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First Cup: Tuesday

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Brandon Jennings had a well-publicized taped phone conversation that played on YouTube earlier in the summer, and one of the things Jennings said was that guard Ramon Sessions wouldn't be with the Bucks during the upcoming season. It turns out, Jennings was right. Sessions signed a four-year, $16.4 million offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves and officially joined the Western Conference team Friday when the Bucks declined to match the deal. Now, Jennings will face fellow rookie Jonny Flynn and Sessions in the opening pre-season game Oct. 4 when the Bucks play the Timberwolves in Mankato, Minn. 'I wish him the best of luck,' Jennings said of Sessions. 'He did get a deal; he did get a team. I'm happy for him. I'm sure it was tough for him, waiting around and waiting around figuring out who was going to pick him up.' Strangely enough, Ricky Rubio's decision to stay in Spain paved the way for Sessions' departure from the Bucks. It's highly unlikely the Timberwolves would have pursued Sessions if they had been able to sign the Spanish point guard, the fifth overall selection in the June draft."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "Media day is Sept. 25 and the first practice is the following day. There seems to be different feeling - a positive one - about the Pacer this season. People have gone from saying they need to trade this person or that person to talking about the team's potential. The guy that put in my new furnace last week spent about 15 minutes talking nonstop about the Pacers. I sort of think he did it to get my mind off how much money I owed him. A lot of you have said the Pacers should make the playoffs this season. It's way too early to give any kind of prediction, but I've got them lumped in with a handful of teams that should compete for one of the final two playoff spots."

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "When training camp opens in two weeks, the Blazers figure to have three starting positions up for grabs -- point guard, small forward and center. Batum will compete with veteran Martell Webster to retain the starting spot at small forward he unexpectedly earned about this time a year ago. And heading into camp, coach Nate McMillan says, Batum is the favorite. Although reports from Blazers workouts suggest that Webster has looked phenomenal in recent weeks during pickup games at the practice facility, the fact remains that the one-time starter missed virtually all of last season with a foot injury and only last month was cleared to resume full basketball activities. Batum impressed in Webster's absence last season, particularly on defense, as the starter on a 54-win team. And his play this summer has reinforced the fact that the Blazers orchestrated one of the steals of the 2008 NBA draft when they acquired Batum, the 25th overall pick, in a trade with the Houston Rockets."

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: "There never has been much doubt about the competitive nature of Hornets guard Chris Paul. So it should be no surprise that Paul's personal sporting résumé has broadened to include golf. And the benefactors of his latest hobby will be several local children's charities who will receive funding from the proceeds of Paul's first CP3 Celebrity Golf Classic that tees off today at TPC Louisiana under the auspices of the CP3 Foundation. Long a bowling aficionado, Paul recently has been smitten by that frustrating outdoor adventure known as golf, where he can join other NBA players and his coach, Byron Scott, for a friendly game on the links. 'It's funny, because I've been doing bowling and all the other things for years,' Paul said. 'People said, 'You should do a golf tournament.' During the season, every morning I'd wake up and I'd try to call over to my brother's (C.J.) room, and he'd never be there. He'd always be at the golf course. I went to a really good golf school in Wake (Forest, alma mater of the legendary Arnold Palmer). And I would go with my roommate and hit golf balls every now and then. But after the season I just got the bug. I've been going to play about every day since the season got over.' "

  • Sam Amick of The Sacramento Bee: "When Kevin Martin signed a shoe deal with the Jordan brand last summer, it was a decision driven more by childhood idolatry of His Airness than the extra paycheck. Growing up in Zanesville, Ohio, the Kings' sixth-year shooting guard was among the millions worldwide who plastered Michael Jordan on their walls and tried to emulate his every move on the basketball court. His reverence for Jordan was so great, his disinterest in other shoe companies so obvious, you almost wonder if Jordan needed to pay him. Yet last weekend in Springfield, Mass., Martin felt like the richest man alive as he joined Jordan for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. ... Martin -- the relative rookie in a group of Jordan brand players on hand that included Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Finley, Juwan Howard, and Richard Hamilton -- was thrilled to spend a few private minutes talking with Jordan at his afterparty. 'I was congratulating him, just telling him it was well-deserved,' Martin said. 'And the first thing he said was, 'I can't wait to be here for your (Hall induction).' So I told him, 'Quit drinking.' ' Martin, who was admittedly surprised and humbled by the compliment, said it's one he won't soon forget."

