First Cup: Monday

  • Shemar Woods of The Washington Post: "In addition to attending Saturday’s Manchester United and F.C. Barcelona exhibition on Saturday as an ambassador for Turkish Airlines, Kobe Bryant was expected to meet with executives from Besiktas this weekend in the nation’s capital to discuss playing overseas for the Turkish team during the NBA lockout. According to the Los Angeles Lakers star, the meeting never happened. No deal. 'To be honest with you, that’s the first time I’m hearing those things. So, I’ll let you decipher what that means, but a lot of that stuff is news to me.' Bryant said during a news conference on Sunday. 'I haven’t spoken to them in weeks.' Bryant didn’t, however, count out suiting up for any team overseas while the NBA owners and players — scheduled to meet on Monday in New York for the first time in the month-old lockout — attempt to reach an agreement. 'I’m just waiting on my phone to ring,' Bryant said. 'Here it is. I’ll play anywhere. I grew up overseas, so I’m comfortable being overseas. So if [a team] wants to pick up the phone and give me a call and wants me to come and play, I’ll definitely listen.' Bryant said he felt healthier than he did last season after undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy on his ailing right knee earlier this month in Germany, where he had his blood taken, spun in a centrifuge and injected around the point of injury for natural healing."

  • Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The nationwide disdain directed toward the Miami Heat as they lost the NBA Finals led to a steep decline in the endorsement potential of their biggest stars. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have fallen out of the top 10 most marketable NBA players since the Finals, according to a Nieslen/E-Poll. Dirk Nowitzki, who led the Dallas Mavericks to the championship to the delight of most fans outside of South Florida, ascended to the title of most marketable man in basketball with an N-Score of 132. The N-Score measures name and image awareness, appeal and personality attributes such as sincerity, approachability, experience and influence, both at the national and local levels. James’ N-Score plummeted from 131 to 26, while Wade’s dropped from 117 to 34."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The day before the draft, Sports Illustrated reported that the Thunder had given Reggie Jackson a promise, citing speculation among numerous league executives. Other rumors had Jackson linked toMiami, which owned the 31st overall pick in the second round. It was never clear whether the Heat promised Jackson and triggered the Thunder to snatch him up earlier, whether the Thunder promised Jackson and stuck to its guns or whether it was all hogwash. The man himself says it was the latter. 'The speculation helped me, I guess, in getting drafted where I was,' Jackson said in a telephone interview. ... The part where conspiracy theorists feast is when Jackson shut down all private workouts and interviews shortly after a workout in Oklahoma City. Jackson pulled the plug on his other stops because of a knee injury, leading many to think it was simply a smokescreen. But Jackson swears it was legitimate. 'After a workout for Oklahoma City, I came back and played pickup at my school,' Jackson said. 'My knee, normally I could feel it tweaking, but it always got better. But it got worse. I went to the doctor and found out I couldn't go for about a month. I was supposed to come back. I tried to and I just couldn't compete, so I had to shut it down. That's about it. I was supposed to have workouts for other teams, but I honestly couldn't go. And that was that.' "

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "The sides are scheduled to talk Monday for the first time since the lockout began July 1, but it is expected to be a feeling-out session. In other words, they will reemphasize how far apart they are, and agree to meet again later in August. It is believed by some that many owners are content to cancel the season as a means of completely restructuring the NBA’s financial model. Agents are concerned that owners are relishing the opportunity to bring players to their figurative knees with missed paychecks. Players are not paid during the offseason and checks begin arriving on Nov. 15. 'I can only go by people’s actions,’ agent Mark Bartelstein said. 'And if you see the way there hasn’t been any negotiations with the Players Association, there’s no reason to believe [the owners] really want to get a deal done. They have taken a very, very [stagnant] position and they have kind of stayed there. So based on that, it’s hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.’ "

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "What Derek Fisher, who turns 37 next week, is doing now off the court will go down as one of the final chapters in a wholly unexpected NBA career. Too many other people live their lives trying to avoid responsibility. They prefer to exist instead of impress ... as we too often see, actually, in NBA players not living up rightly to their guaranteed contracts. Fisher must serve those losers now, though he also represents the workers and the winners, too. It's a tough job. But someone wants to do it. And someone can do it. He's a role player like most of them. He's revered as Kobe's five-time-champion brother by the superstars. We always focus on whether the big shot is made or missed – and in this case it's all about getting a deal done – but there's something to be said for being the guy who earns the trust. Fisher has, again, made himself more important than anyone could've ever fathomed."

