First Cup: Wednesday

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets did not wait to make their presentation to Knicks free agent forward Carmelo Anthony to get busy with players and their agents, starting with their late-night reunion with former Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry in Philadelphia. The focus, however, entirely shifts to Anthony, scheduled to be at Toyota Center on Wednesday for the second stop of his tour of suitors. Anthony spent his first day of free agency with the Bulls and will go from his session with the Rockets’ welcoming committee to a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the Mavericks in Dallas. He will also meet with the Lakers this week in Los Angeles and the Knicks can come in with an offer that no other team can approach. The Rockets, however, have confidence in their message and presentation, combining the successful pitch to Dwight Howard last summer with the $7 million worth of new facilities stuffed assorted state-of-the-art bells and whistles that have been geared to put on a show. There will be some similarities in the presentation Anthony saw in Chicago and will receive in Houston.

  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News: Give the man this much: He was probably right to snub Deron Williams after all. Rude, but right. Jason Kidd wanted to coach the Nets just because of D-Will, and now Kidd’s in Milwaukee. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings if Cuban actually put on his dog-and-pony show this time, just for appearances, as long as it yielded the same results. Hey, Cubes, you had me with Tyson Chandler. Now add a two-way small forward like Luol Deng and an improving all-around threat such as Washington’s Trevor Ariza. Bring back Vince Carter and Devin Harris. Give Rick Carlisle a little more youthful, wide-ranging roster, no matter what Barry Larkin says about Uncle Ricky and the kids. First things first, though. Let’s try to make Melo’s visit a pleasant one. Do it up right, Dallas. And if he decides to pass because it’s too hot or too football or somebody asks what’s with the headband, anyway, well, you can’t say we didn’t try.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: There were electronic signs and images of Carmelo Anthony in Bulls whites, and even Derrick Rose made an appearance for the courting of the seven-time All-Star on Tuesday at the United Center, but the most important person in the welcoming committee didn’t arrive until after 2 p.m. That’s when forward Taj Gibson strolled in. So why all the hype about a career backup who finished second in this year’s Sixth Man of the Year voting? Because the selling of the Bulls to Anthony includes Rose, coach Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah, but Gibson’s role should not be overlooked. A source said Gibson would be prominent in the talks with Anthony because the Bulls are trying to sell the idea of a "Big Four" in the Eastern Conference. Since Noah started recruiting Anthony at the All-Star break, his sales pitch included Gibson as part of the package to play alongside Anthony. But here’s the rub: If the Bulls can’t get the Knicks to do a sign-and trade for Anthony, Gibson’s presence would mean that Anthony only can be offered $14 million to $15 million for the first year of the deal instead of $19 million to $20 million. Then again, if Anthony is a man of his word, it’s not a big deal.

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: Quick thoughts on the Warriors‘ free-agent acquisition of point guard Shaun Livingston for three years at the full mid-level exception, which adds up to $16M. ... ivingston can run a talented offense, he can pair with Stephen Curry, and he has a lot of years in this league while still being relatively young. Those are all important things for the Warriors, who want all of their guards to help out defensively against the guys they would prefer to keep away from Curry (similar to what Brooklyn has to do with Williams). General conclusion: Livingston is going to be better than Blake, Crawford and Douglas, and will be very useful for the Warriors. He will be the Warriors’ best back-up PG since Jack… and in a few ways he’ll be better than Jack. In several ways, he will be worse. I just think Livingston came fairly expensively, but if he’s a 20-25-minute a game guy, and a plus on defense, I will revise that opinion.

