First Cup: Thursday

  • Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: As part of Dwyane Wade's ongoing image makeover, he changed his Twitter handle last night from his name to "Way of WADE." So, D-Wade has now assumed the identity of a basketball shoe, I or something like that. WE KID BECAUSE WE LOVE. You know, the literal translation from Chinese of Dwyane Wade's new shoe is actually "The Ways of Dwyane Wade." I don't know why the shoe company and Wade decided to make "Way" singular. I guess it sounds more ideological or something. I'm sure a focus group could tell me. I like the name because it reminds me of a title of an old-school Chinese Kung Fu movie. Enter the Dragon. Way of WADE. I like Wade's shoes, but more importantly I like that he's not afraid to be different. I'd buy his shoes just for that very reason but, hey, I'm kinda iconoclastic. As Wade said in the tweet #Daretobedifferent. I can see it now, every anti-establishment revolutionary teenage hipster is going to be wearing Way of WADE next year. (The shoes drop in the U.S. in 2013.) This Wade guy, he's growing on me.

  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: After Wednesday's shootaround at American Airlines Center, Delonte West offered a unique explanation on why his suspension lasted less than a day. "Uncle Ricky handled the situation," West said, referring to Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. "We went and had a talk, and we went right back to the barbecue." Carlisle started his interview session by asking: "How are all my nephews doing?" After a hearty laugh, Carlisle added that the whole matter with West has been resolved. "Most players in this league run on gas," Carlisle said. "Delonte runs on diesel. And so you've got to listen to him, and you've got to understand him. He's a little different."

  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, ever the optimist, viewed Wednesday's news that all-star Kevin Love is expected out of action for at least six weeks with two broken bones in his right hand as an opportunity for other players. "Certainly it's disappointing,but I always look at the positive part," Taylor said of Love's broken hand. "I'd rather have Kevin out there -- he's our star player. But if he's not going to be out there, it's an opportunity for a couple other guys. Derrick Williams, the No. 2 guy in the (2011) draft, said he got himself ready, so he's going to get a shot at it. Dante Cunningham didn't feel he was getting a chance on the team (Memphis) he was on and wanted to move, and we brought him here, so he'll get a chance. Let's see if one of those guys can step up."

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: A day after clearing roster space by waiving two players who were unable to prove they could be productive NBA point guards, the Celtics signed veteran Leandro Barbosa to a one-year contract, according to an NBA source. … The Celtics are dealing with the double shoulder surgery to Avery Bradley and sudden retirement of Keyon Dooling. Bradley is due to return in December, and but coach Doc Rivers is more comfortable playing Bradley at shooting guard. Rivers also said he would like veteran Jason Terry to play more shooting guard, although Terry has offered to play the point. Barbosa has experience at both positions and, like Terry, can score in bunches. Barbosa is likely to become part of the Celtics’ second team with Terry, Brandon Bass or Jared Sullinger, and Darko Milicic.

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: So, not only was the plan to limit minutes for his key players in their fourth exhibition game, but Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro also held out Lamar Odom and Grant Hill because of nagging injuries and for rest. … For Odom, weight and poor conditioning are issues. Del Negro said Odom's knees are bothering him and that playing the 6-10 forward against the Jazz probably would have set him back. "He's got to work through some conditioning things and some health things right now, which he's doing," Del Negro said. "Yeah, I wish he was in a little bit better conditioning, and he wishes he was. But he's just got to continue to work every day and I'm sure he'll get there eventually." On the positive side, guard Chauncey Billups' return from surgery to repair a left Achilles' tendon tear is moving ahead of schedule.

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: Big still wins in the NBA, unless you have one of those "four-letter" words in your lineup, according to Lawrence Frank. "Freak," the Pistons coach said before being told it was a five-letter word. "I'm from Jersey. There goes my counting skills." Although it's not becoming a league-wide trend yet, going small up front has been an option for a few teams, particularly the NBA-champion Miami Heat, which is experimenting with playing LeBron James at power forward and Chris Bosh at center. … With the influx of a more European style of play, emphasizing shooting and opening driving lanes for dynamic swingmen, the Pistons look to be purposely trending in the other direction, as Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe look to be the frontcourt for years to come. Frank said it's been happening for years in spurts during the playoffs, something that appears to be out of the Pistons' reach at this point. "Like many teams in the playoffs, that happens because you have a hard time scoring," Frank said. "Miami did it in the playoffs, it worked for them. In the regular season, you'll see a (traditional) four and a five. You'll have exceptions."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Lionel Hollins is often asked by national media about his core players, and Rudy Gay's development continues to be a big topic. Gay, who is entering his seventh NBA season, is having arguably his best training camp. Before the Griz took on the Houston Rockets, Hollins sounded as if he's bracing for a breakout campaign from his 6-8 starting small forward. "He's having an outstanding camp," Hollins said. "It he continues to play like this he's going to have one of those years where everybody says 'Wow. This is what I thought he could be.' " Hollins and teammates continue to be impressed by Gay's improved playmaking though point guard Mike Conley is right with Gay in terms of consistency throughout camp.

