First Cup: Friday

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Brandon Jennings’ 2008 decision to skip college to play professionally overseas didn’t exactly start a trend. But prep standout Emmanuel Mudiay followed in Jennings’ footsteps this month when he decided to spurn SMU and former Pistons coach Larry Brown to play in China. Multiple reports said Tuesday that the projected lottery pick of next year’s draft signed a deal worth $1.2 million for one season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the China Basketball Association. SMU announced last week that Mudiay would head overseas. “This is not an academic issue ... but rather a hardship issue,” Brown said in a statement. Mudiay is a 6-5 point guard. Jennings, who chose to play professionally in Italy in 2008 instead of playing for the University of Arizona, took to Twitter to comment on Mudiay’s signing. “Emmanuel Mudiay’s one-year deal with Guangdong of the China Basketball Association will pay him $1.2M. That’s Baller! Do what you gotta do,” Jennings wrote.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Newest Maverick Jameer Nelson wasn’t a bad 3-point shooter last season. He hit 34.8 percent, which is OK. Except that, by his standards, it’s not. That’s what happens when you lack the proper sidekicks to help make your life easier. The free looks from the perimeter dried up along with the victories in Orlando the last two seasons. Nelson firmly believes that problem will be history in Dallas. After 10 years, an NBA finals trip and two miserable recent seasons with the Magic, Nelson landed in Dallas on Thursday, signing a two-year contract paying him $2.732 million this season. The second season is at Nelson’s option at $2.855 million for a total of $5.587 million. He couldn’t have been more excited — not only to be with a team that has had a booming summer of roster activity but one that fits his profile and has a chance to win a lot of games this season.

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune: Smart business move or not, dealing Nikola Mirotic after earning his trust over three years would be contrary to everything Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf wants his organizations to represent and a departure from how the Bullstypically operate. It would be bold but borderline betrayal. It might lead to more victories but overall result in the loss of respect, and the Bulls traditionally care about both. Perhaps that explains why, as of Thursday, Mirotic and his representatives remained under the impression the 6-foot-10 forward was not part of any "significant offer" the Bulls made for Love. And without Mirotic included in a package centered around Gibson, the chances of the Bulls' latest Love interest leading to a relationship in Chicago dwindle. Removing a player with Mirotic's potential likely makes competing offers from the Cavaliers and Warriors more attractive to the Timberwolves. ... The Bulls had to call the Timberwolves about Love's availability. They have to keep calling until Love is a former Timberwolf. They must do everything within reason to try to keep Love away from the Cavs. It would be stunning if a Bulls organization headed by Reinsdorf considered breaking a commitment to Mirotic, a player who trusted them implicitly, within reason.

  • Janis Carr of The Orange County Register: Jeremy Lin arrived in Los Angeles this week but don’t expect Linsanity to follow. That’s what the high-profile point guard is hoping when he plays his first season in a Lakers uniform. Lin said Thursday he wants to leave behind the moniker and image he earned as a second-year player in New York when he went from unknown bench player to a starter for the Knicks and overnight sensation three years ago. His upbeat style of play, fresh face, Taiwanese-American roots, Harvard education and uncanny confidence made him a spectacle. He helped turn around the Knicks that season despite having played only 55 minutes through the first 23 games, prompting then Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to claim he had “hit the lottery” with Lin. Those days are over, though, Lin said during his introductory news conference where he received his No.17 jersey. He said he is looking forward and so should Lakers fans.

