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First Cup: Thursday

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Several NBA sources have confirmed that the 76ers are against a proposal that would balance out the draft lottery as early as next summer. General manager Sam Hinkie could not be reached for comment. League sources said Wednesday afternoon that the Sixers would not get any sympathy from fellow franchises. That's because for the second straight season, the Sixers are expected to field a roster below NBA standards in order to guarantee losses in hopes of a high draft pick. This tactic, said one Eastern Conference executive, is having "a negative effect on the integrity of the NBA." He believes the proposed new format, which could come to a league vote in the fall, would go a long way in preventing teams from duplicating what the Sixers are doing. ... The Sixers believe they are just taking advantage of a system that has been in place, and they're not the first team to do so. However, a league source said that teams believe the Sixers made a mockery of the rules by fielding a roster full of NBA Development League talent.

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: Forty-eight million dollars, guaranteed. For Patrick Peterson, the number is a blessing. For Eric Bledsoe, the number is an insult. What's wrong with this picture? Start with Peterson's new contract with the Cardinals, a textbook case in how approach and resolve pricey negotiations. After watching fellow cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Joe Haden score huge signing bonuses earlier in the year, Peterson was clearly expecting a comparable windfall. Tension was building. ... Yet to his credit, Peterson never lost sight of the big picture. He arrived in camp with a great attitude, even though obstacles still remained on the negotiating table. He made sure his self-interests ranked below the team's interests. ... The money came, and today, Cardinals fans will celebrate Peterson's contract. He is a great player who wants to be here, a star who engages fans and media, a leader who wants to be the face of the franchise. If only the Suns could say the same.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Whether ¬≠Derrick Rose will make Team USA no longer is in question. Considering the damage he has inflicted on opposing guards ¬≠during the first three days of tryouts, it’s more about when it will be made official. Rose all but did on Wednesday. Well, kind of. In discussing new Bulls teammate Pau Gasol,who was signed as a free agent earlier in the month, Rose mistakenly said, “I talked to [Gasol] before he signed and he said when we get to Spain [for next month’s FIBA Cup] that we’ll probably get something to eat, so I’ll probably catch up with him, get dinner or something." Call it Rose already knowing something or just having flat-out confidence in his ability. Go with the latter, because if there is one thing Rose is not lacking these days it’s confidence. Admittedly, his self-assurance is a far cry from where it was last year. For the first time since suffering the tear of the left anterior cruciate ligament, Rose said that his attitude about basketball going into the 2013-14 season was not good. And while he only lasted just 10 games into the regular season before a torn right meniscus derailed his comeback, it’s an attitude he doesn’t want to experience again.

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: Make no mistake Kevin Durant is a man of his word. A year ago, he and Minnesota's Kevin Love affirmed their union with Team USA. Love pulled out last week fearing an injury in the run-up to the World Cup, or in the tournament itself, might derail his chances of being traded from the Timberwolves to a more desirable NBA destination. Durant remained steadfast. "I mean everybody is their own man; you've got to realize that," Durant said. "I made this decision based on what I felt was right for me. If guys want to follow that, it's cool. But a lot of guys sacrifice their summers before I was even in the NBA to USA Basketball. I think guys like LeBron, Carmelo, Chris Paul, I think it's their duty now to sit out and rest, plus they're older." Clearly, there's no doubting Durant's fidelity to the flag or his U.S. teammates. He is the leader of this team, as he is the Thunder. More importantly, the pride he feels when he pulls on a USA jersey is genuine, not made-for-image artificial.

  • Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: The back and forth exchanges between Houston Rockets guard James Harden and newly-minted Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parson has ended. Thanks to TEAM USA for bringing them together in Las Vegas for training camp, Parsons said he and Harden found time in between time to chat and patch things up. “We’ve been in the casinos together and everything,” Parsons said to CSNNW.com. “We talked about it and it’s in the past. We’ve been hanging out, talking. We played on the same team a few times here, which was cool to get back out there with him. There are no hard feelings.” Harden insists that his initial comments about himself and Dwight Howard being the cornerstones and the others are just “role players,” was taken out of context by the media.

  • Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: Reports out of Las Vegas say Pistons third-year center Andre Drummond should make the USA FIBA World Cup team as a second-team backup to starters Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Davis (New Orleans) is projected as the starter at power forward, Cousins (Sacramento) the starter at center. Other projected starters are Stephen Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston) and Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City). With decisions not to play from Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard, the U.S. team is short on big men, which makes Drummond almost a lock to make team. ... Drummond’s role could be to battle Marc Gasol off the bench, especially with a thin U.S. front line and the penchant for Cousins to get in foul trouble. Drummond, the NBA’s second-leading rebounder last season at 13.2 per game, would be counted on for defense and rebounding.

  • Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle: Rockets center Dwight Howard has been busy in sunny California. He is there training at the Peak Performance Project facility and has made a point to get out in the community according to KEYT in Santa Barbara. He started by working out at personal trainer Jenny Schatzle’s gym and inspiring a group of women who had never run outside there to go on a run with him around the block. Schatlze called the activity inspiring. The next day he responded to a challenge on twitter from Cody O’Bryen and showed up to play kickball at West Beach. Howard played the whole game as pitcher. His pre-game speech was fairly inspiring.

  • Diamond Leung of The Oakland Tribune: The Warriors’ Steve Kerr went out of his way to pick the brain of Bill Parcells in preparation for a future in coaching, and in his quest for knowledge, he turned to another Super Bowl-winning coach in Pete Carroll on Wednesday. According to Seahawks.com, Kerr attended Seattle’s training camp in Renton, Wash. in order to “soak in Carroll’s coaching philosophy” before his first season as Warriors coach. “As a young coach I just like to see people at work,” Kerr told Seahawks.com. “And Pete obviously is one of the best. He’s one of the most intriguing people that I’ve met and that I’ve sort of watched over the years as a football fan. I’m thankful that he gave me the opportunity to come visit with him."

  • Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: This is a very pivotal year for JaVale McGee. He's got to stay healthy and play well to live up to the contract he inked after playing well a couple of years ago. If not, sure, there's a possibility he could be dealt. McGee has two years and nearly $24 million left on his deal. His last season is $12 million, which isn't impossible to deal, particularly because it would be an expiring deal. But we'll see. Reports are he's looking good and on-target to hit the ground running at training camp in the fall. Jusuf Nurkic will take time to get up to speed. Nikola Jokic will not be on the roster in the fall. Timofey Mozgov is the player to watch, coming off of his best season as a professional. There are plenty of questions at center. McGee can ease a lot of concerns by arriving in shape, ready to play, with a work-hard, winning mind-set.

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: The significance of the NBA coming to OKC is reflected in the mementos on the walls and shelves of Mick Cornett’s city hall office. Durant wearing his “OKLAHOMA CITY” jersey on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. Chris Paul and Desmond Mason bobblehead dolls from the Hornet days. Cornett in a photo with Hornets dignitaries George Shinn, Willis Reed and Byron Scott on the day that it became official the franchise was relocating from New Orleans to Oklahoma City. “To just have Willis Reed and Byron Scott in town would’ve been a big deal,” Cornett said of days before the Hornets’ arrival. Less than a decade later, folks in Oklahoma City can hardly remember what life was like without an NBA team. How did we fill the winter months without games at The Peake? What did we do every spring without the Thunder in the playoffs? Cornett will forever be linked to OKC’s big-league transformation, and frankly, it’s a bit ironic that he is the Putnam City alum with the biggest sports impact on this city.

  • Zoe McKnight of the Toronto Star: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hasn’t said much about rumours that the Toronto Raptors home games could start a half-hour later, at 7:30 p.m., this season. An MLSE official confirmed that games at the Air Canada Centre this coming season will be slated for a 7:30 start but reserved further comment until plans are fully determined. But some fans say that would suit them just fine, especially those who drive or take public transit from Milton or Oshawa. “Superfan” Nav Bhatia, who buys 10 seats each year and who has never missed — or been late to — a single regular-season game in nearly two decades, welcomes the possible change because he drives in from Mississauga.

  • John Marzulli of the New York Daily News: It’s the feds’ version of a pick and roll. Federal prosecutors are going after disgraced referee Tim Donaghy's pension to satisfy the restitution he still owes the National Basketball Association for his betting scandal case. The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's office is seeking a restraining order prohibiting Donaghy from getting his hands on a lump-sum payment of $203,256 that he's scheduled to receive from his referees' pension plan on Aug. 1 through a rollover into his individual retirement account, according to court papers. Donaghy, 47, pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and admitted taking payoffs from gamblers for inside information on basketball games that he was officiating. Federal Judge Carol Amon ordered him to pay $195,466 to the victim of his crime — the NBA — but he has only paid $41,835 toward the total restitution amount. He was also sentenced to 15 months in prison.