First Cup: Thursday

  • Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News: Andy Roeser, the Clippers president of basketball operations, was stunned at the scene at the team's facility: "I'm a little overwhelmed at the number of people here." Get used to it. "I really don't even know what the fuss is all about," Roeser said. It's your new head coach. The Clippers are on the clock. The championship clock. They should live it. Love it. Embrace it. This is what the Clippers and their fans and players have always wanted. Credibility. Respect. Stars. And star coaches. They've got it all - assuming they re-sign Chris Paul - and need to produce. … Rivers will be the savior or the curse. He came here for the players. Assuming Paul will be here. "I was clearly in a win-win," Rivers said. "I felt I'm the only guy that wins. I'll be back in Boston or I'll be in Los Angeles." But he'll be here with high scrutiny and expectations. That should no longer be a surprise to the Clippers.

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard tried to strengthen the bench last summer, with mixed results. They acquired Ian Mahinmi, Gerald Green and D.J. Augustin. Mahinmi had a solid season, but Green was a cipher and Augustin was largely invisible until a nice postseason run. Larry Bird’s first priority will be re-signing West, a free agent. Next, he’ll have to build back the bench, which took a step backward this season. The Pacers hope to take that first step tonight, either with a draft pick or through a trade. Bird’s return has been a work in progress for quite some time now. Simon and Walsh remained in close contact with Bird throughout the season, and the whole thing came together in the past couple of days. … By any measure, this is a good move for the Pacers, who grew out of the post-Brawl ashes under Bird. … Larry Legend is back. To finish the big job he started all those years ago.

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: Throughout this summer, there have been rumors the Trail Blazers might trade LaMarcus Aldridge, and I’m not the least bit surprised. Not that I believe general manager Neil Olshey is looking to move the star power forward. But I believe Aldridge wants out. Willit result in a trade during Thursday’s NBA Draft? I doubt it, unless it includes Portland getting either Atlanta’s Al Horford, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New Jersey’s Brook Lopez, or the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. See, Aldridge wants to end his seven-year run with the Blazers because he thinks Portland is too small. Too boring. But Olshey is not in the business to make players happy. He is in the business of making the Blazers better. And if there has been one consistent with Aldridge throughout his seven years in Portland, it’s that he puts up somewhere around 21 points and 8 rebounds a game whether he is happy, unhappy or indifferent to what direction the Blazers are headed. Still, it is an interesting proposition for Olshey as he embarks on his second summer of reshaping the franchise.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Wednesday refuted reports that his team is on the verge of a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would involve Orlando’s Arron Afflalo and L.A.’s Eric Bledsoe as the deal’s centerpieces. “We haven’t had a drop or an ounce of communication with the Clippers for almost three weeks,” Hennigan said. “So, if we’re about to make a trade with them, I guess I missed that memo.” The website Sports City, without citing any sources, recently reported that Bledsoe and wing Caron Butler “are expected to be packaged in a draft-day trade” to the Magic for Afflalo. Meanwhile, ESPN reported Tuesday night that talks between the Magic and Clippers were ongoing and a deal could be reached by Thursday’s NBA Draft. Hennigan said he would be “stunned” if a deal occurred with the Clippers in the near future.

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: A situation too untenable became too much to handle and Bryan Colangelo’s tenure with the Raptors is over. The 48-year-old two-time NBA executive of the year resigned as the team’s president of business and team operations on Wednesday, less than a month after being stripped of his basketball decision-making powers by new Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chief executive officer Tim Leiweke. For Colangelo, who has spent nearly two decades as an NBA executive, the sideways corporate move just wasn’t worth it. … The release said Colangelo will remain as a “consultant” to MLSE; league sources indicated within minutes of the announcement that he is destined for a job at the NBA head office in New York.

