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First Cup: Monday

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Months after Chandler Parsons had been among the keys to the Rockets’ hopes, their captain and perhaps the league’s best bargain, he is none of those things. He is instead the Dallas Mavericks prized free agent acquisition and the symbol of the Rockets’ off-season gone wrong. A year to the day after the Rockets officially signed Dwight Howard, they chose not to match the offer sheet signed by the player that helped recruit Howard, letting Parsons jump to the Mavericks and a three-year, $46 million contract. The Rockets chose to let Parsons go to Dallas on Sunday because they believed that with the contracts held by Parsons, Howard and James Harden they would be essentially locked out of other moves, a person with knowledge of the decision said. They instead opted to take the hit in exchange for the flexibility, with several potential deal-making moves, believing their chances of building a contender would be better with the ability to make other moves. By letting Parsons go, the Rockets could have up to max cap room (depending on the next salary cap) next summer, and a substantial trade exception this season to position themselves to build in the ways they could not this week and the draft pick from the New Orleans Pelicans set up nearly identically to the pick that brought them James Harden.

  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News: If the draft is a perennial non-event and every summer they swing and miss at the big-name free agent, give the Mavs this: They’re getting pretty good at Plan B. They missed out on Melo and LeBron but won a game of chicken with Houston for Chandler Parsons. Next question: How much better will the Mavs be next season? Given the additions of Parsons, Tyson Chandler and Richard Jefferson and the subtraction of Vince Carter and probably Shawn Marion, too, they should score and defend the rim much better, even if they aren’t as good defensively on the perimeter. Parsons is a large upgrade over Marion offensively at small forward, and he’s only 25, a point not to be taken lightly on an aging team without much to build around. He’s just not close to as good defensively as Marion, who’ll be missed. ... All things considered, the Mavs did a very nice job of fitting the likes of free agents Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris, Parsons and Jefferson under the cap. But can this group do better than taking the Spurs to the wall in the first round? Only if Parsons’ career numbers continue to rise and Chandler redirects the traffic headed his way.

  • Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: And that was the way it used to look in the old days when it was Patrick Ewing, another great Knick without a championship portfolio, against the world; when Patrick had John Starks as the Knicks’ next best scoring option the way Anthony has had J.R. Smith. So now Anthony, who wanted the Knicks and wanted to get paid when he was leaving Denver, stays with the Knicks. And gets paid even bigger this time. So now we begin to find out, over the length of his contract and Phil Jackson’s and Derek Fisher’s, if his destiny at the Garden will be different than Ewing’s; if he can get past LeBron the way Patrick never got past Michael Jordan, go from there and win an NBA title. He has been here for only three-and-half years. His first game was against the Bucks in February of 2011 and he scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds and this is what his coach at the time, Mike D’Antoni, said afterward: “This was ordinary for him, and that’s the highest compliment of what he does. You drop him in any place, any playground, any place in the world and he’ll put up 27 points and 10 rebounds. That’s what he does for a living.” Now it is official that he still makes his living here. We will find out the rest of the way if he can do better here when the real money is on the table than Patrick ever did.

  • Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com: Whether Kevin Love realizes it, he will have the best chance to win if he's not the main man on his team. Love could be considered a 1B or the second-best player on the roster, but he has never shown the mental makeup of a take-charge 1A winner. This means that if he wants to pursue titles, Love will accept the fact he shouldn't be the highest-paid guy on his team. A 1B-type player doesn't deserve 1A-type money. If the Cavaliers don't relent on giving up Wiggins, this won't matter. The Wolves would be foolish to make a trade that doesn't involve him. But if the Cavaliers do include Wiggins, Love might have to make an interesting decision about just how much he wants to win in the short-term, even if it means taking less money or not getting any real assurances regarding James for the long term.

  • Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: And the Bulls get 34-year-old 7-footer Pau Gasol. His contract is said to be starting at somewhere around $6.5 million, but forget about money and think about basketball. I like this. I do. It’s not great, not earth-shattering, but it’s nice. The Bulls have pursued every top-tier free agent for years — from Dwyane Wade to Melo to King James himself — and have gotten none of them. Being close means being losers. We could try to determine what the Bulls’ problems are in terms of failing to snag the best talent in the league, but let’s instead revel in the addition of a tall fellow from Spain who has a deft touch both in passing the ball and shooting it.

  • Roderick Boone of Newsday: Apparently, the Nets' hierarchy found reason to pause after nearly $200 million in payroll, luxury tax and amnesty payments bought five playoff wins and a second-round exit. The franchise reportedly lost upward of $144 million last season, and even for billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, that can't sit too well. Because they're so far over the luxury-tax threshold, if they signed Pierce to a deal worth, say, $5 million, it would have cost the Nets north of $20 million. That'll give you reason to pause, too. He's just not worth that, and the Nets are doing the responsible thing, even though it might not be the most popular decision after they yielded all those assets.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: When the Toronto Raptors traded him to the Spurs on June 21, 2006, Matt Bonner wanted only to prove to his new team that his 3-point shooting could help them compete for another NBA championship. Eight years and two championships later, the player known as “The Red Mamba” has agreed to return for a ninth season in silver and black. Bonner's new deal is for one season at the 10-year veteran minimum of $1,448,490. Bonner is the third of the team's unrestricted free agents to agree to return. Only restricted free-agent big man Aron Baynes remains unsigned, though the Spurs tendered a qualifying offer to him that allows them to match any offer sheet he gets from another team. ... “I've been hoping to get the call that I'd be coming back the whole time since free agency started,” he said. “I was just waiting for the Spurs to do their due diligence on the free-agent market. I'm super thrilled it worked out and excited to come back to the Spurs' organization and the city of San Antonio and try to win another championship."

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: He is the youngest player at Summer League and everyone in the NBA will be older too, but do not expect Bruno Caboclo to be intimidated by those facts. Not if the Raptors draft pick was fine with leaving home and living alone from the age of 16. Not considering his up-bringing in Brazil, where his family was so poor that Caboclo could not afford basketball shoes, as well as other things at times. Caboclo is going to come to Toronto at 18, live by himself, and if he sees any game action, no guarantee since he is a ways off from being a regular contributor, he is going to let everyone know he is out there. ... “I love people saying he’s two years away from being two years away, they don’t know anything about basketball if that’s the case,” added Dwane Casey. He is already here in at least one sense. Following another good game Saturday, Caboclo, who is taking English lessons and picking up the language quickly, was told he will soon have his picture taken so his likeness will be in this year’s NBA video games. “So when you play as yourself, it will be accurate,” he was told.

  • Craig Grialou of ArizonaSports.com: Another lost summer for Phoenix Suns center Alex Len. What was expected to be a big summer for the second-year pro has been cut short by a broken right pinky finger. Len suffered the injury in his Summer League debut -- a 74-72 loss to the Golden State Warriors Saturday at Cox Pavilion. "I swiped for the ball. I think it was in the third quarter," he said. "I swiped for the ball and my pinky got stuck in the jersey. I think it was (Justin) Holiday. I thought it was just dislocated. It was like looking awkward so I put it back in place." An X-ray after the game revealed the break. "It's bad timing, but it is what it is," he said prior to the Suns second game, a 93-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. "I don't know how long exactly I am out for." Len, who missed last summer's action because of surgeries to both of his ankles, will have the finger evaluated further when he returns to Phoenix on Monday.