saturday, John Wall posted a picture with his mother, Frances Pulley, wishing his "superhero" a happy birthday. He did so wearing a throwback Indiana Pacers jersey, Jalen Rose's No.5 it appears. You may recall the Wizards were bounced from the NBA playoffs last month by the Pacers. ... Earlier this month Wall attended former teammate Nick Young's birthday and did so wearing a Steve Smith Atlanta Hawks No 8 jersey. The Wizards and Hawks play in the Southeast division and nearly met in the playoffs this year. ... Nope, no jerseys of any kind in the last three pics. Not that it would matter, much, if that's what Wall chose to wear. Who are we to judge. But, it's still a little odd, right?

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: He played a role in J.R. Smith’s emergence as 2013 Sixth Man of the Year. He influenced Carmelo Anthony’s surge as rugged rebounder and scoring champion, and he contributed greatly to Amar’e Stoudemire’s journey to Judiasm. Working behind the scenes, trainer Idan Ravin has been an integral part of the lives of three key Knicks. He also is the unlikeliest of basketball gurus — son of Israeli parents. Hebrew is his first language despite a suburban Maryland upbringing. Ravin, who has a law degree, worked reluctantly as an attorney before ditching that career to train NBA players. His offbeat basketball resume — coming out of a Jewish high school league in Maryland and being the last walk-on cut by the University of Maryland — led him to write a book released three weeks ago, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players."