First Cup: Thursday

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: With the deadline fast approaching for the Thunder to come to terms on a contract extension for shooting guard James Harden, a potential sliver of hope was heard Wednesday afternoon. Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, speaking after an appearance at a Thunder Fit event at a local middle school, said the two sides are “getting close” on a deal that would keep the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Oklahoma City. “We're doing good. We're making positive steps going forward,” Perkins said of the organization's offseason. “We got coach (Scott) Brooks locked in. We got Serge (Ibaka) locked in. And we're getting close with James, and we're getting close to keeping our unit together. And we're still hungry.” ...“Once James gets here, it's nothing to be said,” Perkins said. “He'll see his family and that's all he needs. So once he sees everybody's faces, that's enough said.”

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: A source close to the Heat forward confirmed to the Sun Sentinel early Thursday morning that LeBron James will be leaving Creative Artists Agency, the agency that also represents Wade and Bosh, in order to be represented by longtime friend Rich Paul, who has emerged with a significant roster of clients of his own, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tristan Thompson and Jonny Flynn. ... The source close to James emphasized that the parting with CAA is amicable and is not a reflection of any James unease with CAA, with Wade and Bosh both made aware of the impending move. James signed with Rose in 2005, with Rose then joining CAA in 2007. The CAA link was cited among the factors that brought the three stars together during 2010 free agency, when James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bosh left the Toronto Raptors to join Wade with the Heat. ... While James is under contract to the Heat through 2015-16, he has an early-termination option in his contract for the 2014 offseason and a player opt-out clause for the 2015 offseason. A new agency only would collect on a new contract. The source close to James said the 2014 opt-out clause was not a consideration in the move and the impending agency switch should not be taken as the precursor to an eventual opt-out by the 2012 NBA Most Valuable Player.

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: Kobe Bryant wore a blue shirt and red pants, a reversal of the standard fashion combination worn by the super hero he would reference Wednesday. "I don't want to get too cheesy and quote Spider-Man," Bryant said in explaining his involvement, "but with great power comes great responsibility." Bryant was appearing at My Friend's Place, the safe haven in Hollywood that serves nearly half the homeless youth of Los Angeles. Bryant and wife Vanessa helped renovate the facility as part of the mission they began more than a year ago to fight homelessness, an issue that Kobe refers to as "the one that probably needs the most push." "It has become white noise," Bryant said of the homelessness we all see from time to time, but mostly in the landscape as opposed to the spotlight. ... One of my favorite stories I've written was back in 2007 about Bryant's meetings with kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the Make-A-Wish Foundation ... with a follow-up nine months later after two of the kids had died. I asked Bryant on Wednesday to compare those meetings with ones with the homeless youth. He said even more than the sick kids, homeless youths are desperate to latch on to hope.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: While Darren Collison has the utmost respect for Jason Kidd, his game is nothing like the future hall of famer’s. And while he doesn’t have the vast wealth of experience Kidd had, Collison will begin his fourth season in the NBA knowing that he’s the starter for the Mavericks. And that he also has a different sort of experience, which came from a player who often lit up Kidd and a lot of other NBA point guards. “That experience playing behind Chris Paul is probably the best thing that could have happened to me,’’ Collison says. “Just the way he controlled the game, managed the game, the things you want a point guard to do, I try to bring that a little bit to my game. And my speed and quickness speaks for itself. I like to attack the basket anyway I can, especially in transition.’’ Collison played behind Paul in New Orleans in his rookie season and started 37 games when Paul was injured. The Hornets weren’t very good in those games (14-23), but it was invaluable experience for Collison. At the time, some people in New Orleans thought Collison was a close second to Paul in terms of ability to run a team.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Throughout the season and even today, Keith Smart mentions the way the Spurs play as a model for the what the Kings have to become to win. Of course, the Spurs have three players with All-Star credentials and veterans willing to sacrifice to chase a championship. The Kings have players trying to establish who they are and are who are willing to do that at the expense of the team too often. How do the Kings fix this? Smart would love to rid the Kings of the "my" way of thinking. "'My' has gotten us 25, 24, 23 wins (a season)," Smart said. Soon we'll see if the Kings are more "we" than "my."

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hawks GM Danny Ferry confirms that Larry Drew is not seeking to add David Blatt to his staff but went to Maccabi’s camp to observe, learn and share ideas with Blatt. “Larry respects the international game and is enjoying the opportunity to share ideas with David Blatt,” Ferry wrote in a text message. “David is a heckuva coach and I know that Larry appreciates that David has been so open. I know Larry is enjoying the opportunity to closely watch [Maccabi's] program. It is a highly respected program.” Blatt is an American native who played at Princeton. He coached the Russian national team to a bronze medal finish at the 2012 Olympics.

  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Last summer, after being traded to the Thunder the previous February, he recovered from a sprained MCL in his left knee that occurred days before the trade. This summer, Perkins had surgery to his right groin on July 12 and surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left wrist on July 20. Perkins wore a brace on his wrist Wednesday while participating in a Thunder Fit clinic at Deer Creek Middle School with rookie teammates Perry Jones and Hollis Thompson. Perkins said he has no specific timetable as to when he might be fully recovered, but he has targeted the regular-season opener on Nov. 1 at San Antonio. “Everything's going great,” the well-humored Perkins told reporters after the clinic. “I can't complain … well, I can because of these injuries, but I'm going to just keep pushing through it.”

  • Tim Bontemps of the New York Post: The Nets may only be two days into informal team workouts, but Tyshawn Taylor is already getting treated like a rookie. “I had to drive [Jerry] Stackhouse to the track today,” Taylor said Tuesday with a laugh. “It was just me and him in the car. He sat in the back. I started laughing and we had a good laugh. They’re cool, man … our vets are so cool. They just want to win. They come into work every day with a mission. They’re like, we start work early because we want to win, and that’s kind of the atmosphere around the team. It’s gonna be a fun year because we’re gonna win and be competitive, so everybody’s excited about it. It’s just a lot of fun in the locker room and stuff like that, so it’s fun.”

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Free-agent center Hassan Whiteside worked out in Miami on Tuesday, but his agent said the Wolves remain "very much in the mix" to sign the 7-foot shotblocker. Agent Brian Samuels said a "few" other teams are interested in working out his client. At this point, the question probably is what team is willing to give him guaranteed money and how much?

  • Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: What will it take — two, three, four years for Seattle to land an NBA franchise again? I’m not sure, but it appears it will happen down the road after Tuesday’s agreement between the Seattle City Council and an investor group led by businessman Chris Hansen. Hansen has pledged $290 million of private money to build an NBA/NHL facility in the south downtown (SODO) district near Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field. He also has agreed to establish a $40 million transportation fund and to pay $7 million to renovate KeyArena as an interim site should the city land a franchise before the new arena is built. The city of Seattle is expected to issue $200 million in revenue bonds to finance the remaining costs of the project. An environmental impact study must be done before any construction, and that could take a year. Why is it every city but ours understands the benefits of a major-league franchise to the community? If Seattle gets an NHL team before Portland does, I’ll croak.