First Cup: Monday

  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "If the Atlanta Spirit wasn’t the worst ownership in the history of professional sports, it at least is in the argument. No sports town wants to be in that argument. I don’t know a thing about Alex Meruelo, other than what I Google and read. Pizza restaurants. Construction. A casino. A television station. Dandy. The guy could have made his fortune selling second-hand nuclear reactors and I’d be cool with it. Alex Meruelo suddenly emerging the top of Atlanta Hawks’ food chain is like popping a few extra strength Tylenol, knowing the headache is bound to get better. I know. He’s not from here. He doesn’t live here. He never has owned a sports team before. He comes with no guarantees. Sorry, there is no such thing as guaranteed perfect owners, any more than there are guaranteed perfect general managers, coaches and point guards. For all we know, Meruelo could be another Levenson (get down on your knees and pray no). Or he could be another Arthur Blank (get down on your knees and pray yes). But wouldn’t you rather take the unknown vs. the known?"

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Reggie Jackson is driving a rental car. He's living in a modest apartment in the Los Angeles area and keeping a close eye on the rent. ... The Oklahoma City Thunder rookie is doing his best to navigate the NBA lockout. Not quite the start to the dream career that the 24th overall pick always envisioned. ... For now, Jackson's existence characterizes the life of an NBA rookie. It's one that just might be professional basketball's ultimate state of limbo as the league's labor dispute stretches into week six. ... To this point, Jackson and his fellow rookies are the only ones who have missed anything of substance on the NBA calendar. Summer leagues in Las Vegas and Orlando were canceled. The annual rookie transition program was postponed. Then there is the money. While most veteran players have had their paychecks suspended, they at least have, or should have, some kind of coin in reserve. Jackson has yet to receive his first pro check at all. Instead of signing his rookie contract last month, Jackson was forced to take out a loan. He says it's a small amount that only keeps him afloat. ... Jackson describes his apartment as a 'nice spot' before adding he got it at a 'nice rate.' His rental is a vehicle he sees as a means to only get from one workout or appointment to the next, not some souped up statement on his social status. 'I really don't care if it's a moped as long as I can get around to where I need to be,' Jackson said. 'So I really don't have a problem with how I'm living right now.' "

