First Cup: Thursday

  • Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic: The sports world delivered the Valley another sucker punch Wednesday and here we sit with a nasty purple and gold shiner. Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers? Are you kidding me? What in the name of Judas, Benedict Arnold and Mata Hari is going on? This is more than the end of an era. It is the end of days. The locusts should be arriving any moment now. C'mon, Goldwater Institute, here's your chance to finally block something meaningful. This is a tough time to be a sports fan in Arizona. The NHL Coyotes are still in danger of leaving town. Their popular captain, Shane Doan, is listening to offers from other teams. The Diamondbacks have yet to meet their high preseason expectations. And now Nash. To the Lakers? When news broke Wednesday that the Valley's most popular athlete would be headed to the Suns' hated rival, and that Suns management played a role in the deal, local sports fans were in disbelief. Just 10 days ago, Nash told a New York radio station that he's "a bit old school" and would find it "hard to put on a Lakers jersey." ... The decision to draft North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall was a smart one. And on Wednesday, news broke that the Suns agreed to a four-year, $30 million deal with a former Sun, free agent point guard Goran Dragic, as well as a three-year, $18 million deal with free agent forward Michael Beasley. It is tough to focus on those stories. Not when the Valley has had its heart broken again.

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: Steve Nash is a Laker and, man, is this going to be fun. Like one of those no-look moves made famous by the man himself, Nash's acquisition Wednesday is stunningly spectacular from a variety of angles. It allows the Lakers to run the sort of chaotic, choreographed offense that can hang with the turbos from Oklahoma City and San Antonio. It takes the pressure off Kobe Bryant during crunch times that are increasingly crunching him. And, oh yes, it gives the Lakers the sort of balanced attack that would be attractive to another potential acquisition who was worried about Bryant's ball hogging. No, Steve Nash can't play defense, but that won't matter so much if his presence leads to the acquisition of Dwight Howard, who must surely see that the Lakers are now his best chance for a ring.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets brought Jeremy Lin back to town for a visit on Wednesday. Getting him to stay in Houston will be considerably more difficult and might have gotten tougher even as they met. The Rockets on Wednesday made Lin an offer similar in total value to the contractGoran Dragic turned down. But Lin is a restricted free agent — giving the Knicks the opportunity to match any offer he receives — and New York received extra motivation to hang on to Lin while he met with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale. Steve Nash, the veteran guard the Knicks had targeted, agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that will send him to the Lakers in exchange for a pair of first-round and pair of second-round picks. Nash, who was also considering the Raptors, Mavericks and Knicks, will receive a three-year, $27 million contract and a chance to play for a contender a short flight from his family in Phoenix. The Knicks received more reasons to keep Lin. The Rockets will try to make that difficult.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks are hard at work to get a deal done that will keep Jason Kidd in Dallas, a source close to the situation said. Kidd finished a three-year deal worth $25 million after this past season and is an unrestricted free agent. There had been speculation that he would follow Deron Williams wherever he ended up. But when Williams chose the Brooklyn Nets over the Mavericks, that apparently nixed the idea of Kidd joining him in a package deal. Kidd has made it clear that he hopes to take on a different role as he prepares for his 19th season in the NBA, one that will take him beyond his 40th birthday. He is hoping to become about a 25-minute player per game with the emphasis on closing games, not starting them.

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: The Raptors and general manager Bryan Colangelo put everything they had into convincing Nash to come home to Canada -- offering a ton of money, sending a contingent to New York City and showing him an inspirational video -- but in the end, it was not to be. Now, the Raptors remain as irrelevant as ever, scorned by a native son. This will not play well, so Colangelo must move quickly. At this point, he has an excellent head coach, some intriguing young pieces, led by 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas, the ultra-enigmatic Andrea Bargnani and cap space. Not exactly the stuff contenders are made of, meaning Colangelo is going to be very busy if he intends to earn a contract extension and get the Raptors back into the East's playoff mix.

  • Al Iannazzone of Newsday: The Knicks, who tried to execute a sign-and-trade for Nash Wednesday, are expected to up their pursuit of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton . A league source said Wednesday night that Kidd to the Knicks still was a possibility, but a report from Dallas said the Mavericks were closing in on a deal to re-sign him after losing out on Nash and Deron Williams . A source close to Kidd, however, said he hadn't decided yet. Felton would like to reconnect with the Knicks, but the veteran point guard is receiving interest from several teams and is scheduled to meet with Nash's old team, the Suns, on Thursday. Unless the Knicks can do a sign-and-trade --a source close to Felton said that's what it might take to get him -- they might be able to offer only the $3.09-million mini-midlevel exception. It's possible, though not likely, that they will have the full $5-million midlevel, depending on what other moves they make. This also should cement matching all offers for restricted free agent Jeremy Lin . He is expected to receive one from the Rockets, who met with him Wednesday in Houston. The Raptors also could give Lin a back-loaded offer for four years and more than $36 million.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Magic plan to interview Michael Malone, Brian Shaw, Quin Snyder and Jacque Vaughn for their head-coaching vacancy, the Orlando Sentinel has learned from league sources. Although it's unclear whether additional candidates are on the list or will be added to the list, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan likely will conduct first-round interviews with Malone, Shaw, Snyder and Vaughn over the next seven days. ... Although WKMG has reported that San Antonio Spurs lead assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks are the frontrunners to fill the Magic's vacancy, they are not expected to receive interviews, the Sentinel has learned. Hennigan would like to have a coach in place by the end of July.

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: The Oklahoma City Thunder has agreed with former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet on a two-year contract. The deal cannot officially be signed until the league's free agent moratorium period is lifted on July 11. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately known, but the contract, which will be fully guaranteed for both seasons, is believed to be a minimal salary, or roughly $880,000 in the first year of the contract. … What the Thunder is doing in bringing in Thabeet, 25, is taking a flyer on a one-time promising prospect without paying him much and hoping he can develop into the player he once was capable of being. If he does, the Thunder gets a steal. If not, the team will not have lost anything.