First Cup: Friday

  • Ron Artest says he was going out of his mind watching his teammates scrimmage, so he asked Coach Theus if he could referee. He has reportedly even T-ed up Justin Williams for hanging on the rim after a dunk. Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee has the story: "Ron Artest doesn't really want to be an official, even if the injured Kings small forward has been the one making calls during scrimmages and taking verbal abuse at practices recently. '(His teammates) called me Tim Donaghy,' Artest said, referring to the disgraced former official. 'That was brutal. But you've got to respect the referees.'"

  • Art Thompson III of The Orange County Register reports the Clippers are now in distress mode: "At 12 games under .500, the Clippers have sounded the alarm. 'The approach now is that you're in distress mode,' Coach Mike Dunleavy said Thursday. 'Get the life preservers, throw them out (and) save people. We're trying to save ourselves.'"

  • Gery Woelfel of Racine's Journal Times kills a couple of Bucks' trade rumors: "Let's squelch these two, almost laughable rumors about the Bucks right here and now: 1) They won't acquire Zach Randolph from the New York Knicks. 2) They won't acquire Ron Artest from the Sacramento Kings, either."

  • Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer fills us in on an intriguing trade proposal by a blogger to land Pau Gasol: "There is a passionate Sixers fan named Dean who has proposed for a while in Blogsville to trade Samuel Dalembert, Rodney Carney and a first round pick to Memphis for Pau Gasol and Kyle Lowry. Whether anybody agrees or not with this proposal, let's be honest, it's an interesting suggestion. The salaries would work out and that is a start. While we're not as enamored with Lowry as Dean, the thought of getting Gasol would be intriguing."

  • Tom D'Angelo of The Palm Beach Post reports on "Pookie's" visit with the Army: "Pat Riley knew his star player would need no special introduction to the roomful of veterans and their families. So when the Heat coach turned to Dwyane Wade, the soldiers jumped right in. 'Pookie,' they shouted, picking up on the nickname made famous in Wade's T-Mobile commercial with Charles Barkley. Wade, his teammates and Riley all got a laugh. So, too, did the men and women dressed in Army fatigues. 'We just try to put smiles on their faces ... have fun, talk about stories they want to talk about,' Wade said. Mission accomplished." UPDATE: Wade's hardly the only "Pookie" in the NBA.

  • Willis Reed tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that the Knicks shouldn't give up on Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry: "New York Knicks legend Willis Reed said yesterday it's too early to split the so-far failing Eddy Curry -- Zach Randolph tandem. 'If I had Curry and Zach on my team, I wouldn't give up on them yet,' Reed told The Post after appearing at the NBA Store yesterday to promote the NBA's new partnership with Kia. 'I love Zach. I was happy the Knicks were able to acquire him. I'd walk in the room and say, guys, don't give up on yourselves. Eventually it will come. I would tell them to stop the reading the papers. Eddy is a very talented player and I hope he doesn't get discouraged.'"