First Cup: Wednesday

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
4:52
AM ET
By nicksilva
ESPN.com
  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: The Sixers’ fan base, which hadn’t been thrilled by the previous offseason moves, seems energized by finally having a player of Andrew Bynum’s caliber. They’ve waited six years since Allen Iverson’s departure. Andre Iguodala is a terrific defender and fine all-around player, but not a legitimate scorer or star. And his on-court sulking and dispassionate responses had become quite tiresome. Next summer, the Sixers can give Bynum a five-year deal worth more than $100 million, which is one year and $20-plus million more than anybody else. If he plays up to his potential and continues to mature, Bynum would be worth every penny. Should it not work out that way, the Sixers could trade Bynum at the February deadline or wait to deal him until after the season in a sign-and-trade scenario. They could also create quite a bit of salary-cap space to use on a free-agent class that’s expected to be strong by allowing him, along with Wright and Young, to leave next summer. In short, the Sixers made the right move by trading for Bynum.
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: The NBA is a follow-the-leader league, so when the Miami Heat captured the Finals with talent, quickness, versatility, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh but without significant size or a dominant post player, several team execs starting philosophically trending toward smaller, quicker, more athletic players. And then the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard. So now what? Couple the Lakers' long and powerful frontcourt of Howard/Pau Gasol with the Gasol brothers' near-upset of Team USA in Sunday's gold-medal game, and just like that, size again matters.
  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: Thanks to their own recent moves, the Warriors have players who theoretically match up with the Lakers super team. Start with Andrew Bogut, a true center who, if fully healthy, can give Howard almost as many headaches as Howard gives everybody else. And Stephen Curry and his point-guard backup Jarrett Jack aren't a terrible matchup against Nash. OK, the Warriors certainly don't have the personnel to counter Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol, but almost nobody does. And the Warriors aren't bankrupt at those spots -- they can toss David Lee, Carl Landry, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green at Gasol, and Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush and Harrison Barnes at Kobe. I am in no way saying that the Warriors will ever be a super team with this roster. But they start off with a fighting chance against all rosters, even the super rosters.
  • Kyle Veazey of The Commercial-Appeal: As much as one-third of the Grizzlies could be owned by local partners as part of prospective owner Robert Pera's bid to buy the team, sources close to Pera told The Commercial Appeal. Pera's associates insist that the 34-year-old CEO of Ubiquiti Networks isn't pushing for local partners because he needs to, but because he wants to collaborate with Memphians for the franchise's overall good. In addition to local partners, the group also could include out-of-town partners, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they have not been authorized to speak on Pera's behalf. Also, the NBA discourages public comments by prospective owners and their representatives during the approval process. Pera's representatives have been in Memphis in recent weeks, meeting with dozens of business and community leaders in what has been termed a "listening tour."
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: There are reasons to believe the Hawks are in a better position than Dallas. The 2012-13 Hawks, on paper at least, are comparable to the 2012-13 Mavericks. Smith and Horford may be more attractive trade targets now than Nowitzki is 34-years old and owed nearly $44 million over the next two years. The Hawks also have multiple draft picks. The counter to those arguments is that the Mavs under Cuban have a much better organizational reputation than the Hawks. That means that, theoretically, they have a better chance of landing superstar free agents or keeping them for the long term after trading for them. Now that Ferry has gained the flexibility he coveted, the next step is trying to make the Hawks the kind of franchise where the best players want to work.
  • Shannon J. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel: I caught up with Darrell Armstrong during his 13th annual Darrell Armstrong Classic weekend to benefit his foundation for premature babies to get his thoughts on his former team. Armstrong, currently an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, competed for the Magic from 1995-2003. You'll recall Armstrong helped lead the Magic to an impressive near playoff run on a 41-41 record for a team predicted to win 10 games led by a then young Doc Rivers. The Magic traded Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant and Nick Anderson, the final integral pieces to Orlando's inaugural NBA Finals appearance. So it's no surprise that Armstrong would feel the Magic don't need a superstar to remain competitive in an increasingly talented Eastern Conference. Matter-of-fact, the absence of a superstar makes the Orlando Magic an even bigger threat, according to Armstrong. "That’s what makes a more dangerous team to me because you can’t zero in on anybody," Armstrong said.
  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: When Suns General Manager Lance Blanks talks about his team's summer makeover, infrastructure, style of play and its will to return to elite status, the presiding theme is commitment. The Suns, who sought a clear commitment to Phoenix from a draft pick, six free agents and a trade target, have focused on moving to a younger roster with more emphasis on player development. The roster has changed, but the commitment to a wide-open, entertaining playing style remains -- and the front office has done it all with an aim toward returning the team to a sustainable elite status. Two years have passed since Blanks was hired following the Suns' conference finals run. "I've surveyed the land, and I got it and I understand it from ownership all the way down," Blanks said. "My hands are on it in a different way now. Part of my goal in the first two years was as much about staying out of the way as it was hands on or hands off because what existed was working at the time."
  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Despite limited time with his new OKC teammates, Perry Jones surprisingly said he already felt close to one player in particular — Kevin Durant — even though they’ve communicated primarily by text. “He’s a guy who really cares about his teammates,” Jones said. “A lot of people at his level, they mostly just care about themselves. It’s very rare you come around a guy like that who cares about his team. Besides just checking on me – seeing how I’m doing and things like that – he’s talking about working out together when he gets back. He said he looks forward to being pushed.” Jones has found a home locally, but admittedly missed some of the Summer Olympics while making the move. “Didn’t have cable, and the power went out a couple of days,” Jones said. Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden won the gold medal as members of Team USA, edging Thunder teammate Serge Ibaka and Spain in the championship game 107-100. “It’s great to have four Olympians on the team,” Jones said.
  • Staff of the Detroit Free Press: Brandon Knight traveled Monday to Winnipeg to promote the Pistons' Oct. 24 exhibition game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Knight, the Pistons' second-year point guard, was on hand to spread the word of the NBA, sign autographs and run a basketball camp for youths. "It's very important to expand to other cities besides Toronto," Knight told the Winnipeg Free Press at the MTS Centre, where the game will be played. "It's great to get the game of basketball to other places that haven't seen it firsthand. Just to have Winnipeg see it firsthand, they'll get to see what it's like, and we'll love playing in front of a new type of crowd that loves sports in general, and it will be a lot of fun." The Winnipeg Free Press reports close to 6,000 tickets have been sold for the game.

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