First Cup: Tuesday

  • Brian Scalabrine for CSNNE.com: I’m going into a situation with a young team and a young coach. I will be the young Comcast SportsNet announcer in the booth next to the legendary Mike Gorman and learn from the greatest color analyst in the game Mr. Tommy Heinsohn. I know that I have a lot to learn but I see myself as a Champion, and I think I can help break down some great Marcus Smart dunks this season. I think I can elevate Kelly Olynyk’s game by the amount of research I make my interns do before announcing road games. And I can’t wait to reunite with Rajon Rondo, one of my favorite teammates. Paul, KG, and Ray may have all left, but Rondo and the White Mamba remain in Boston, at least for now. ... In Boston, nothing is given. Remember in the movie The Departed when Francis Costello said, “No one gives it to you. You have to take it.” That was a great scene and a great Boston movie. I’m ready to accept the Scallenge. Boston, I’m coming home.

  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: In the immediate aftermath of George's broken leg that is expected to force him to miss the 2014-15 season, it is difficult for an owner to look at what he has reaped while contemplating what a similar situation could cost him. ... I can understand the owners wanting more say over the offseason risks their players can take, but eliminating their ability to represent their countries in international events would be a huge mistake. Mark Cuban is wrong about the NBA getting nothing. Cooperation with FIBA and the IOC has given the NBA increased global-brand recognition; growth of international player talent; and expansion of global marketing and merchandise sales. The truth is that the NBA's participation in international tournaments has been a financial boon for the league, its owners and players -- a financial boon worth the unfortunate risk of injury.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Four current NBA executives and two prominent agents were anonymously unanimous in their belief that the Suns made a fair offer to Bledsoe and that he does not merit a maximum-salary contract now. One executive considered$48 million to be more than enough. "I'm surprised that they would offer him that much," he said. "They don't need to. It is really fair and, in fact, generous. He is talented, but he has never put it together very long, and he hasn't been healthy. It's hard to turn your team over to him." With skepticism of his decision-making and perimeter shooting, his athleticism becomes a key for his outstanding defense, drives and transition ability, but that is tainted by two right-knee surgeries. One executive and one agent said they could see paying him slightly more than Phoenix's offer, but only approaching $13 million per year. ... Perhaps a new deal gets negotiated in the coming weeks. If not, the Suns run the risk of losing Goran Dragic and Bledsoe next summer. "There is no way anyone in a million years could say the Suns are being unfair," an agent said. "Nobody can blame the Suns at all."

  • Cliff Pinckard of The Plain Dealer: Has anyone ever looked at LeBron James and said "That guy is looking heavy. He needs to drop some pounds"? Perhaps it should be qualified with "Has anyone in his right mind ever asked ..." And yet, look at this photo posted on James' Instagram account. But, as Sports Illustrated points out, he is getting older ... he'll turn 30 in December. SI says there were some "whispers" last season on whether James had slowed a bit. Perhaps James took that to heart. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com tweeted Monday that James has cut carbs from his diet and has dropped "significant" weight. In the photo he does appear much trimmer.

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: No question, the George injury leaves the Indiana Pacers in a bad spot. But those are the breaks. It's hard to feel bad for NBA owners since they get every other break. They can suck it up. The NBA's priority first and foremost is risk aversion. Teams' investments and earnings always are chief priority, often at the expense of the players. So it's hard to feel bad for the owners because on this one instance they're exposed.They got an age limit installed to avoid the risk of picking the wrong high schooler high in the draft. They cut the maximum salary to negate the risk of paying big money to the wrong guy. They trimmed the number of years on NBA contracts to limit long-term commitments. At every turn, the rules are designed to reduce teams' risks. Now they want to make it so their "investments" can't play internationally. Get outta here. If a team wants to bar its star player from international competition, pay him to sit out.

