First Cup: Tuesday

  • Garry D. Howard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Much more than Michael Redd's professional basketball future was in doubt with the devastating news that the team's leading scorer would be lost for the remainder of this crucial season. ... Because the likelihood that Sen. Herb Kohl and his more-than-deep pockets can keep the Milwaukee Bucks in this city over the next five to 10 years also took a major blow. ... It has been widely reported that he has been losing millions each season and the senator was in strong conversations (some would term it negotiations) to sell the team to a Michael Jordan-led group a few years back before he abruptly pulled the plug on that sale with the caveat that when he did sell the club, it would be to a group committed to keeping the franchise in Milwaukee. Well, with the Bradley Center being close to the worst arena in the NBA as far as profitability is concerned and the economic landscape being what it is today, how much longer can Sen. Kohl keep up the charade that this city can afford an NBA team? Without Kohl's certifiable love of the NBA and his look-the-other-way attitude about losing millions, my fear is that the NBA would be gone as fast as the Hornets flew out of Charlotte, the Grizzlies jumped ship on Vancouver and the Sonics dipped on Seattle. And that is the truth."

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: "OK, because so many of you asked, I am going to give you my two-cents worth on coach Michael Curry. No, forget that. I am going to give you a whole nickle's worth -- you are welcome. Essentially, it comes down to this: He's making the classic rookie mistake. He's doing what every great coach from John Wooden to Red Auerbach forever warned young coaches against -- overcoaching. He's micromanaging just about every offensive and defensive possession, the effect of which is to paralyze his ballclub. ... That said, don't quit on Mike Curry. I truly believe he's going to figure it out."

  • Mike Imrem of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "Del Negro and Paxson are in an unwitting race to determine which will be out of his job first. In Paxson's case it would be because he has had enough. In Del Negro's it would be because somebody noticed he is the wrong guy at the wrong time. Then again, who is qualified to coach this motley crew? Would Mahatma Gandhi have been? No, these Bulls would stampede all over him, or worse. Would Charles Manson be? No, he'd stampede all over them, or worse. Someone between a Gandhi and a Manson? Yes, that's it, someone between a pacifist and a mass murderer. Del Negro fits in there somewhere but lacks the certain 'it' that would command the Bulls' respect."

  • Mike Jones of the The Washington Times: "Signs in the hallways outside both the Wizards and visitors locker rooms, and additional postings inside both locker rooms had a special message that chapel was available at 6 p.m. - as it is before every game. But the final line was 'Guest Pastor: Mike James.' Yes, that Mike James, starting point guard of the Washington Wizards. The team chaplain, Pastor John Jenkins, was unable to make it to Monday night's game, so James was asked to fill in. And he was happy to oblige. 'You should come,' he said of the service. 'I just might change your life.' James, who majored in psychology at Duquesne, plans to start a Christian bible school after his playing days are done. He also works with troubled youth in Houston, where he lives in the offseason."

  • Chris Beaven of the Canton Repository: "The Cavs' campaign continues for Williams to make the All-Star Game. The reserves are named Thursday. 'I think a lot of guys in this league have done enough to be an All-Star,' Williams said. 'Thursday's the big day. If my name's called it will be an exciting day. If it's not, trust me, I won't lose any sleep.' James, though, will be upset if he's the only Cavalier in the game. He was voted in as a starter last week. 'We need more than one guy on the team,' James said. 'We'll see what happens. The guys on our team don't care, but I care. The way we've been ... taking care of business, we have two All-Stars on our team. Either if it's me and Z or me and Mo. Mo's making a great push late right now.'"

  • Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "One of Griz coach Lionel Hollins' first acts as Marc Iavaroni's successor was to pull aside Mike Conley before practice for a short and snappy sidebar. 'He told me how much freedom I'll have and what he's expecting,' Conley said, smiling. 'He wants me to put the jets on and push the ball.' Conley kept smiling. He couldn't stop, actually. Hollins has said that the team's style change may not be totally evident tonight when the Denver Nuggets visit FedExForum with designs on spoiling his debut. But Hollins made clear his short-term plans involve the Grizzlies' second-year point guard. Hollins, a former all-star guard, intends to push Conley and see if the 21-year-old can produce. That means Conley will direct the show with the responsibility of calling sets and making plays without looking over his shoulder."