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: For five straight years, the Celtics have sat atop the Atlantic Division. But the tide might be changing. They sense it. Three younger teams in the division improved in the offseason, none more drastically than the Nets, whose summer didn’t go unnoticed in Beantown. “With Joe Johnson and with Deron (Williams) and everybody, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Kevin Garnett said Wednesday, following Boston’s loss to Brooklyn in Tuesday’s preseason game. “They’re nothing like last year. They’re going to be strong.” The Celtics, and in particular Paul Pierce, weren’t as respectful to the Knicks the last two seasons, with Pierce famously asking in 2010, “What rivalry?” Starting guard Courtney Lee, a former Net, essentially scoffed at the Atlantic Division this week when he told reporters, “We just feel like all the other teams (besides the Heat) are going to be just opponents - we’re going to beat and handle them.”

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: The Knicks are expected to extend their home sell-out streak this season at the Garden, but will play before less live fans. With the second stage of the Garden transformation nearly complete, the Garden capacity will fall about 1,000 lower than the usual 19,763 sell-out crowd, according to team officials. The Knicks enter the 2012-13 season with a 68-game home sell-out streak. The second stage of the renovation featured a complete overhaul of the upper bowl. The final stage of the transformation next summer will restore the seating capacity to normal levels when the much-hyped glass bridge is built across the upper tier from one side of the Garden to the other. The bridge will also contain seats.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Assistant coaches throughout the NBA do drills with players all the time, but the sequence nonetheless illustrated the recent transformation of the Magic coaching staff. After five successful seasons in Orlando, Stan Van Gundy and his seasoned staff have been replaced by Jacque Vaughn and a younger group that wears its collective exuberance on its sleeve. "There's definitely a youthful energy," Magic guard J.J. Redick said. No one exemplifies that youth more than Vaughn, who, at 37 years old, is the NBA's youngest current head coach. Just three seasons removed from his playing days, Vaughn looks as if he still could step onto a basketball court and play a few possessions. At each full timeout this preseason, Vaughn has huddled with his three bench coaches — James Borrego, Unseld and Brett Gunning — and has spoken with them before he talked to the players. After practices, assistant coaches for player development Laron Profit and Luke Stuckey join them and discuss how the sessions went. The six men have worked together only for a couple of months, and one of their key tasks is to develop chemistry with each other.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets’ fast-break offense enjoyed one of its most productive outings, outscoring Memphis 22-5 in transition. For the most veteran Rockets player, the style does bring a different sort of challenge. “Our starting lineup, we’ve got one guy with 10,000 miles under his legs and the other guys with 10 miles,” said Kevin Martin, who is heading into his ninth NBA season. “I’ll get in a little more shape and keep up with them once the 31st comes. We want to work that to our advantage. That’s what kind of offense we’re going to play all year.”

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Now in the second and final year of his Bulls contract, Richard Hamilton, 34, will play most of this season without Rose, who is recovering from ACL surgery. A lost cause? Hamilton didn’t see it that way. He decided it was time to act his age and started a program designed to keep himself healthy. “I thought, ‘Just throw the ball up and play.’ I never thought about being flexible or anything like that,” Hamilton said after the Bulls’ 100-94 preseason victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday. “I was always good with food and rest and all the other little stuff, running — but never with stretching.” So Hamilton hired a Las Vegas-based therapist — recommended by former Detroit Pistons teammate Tayshaun Prince — to work on stretching and flexibility. … It’s early, but so far the results look good. Through three preseason games, Hamilton is averaging 15.3 points and 2.3 steals, while shooting 56 percent from the field. And he has played just 25 minutes per contest.

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Warriors center Andew Bogut will have his troublesome left ankle examined Monday in Los Angeles. The Warriors play at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, giving Bogut an opportunity to visit Richard Ferkel, the doctor who performed arthroscopic surgery on the ankle in April. Bogut, who fractured the ankle in January while with Milwaukee, has yet to practice or play a preseason game. Before Wednesday's exhibition game at Sacramento, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Bogut is "still a ways away." Bogut is still pushing to be ready for the Oct. 31 season opener.

  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Friday's preseason game between the Thunder and Phoenix Suns at the BOK Center in Tulsa has been declared a sellout (18,233) and will draw the largest crowd in the arena's four-year history. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. “It's amazing,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said of the team's statewide support. “I haven't really been to Tulsa as much, but I hear there's good people there, as well as Oklahoma City and all around Oklahoma. I think all the people are good people and they're on our side.” The previous record crowd at the BOK Center was 17,931 for a George Strait concert in 2010. This will be the Thunder's fourth preseason game at the facility. The previous three drew crowds of 9,549 in 2008, 10,427 in 2009 and 11,297 in 2010. There was no game last year because of the NBA lockout.