First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: "If Kevin Garnett’s contract was the flashpoint of the 1999 lockout — his $126 million dwarfed the $85 million paid years earlier for the entire Minnesota franchise, thus making it hard for a small-market team like the Timberwolves to put enough help around a star to contend — the salary of a player believed to be a dud is at the heart of this dispute. Owners are sick of paying premiums for damaged goods. Players are putting the onus on the people who signed them to those deals, irrespective of who turned out to be a lousy employee. Nowhere was the impetus for a long labor stoppage more obvious than here in Washington, where what was once thought to be a blockbuster deal — Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis this past December — was in reality one franchise’s lemon traded for another. Only in the NBA can a town be excited by moving a player with three years and $60 million left (Arenas) for another with more than two years remaining on a $118 million deal. Why were the Wizards ecstatic? Because as bad as Lewis’s $19 million-plus deal per year was for a player with declining numbers the past three seasons, at least they only had to have his contract around for two years instead of three. That’s sadly called success before the trading deadline. Beyond finding a more equitable split of income, stale contracts are why the union and the league may not come to terms this fall and perhaps beyond."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Q: Everybody knows Donnie Walsh as a nonstop worker. Do you have any hobbies that will keep you occupied? A: I know it's hard to believe, but I enjoy doing nothing. I think I can do that better than anybody. I read books. I do crossword puzzles. But I don't have a real answer on how this will go because I've never really done it before. ... Q: Will you officially retire once you finish the season with the Knicks? A: I'm never going to say I won't do it anymore, I'm not going to do that. There have been too many people who tell me I'm going to miss it, so I'm going to keep options open. The day I say that's it will be the day I say that's it for real. Like when I left New York, I never said, 'I'll never do this again.' I don't see any reason why you would say (you're retiring). Q: Larry's future as president is murky. Any chance of you returning to the Pacers in some capacity? A: I didn't come back here for that. I don't really want to get involved in it because I brought Larry here, I brought a lot of people here and they have a good opportunity to be successful. I don't want to be in the middle of all that. I haven't talked to anybody about it. I won't talk to anybody about it. They're my friends and I really haven't given that a lot of thought since I'm a consultant for the Knicks for this year."

  • Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: "It has been Bryan Colangelo’s intention to make a major front office move since losing Masai Ujiri to the Denver Nuggets. The question was, who to hire and what title and responsibilities to give him?Colangelo isn’t so much caught up in titles as he is in who does what. If he’s president but no longer general manager in the future, no big deal. If he’s the president and GM and someone else holds another decision-making title, no big deal. His bottom line is finding an experienced NBA executive, someone who might have been a GM elsewhere, someone who might be ready to be a GM somewhere else, someone who can add to a front office that Colangelo believes needs to be enhanced. This is not unlike what Mike Babcock did in Detroit with the Red Wings coaching staff: He wanted to change his staff to hear new ideas and fresh ideas. Colangelo wants to do the same for his front office."

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "In spite of reports to the contrary all over the Internet recently, the Cavaliers have not yet officially discussed retiring former center Zydrunas Ilgauskas' No. 11. While it is certain that will happen at some point in the future - after all, the much-loved Ilgauskas is the team's all-time leader in games played and rebounds, among other things - the team has not decided to do so yet. Because of the lockout, the Cavs cannot comment on the situation now, but at the time of the NBA draft, sources said the subject came up as rookie Kyrie Irving was deciding which number to wear in Cleveland. Irving, the former Duke star who was taken with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft last June, wore No. 1 for the Blue Devils, but Daniel Gibson already wears that number in Cleveland. Irving asked about No. 11 because that number was retired by Boston University in 1988 in honor of his father, Drederick, who was at one time the school's all-time leading scorer. But it was suggested to Irving (who held up a No. 15 jersey during his introductory press conference in Cleveland) that No. 11 could be a number that might eventually be retired by the team. He was told it was so closely tied to Ilgauskas in Cleveland that he might want to select another number that he could make his own. Eventually, Irving decided on No. 2."