  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: Kevin Durant won’t hit the free agent market until July 2016 but the NBA’s Most Valuable Player is on the verge of landing a blockbuster endorsement deal that could influence his future on the court as well. According to a person familiar with negotiations, Durant, whose seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike is expiring, could earn as much as $30 million annually if he signs with Under Armour Inc., whose headquarters are in Durant’s home state of Maryland. Nike and Adidas are also in talks with Durant, whose combination of brilliance on the court and marketability in the aftermath of his emotional MVP speech has made him the darling of Madison Avenue. ... A deal with Under Armour could also be beneficial to the Washington Wizards, one of several teams, including the Knicks and Nets, putting themselves in position financially to make a run at Durant in two summers. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Under Armour Founder/CEO Kevin Plank, a University of Maryland graduate, have been involved in several philanthropic endeavors in the D.C. area.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: When he sat down with Adidas designers, John Wall said he wanted to make sure that the shoe would be a lifestyle brand that came in different colors. “I definitely wanted them to be light. I wanted them to be midcut. I wanted them to be able to come in all different type of colors, like you see [Kevin Durant], LeBron [James] got wild colors you can wear off the court. I’d like to wear my shoe on and off the court, so having my own colorways, I can wear them with jeans and I just wanted to be creative with it and come out with different designs. I think it’s the colors that make the shoes. You got to be able to have different colors to make the shoe hot.” To Wall, having Adidas reward him with his own shoe and a logo – a design centered around his initials, JW – represents how far his career has rebounded from its rocky beginning. “It’s great, a dream come true. My second one, I can say, but like, my real one,” Wall said. “It means a lot.”

  • Victor Contreras of The Sacramento Bee: Many words have been used to describe DeMarcus Cousins in this space. Immature. Selfish. Bully. We’ll stop there, otherwise we’ll run out of space really fast. But one word that’s never been used to characterize the Kings center? Patriot. That’s right. DeMarcus Cousins, Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cousins is working hard this offseason to make the United States’ men’s basketball team that will begin play later this month in the FIBA World Cup in Spain. Nothing seems more important to Cousins than wearing the red, white and blue uniform with “USA” stitched across his chest – playing side-by-side with some of the best players in the NBA against international competition. It’s his first official shot at the national team after twice being a member of the U.S. Select Team, which scrimmages against the big boys. Even if he doesn’t make the squad, he told The Bee’s Ailene Voisin he’ll keep coming back until he does.

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks hired Neven Spahija (pronounced NEV-in SPA-hee-ah) as an assistant coach Monday. Spahija, a Croatia native, has nearly 30 years of international coaching experiences, most recently as head coach of Croatia’s Cibona Zagreb. “Neven is one of the most successful coaches in Europe and we’re thrilled to add him to our staff,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “As an organization, we have great respect for international basketball and we will benefit tremendously from his perspective and his wealth of experience.” The Hawks had an opening for an assistant coach after Quin Snyder left for the head position with the Jazz. The 51-year-old Spahija recently spent time working with the Spurs coaching staff.

  • Emilee Eagar of the Deseret News: Shoes squeaked on the basketball court Monday afternoon as a group of boys practiced dribbling and layups. But there were no whistles or coaches yelling from the sidelines. Instead, they used American Sign Language to communicate with the boys during the clinic for youths who are hard of hearing or deaf. Lance Allred, the first legally deaf NBA player, was among the coaches hoping to teach the boys about more than just basketball. "Growing up deaf, hearing impaired, people all my life told me what I can't do," Allred said. "I wanted to give other people hope or motivation or courage, I guess, to go do the things they wanted to do with their life.

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: When Ronny Turiaf left Gonzaga University for Los Angeles and the NBA nearly a decade ago, he learned to live a professional’s life from Lakers veterans Aaron McKie, Kwame Brown, Lamar Odom and a guy named Kobe Bryant. Plenty of it was tough love. “They showed me how,” Turiaf says now. “Did they ever.” Nine years later, he is back learning all over again, this time in a 10th-floor downtown penthouse office overlooking Target Field alongside other summer interns employed by the Olson advertising agency. While everyone else seemingly is obsessed with Timberwolves teammate Kevin Love’s future, Turiaf this time is focused learning not the ways of the NBA but rather video-production skills, social-media intricacies and other marketing expertise that he will apply to his Heart to Heart foundation and his IVC Global management company that he intends will endure long after his playing days are done. “It definitely feels like when I was just coming into the NBA,” Turiaf said. “Just like back then, they’re throwing me into the fire.”