First Cup: Wednesday

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: Acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks in a multi-player deal with the Detroit Pistons last Wednesday, Brandon Knight is extremely confident in his abilities and his potential. “I know I can play with them because I have already,” Knight said Tuesday following a press conference at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. “I played against John; I played against Derrick and I know I have the talent and the skill set and the physical stature to play with those guys. “It’s not a question; it’s just a matter of me going out and doing it. And it’s having the opportunity to do so.” Knight, 21, who already has started 135 games, will be given every opportunity to exhibit his talents with the Bucks. Bucks coach Larry Drew has already designated Knight his starting point guard. Drew, a former NBA point guard himself, is convinced Knight has the tools to excel.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Can the Pistons become Lob City East? Their latest acquisition, point guard Brandon Jennings, seems to think Motown can become the Eastern Conference version of the Los Angeles Clippers. He looks at the front court of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith and sees endless possibilities for a highlight tape. “They’re going to make my job a lot easier, and of course I’m going to make their job a lot easier,” Jennings said today at the Palace on front of Palace Sports & Entertainment employees and the media. “I guess you could say we can bring Lob City to Detroit this year.” … Joe Dumars added that the he is very comfortable with the roster. “I don’t foresee us doing anymore big moves,” Dumars said. “I might do something smaller. With signing Peyton Siva yesterday, we have 14 roster spots, and so we’ll probably look at filling the last spot with a front-court guy.”

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: Well, whattaya know. Michael Beasley has surfaced in a mug shot. His hair looks fabulous. His future? Not so much. The Suns’ forward was arrested at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, pulled over for speeding in Scottsdale when officers noticed the smell of marijuana coming from his vehicle. Anybody surprised? He had multiple driving infractions in January. He was investigated for sexual assault in May. And now that he’s been arrested, he might go down as the most pathetic player in Suns history. Clearly, the Suns have no choice but to waive Beasley. They have a new coach, a new front office and a new infusion of fresh hope. They’re selling a new beginning. They are unveiling new uniforms in the next two weeks. They can’t afford to have Beasley anywhere near their product. Note how we have one former marijuana abuser in Arizona – Tyrann Mathieu – who is being hailed for his new focus and his mental acuity. And in Beasley, we have another athlete who can’t focus on anything but squandering every ounce of his God-given talent.

  • Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: The Basketball Federation of Montenegro has confirmed that Wolves center Nikola Pekovic will not play in the Eurobasket tournament in September. The news was reported by two Spanish-speaking websites, including sportnando.net. Pekovic, a restricted free agent, has yet to come to terms with the Wolves on a new contract. The 27-year-old Pekovic has been offered a multiyear deal by the Wolves, believed to be for four years at around $48 million. Last week Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders traveled to New York to talk with Pekovic’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, to explain the team’s offer in more detail. It is clear Pekovic and Schwartz have been working to get a better deal, though the Wolves appear relatively firm in their offer. Still, a deal — which could include incentives that could raise the deal’s total value — is expected to get done before the Wolves open training camp.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: We all know why, but 25 national TV games for the Lakers vs. 15 for the Spurs is pretty lame.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Christmas will be spent in Los Angeles, playing the Lakers at Staples Center. Thanksgiving will be spent in Toronto the day before a game there against the Raptors, although it won't be Thanksgiving in Canada. No, the Miami Heat did not exactly receive a championship schedule Tuesday when the league's 2013-14 regular-season calendar was released by the NBA. Over the past 10 seasons, the defending champion had played on the road on Christmas three times. The Heat, in fact, not only will have to leave for Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, but will not return to South Florida untilNew Year's Eve. When it comes to Thanksgiving, the Heat are in Cleveland the night before and Toronto the night after (although that could leave open the possibility of Thanksgiving at LeBron James' Akron estate). No sooner was the schedule released, then Heat forward Shane Battier posted on his Twitter account, "Does anybody know when the schedules come out?" Shortly thereafter, he clarified, "The schedule I got said that we are on the road for Xmas and Turkey Day. I think I received a bad copy." This is the 10th time the Heat have played on Christmas and the ninth time in the past 10 years

  • Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune: It seems fitting that Derrick Rose's likely regular-season return will come against the defending NBA champions on their home court. Tuesday's release of the 2013-14 schedule confirmed the Bulls' opening-night matchup against the Heat on Oct. 29 in Miami. Rose has vowed to be ready for his first meaningful game action since tearing the ACL in his left knee April 28, 2012, during a playoff game against the 76ers. Fans saw glimpses of Rose warming up before games last season, but it ended up being a tease as Rose proceeded with caution. Now presumably at full strength, Rose is poised to lead the Bulls back into title contention after his one-year hiatus. The Heat, Pacers and revamped Nets figure to be the biggest obstacles. But considering how the Bulls competed without Rose or Luol Deng (illness) last postseason, coach Tom Thibodeau's bunch should be serious contenders.

