First Cup: Friday

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement Thursday night in response to a Sun-Times report about a rift between Derrick Rose and the organization. "I am confounded by the irresponsible report in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting there is anything approaching discord or confusion between the Bulls executive office, coaching staff, and Derrick Rose or any other Bulls player," Reinsdorf said. "To the contrary, I can remember no time when the organization has been any more focused, optimistic, and cohesive. ... I am deeply disappointed that unnamed sources and totally inaccurate statements and assumptions can be used to foment nonexistent friction. The report is totally without basis or fact. It is pure malicious fiction." The newspaper quoted Rose acknowledging hearing "from certain people that everything wasn't all right." The report based the discord on Rose allowing "his camp to take shots at the franchise."

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Multiple sources in the organization say tension was mounting because Rose allowed his camp to take shots at the franchise. Gradually, there seemed to be less communication between the Bulls and their biggest star. And tensions hit a peak when Rose, who has a five-year, $94.8 million contract, seemed to want no part in the recruitment of players. The Bulls’ pursuit of free agent Carmelo Anthony was the latest example. Looking back, it’s clear Rose wasn’t all that interested in teaming with Anthony, who chose to return to the New York Knicks. Rose was much more aggressive in the Bulls’ pursuit of free agent Pau Gasol, not only asking for his phone number, but giving a hard sell to the big man on joining the Bulls. So why Gasol and not Anthony? “[Gasol is] someone that I knew I could play with," Rose said. “You think about Pau, him now being in the East, what he’ll be able to achieve with the way we play, the way we dump the ball in the post a lot. It could be great." As far as tensions with his own organization, Rose didn’t single out one side or the other. At 25 and two knee surgeries reminding him he’s mortal, it’s time to stop pointing fingers. “This is a new beginning," Rose said several times. “It really is."

  • John Gambadoro of ArizonaSports.com: OK, enough is enough. Time to get real here. Memo to Eric Bledsoe -- you need new representation. This Rich Paul is a joke and he is steering you down a slippery slope. I'm sure he told you everything you wanted to hear at the end of the season. I'm sure he told you that teams would be lining up to make you an offer and that a max contract of $80 million was well within reach. And when those things didn't happen, he blamed the Phoenix Suns. The organization that believed in you, traded for you and gave you an opportunity that you weren't getting backing up Chris Paul in Los Angeles. Ask around, Eric. Talk to players in the league, teammates, former teammates, coaches and assistant coaches that aren't based in Phoenix. You will be hard-pressed to find ONE that doesn't believe the offer that Phoenix has on the table for four years and $48 million is an awesome offer. Trust me, I know. Because I have made those phone calls, dozens of them. And everyone that I spoke with thinks you're borderline nuts for not jumping at this offer and giving yourself financial security for life. You want to roll the dice and play for the qualifying offer of $3.7 million? Good luck. It's a huge risk. You have had two knee injuries, you missed half of last season. And you may not be able to make back the money you are leaving on the table for this season. ... So let's do this. Let's repair this relationship with the Suns that your side believes is in shambles. Fire your agent. Get some real representation. Start over.

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant’s contract expires soon, and the organization with which he’s been for what seems like forever is under siege. Every competitor wants Durant’s services, most notably an upstart in his youthful stomping grounds. We’re talking about Nike, of course, which has produced seven versions of Durant’s signature shoe, but Durant’s Swoosh contract runs out this week, and Maryland-based Under Armour plans to come after Durant with gusto. And you think the Thunder walks softly around Durant? Well, the answer is yes. The Thunder and everyone else from Balko to Broken Bow. Durant’s Thunder contract expires in summer 2016. The Durant Watch began in earnest after this season, and after Durant’s comments in Las Vegas this week, the gluteus maximus of every Thunder fan and brass is pricked with pins by the number and needles by the score. ... It’s going to be a long two years. In fact, the only salvation is that in the next 700 days, about 200 of them will be filled by a game day, Durant playing ball with the OKC logo. That can and has made many an Oklahoman forget their troubles.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Nearly a month into free agency, it doesn’t appear Greg Monroe will get an offer sheet. If one came, the Pistons would have three days to match. The sides could agree to a deal. Or the sides (and another team) could agree to a sign-and-trade. And the threat is there from Monroe to sign a $5.4-million qualifying offer, play out next season and become an unrestricted free agent. Monroe’s contract situation has been the No. 1 issue of the Pistons’ off-season, taking the spotlight away from free-agent signings of Caron Butler, D.J. Augustin and Jodie Meeks. The Pistons have agreements with free agents Cartier Martin and Aaron Gray, but have yet to announce the signings. Butler, Augustin, Meeks and Martin will be a boon to one of the league’s worst three-point shooting teams — and also create room for Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith to operate.