  • South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The economic realities that could have the Miami Heat operating below the NBA's roster limit this season also have taken a bite out of the team's coaching department. While Erik Spoelstra's staff will return intact, all will operate at salaries significantly lower than last season. Seeking to avoid the type of layoffs that cost the business side of the team's operation about 20 jobs in May, Heat President Pat Riley instead asked those on the basketball side of the team's operation to voluntarily accept pay cuts ranging from two percent to 20 percent. The cuts, which include everyone from the team's media-relations staff to the scouting staff to the executive staff, will cost Spoelstra and Riley well into the six figures. With all members in basketball operations agreeing to the cuts, the coaching staff will return intact from 2008-09. That means Spoelstra again will be joined on the bench by assistants David Fizdale, Bob McAdoo and Ron Rothstein, with assistant coaches Keith Askins and Chad Kammerer working from behind the bench."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "As much fun as he was having Monday, Al Horford acknowledged that the stakes are dramatically different now compared to what he was doing as recently as last week in Puerto Rico. 'It's a big difference between just pro basketball and when you're playing against other countries,' he said. 'It's a big deal. There's a lot of heart and a lot of emotion. It's such a big de
    al. It's a lot of fun. It's different basketball, but a lot of fun.' For Horford and the Hawks, the real fun begins in a couple of weeks with the start of training camp. And after back-to-back playoff seasons the expectations are sky-high. With added frontcourt help in the form of veterans Joe Smith and Jason Collins, Horford is feeling better than ever about the Hawks' chances of living up to their newfound hype. 'I like what we've done,' Horford said. 'I'm happy we were able to get both those bigs and with Zaza [Pachulia] and then Josh [Smith] and myself, i think we're going to be good. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to getting everybody in here and training togtether so we can get our chemistry down and be ready to go from the start.' "

  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "There are going to be a lot of folks in Orem rooting for Ronald Dupree when he goes to training camp with the Jazz next week. By all accounts Dupree was a great guy who helped the Utah Flash to the D-League Finals last season. Most fans have an appreciation for just how tough life in the D-League can be, with players making $30,000 a season along with $30 a day in per diem on the road. Not only was Dupree, a five-year NBA veteran, willing to spend all of last season in the D-League, but he did something sure to bring a smile to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan's face when he learns about it. While he was with the Flash, Dupree would cook meals at home to bring on the Flash's road trips. The team would get on its flight to wherever in the D-League and Dupree would have a tub of red beans and rice with him. Not only was he able to save some money, Dupree figured he was eating better than he would at whatever fast-food joint on his D-League per diem. Needless to say, with his appreciation for self-sufficiency, I'm sure Sloan would be impressed."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: "The new-look Grizzlies will bond in Birmingham. At the behest of head coach Lionel Hollins, the Grizzlies' training camp opens Sept. 29 in Alabama at the Bill Battle Coliseum on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College. The week-long camp, which includes two-a-day practices, ends Oct. 5. 'We are very grateful to Birmingham-Southern College for welcoming our team to the city of Birmingham,' Hollins said. 'Many NBA teams hold training camp away from their home cities, and Birmingham will give our team a chance to bond and focus on the upcoming season.' Memphis has just two players -- Rudy Gay and Mike Conley -- who were with the team two years ago. The Griz have eight new players on their 15-man roster for this season."

  • Luis Arroyave of the Chicago Tribune: "Michael Jordan-related Internet traffic spiked around the time of his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and not just because of his blistering induction speech. Of the four Jordan-related searches in Google's Hot Trends list for Friday, three involved his date to the ceremony, Yvette Prieto. According to Hot Trends, which measures searches that experience a boost in popularity, the term 'Yvette Prieto' was No. 19, 'Michael Jordan girlfriend' was No. 21 and 'Michael Jordan's girlfriend' was No. 38. Jordan's mother, Deloris, sat on his right during the ceremony while Prieto sat on his left in a hard-to-miss red dress. Prieto has previously been spotted with the Bulls legend at NBA All-Star weekend in Phoenix in February and again in May, when she and Jordan wore color-coordinated outfits to the Kentucky Derby. The Cuban model once dated singer Julio Iglesias Jr."

  • Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News: "Robert Traylor, the former University of Michigan and NBA basketball player, was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail for breaking the terms of his probation from a 2007 tax conviction. Traylor, 32, pled guilty to three violations of his probation terms before U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn. Traylor hasn't paid the more than $175,000 in taxes, interest and penalties he owes the Internal Revenue Service, he has not set up a payment plan as ordered, and he has not filed his 2008 income tax return."