First Cup: Wednesday

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: "Less than a week after the Grizzlies introduced Allen Iverson as the most significant free-agent acquisition in franchise history, the 34-year-old guard left Tuesday for Europe on an eight-day Reebok promotional tour. Iverson will make stops in Italy, Poland and Spain before returning to Memphis on Sept. 25. The Grizzlies' media day is Sept. 28, and training camp practices begin the next day in Birmingham, Ala. 'Generally, these tours are not this close to training camp. The reason is this one had been planned so long ago,' said Gary Moore, Iverson's personal manager. 'It'll work out fine. Allen is looking at this as the beginning of training camp. He's going to be in a basketball environment and training with professionals most of the time.' ... Moore said Iverson's international fame is on par with the welcome he received in Memphis last Thursday, if not bigger. 'He's an international icon. He's a rock star everywhere he goes,' Moore said. 'He's well loved and followed in a good way abroad. His appeal is mind boggling and striking because it's predominantly with kids.' "

  • Mike Jones of The Washington Times: "Gilbert Arenas had declined offers the previous two offseasons from Mr. Grover, who recently opened a 65,000-square-foot complex on Chicago's Near West Side. This summer, after two frustrating years, Arenas had a change of heart. The methods he and the Wizards' medical team tried had failed, so Arenas charged Mr. Grover and company with rebuilding him into the superstar who averaged 27.7 points a game from 2004 to 2007. 'It was a pretty extensive process,' Mr. Grover said. 'We had to get his range of motion back in the leg, did a lot of acupuncture, a lot of work. We put a game plan together and attacked it from as many angles as we could. Gil would work with four or five individuals from my staff each day. ... It was, 'OK, Gil, you're going to be spending a good six to seven hours a day in here and a lot of treatment, and it's all pieces of the puzzle to putting you back together to being the player you were before - and better.' ' That's right -- better. 'The plan was not to have him play as good as he had in the past, but to play better than in the past,' said Mr. Grover, who daily has watched Arenas play against fellow Attack clients and NBA stars such as Dwyane Wade, O.J. Mayo and Tracy McGrady. 'I have no reason to believe that won't happen. But it won't shock me at all to see him as an All-Star again this season, a 20-plus-point scorer, probably the comeback player of the year.' "

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "When Antawn Jamison looks at the Washington Wizards, he doesn't see a team recovering from an embarrassing and deflating 19-win campaign; a team that has struggled through injuries and first-round exits the past few seasons; or a that should be elated with a playoff appearance in the upcoming season. Jamison sees a championship contender bolstered by the additions of Mike Miller, Randy Foye and Fabricio Oberto and the return of a healthy Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood and Deshawn Stevenson. 'I've been around here for six years and championship talk wasn't a norm around our locker room. That's all we're talking about now,' Jamsion said, with less than two weeks remaining before training camp. 'If we stay healthy, I think we can compete with the upper echelon of the NBA.' And don't try to tell him that he is raising the bar too high. I don't care,' Jamison said. 'What you mean raising the bar too high? We won 19 games last year and I'll be honest with you, we didn't have a lot of our horses. But I don't have anything else to play for. I'm not going to sit here and sugar coat things because it's not the right thing to say. I believe it.' "

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "The more Rodney Carney played for the Minnesota Timberwolves down the stretch of last season, the more effective he became. When he made some big plays to help them to a two-point victory over Milwaukee, he became the postgame TV guest and his teammates responded by chanting his name as he arrived in the locker room. He was playing for his future. He just couldn't be certain where that would be. As it turns out, Carney landed back where he started, with the 76ers. There was no hard news to his teleconference with reporters yesterday, because he agreed to the terms of a 1-year minimum salary contract last week, but he seemed to have a firm grasp of a fresh opportunity to establish himself in the NBA. He did, however, take an audible deep breath when he was asked about his reaction to the Timberwolves' declining the final option on his rookie contract. Had the Wolves invoked the option, his salary would have jumped from $1,655,760 to $2,539,936. Instead, his new salary for a player credited with 3 years of service is $855,189. 'It was a big downer,' Carney said. 'I thought I showed through my ability what I could bring to a team . . . I guess it worked out for the best, because I'm here. [It wasn't a good time] for free agents, with the recession and everything.' "

