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First Cup: Thursday

  • Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The man the Dallas Mavericks should never have let get away is coming back, in almost the exact situation that brought him here the first time. When the Mavs traded for center Tyson Chandler in the summer of 2010, he was banged up with bad knees and on the final year of his contract. The Mavs are again acquiring Chandler, this time from the New York Knicks, and once again he is banged up with bad knees and on the final year of his contract. So nice to have you back, sir. You should never have left us in the first place. Acquiring Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton, mostly in exchange for Samuel Dalembert and Jose Calderon, is not the magic potion the Mavs need to push beyond San Antonio, Houston, Portland, the Clippers or Oklahoma City, but it immediately makes them better. It also gives them more than enough room to make additional moves. No, not LeBron or ’Melo. Let’s be real, people.

  • Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post: Let’s start here: This isn’t DeBusschere-for-Bellamy-and-Komives, OK? That was a trade that altered the very foundation of the Knicks. Without that trade, there may be no championship banners at all hanging from the ceiling at Madison Square Garden. Without that trade, without the resulting fame that reflected on every member of those teams, it also is possible Phil Jackson might have become the most popular phys ed teacher in Williston, N.D., and not the mystical master of the NBA. Still, the deal the Knicks agreed to Wednesday was notable for two reasons. Most important: They are better Thursday morning than they were Wednesday afternoon. ... But there’s also this: This might well be the first substantial deal the Knicks have struck since Jan. 6, 1994 that won’t be met with at least sizable scorn from a fair faction of the team’s tortured fan base.

  • Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune: The Timberwolves do not have to trade Kevin Love in conjunction with Thursday’s NBA draft. Flip Saunders, the basketball boss and coach, can wait awhile. He might even want to hang loose until Carmelo Anthony finds a landing spot, thus putting the losers in a Carmelo sweepstakes more in the market for Love. Worse comes to worst, Saunders could wait until the trading deadline in February to move Love ... dangerous, but doable, I suppose. What can’t happen is this: The Timberwolves can’t put any stock in it if Love’s rhetoric were to include encouragement about re-signing with the team. If Love gets to training camp and says there’s a possibility he would return to the Timberwolves, everyone has to understand these words would be intended to keep Minnesota fans from completely turning on him and would have no basis in reality. If Saunders and owner Glen Taylor were to allow themselves to be duped by some phony vacillation from Love, and then he walks as a free agent in the summer of 2015, this would be my proposal: Immediately stop the $100 million remodeling of Target Center scheduled to start after next season. Turn it into a jail, or the ultimate brewhouse, or just board it up, but forget the idea of spending any money to spiff up the home of Minnesota’s NBA franchise. Honest to Joe Smith, if the Timberwolves can’t work out a reasonable trade for a 25-year-old who is among the top 10 players in the league, there would be no reason to continue with men’s pro basketball in Minneapolis.

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: With news that the New Orleans Pelicans have reportedly addressed one of their major offseason needs – acquiring center Omer Asik from the Houston Rockets for a protected 2015 first-round draft choice – attention should now focus on the team's other pressing void. If the Pelicans can somehow find a way to acquire a small forward who can make an impact on the offensive end while holding his own defensively, New Orleans can consider its offseason moves a potential success. Since the trade cannot become official until after the league's moratorium the first week of July, the Pelicans will not be able to officially acknowledge it, though the details for the most part have already been disclosed. ... Looking further ahead, this could mean the Pelicans won't be interested in offering unrestricted free agent Jason Smith a contract for next season with Alexis Ajinca in place as a possible backup to Asik.

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: The Magic have purportedly offered the fourth pick, the 12th pick and Arron Afflalo to the Cavs for the No. 1 pick. Likewise, they have purportedly offered the same deal to the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 2 pick. If the Cavs or the Bucks won't take these deals, the Magic should up the ante and make them an offer they can't refuse. How about this one: The No. 4 pick, the No. 12 pick AND center Nik Vucevic for the Cavs' No. 1 or the Bucks' No. 2 pick? Yes, this would be giving up a lot, but the Magic would be getting a lot in return. They would be getting something they desperately need -- a potential superstar. Vucevic is a good, young big man, but he's not a superstar and never will be. The same with Afflalo.

