First Cup: Wednesday

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
5:11
AM ET
  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Lee Eddins had hoped he would be able to watch his idol, center Roy Hibbert, play in person when the Indiana Pacers visit Sacramento, Calif., for a game against the Kings in late November. But Lee, 12, is not expected to live that long. Diagnosed with stage four leukemia six months ago, Lee has been told he might only have a couple of weeks left to live. So Hibbert has planned a special surprise. Later this week, he is flying to Sacramento to meet Lee. ... Lee has spent his entire young life in California. Hibbert grew up in the Washington D.C. area before joining the Pacers out of Georgetown in 2008. So where did Lee's admiration for Hibbert come from? "Lee's followed Roy since he was back at Georgetown," Eddins legal guardian Victor Baker said. "Lee likes players from all over the NBA, but there's something about Roy that he liked. I didn't even know he had heard of Roy Hibbert before." Now Lee will get to meet the 7-footer, and for at least several hours, perhaps focus on something other than the ordeal he's been enduring the past few months.
  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: Part of the reason [Dennis] Lindsey removed himself from search processes for past GM jobs was because he didn’t want to settle or sell himself short. Now, Lindsey has everything from a devoted fanbase that regularly packs EnergySolutions Arena to the Miller family’s vow it’ll spend what’s necessary to keep the Jazz competitive in the ever-changing NBA. Lindsey plans to embrace new-world statistics and analytical research, while building on the foundation laid by key longtime Jazz personnel such as Dave Fredman, Walt Perrin, Richard Smith and Scott Layden. O’Connor had long eyed Lindsey and talks between the sides began three weeks ago. He was sold on the ex-Spur after placing a call to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. O’Connor asked the man who bounced Utah from the 2012 playoffs who would run a new NBA organization if Spurs GM R.C. Buford suddenly purchased one. Pop didn’t hesitate, pointing directly at Lindsey.
  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: For months, Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews has lobbied for Kaleb Canales to become the team’s permanent head coach. But that possibility vanished Tuesday, when general manager Neil Olshey hired Dallas Mavericks assistant Terry Stotts instead. “Initially, I was a little shocked,” Matthews said. “I thought Kaleb was definitely going to get that job. But after talking to Neil and hearing his reasons, I’m excited. Coach Stotts brings championship experience and I think that’s huge. That’s somewhere we see ourselves in the near-near future.” Matthews’ sentiment was almost identical to that of his teammates. As news spread from player to player that Olshey had finally ended his extensive coaching search and settled on Stotts, surprise transformed to acceptance before transforming to excitement. Canales will remain on the Blazers’ staff as one of Stotts’ assistants, helping to buffer the transition, and the Blazers’ rebuilding project has a well respected and experienced bench leader. Stotts, 54, brings 18 seasons of coaching experience with him to Portland, including four as an NBA head coach with the Atlanta Hawks (2002-04) and Milwaukee Bucks (2005-07). But it’s his most recent stop, with Dallas, that is generating the biggest buzz among Blazers players. Stotts was a key member of coach Rick Carlisle’s staff during the Mavericks’ run to the 2011 NBA Championship, which featured a first-round Western Conference playoff victory over the Blazers.
  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: In a move the Bulls will announce soon, first-round pick Marquis Teague has signed his rookie contract and will travel from his hometown of Indianapolis to Chicago to begin workouts. "It feels good to finally get it out of the way," Teague said in a phone interview. "I just want to get in the gym and start working out." Teague was the last first-round pick to sign his deal, typically a formality formalities because of slotted contracts depending on draft selection. However, it's standard practice in the NBA for first-round picks to receive 120 percent of the slotted amount. When the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich to a portion of the midlevel exception and Marco Belinelli to the biannual exception, they put themselves in a hard-cap situation of $74.307 million. Thus, negotiations with Teague, the 29th overall pick, focused on a first-year salary of less than 120 percent, sources said. Teague ultimately signed a deal for 100 percent of his slotted salary in the first year, or $857,000, sources said. The following three years are at the 120 percent slotted salary.
  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: Everyone seems to understand this. Even as Yahoo! Sports endorsed Doc Rivers last week to replace Mike Krzyzewski as the coach of USA Basketball, the website acknowledged Popovich should be the first choice. So why not Popovich? His only sin is guilt by association. Popovich was an assistant for two dysfunctional U.S. teams, in 2002 and 2004. Former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, the one who revamped USA Basketball, likely understood an assistant can only do so much. But he never considered Popovich, and there are two explanations: One, Colangelo wanted to start fresh. Or, two, Colangelo couldn’t bring himself to reward a coach who kept beating his old Phoenix franchise in the playoffs. When asked why he opted for Krzyzewski over Popovich, Colangelo came up with another explanation. He told a reporter this: “I think (Popovich) had a bad taste in his mouth regarding his most recent experiences with USA Basketball, some bitterness, and that came out in my conversation with him. He seemed burned out by it. … He just wasn’t as enthusiastic as Mike.” Popovich let it go until the theme began to be repeated. That’s when he famously sent a letter to Colangelo, copying it to NBA officials and others, telling him to cease spreading the perception that he was ever ambivalent about coaching his country’s national team. Popovich wouldn’t talk publicly about that then, and he won’t now. There’s no reason to, either. Nothing he says will change what has happened.
