First Cup: Thursday

Lakers vs. Celtics

  • Gail Goodrich writing in the Los Angeles Daily News: "There really is no other way to describe the Lakers' performance in Game 6 other than to say it was pathetic. It was a complete embarrassment to go into a game of that magnitude and not compete. There is absolutely no excuse for that, and it legitimately calls into question the character of some of their players. This is a young club, and that has to be taken into account. Maybe some of their inexperience showed Tuesday night in their inability to raise their game to match the Celtics' effort, but that excuse only goes so far."

  • Lonnie White of the Los Angeles Times: "It's always easier to second-guess when a team falls short, and that's the case with the Lakers. They will have some room to maneuver under next season's expected salary cap, but the key will be the desire to sacrifice in order to win. Boston was able to get this done behind the leadership of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But that's still an open question for the Lakers, who are still looking for the right mix of players to put around Bryant since O'Neal was traded."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: "Lost amid the excitement when they got Gasol but crystal clear now, if Gasol was the icing on the cake, Bynum was the cake. Let's put it this way: With Bynum, it won't be any big deal to the Lakers whether Kendrick Perkins plays. The issue now is making the pieces fit with one problem position, small forward ... where Odom would have to go with Bynum at center and Gasol at power forward. Jackson wants a shooter there badly enough to start his favorite Martian, Vladimir Radmanovic."

  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: "... the Lakers anticipate a healthier backcourt when they meet for training camp. Bryant will undergo surgery on his damaged right pinkie after the Olympics in August. He has played with the injury since Feb. 5. What's more, Derek Fisher played the final weeks of the regular season plus all of the playoffs with a partially torn tendon in his right foot. Surgery is not necessary, but he needs several months of rest and recovery for his foot to heal."


  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Paul Pierce and Tiger Woods. The NBA draft and free agency. The U.S. Olympic team and the University of Akron men's basketball team. Those were just some of the topics LeBron James touched on Wednesday in a wide ranging one-on-one interview. ... Q: Will you make any suggestions to the front office? A: I think they know. If my opinion is asked for, I'll offer my opinion, because I am the guy out there playing, and I know talent, I guess you could say. But I think they know. Q: Well, I'm asking your opinion. A: We will get better. I believe in our front office. I think they're going to do a good job this summer."

  • Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "We can't forget that Ray Allen, one of the big reasons the Boston Celtics are the NBA champions after beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, was originally drafted by the Wolves with the fifth overall pick in 1996, then traded to the Bucks with a future first-round draft choice for Stephon Marbury. ... Had Allen come here, he would have been a teammate of Kevin Garnett like he now is with the Celtics. Why did Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale prefer Marbury over Allen? 'I thought we needed a point guard at that point,' McHale said. 'I really liked Steph's ability and Steph's explosiveness. I thought he was very, very good here. I think that over the course of his career, Ray has changed teams a few times also, but I think that at the time, we'd do it again. If we could do it again, looking at the two players but not looking back.'"

  • Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press: "Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who watched Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA championship Tuesday night, reiterated Wednesday that he has no regrets about trading Garnett. 'We would have been out of the playoffs (had they kept him) a long time ago,' he said. ... 'It just showed me that you don't want to get down to relying on one guy. You better have about three guys -- they don't have to be all-stars -- but like San Antonio and Boston, three guys who in any game can do well. Though we have Al Jefferson, and we're hoping that Randy Foye comes along, there has to be a third part of that.'"

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret News: "The 2008 NBA finals are done, Boston has won, and Jazz coach Jerry Sloan won't go back and watch the replays. Just like he hasn't watched a second showing of the 1998 NBA finals, in which Sloan's Utah team lost 10 years ago to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Sloan, in fact, has never even watched footage of the controversial series-ending Game 6 of those '98 finals. ... 'It's like feeling sorry for yourself when (now-retired Jazz stars) John (Stockton) and Karl (Malone) left. It's the same deal. You have to go ahead and move on with your job and forget that. We're still here trying to work and do the best we can to try to get better. If you're gonna live your life on things like that,' the 20-season-long Jazz coach added, 'then you're gonna be pretty miserable.' It's all water under the bridge, in other words, in Sloan's world."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "Lucky? Yeah, there was some of that. A decade ago, Pierce dropped to the Celtics at No. 10. And it's helpful that Ainge and Minnesota GM Kevin McHale have a relationship -- and yes, McHale deserves another Celtics championship ring for this most recent Boston championship. Even knowing that Bird and McHale have a history, both sides know the Pacers had nothing to offer in a deal to get Garnett and Allen. No first-round draft choices. No intriguing young players, unless you're intrigued by Shawne Williams. No expiring contracts. Nothing. The Celtics made their championship deals because of drafts and trades they made during the franchise's dark period. The Pacers are still waiting for that first glimmer of light. Unless somebody wants Tinsley for, say, LeBron James. Somebody? Anybody?"

