First Cup: Monday

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers: "A sign-and-trade would be especially beneficial to the Hawks, who fear Josh Smith might sign a one-year qualifying offer, play out this upcoming season and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. For Detroit, which rarely makes a major free agency splash in the summer, having a chance to acquire a player of Smith's caliber in the summer usually is far-fetched because, in the past, the Pistons weren't willing to acquire a player if it meant breaking up their core group of starters: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. That all changed following the team's disappointing performance in losing to eventual NBA champion Boston in the Eastern Conference finals."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "[Emeka] Okafor was once offered over $12 million a season. Now, according to a source I consider credible, the Bobcats offer is much closer to a $10 million-a-season average."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "You know how I said that the Warriors have no significant free agents next summer? They have no PLAYER free agents of import. They do have two huge free agents, however: Chris Mullin and Don Nelson."

  • Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: "No franchise has thrown money around this offseason like the Warriors. So it was only fitting that they all but ended their involvement in free agency by flinging big bucks. According to sources close to the fifth-year center, Golden State signed Andris Biedrins to a six-year, $63 million contract on Sunday, belittling any offer he had on the table. It's certainly a big splash to conclude the franchise's involvement in the free agent period, as the Warriors have used just about all of their available salary."

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "We discussed it during the summer league here and I guess it rings true: Renaldo Balkman seems like the odd man out here in the new regime, especially with the emergence of Wilson Chandler and the arrival of Danilo Gallinari. Balkman is a tremendous athlete who can play a decent energy/defense role off the bench. But I don't believe he has the basketball IQ to be successful in D'Antoni's offense."

  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News: "How important are the Olympics to Nowitzki? After the Puerto Rico game, he was too emotional to come out of the locker room for the press conferences. 'I never thought I would cry because of basketball, but I could not stop the tears,' he said. 'All the hard work I had put into realizing my dream finally became worth it.' Some Mavericks fans may not relish watching Nowitzki log floor time this summer. But perhaps they can take solace in his seemingly rejuvenated state of mind."

  • Ivan Carter of the Washington Post: "Around 5:30 one morning when JaVale McGee was a sophomore in high school, his mother, Pamela McGee, woke him from a sound sleep and trudged him out into Michigan's bitterly cold winter darkness to run a mile in a pair of heavy boots. At the time, McGee was on the junior varsity basketball team at Detroit Country Day School, an exclusive high school with high academic standards, a reputation for athletic excellence and a high tuition. Pamela, an all-American at Southern California who also played in the WNBA, was an assistant coach for the boys' varsity team. When Pamela had poked her head into the junior varsity practice the day before, she was not pleased to see JaVale merely going through the motions. The next morning, he was jogging through the snow. 'It's expensive to go to Country Day,' Pamela McGee said recently. 'My mom was a teenage mother and worked in a factory so her children could go to college and get an education. So, when JaVale had the opportunity to go to Country Day and I went to that practice and saw that he wasn't working hard, that he was just loafing around practice wasting time, I was like: 'No. This is not going to happen.' That was unacceptable. I told him: 'If you aren't going to work hard, we're going to do this every morning.' He got the message and I've never had to do that since.'"

  • Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman: "The NBA schedule traditionally is announced the first week of August. Winick said he's about 'three or four days behind' his usual pace. 'Oklahoma City is part of it,' Matt Winick said. 'Some other arenas have been part of it. But there are a number of factors. Free agency is part of it, because it affects some television matchups we have to move around.' The Sonics relocating to Oklahoma City, combined with Vancouver's move to Memphis five years ago, has given Winick less flexibility when East Coast teams are sent to the West Coast."

  • Jason Quick and Bruce Ely of The Oregonian kick off a ten-part series on the Blazers: "They are the youngest team in the NBA, and arguably the most promising collection of talent. And that was before Greg Oden returns from microfracture surgery, and Rudy Fernandez arrives from Spain, and a relentless and determined rookie named Jerryd Bayless joins a group of budding stars in All-Star Brandon Roy, smooth big man LaMarcus Aldridge and super sixth man Travis Outlaw. After nearly a decade during which words such as dog fighting, marijuana, technicals and sucker-punches tarnished a once proud franchise, the Trail Blazers have revived their image and their connection with their fan base."