First Cup: Wednesday

  • Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com: "Jerry Buss, 76, said the Lakers' moves were motivated by the constant goal to improve and that the Heat weren't a clear-cut threat, mentioning Orlando, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Utah as fellow foes. However, when questioned about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Co., he couldn't help but get worked up a little. 'Suddenly there's this juggernaut out there that we have a chance to play against and that excites me, that really excites me because, quite honestly, I think we can beat them and I'm looking forward to playing them,' Buss said. 'I don't think it's automatic that Miami will be our biggest opponent come the end, but on the other hand, I must admit they have the world's attention and that means we're going to be on center stage when we get a chance to play them.' Still, Buss maintained that all of the personnel decisions were independent of the Heat. 'Our intentions were to sign those players prior to Miami coalescing all of the talent that was left over,' Buss said. 'I don't think we reacted to them. Once the season is over, we look backwards on the season and say, 'Were there any weaknesses? Could we do something to improve this team?' And we did that quite independently of Miami. ... I think we just prepared ourselves for the general war, not specifically for anyone.' "

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "OK, let’s get this straight: LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been vilified because after going through free agency, they opted to play elsewhere, namely in South Florida. But when Carmelo Anthony puts it out there that he would welcome a move, while still under contract, there hardly is a hint of outrage. No, tact certainly was not high on the list of priorities for either LeBron or Bosh when it came to handling their free-agency machinations. But Cleveland and Toronto knew defections were possible. The rules allowed as much. Yet now Carmelo makes it clear he would prefer to be elsewhere, while still under contract for another season, and it’s accepted as part of NBA life. Even if it limits the Nuggets’ position of strength in such deliberations. ... On the egregious meter, how can LeBron and Bosh possibly be cast as more villainous? Or has it reached the point that perception now stands secondary to winning?"

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "If I'm reading him correctly, Joe Lacob, a venture capitalist by trade, was purposely bland,especially in view of the praise he volunteered for general manager Larry Riley and team president Robert Rowell. Again, if I'm correctly reading the tone and body language of this avid poker player, I think Lacob was signaling that he is looking for a way to remove Don Nelson -- if the timing is right. With Lacob, there's a lot to read. Over the course of the conversation, I asked Lacob about every Warriors issue I could come up with, and he answered each question thoroughly and thoughtfully, except on subjects he declined to address because of the sales situation or by edict of the NBA. This guy knows what he is doing, and he knows that even when you know what you're doing, you still don't always do things perfectly. ... Lacob is direct and open, which already beats his predecessor, Chris Cohan, by a million miles. He certainly is not afraid to talk about what he is doing or why he is doing it. And most of all, right now, Lacob is not running away or into anything, and if you press him, he will just tell you to wait until he takes over. Like he is doing."

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: "Brandon Roy has a pristine reputation. He's the face of the Trail Blazers franchise. And because of the good currency he's earned he gets a wide berth here. So I cringed when I saw the franchise Golden Boy and three-time All-Star slumming like he was another woeful NBA player who acts like he doesn't need to be professional, accountable or decent. I thought about how different the franchise has felt with Roy around. I thought about the way the Blazers guard has maximized the 'fishbowl effect' of Portland. Roy hasn't complained about people watching him so closely as a Blazer; he's just kept getting caught doing the right thing. Until this week when Roy made a cameo in Seattle-based Cali & Cavalli's 'What They Want' music video. The song isn't memorable, other than the odd and awkward appearance of Roy. The basketball player said on Tuesday that he knew it was a music video featuring 'old friends' from his home city, but he wasn't aware the video would also feature marijuana. Through his basketball organization, Roy apologized, said he doesn't use marijuana and added that he hoped nobody would watch the thing. Said Roy: 'I don't want kids watching and saying, 'Brandon Roy was in there,' it's a situation where I should have been more responsible.' See how he did that? Turned a sad and disappointing moment right on its head. The point of life isn't to live it perfect and never make a mistake. Roy reminded us of that on Tuesday. Because he wasn't perfect in his actions. He should have asked about the video, and insisted on seeing it before its release. But after the mistake was made instead of hiding out, or rationalizing that he's here to play ball not be a role model, he acted very much like a father who has his own young children watching."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "For more than seven hours, with a short break for lunch, John Wall was all over the New York Knicks' training facility Tuesday fulfilling his duties for the NBA rookie photo shoot with the league's trading card partner, Panini. And it was obvious that he was starting to wear down - an hour before lunch. As several rookies, including Washington Wizards teammate Trevor Booker, shot jumpers during a break in action, Wall grabbed a ball and slid behind a basket support to hide and have a quiet moment. 'I'm tired,' Wall said, 'but I can keep going.' As the No. 1 overall pick, Wall was in high demand. But nearly every time it seemed like Wall was spent, he found the energy to engage in an impromptu dance contest with rookies DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and Tiny Gallon of the Milwaukee Bucks, and later a spontaneous dunk contest. Wall took care of his business, even signing an exclusive trading card and memorabilia deal with Panini, but he mostly showed that he is a 19-year-old who simply wanted to have some fun. After taking some photographs with his former Kentucky teammates Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Patrick Patterson and Daniel Orton, Wall hopped on Cousins's back and went on a piggy-back ride before Cousins playfully brushed him off his shoulders. 'It means a lot to get back with guys who went into the draft the same as you, and reach their dream the same time as you,' Wall said. 'It means a lot to stay cool with them and have fun.' "