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Jazz small forward C.J. Miles is backing up his words. Miles entered the offseason by declaring that this was the most important summer of his career. The Jazz picked up Miles' $3.7 million team option June 29, and the sixth-year player has responded by significantly slimming down through constant workouts. Miles, 24, averaged career highs last year in points (12.8), rebounds (3.3) and minutes (25.2). His production dropped off during April, though, as he struggled with his shot and place on the team under first-year head coach Tyrone Corbin. The 6-foot-6 Miles played with a recorded weight of 232 pounds last season. However, he appears to have lost a considerable amount of weight as he enters what could be his final year under contract with the Jazz. Miles has spent part of his summer running the court with Utah forward Paul Millsap and former Jazz guard Ronnie Price."

  • Tom Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "LeBron James admits to some vanity. Take his receding hairline which he tweeted was the subject of a recent dream. 'Had a dream my hairline was back!,' James tweeted. 'Woke up and went to bathroom, turned on light slowly. Same ol story. Damn! Lol #wishfulthinking.' Of course, James could use some Rogaine to take care of that problem during the lockout. Or he could shave his head and come back with a glowering look once he starts playing basketball again with the Miami Heat. Considering all of the money he has riding on it, the Rogaine would be the best career choice for him. There might even be a commercial in it for him."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "So far, the offseason hasn’t really been much different for Javale McGee since he continues his same workout routine of dunking on random people at an open gym at HAX Athletic Club in Los Angeles, lifting, riding his bike and boxing, as he did last summer. McGee has had the opportunity to travel abroad, with his trip to the Philippines followed by a tour through China earlier this month with his shoe company, Peak. 'It really hasn’t been that bad, because we wouldn’t be in training camp yet, so I feel like if the lockout is still going on when we’re still going to training camp, that’s when we’ll feel it,' he said. McGee sat in for the regional players’ union meeting last week in Los Angeles, where about 70 players showed up to get an update on the labor situation from union head Billy Hunter. Despite the speculation that the lockout could wipe out an entire season, McGee said he feels both sides will reach an agreement. 'I’m optimistic, just for the fact that I don’t think the owners want to lose all that money. Because it’s a lot of money and last year was a great season money wise. I don’t think they want to lose the money of an upcoming season.' "

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Lakers fans have greater fondness for their end-of-the-bench folk heroes because of how often they’ve gotten to see them in blowouts in recent successful seasons, and right up among the leaders is DJ Mbenga. Mbenga was let go by the Lakers before last season — although he picked up two NBA championships before that — and landed a one-year contract with the New Orleans Hornets, although only a little in the Hornets’ first-round series against the Lakers. Mbenga’s downward spiral (not that he was ever that upward) has continued with word of his release from the Belgian national team with little big-time pro talent. Writer Wendell Maxey saw him play Saturday and described his go-to moves as 'turnovers and missed layups.' At age 30, 'Congo Cash' looks like he’s cashed out."

  • Justin Terranova of the New York Post: "Spero Dedes was named the new radio play-by-play man for the Knicks in early August, but an alleged Hamptons’ DWI arrest in the early morning of July 4 put that hire on hold. 'I take full responsibility. It was a 48-hour period where there was a lot of uneasiness,' said Dedes, who will also back up Mike Breen on the MSG Network. 'I’m coming to New York, I’m coming to an organization. These people don’t know me, they don’t know my character and I just felt bad this was my first impression with my new employer. That’s the last thing I want to do,' Dedes said.'One of the reasons I’ve been so lucky to get the opportunities I’ve gotten is because I’ve not made mistakes like that. It’s all on my shoulders.' Dedes, who was raised in Paramus and is a Fordham graduate, is coming to the Knicks after spending six seasons of doing radio play-by-play for the Lakers."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "The Hornets continue to strengthen their base of corporate support, as Chevron agreed Wednesday to become the franchise’s fifth major Crescent City Champions sponsor. Entergy, the lone Fortune 500 company in the metro area, agreed last week to join Cox Communications, 7-UP and Ochsner Health System as Crescent City Champions sponsors. With the new sponsorship deals, Hornets President Hugh Weber said they are $4 million ahead of where they were at the same time last year. It’s the most Crescent City Champions sponsors the Hornets have signed up since the exclusive sponsorship program was established in 2007."