First Cup: Friday

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Call me a cynic -- and David Kahn has, more than once -- but you can probably handicap this Timberwolves' coaching search simply by using one criteria: $$$ If they're willing to pay $4-5 million a year, the pick clearly seems to be former Houston coach Rick Adelman, a candidate who meets all of Kahn's criteria for style of play, winning track record and the unspoken but important Kevin Love Factor. If their ceiling is $3 million -- plus bonuses -- it's Don Nelson. Working down from there, in the $2 million range and in descending order, your picks are Mike Woodson, Bernie Bickerstaff (and Son) and then Terry Porter. What did it mean that Adelman spoke to Kahn by phone about the job but decided not to come to interview in person last weekend? Well, there could be all kinds of factors. ... But after talking with a few people who know Adelman and who know the Wolves' search, it may be as simple as dollars."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Bucks guard Keyon Dooling is nearing agreement on a contract with Efes Istanbul, the Turkish team which recently signed New Jersey Nets guard Sasha Vujacic. Kenge Stevenson, the Dallas-based agent for Dooling, said progress is being made and a deal with Efes could be completed in the next few days. Dooling is the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association and has been active in the process to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. League owners imposed a lockout on July 1 when the previous CBA expired, and no real progress has been made since then. Stevenson said Dooling would expect to play in Turkey next season even if the lockout ends and any opt-out clause would be for legal purposes. The veteran has one year and $2 million remaining on his contract with the Bucks, but Stevenson indicated he thought an agreement could be reached to allow Dooling to play in Europe in the event the lockout was settled."

  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "Had he remained in Italy, Kobe Bryant may very well have been honing his footwork on the pitch instead of the hardwood. He'll have a chance to do that Sunday when he appears in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge at Kastles Stadium in Washington D.C., an event sponsored by former U.S. women'ssoccer player Mia Hamm and her husband, ex-Dodger Nomar Garciaparra. But incidentally enough, Bryant may not have been making a token appearance on the soccer field had he seriously kept up with the sport. Sure, it's easy to imagine the uber competitive and athletic Bryant dazzling fans wearing an A.C. Milan uniform (his favorite childhood team) or an FC Barcelona jersey (his current favorite team). Bryant, however, sensed his skills kicking a soccer ball nowhere matched what he could do with a basketball, a sport he got serious about once his family moved to Philadelphia in 1991. ... Bryant's 15-year NBA career has mostly entailed his relentless drive kicking in in the fourth quarter, a sign of superior conditioning. Most important, Bryant's pure albeit obsessive love for the game traces back to those young days on the pitch."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is training again with former NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon and says he's working on shooting more and on raising his notoriously poor free-throw shooting to above 75 percent. In messages back and forth with some of his Twitter followers, Howard said he's in Houston working with Olajuwon for the second consecutive summer. Asked whether he's working on his outside touch, Howard responded that he is working on becoming 'more complete' as a player. ... Howard spent a couple of days last summer working with Olajuwon, and Howard has said the sessions made him more confident and made him more willing to try new things in games. In the season that followed, Howard unveiled a more diversified low-post arsenal that included some effective midrange bank shots."

  • Mike Tokito ofThe Oregonian: "Arvydas Sabonis is coming back to Portland. The Lithuanian center, who was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will swing through Portland after his induction ceremony. The Trail Blazers, for whom he played seven seasons starting 1995, announced they will hold a celebration for him at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Sabonis will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as selection by the international committee. The ceremony will be held Friday, Aug. 12 in Springfield, Mass. Sabonis was 31 when he first played for the Blazers, but he became a big fan favorite as he displayed passing skills and shooting range that belied his 7-foot-3 size. Last year, he was ranked No. 20 on the all-time 'Blazers Top 40' list compiled by The Oregonian."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Tom Thibodeau underwent partial right knee replacement surgery on July 13 to fix a painful arthritic condition dating to an injury from his playing days at Salem (Mass.) State. Thibodeau tore cartilage in college and had his meniscus completely removed during the ensuing surgery, leaving bone to basically rub on bone for the last 30 years. Colleagues said the condition began affecting what little sleep Thibodeau bagged last season. Befitting the tough-minded team he led to a league-high 62 victories and Eastern Conference finals berth last season, Thibodeau never discussed the situation, even making light of it on Thursday. 'It's my kicking leg,' he said, in reference to his custom to stand virtually the entire game and occasionally object to calls. Thibodeau, 53, did turn serious when discussing the benefits the surgery will bring. 'I worked out every day in Boston and my previous (NBA) stops,' Thibodeau said. 'I didn't work out last year. It's good to do so again.' Indeed, Thibodeau, who said he's virtually pain-free, has been lifting weights and exercising on an elliptical machine at Berto Center."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Unlike JaJuan Johnson, his former Purdue teammate who could someday play next to him again as a Celtic, E’Twaun Moore was open to playing overseas in lieu of an end to the NBA lockout. But that search had a limit. After signing a one-year, $200,000 contract with Benetton Treviso yesterday that includes an escape clause if the lockout ends, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard and C’s second-round draft pick admitted the flexibility to come back was non-negotiable. 'I probably would have stayed here,' Moore said of what he would have decided if agent Mark Bartelstein hadn’t found a team willing to give him an escape clause. 'I was real fortunate to find this situation. There were some offers on the table. I just wanted one where I could come back and play for the Celtics when it was time. That was very important to me. Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, and (Treviso) respected that.' "

  • Arthur Staple of Newsday: "With about 1,000 construction workers in the building 24 hours a day, Madison Square Garden 's renovation is right on schedule. The arena is in the midst of the first of three summers of a nearly $1-billion transformation. Just three months into the round-the-clock work that began once the Rangers and Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs in April, thousands of new seats already have been installed in the lower bowl. 'We're right where we hoped to be,' said Garden CEO Hank Ratner, who hosted a handful of reporters on a tour of the ongoing construction Thursday. 'The scope of the work is moving along nicely.' By the time the arena reopens in late October, fans will be aware of changes that already have been completed. They include: An expanded Madison (sixth floor) concourse with city views, better concession stands and more restrooms; 20 new event-level suites, all of which either are under contract or about to be, according to Ratner; a Delta Sky360 Club at event level, with views of players exiting and entering the arena from brand-new locker rooms; more open eighth- and 10th-floor concourses with new concessions and direct views into the arena."

  • Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Don't expect the coaching staff to replace assistant coach Quin Snyder (he moved to the Los Angeles Lakers) until early September. There's little reason to move quickly on the hire so expect news of the addition the first week or so of September, which is when the coaching staff reconvenes in advance of training camp's opening. All of this is assuming the current lockout is resolved, which is quite an assumption ... As for the lockout ... the Associated Press is reporting that the first 'real' meeting between the two sides is scheduled for Monday. Since the lockout went into effect on July 1, representatives from the two sides have met, but none of those meetings have included NBA commissioner David Stern and the union's executive director Billy Hunter. Monday's meeting is supposed to include both and be the first real step in negotiating the next collective bargaining agreement. During the league's last work stoppage, 1998, the first real meeting also came in early August. Jrue Holiday is back in California working out. Holiday spent a good chunk of the summer overseas, first on an Adidas tour and then, more recently, in Germany supporting the U.S. Women's National Team. By all accounts, Holiday's doing what he did last summer: spending hours in the gym and working on his speed and explosion."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Many struggle with the transition once the lights fade and fame recedes. Rising from high school ball to the collegiate and professional ranks makes sense — there’s a clear path to follow, goals to achieve and plateaus that allow for rest. But leaving the game can be a hard fall. Power and prestige quickly wane, and few find an immediate soft landing once they jump into the unknown. Matt Harpring is one of the few. Harpring spent 12 seasons in the NBA, wearing a Jazz uniform from 2002-09. He entered the league on his own terms, played in it the same way and walked off the hardwood as soon as the magic was gone. 'I don’t think I ever became that ‘NBA player,’?' Harpring said. 'I always knew that the NBA was a very finite career and I’d be lucky to play 10 years. … By the time I’m 35, that’s still really young to do nothing for the rest of my life.' The opposite of doing nothing? Being Matt Harpring. He just finished a month’s worth of basketball camps in Salt Lake City and Atlanta, instructing children age 7 to 15 on the right way to play the game and the best way to live."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Another prominent NBA figure is heading overseas. However, Karl Malone's upcoming trip has nothing to do with seeking international fortunes during the lockout. The Mailman is going on a USO entertainment tour this summer with 'The Daily Show' host Jon Stewart, popular illusionist David Blaine and Admiral Mike Mullen, the current Joint Chiefs of Staff. For six days, the group will entertain and visit with military personnel in three countries. For security purposes, the USO does not announce the tour's exact itinerary."

  • Joseph D'Hippolito of The New York Times: "Afghanistan has a national men’s basketball team, although it is made up of young Afghan-Americans with modest doses of collegiate experience. The team has a coach, although actually holding a full practice can require a mad scramble that includes cross-country flights. When the practices do occur, he sometimes puts up as many as seven players in his home near Sacramento. 'The difficult part is the sacrifices you have to make playing on a team that has no real structure or funds,' said Nafi Mashriqi, 32, the team captain, who was born in Kandahar and now lives in Queens. The team, though, does have a major victory to its credit: a gold medal won last year in the South Asian Games, the only international title by Afghanistan in any team sport. But perhaps not surprisingly for a club short on history and money, the optimism born of that victory has been imperiled by issues of logistics and organization."