First Cup: Monday

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Though last night's 'Battle of I-95,' pitting Team Melo against Team Philly, probably isn't the definitive measure of which city has the best ballers, it did produce a distinct winner: the nearly 9,000 fans who stuffed the Palestra to watch such mega-stars as Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Paul. What was anticipated as a glorified street game actually turned into quite a competitive battle, with Philly gaining a 131-122 win at the stifling-hot Palestra. The atmosphere was more fitting for a rock concert. Though slated to start at 6 p.m., the sellout crowd patiently waited out the near 45-minute delayed start. And when the game finally got under way, there wasn't a dry eye in the house - nor a dry shirt, brow or face. You got the feeling that if there was supposed to be some kind of cooling system running through the old place, players from years gone past made sure it wasn't operational. This was not the type of basketball the Palestra is used to hosting."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "There is no reason to expect that John Wall’s dynamic scoring outbursts in meaningless exhibitions will translate into him dominating the NBA whenever the next season comes. But his 40-point eruptions are an encouraging sign of his progress, explosiveness and improved health since his rookie season. The free-wheeling style of pickup basketball allows a player like Wall to overwhelm the competition with superior speed and athleticism. He exploited those talents again on Saturday when he got 41 with the ease of someone digging into their pockets to pull out a quarter, a dime, a nickel and a penny. As the headliner of a pro-am exhibition between the local Goodman League and Knox Indy Pro-Am at the University of Indianapolis, Wall had a triple-double with 41 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Goodman team to a 170-167 victory. ... Until there is a resolution with the labor dispute, Wall said he would continue to be a regular at the charity games. 'It’s not all about the money. It’s about the love the game,' he said. 'I’m competitive. I love playing basketball.' "

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Far from the basketball court in a virtual amusement park in the shadow of the Las Vegas strip, the voice of former NBA coach and former Rockets guard John Lucas echoes inside a dark gym with no frills and the debatable existence of air conditioning. While roughly 70 NBA players have played in a high-profile 'Lockout league' at Las Vegas' Impact training facility,Lucas and his staff push roughly 30 players, including a handful of young NBA talents, through grueling drills and training sessions in Houston. In this throwback, Rocky III-like setting in which luxuries are limited to metal folding chairs and a few oversized fans, egos are left inside the SUVs in the Lutheran North High School parking lot, and no one dares to protest the demands. There are no highlight dunks on YouTube because there are no cameras. There are no tales of 56-point scoring bursts because no games are played. ... NBA players pay $8,500 a month for the privilege. Fees vary for players at different levels and for the predraft camp. 'I'm expensive,' Lucas said, 'but I'm worth it.' The setting and much of each day's drills are decidedly old school, but these are not scenes from Red Auerbach's old Red on Roundball series. ... 'Last year, $60 million left the gym in new contracts and coaching jobs. Not that this was the sole reason, but we felt they improved. That's why they call this the lab. We get things done.' "

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "You have to love the union's 'solidarity,' don't you? Denver players running overseas, leaving their peers back home to work out the lockout. Those are chicken Nuggets. Ugh, sorry. ... If past NBA lockout history is any guide-post to the present, the city of Orlando should know around mid-December whether the 2012 all-star game will be played at Amway Center — or canceled. In the last lockout, the league canceled the Feb. 14 1999 all-star game scheduled in Philadelphia on Dec. 9, 1998. This year's game is set a little later — Feb. 26 at Amway Center. So it could be that if this lockout continues, eating up regular-season games, the league likely will cancel Orlando's game around Dec. 15. The NBA salvaged a 50-game season in 1998-99, with games beginning in early February. The NBA did bring back the all-star game to Philadelphia — but not until 2002. The next availability for Orlando: 2014."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Kevin Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, last month announced he was in negotiations with the Turkish club Besiktas. It's the same organization that signed New Jersey point guard Deron Williams. Goodwin reportedly also has explored opportunities in Spain and Russia. Durant had previously stated his intentions to make a decision by Oct. 1. The erratic nature of negotiations for a ratified collective bargaining agreement, however, has thrown off Durant's timeline. 'I've thought about it before and I really was close to making a decision about doing that,' Durant said of possibly signing overseas. 'But I kind of stopped a little bit once I heard things were kind of moving a little better with the lockout. But one day it's good and one day it's bad. You never know.' "