  • Tom Moore of The Intelligencer: While preparing for an NBA Draft in which they have seven picks, including Nos. 3 and 10, Sam Hinkie and the Sixers seemingly interviewed and worked out everybody. But at Wednesday’s predraft media avilability in New York City, three possible top-10 players said they never worked out for the Sixers. Duke forward Jabari Parker, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon and Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas didn’t participate in a group of individual workouts for the Sixers. Parker could go in the top two, while Gordon seems slated to end up from No. 5-9 and Stauskas could be picked from 10-14. Gordon said he and his representatives “were thinking about it, (but) it just didn’t work out and didn’t happen.” The Sixers did interview Gordon at the Chicago predraft camp.

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: Detroit loves overvaluing its popular athletes, either waiting too long to say good-bye or embellishing their departure. The latest example is Pistons big man Greg Monroe, who should be traded. ... Phoenix has three first-round picks. It doesn’t want all three. A 24-year-old center capable of steady 18-point, 10-rebound nights might elicit the Suns signing Monroe to an outrageous offer sheet. Van Gundy would be better served orchestrating a sign-and-trade in that situation rather than overpaying and overvaluing Monroe and matching the deal. Keep an eye on whom the Suns draft at No. 14 or No. 18 because that could be nothing more than a movable piece, especially if it’s a perimeter player since Phoenix has made improving its size a priority this summer. Despite the lack of a first-round pick, there remains curiosity as Van Gundy gets his first test as a chief executive. He has said all the right things, telling reporters Tuesday that the team has already determined its plan of attack regarding Monroe. The hope is that it won’t allow Monroe’s popularity blind the Pistons from making the right decision in moving this moribund franchise forward.

  • Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic: Forty-five years ago, a Kennedy half-dollar twirled in the air and with it the fate of the Phoenix Suns. Jerry Colangelo called "heads." The coin showed "tails," and the Milwaukee Bucks won the rights to the 1969 NBA draft's first pick, who would become one of the sport's all-time greats. This year's draft might lack another Lew Alcindor, now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but it is hardly short on talent. As in 1969, this offseason could have a profound impact on the Suns' future, thanks to multiple draft picks and financial flexibility for the free-agent and trade ¬≠markets.

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: (Bucks bonus notes: Some NBA officials have told me the Bucks may have made a promise to take Michigan power forward Mitch McGary with their first pick in second round — He shut down workouts after auditioning for Bucks — and are considering drafting Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo’s brother, Thanasis, in the second round as well).

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: As expected, the Utah Jazz extended a qualifying offer to Gordon Hayward for the 2014-15 season. The transaction ensures that Hayward will be a restricted free agent come July 1, a move that will allow Utah the first right of refusal on any offer that might come the small forward's way next month. Although other teams very well could try to lure the versatile 6-8 wing away from Utah, Jazz management has made it clear that Hayward remains in the organization's long-term plans.

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: Here are three questions central to any draft-night move the Nuggets contemplate: Is forward Kenneth Faried a franchise cornerstone, or a bargaining chip? ... Can Denver ever be a desirable destination for a player of Love's magnitude? ... Should the Nuggets trade back in the draft and build for the future? ... There's no untouchable player on the roster, and Denver is open for business. The night of the NBA draft won't be Connelly's only shot to make the Nuggets relevant again in league circles. But this might be his best shot. Don't blow it.

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: The Thunder and Knicks have long been linked to a deal that would send guard Iman Shumpert to OKC for one of the Thunder’s first-round picks. With Carmelo Anthony opting out of the final year of his contract, however, the possibility of that deal might now be on its death bed. But history says the Thunder will do all it can to avoid trading out. What Presti’s history also reveals is his ultra-aggressive philosophy of putting the Thunder in better positions to select from its desired pool. And what we’ve seen within that philosophy is Presti’s willingness to select a player higher than he was projected if that player fits the organizational culture.