First Cup: Wednesday

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
5:12
AM ET
  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: In an attempt to generate more revenue, the NBA is pondering the idea of placing ads on the jerseys of every player from the 30 teams. This transition could create approximately $31.18 million in revenue in TV exposure alone. The NBA Board of Governors will meet next month to discuss the possibility of adding advertising on jerseys. The idea has been met with much support from players and coaches. Meanwhile, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also said it's an idea whose time has come. "I've been trying to tell [the NBA]," Cuban said. "If someone wants to give us $10 million, I'll make it happen." Cuban believes NBA commissioner David Stern can be convinced that putting ads on jerseys is a viable concept for the league. If the amount's enough, David will jump up and down," Cuban said. "He's not going to do it for $200,000 from Power Balance, but if somebody offers us $25 million, it's done."
  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: NBA Commissioner David Stern joked that he was attacked in the US Airways Center lower bowl before Tuesday night's game, making light of the attention brought to his first visit to a Suns home game since he incensed their fans by suspending Amar'e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw during the 2007 playoffs. On Tuesday night, fans greeted him, asked for pictures and thanked him for reaching a collective-bargaining agreement to salvage a shortened season. Stern patted the league's back on the work that the new CBA has done. ... Stern cited the Lakers' trade-deadline moves and Dallas' off-season moves and David West's two-year contract with Indiana as indicators of how high-payroll teams have been affected by how the new CBA will institute a greater luxury-tax penalty in 2013. Stern met with Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver for two hours before the game. Stern was in the Valley for meetings with Adidas. He watched the early parts of the game from a lower-bowl seat before moving to a midcourt suite with a business group. Stern lauded the league's TV ratings, including a 30 percent bump on NBA TV, and said the NBA will take a "robust" look at goaltending rules. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver added that there has been no increase in injuries with a compacted schedule. Stern was critical of the NCAA rule that forces players to declare for the NBA draft by mid-April, cutting the time to get input from NBA evaluators.
  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: Team president Larry Miller said the team has reopened its search for a general manager. Go ahead, get your jokes in. What's the rush, right? It's only been 308 days since Rich Cho was fired. But I have a feeling there is a reason why the search has lingered for nearly a year. I wonder if the Blazers are waiting on Steve Kerr. Kerr was pursued by the Blazers after Cho was fired. But the former Phoenix general manager and current TNT TV analyst said he wanted to spend time with his family, particularly his kids. One of his sons, Nick, has since graduated, and is now playing for the University of San Diego. He has two other teenage children. Has one year been enough for Kerr? Is he the man on the Blazers' radar? Kerr was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Miller, when asked about Kerr, paused, smiled, and then reiterated the franchise stance since Cho was fired: the team will not comment on candidates.
  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant will make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night. The show tapes at 6:30 p.m. and airs at 11 p.m. on KOCO-5 (ABC). This will be Durant's first stop on the major talk-show circuit. “It's new for me,” Durant said. “It should be fun. I'm excited.” Asked if he was nervous about his talk-show debut, Durant smiled and said, “Nah, we're just talkin'.”
  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: Kobe Bryant took his relationship with the Lakers a bit further in the NBA record book. After Bryant's 30 points helped the Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors, 104-101, only Karl Malone with the Utah Jazz has scored more points for one franchise. The Lakers needed Bryant's scoring on a night when their other primary scorer, rising star center Andrew Bynum, was benched for most of the second half after launching a 3-pointer outside the structure of the Lakers' offense. Bynum, 24, then sat apart from the team during ensuing timeouts while the Lakers gathered around Lakers coach Mike Brown. ""He took me out of the game. So I just sat where he put me," Bynum said. Said Brown about Bynum's 3-point attempt: "That's something that I felt could've taken us out of rhythm, and that's why I took him out of the game." Bryant came into the game needing 24 points to match the 29,277 points Michael Jordan scored for the Chicago Bulls. He got there on a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a 65-55 lead — and it happened just after Brown immediately went to reserve Josh McRoberts after Bynum's 3-point miss.
