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First Cup: Thursday

  • Monte Poole of the Contra Costa Times: "Before the rumors came the wishing, open longing for the day when somebody, anybody, would come along to lift the Warriors from the well-meaning but ineffectual ownership of Chris Cohan. That day, thankfully, appears closer than ever. Cohan's door is open and, according to a few colleagues who fixate on all things Warrior -- Bay Area News Group beat writer Marcus Thompson II and MediaNews columnist Tim Kawakami -- our man Chris is ready for someone to make an offer. That person, if it's the right person, will become a prince. Or a princess. Taking over the Warriors after 15 or so years of Cohan rule is like being handed a map with directions to the good life. Your venue, Oracle Arena, should be good for another 20 years. You're getting a team with a history of losing amid mismanagement. You're getting a rabid fan base with a history of tolerating defeat but clearly eager to embrace even modest success."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "Chris Cohan tried. Not very well and not at all persuasively, but he tried to make it work as the Warriors owner for 15 strange and mostly losing seasons. He wanted to be liked. He wanted to run a winner. He was usually OK with paying market rate or just below. He was always shy, but he tried. And he failed. The reality is that, after all these lost seasons and player controversies and coaching oddities, Warriors fans will justifiably celebrate when Cohan finally sells his controlling stake in the team. Multiple sources indicate that Cohan has already begun that process; most expect that Cohan, facing financial pressures and weary of criticism and losing, will sell his 80 percent interest in a year or two, if not much sooner. ... As the Warriors fell into irrelevance once again, with Don Nelson there, once again, Cohan probably realized the depths and permanence of his 15-year failure. Time to move aside for an owner who can speak publicly and reach out to the fan base emotionally and financially. Time to replace the failure with somebody, anybody, else. Cohan was one of the last to figure that out, but at least he finally has."

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: "Saying your franchise is in transition isn't code for not being able to compete. The Pistons absolutely intend on competing next season. Are they as good as the Celtics, Cavaliers or the Magic right now? Probably not. Are they better than last season? Oh, yes. Are they a certain playoff team? Yep. So if your bottom line is being a solid playoff team in the first real year of transition, well, that's not so bad. Saying you are not going to overextend yourself financially on a coach is not code for hiring an incompetent coach. John Kuester might not have been president Joe Dumars' first or second choice, but given the way the roster has shaken out, plus the sudden drop in average age, he might wind up being the right choice."

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Trades Kevin Pritchard envisioned being accepted have fallen apart. Even efforts with his own players have gone astray. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, seeking big dollar contract extensions, remain stalled in the negotiating process. Now, it appears Pritchard is preparing for perhaps his last big pitch of the summer. Sources say the Blazers are putting together what they consider a 'toxic' offer to Utah's Paul Millsap, a restricted free agent power forward. If Millsap signs an offer sheet, Utah will have seven days to match the Blazers offer, but the Blazers hope they structure the deal to make it difficult to do so. If the Millsap plan doesn't go through, the Blazers will go after free agent Brandon Bass, a young power forward who played for Dallas last season. In the meantime, there are small fires all around One Center Court. That Roy is unsigned is particularly alarming and a signal that negotiations have snagged. Word is that Roy wants to sign for the maximum allowed five years, but the Blazers only want to commit to four years. A five-year deal would cost Portland about $82 million, although it won't be determined until the 2010-11 salary cap is set. That a player of Roy's talent and character wants to lock in his future with your club should be embraced and lauded. Instead, the team is nickel-and-diming him with the amount of years. It's bad form. ... Nothing, absolutely nothing, has gone right for the Blazers this summer. On Wednesday morning, Pritchard sounded weary and defeated, and refused to comment on his summer shortcomings."

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "NBA championships are won by star players. Rarely does a title winner not have a major star lead the way. The Rockets figured they had two in Yao and McGrady. The odds of winning a championship were in their favor. It didn't work. Just about the time the Rockets got enough complementary talent around them to do damage, they broke down. Already planning how to get it done without McGrady, the Rockets must now go about building a champion without Yao. It's not easy to put together a championship-caliber roster. It's almost impossible to put one together that can contend with Yao and without, which is what the Rockets will be left with if they commit to Yao. There is a recognized rule when it comes to superstar NBA players, especially those with a special locker-room presence: If you have one, you keep him, because at some point in his career he is going to win a championship. Yao is that type of player. But his body keeps letting him down. Still, history says the odds are he will one day win a championship. Unfortunately for Rockets fans, when Yao broke his foot in May against the Lakers and the injury got worse instead of better, he moved closer to winning that title somewhere other than Houston."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "On the Wednesday Ben Gordon signed his five-year contract that could be worth up to $60 million with the Pistons, the Bulls signed Jannero Pargo to a one-year deal worth roughly $2 million to try to soften Gordon's loss. Pargo, a local product from Robeson High, played 102 games over three seasons with the Bulls from 2003-06. Last season's unsavory experience with Moscow Dynamo brought him back to the NBA, where he's a career 37 percent three-point shooter. 'It's a great fit,' said Mark Bartelstein, Pargo's Chicago-based agent. 'A lot of teams wanted him, but he loved it here. He's an explosive scorer who can take up some slack for Gordon.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "After his second on-court workout since his February eye surgery, Amare Stoudemire talked publicly for the first time since the Suns nearly traded him to Golden State. Stoudemire clarified or reasserted points that he is healthy, wants to stay in Phoenix, does not want to play for Golden State and wants a maximum-level contract extension. Stoudemire is eligible for an extension before the season starts and can opt out of his current contract's final season (2010-11) next summer if
    his deal is not extended. 'Right now, it all depends on what team I want to go to,' Stoudemire said of his willingness to sign an extension, specifying that he would 'probably not' sign one with a mediocre team. 'I'll sign an extension with a team that has a future. The ball is in midcourt right now. It's on both sides. We have to come to an (agreement) here and figure out what's best for both of us. If I had to re-sign with a mediocre team, it would be here. Because I'm here. I've been here my whole career. And I would love to bring the Suns back to where we once were. That's my ultimate goal, a la Paul Pierce. He did it with Boston. He stuck around. Boston took care of him. They made the right decision to bring in Garnett and a few other players and they won a championship. Hopefully, we can do the same here.' "

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "On the first day that NBA teams could officially sign free agents, Ron Artest lifted his new Michael Jackson-inspired jersey for the Los Angeles Lakers, Rasheed Wallace made the first step toward possibly establishing a Big Four with the Boston Celtics, and the Washington Wizards stood on the sideline, watching it all unfold. Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards' president of basketball operations, observed those moves, as well as others by Detroit (signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva), San Antonio (signing Antonio McDyess) and Houston (signing Trevor Ariza). But Grunfeld said he was content with Washington's own roster upgrades, which came as a result of the trade with Minnesota for Mike Miller and Randy Foye before the NBA draft. 'We can't control what other teams do, and some teams have made some good moves for themselves. But we feel that we have also,' Grunfeld said yesterday in a phone interview. 'We're a much stronger team. We're adding not only Mike Miller and Randy Foye, but also Brendan Haywood, Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson, who didn't play [much] for us last season. It's going to be a completely different team that we're putting out there," Grunfeld said. "We're mainly concerned about where we are and we feel good about where we are and that we're going to be a very competitive team.' "