First Cup: Thursday

  • Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle: We might not know for years whether Daryl Morey or Mark Cuban gets the last word. We're not even sure who got the first word. It appears to have begun with a misunderstanding last summer after Morey called Cuban to inquire about the availability of Dirk Nowitzki, with Cuban interpreting the call as gloating because the Rockets signed Dwight Howard. Morey apologized, saying he made the call before he knew Howard had chosen the Rockets. Cuban accepted Morey's apology. Maybe. Less than three weeks later, he hired one of Morey's deputies, Gersson Rosas, to become the Mavericks' general manager. Rosas quit three months later, eventually returning to the Rockets. This summer, the Mavericks signed one of the Rockets' most popular players, restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, distributing photos of the ensuing celebration via social media. Parsons said he wanted to play for a team that trusted him to become one of its Big Three. James Harden said Parsons was a role player. Whether these two franchises don't like each other or just can't seem to stay out of each other's way, it would make for an interesting episode of "Shark Tank."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: The Pistons have moved from the initial five-year, $60-million offer and an offer that’s slightly better on a per-year basis than the four-year, $54-million deal that Josh Smith signed last summer is on the table. But the offer to make Greg Monroe the highest paid playeron the roster hasn’t brokered an agreement. And negotiations aren’t ongoing. The impasse could last into next month unless a sudden sign-and-trade materializes. There were discussions with the Blazers early in the process and Yahoo! Sports reported recently that brief discussions with Suns and Hawks didn’t gain traction. That’s probably because the Pistons are placing a premium on Monroe that teams so far have proven unwilling to pay. The threat is still there for Monroe to sign the $5.4 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next season. That’s not expected, but the deadline is Oct. 1. Whether you like the free-agent moves or not, Van Gundy accomplished most of his objectives in free agency. But long-term planning past next season is difficult until the top priority is settled.

  • Roderick Boone of Newsday: The excitement in Lionel Hollins' voice was easily detectable, a sign of the healthy progress of his two key cogs. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are coming off surgery, both apparently on track to be ready when training camp begins next month, and Hollins couldn't be more pleased. Lopez revealed earlier this week that he's received full clearance to play, and with Williams also rapidly on the mend, the Nets coach understands what that means both short- and long-term for the duo. "Well, that's what the whole goal is," Hollins told Newsday in a phone interview Wednesday from Africa, where he's spending the week participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program. "You can't be where you want to be unless you're healthy, and you can't get in shape unless you're healthy. If you are injured all summer, there's no way you can work out. Deron is healthy, Brook is healthy and they are both able to work out. So conditioning is something they both will be able to work on as they move forward, and when you are in shape you can go out, and try things, and do things because naturally if you are successful, your confidence rises. That's the only way I look at it and that's my approach."

  • Daniel O'Leary of the New York Daily News: Jeremy Lin is practicing dunking this offseason. On his mom. In a video posted on Instagram (Linstagram?) Wednesday, the former Knicks guard shows off his vertical leap... on a mini hoop some associates are holding up. He victimizes a seemingly random person on the street, some poor soul trying to sleep and then his own mother, presumably in her own kitchen. That's just wrong, Jeremy. Lin wrote on his page, jlin7: "Day 3 of Fan Appreciation Week! Who can come up with the best #JLinDunkCam video?!? All submissions will be judged on creativity, execution and post-dunk celebration lol. You MUST use #JLinDunkCam so we can find the video and post by midnight pst today. PLEASE be safe! My video will give you guys a few ideas (no need to use a real mini-bball/hoop...all props work too) #JLinDunkCam #sorrymom #takenoprisoners" OK fine, if you hastag "#sorrymom" we will let it slide this time, you rascal you.

  • John Harper of The Plain Dealer: Two Miami sports talk show hosts want to make sure LeBron James remembered his two NBA Championship rings as he left town for Cleveland. Last month a Miami ESPN Radio affiliate attempted to purchase a full page advertisement in The Sunday Plain Dealer. On Thursday the message "You're Welcome LeBron," showed up on East Tallmadge Ave. in Akron. "You're Welcome LeBron. Love, Miami," reads the sign, just a quarter-mile east of Highway 8. The sign was paid for by Gonzalo "Papi" LeBatard and Stugotz. Gonzalo LeBatard is the father of Dan LeBatard of the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio Miami. Stugotz is the air name of co-host Jon Weiner.

  • Ben Standig of CSN Washington: John Wall and Bradley Beal won't be playing in the upcoming World Cup of Basketball. However, there will still be a member of the Washington Wizards in Team USA's tournament opening game. The men's national team faces Finland on Aug. 30. Drew Gooden is one-half Finnish. A source confirmed to CSNwashington.com that Gooden plans to play for FInland's national team and that the Wizards will give him permission to do just that. Gooden's mother is Finnish. Gooden's American father played professional basketball in Finland. The two met and here we are. The big man talked about the FInnish situation with ESPN in 2007.

  • Diamond Leung of The Oakland Tribune: Sarunas Marciulionis overcame a language barrier and an adjustment to an American style of basketball in coming to the Warriors in 1989 as one of the first international players to earn regular playing time in the NBA. Marciulionis came from the Soviet Union and lived to go to the basket and draw contact, playing unlike other European guards that former Warriors teammate Chris Mullin remembered. "Sarunas was the total opposite, a bull in a china shop, aggressive, powerful, dynamic scoring guard," said Mullin, who will serve as Marciulionis' presenter at the enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Friday. "To me, he was really the trail blazer for European players coming over and having a major role on a winning NBA team. One year (in the 1991-92 season) he averaged 18 (points) off the bench for us. We had guys come over to try the NBA for a little bit, but then they would go back. Nobody really stuck until Sarunas. He said, 'I'm not going to go and try the NBA, I'm going to make the NBA my career.' "