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: With less than 24 hours to go before the NBA Draft at Barclays Center and rumors swirling about half a dozen potential draft choices and virtually everyone on the Cavaliers' roster, there are two ways for fans and observers to approach tonight's proceedings. 1. Believe everything. 2. Believe nothing. If there's one thing General Manager Chris Grant has made clear heading into his third draft, it's that he will not be shedding any light on what he's doing one minute before he must. Two years ago, with the No. 1 pick, Kyrie Irving and his agent were not sure that the Cavs were taking Irving until NBA commissioner David Stern announced the decision from the podium. Grant and the Cavs will operate the same way on Thursday and, frankly, who can blame them? They have the luxury of not having to tell anyone what they're doing until they're ready and, since most teams won't be making their best offers for any of the Cavs picks or current players until just before the start of the draft, why should they?

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: Barring a last-minute deal or a complete change of heart by another team, Otto Porter Jr. is going to be a Washington Wizard by about 7:45 p.m. Thursday night. Porter is being tabbed as the safe pick for the Wizards at No. 3 in the NBA draft, the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none small forward from Georgetown who was in the team’s sights from the day they leapfrogged several teams in the lottery and secured the third spot. “Safe” is unfair to the forward who played two seasons at Georgetown and just turned 20 this month. Porter would be a great addition who complements the Wizards’ back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal. … If the upside of UNLV’s Anthony Bennett is greater, the Wizards could be kicking themselves in three years. But then, if you’re Ernie Grunfeld or Randy Wittman, you don’t have three years. At the moment you have today and next season, the team president and coach’s last under contract with the club.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: According to general manager Rich Cho, they could potentially trade up from the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA draft, trade back from No. 4, exchange the pick for multiple picks or just execute the pick around 8 p.m. “There are definitely possibilities,” added president of basketball operation Rod Higgins. “We’re always talking to everybody in the league.” The most likely scenario seems that they would stay at the No. 4 spot and take one of seven players: Nevada-Las Vegas forward Anthony Bennett, Maryland center Alex Len. Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore, Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, Georgetown forward Otto Porter, Jr., or Indiana forward Cody Zeller. With Cleveland, Orlando and Washington picking ahead of the Bobcats – in that order – at least three of the above players would be available when Charlotte picks. The consensus around the NBA is there’s no big difference between any of those seven. Cho concurred.

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: The only pre-draft workout conducted by the Pelicans at the Alario Center two weeks ago and involved Michigan point guard Trey Burke and Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams. After the workout, Pelicans coach Monty Williams said Burke can score the ball, has really good vision and can add speed to his team. That's enough for me to think the Pelicans are seriously considering Burke, despite already having starter Greivis Vasquez, Brian Roberts and 2012 first-round pick Austin Rivers. With Burke, the Pelicans have a better chance getting into their sets quicker, something they struggled with last season. Also, adding Burke would bring more competition at the spot and would give Williams an opportunity to take advantage of three-guard lineups where they could push the pace.

  • Mel Bracht of The Oklahoman: ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who will be part of the network's draft coverage, said the league would be wise to follow the NFL in its draft eligibility policy and not select players until after their junior year. “I think it hurts the NBA product, it hurts the college game and it's created an interesting culture and it also has made it more difficult on the fan.” Bilas said in a conference call Wednesday. “The names that are coming out are not as recognized as they used to be. “You still are looking for immediate help, but there is not as much immediate help available because the players are younger, there are more question marks, there is more of a developmental component in basketball than there used to be.”

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The timing of the NBA draft and free-agent signing period can be difficult — especially for a team like the Hawkis who are reshaping their roster. With the draft held first, a team in the position of the Hawks does not have an opportunity to fill holes with proven players before turning to the amateur ranks. The Hawks have only three players with guaranteed contracts next season. Three other players have non-guaranteed deals. Days after Thursday’s draft, a short turnaround, comes the start of free agency Monday. Many in the NBA look with envy to the NFL, where the order of player acquisition is reversed. This year, NFL free agency began March 12. The draft was held over three days more than a month later, April 25-27. The Falcons had needs at defensive end and cornerback going into the offseason. After losing cornerbacks Dunta Robinson, in a salary-cap move, and Brent Grimes, to free agency, the Falcons used their first two draft picks on defensive backs. There were able to do so, in part, because they signed veteran defensive end Osi Umenyiora on March 27.