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First Cup: Monday

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "The Bulls have made no definitive decisions on the future of Tracy McGrady, who will work out for management on Monday. McGrady, a seven-time All-Star, is trying to find a home after playing just 30 games last season because of microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2009. McGrady has been effusively public in his desire to play for the Bulls, whom he toyed with in 2000 free agency. Derrick Rose, who shares the same agency, joined the chorus over the weekend. On his Twitter account, McGrady, 31, has claimed he is willing to accept a lesser role. Beyond the questions marks about where he is physically, Bulls management is prepared to grill McGrady on this subject given whomever they sign as 12th man is likely to play a limited role. Tom Thibodeau, who coached McGrady in Houston, is a fan of his and supportive of the move. One source said even if the Bulls decide to sign McGrady, a non-guaranteed deal might be proposed. If that occurs, it surely would test the sincerity of McGrady's desire to play here."

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: "The idea of signing Tracy McGrady could be more tantalizing than the reality, but considering the low price and potential upside, it could pay off for the Bulls. ... The Bulls figure to offer no more than the veteran’s minimum salary and could further limit their risk by refusing to fully guarantee the deal. McGrady made $20+ million in each of the last two seasons, so money shouldn't be an issue. Plenty of former superstars have excelled in limited roles. One popular theory is that winning becomes important to NBA players when they hit their 30s and have already taken home more money than they ever could have imagined. The Bulls need to determine if McGrady can not only play well in limited minutes, but also enjoy the experience. If he starts complaining about playing time, they might be better off without him."

  • Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: "New Orleans is a terrible NBA market, much worse than Charlotte. Owner George Shinn wants to sell the team and devote his considerable energies to help others overcome prostate cancer, a disease with which he was diagnosed last year. If the new owner craves a fresh start, he could trade Chris Paul. In Darren Collison, the Hornets are the rare team with a second quality point guard. But because Paul is the best part of the franchise, New Orleans has no obligation to set him free. If Paul were a veteran whose career was devoid of playoff success, I could understand. But he turned 25 in May. I’m a fan of the NBA. But I tire of the divas. LeBron turned diva when he used ESPN to announce he was ditching Cleveland. Paul will turn diva if he attempts to force a trade. Divas are a testament to entitlement. But entitlement doesn’t belong exclusively to players. On game nights, fans are entitled to stay home."

  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "It is being reported that LeBron James is advising Chris Paul that he should remain in the Western Conference thus forming a potential rivalry with the Miami Heat should Paul's new team and Miami both reach the Finals. Can you imagine getting career advice from this guy? I'm really hoping that Paul hung up the phone when James offered that suggestion. If LeCon cares so much about rivalries, why did leave Cleveland to play second banana to Dwyane Wade? Based on that report, we should all be rooting for Paul to end up in the Eastern Conference with the Knicks or any other club just so he can throw a monkey wrench into LeCon's plans to win multiple championships."

  • Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer: "Before the Cavaliers retire LeBron James' number 23, they will win that championship owner Dan Gilbert promised would arrive before James' first one in Miami. The number 23 will never hang in the rafters on Gilbert's watch. It is entirely appropriate that it never hangs there at all. Certainly, there will be a national media claque that will fall in love with what is obviously a loaded Miami team, to which James skittered as a free agent. ESPN's suck-up brigades will be out in force in that event, accusing Cleveland of eating its young by vowing not to retire James' number. They will say we let 28 minutes of that dreadful, self-serving 'The Decision' show, courtesy of the Lapdog Network, erase seven years of excellence. It seems harsh, admittedly. But that is the way of sports."

  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "A New York Times story published this weekend detailed how Shaquille O'Neal can't find a job even in a summer of free-agent movement. 'I don't know who takes him,' an Eastern Conference scout told the newspaper. Someone might sign him eventually, and the Spurs considered Shaq this summer. Had they not been able to reach a deal with Tiago Splitter, Gregg Popovich would have been open to him. Money would have been an issue, as the Times said it was to the Mavericks and to other franchises. Shaq sees himself as bigger than life, and that stature is worth at least $8 million a year, isn't it? His fading ability doesn't merit that payday. He's become harder and harder to play with, since he can't defend a pick-and-roll, and he stifles any kind of penetration from his own teammates. At 38, with an assortment of injuries, it's not an impressive package. ... What began in San Antonio has spread from coast to coast. None of it seems to faze Shaq. According to the Times, his Twitter page lists his location as 'Cleveland/Everywhere.' When, going by today, he's nowhere."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "Whatever circumstance that may get in the way of rebuilding the New Orleans Hornets back into a contender, San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich says Dell Demps will overcome it. And if anyone knows, it's Popovich, who for the past five years has watched Demps emerge as a rising executive in Spurs organization as vice president of basketball operations. Trying to follow the same blueprint of the four-time NBA champion Spurs, Hornets President Hugh Weber hired Demps last week to lead their basketball operations department as general manager. Popovich praised Weber's hiring as a 'master stroke.' 'He's been involved in everything with our team and has done the whole package,' Popovich said. 'He has sat in our coaching and film sessions. He understands and will be inclusive, will share opinions, ask for advice, will be participatory and make it fun -- at the same time he does a great job.' The Hornets are hoping under Demps' leadership and Coach Monty Williams' coaching, they can be as successful as the 2007-08 season, when they won a franchise-record 56 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. They were eliminated by the Spurs."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The tallest man in the room has spent a good part of the past month trying to make himself invisible. Alonzo Mourning knows he is many things: an intimidating presence even in his post-playing days, a giant among benefactors of those in need in South Florida, a passionate proponent of the Miami Heat's 'culture' of perseverance. But when it comes to his title of vice president of player programs for the Heat, he also appreciates he is a neophyte NBA executive, one with plenty to learn. So as Heat President Pat Riley made free-agent pitches earlier this month to LeBron James, Chris Bosh and even the Heat's own Dwyane Wade, and as Heat owner Micky Arison lent his presence to those sessions, Mourning said he 'soaked it all in.' 'I'm still learning,' the former shot-blocking center said last week. 'I just want to learn as much as I can. That's important to me. I feel like I still have a lot to offer to the game. It was a learning experience. At the same time, I was trying to contribute based on my own experiences the best that I could, so that all the guys that we were recruiting could get more of a player's perspective.' No, there is no urge to emerge as a general manager. Instead, Mourning is back to being a sponge, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound sponge, much like he was during formative days."