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: "Ominous news over the weekend. Multiple NBA sources whispered that there was a contingent of league owners eager to get a collective-bargaining deal signed, and a second, determined to drag the lockout into January or beyond,because they believe the league needs rectify a broken salary system at all costs. I believe this is why we're about to see an even larger wave of overseas signings by NBA players. Patty Mills said he's been in talks with teams from Europe and Australia but hasn't yet come to an agreement. He expects to have some news in the next few weeks. ... Forget whether you're on the owners side or the players side, and just take inventory of the personalities involved with the lockout. Stubborn and vindictive commissioner David Stern and his band of bully owners vs. NBA players union head Billy Hunter and a group of athletes who have always viewed themselves as more important than any of the suits. This isn't going to end soon. Or well. And so it occurs to me on a Blazer-free day such as Saturday that the real winners are the Ducks and Beavers. All eyes there this season. Maybe beyond. Which brings us to the year's most intriguing lab project."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Is Andrew Bynum the league's most intriguing and powerful trade chip? He's considered a top-10 center in a class led by Dwight Howard, but there's currently no more pivotal pivot than Bynum. He might be able to deliver 2012 prospective free agents Howard or Chris Paul or Deron Williams to L.A., compensation to those stars' respective teams and revive Kobe's title plans. Bynum's so valuable to the Lakers that his real value is in leaving them. He has been the subject of past trade rumors, largely because the skilled 7-footer's superstar potential has been hamstrung by injuries. You wouldn't consider Bynum expendable except that the Lakers have another multi-talented big in Pau Gasol, plus Lamar Odom. Besides, L.A. had Bynum, Gasol and Odom and still were swept out of the playoffs by Dallas. L.A. obviously could reset its course with Howard or flourish with another backcourt star, considering Bryant is turning 33 and Derek Fisher 37 this month."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "A year ago, the Heat effectively were done with their roster makeover at this point of the summer. In the three weeks immediately after re-signing Dwyane Wade and adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat were as active as any team in the NBA. And then, on Aug. 3, 2010, the overhaul was over, with the signing of Eddie House. There would not be another roster addition until Oct. 23, and that move, the signing of Jerry Stackhouse, came only because of the preseason thumb injury sustained by Mike Miller. As it was, Stackhouse lasted a mere month. In retrospect, there were legitimate questions about whether the Heat were too hasty in filling out the roster with the likes of Juwan Howard, Jamaal Magloire, Carlos Arroyo, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and extending guaranteed money to Kenny Hasbrouck, Patrick Beverley and Da'Sean Butler, players who never made it to the regular-season active roster. That's what makes this summer so different, and for reasons beyond the lockout. Last summer, the Heat acted in the wake of their whirlwind as if caught in the momentum of their own vortex. This summer there is time, nothing but time. There certainly can be a much more measured approach. There is little doubt there is everything from Plan A to Plan Z on the desk of Pat Riley, no matter how the next collective-bargaining agreement is constructed."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The chances of 36-year-old swingman Anthony Parker returning to the Cavaliers are slim. But he has not ruled out re-signing with the club. He said he doesn't know where the report originated from that he has ruled out the Cavs. 'I have never said that I will not re-sign with the Cavs,' Parker said via email. 'I don't know where Fox Sports Ohio got that information, but it wasn't from me.' Parker will be an unrestricted free agent when the lockout ends. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder spent two seasons with the Cavs. He started 65 of the 72 games in which he played last year and averaged 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. His job was to spread the floor with his perimeter shooting. He shot 37.9 percent from 3-point range last season. The Cavs don't have a starting-quality shooting guard on the roster. Others who can play the position are Manny Harris and Daniel Gibson. ... Parker said he hopes the upcoming season isn't lost. 'With regard to the lockout, we want to avoid missing any part of the NBA season,' he said. 'We are also unified behind Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher in the pursuit of a fair deal.' "

  • Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News: "As Chris Mullin sat in a Danville coffee shop Friday afternoon, he was just one week away from delivering his induction speech at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He hadn't started writing it yet. 'I've only got three minutes, so I think I can handle that,' Mullin said with a smile. 'But I'll prepare a little, because I don't want to embarrass myself or my family.' Mullin, a five-time All-Star with the Warriors and later the team's top basketball executive, actually has given considerable thought to what he intends to say. In essence, it's this: Thank you. 'I'm accepting this for a lot of people,' said Mullin, 48. 'So many people have guided me along the way, both professionally and personally. It doesn't even feel like an individual accomplishment.' The large group that will accompany him to Springfield, Mass., next week is proof. There will be friends from his old Brooklyn neighborhood and St. John's, including college coach Lou Carnesecca, who will introduce him. And the Bay Area will be well-represented by people such as Mark Jackson, his longtime friend and the new Warriors coach."

  • Oscar Robertson for The New York Times: "A great oversight will be rectified Thursday when the Harlem Globetrotters star Reece Tatum — better known as Goose — is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The Globetrotters’ founder, Abe Saperstein, the former stars Meadowlark Lemon and Marques Haynes, and the organization have been in the Hall for some time. But Tatum, the original 'clown prince,' the heart and soul of the team, was not. So last fall, I placed his name in nomination, the committee on African-American pioneers of the game agreed, and he will take his rightful place alongside his colleagues. ... Tatum came to see my Cincinnati team play an N.C.A.A. tournament game in Lawrence, Kan., in 1959, and we took a wild ride afterward in his red Cadillac. That was my last contact with him. He died, apparently of a heart attack, in 1967. I know nothing of Tatum’s personal life, but Haynes once said, 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had nothing on Goose.' He might have perpetuated the longstanding tradition of the tragic clown, but I remember watching him in awe. I couldn’t wait to get to the playground to emulate some of his tricks, knowing that our coaches would never permit them in organized competition. Even now, the mere mention of Goose Tatum makes me smile."