  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: So it's no surprise that things got a little chippy during the United States' 126-97 preliminary round victory on Monday. Still USA forward Carmelo Anthony thinks Argentina forward Facundo Campazzo sank to a new low by hitting him in the groin as he was shooting a three-pointer. "It was definitely a cheap shot," Anthony said. "Something like that, I don't play like that. "If you're going to foul somebody, foul them hard but you don't take a shot like that. Nobody takes a cheap shot like that." We tend to agree with Anthony. For his part, Campazzo said he apologized to USA swingman Kobe Bryant after the game, but he didn't apologize to Anthony because USA guard Chris Paul didn't apologize to him for punching him earlier in the game. OK, but that still doesn't explain why he hit Anthony instead of Paul and why he thought it was OK to apologize to Bryant and not Anthony.
  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: Even if the U.S. men's basketball team cruises to another gold medal, the chronology of the Olympics demands a new dynamic every four years, however predictable the result. In Beijing, the most talented All-Star basketball team in the world deferred to Kobe Bryant in big moments. In London, two new players are emerging as the team's clutch scorers. One is Kevin Durant, the world's most gifted offensive player. One is the ring-wearing version of LeBron James, the world's best basketball player. When Lithuania took a fourth-quarter lead against the U.S. on Saturday, James blew the game open with a three-pointer, a dunk and a spinning shot in the lane. When Argentina hung close at halftime on Monday, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski asked James to "take over the game" in the third quarter, and he did. In fact, James can take over in many ways. Monday, Krzyzewski played him in the post. James has completed 50-foot spinning bounce passes, shot the three-pointer and been a raging bull on the fast break. He may be the U.S. team's best passer, defender, floor-runner and finisher.
  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony may score more. Chris Paul may get more assists. But King James is the undisputed leader of this squad, which continues play with a quarterfinal game vs. Australia on Wednesday (5:15 p.m. Eastern). James is the team’s soundtrack in practices, and on defense, his deep voice alternately breaking up his teammates in laughter and calling out commands. On offense, he is often content to pass the ball to get his teammates going. But for the past two games, against Lithuania and Argentina, you could see him decide when it was time to take over. ... But even on this team of stars, James is the sun. The other players orbit around him. Durant and Paul, while all-stars in their own right, defer to him. Carmelo counts on James to get him the ball. Kobe, while also inherently an alpha male, also recognizes that this time around it is LeBron’s team. And I just don’t see LeBron letting the U.S. lose.
  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: We've heard some silly public backlash on the American men, especially after the Nigeria mega-blowout, questions about why we keep sending the pros over to the Olympics. How come nobody asks about the U.S. women, who have now won four straight Olympic gold medals and 39 consecutive games in the Olympics? The truth is, while international men have made strides toward competing against the U.S. men -- witness the other Dream Team's close call against Lithuania -- the international women's game has lost some ground to the Americans. "I think there's been growth on other teams, but I don't know that it's enough right now,"Auriemma said. "It's like our U.S. men's soccer team; there's been great progress the last 25 years, but -- the big 'but.' The teams have gotten better but they just don't have 12 players who are compatible with us in terms of talent. Their first five and our first five, that could be a great game for 40 minutes. But our next seven against their next seven, that's where the big gap is.''
  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: Question is, can [Kobe] Bryant live without the ball in his hands? Or will they co-op, with [Steve] Nash occasionally serving as the spot-up shooter while Bryant creates? Either way, the LA story is going to be among the bigger ones in the NBA: Can Nash propel Bryant back to the top, over both James and Durant? "I think Steve is going to have a big impact," said former Suns forward Boris Diaw, also playing for France. "Whatever he is doing, wherever he is going, he is always getting his teammates better. He's going to have already very good teammates (in Los Angeles), so it's tough to make them better. But he'll find a way." That's what Nash does, and for his new city it will mark the return of Lakermania. And for Bryant, the timing couldn't be more urgent.
  • Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: Power Balance Pavilion could get renamed yet again – and Sleep Train is one of the candidates. Sleep Train Mattress Centers said Tuesday it's negotiating with the Sacramento Kings for naming rights to the team's arena. The Rocklin-based retailer is one of several companies talking to the Kings about naming rights. Kings co-owner Joe Maloof confirmed the team is in negotiations for a replacement for Power Balance. He said the Kings' marketing staff is handling the talks and he had no information about which companies are in the running. The team declined to comment further. The Kings began looking for a new naming-rights partner after their year-old deal with Power Balance was cut short abruptly. The sports-wristband company left the team high and dry after filing for bankruptcy protection last fall. Power Balance paid the Kings just $700,000 before cutting off payments, according to court records.

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