  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "Get comfortable, this is going to take awhile. The following actually escaped from David Kahn's mouth in one long sentence: 'And I feel like, the way this played out this summer, it became even more apparent to me that his value, because of what he has already accomplished as a professional, and the way he plays and the buzz around him, will mean that the value that he has will hold, and that however we choose to exploit the value -- meaning whether he's in our uniform or somebody else's uniform, and I really hope he's in our uniform, by the way, but I also have to acknowledge that I don't know what will happen over the next couple of years -- but clearly at that position, there wasn't anybody else we could have taken that could have helped us for the future of this franchise like he could have, whether he's here or elsewhere, and so I think you can make an argument down the road -- I'm the first to say that five, seven years from now, we may be able to go back and look at the draft and clearly point out that it was the wrong thing to do.' And breathe ... We have no idea if this is going to work. You never do when a team rebuilds. Kahn has, though, gotten rid of a lot of mediocre players and bad contracts, and he's willing to set a timetable for success."

  • Alan Hahn of Newsday: "The line wrapped around the building, from Fifth Avenue onto 46th Street. They came here Tuesday to see, as one man shouted, 'The King.' LeBron James could very well take the throne in New York as a free agent next summer, but before he contemplates signing with the Knicks, he spent 90 minutes signing copies of his new book at a midtown store. 'I'm blessed that I'm even able to have the opportunity to do this,' said James, wh
    o is promoting 'Shooting Stars,' co-written by Buzz Bissinger, author of 'Friday Night Lights.' James, who is keenly aware of the importance of achieving global status, toured in China last month and has been a fixture in New York lately. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' (with Chris Cuomo chanting 'Knicks! Knicks!' during the interview) and on 'The Daily Show (where host Jon Stewart presented James with an 'I heart NY' mug, a burger from the Shake Shack and a supposed tyrannosaurus rex vertebra from the Museum of Natural History). But there wasn't much campaigning done by Knicks fans Tuesday. Only one person in line wore a Knicks shirt, and several came in Cavaliers attire. Plenty represented James' favorite baseball team, the Yankees."

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "The league announced that it has fined Stephen Jackson $25,000 for 'public statements detrimental to the NBA,' referring to Jackson's late-August informal declaration that he wanted to be traded from the Warriors. And just as soon as the commissioner's office can show me proof that Kobe Bryant was fined a single penny for his long, long, long loud public tantrum/campaign in early 2007 to get himself traded from the Lakers… I'll say that the league treated SJax's situation fairly. Or that the NBA inflicted any punishment on Larry Brown, when he negotiated with the Cleveland Cavaliers and maybe the NY Knicks while, at the same time, coaching the Detroit Pistons in the playoffs. Or that the NBA did anything, anything at all, to the NY Knicks management, before during and after its Isiah Thomas phase (until Donnie Walsh took over), for cartoonishly cloddy behavior. Or that Shaquille O'Neal ever got more than a gentle wrist slap for any of his various thunderous exits, from the Lakers (trade demand), Miami (trade suggestion) and Phoenix (who the heck knows what that was?)."

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Hearld: "To soften the blow of massive employee pay cuts, Miami Heat president Pat Riley has granted one-year extensions to several members of the basketball operations staff. Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and other key members of the front-office staff were among those in the organization who recently accepted pay reductions of up to 20 percent for the upcoming season. Riley told his staff nearly two months ago that cutbacks were necessary to avoid further layoffs. The Heat in May dismissed 20 employees from its business operations staff amid an economic downturn that has affected several professional teams. At that time, the basketball staff -- which includes coaches, scouts, trainers and executives -- was spared. Details of the salary cuts emerged Monday, while news of the contract extensions came forth Tuesday. About half of the Heat's basketball operations staff works under multi-year contracts. The team has declined comment, and it was not clear Tuesday whether Spoelstra and his assistants were among those given extensions."