First Cup: Wednesday

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Pau Gasol told the Associated Press in Spain that he picked the Bulls over other contending pursuers like the Spurs and Thunder out of “instinct” after talking with Noah and Rose, among others from the organization. He added he expects Mirotic “to make an immediate impact” and called the Bulls a “championship favorite in the East alongside Cleveland.

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Nick Calathes declined a more lucrative contract in Europe last year to prove he could play in the NBA. The Grizzlies’ backup point guard is doing it again. This time, it’s an involuntary decision. The Grizzlies guaranteed Calathes’ $816,482 contract for the 2014-15 season Tuesday, ensuring the 25-year-old’s return to Memphis. Calathes’ contract situation became intriguing because he had at least two multi-year offers totaling more than $6 million in Europe. “It’s OK,” Calathes said Tuesday. “I’ll come back and play my (butt) off.” Calathes rejoins a point guard corps that includes starter Mike Conley and veteran reserve Beno Udrih, who performed well in the postseason during Calathes’ absence.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Charlotte Hornets are open to the prospect of signing Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson, the Observer learned Tuesday evening. Having lost restricted free agent Gordon Hayward when the Utah Jazz matched an offer sheet, plus Josh McRoberts to the Miami Heat, Hornets management had contact with Stephenson’s representatives Tuesday, multiple NBA sources confirmed. Stephenson is one of the last big-name free agents yet to sign, and the Hornets could use his scoring and shooting ability on the wing. However, Stephenson had some behavioral issues last season, when he was on the verge of unrestricted free agency, that seemingly have depressed his leverage. The Pacers have offered Stephenson $44 million over five seasons, and they reportedly have not come off that number. Stephenson thinks he’s worth considerably more. ... Now the Hornets have drafted P.J. Hairston, a player who lost his NCAA eligibility over improper benefits and who recently was cited for punching a teenager during a pickup game at a Durham YMCA. Team owner Michael Jordan said one of his team’s greatest strengths last season was the character of the players on the roster. Would that embolden the front office to take a chance on Stephenson or make the Hornets all the more wary of threatening that stability?

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Amid growing speculation that the Rockets made Chandler Parsons a restricted free agent in an agreement with agent Dan Fegan when Dwight Howard, also a Fegan client, signed with the Rockets, Parsons said he knew of no such deal. “I’m my own player. Dwight’s his own player,” Parsons said. “I guess it might work like that in the NBA, but I don’t know if there’s side deals like that in the NBA. It was nothing like that with me. It was about them wanting to have the matching rights. They didn’t want me to be an unrestricted free agent.” Parsons did not back off his comments to Yahoo Sports that he was “offended” that the Rockets did not consider him to be the third start they sought and made a point to add that was not sorry about the comments that inspired rapid backlash. But he also insisted that he meant no offense, citing the comments he made praising Daryl Morey and the Rockets in the same interview.

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: Thanks, LeBron. Appreciate it, 'Melo. Much obliged, Chris Bosh. Ditto, Dwyane Wade. As much as the financial paper Demps managed to gather recently as he sought cap room to fit Asik's $8.4 million salary into the Pelicans' cap structure to send it out again in the transaction, arguably the most important parts of this deal were 1) the decisions of those four players to opt out and enter the free agent market; and 2) the Pelicans' refusal last July to agree to the Rockets' original asking price: Ryan Anderson. As teams such as the Rockets began frothing a few weeks ago, clearing as much cap space as possible when James, Anthony, Bosh and Wade opted out of their deals to test free agency, it gave New Orleans a chance to deal for Asik at a greatly reduced price.

  • Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News: This summer, though, a new backup obsession has surfaced as well, one unfathomable to anyone who has observed this team's relationship with its populace over the years. "Let's go, Sixers!" Let's go, Sixers? That's right. I heard the chant slightly during a Sunday afternoon game at CBP last month, and it was a little bit louder during Sunday's 7-1 loss to the Nationals. The Sixers won the Orlando Summer League title and are now mixing it up in Las Vegas, and Nerlens Noel is playing with the unfettered energy of a player who missed an entire season of basketball, and of a player totally confident about his recovery from that ACL tear. But, geez, who doesn't know that? And that's remarkable. The idea of people talking about the Sixers during the season is preposterous enough. This is a franchise, after all, that has, over the years, used just about any marketing device to attract even a few more fans to fill their seats, from a wrestling bear to Bob Eubanks of "The Newlywed Game" marrying couples at halftime (sort of) to - my personal favorite - using actress Tanya Roberts as part of a "That '70s Show" promotion.

