First Cup: Tuesday

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: Yesterday, a source close to the situation confirmed to the Daily News that Brett Brown, who spent the past seven seasons on the bench as an assistant coach to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, had reached an agreement in principle for a 4-year contract to become the eighth head coach in the past 11 seasons. "He's going to be a great coach, he's really knowledgeable, has great energy, great vision at both ends of the court and a great way with players," said Mike Budenholzer, who was an assistant with Brown in San Antonio before taking the Atlanta head coaching job in late May. "Players respect him. He's demanding but they love him. He's got a great sense of humor but he's a great competitor, too. The competitive nature for Brett may be with his good nature, but he's a tough, competitive dude and that's more important to him than anything. In that city he's a fit, because he's blue-collar and he's a tough dude. He's a competitive person in every way, shape and form at every moment. At this level everyone is a competitor, but Brett has that extra level of competitiveness." Brown met with Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie on Wednesday last week in New York. It wasn't the first meeting between the two as Hinkie, then an assistant GM with the Houston Rockets, met with Brown for a position with that team a couple years ago.

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Kirk Hinrich played golf Monday, helping promote the PGA Tour's BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club Sept. 12-15 with a charity event that also included Northwestern coach Chris Collins. In two months, Hinrich's real sport will take center stage. A much-anticipated Bulls season will take place with the return of Derrick Rose. Fans aren't the only ones excited. "I’m very excited," Hinrich said. "We have most of our guys back. We had some great additions. The anticipation of Derrick coming back healthy and it sounds like he’s motivated. We think we have a very good chance." Hinrich and Rose spent the early portion of this offseason working out at the Berto Center.

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Newly signed Kevin Martin won’t play with the Timberwolves until October, but he reached out a veteran leader’s hand to first-round draft pick Shabazz Muhammad after the former UCLA star got kicked out of the NBA’s rookie orientation program for breaking the rules. Martin asked the Wolves for Muhammad’s phone number and called him for a chat. So, too, did Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders afterMuhammad was sent home after the first of four scheduled days to having a woman in his room. The program’s rules say no guests are allowed. “We talked,” Saunders said. “The biggest thing in any situation where there are rules and guidelines, you have to abide by them. That shows discipline. As I explained to him, part of being successful at our level is being disciplined, both on and off the court … He didn’t have much to say. He was very apologetic and just felt extremely disappointed in himself. We talked about his situation and his past, so you have to take what is a negative and turn it into a positive.” Muhammad likely will be fined by the league and will have to return next summer with the 2014 rookie class to complete the program. … Saunders said the team will not impose any punishment. “This is a league situation,” he said.

  • John Brannen of the Houston Chronicle: Summer school has started for Dwight Howard. The reputation of his professors should draw the envy of every other big man in the NBA. Former Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon was hired by the team to mentor Howard shortly after the free agent signing. After some hijinks in Aspen, Colo., Howard has returned and is getting to work with the Hall of Famer. Jason Friedman of Rockets.com posted several pictures of Howard, coach Kevin McHale and Olajuwon during a workout Monday at Toyota Center.

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hawks’ first-round draft pick Lucas Nogueira will remain in Spain next season to continue his development. The native of Brazil will play another year with Asefa Estudiantes Madrid while the Hawks maintain his rights. The seven-foot center, taken with the 16th overall selection in June’s NBA draft, was caught in a crowded frontcourt after a number of offseason moves that included the additions of Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon. The team’s frontcourt also includes Al Horford and Mike Scott. “We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen from Lucas this summer,” general manager Danny Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. “Going back to Estudiantes will allow him to continue develop while also playing meaningful minutes against very good competition. We will closely monitor his progress as he works towards his goals as a basketball player.”

  • Buddy Collings of the Orlando Sentinel: Former Lake Howell standout Nick Calathes flew to Memphis, Tenn., with his fiancee on Monday, prepared to finalize a two-year contract with the Grizzlies of the NBA. He texted the Sentinel on Monday night to say he will undergo a physical and sign a contract on Tuesday. Calathes' father, John, said his son is ready to live a lifelong dream of playing in the NBA after four pro seasons in Europe. "He's a Memphis Grizzly," the father said. "As far as Nick is concerned, it's a done deal, and as far as Memphis is concerned, it's a done deal. Nick is very much wanting to do this. He's a competitor, and this is what he's always dreamed of. He and Tiffany were supposed to fly up there on Sunday, but Nick was really sick over the weekend. They waited a day."

  • Beckley Mason of The New York Times: In a basic sense, Udrih fills an obvious roster need. WithJason Kidd gone to coach the Nets and Pablo Prigioni, the incumbent backup point guard, well past his prime at 36, the Knicks sorely needed another ballhandler and shooter. Kidd’s final month as a Knick, in which he made only three shots in 12 playoff games, was memorable only for how badly he struggled. But Kidd was a key cog in the Knicks’ rotation throughout the regular season because he allowed Woodson to play three guards, and sometimes three point guards, at the same time. These small lineups fueled the Knicks’ fun and productive offensive style. Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony are the Knicks’ two best and most important players, but neither is a great passer. To create an efficient offense that promotes good spacing and ball movement, Woodson often filled out the rest of the lineup with savvy passers adept at running the pick-and-roll. Udrih’s well-rounded offensive game makes him a natural for such a role.

  • Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: With verification in hand, Lucas is still looking for validation. He backed up his strong two seasons in Chicago with a nondescript year in Toronto, averaging 5.3 points in 13.1 minutes per game. Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey had a bigger pool of information from which to draw, however. He knew Lucas since he was a child, and Lindsey worked for the Houston Rockets. Lucas II ran the tennis club where the Rockets practiced, and Lindsey became acquainted with his sons. And that’s part of the undeniable truth about John Lucas III, which is no different from any story about a son following his father’s footsteps into business. For all that Lucas III overcame on his own and accomplished through his own hard work and dedication, it was on a trail previously blazed by the men in his family. "It was a gift and a curse, too," Lucas said, "because people would be like, ‘He’s just there because his dad was in the NBA.’ But it’s not like that. I knew a lot of coaches’ kids and players’ kids who don’t have that shot." Lucas is known for being a fearless shooter, even to a fault. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to being selfish. "I know in Chicago all his teammates loved him," Thibodeau said. "I think his confidence comes from his work." And that is Lucas’ defining characteristic. "At the end of the day," he said, "I want people to know I worked hard. My dad didn’t pull any strings for me. He never did, he never would."

  • Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post: When I first wrote about John Wall’s offseason tattoos, I included a warning that more ink was in the offing. “I think he’s gonna finish his back and probably get the rest of his chest done,” his tattoo artist, Randy Harris, told me then. “He’s going to get more before the season. Trust me. You’ll see me up in Washington.” Eventually, of course, we saw images of Wall’s “Great Wall” back tattoo. And also, a certain famous columnist was put off by the body art, not really because of the art, per se, but because of what it represented in some grander sense of growth and expectations and public statements and other things like that. Now, I love that certain famous columnist dearly. But in case he’s looking for a hot take on Wall’s newest body art, I do have a few suggestions: * “No time for sleep?” That seems like a poor pledge for an athlete, who would be better served treating his body as a temple, a temple that needs at least eight hours of sleep a night, plus mid-afternoon naps. Also, not sleeping is a poor example for today’s youth. The owl may be a symbol for wisdom and nocturnal efficiency in some lands, but “in Slavonic cultures, owls were believed to announce deaths and disasters,” according tothis article on The Owl Pages. Another story here says “in Czech folklore the owl, sĂ˝cek, is a bird of ill-omen.”

  • Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com: I find myself in an unlikely position today. I'm not in any way a music reviewer or even an expert. I listen to a lot of stuff, some of it weird and some of it mainstream. But I know what I like. And by now, I think everyone knows I write -- and say -- what I think without a worry of offending anyone. I don't suck up to anybody, either, including the billionaire who owns the Portland Trail Blazers. And I am here to tell you today that I'm very much impressed with the music on Paul Allen's new album -- or more appropriately, the new album, "Everywhere at Once" by Paul Allen and the Underthinkers. … And if I may make a personal plea right now -- Paul, we really need a Rose Garden concert with this group of yours. I bought the album and I'd buy a ticket to a concert, too. And I can't think of any better endorsement than that.

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: It’s got to be a little bit like herding cats for Cory Joseph and other point guards trying to run the national men’s basketball team, getting players of wide-ranging skill levels and experience to put aside past learned behaviour and coalesce into some kind of smooth-running unit. There isn’t an abundance of time, about three weeks of practice and only a handful of games, and the stakes — a spot in next summer’s basketball World Cup — are huge. Joseph knows it’s a bit of a rush job and may not always look like it’s consistently successful right now but when the bright lights go on later this month in Venezuela, he’s confident all the kinks will have been worked out. “As a team we’re doing OK,” the San Antonio Spurs guard said Monday. “Obviously there are still some things we’re learning about each other but we’ll have it down pat before the tournament. “It’s keeping everyone together, making sure we’re all on the same page and taking advantage of everybody’s skills.” The point guard spot is providing one of the most intriguing battles for the team, which will join nine others at the qualification tournament in Caracas chasing four spots in next year’s World Cup in Spain.

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: Seriously, I haven't been this enthused about seeing their product in at least a decade. It is encouraging that basketball decisions are finally being independently made by basketball people. The completely new direction of stripping down, going young, building around two talented big guys and reining in the payroll for the day when they might again become competitive has to be a welcomed change by anyone who understands the dynamics of small-market NBA realities. Think of it this way: Who would've imagined a year ago this time, as our Charles F. Gardner put it, that O.J. Mayo's pedestrian salary would be the team's highest?