  • Jason Reid of The Washington Post: The Wizards and Gortat agreed Tuesday night to a five-year, $60 million deal, a move that kept the player known as “The Polish Hammer” from going elsewhere — namely the Miami Heat, which was expected to have more than just a passing interest in the big man. Coach Randy Wittman and senior vice president Tommy Sheppard traveled to Gortat’s home turf in an effort to reaffirm the organization’s commitment to him. The gesture was the right move for the right player. Although the Wizards hope to retain Gortat and reinvigorated forward Trevor Ariza — another important member of the Wizards’ entertaining ensemble cast — getting Gortat’s signature on a contract was their top priority in free agency. You don’t have to understand the intricacies of pick-and-roll defense to realize that Gortat was at the center of the Wizards’ revival. The rest of the NBA noticed, too.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: With LeBron James anticipated to sign a contract that starts in the $20 million range for next season, the ultimate givebacks apparently will come from Wade and Bosh. The Portland Oregonian on Tuesday reported Bosh has agreed on a five-year contract that starts at $11 million next season, with Wade having agreed to a four-year deal that starts at $12 million. Henry Thomas, agent for both Bosh and Wade, later denied to the Sun Sentinel such agreements with his clients. No deals can be finalized before July 10, the first day contracts can be signed this offseason, with several league insiders questioning the extent of such givebacks from players who otherwise would have earned in excess of $20 million had they not invoked early-termination options by Monday's deadline. Such massive concessions would leave the Heat positioned to not only meet their salary obligation to forward Udonis Haslem, but possibly also satisfy Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and others with the remaining cap space and a $2.7 million salary-cap exception that also would be available.

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: After spending Tuesday entertaining overtures from multiple NBA teams, Spencer Hawes remains "very interested" in the possibility of joining the Trail Blazers as a free agent, a source with knowledge of Hawes' thinking told The Oregonian. The Blazers' top free agent target met with the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, according to Yahoo Sports, soaking in sales pitches from Bob Myers and Doc Rivers. But, the source said, the meetings did nothing to knock the Blazers out of contention. "He likes everything about the Blazers," the source said. ... What's more, unlike some free agents, playing in the Northwest is a draw for Hawes, who is from Seattle.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: The latest rumor came before last Thursday’s NBA draft. It had Jason Thompson headed to Detroit as part of a deal for forward Josh Smith. Still, all the speculation hasn’t stopped Thompson from spending time in the Sacramento area during the summer. For the second consecutive year, Thompson’s JT Elite Basketball Camp is hosting 300 youngsters, ages 6 to 18 at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin. ... “Trade talk happens before the draft,” Thompson said at his camp Tuesday morning. “But I’m a man, I’m true to my word and regardless of what happens I still want to keep it out here. I still have a lot of support.” Thompson, 27, is the longest-tenured King as he prepares to enter his seventh season, which also means he’s been mired in Sacramento’s losing ways more than his teammates. His contract has three years and more than $19 million left, and Thompson understands he will be involved in trade talk. The Kings want to shake up the roster, and dealing Thompson’s contract would provide future financial flexibility.

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: As we wait for the Thunder to strike in free agency, it’s important to remember one name. Reggie Jackson. He remains Oklahoma City’s top priority this summer. For all the handwringing over upgrades, Jackson stands as the most likely player to provide a bigger impact next season, simply through an increase in minutes. For that reason, it can be argued that keeping Jackson in the mix and happy going forward is more pivotal than any personnel addition Oklahoma City can make. The Thunder can now negotiate a contract extension with its top reserve and backup point guard, and Oklahoma City more than likely touched based with Jackson’s representatives in the opening hours of the free-agency period to discuss the next steps toward hammering out a deal.

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Saturday's summer-league opener against the Magic in Orlando can't come soon enough for Nerlens Noel. After 17 months as a spectator, the 76ers rookie center is eager to play in an organized game. "I've been ready for a while," said Noel, who missed last season while recovering from knee surgery.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: NBA free agents are being advised by union leadership to have paychecks from their new contracts spread over 18 months rather than 12 in preparation for a possible work stoppage after the 2016-17 season, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday. Bloomberg obtained an e-mail sent to players and agents by acting union executive director Ron Klempner. “As we have learned in the past, the owners have made provisions with the TV networks to continue to receive rights fees throughout a work stoppage, and there is no reason the players should not make every effort to take the same precaution,” Klempner wrote said. ... The players had a provision to have their checks spread over 18 months included into the agreement for the first time during the last lockout. That would allow players to receive payments well into a work stoppage.