  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: On the day Dirk Nowitzki signed a three-year, $25 million free-agent contract to continue his storied career with the Dallas Mavericks, another piece of the franchise’s only championship is weighing his options. Shawn Marion has spent the past five seasons with the Mavs, starting at small forward in 308 of the 361 games. But he has yet to find a team to play for next season. Marion wouldn’t elaborate on his plans other than to say he’s getting to know his first-born, a 3-month-old son named Shawn. “I’m way heavily into my son right now,” Marion said. “That’s all I really care about, spending time with him and letting him know who I am and getting accustomed to being around him.” Marion, 36, a four-time All-Star, realizes that he’s nearing the end of a splendid career. Marion, however, won’t allow himself to make any snap decisions.

  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: Only a week or two ago, the future of Al Harrington, who spent his first and only season with the Wizards ailing because of a right knee and left shoulder that required surgeries, seemed to be in coaching. He's serving in an unofficial capacity on the bench here for summer league. The Wizards won their third game in a row with "coach Al," as Glen Rice calls him, helping out assistant Sam Cassell. But Tuesday night, as the Wizards continued to make moves such as acquiring Kris Humphries in a trade, re-signing Drew Gooden and securing Paul Pierce in free agency over the weekend, CSNWashington.com has been told Harrington intends to play 2014-15. The Wizards, however, still haven't offered Harrington a contract which likely would be a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $1.448 million.

  • David Mayo of MLive.com: A few weeks ago, joining the Detroit Pistons wasn't even a consideration for Caron Butler, who was closing in on what he hoped would be an NBA championship in Oklahoma City. That didn't work out and Butler's thirst for a different quest at age 34 has led him to a late-career reclamation project with the Pistons. But why? "It's a challenge," Butler said. "That's what it's all about. When you play for championship teams, championship contenders, you've had a lot of success individually in this game, you look for the challenge of, 'What else?' This is a great challenge for me right now and I'm up for it, physically and mentally."

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: He is 35 now and hasn’t played in a game in more than two years, but Baron Davis insists he’s serious about a comeback in the NBA. Davis is in Las Vegas for summer league, just as he is every year. Only now, the former Cavs guard is looking for a job. Davis tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee during the New York Knicks’ playoff series against the Miami Heat two years ago. He’s still not 100 percent, labeling his health “somewhere in the 80s,” but believes he can contribute to a team and said he’d love to return to Cleveland. “Cleveland always has a special place in my heart because when I got traded there, people doubted whether I’d ever play and those fans embraced me and the organization embraced me,” Davis said. “At that time, I needed Cleveland more than Cleveland needed me.” The Cavs traded Jarrett Jack this summer, but it seems highly unlikely they’d take another look at Davis, who was waived using the team’s amnesty provision in 2011.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Ettore Messina, widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the history of European basketball, will join the Spurs as an assistant coach, the team announced Tuesday. Messina counts four EuroLeague championships and a pair of EuroLeague Coach of the Year awards among the highlights on his glittering resume, which will almost certainly land the Italian in the Basketball Hall of Fame. “I am honored to have such an accomplished individual join our program,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said via release. “Coach Messina is an exceptional coach, a great leader and someone we can all learn from." The 54-year-old has spent the bulk of his 25-year coaching career in his native country, where he helped groom Manu Ginobili for future NBA success at Virtus Bologna. He led Virtus to EuroLeague championships in 1998 and 2001, followed by another brace of titles during two stints at CSKA Moscow.

  • Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: It was an incident two seasons ago that landed James Johnson temporarily in Dwane Casey’s doghouse. He was suspended for two games for what both Casey and Johnson would refer to only as “an internal matter.” Whether it was connected or not, Johnson played only 10 more games in a Raptors uniform before he was traded away. Two years later after a stint in Sacramento and a stint in Memphis, Johnson is back with the full backing of the very same coach. Casey and Johnson, who was a non-restricted free agent this summer, met on two occasions in Las Vegas recently ahead of the Vegas summer league tournament. They had a dinner, a breakfast and an earnest man-to-man talk before putting to rest what, if any, lingering resentments remained from that incident two years ago. And then the two decided to give it another try. In the immediate aftermath of the signing, Casey told reporters in Vegas he was convinced that Johnson understood his role going forward, hinting strongly that accepting his role was the at the heart of his problems with Johnson two years earlier.