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First Cup: Wednesday

6/26/2013
  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: As if squandering their fifth championship wasn’t tough enough to swallow, the Spurs were made to endure the added insult of a commercial, erroneously aired on NBA TV, advertising all the celebratory gear that will now be donated to various charities.

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: Back in 1994, Brian Shaw performed a rap song called “Anything Can Happen.” In the lyrics, he talks about the unreal turn-of-events in his life, when the year prior, his parents and sister died in a car accident.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: As previously mentioned in this space, Ray Allen benefits by not opting in, by not settling for the one year, at $3.2 million, remaining on the two-year deal he signed last summer when he left the Boston Celtics. Instead, he now

    can utilize the arcane Non-Bird exception in the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. With that measure, he can start a new contract next season at a 20-percent raise over the $3.1 million he earned this past season. In addition, under the Non-Bird guidelines, Allen can use that salary-cap exception to build a contract as long as four years, with annual 4.5-percent raises. What it means is that Allen will become a free agent on July 1, just as he did last season. It also means, because of the NBA's July signing moratorium, that the Heat cannot re-sign him until July 10, at the earliest. Still, there is no need to panic. If anything, it means Allen is looking to invest more time with the Heat than the initial two seasons he signed up for.

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: A future Hall of Famer might become available, so Billy King did his due diligence and made the call. Multiple sources told the Daily News that the Nets GM inquired about Kevin Garnett’s desire to join Deron Williams in Brooklyn, but King didn’t get an answer while uncertainty surrounds the Celtics. Garnett, 37, has a no-trade clause in his contract, which he vowed not to waive last season. But circumstances changed dramatically in Boston following a first-round playoff loss to the Knicks, with GM Danny Ainge committing to rebuilding and Doc Rivers bolting to the Clippers.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: An NBA source with knowledge of the situation adamantly denied Tuesday that the Charlotte Bobcats are shopping small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as a trade commodity. … Otto Porter and Kidd-Gilchrist would create a redundancy on a Charlotte roster with many other needs. Hence the assumption the Bobcats would move Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick a year ago, to make room for Porter. The league source said not only that Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t on the trading block, but that the chances of Porter making it past the top three picks are slim. Another league source strongly doubted any chance of Porter getting past the Wizards at No. 3. … It’s not uncommon during the days leading to a draft for misinformation to be spread, particularly in a draft such as this with no clear-cut top pick or an obvious order of the top six selections. It’s a mystery what the Cleveland Cavaliers will do with the top pick Thursday night, in part because the Cavs acknowledging their intentions could only hurt the trade value of the No. 1 pick.

  • Ken MaGuire of The New York Times: His new passport says he is Greek, but Giannis Adetokunbo has lived a struggling immigrant’s life. He has peddled goods on city streets to feed himself and his brothers. While other families ferried off on island vacations, his often changed apartments in search of cheaper rent. Yet Adetokunbo, 18, stands out from the hundreds of thousands of immigrants trying to survive in Greece. He was born here. He speaks Greek fluently. He completed Greek schooling. He recently became a Greek citizen. Adetokunbo (pronounced a-det-o-KOON-bo), a 6-foot-9 son of Nigerian parents, also plays basketball. Very well. That is what N.B.A. scouts say. They flocked to Greece and buzzed about his ball-handling, his court vision and his decision-making. … He has signed to play in Spain next season, unless an N.B.A. team has different plans for him after the draft. Passport in hand, he also has begun playing with the Greek national under-20 team. But before N.B.A. scouts located the 500-seat Filathlitikos gym in Zografou, a densely settled Athens suburb, Adetokunbo sometimes put basketball aside to help his family. Like other immigrants to Greece, his parents struggled to find work. Adetokunbo and his older brother, Thanasis, would help out by hawking watches, bags and sunglasses. In doing so, they jeopardized their roster spots because they were missing practices. They also missed meals. “Sometimes, our fridge was empty,” said Adetokunbo, who turned 18 in December. “Some days, we didn’t sell the stuff and we didn’t have money to feed ourselves.”

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal:With Thursday’s NBA Draft quickly approaching, sources within the Cavs insisted Tuesday that their draft board was not yet set and the team hadn’t decided yet who to take with the No. 1 overall pick. None of the options are a terrific fit and almost anyone the Cavs take will start the season coming off the bench. Maryland’s Alex Len and Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel remain the top big men available, but the Cavs have seemed cool on Noel throughout the draft process. ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford continues to believe the Cavs will take him, but admitted in a conference call Tuesday it was a guess and he was simply “reading the tea leaves.” Ford believes the choice has been narrowed to Len, Noel and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett. A few executives polled around the league believe the choice will come down to Len or Noel.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Ernie Grunfeld only needed to take a few steps from his office to see Otto Porter Jr. play home games for Georgetown at Verizon Center. Alex Len was a short drive up Route 1 to Maryland. And Victor Oladipo played high school basketball at DeMatha before starring at Indiana. At least one — or perhaps all three — will be available when the Wizards choose the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday at Barclays Center, but Grunfeld said that he doesn’t feel any added pressure to pick a player because fans in the area are already familiar with him. “No. Why should I?” Grunfeld said at a news conference in advance of the NBA draft on Tuesday at Verizon Center. “We’re going to take the player that we feel is going to help us the most long term.” Porter, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett and Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel all came to Washington to meet with the Wizards since the team moved up five spots in the NBA draft lottery. Grunfeld didn’t offer any hints about where he is leaning with the draft quickly approaching, but at least seemed committed to using the selection after admitting that the team has had discussions about dealing the pick.