  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: Since Monta Ellis was traded to Milwaukee on March 13, Klay Thompson has averaged 19.7 points (setting personal highs three times), 3.1 assists and 2.2 rebounds. In 38 games as Ellis' backup, Thompson averaged eight points, 1.3 assists and 1.8 rebounds. More important than the rising numbers is Thompson's approach. The laid-back Southern California kid rarely speaks in the Warriors' locker room. Put a future Hall of Fame shooting guard in his presence, however, and Thompson perks right up with questions to spare. He arrived at Oracle Arena hours early for a game this month so he could pick the brain of Boston's Ray Allen. Thompson took notes about how to carry himself off the court, and he has started to change his diet while living alone in an Oakland condo. When Chris Mullin and Rick Barry were in town last week, Thompson learned about Mullin's work ethic and Barry's desire to not have back-to-back poor shooting games.
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: With an assist from the U.S. government, the Spurs have their new backup point guard. Finally. Patrick Mills, an Australian national and former Portland Trail Blazer, was in uniform at last Tuesday against the Suns, his immigration hurdles cleared. Mills, 23, originally signed a two-year deal with the Spurs last week but could not play or practice until he obtained a work visa. That process ended Monday in Mexico City, where Mills spent six days organizing paperwork to get cleared. He met the Spurs in Phoenix later that afternoon. “It was a long wait,” Mills said. “But it will be worth the wait, I think.” Mills played 4:23 of the second half in Tuesday’s 107-100 victory over the Suns. It was his first game action since before Christmas, when he was in the Chinese Basketball Association. Mills’ addition — the fourth new player the Spurs have added since the March 15 trade deadline — fills an immediate need on coach Gregg Popovich’s roster. Regarded as one of the quickest guards in the NBA, the 6-foot Mills could be in line for immediate minutes backing up All-Star point guard Tony Parker.
  • Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: Marreese Speights — unwanted in Philadelphia — flew over and blocked the shot. The Griz offense careened the other way. Tony Allen, naturally, missed one from in close. So Dante Cunningham — unwanted in Charlotte — scored on the put-back. The crowd roared. Roared for two guys who weren’t even Grizzlies at the start of camp. Roared for an ethic, a relentless state of mind. What is it about this franchise anyway? Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. Because there’s a good chance they’ll be needed to fill in for someone tomorrow night. Tuesday, the someone was center Marc Gasol, who showed up with his foot in a boot. Sprained ankle. Out for one game and maybe more of them. It felt like some kind of cruel test. Sure, you Griz can survive without Rudy Gay. And you can hang in there without Zach Randolph, too. But how about Gasol? Let’s see how you manage without him! Answer: Griz 93, Timberwolves 86. “Our team is resilient,” said head coach Lionel Hollins. Yeah, but do they have to keep proving it again and again?
  • Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: From the start of this up-and-down season, the Timberwolves have done a pretty good job of atoning for the past. One after another, the Wolves have ended nasty losing streaks to the likes of Dallas, San Antonio, Portland. But a few remain. And this is one of them. Once again, after a nasty, back-and-forth affair, the Timberwolves lost to Memphis at FedExForum. After Tuesday's 93-86 loss, some of the Wolves cried foul -- or, at least, whispered it -- after the Grizzlies more than doubled the Wolves' production at the free throw line. But the loss had a very familiar feeling. The Grizzlies set the tone and got the calls. Memphis scored 21 points off Wolves turnovers, outscored Minnesota in the paint and was the aggressor in the crucial fourth quarter. The result? The Wolves' sixth consecutive loss here and their 10th in the past 11 trips to Memphis. "I think they shot 28 free throws to our 13," noted Kevin Love, who scored 28 points and had 11 rebounds. "And, you know, without going too far to get fined, you guys saw what happened out there." Yes, it was all right there.
  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: It's time for Monta Ellis to put this team on his shoulders. Mike Dunleavy has been doing it off the bench. Now the time has come for Ellis to take ownership of the team. With 33 points, he did exactly that in a big 108-101 victory against the Hawks. This is why the Bucks got him, to carry them down the stretch and mesh with Jennings - 51 combined points - as he did for the first time since the trade. From the start, Ellis played as if there were no mental hangover from the night before. Because his jump shots had not been falling, he took it straight to the rim. And when Ellis does that, no one in recent team memory, at least as far back as Ray Allen, is as explosive to the hole. Ellis took it right at Hawks, a much more athletic team than the Bucks. Still, the Bucks were separating the Hawks from the ball. Only Marvin Williams, whom the Bucks passed over in the 2005 draft to take Andrew Bogut, was causing damage. The Bucks gave up Bogut so maybe Ellis could shoot them into the playoffs. Against the Hawks, Ellis did what shooters do. He shot himself, and maybe the Bucks, right out of a slump.
