First Cup: Wednesday

  • Scott Howard-Cooper of the Sacramento Bee: "It was tough to tell over the shrieking celebration with noisemakers and streamers, but they'll love the Ron Artest trade in Houston, too. A deal with the framework of Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and what figures to be a late first-round pick in 2009 for a talented forward, with minor parts likely to be added before becoming official Aug. 14, is an escape route for the Kings and a no-brainer for the Rockets in a way the NBA rarely has no-brainers."

  • Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle: "Neither Daryl Morey nor Rick Adelman has any way of knowing how well the newest Rocket will fit in with a cohesive team built around Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. What we do know is that regardless of how it turns out, it's a risk well worth taking. Just like that, the Rockets belong on the short list of teams with legitimate NBA title hopes this upcoming season. Just like that, the Rockets have three players who have proved their ability to average 20 points per game and/or carry a team on a given night. Just like that, the Rockets became on one of the league's most flexible teams – better on offense and defense. And they did it without sacrificing anybody who was a significant part of their 2008-09 plans."

  • Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle: "Just win, baby. That's the statement the Rockets sent Tuesday with the apparent acquisition of Ron Artest. Character? Not important. Potential for trouble? We'll take our chances. The Rockets are a better team with Ron Artest. At least they're better in terms of talent, and that's clearly all that matters as the franchise desperately tries to become relevant in a market dominated by the Texans and Astros. Those teams have been ridiculed for emphasizing character. Fans that think it's only about the bottom line now have a team to root for. I hope the Rockets don't tell us Artest's troubles have been blown out of proportion. I hope they don't think we're that dumb."

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "David Stern was all about moving forward, getting as far away from the Tim Donaghy scandal as quickly as possible, when the most famous ref in NBA history was sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison Tuesday. But Stern had to be extremely disappointed that Donaghy didn't get the book thrown at him. The NBA wanted what it has called its rogue ref to get the full measure of the law, 33 months behind bars, even if he cooperated with authorities in a gambling case that promises to never go away."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Though teammate Jason Richardson will make more next season, Okafor becomes the largest investment in this franchise's short history. That's how it should be. 'Value' is a tricky concept in sports because there's no objective measure. You're attempting to pay players for what they will do, based on what they have done. That's a risky exercise in a league full of guaranteed contracts. I know all the knocks on Okafor: That he's offensively limited, that he's mechanical in his movements, that he'll never improve. He's also a great defender-rebounder on a team that is otherwise horrible in those areas. Richardson might be this team's best player, but Okafor is the hardest to replace."

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Andris Biedrins and David Lee are fairly comprarable players, though the 7-foot Biedrins is much taller and, therefore, a better shot-blocker. Still, their respective games are predicated on energy, athleticism and terrific instincts that make them very good rebounders. Neither are offensive threats in a one-on-one situation, though I might give Lee the advantage here if he continues to develop that inside-pivot move off the post. The 22-year-old Biedrins signed on Monday a six-year, $62 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, which puts him over $10 million per. Is David Lee worth $10 million per? He'll be a restricted free agent next summer and you know he'll use Biedrins as one of his market comps."

  • Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: "Monta Ellis gave his first public interview since signing a six-year, $66 million contract with the Warriors last week, and he was hardly the shy kid they drafted in 2005 out of Lanier High School in Jackson, Miss. He seemed comfortable in his first appearance as the franchise's premier player. Still, hold off on crowning him king, he requests. 'I have to do more, but it's not just me out there on the basketball court,' Ellis said Tuesday from the Warriors practice facility. 'It's me and four other guys. I'm just going to go to my coaches, my veteran guys, and we'll all try to lift this team. I'm not trying to put anything on my back or try to put more on me, because it's not MY TEAM. We don't have Monta across the jersey. It's the Warriors.' Such comments were indicative of the savvy Ellis displayed Tuesday, which will be necessary considering his new-found importance to the organization."

  • Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger: "... [the Nets] sincerely believe he will wear their uniform again someday. 'I have a mixed reaction, because I really like Nenad, and I would love to have him on our team,' GM Kiki Vandeweghe said, in reaction to Krstic signing a two-year deal with Club Dynamo Triumph in Moscow. 'I understand why he took that offer, because it's a lot of money. There's no way he should pass up that money -- I totally understand it.'"

  • Bruce Brothers of The Pioneer Press: "Ryan Gomes brings a lot of heart to the basketball court. Gomes is 25 and getting better every year, a key reason the Timberwolves signed him Tuesday to a five-year contract reportedly worth more than $21 million. But Kevin McHale, the team's vice president of basketball operations, said Gomes delivers much more to the Wolves than the 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds a game he contributed last season, his first in Minnesota. 'Ryan's got a tremendous basketball IQ,' McHale said. 'We now, as an organization, have to take his strengths and play to them.'"

  • David King of the San Antonio Express-News: "After his experience in Athens, though, Manu Ginobili doesn't care which team Argentina plays -- as long as the last game is for the gold medal. 'I'd love to play the Olympic final again, and it doesn't matter against who,' he said. 'It's just so difficult to ma
    ke it that you just want to be there.' That atmosphere at the Games has its appeal as well: Fourteen days of living large amid all kinds of athletes, playing in front of a worldwide audience while wearing the national colors. 'NBA players are usually spoiled with the way everybody treats us,' Ginobili said. 'Over there you feel, at least for a couple weeks, like an amateur player again. 'You also know that there are 40 million people or more, cheering and wishing you the best every game. It's not bad at all.'"

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "The Pistons are about to sign former No. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown, and I think a lot of fans are scratching their heads on this one. Some are scratching as hard as they possibly can in an attempt to remove their brains. They don't particularly care for Brown. Ah, who am I kidding? They hate him and everything he represents. They think he was handed NBA millions before he earned them, that he copped an attitude when things didn't go his way, that his talent was overrated when he went No. 1 overall, and that he set the Wizards and the Lakers back with his mere presence. That's largely true. But you have to look at the other side of this, which is: So what? This is a smart, low-risk move for the Pistons. It might not work out, but it can't possibly be a disaster."

  • Michael Lewis of the Daytona Beach News-Journal: "Keith Brumbaugh has finally found a home to play pro basketball. And it's a long, long way from DeLand. The former local hoops star who went unselected in June's NBA Draft has signed to play for Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir, a team in Izmir, Turkey. Brumbaugh's agent, Keith Kreiter, confirmed Tuesday that his client had just agreed to a one-year deal with the Turkish club, with financial terms not disclosed."