  • Matthew Glenesk of The Indianapolis Star: Depending on how you decode some tweets from Pacers star Paul George, it appears, at least to conspiracy theorists, that George is considering a switch from his traditional 24 to 13. On Wednesday, George tweeted: "Got something in store for y'all in a couple weeks Indy!" OK, benign enough, but this morning, for the fourth time in three days, George tweeted: "#Trece". For those non-Spanish speakers, trece is 13 in Espanol. Now maybe George keeps scoring 13 goals in 'FIFA14' or perhaps there's some new energy drink or music group I don't know about, but a change could be a smart business move for a player already enjoying endorsements with Papa John's and Gatorade. A switch to 13 would allow George to be called PG-13, an idea that Jimmy Kimmel ran by him in January.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: The ongoing saga of Manu Ginobili’s status for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup took yet another turn after long-time national teammate/friend Luis Scola gave a scathing interview in the Argentine media threatening to boycott the event in light of rampant corruption within the country’s hoops federation. Ginobili is scheduled to receive an update on the stress fracture in his lower right leg on Friday. But even if healthy and cleared to participate, there now seems to be a chance that Ginobili and others could follow Scola’s lead if he does indeed follow through on his threat. As a native Argentine and knowledgeable basketball fan, J.J. Gomez of Pounding the Rock has done a wonderful job providing context and insight ever since Ginobili’s injury came to light, not just of the unique pressures Ginobili is under in his home country to play internationally but how it all fits within the parameters of a governing body that has succumbed to institutional rot.

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: There's still plenty of time for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics to slim down this bursting-at-the-seams roster. But even after a few contracts are shed from the payroll, there will still be a growing need for a Hunger Games-like emergence of someone from a young but talented cast of players that includes third-year big man Jared Sullinger. The 6-foot-9 forward returned this past season following lower back surgery to lead the team in rebounds (8.1 per game) in addition to averaging 13.3 points per game. And like the Celtics roster, the burly forward wouldn't mind being a little leaner this season as well. While dropping a few pounds is certainly something that Sullinger and the Celtics know can only help him, all agree that improving his game and not just his girth, should be the focus.

  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: Before Kevin Seraphin agreed to sign a $3.89 million qualifying offer from the Wizards, he had a minor procedure to clean out his troublesome right knee, CSNwashington.com had confirmed late Wednesday with a person with knowledge of the situation and a second person Thursday morning. Then FIBA released a list of players who wouldn't be competing in the Basketball World Cup in Spain on Thursday which included Seraphin. The Wizards would not release him to play because of the surgery which was minor. The surgery was expected given Seraphin's difficult season with the Wizards in which he had recurring issues with swelling in the knee. His playing time was sporadic, and when he had a chance to play his way back into the rotation he couldn't because of the health issues.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: The Suns waived shooting guard Dionte Christmas on Thursday, avoiding a $1.15 million guaranteed contract for him and leaving some roster flexibility for the coming season. If Christmas had remained on the Suns roster for another week, he would have been guaranteed a $1.15 million for next season. The Suns' projected roster already has six guards and Christmas, 27, did not project to crack the rotation after only making 31 brief appearances during his rookie season and not doing enough at NBA Summer League to project for more. Without Christmas, the Suns expect to have 14 guaranteed contracts for training camp with the addition of first-round picks T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis and the expectation that they will re-sign restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe. With a league roster maximum of 15 for opening night, the Suns now have space for training camp free agents to compete for a job or the flexibility to add a player through free agency or trade.

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: The 76ers signed injured point guard Pierre Jackson to a one-year, partially guaranteed contract Thursday. The 5-foot-10 rookie will be sidelined six to 12 months after rupturing his right Achilles tendon July 5 in a game against the Magic in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Jackson suffered the injury while attempting to make a move in the backcourt. He reached down to grab his Achilles and hopped on one leg twice before resting at midcourt. ... "Obviously we were devastated by Pierre's injury," said Jackson's agent, Colin Bryant. "However, with the outstanding support of general manager Sam Hinkie, coach Brett Brown, and the Sixers medical staff, he is on the road to recovery and looks forward to getting healthy and returning to the court soon."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: It certainly didn't take long for the Heat to move on from the free-agency departure of swingman James Jones, with swingman Danny Granger to wear the No. 22 that Jones wore the past six seasons. Forward Luol Deng will wear the No. 9 that Rashard Lewis had worn the past two seasons. Forward Josh McRoberts will wear the No. 4 most recently worn with the Heat by Gerald Fitch and best known with the Heat for being first worn by Rony Seikaly and later Caron Butler. Rookie forward James Ennis will wear the No. 32 mostly recently worn by Mickell Gladness and previously worn with the Heat by Shaquille O'Neal. And rookie guard Shabazz Napier will wear the No. 13 most recently worn with the Heat by Mike Miller.