First Cup: Tuesday

  • Jason Reid of The Washington Post: For anyone seeking additional proof that the Washington Wizards are sprinting in the right direction, look no further than Saturday’s surprising acquisition of swingman Paul “The Truth” Pierce. After losing wing forward Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets earlier in the day, the Wizards quickly rebounded by signing a likely Hall of Famer who perfectly fits their short- and long-term plans. The Wizards replaced last season’s top three-point shooter and a leader in the locker room with someone who has been better in those roles for longer. They continued to remake their image, luring a high-profile player who only a few years ago likely would have laughed at the notion of coming to Washington via free agency. And Pierce, who turns 37 in October, will gladly watch from the bench at times while the Wizards take steps to develop Otto Porter Jr. The Wizards added a savvy champion who can help them move forward.

  • Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune: The best thing about the three-team trade the Pelicans agreed to this weekend with Houston and Washington is that the Pelicans did not have to relinquish any of their core players to do the deal. The Pelicans went into the offseason with few resources at their disposal and have managed to add starting center Omer Asik and potentially three key reserves, combo forward Omri Casspi; rookie point guard Russ Smith and power forward Patric Young to the five-man core of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. Impressive work, Dell Demps. Casspi, however, is expected to be waived after the deal is finalized. The Pelicans also reportedly are set to sign free agent swingman John Salmons.

  • Mark Ambrogi of The Indianapolis Star: Paul George intends to add another dimension to his game this season. "I plan on being a lot more physical this year," the Indiana Pacers small forward said. "I really plan on taking contact and wanting to get contact and finishing through contact. That's the next step for me." In his postseason meeting with reporters, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird said he would like to see George post up more. ... To be more of a force down low, the two-time NBA All-Star would like to add some weight. "Right now it's making sure I'm eating right," George said. "I want to put weight on the right way. I've been doing so slowly, but surely. I've been gaining a little weight and putting on a little size." George, one of 19 players who will report to the USA Basketball national team training camp July 28 in Las Vegas, is focusing on eating healthier this offseason. "I got a chef helping me on what I put in my body," George said. "It's been night and day as far as my performance on the court. That's been the key for me working on my body. No more McDonald's."

  • Andrew J. Tobias of The Plain Dealer: LeBron James's return to Cleveland could help bring almost $50 million a year in new economic activity to the city and region, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said Monday. FitzGerald said his fiscal office worked with Positively Cleveland, the local convention and tourism bureau, to reach that figure. The primary basis of his argument is the expected spike in attendance at Quicken Loan Arena associated with James's return to the Cavs. "I think there is a measurable economic value," FitzGerald said at an afternoon news conference. "When people say this is just about an athlete making money, there's more to it than that. Other people will make a living."

  • Perry A. Farell of the Detroit Free Press: There was no news on the Greg Monroe front this afternoon, which is now No. 1 on Stan Van Gundy’s to-do list. The Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach still hoped to get Monroe in the fold, but he said it with a tad bit of uncertainty. “The Monroe situation has taken center stage, remains center stage and will be center stage until it is resolved,” Van Gundy said. “We said that going into the offseason the primary situation for us was Greg’s restrictive free agency. There’s really not anything going on there right now. There’s not a whole lot more than can go on. We’ll just see where the situation takes us. We’re always on the look for people out there outside the organization.” Van Gundy said the team’s roster is pretty well set, but that all that could change depending on if Monroe accepts a five-year deal with the Pistons for an amount of money yet to be determined.