  • Zach Berman of The Washington Post: "Donyell Marshall's new players sat on the couch of an office tucked in the back of a townhouse on George Washington's campus, asking with interest about LeBron James's "decision." Marshall is now an assistant coach for the Colonials, his first college coaching job less than two years after retiring from the NBA and four seasons since he teamed with one of the NBA's biggest stars. That's how Marshall's players know him. That's how the recruits know Marshall. He was an avatar in their video game. He was never a graduate assistant, never the hustling assistant coach at summer shoe camps hoping to impress a head coach from a bigger school. Marshall's résumé is the 15 years, the 10,716 points -- and the buzz swirling GW's way that never would happen if Coach Karl Hobbs hired an unseasoned unknown. 'The one thing I learned is that if you don't stay in the game,' Marshall said, 'people forget about you.' Marshall cannot afford for that to happen. When he went recruiting earlier this month, he could not speak to the players and the players could not speak to him. But Marshall noticed prospects inching toward him, and he read their lips. 'That's Donyell Marshall. What school is he at?' Marshall remembered them saying. 'I was like, 'I hope it really works come time to get you to school here,' ' he added."

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Doug Collins and 76ers assistant coach Quin Snyder are expecting to visit with Sixers power forward Elton Brand sometime in the next several days. Previous attempts to meet with Brand were canceled because of scheduling situations. 'I want Elton to feel the love of the game again,' Collins said yesterday from San Diego, where he maintains a residence. 'He doesn't have to be an All-Star, but he can be a winning player. He can do that.' Brand, a two-time All-Star, has spent the last two seasons with the Sixers while still rehabbing from Achilles' tendon surgery and shoulder surgery. Snyder, a former Duke star, was involved in the recruiting of Brand to the Blue Devils. 'I know from personal experience what injuries can do to you,' said Collins, whose own career was cut short after 8 years because of a variety of foot and knee problems. 'Sometimes, even if you play well, you're thinking about what you might feel like the next morning. That's just human nature.' "

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Pacers officials weren't lying when they said they were going to take their time when it came to making a roster move. We're in the last week of July and the only additions the Pacers have made so far have been three draft picks in what was supposed to be the 'Summer of Dangling Expiring Contracts.' In fact, somebody in the league recently mentioned to me that the Pacers' biggest offseason move so far has been naming Clark Kellogg the vice president of player relations. The team's front office has been steadfast in not jumping to make a move just to make one. I can't really fault them for that approach because they can't afford to have any financial hiccups by taking back a bad long-term contract. As I mentioned before, it won't be a bad thing for the Pacers to hold onto their expiring contracts, especially if they can't get an impact player back in return, until at least the February trade deadline."

  • Jeff Rabjohns of The Indianapolis Star: "Shawne Williams. Geez. What are we to make of him at this point? Another arrest. Another incident related to drugs and guns. Another moment that seems to indicate he is completely unable to separate himself from the suspect influences of his hometown Memphis. ... Williams had promise. He was a 6-9 mobile forward who averaged 6.7 points for the Pacers in 2007-08, his second year in the league and last with the Pacers before they moved him to Dallas. If parents think a kid making the pros is an automatic path away from the enticements of the streets, Williams is proof that's not always the case. Sometimes, the streets simply follow the guy with the money."

  • Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News: "Nonetheless, fans can relax considerably about the possibility that the 53-year run of the NBA in Metro Detroit is in jeopardy. Sources agree it is about as likely as a buzzer-beater from well beyond half court that NBA owners, who must approve the sale, would allow the Pistons to move. There's too much tradition, and it is too fine a sports town, still. But with the economy in bad shape compared to other parts of the country and the considerably-smaller auto industry finding its way to a less-than-certain future, even the Pistons -- one of the most profitable teams in the NBA through the past decade, with a reputation of considerable success on the court -- are not nearly as attractive as a business proposition than they were just a short time ago. ... The Golden State Warriors, clearly a lesser NBA franchise than the Pistons if revenue and championships are the gauges, recently sold for a record $450 million. But consultants say that results from better financial prospects in the San Francisco Bay region than in Michigan. The Pistons, despite all of their success, might be closer to the Charlotte Bobcats, a quiescent NBA franchise that Michael Jordan recently purchased for $275 million. Pistons officials declined comment. But as Karen Davidson listens to her advisers, including the sports finance group of Citibank, she is likely hearing about the attractions and detractions of the franchise willed to her by the billionaire auto glass magnate, Bill Davidson, who died last year."