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Rick Carlisle understands that no matter how the Mavericks fill out their roste
    r around Dirk Nowitzki next season, their success starts with the 7-foot former MVP. With that in mind, Carlisle spent an enlightening few days in Wurzburg, Germany, and surrounding areas last week getting to know Nowitzki better -- and getting acquainted with Holger Geschwindner, Nowitzki's longtime mentor in Germany. ... 'In terms of basketball, it was a great opportunity to see how Dirk has trained with Holger over the last several years,' Carlisle said. 'To see his preparation for the Olympic qualifying -- two or three sessions a day -- you just get a sense for how important it is for him and his country to qualify. 'He doesn't have to be doing this. But it's a patriotic thing, a personal thing, and a dream. And I'm really pulling for him.'"

  • Michael C. Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune: "He's as All-American as could be, Travis Hansen. He grew up in the heart of patriotic Utah County, attended athletic powerhouse Mountain View High School in Orem and played basketball for his hometown and church school, Brigham Young University. Yet he could be Russian at the Olympics. Just like WNBA star Becky Hammon, Hansen has been awarded Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, making the 6-foot-6 swingman eligible to play for the former 'Evil Empire' at the 2008 Beijing Games in China -- not long after he holds his second annual basketball camp in Lehi next week, aimed at benefitting underprivileged children in Russian orphanages. ... While Hammond has endured much criticism over her decision to join the Russian team, Hansen apparently has not - perhaps because unlike Hammond, he never was a highly regarded player in the pool of prospective members of the U.S. team. What's more, he's hardly a sure thing to join the Russians in China. International rules allow only one naturalized citizen per team, and point guard J.R. Holden is widely presumed to be the man who will occupy that spot for Russia."

2008 NBA Draft

  • Clyde Travis of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Last week, Derrick Rose displayed a new tattoo that proudly reads, 'Family First.' 'I appreciate my family and how supportive they have always been,' Rose said. 'This is a very special time in my life. The trust factor [brother] Reggie and I have built allows me to stay focused, keep grounded and not get caught up in negative interference.' For Reggie Rose, the saying 'I am my brother's keeper' has a special meaning. While mother Brenda kept a low profile, Reggie -- along with brothers Wayne and Alan -- have helped guide their baby brother en route to fulfilling a lifelong dream."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Kansas State forward Michael Beasley began his two-day visit to South Florida with time Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. He arrived after making a similar visit with the Bulls, who select No. 1 in the June 26 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of the Heat. The Heat's schedule this week also includes a Saturday workout in Chicago by Southern Cal guard O.J. Mayo that also will be attended by the Grizzlies and Timberwolves. Minnesota selects No. 3, Memphis No. 5."

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "As the Trail Blazers continued to ponder their offseason options, field calls regarding potential trades and debate whether to unload the No. 13 pick in the NBA draft, they were presented with another enticing possibility Wednesday morning. And it came in the form of a smooth, playmaking 6-foot point guard from Texas. In a performance that wowed coach Nate McMillan and further enhanced his draft stock, sophomore D.J. Augustin delivered perhaps the most impressive showing during more than two weeks of predraft workouts at the Blazers' practice facility."

  • Brian Hendrickson of The Columbian: "Compared to what D.J. Augustin experienced nearly three years ago, NBA pre-draft workouts must feel like a easy ride. Individual drills? Meetings with teams? Defending his small stature, and selling his talent? How could that match the days when he hurriedly packed a few belongings and rushed out of New Orleans before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina? Those events rearranged Augustin’s life overnight. Levees burst near the Gentilly home his family rented on the east side of New Orleans and destroyed his neighborhood."

  • Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "The Grizzlies held a draft workout Wednesday with a group the team will consider with the No.28 pick. New Mexico's J.R. Giddens, DePaul's Draelon Burns, Arkansas' Sonny Weems and Louisville's Juan Palacios participated in the 90-minute session. Giddens, a senior guard, was the featured attraction and even sank a half-court shot at the end of the workout. Griz personnel director Tony Barone Sr. usually ends the workouts with a fake promise of a luxury car to a player who buries the long-range shot."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Today, the Knicks resume workouts, with freshman center DeAndre Jordan the best of the crew. The shot-blocking Jordan is likely a consideration if the Knicks fall out of the top 10. Also to work out are Hofstra guard Antoine Agudio and Massachusetts forward Dante Milligan, a New Yorker and familiar face at the Garden."