First Cup: Tuesday

  • Broderick Turner and Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Derek Fisher, 35, in his 14th season and the final year of a contract that pays him $5 million, said he plans on playing beyond the 2009-10 NBA season. 'I'm definitely not shutting it down after this season,' Fisher said after the Lakers' practice Monday. He plays point guard, a position in which so many younger players are quick and looking to attack him. Fisher knows that teammates Jordan Farmar, 22, and Shannon Brown, 23, are looking to push him for the starting job. Fisher is not ready to think about retirement. 'I don't see any reason why he can't play past this season,' Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. 'I know that we all think that we can get away with age, but age does have a tendency to level us out as we go along. But he's done such a great job of keeping his whole physique and his training together, it's awful hard to see any flaws in him right now.' Fisher said he spoke with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak so he was aware of where Fisher stands."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The Cavs made a lot of fans unhappy over the course of last season by standing up in front of their bench. The NBA has since ruled players can no longer stand in front of the fans. LeBron James isn't sure he likes the ruling. 'It's hard to take that out of the game,' he said. 'Part of the game is emotion. Do you want to take that out of the game? Sometimes, your teammates are all you have.' The league has softened its stance on the dress code. James said he thinks the same thing will happen with the no-standing order. 'That's something you can't take out of the game, guys cheering,' he said. 'There's no way you can do it. That's part of the reason we played so well. We cheered on each other.' "

  • Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times: "The N.B.A. union began tracking the classroom migration this year. Debbie Rothstein Murman, the director for career development for the union, said the number was much higher than in the past, although she does not have earlier numbers. For elite athletes, who command seven-figure salaries, returning to college is an investment and a hedge against what can be an uncertain future. Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets resumed classes at Wake Forest, and Russell Westbrook's teammate Kevin Durant continued working toward his degree at Texas. ... The Thunder and the Golden State Warriors each had three players enrolled in summer courses. While some are establishing building blocks for the future, others are fulfilling promises to loved ones or aiming to become the first member of a family to graduate from college. 'I have a younger brother, and it sets an example for him and how important it is,' said Westbrook, who declared for the N.B.A. after his sophomore season at U.C.L.A. The lectures could be boring, he said, and it took an entire day to write one page of the first paper assigned to him. But he also had the benefit of attending a university where a number of N.B.A. players convened for pickup games. So Westbrook easily shuttled from the court to the classroom. He recently posted on Twitter that he had received all B's in his summer classes."

  • Scott Cacciola of The Commercial Appeal: "It is a coincidence that Allen Iverson's official public unveiling as a member of the Grizzlies will play out tonight in Richmond, Va., a short drive down Interstate 64 to the Atlantic shore, where he grew up. The Grizzlies' preseason opener against the Washington Wizards promises to be a homecoming of sorts for Iverson, still beloved by many in the state who watched him star in football and basketball at Bethel High in Hampton, Va. But the game also underscores an indisputable fact, one to which the rest of the team must grow accustomed: Iverson, at this stage of his career, is a bigger brand and greater draw than the Grizzlies. And it could create an interesting dynamic as Lionel Hollins continues to emphasize the need for team building."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Aaron Brooks has seen his role change in small ways. He is the first point guard in drills, rather than waiting his turn. He has been featured in appearances and often the first request of the media during the sessions after practices. 'I still kind of know what the rookies are going through,' Brooks said. 'Everything is going 100 miles per hour. The thing that is most different for me is that everything slows down. You've seen everything. You know all the plays. You know what people are going to do before they do it. You relax, go out and play and try to be more vocal.' There will be more important tests, beginning with the back-to-back today and Wednesday against the Spurs and Celtics and similarly swift point guards Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo. It could be premature to expect Brooks to run in that fast company, but he said he does not mind the expectations or feel the pressure. As the trip back to McAllen reminded, he has come too far too quickly to worry about where he can go next."

  • Scott Souza of The MetroWest Daily News: "With only six practices in the first seven days of preseason, and not a single double session, Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledges he is not even close to putting in all the sets and plays he normally might by the eve of the exhibition opener. But that's fine with the Celtics. With the experience both coming back and coming into this year's roster, they may still be well ahead of the game. 'We put in a few sets and we're playing off that so well right now,' said Paul Pierce. 'Doc sees these guys are picking it up easy. But at the same time we want to get in a good flow with the things we have in there so far.' Newcomer Rasheed Wallace predicted the collective basketball IQ of the main rotation will allow the Celtics to create so much out of a handful of sets that a book full of plays will hardly be necessary. Ray Allen said yesterday he's seen evidence of that in how few plays the team runs even when it's trying to go through plays with Wallace and fellow free-agent acquisition Marquis Daniels."