  • David Barron of the Houston Chronicle: One year removed from a season in which they were afterthoughts as blockbuster attractions for national television programmers, the Rockets of Dwight Howard, James Harden and Jeremy Lin will make at least 26 appearances on national television outlets during the 2013-14 season. The schedule announced Wednesday includes a March 16, 2014, game at the NBA champion Miami Heat on ABC (locally on KTRK, Channel 13), plus 10 slots on ESPN and nine on TNT. At least six games, plus as many as three additional games to be determined, will air on NBA TV, but those games will be blacked out within a 75-mile radius of Houston. Last year’s schedule, which came out before Harden’s acquisition from Oklahoma City, included just two Rockets games on ESPN’s initial schedule and no games on ABC or TNT. This year, the Rockets are among six teams with the maximum 10 appearances on ESPN and one of six with at least nine games on TNT.

  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving: Home games Nov. 16 and Feb. 7. Road game is Feb. 23. Let's see if they finally can get on the same page. The debate will go on and on until these two actually play each other enough to render a result, which is why the February home game is scheduled for ESPN, the Wizards' only national TV game. Both point guards are No. 1 picks, but they didn't meet in three games last season because one or the other was injured. Irving was selected as an All-Star reserve in his second season, something that Wall hasn't accomplished in three years. Irving is a better shooter while Wall, who is the bigger of the two, is better at distributing and rebounding

  • Mike Gavin of Newsday: Somewhere along the way, the value of their NBA draft stocks intersected. Anthony Bennett's on its way up and Nerlens Noel's on its way down. Bennett, who was selected first overall out of UNLV, described draft night as "shocking." Noel said it was "frustrating." But now one is out to prove that he was worthy of being the top pick while the other is fully motivated to show that he deserved it all along. "I'll probably have to prove myself," Bennett said Tuesday during the NBA rookie photo shoot at the MSG training facility. "But at the same time I can't do anything outrageous and try to play outside of my game. I have to keep everything simple." …. He fell to sixth overall, where he was selected by New Orleans and later traded to a rebuilding Philadelphia team. "That definitely adds more fuel to the fire with my motivation to really be the best player I can be and show them," Noel said of falling in the draft. "I was already hungry as it was. Nothing wrong with being more motivated." His shot-blocking prowess is unquestioned, but Noel remains a raw talent offensively, limited to shots around the basket and putbacks. He said on Tuesday that there is still no timetable for his return and he hasn't begun any contact drills yet. "I'm just definitely being careful," he said. "Just waiting until I feel stronger than before and I'm ready." The paths of Bennett and Noel crossed once again Tuesday, this time as they wore their full NBA uniform for the first time. The No. 1 pick and the once presumed No. 1 pick, set to begin their careers.

  • Michael Pointer of The Indianapolis Star: The Indiana Pacers have hired former NBA player Popeye Jones as an assistant coach, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to IndyStar.com. He replaces Jim Boylen, who left for an assistant coach’s position with the San Antonio Spurs, and completes Frank Vogel’s staff. The Pacers hired former NBA player and head coach Nate McMillan earlier this summer to replace associate head coach Brian Shaw, now the head coach of the Denver Nuggets. Longtime assistant Dan Burke is returning for a 17th year with the organization. Jones, 43, has spent the last three seasons as an assistant for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, but left the team when it hired Jason Kidd as its new coach. He also worked as a player development coach in Dallas following an 11-year NBA career that included stints in Dallas, Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington and Golden State.

  • Tyler R. Tynes of The Philadelphia Inquirer: 76ers forward Thaddeus Young was front and center as he opened his third basketball camp Tuesday at Girard College in Philadelphia. The camp, which teaches the fundamentals of the sport to boys and girls ages 7 through 17 in the Philadelphia area, runs through Friday. Young said he has plans to start another camp in Memphis, his hometown, in the near future. He also said he tries his best to follow his pupils' development as they move through high school and beyond. "I try to go out and watch some high school games whenever I can," said the 6-foot-8 power forward, now in his seventh season with the Sixers. Some of the kids take away the experience and the skill work we try to give them and try to instill it into their games," Young said. "I hope the players get better with each year."