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "Wilson Chandler does not view himself as a trail blazer or trendsetter. His decision to sign overseas was sparked solely by a desire to play basketball, something that won’t occur in the NBA until at least mid-October. ... Chandler is living in Zhejiang now, becoming more comfortable with his new surroundings and culture. The Benton Harbor, Mich., native spent his first three-plus seasons with the Knicks but was shipped to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony deal. He said he had no desire to languish in the States playing pickup up and all-star games. He wanted structure. Jim Cleamons, a former Lakers assistant who was not retained by the new staff, is the new head coach with Zhejiang. That offers Chandler some familiarity. 'It’s going great for me,’ Chandler said by phone. 'I’m just learning some different things, trying to learn the new people. Practice is cool. Coach Cleamons is a great coach so it makes things easier for me. He’s been a successful assistant coach in the past and I think I can learn a lot from him.’ "

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Kyrie Irving is one of those glass-is-always-full type of guys. The Cavaliers' rookie point guard should be getting ready to start his first training camp as an NBA player. The lockout has caused the league to postpone the start of camp and cancel the first week of preseason games. ... Instead, he's enrolled at Duke University and is working toward psychology degree. ... The 6-foot-2, 191-pounder said he has no interest in playing overseas. He doesn't want to risk injury, especially after suffering through an injury-plagued freshman year at Duke. 'Players have to make money at the end of the day," Irving said. "It's a business. It's a decision we all have to respect.' Irving, 19, said he took some time off after the draft to allow his turf toe to fully heal. His freshman year was limited to just 11 games in 2010-11. ... The Cavs' players are attempting to organize a workout camp sometime soon, possibly at Ohio State. 'The leaders on our team are trying to set up a workout in mid-October,' Irving said."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "In any other year, Timberwolves draft pick Derrick Williams would head to his first NBA training camp by the end of this week. This, of course, isn't just any other year and Williams isn't bound for Mankato. On Saturday, he instead was in Chicago, appearing for his sponsor Under Armour at a two-day camp for top prep players. ... Q: You don't know yet about life on an NBA court, but you already know all about its business side, don't you? A: 'Exactly. I just think everybody wants to play. I don't think anybody wants to go anywhere else in the world. We all want to play against the best players in the world. But there's nothing we can really do about it, just wait until whenever this thing gets settled.' "

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Of all the middling free agents in this year's class, one of the easiest to overlook is Washington Wizards forward Yi Jianlian, he of the what-has-he-accomplished four-year NBA career. Yet ESPN's David Thorpe noted this past week, 'He's still a freak athlete with great shooting range, and now that he can be a plus defender, he's a sure bet to find solid rotation minutes for a playoff team that needs shooters and defenders. General managers often ask me why he's not in Miami. After the lockout, perhaps he will be.' Based on the Heat's reluctance to employ overseas prospects, and based on some of the failures when making such bids, it would seem a longshot. But one thing about Pat Riley is that length long has carried heft in his assessments."

  • Staff of the Detroit Free Press: "Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva updated his Facebook page during the weekend to say that he had returned to Michigan and was working out with a few teammates to prepare for the NBA season, whenever it might happen. 'Now I'm back home in Detroit, working out twice a day, trying to get right,' Villanueva posted Saturday. 'Lately I've been working out mostly with Ben Gordon & Jonas Jerebko, plus a few other local guys. It's been valuable and effective. 'BG home gym is crazy!' ... Villanueva, who called the NBA lockout 'no fun,' promised his fans that he would post photographs soon from his summer activities, which included a stint with the Dominican Republican national team."