First Cup: Monday

  • Mike Jones of The Washington Times: "Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said last night that -- while he still plans on opting out this summer to sign a max deal -- he is willing to take a pay cut so the team can re-sign Antawn Jamison, who will be an unrestricted free agent. 'Just sign Antawn first, and I'll take the pay cut,' Arenas said. 'That way, we can keep the team intact. I want him to be a done deal first, then I'll go after that.' Arenas has one year left on his $65 million deal, but he previously said he would opt out to sign a six-year deal that would pay roughly $14 million a year. Jamison is making $16.36 million this season."

  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe: "While he didn't enjoy Georgetown's recent loss to Davidson, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did enjoy sitting next to Heat president/coach Pat Riley during the recent NCAA Tournament game in Raleigh, N.C. Riley noted during that game that while he was there scouting caused a big stir, Rivers being there to watch his son, Jeremiah, play for Georgetown caused no concern. I thought it was pretty cool that we got to sit there and watch a college game,' Rivers said yesterday. 'He says, 'I can't believe you're here and nobody said nothing about it.' And I said, 'Well, the difference is we [Celtics] are not playing right now.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Broderick Turner of The Press-Enterprise: "Phil Jackson felt the need to remind Kobe Bryant of what a good teammate he has been all season, because there was tension between Bryant and his teammates during Friday night's loss. 'I just said, 'Hey, just don't destroy the relationship you've built with the players this year,' ' Jackson said. 'He said, 'Naw, it's not going to affect us, what we do. I just had to get out and vent what was irritating me.' Bryant yelled at Jordan Farmer for not passing to him. He yelled at Luke Walton for not calling a timeout late in the game and instead throwing the ball away. 'He was obviously irritated about the game prior to that,' Jackson said."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Shaquille O'Neal has challenged AmarĂ© Stoudemire to average 30 points and 12 rebounds for the final nine games. The rebounding part might be the hardest. Stoudemire is averaging 30.4 points in the past 10 games. 'Sure, as long as we're winning; that's the main thing,' said Stoudemire, who has gone out of his way to credit teammates and exude a team-first approach. O'Neal can handle Stoudemire's acclaim. 'He has it all,' said O'Neal, who often tells reporters that Stoudemire should be offended about not being mentioned in the same group as Orlando center Dwight Howard and Boston forward Kevin Garnett. 'I'm going to make sure y'all know his name.'"

  • Bruce Arthur of the National Post: "There's no easy way to say this, so we'll let Jack Armstrong do it for us. 'I'm probably committing sacrilege by saying this,' says the incisive Raptors broadcaster, 'but I think Chris Paul is the best point guard in the game today.' Yes, this is the basketball nation Steve Nash built, but Armstrong isn't alone in acknowledging that our two-time MVP has been surpassed. Ask Darrick Martin, the newest member of the Toronto Raptors coaching staff, who has seen a lot of point guards in his time. 'He's the best point guard in the league, I think,' says Martin. 'If I had a vote [for the MVP award], I'd vote for him. And I'm the biggest Kobe fan.'"

  • Chris Langrill of the Idaho Statesman: "Basketball player Lance Allred has had a pregame ritual for some time now. 'For years, I've always had a mantra that I say to myself during the national anthem,' Allred said. "And at one point I say, 'I will be the best basketball player that I can be, and I will play in the NBA.' He has had to alter that mantra lately -- because he is in the NBA. ... He has only registered a couple of minutes while appearing in two games, but he knows his role with the Cavaliers is primarily as a practice player. And he's perfectly OK with that. 'If you asked me to do cartwheels for an hour in practice I would do it without a whimper,' he said."