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First Cup: Friday

  • Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times: "The Knicks' off-season has created much discussion but little movement, with the organization at a standstill with its own free agents and others while it teeters between the incremental moves of the present and the potentially momentous ones of 2010. Spurned by the veterans Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, who chose to stay with teams that offered better odds of reaching the playoffs, the Knicks have focused on the Milwaukee Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions. But even signing Sessions is unlikely because of its implications on the Knicks' payroll during next off-season's free agency. Sessions is also a restricted free agent, so the Bucks can match any offer sheet. The Knicks have not presented a formal offer to Sessions, said his agent, James Wells. The Los Angeles Clippers are also interested in Sessions, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists last season. 'Nothing's changed,' Wells said Thursday. 'We're still talking to teams, and the Knicks are one of them. We're trying to get something done sooner rather than later and go from there.' "

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: "The Bucks didn't so much lose Villanueva as they chose not to make him the qualifying offer of somewhere around $4.65 million a season for fear he would bounce back to them in a depressed free-agent market. Because having Villanueva back on a bloated payroll would've exposed the Bucks to the NBA's luxury tax -- an insane notion for a team that wasn't going to make the playoffs with him -- they simply did not want him for financial reasons. And that's beyond the fact that, at 6 feet 11 inches, he stood on the perimeter shooting threes and didn't play defense. Who knew he would get $7 million from the Pistons? But know what? Good for Charlie V. He's a great guy and a terrific teammate. I'm happy he got paid. But because of past mismanagement, it just couldn't be here. Sessions is the kind of player you'd want in your locker room, too, but let's be honest here: The Bucks, for good or ill, have cast their lot with Brandon Jennings. He is their point guard moving forward and will start, barring unforeseen circumstances, from Day 1. They prefer their first-round pick's upside. They like the fact Jennings is quicker and much more spontaneous with his open-floor decision-making."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Spencer Hawes plopped onto the couch in the lobby of the Kings' practice facility, his 7-foot frame dominating the decor. A bag of ice encased his right knee. His gray T-shirt was soaked with sweat. His arms draped the back of the furniture, a cell phone clutched in his right hand. No, he never made it to Las Vegas. He says he's sorry about that. 'The biggest thing was poor communication on my end,' explained Hawes on Thursday, almost two weeks after abruptly canceling his participation in the annual summer league. 'I definitely could have handled it better. If I (ticked) people off, I apologize. I couldn't be there for the first few days because of another commitment, but I planned on coming after that. Then when it all blew up, I just would have been a distraction. I have to take responsibility for that. But the key is I've spoken with the coaches and Geoff (Petrie, the Kings' basketball president), and we put it behind us.' Partly to make amends for skipping Vegas, but also to reassure the organization he hasn't suddenly lost his lusty work ethic, Hawes flew in from Seattle and spent the past several days working out with his new coaches."

  • Scott Souza of the MetroWest Daily News: "Bill Walker played in 29 games and averaged a modest 3.0 points while shooting 62.1 percent. He saw an increased role while the Celtics were decimated with injuries when he played in 11 straight games March 11 to April 3. But when the playoffs began, Celtics coach Doc Rivers predictably went with a veteran lineup and Walker went back to the end of the bench alongside Giddens and second-year point guard Gabe Pruitt. Now the three are trying to prove they deserve to be with a franchise with title aspirations and little patience for player development. 'It's consistency,' said Walker of the key to sticking around. 'I think last year my consistency wasn't where it needed to be. There were days that I had great practices and other days when I was just out there. It's about coming in every day and doing what I can do every day. It's knowing that's what is going to get me my opportunities out on the floor.' The 21-year-old has been mentioned in trade talks throughout the summer as the Celtics look to create roster flexibility and limit their luxury-tax hit. 'I can't control that,' he said. 'The only thing I can control is me getting better. That's what I go in and focus on every day. (Trade talk) is the business side of it. That comes with the territory. I know I can control one thing in the equation and that's how good I can become. That's all I am worried about. If it's not here, I will go some other place with the same dedication that I have now.' "

  • Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "After nearly making the U.S. Olympic roster last summer, the 6-foot-9-inch forward from the Oklahoma City Thunder played with ease and confidence throughout a two-hour workout observed by coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff. The 20-year-old was the best player on the floor. 'I've been through this before, so I kinda know what to expect,' Kevin Durant said. Having barely missed the Beijing Olympics, in which Team USA won the gold medal, Durant said he is highly motivated to make the roster that will play in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey and 2012 London Olympics. 'Definitely,' Durant said. 'I'm watching (the Olympics) and I'm thinking, 'Man, I would love to be there with those guys.' So this camp is important in trying to establish myself for the next Olympics. It starts right now.' Durant, the 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year who averaged 25.3 points last season, probably doesn't have to worry about being left out this time. Unless he gets hurt, Durant almost certainly will be on the World Championships roster. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo all but said so after watching him Thursday. 'He's obviously a very special, very talented player,' Colangelo said. 'This is his third year with us, and we have seen him grow and develop. He's more mature, and he's developing into a leader.' "

  • Rob Miech of the Las Vegas Sun: "Anthony Randolph Jr. got the call to serve his country the other day and quickly called his parents. Anthony Sr. and Crystal served in the U.S. Army. 'They both cried,' said Junior, who parlayed a blistering NBA Summer League performance into a spot on the U.S. national basketball team. 'That I'm able to serve my country, even in a little way, is great.' Wednesday night, after a team meeting, Randolph went to his room in the Wynn and, with a Team USA trainer at his side, tried on his official No. 62 jersey. 'It's crazy,' he said. 'I looked in the mirror and just started smiling.
    It's real special to be here and be considered to represent my country. ... I can't even find the right words to describe how big it would be,' Randolph said of possibly representing the U.S. in next year's World Championship in Turkey. 'I'd be smiling ear to ear, every single day, like I am now. I'm just excited.' "

  • Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian: "Kevin Love doesn't see his participation in USA Basketball's minicamp as vindication after being snubbed for two major rookie honors during the NBA season. Love was left off the rookie roster for the Rookie Challenge game during All-Star weekend and he wasn't selected to the NBA all-rookie first team at the end of the regular season. Now he's among the NBA's elite young players who are competing for a spot on the team that will represent the United States in the 2010 FIBA World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics. 'I don't look at it that way,' Love said Thursday before practice. 'Vindication will come when I'm selected to the sophomore team (for the Rookie Challenge game) next year at the All-Star Game.' Love's progress during his rookie season contributed to Minnesota's improvement last season, and the former Lake Oswego High School star said he expects more improvement as a player next season. He is using USA Basketball's minicamp this week as another stepping stone. 'I'm just trying to get better as a player,' Love said. 'Playing with these guys will only help me.' "

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Unlike with Allen Iverson, Jamaal Tinsley and Jason Williams would appear to be at a point in their careers where they are willing to wait their turns. Iverson, by contrast, has stated several times in recent weeks that he still holds himself in considerable regard. When your only point guards are Mario Chalmers and Chris Quinn, you bet you survey the landscape at the position. Tinsley and Williams, if nothing else, are intriguing. It could be argued they also might be, even at this stage of their careers, as good as anything the Heat currently has going at the position."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "The Spurs have gotten younger and more athletic this summer, but their latest addition proves they still value veteran players who can defend, even as their athleticism has begun to wane. Spurs general manager R.C. Buford confirmed Thursday that Theo Ratliff, a 36-year-old center who averaged 3.6 blocks per game in 2003-04, has agreed to terms of a contract for the 2009-10 season. 'Theo has always been a very good defender and shot-blocker,' Buford said. 'Looking to next season, we thought that shot-blocking and rim protection was an important piece we needed to fill.' ... The addition of Ratliff gives the Spurs 13 players under contract, seven of them big men: Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner, Ian Mahinmi, recently signed free agents Antonio McDyess, Marcus Haislip and Ratliff; and second-round draft pick DeJuan Blair."