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First Cup: Monday

  • Tom Knott of The Washington Times: "David Stern is playing tough with the NBA referees. You could argue it is long past time. The lack of consistent officiating in the NBA is the dynamic that never goes away. It is the dynamic that drives coaches, players and fans ballistic. Maybe now, finally, Stern wants to drive a stake through the heart of a union that let him and the NBA down in the Tim Donaghy scandal. It comes with a risk. As maddening as the officiating can be - and maddening is too soft a description whenever LeBron James is allowed to 'crab-dribble' his way to the basket - it promises to become even more infuriating with the replacement referees. These are the backups who ply their craft in the WNBA and NBA Development League, in venues where being out of position goes with the program. It is one thing to use replacement referees in the preseason. It will be another to dump them on a public that pays big dollars to attend an NBA game. That will cheapen a product that already has taken a hit in a struggling economy. That will cheapen a product that routinely fights the charge that its 82-game regular season lacks intensity and drama."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel: "Michael Beasley Sr. said Saturday that his son is scheduled to be released from a Houston rehab center Sunday and expects the Miami Heat to experience a more mature player upon the second-year forward's return to the practice court. 'He said he learned a lot about himself in this process,' the elder Beasley said by phone, 'and it was a wake-up call for him that he needs to take his career more seriously.' The younger Beasley has been in inpatient treatment since last month, after committing a violation while in the NBA's substance-abuse program. His father said the two spoke for more the two hours on the eve of the forward's scheduled release. 'He's OK. He's got his head together. He's happy,' Michael Beasley Sr. said. 'He talked about the decisions he made that got him where he was. And once he took responsibility for that, then he took the program more seriously.' Beasley initially was placed in the substance-abuse program after a violation at last year's rookie-orientation symposium, where the scent of marijuana was present."

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "Many NBA observers speculated that the signing of controversial and aging guard Allen Iverson was merely a publicity stunt to sell more tickets. Chris Wallace says no. The former Celtics general manager, given the nearly impossible task of rebuilding a franchise lacking any tradition and doing it in a troubled economy, said the Iverson signing, along with the plethora of moves executed the past two years, is part of an elaborate blueprint. Wallace came from Boston with the express purpose of being the lead decision-maker, not having to check with the team president as he did in Boston with Danny Ainge. As vice president of basketball operations/general manager, he has filled the transaction wires with trades, signings, salary dumps, and draft picks, hoping to make the Grizzlies competitive and fun to watch. Iverson's presence, he said, is intended to add fire to an organization that seemed content to lose as long as it competed into the fourth quarter. Iverson may want to start, and may want the ball 40 times per game, but he will play hard."

  • The Hoop: "Allen Iverson was present at the Finals of the Eurobasket 2009 and as it was expected he gathered a lot of media attention. The NBA star was asked whether he had an offer from Olympiakos this summer and his answer was 'yes'. Iverson was asked by Greek newspaper 'Goal' whether he had an offer from Olympiakos and he said it's true but he had to turn down the offer. He also said that it was difficult for him at the time to bring his family to Europe so he preferred to stay for another season in the States. Iverson said that he still has lots of fuel in his tank and he is certainly not closing any doors. 'I might come over to play in Europe one day' were his last words."

  • Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman: "Training camp is just around the corner. In eight days, Scott Brooks will begin his first full season as a head coach. Brooks abruptly was given the reins a week before Thanksgiving when P.J. Carlesimo was fired less than a month into the season. Training camp will provide Brooks a chance to implement some changes he couldn't make on the fly last season. During visits with players in their hometowns this summer, taking trips ranging from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, Brooks stressed improving defensively is his No. 1 priority. 'That's the one part we have to do is get consistent on the defensive end,' said Jeff Green. 'Sometimes we were lackadaisical on the defensive end, myself included. If we get consistent at that, work well together as a team, with a training camp under our belt, that will help us a lot.' "

  • John S Reid of The Times-Picayune: "With China's population exceeding 1 billion and its surging middle class holding affection for pro basketball, NBA Commissioner David Stern has intensified efforts to make it the league's most successful market outside of the United States. In 2004, the NBA had only three full-time employees in China. Now it has more than 145, and operates offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In an effort to run efficiently for the long term, the league established NBA China last year, a subsidiary that places all of the league's business in Greater China under one umbrella. Disney/ESPN and several China-based companies invested $253 million to become partners. The NBA China's biggest project is designing, constructing and operating up to 12 NBA-styled arenas in major cities throughout China. AEG, a leading sports and entertainment presenter that owns the Staples Center, is partnering in the project. Ultimately Stern has hinted about the possibility of establishing an NBA-sanctioned league in partnership with the Chinese Basketball Association, which produced NBA players Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Not only will Delonte West likely face suspension from the NBA, it's possible he'll have to do jail time. Police seized his guns and his three-wheeled motorcycle. He was released from jail early Friday on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 20. The Cavs are playing in Indiana that night. Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair was suspended for three games for having a loaded gun in his possession. Don't be shocked if West is not eligible to play for several games this season. Could his possible suspension be as long as 10 games? Are you glad the Cavs signed Anthony Parker now? ... After former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.'s motorcycle accident, fans in Cleveland are well aware of the potential pitfalls of such mishaps. But West has become a key cog on the team. He's important to the
    ir defense and offense, and he plays well off LeBron James. West, 26, has battled depression and is bipolar. He's not a bad guy. He's not a Pacman Jones. He's a guy who has issues. West recently was married and purchased a $1.05 million home in Fort Washington, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. He might be able to get past this incident, but he'd better have a very good lawyer."

  • Chuck Jaffe of the Boston Herald: "Horace Grant, a former professional basketball player, won a $1.46 million arbitration case against Morgan Keegan & Co. last week, for losses related to mutual funds that made bad bets in subprime mortgage debt. The allegations were related to investments Grant made in Regions Morgan Keegan Strategic Income, Multi-Sector Income, High Income and Advantage Income, all closed-end funds, and specifically suggest that the brokerage firm did not disclose the speculative nature of the funds. Grant played in the NBA for 14 seasons, winning three titles with the Chicago Bulls and a fourth with the Los Angeles Lakers. A former all-star and member of the NBA's all-defensive team, he's the kind of guy who can make headlines because he has the name, the fame and the deep pockets to fight a case like this one and win it. But what he also had was a case."

  • Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News: "The Russian billionaire who is on the verge of funding the Nets' long-awaited move to Brooklyn is a hard-partying bachelor who was arrested in 2007 on suspicion he was involved in an upscale prostitution ring. Mikhail Prokhorov, recently named the 40th wealthiest man in the world by Forbes, has an estimated net worth of $9.5 billion. And while Forbes estimates that the 43-year-old tycoon lost approximately 51% of his fortune in the last year, Prokhorov is still reportedly close to issuing a $700 million bond through his investment firm, Onexim, that would help Nets owner Bruce Ratner build the long-delayed Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn."