First Cup: Thursday

  • Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: "The NBA lockout discussion has moved from BRI to CSI. Instead of negotiating the finer points of basketball-related income in a labor agreement that would have paved the way for the start of the NBA season, the breakdown in talks has both the league and the players working feverishly to find evidence to use against one another in court. Recent actions by both NBA commissioner David Stern and the National Basketball Players Association have been touted as legal ploys meant to portray the other as not bargaining in good faith. ... Both sides have shown they excel at pointing out the other's flaws, possibly leaving only a judge to decide which is the lesser evil. Either way, there has been enough spilled DNA to make for a lengthy clean-up, and the list of victims affected by the crime grows longer by the day."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Mark Bartelstein, who represents 36 players including Pistons guard Will Bynum, said the players took the action of filing a 'disclaimer of interest' as a last resort. 'Of course the players didn't want to do this,' Bartelstein said. 'They wanted to get a deal done, they made a ton of concessions, all the way to giving down $300 million a year to the owners.' The players turned down commissioner David Stern's 'take it or leave it' earlier this week, which was followed by lawsuits being filed in California and Minnesota. 'They don't want to miss a season; they don't want to miss 20 games,' Bartelstein said. 'But there comes a point when you do what you have to do. The alternative is to agree to a deal you think is unfair, (so) you do what you have to do.' ... Bartelstein, one of the "seven super agents" who wanted to decertify from the onset, agrees with the notion, and said it's on the owners to change the terms of the deal to save the season. 'It's not a fair deal, it's tremendously one-sided,' Bartelstein said. 'The players want to have the options of where they want to play. It's not just about money; it's about money and control.' "

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Dave Andreychuk has a wise piece of business advice for NBA players who believe they can outlast the NBA owners in this game of collective bargaining chicken: Don't do it. Don't even think about it. You will lose. And you will lose badly. You are the WashingtonGenerals and the owners are the Harlem Globetrotters. 'If players think it's better to sit out the season, let me tell (you), it's not. It's just not,' Andreychuk says. 'In the end, it will be worse.' More than almost anyone, Andreychuk should know. He was the captain of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning that shocked the hockey world by winning the Stanley Cup. One season later, hard-line NHL owners wanted to drastically cut player salaries, restrict movement and make systematic changes to the sport's collective-bargaining agreement. The players protested, negotiations broke down and the season was cancelled. Sound familiar, NBA fans?"

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Although the 2012 NBA All-Star Game is in grave danger because of the league's ongoing labor dispute, employees from the NBA, the city of Orlando and the Orlando Magic are proceeding as if the exhibition will be played as scheduled. Today, regular planning meetings are taking place to prepare for the game, which is scheduled to be played on Feb. 26 at Amway Center, and for the events that surround the game. ... If this season's All-Star Game must be canceled, Orlando instead would host the exhibition at the next available spot in the game-site rotation, which is in 2014. City officials say that the planning they're doing now for the 2012 All-Star Game won't be wasted effort even if the event has to be canceled. They also say that they're not spending any money on their planning efforts beyond their employees' regular salaries. All the planning that's being done would give them a head start for the 2014 game."

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "The Trail Blazers have decided to suspend their search for a new general manager, an NBA source familiar with the team's plans told The Oregonian. The Blazers already had slowed their search in recent weeks, as the NBA and its players dug into intense negotiations designed to salvage the season. And when the players shot down the NBA's most recent offer Monday and elected to dissolve their union, the Blazers decided it was most appropriate to halt their search, in part to protect jobs. After all, the salary of a new GM -- possibly millions of dollars a year -- would be equal to the costs of countless other jobs in the organization. 'To go out and spend a bunch of money on a high-paying GM job doesn't make sense right now,' the source said. 'With what has happened the last week or so, it made a lot of sense to put the search on pause.' The Blazers plan to resume their search when and if a new collective bargaining agreement is signed and the lockout ends. But what about the flurry of free agent and personnel moves the team would have to make after any sudden agreement? "

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "For the Rockets, the potential demolition of the 2011-12 season could change everything. For the bulk of six months, Daryl Morey, Kevin McHale and the rest of the Rockets' front office prepared for the 2011 free-agent period and subsequent season now in jeopardy. If the NBA is to remain in storage until the 2012-13 season while the sides in the labor impasse move to legal proceedings, the Rockets' strategies and roster could be dramatically different than if the NBA opened for business in time to play the 2011-12 season. The biggest change could be the most obvious. The Rockets had planned to start retooling with at least 10 players from last season's roster under contract. If the season is lost, they could choose to have as few as three players - Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry - locked up. The Rockets could opt to start nearly completely over, possibly with two more lottery picks and cap room for two max contract players in what would be the largest free-agent class ever."

  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "Shaquille O'Neal might be the right guy to broker a deal. Not between NBA owners and players but perhaps between James Dolan and Phil Jackson. O’Neal, promoting the release of his new book 'Shaq Uncut,' praised his former coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and even called Dolan 'a fabulous businessman.' Jackson, of course, retired after last season, but it is already being speculated that the Hall of Fame coach will resurface with the Knicks next season. Current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is in the final year of his contract with the club. 'He may come back,' O’Neal said of Jackson, a member of the Knicks’ ’70 and ’73 teams. “Phil says he’s never coming back but he changed my NBA career. His focus and the way he did things and the way he taught us how to do things, he did it on a cool, calm respectable level. Then I went to Miami and we had problems with all the (yelling). I’m like, ‘We just won three out of four with this guy (Jackson) so why would I do it this way?’ That’s why we had problems.' "

  • Staff of the Detroit Free Press: "Another report has surfaced that Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey is being courted by a team in China. A report on sheridanhoops.com echoed an ESPN report from last month that Stuckey will be wooed by the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. Guan Weijia writes: 'Their only American player for now is James Singleton, but the club is contacting Rodney Stuckey and Delonte West, one of whom may come to China, sources told me.' "

  • Bruce Golding, Marc Berman and Dan Mangan of the New York Post: "Former NBA guard Cuttino Mobley sued the Knicks Wednesday in federal court, claiming the team 'saved millions' by sending him to a doctor 'they knew would disqualify him from playing' due to a heart condition soon after trading for him in 2008. Mobley claims the Knicks pulled that stunt to save money in payments toward the NBA's 'luxury tax' for teams with high payrolls, and also to clear 'room under the salary cap in their request to retain the services of other [marquee] players.' 'Mobley's career was effectively ended,' says the disability discrimination suit in Manhattan federal court filed by the retired journeyman guard, who before being signed by the Knicks in 2008 had played for the Los Angeles Clippers, leading them to within a game of the Western Conference Finals in 2006.He also played for the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings. The Knicks strongly denied the claims."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "For years, retired Cavaliers announcer Joe Tait was reluctant to allow anyone to write his memoirs. Everything changed last year when he had a heart valve replaced, which caused him to miss the majority of the 2010-11 Cavs season. 'Lying in a hospital bed for a better part of a year gives you a chance to think over your past,' the 73-year-old Tait said on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. He collaborated with local author and sportswriter Terry Pluto on 'Joe Tait: It's Been a Real Ball.' Published by Gray & Company, the 264-page book retails for $15.95 and recaps Tait's storied Hall of Fame broadcasting career. Both Tait and Pluto were signing copies of their book in the Cavs team shop on Wednesday."