  • Lenny Megliola of the Boston Herald: "When he considers the new-age look of the NBA, Paul Pierce just shakes his head. Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh keeping company in Miami. Talk of Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony leaving their respective teams. 'I’ve never seen a summer like this,' the Celtics captain said yesterday at his youth camp at Basketball City. 'The landscape of the NBA is changing, West to East. It’s like the season never ended. You’re seeing a new era in basketball. It’s going to be different the next 10, 15 years.' Of course, Pierce’s team hasn’t exactly let the world pass by. General manager Danny Ainge made several big moves this offseason, including re-signing Pierce (after he opted out of his contract), Ray Allen, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels and adding veteran centers Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. Pierce likes the moves. 'Danny did a good job staying competitive and adding the pieces,' he said. Is it enough to stay in the conversation with the Heat, Magic and Lakers? 'I think we’re one of the top four or five teams,' Pierce said. 'But we could still use another piece. A wing man.' "

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "James Posey has been on the receiving end of passes from Shaquille O'Neal during the NBA Finals. He made big 3-pointers for the Boston Celtics in the Finals, too. Now Posey, the sudden elder statesman on the youthful Indiana Pacers, hopes to pass some of the knowledge he has picked up on the court and in the locker room during his 11-year career to some of his less-experienced teammates. 'It's about winning at the end of the day and putting ourselves in a good position,' said Posey, who along with Darren Collison met local media Tuesday for the first time since being traded last week. 'I'll continue to work hard and lead by example, show these guys that we won on the teams I was on before because we worked hard and valued each other.' "

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Bucks forward Carlos Delfino is expected to play a huge role for Argentina in the FIBA World Championship, which begins Aug. 28 in Turkey. And thus far he is not disappointing in his country's tune-up efforts for the tournament. Delfino scored 23 points and drilled 6 of 9 shots from three-point range in Argentina's 77-73 victory over Brazil on Tuesday in Logrono, Spain. The Bucks are hoping Delfino can stay injury-free while playing for Argentina, which already has suffered several injuries during its training camp in Spain. Point guard Juan Pablo Cantero suffered a torn hamstring and had to return to Argentina. Delfino also had 16 points in Argentina's 83-76 loss to Spain on Monday."

  • Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: "The Maloof family's Las Vegas casino has struggled to the point that a minority investment partner estimates the property is worthless. The estimate suggests the Palms Casino Resort, owned by the same family that owns the Kings, has suffered a striking decline in value. But George Maloof Jr., who runs the Palms, called the estimate inaccurate and said the casino is doing better these days. ... The Palms 'is definitely not worth nothing,' said the consultant, Bill Lerner of Union Gaming Group. The Palms and the Kings are the twin pillars of the Maloofs' business empire, and the family has deftly cross- marketed the two. But they are separate companies, and family members say the fortunes of one don't affect the other. ... Maloof said the Palms is noticing an upturn. 'We're doing a lot better,' Maloof said. 'I think we've seen the bottom in Las Vegas, definitely.' "

  • Mike Tierney of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The Atlanta Spirit, which owns both teams (Hawks and Thrashers), are keeping a lid on the cost of season tickets for the upcoming seasons. In some cases, it is allowing buyers longer than ever to pay for them. 'We are sensitive to our fans and what has gone on with the economy,' said Tracy White, the Spirit's senior vice president of sales and marketing. Hawks prices edged up slightly less than one percent, with most of the bump attributed to the VIP section, according to White. The tab for Thrashers followers has stayed flat or decreased by up to 35 percent, he indicated. The TMR fan index listed the Hawks with the 12th highest average ticket among NBA teams last season, the first time since 2001-02 in which the average ticket price league-wide declined. The Thrashers were 14th in the NHL."

  • Andrew Astleford of The Times-Picayune: "On Tuesday, the Hornets announced the introduction of variable pricing for the 2010-11 season to better reflect each game's worth. Yet-to-be-determined prices will be assigned to games based on value and demand, influenced by factors such as an opponent's quality and the day of the week the game is played. Each game will fall into one of five pricing categories: marquee, premium, classic, value and preseason. 'The concept is recognizing the fact that not all games are created equal,' vice president of marketing Matt Biggers said. 'We play games on all different days of the week, against all different kinds of opponents during different times of the year. There are games where the demand isn't as high as other games. For us, it's about pricing more in line with what the demand is. For games that have high demand, we can price those appropriately.' Variable pricing has positives. Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports business consulting firm SportsCorp, said fans play a much greater role in determining the value of a ticket. He said the approach is an effective way for teams to market games during scenarios when the full-season pricing strategy is less successful, such as midweek games against low-profile opponents. There also are negatives. Ganis said owners might find marquee games to be subsidizing more of the lesser ones. In addition, teams might learn the market value for prime seats to be lower than expected. In that case, Ganis said, teams would have to sell harder."