  • Paul Willis for the Rocky Mountain News: "Carmelo Anthony is feeling better this week because two things nearly have healed: his broken hand and his broken heart. Anthony still expects to return Friday with his fractured right hand continuing to improve. He'll have the hand re-examined Thursday and believes he'll be cleared to play. In regards to his heart, Anthony has recuperated from the Baltimore Ravens' loss in the AFC Championship Game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He now wishes only for a 'good Super Bowl' and isn't holding anything against the Steelers. 'I'm over that; we had a good run,' Anthony said. 'Pittsburgh's having a good run, they're still in it, but they can't sleep on the Cardinals, I'll tell you that.'"

  • Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee: "Q: Has there been much conversation among the league's small market owners about pressing the case for a more equitable revenue-sharing model? Several owners - yourselves excluded - asked the Board of Governors to address the issue last year, and given the increasing financial stress on franchises that lack the corporate revenue streams available in New York, L.A. and Chicago, I would think further discussion would be imperative. Joe Maloof: 'What I've always believed, is that whatever is best for the league works to the benefit of all of us. We believe in the league. We believe in David Stern's leadership. The league has had its up and downs, but we'll come back.' Q: Can you be more specific? There has been talk about a potential lockout looming when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. How likely is that to occur? And is that issue superceding the concerns of the small market owners? Joe Maloof: 'As far as collective bargaining ... I know that the owners are going to look at salaries.
    We have to. We have to. The players receive about two billion dollars a year (from percentage of league's gross revenues). Something has to be looked at there. I think the owners are in full agreement that something has to be done with salaries.'"

  • John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: "Let's not call Chris Paul a miracle worker, or a savior, or anything like that. He'd be the first to tell you that he only is a basketball player. But he sure does appear to be some kind of savant when it comes to the game. All due respect to the current Hornets teammates who are busting tail during a crisis situation, but give Paul four teammates from the NBA Development League or from the Greek league and in a one-game situation, take your chances. He's that good. Against the Sixers he was triple-double good a game-high 27 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, his fifth triple-double of the season and one the Hornets had to have. But then, Paul, who added seven steals, seems to have a good understanding of exactly what it is the Hornets need."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "I would place the odds of Raymond Felton being dealt by the Feb. 19 trade deadline at 30 percent. I would have said 50 percent a month ago. Not saying Felton can't be traded, but I sense management is sufficiently impressed with his performance that they're willing to let this play out to free agency in July, rather than move him for whatever they can get now. ... Not that this is a revelation, but if the Bobcats make one more deal, it's almost certain to involve Morrison, Nazr Mohammed or Sean May. Despite not playing, May would have some value as an expiring contract. It's more problematic trading contracts for Mohammed (two seasons left totaling about $13.2 million) or Morrison (next season at about $5.2 million)."

  • Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times: "When Tolbert asked Monta if he wishes he at first told Warriors officials he got hurt on a moped rather than falsely claiming it was a training mishap, Ellis replied: 'I wanted to do that.' Tolbert asked if Ellis got bad advice from his agent or friends. Ellis shrugged that off and said: 'It was a panic moment.' Kudos to Ralph and Tom for trying, and even bringing up former Giant Jeff Kent's 'truck-washing' accident. So why is this so relevant nine months later? Because Ellis doesn't seem to be acknowledging the impact his injury had on the team or on the public's trust in him."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "To trade or not to trade is not the question for the Mavericks. They want to. Muddling along like they are and having a creative owner like Mark Cuban is a combination that lends itself to exploring trade opportunities. The problem is that because of their decent but not great 25-19 record, everybody in the NBA knows the Mavericks are looking, which complicates deal-making. That doesn't mean they won't try. Let's just say it's a good thing president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has unlimited cell-phone minutes."