  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks were playing their fourth game in five days — including Sunday’s four-overtime thrilling win over the Jazz — and Drew was concerned how his team would respond. “There are just some guys where fatigue has started to settle in a little bit,” Drew said before the game. “We are just in a stretch of the season where we’ve played a lot of games — certainly three in three nights and the way those games panned out it put a little tear on us. But this is the NBA. Other teams have to go through similar situations — maybe not four overtimes. We’ve just got to gut it up.”
  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: The 76ers are turning more to Sam Young. Young, a forward the Sixers acquired March 15 from the Grizzlies, has been bringing hard-nosed play the Sixers are looking for since he entered the NBA from Pitt three years ago. Young had the best of his five games as a Sixer in Sunday’s road loss to the Spurs. With Andre Iguodala out due to left knee tendinitis, Young finished with eight points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes. Iguodala missed Tuesday’s home date with the Cavaliers, which meant another expanded role for Young. “He brought a physical presence,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “He drove that ball to the basket, dunked a couple of times. I thought he played well. “We’re going to need him because he’s tough and we need toughness. He’s tough. It’ll be interesting to see how we continue to get him into the mix.” Collins cited Young as the only Sixer who “threw himself into the pile and wasn’t concerned about (himself)” Sunday.
  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: It was bound to happen. Kyrie Irving wasn’t going to cross-over dribble and spin-move his way through every lane from Boston to Portland. In the past few games opponents are starting to clog the key and force Irving and his Cavaliers teammates to beat them from the perimeter. The athletic Sixers did a masterful job of it Tuesday night in a 103-85 victory in the Wells Fargo Center. Irving finished 4-of-13 from the field for 12 points to go along with seven assists and five turnovers. He has averaged 13.6 points in the past three games, all losses, all contests in which the club failed to score more than 85 points. Philadelphia turned the lane into a no-fly zone for Irving. “I don’t think I had one uncontested layup tonight ... ,” said Irving, who's averaging 18.6 points. “The last three games have been tough to find my rhythm. Teams are giving me different looks every game, too ... I have played a few games in the league now, so teams have enough film on me to know my strengths and weaknesses.” Now, it’s up to Irving and the coaching staff to find ways to counter it.
  • Marc Engel Fort Worth Star-Telegram: On Thursday, Mark Cuban and the Mavs will return to play the Heat in South Beach for the first time since they won the title there last June. Cuban said he has no special plans to wear his NBA championship ring for that game, which he says he actually never wears but rather keeps at home on a chain with a pair of dog tags that have his son's names. When the Mavs played the Heat in Miami during the regular season after that 2006 series, he said, he used to really hear it from the fans. Since the Mavs returned the rather large favor of pain to the Heat masses, Cuban said he has no special plans to do anything out of the ordinary for Thursday night's game. "When I walk in it will be fun and when I hear from all of their fans it will make it more interesting," Cuban said. "I didn't like all the smack the fans would talk. If I didn't like it, it's not right to return volley. I did think about wearing my (ring) down there, but, no. I'd become one of those people."
  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Rookie guard Courtney Fortson went from happy just to get a 10-day shot to being needed for more than such short-term opportunities. A day after his 10-day contract expired with Monday’s game, Fortson signed for the rest of the season and another non-guaranteed season, assuring he can go through the Rockets’ offseason program and summer league with a likelihood he can go to camp with the team next season. “It’s a long grind,” said Fortson, who played in five games with the Rockets, after a stint with the Clippers early this season. “All year, was a long, long grind. I continued to grind hard every time I got cut. It finally paid off. I think this is the best thing because now all I have to do is earn my money. For a guy coming from the bottom, from the D-League, I want to earn my money. ”

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