  • Dan Robson of Sportsnet.ca: Look, I support making big trades to win immediately. But right now, the Cavs have the potential to become a legitimate dynasty (built on a few years without James and unbelievable luck with draft balls). Think about the possibility of Wiggins with James in just a couple of seasons. There are a few titles waiting to be won by that kind of tandem. Buffalo Harry’s would absolutely have to put a “King James-sized Wiggins-wich” on the menu. Or at least wait for the season to begin and put some more pressure on Minnesota to make deal at the deadline, and then given them Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett. I’m just spit-balling here. But, yes, it seems likely that when the Cavs are able to trade Wiggins on August 23, the Canadian star will end up in Minnesota. No worries, then, I guess. Everyone knows that Minneapolis is way too cold for a southern Ontario guy to handle. When his four-year deal is up, Wiggins will naturally head south and come home to Toronto. And then, well—you had your chance Cleveland—the real Wiggin-ing (trademark pending) can begin.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: But this week, at Team USA training camp at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center, Beal is also out to show he is getting better while matching up in practice with all-stars and other rising talents in the game. Unlike last summer, when he was in Las Vegas as a spectator limited to shooting stand-still jumpers as he recovered from a stress injury in his right leg and watching Wall compete, Beal is often sharing the floor with his Wizards backcourt mate. “It’s a great sign for our team, for us continuing to grow and it’s just showing that we’re constantly getting better and better and better,” he said. “We’re going to put on for the city of D.C., and for our families and the Wizards organization.” Wall was a late addition after all-star Russell Westbrook withdrew, but Beal was named to USA Basketball’s original 28-man pool for international competitions through 2016 and is one of a handful of shooting guards, along with James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver.

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Jerryd Bayless has seen plenty in his six pro seasons with five teams. But something will be new when the 6-foot-3 guard joins the Milwaukee Bucks for training camp in September. Bayless will be playing under future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, who will be in his second season as an NBA coach and his first with the Bucks. "J-Kidd is a young coach but he has been in the league for a long time," Bayless said. "Just being around him and learning from a player of that magnitude, who now has switched over to coaching, is something I'm really looking forward to. I think he can help me in different ways, not only from the point guard position, just his view of the game."

  • Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: After four grueling days of a Team USA minicamp, Damian Lillard is still raving about adidas’s new Crazylight Boost basketball shoe that he has been playing in this week. Ever since breaking his foot in college, Lillard hasn’t been a fan of light shoes because of support concerns. These latest by adidas are game-changers. “Since I’ve been in the league I really haven’t cared how light the shoe were because I didn’t think they were supportive enough,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “I always wanted a supportive shoe so It was like I’ve never had a chance to experience a really, really light shoe. Now that I have it on, I can feel the difference.” The groundbreaking boost material is filled with thousands of capsules that help store and release energy when athletes need it most during competition, the shoe powerhouse says. Its cushioning technology is designed to deliver the ultimate responsiveness and comfort.

  • Jordan Heck of The Indianapolis Star: Metta World Peace, the player formerly known as Ron Artest, talked to Larry King Wednesday night on the web series "Larry King Now." The two discussed multiple topics, but near the end of the near half-hour interview King opened up the questioning to Twitter. The first question asked, "If you could win a championship for any city? Which city would that be?" World Peace said Indianapolis. "Honestly, there are two teams I would want to win a championship for. Number one would be Indiana," he said. "Great owner. A team that kind of sparked my career. Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh, they helped me out a lot." His second city? Detroit. "Because of the brawl," he said. "And I just think it would be an amazing story to win a championship for Detroit."

  • Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: They put up big bucks last fall to lock up Derrick Favors, their defensive anchor. It cost even more to bring back Gordon Hayward. And now the Utah Jazz front office is once again faced with key decisions regarding the futures of two fourth-year players, as they begin extension talks with shooting guard Alec Burks and big man Enes Kanter. This is the reality of life in the lottery, where the Jazz have made five picks in the last five seasons, while acquiring a sixth (Favors) via a trade. There is the influx of talent-and then the inevitable cost of keeping that talent. Venturing forward, however, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey is confident. "We knew Gordon was going to receive a substantial offer," he says. "We’ve tried to maintain our flexibility so that we can still bring in a free agent if the right one wants to say yes to us, and to have the ability to keep our own young players."

  • QMI Agency via the Toronto Sun: He may look fragile now, but Robert Bobroczky -- the 7-foot-4, 13-year-old tower disguised as a European basketball player -- has plenty of time to hit the weights before NBA scouts start knocking. A video of the Romanian teen is making the rounds on the World Wide Web. The news report from Sport.ro, which was uploaded to YouTube under the underselling banner of "Huge 13 Year Old Basketball Player," shows pencil-thin Bobroczky landing a pretty hook shot. This should come as no surprise, considering his peers in the video are notably shorter. At one point in the footage, a teammate has to actually jump to give Bobroczky a congratulatory head rub. How abnormally tall is Bobroczky, anyway? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the average height for a 13-year-old male is 5-foot-1 ¾. What's most stunning is that Bobroczky is probably still growing. With at least a half-decade to beef up and hone his on-court skills, combined with his freakishly tall frame, Bobroczky will surely attract the NBA's attention in years to come.