First Cup: Friday

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Kobe Bryant insisted on giving some of the team's playoff bonus to two members of the Lakers' video department whose contracts were not renewed after the season. Chris Bodaken and Patrick O'Keefe split about $65,000 of the Lakers' playoff bonus. Bodaken started with the Lakers as a ball boy in 1986 and spent the last 10 seasons as their director of video services. O'Keefe was the Lakers' video coordinator for six seasons. They both hope to be re-hired by the team when the NBA lockout ends. For now, they are thankful for Bryant's financial gesture. ... Last spring the Lakers' playoff pool was $604,000. ... Lakers reserve forward Luke Walton took an extra step after the season by providing individual financial gifts to members of the training staff. ... Only one of the Lakers training staff has found work with another NBA team. Alex McKechnie recently signed a three-year deal to be the Toronto Raptors' director of sports science."

  • Matt Calkins of The Columbian: "Eight years after playing his final game as a Trail Blazer, and five days after his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Arvydas 'Sabas' Sabonis returned to Rip City to be honored in front of his still-rabid fans. They chanted 'Sa-bas!' They donned his jersey. One devotee pithily captured the atmosphere when he bellowed 'Sabasfaction!' True, Sabonis is by no means the greatest Blazer of all time. However, given his international resume before he trekked over the NBA, he may be the greatest player to wear a Blazers jersey. Injuries deprived of him of the athleticism that facilitated his Hall of Fame career, but fans in one of the world’s sharpest basketball cities still marveled at the skill set that made Sabas a legend."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Miles Rawls initially thought of the idea in April, offered a challenge shortly thereafter, exchanged some cross-country trash talk for several weeks, then finally got serious once an NBA superstar got on board. In a matter of weeks, all of the pieces fell into place, the logistical hurdles were overcome and some players reached into their own pockets to make it happen. Suddenly, a contest that was simply meant to replace his usual summer charity event became the most anticipated basketball game since the league decided to lock out its players in June. So, when the local Goodman League hosts the Los Angeles-based Drew League in a friendly exhibition to settle which is the best pro-am in the country on Saturday at Trinity University in the District, fans will marvel at seeing Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden going one-on-one, Wizards point guard John Wall teaming up with former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins and Wizards center JaVale McGee providing highlight dunks for a team from the opposite side of the country. Rawls, however, will revel in how it all came together. And, how it could possibly lead to more of the same elsewhere. 'I’m pumped. To be honest with you, I’m more than excited; I’m ecstatic,' Rawls, the longtime commissioner of the Goodman League, said in a telephone interview. 'The game is a long time coming. I didn’t think it was going to happen at first, but it’s here.' "

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: "The Raptors have lost another player, but this one will come back if the NBA season gets played. Guard Leandro Barbosa has signed with Brazilian club Flamengo. Barbosa’s deal has an NBA out that will be activated whenever the lockout ends. Swingman Sonny Weems has already signed to play in Lithuania for the entire season, with no lockout provision. 'I'm delighted to play in Brazil after so much time, 'cause Brazilian basketball improved a lot in recent years,' Barbosa said. 'I had proposals from China, Turkey and other countries. But I was sure I'd be happy here.' Barbosa had considered opting out the final year of his contract with the Raptors to sign a longer deal in his native country, but was not able to find anything close to the $7.6 million U.S. guaranteed the Raptors still owe him for 2011-12."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "It’s got to be a strange thing to be Matt Herring today. On the one hand, you’ve just landed a plum job as the strength and conditioning coach of the Spurs. On the other, there are no players around to strengthen or condition, and won’t be until the NBA’s labor morass mercifully ends. At this point, we can only imagine what Herring’s typical day at work might entail. We half envision him spending his afternoons leading Gregg Popovich in suicide sprints up The Hill behind the Spurs’ vacant practice facility. Herring might not arrive in San Antonio with players to coach, but he does arrive with goals. One of them: He hopes to help Tim Duncan add years to the tail end of his career. 'You can have a positive impact on a guy like Tim Duncan and helping him get three, four, five more years out of his career and end on his terms,’ Herring, formerly of the University of Florida, tells GatorZone.com. If Herring can really help Duncan discover the Fountain of Youth, it would make him the Spurs’ most important addition since perhaps Duncan himself. At age 35, Duncan is clearly slowing down. ... Duncan will never be the MVP Duncan again. But, with Herring’s help, there’s no reason he can’t at least join the League of Late 30s Big Men. That’s the goal, anyway. With little else to do these days, Herring will have plenty of time to dream it. After that, he can get started on adding years to Manu Ginobili."

  • Chad Finn of The Boston Globe: "The time a basketball fan spends watching NBA TV these days depends largely upon his or her taste for nostalgia. For the old-schoolers who fondly remember what the sport was like before narcissistic superstars conspired to form so-called dream teams, the network currently offers a lineup of enjoyable retro programming. ... 'One of NBA TV’s goals is to give fans the opportunity to experience the deep history of the game, allowing our fan base to relive great moments in history,’ said Christina Miller, senior vice president and general manager of NBA Digital, which includes NBA TV. The catch, however, is that NBA TV’s current version of league history has a glaring gap: Because of the ongoing lockout, active players are not shown on the network. That also applies to NBA.com and team websites, which removed all highlights and head shots of current players when the lockout was implemented July 1."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "The D-Fenders are back and again under Buss family rule, and their new coach is actually a pretty interesting one: Eric Musselman. It’s not hard to imagine Musselman, who went 75-89 in two years as Golden State Warriors head coach, eventually re-establishing himself as a quality NBA coach. 'He has vast experiences in both the NBA and NBA Development League and will be a great addition to our franchise,' said Joey Buss, D-Fenders president. ... The D-Fenders are returning to their role as the Lakers’ minor-league affiliate of the NBA Development League after a one-year hiatus."

  • Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee: "How about an extra 50 cents slathered on that hot dog? Or another buck to top off that beer? Surcharges on everything from food to tickets could raise as much as $20 million a year toward construction of a new Sacramento sports arena, Mayor Kevin Johnson's task force said Thursday. Surcharges are common in arena finance – and could raise more than half the funds needed for the $387 million facility at the downtown railyard. But sports-marketing experts say the proposal risks alienating customers. 'Fans feel like they're being nickeled and dimed,' said David Carter of the University of Southern California. Still, the task force believes surcharges, or user fees, will have to bear much of the burden if a new arena is going to get built. A completed financial package must be in place by next spring or the Kings will leave town, team officials have said."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "New Orleans Hornets Coach Monty Williams and his assistants attended the Saints practice Thursday at the team's indoor facility. Saints Coach Sean Payton spoke to Williams intermittingly between drills. Afterward, Williams said he was impressed by what he saw from quarterback Drew Brees. 'He doesn’t take any time off, and everything he does is serious,’ Williams said. 'I watched all of his passes and everything was on point. That’s just amazing.’ When speaking to Payton, Williams said they mostly talked about their kids. Williams brought his 3-year-old son with him to practice. 'A couple of times, it was easy to see there were four or five people over there that were 6-foot-7 or above,' Payton said. 'It's good to have them out, and it's good to see him. They are going through a similar situation to what we just went through, which is ironic. They had a great year.' "

  • Staff of The Detroit News: "Scotty Robertson, the Pistons coach when the team drafted Isiah Thomas and the man who preceded Chuck Daly on the bench, died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He also suffered a stroke last year. He was 81. Robertson spent much of his coaching career in Louisiana — including 12 years in high school, a decade with Louisiana Tech and a brief stint as the first coach of the NBA's New Orleans Jazz. ... 'He was great for us, Kelly (Tripucka) and I in particular,' said former Piston guard Isiah Thomas, currently the head coach at FIU. 'He taught us a lot on and off the court. He was an old-school coach who cared about players. He'll be missed.' "