First Cup: Thursday

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: Carmelo Anthony took a $5 million pay cut on his new contract, but it appears he took a bigger cut in weight. According to an Anthony confidant, Anthony has done so in order to resemble his physique as a rookie with the Nuggets and to be more viable in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. A photo of Anthony this week on his Instagram showed what appeared to be a dramatic weight loss since the season ended. Anthony, who turned 30 on May 29, looks younger with the weight loss. “He wants to be as athletic as he was when he was a rookie," the confidant told The Post. “Plus he wants to be a facilitator in the triangle and speed will help that." Anthony was listed at 230 pounds as a Denver rookie in 2003 and appears to be close to that goal. Last season, the 6-foot-8 Anthony was listed in the Knicks preseason media guide at 240, but likely played at least 5-to-10 pounds heavier as the season wore on.

  • Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press: Now that the NBA has rid itself of Donald Sterling as an owner, it’s time for the league to do a bit more house cleaning. This has nothing to do with dumping more owners. It has to do with abolishing a few stupid rules. The draft lottery needs to go. It was instituted because teams were dumping games at the end of seasons to get better draft picks. In other words, teams were cheating. The NBA team with the worst record should get the first overall pick, as is done in other professional leagues. If you’ve got the second-worst record, you get the second overall pick, and so on. The way to deal with cheating is to let it be known that any team suspected of dumping games will lose its first-round pick. That will take care of the cheats as well as take care of the need for a draft lottery. Another thing that has to go is the asinine rule that forbids a rookie to be traded until 30 days have passed after he signs a contract. That rule is why Kevin Love still is with the Timberwolves and Andrew Wiggins remains with Cleveland. There are other changes that need to be made, but giving the heave ho to the draft lottery and that ridiculous 30-day rule are a good start.

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Jason Collins is probably done with professional basketball. And he should be. He's still undecided about attempting a return for his 14th NBA season. And he does have some interest in becoming a coach or joining a front office. But right now, he is already fulfilled and has never been more relevant to the sports landscape. Collins, the first openly gay active player in major pro team sports, is thriving as an ambassador for acceptance and peace. After existing in a world girded with overt machismo and sexism, Collins' best role is clear. He can lead professional athletes from the dark ages and inspire a population of hurting young people. ... Many athletes struggle with life after sports. Collins is well into his next stage despite not having officially hung up his sneakers. More than ever, Collins is in his wheelhouse. He has always stood out because of his height and skin color. He has always fit in because of his personality and intellect. Now he has a story to tell, and NBA credibility to make people want to hear it. ... Collins isn't just advocating for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He's championing opportunity for the underprivileged, encouragement for the broken, better eating habits for kids. Sure, he could return to the paint to collide with the Dwight Howards of the world. He can contribute 7.8 minutes per game, as he did last season, and serve as an example of professional for a team's youngsters. But he can make greater impact elsewhere. And he knows it.

  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca: If the NBA really cared about Drake publicly encouraging Kevin Durant to join the Toronto Raptors as a free agent two summers from now, they would have fined him a lot more than $25,000. Or, they would abolish the salary cap, and neither of those is happening. ... And tampering? Please. The NBA is a $5-billion business. There is almost no financial penalty they could levy on a business as lucrative as MLSE that really matters. When the league fined the Toronto Raptors $25,000 because Drake encouraged the crowd at his recent concert to let the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder star “hear what it would be like if he played in Toronto,” they weren’t really trying to prevent future instances of Drake reaching out to star players as the Raptors’ global ambassador. They were just trying to help Oklahoma City save face. ... With nothing really to lose, Drake should take the $25,000 fine he earned and the rare penetration he helped the Raptors make into the NBA’s summertime consciousness as a sign to keep up the good work. If I’m him, I’d write a song about Kevin Durant, and pay him a bajillion dollars to shoot the video at his house while wearing the Raptors hat he used to rock when he was a kid and a Vince Carter fan. There is plenty to gain, and absolutely nothing to lose.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: This weekend, Bulls fans will get their first look at the hype when Derrick Rose and the U.S. national team resume training in Chicago for the FIBA World Cup and play an exhibition Saturday night against Brazil at the United Center. All eyes will be on Rose, who has played in only 10 regular-season games since the 2012 playoffs. As good as he looked in the first week of camp, you can expect Rose to keep it simple. “We just have to keep talking to each other, keep giving each other confidence," Rose said recently. “The thing is jelling quickly, learning players’ tendencies. “I usually say whatever the game needs, that’s what I’m going to put into the game. I learned that by actually playing through my mistakes with the first injury, just seeing that I was forcing everything."

  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: In 10 seasons, Kris Humphries only has been to the playoffs three times. He has never been past the first round either, but who would've thought coming to the Wizards could get him closer to his goal? "There are sacrifices all the way around when you try to work for something greater," Humphries said via conference call from Los Angeles on Wednesday. "From guys who are there to guys coming in, when you're on a team like this -- I feel blessed to be in this situation -- everything you do is important and you feel important. ... Whatever you do on a winning team is magnified. You feel better about doing stuff when you're working toward something. It's a little tougher when you're playing the right way, making sacrifices and your team doesn't have a chance to make the playoffs." ... With the Wizards, he'll be on a team that won 44 games last season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. They also have made other offseason acquisitions in DeJuan Blair and Paul Pierce, a small forward who can slide successfully over to the power spot in a small-ball lineup. Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin re-signed, too.

  • Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: Former Rockets assistant Dean Cooper has been hired to coach the Jazz's D-League affiliate in Boise. Cooper has spent the last two years in Houston on Kevin McHale's bench. But he crossed paths with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey earlier in his career; he was hired by the Rockets in 1999 as a video coordinator and worked his way up to an assistant under Rudy Tomjanovich, before moving to the front office. In Boise, Cooper will the man responsible for developing talent for the Jazz. "Having coached in the D-League for three seasons, I learned what an extension your affiliate is of your NBA program," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said in a press release. "Dean has a proven history of player development which is an integral aspect of my coaching philosophy. As an extension of our staff, he will work hand-in-hand with us to establish a clear, seamless connection to ensure we are stressing the same principles in Utah and Idaho."

  • Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee: There’s probably no turning back now. Downtown Plaza started coming down in chunks early Wednesday, the first visible sign of demolition as much of the moribund shopping mall is transformed into a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. After nearly two weeks of prep work, demolition started a little after 7:30 a.m. A giant excavating machine started knocking down the exterior walls of Downtown Plaza’s southernmost building, at Fifth and L streets. Among its former tenants were Grebitus & Sons jewelers, a Morton’s steakhouse, LensCrafters and the Pre-Flite Lounge. In contrast to the ceremonial kickoff Aug. 1, attended by Mayor Kevin Johnson and other dignitaries, only a small crowd witnessed the destruction of the building at Fifth and L. Reporters outnumbered regular spectators. Commuter traffic passed by on L Street, with some motorists barely pausing to watch the spectacle. A few Kings employees were present. Kings President Chris Granger stopped by briefly, pronounced the start of demolition “exciting,” and moved on to a meeting.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: With roughly six weeks until the start of training camp, NBA players are well underway with their summer workout regimens. Marco Belinelli, fresh off various trips to tropical locales, is among them, taking a crossfit approach to gear himself up for the Spurs’ upcoming championship defense. Among his favorite apparatuses: Trucks, large tires and good, old-fashioned cones. Makes me queasy just looking at these pics from Belinelli’s facebook page.