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: So why would the New Orleans Pelicans have any interest in possibly selecting Michigan point guard Trey Burke with their sixth overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft? Despite already having Vasquez, Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts, though he could become a free agent if the Pelicans don't pick up his option next month, Burke is a rare talent. He was the national player of the year after averaging 18.6 points and 6.7 assists leading Michigan to the Final Four this past season. … With Burke, the Pelicans would have a better chance of getting into their sets quicker, get up better shots and take more advantage of Anthony Davis’ athleticism like the gold medal winning 2012 USA Basketball team did when he soared often for alley-oop dunks at the London Olympics. … The Pelicans don't have a glaring need at point guard like they do at small forward, but they also shouldn’t bypass possibly selecting the best player left on the draft board when they select at No. 6 if Burke is available. In regards to improving the small forward spot, free agency is the best solution.

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: There will be no more hiding and no more speculation as to what the 76ers have been doing since introducing Sam Hinkie as president and general manager on May 14. Tomorrow night, the Sixers are scheduled to make three picks in the NBA draft, first at No. 11, then twice in the second round (Nos. 35 and 42). At some point during the evening, Hinkie will come out and talk about the players he picked, or the players the Sixers traded for, or the picks they traded away. While that will be his top priority, the questions certainly will shift in the direction of what is going on with this organization: Is there a plan for free agency? Does that plan include an offer to Andrew Bynum? How stable is the roster as constructed? Oh, yeah. And how is that coaching search going? If you're looking for answers - and we all are - perhaps some of them will come tomorrow. But don't count on it. For reasons only he knows, Hinkie has decided to go into hiding since taking the job after being an assistant to the GM in Houston.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: If possession is 9/10ths of the law, then the Mavericks appear to have an inside track to a new point guard. Gal Mekel, an Israeli who played last season for Maccabi Haifa, has been in Dallas the last couple days, worked out for the Mavericks and was at the team’s basketball offices on Tuesday. Mekel, 6-3, attended Wichita State before returning to Israel to continue his playing career. He’s been likened to a J.J. Barea starter kit. As a free agent, Mekel is eligible to agree to terms with any NBA team after July 1, when free agency opens. At 25, he’s got experience of international play and has been pursued by several other NBA teams. The Mavericks spent a considerable amount of time chatting with Mekel on Tuesday.

  • Robert McLeod of the Globe and Mail: The Raptors do not own a pick in the two rounds of the draft, so having all those boards to stare at might be like owning a fancy wide-screen television without any cable to provide the moving pictures. “You never know what’s going to come your way,” Ujiri said. “I think obviously you’ve studied the draft all year and you have the guys you like, the guys you don’t like, and how you rank them. “And you go into it preparing like you never know what might happen on draft day.” Ujiri is alluding to the possibility that the Raptors could wind up trading into the draft. But unless there are teams willing to take a flier on, say, Andrea Bargnani, the underachieving Italian power forward who has two years and $22-million (all currency U.S.) left on his contract, Ujiri’s hands appear to be tied. Apart from surrendering younger assets such as Jonas Valanciunas or Terrence Ross, the Raptors do not appear to have many bargaining chips. Still, you can’t blame a guy for trying. Asked if he was working the phones to try to trade into the draft, as several Internet reports have suggested, Ujiri said: “I never like to play my hand in any kind of way.”

  • Joesph Goodman of The Miami Herald: At last count, the Heat’s Harlem Shake video, uploaded to the social-media depository Feb. 28, was approaching 46 million views. Within two days of its link first appearing on the Heat’s Twitter account (@MiamiHEAT), the video was retweeted 63,927 times. According to Research Magazine, 51 percent of the video’s social-media sharing came from outside the United States. What does that mean, exactly? It means the Heat is the first American sports dynasty of the Social Media Age, and it wasn’t accomplished by Ray Allen hitting his unforgettable three-pointer, the team running off 27 consecutive victories or LeBron James winning back-to-back everything. It was done with an oversized bear head hiding Dwyane Wade’s face, Mario Chalmers as Super Mario, Shane Battier’s “horsestronaut” costume and James donning his matching fuzzy and red faux ermine fur crown and cape, and dancing shirtless. Yes, it can be argued that one doesn’t happen without the other, but what’s the lasting image of this team going to be worldwide? Did the Harlem Shake make the defending champions, or did the defending champions make the Harlem Shake? “The horse head,” Battier said. “It’s undefeated.” No, seriously. “I had one secret for Game 7,” Battier said. “I don’t think we could have done it without the ‘horsestronaut.’ ”

  • Brad Rock of the Deseret News: Here is all the dirt on John Stockton: He wrecked his parents’ car as a teenager and rolled a mangled tire into the Spokane River. He cursed at his brother during driveway pickup games. He botched the words at his wedding rehearsal, nervously pledging his “love and infidelity,” rather than fidelity. He admits that late in his career he failed to address an undercurrent of discord among teammates, which hurt chemistry. So there you have it, straight from his soon-to-be-released book, “Assisted,” written with his middle school coach, Kerry Pickett. Sex, drugs and partying? There’s none of that. No tattling on teammates, either. “Bad as I Wanna Be” it’s not. If you thought you knew the Hall of Fame basketball player, the answer is yes and no. That “altar boy” image is true, at least in one sense: He really was an altar boy.