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "In the past decade, only one Western Conference team did what the Nuggets are trying to do this season. The stars aligned above, fittingly, for the Suns in 2005, and three of their players competed in the NBA All-Star Game. As for Denver, if Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups play as well as they did last last season, they will be headed to Dallas. But who's the third? 'Shaq is gone, Yao is out,' Nuggets coach George Karl said. 'This is the year of opportunity for Nene.' For the past couple of years, Karl has mentioned that Nene could someday be an all-star. This season might be his best chance. With Shaquille O'Neal in Cleveland and Houston's Yao Ming out with a foot injury, the 6-foot-11, 250-pound Nene is on the shortlist of the West's elite centers, along with the Lakers' Pau Gasol and the Suns' Amare Sto
    udemire, who technically is a power forward, as is Minnesota's Al Jefferson. Also, Emeka Okafor has joined New Orleans, bringing his 13.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game to the Hornets."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "When Antonio McDyess got into the first five-on-five scrimmage of training camp with his new teammates, he knew what to expect of most of the other big men. Once he found himself matched up against Ian Mahinmi, however, he began to wonder about a youngster with uncommon size and athleticism. 'I said, 'Oh, my goodness, this guy is good,' ' McDyess said. 'I wondered why I hadn't heard more about him. I love his game.' Spurs fans have been waiting to see more of Mahinmi since the Spurs made him the 28th pick in the 2005 draft. Beginning with tonight's preseason opener at the AT&T Center against the Houston Rockets, they will get another chance. Mahinmi knows tonight's game is the start of the most important preseason of his young career. He must prove he merits consideration for a spot in a frontline rotation that has added McDyess, veteran Theo Ratliff and rookie DeJuan Blair."

  • Tom Enlund of the Journal Sentinel: "During a water break at a recent Milwaukee Bucks practice at the team's training center, forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute positioned himself alone at a basket and hoisted a number of jump shots while the other players quenched their thirst. It's also not uncommon to see the second-year player stay after practice and put up even more jumpers with assistant coaches. Improving his mid-range jump shot has been high on Mbah a Moute's list since the end of last season and it's something he took seriously over the summer and in training camp. 'He's put in hours and hours on it,' said Bucks assistant coach Bill Peterson, who worked regularly with Mbah a Moute over the summer. 'And good, quality time. Not just messing around. I think we'll see progress. Will he be where we want him to be? Not quite yet. He's only a second-year player. He's really focused on it. He wants to get better.' "

  • Eric Koreen of the National Post: "It is only pre-season. Veterans do not get overly worked up about the first exhibition game of the year. Rookies, though, might get a bit over-excited to play their first professional basketball game. That is where those veterans are supposed to calm the youngsters down. Toronto Raptors veteran Chris Bosh is taking a different approach with the team's lone rookie, DeMar DeRozan. He is doling out some more practical advice. 'Don't mess up,' Bosh said. Well, that should relax the 20-year-old as he kicks off his career when the Raptors visit London, Ont., to play the Philadelphia 76ers.

  • Mark Woods for the Chicago Sun-Times: "With Derrick Rose nursing an injury and John Salmons 4,000 miles away awaiting the birth of a child, Kirk Hinrich figures to start for the Bulls today when they meet the Utah Jazz in an exhibition game at the O2 Arena. As for when that will happen again, who knows? ''Right now, they'll probably be bringing me off the bench,' Hinrich said. ''John is just more of a natural two-guard. I'm more of a combo. I really don't care. I just want to play when it counts and help this team any way I can.' Ask any member of the Bulls, and they'll tell you they need all the help they can get after losing leading scorer Ben Gordon, who signed a free-agent deal with Detroit. And for Hinrich, starting his seventh year in the NBA, it's a chance to re-emphasize his worth after he missed 31 games because of injury last season and underwent an awkward transition to the bench."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Dwyane Wade couldn't do anything but laugh Monday night. The Heat star had just taken an outlet pass and was going to glide in for an emphatic dunk late in the second quarter of the exhibition opener for the Pistons and Heat. But midway through the glide, Pistons rookie Austin Daye came over to block the dunk and knock it out of bounds, eliciting a cheer from the sparse Palace crowd. Wade looked around and grinned. Later in the possession there was a Pistons foul, and Wade just joked and laughed with the Pistons' bench -- particularly Tayshaun Prince -- telling it that it was a great play. The good cheer continued throughout the night for the Pistons as they opened with an 87-83 victory. Pistons coach John Kuester grinned when asked about the play afterward, saying Wade's reaction showed his class. Kuester remarked how Daye and his fellow members of the Pistons' draft class -- Jonas Jerebko and DaJuan Summers -- will compete against anybody and doesn't really realize when they are going against a superstar."

  • Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times: "It takes a village to raise a free-throw shooting percentage. Or something like that. But advice and affirmation from learned elders and helpful teammates can go only so far when you are flirting with sub-Shaq-like numbers. The Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, mindful of the grim 38.5% free-throw shooting in his rookie season, got his 6-foot-11 self into the gym in the summer. And stayed in the gym. 'I'm working on my free throws. A lot, a lot,' Jordan said. 'At the beginning of the summer, I had to make 10 in a row after I worked out to actually leave. The first couple of days it was tough. I would be here, like, an hour. I'd get to nine, like, eight times and missed the 10th in a row, like twirling the ball out. I'd be kicking a ball all the way over there. I'd have to stick with it and the time would get shorter and shorter.' He went six for nine from the line Sunday in the Clippers' opening preseason game at Oakland, a 108-101 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Jordan had his own eye-catching numbers: 22 points and 10 rebounds."

  • Rachel Tobin Ramos of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The movie theater that bears Magic Johnson's name at Greenbriar Mall -- opened amid much hoopla 13 years ago -- will show its last movie on Sunday. The theater owner, Kansas City, Mo.,-based AMC Entertainment, said the 12-screen complex is underperforming. Employees were told last week the theater will close Oct. 11. The company would not say how many people are employed at the theater or whether they will be offered positions at other AMC properties. Ex-NBA star Johnson is no longer a partner in the theater, though it has borne his name since he invested $8 million to build the complex in 1996."