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First Cup: Monday

7/28/2014
  • Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: If the Timberwolves are still hoping they can persuade Kevin Love not to opt out of his contract after next season, they can give up hope. The all-star forward is adamant about leaving, either by forcing a trade or on his own. For a variety of reasons, there is no chance he will change his mind. Had the Wolves, however, given Love a maximum five-year contract instead of four years in 2012, he would not have wanted out of Minnesota. Love's preference, by the way, is to play with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs. Meanwhile, Love, who turns 26 in September, has been working out incessantly in Los Angeles.

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Everyone associated with Derrick Rose’s second straight serious knee rehabilitation has said the process has gone smoothly. Now, it’s finally time to publicly see the results. Rose on Monday will be one of 19 players at USA Basketball’s five-day minicamp in Las Vegas. The week begins the process that will include a three-day August stint in Chicago and culminate with a 12-man roster traveling to Spain for the FIBA Basketball World Cup from late August to mid-September. Rose hasn’t answered questions about his basketball performance since scoring 19 points in 33 minutes during a Bulls’ loss at Denver last Nov. 21. The next night, he tore his right meniscus on a seemingly benign backcut against the Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore. “This is the next step,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who also serves as Mike Krzyzewski’s assistant for USA Basketball. “Derrick has handled every step to this point the right way. The last time he participated in USA Basketball, he followed that with his MVP season (in 2010-11). So we’re hoping he can use this time productively.”

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: You never say never with Ainge, and in an interesting reworking of fellow owner Wyc Grousbeck’s “fireworks” prediction, Pagliuca points to Ainge’s restless nature. “‚ÄČ‘Fireworks’ means that Danny is fearless in trying to get something done,” Pagliuca said. “Wyc meant that there would be a lot of activity, and there’s still a lot of time to go. A lot of

    teams assess what they have and what they need after going through training camp.” And at least for the record, Celtics ownership prefers to keep Rondo through his next contract, which would begin in the fall of 2015. The Celts could actually receive a value bump from their existing material next season, with Rondo and Jeff Green both in contract years — the latter if he decides to decline the 2015-16 option in his contract. But in the meantime, the Celtics are in the midst of a period that has a lot more in common with the Al Jefferson era than they would like to admit. Jefferson was developed for three seasons before becoming the key bargaining chip in the 2007 trade for Kevin Garnett. The Celtics averaged 34 wins over that three-season stretch with Jefferson, including a two-year gap between playoff appearances. Even with Ainge’s reputation considered, the business of flipping assets requires development and time. The Celtics’ 2008 NBA title resulted from the single greatest turnaround in NBA history — from a 24-win regular season to 66.

  • Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register: When Bryon Scott joined the Lakers in 1983 as a rookie, having been acquired in a trade for the popular Norm Nixon, Norm’s buddies, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper, put him in the deep freeze for the first part of the season to break him in ... and it was still faster than the process that led to Scott’s hiring as Lakers coach. Two months and 26 days after Mike D’Antoni’s May 1 resignation, the Lakers finally made the obvious choice. ... The Lakers started out looking for a way to hit a grand slam. I heard they reached out to an unnamed college coach - who, I’m going to guess, was Mike Krzyzewski. Whatever happened or didn’t happen, all it did was extend the search. Happily, the Lakers picked someone who can stand up and make their world seem OK again, even if it’s not.

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Paul Millsap has a new summer job. The Hawks All-Star forward was added to the 2014-16 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team roster Sunday. He will one of 19 NBA players who will participate in the first of three training camp sessions to be held Monday-Friday in Las Vegas. The team will also hold sessions in Chicago and New York later this summer. The camps will be used to decide the 12-man U.S. roster that will compete in the FIBA Basketball World Cup that will be held in Spain starting Aug. 30. The U.S. will try to secure an automatic berth in the 2016 Olympics. “I’m very excited about being added to the USA Men’s National Team roster,” Millsap said. “I look forward to practicing with and competing against some of the NBA’s best for the honor of representing our country in Spain.” Millsap joins teammate Kyle Korver on the roster. The Hawks are one of only three NBA teams with two players on the roster. The Wizards’ John Wall and Bradley Beal and the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are also part of the roster.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Two weeks ago, Suns center Miles Plumlee was in Las Vegas as an inexperienced player who needed his skills to be developed during a NBA Summer League composed of mostly non-NBA players. This week, Plumlee is in Las Vegas as a rising talent who can help push the nation's best players in preparation for the FIBA World Cup. Plumlee, 25, is part of the 13-man USA Basketball Select Team that will scrimmage this week against the men's national team during its training camp. He did not see his selection coming earlier this month when Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby called. The good news was made better by telling him that his brother Mason of the Brooklyn Nets also was picked for the team. "I'm really thankful that we both got invited," Plumlee said. "You get to go play against the best players in the world. I think it's a big confidence booster to go there and compete.

  • Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: Summer league is over. Training camp is still two months away. So, naturally, it’s time for basketball. Basketball’s World Cup starts late next month in Spain, and a few members of the Utah Jazz are hoping to make their presence known on the global stage. Dante Exum (and Jazz summer leaguer Brock Motum) have returned to Australia to prepare for the tournament. Center Rudy Gobert is back home in France. And Utah’s new max-man, Gordon Hayward, will begin his quest to earn a spot on the United States’ 12-man roster starting Monday, when Team USA begins it’s camp in Las Vegas. Exum, the Jazz’s first-round pick in last month’s draft, figures to have the most prominent role among his teammates. With point guard Patty Mills injured, the 19-year-old Exum should get heavy minutes in the Australia backcourt. Jazz officials think it’s a tremendous opportunity for the young point guard.

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: Pablo Prigioni has done this before — backing up Jose Calderon at point guard. The Argentine and Spaniard were teammates in the Spanish League years ago with Tau Ceramica de Vitoria and now they have been reunited in Phil Jackson’s all-international point guard tandem with the Knicks. Prigioni is delighted to have Calderon — the Knicks’ biggest offseason acquisition. And he’s just as thrilled Carmelo Anthony re-signed on the dotted line. Prigioni said his wife and Calderon’s wife have remained friends. “I’m very happy to have the opportunity to play with Jose one more time,” Prigioni told The Post on Saturday. “We played together in Spain and we did really well. He is a great player and very good professional, a great 3-point shooting guy. He can run the team and read the game very well and is a good defender. He has all that a good point guard must have.”

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Roll call on the Thunder summer. Drafted Mitch McGary. Tried to sign Pau Gasol. Did sign Anthony Morrow. Re-signed Grant Jerrett. Let’s see. A rookie with all kinds of offensive talent but probably not ready for NBA defensive assignments. A former superstar who isn’t the player he used to be but still has a great set of ball skills. The NBA’s second-best shooter, behind only Steph Curry. And a big man whose only discernible ability, albeit it strong, is deep shooting. The trend is clear. The Thunder’s priority is to upgrade its offense. And the statistical trend says that’s smart. The Thunder ranked second in NBA offense (points per possession) in both 2011-12 and 2012-13 but slipped to seventh last season. Points per possession is the best way to gauge an offense (or defense), and the Thunder slipped to 1.081 points per possession last season, after averaging 1.102 the year before.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: In his five seasons with the Mavericks, Shawn Marion never once got anywhere close to scoring or rebounding like he did when he was a double-double machine and a four-time All-Star with Phoenix. And yet, he could see himself going down in history as a Maverick. And maybe into the Hall of Fame as a Maverick, too. The Matrix put the candle on his career birthday cake in Dallas when he, Dirk Nowitzki and Co. won the NBA championship. “It was memorable, baby,” Marion said. “It’s hard to say it wasn’t fun. We had a great run and made the playoffs four of five years and won a championship. We set goals every year, and most years we reached them. And to win a championship, it was unbelievable. I wish we could have made a couple more runs at it, but it is what it is." It’s become clear that Marion — if he continues playing — won’t be doing so in Dallas. That’s what happens.

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: NBA free agency intrigue will spill into August with a number of quality players still on the market, including swingman Shawn Marion, point guard Ramon Sessions, former Celtic Jordan Crawford, and Mo Williams, Andray Blatche and Michael Beasley. Those players come with baggage and it seems teams are going to wait for the market to dry and try to sign them to below-market contracts ... Another intriguing player on the market is former Celtic E’Twaun Moore, who had his moments the past two years with Orlando, while the Knicks just waived Shannon Brown a week after he played for their summer league entry in Las Vegas. Moore and Brown could compete for a third guard slot on a club.

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: A soccer television crew for NBC that was dining at the Heathman Restaurant a couple of Thursdays ago provided the first confirmed visual sighting of Gregg Popovich's summer visit to Oregon. The San Antonio Spurs coach walked with a cane. He had dinner with a couple in their 30s. A friend in that broadcast crew texted, asking me, "Would he be in PDX for any reason?" I'd been tipped off that Popovich would be in Oregon weeks before. Over coffee on a sunny day, screenwriter and friend Mike Rich remarked to me that he knew Popovich might make an appearance at a private wine event in the Willamette Valley. "You should try to track Pop down and see what happens," Rich said. This is how "Finding Popovich" was born. ... Popovich ate dinner at the Heathman. Others in the restaurant didn't approach him or make a fuss. His table wasn't surrounded by basketball fans who wanted face time with the man who is not only the longest tenured active coach in the NBA, but also every other major American sports league. In fact, the cane probably got more attention than the man using it.