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Management's next offseason steps will be to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer by Wednesday's deadline. They dealt Anthony Randolph's expiring salary and two second-round picks to the Magic on Monday to pave the way for the free-agent signings of Gasol and Mirotic. The Magic will get the better of the Bulls' second-round picks in 2015 and 2016. The Bulls received the draft rights to Serbian big man Milovan Rakovic, 29, in the Randolph deal, but they have no plans to use him. The same goes for fellow Serbian Tadija Dragicevic, 28, whom the Bulls acquired Monday from the Mavericks to make the Greg Smith trade official. The Bulls will have to use veteran minimum exceptions or swing another deal to upgrade at shooting guard. But shooting in general, so crucial for a team with a healthy Rose, has been improved, at least on paper. Though it's only summer league, Tony Snell appears more confident and poised. McDermott could see rotational minutes as a spot-up shooter. Mike Dunleavy remains on a bargain contract and Mirotic adds an element the Bulls haven't had.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Two weeks of free agency have passed, and Eric Bledsoe's future with the Suns has not been consummated. That does not make it any less likely that Bledsoe will remain a Sun. The passing time also is not necessarily a bad sign for the Suns. Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, entered the market with visions of a maximum-salary contract. The fact that Gordon Hayward, who is the same age (24) and draft class (2011) as Bledsoe, had Charlotte offer him (and Utah match) the same four-year, $63 million deal that Bledsoe can get would seem to bode well for him, although Hayward's resume is longer. The fact that Chandler Parsons received a three-year, $45 million deal from Dallas would not seem to hurt Bledsoe, although even Houston balked at matching it. It would seem helpful to be arguably the best remaining free agent, but not in late July, when options are dwindling as fast as salary-cap space.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Good young talent tends to attract more good young talent. That’s why the Mavericks were so aggressive in going after Parsons. If Cuban, the headstrong owner, and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson had listened to fans over the last three summers, they would have thrown up their hands and figured they’d never get it right in free agency. They never surrendered. It took a monster contract offer — clearly overpaying compared with market value — but sometimes that’s what has to happen to guarantee some success in the high-stakes NBA talent grab that happens every July. Slowly, it appears the Mavericks are getting more respect as free-agent players. Last summer, they were in the final three of teams vying for Dwight Howard. This summer, they got audiences with Carmelo Anthony and the agent for LeBron James. And, they bagged Parsons, who might be the third-best free agent of the crop.

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Giannis Antetokounmpo was heading out of the Thomas & Mack Center carrying his game shoes and looking straight ahead. He finally stopped after several reporters called his name a few times. The second-year Bucks player was frustrated over his team's third consecutive loss in summer league play, an 87-71 defeat to the Utah Jazz. He said he had not won a game in four months. The Bucks did not play in May or June, but you get his point. The last Milwaukee victory came on April 11 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Bucks lost nine of their last 10 games in the regular season. Antetokounmpo did his best to lift the Bucks with a team-high 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals in the final game of the night. ... Jabari Parker added 14 points, four steals and two rebounds in 28 minutes, but no other Bucks player scored in double figures.

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: There appears to be a common thread among recent 76ers draft picks, and it isn't that they won't be on the court anytime soon. It's Nerlens Noel from last season; it's K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant and Jordan McRae this year. They are all long, athletic players who specialize on the defensive side of the court. The thinking appears to be this: The Sixers will play an uptempo style of offense, looking to get out and run the floor as much possible. Having other teams score as easily as they did last season certainly isn't beneficial for that offensive style, so it appears defense has been a priority. "The guys up to this point have been more positional defenders," said Sixers Las Vegas Summer League coach Chad Iske

  • Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star: Remember those reports in October that Canadian basketball prodigy Andrew Wiggins would sign a 10-year, $180 million (U.S.) contract with Adidas as soon as he leapt from the University of Kansas to the NBA? Well, they came half way true last week, when the 19-year-old Wiggins, who grew up in Vaughan, revealed on his Instagram account that he’d reached an endorsement deal with the German apparel maker. But his salary, a reported $2 million annually, is a fraction of the figure that rippled through the internet. So did the marketing power of the top pick in last month’s NBA draft nosedive over the winter? Not at all. Of course, the marketing of Andrew Wiggins also depends heavily on the how he co-exists with the megastar James, who announced Friday he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in Miami. James’ presence moves Wiggins lower in the Cavaliers’ hierarchy, but if James turns the club into a contender, Wiggins’ profile will rise. “His Q-rating literally changed over the last three hours,” says sports marketing agent Quency Phillips, CEO of the Chicago-based Que Agency, on Friday, the day James announced he was returning to Cleveland. “If they checked the metrics it has to. Being mentioned in the starting lineup with LeBron James, all of (James’ fame) has to come into play.” But not even a prominent role on a playoff club would propel Wiggins to a James-sized shoe deal as a rookie. James’ contract with Nike pays him $19 million a year. Adidas’ global head of basketball sports marketing Chris Grancio says the company plans to use Wiggins to help sell a line of sneakers slated for a fall release, but said a Wiggins signature shoe isn’t forthcoming.