  • David Williams of The Commercial-Appeal: "The NFL is back, and without a single kick, pass, punt or neutral zone infraction being missed to the lockout. Can the NBA and its players resolve their labor issues so efficiently and save the full 2011-12 season? For answers to that and other questions on the subject, we turn to our Grizzlies beat reporter, Ronald Tillery. Q: The two sides are meeting Monday -- the first time in the month-old lockout that talks will include such heavies as Commissioner David Stern, union executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher of the Lakers. Should we have high expectations? Or is this just an early step in what could be a long slog? A: I would table any expectations. The NBA is in its natural slow period. The only news that happens is a sexy free-agent signing when things are normal. So this meeting is an early step in a long slog. Remember, the NFL didn't get serious until there was a real threat to miss games. I expect the same game plan to unfold with NBA talks. There won't be serious negotiations/ movement until the fall when training camp is in danger. The two sides meeting Monday will mean little to nothing."

  • Lacy J. Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Despite the NBA lockout, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies will go on as scheduled. '‘We have been declared a ‘safe zone’ in terms of current players interacting with NBA team managers,' Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva said. ‘We’re a separate entity from the NBA anyway. Our program is to always honor basketball at every level and the individuals who make it great.' ... Doleva added that former Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter, severely hampered after a stroke in 2009, has said he will attend. The three-day ceremonies in Springfield, Mass., will start Aug. 11, and three members of the Class of 2011 have ties with the Bulls: former players Dennis Rodman and Artis Gilmore and Winter. Also, former Bulls publicist Brian McIntyre will receive the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, and former Bulls play-by-play announcer Jim Durham will receive the Curt Gowdy Media Award. A delegation from Bulls management will attend."

  • Brian T. Smith The Salt Lake Tribune: "Matthew Parlow, a Marquette University associate professor of law, said Nick Harris’ list is 'interesting.' But Parlow also believes that the numbers are somewhat skewed. 'Different leagues ... and their attendant teams have vastly different expenses, costs, revenue sharing arrangements, etc.,' said Parlow, who is associated with Marquette’s National Sports Law Institute. Parlow found Harris’ list useful, though, when examining the small market versus big market battle, which is a major component of the NBA lockout. According to Harris, the Jazz outspent San Antonio ($4 million per average player) and Sacramento ($2.9 million) last season, despite all three teams playing in similar-sized markets. Utah fell apart during the second half of the year, though, setting an NBA record for futility. Meanwhile, the Kings were never in contention. In contrast, San Antonio ended the regular season with the second-best record (61-21) in the league. To Parlow, the Spurs’ success and the Jazz’s solid track record lend credence to the theory that smart management and a well-constructed team can overcome the financial drawbacks of a small market — an assertion often made by the NBPA during the buildup toward the lockout. 'The Jazz have had strong ownership and management — likely a major contributing factor in their success — while the Kings’ ownership and management [have] been awfully questionable in recent years,' Parlow said."

  • Amy Donaldson of the Deseret News: "I am hoping that instead of searching for overseas opportunities, NBA players will look to invest real time, real sweat and real emotion in the communities where they live and play. Instead of taking off to a foreign country to make an extra couple million dollars, stay home and invest some of the millions you have already earned on the communities who made that life of luxury possible. Need ideas? I have a list: 1. Run free clinics for organizations, schools and neighborhoods that can't afford them otherwise. ... 2. Instead of a token few hours or days, spend some real time working with the homeless, jobless and hungry. ... 3. Lend their influence and support to animal shelters and animal rescue organizations. ... 4. Host some meet-and-greets that raise money for causes that are near and dear to their hearts. ... 5. Help other athletes who compete in lesser-known and less financially blessed sports to accomplish their dreams. ... 6. Put some elbow grease into making the world a better place. ... NBA players, please show the fans something different. Instead of a lost season, the public would come to see 2011-2012 as the year the NBA players gave the fans something more lasting than great entertainment."

  • Marcos Breton of The Sacramento Bee: "The onus remains on Sacramento to figure out how to marshal a variety of revenue streams to pay for a $387 million arena in the downtown railyard. A big piece of the financing puzzle will be getting the Maloofs and the NBA to make an Anaheim-type deal in Sacramento. The Anaheim venue contract needs to be a template. Along with the sizable lease payment, the Maloofs would have become Samueli's tenants. The importance of the Maloofs accepting such a role in Sacramento cannot be underestimated. It would allow Sacramento to secure a private operator to run and help finance an arena here. The city is currently in talks with AEG, the company that runs the Staples Center in Los Angeles and other notable facilities. Frankly, finding a private operator is the whole ballgame in Sacramento."