HoopsHype rumors

February 20, 2012 | 06:56 PM ET Update

So where did you leave things with the Lakers after your workout? Arenas: That was kind of weird, the situation. I was actually training in New York, and my agent, Dan Fegan, told me to come out and work out for the Lakers. My whole thing is, I don't want to play for anybody until I'm finished rehabbing and finished doing what I need to do, so that's not going to happen until at least All-Star break. So I decided, Well, I'll just go out there and work out. SI.com

Was it just the Lakers or was anyone else watching? Arenas: When you're in there getting buckets, you're not really paying attention to who's there. You're just doing your thing. To me, it didn't matter who it was -- could've been the D-League team or whatever. I'm just showing you what I have. You can either keep reading newspapers articles where they say I'm 40 pounds overweight and I lost a step -- all the fantasy stuff people want to talk about because they're going off my last year where I was basically mentally out of it. Or you can just see for yourself: This is what I am. A 6-foot-3 guard, 6-10 wingspan, still got his quickness, can still jump, still fast. I make shots, and that's what I am. I'm not here to sell anything, but look, here's what I am and then I'm going back home to my family. SI.com

Arenas: My ex-coach Phil Hubbard [former Wizards assistant] and Eric Musselman [Arenas' former coach with the Warriors] called me to come to the D-League [where they coach the Lakers' affiliate]. I said, "Well, after the All-Star break, once I'm ready to go, sure, I'll come play. I'll come out there and break all the D-Leaguer ankles." SI.com

On whether he's waiting around to see what happens with Howard before coming back ... "We talked about [playing together]. You're reading on one [story] that Dwight is going to leave because he brought players like Gilbert and this and this, and then on the flip side it's like, 'Do y'all know that we're friends and we want to play with each other?' He told me, 'I want you to play with me,' and then when I got amnestied he was like, 'You can't play here anymore?' I said, 'No, technically I can. All I do is just miss this season and then I can come back next season.' Then he was saying all the other teams that he decided he was going to go to, and will I come there? I said, 'Of course. If you want me to play, I'll come with you.' "What do you do when somebody dominant like him wants to play with you? He still believes in me." SI.com

On his relationship with potential 2012 free agent Dwight Howard, who has sought a trade from Orlando ... "[I talk to Dwight] every day. I've got a rotation. I talk to Dwight every day, Jameer [Nelson] every day. I talk to Jeremy Lin at least once a week. I talk to John Wall about once a week, and Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale [McGee] every other day. "I worked out with [Dwight] this whole summer. I was going back and forth with him and Jameer because I wanted to work out with the leaders of the [Magic] team. Once you get their approval, they see you working, and they can speak up for you. I think that's why Dwight was kind of upset at the beginning when I got amnestied because he'd seen me work and saw what I was looking like. But like I told Dwight, business-wise, I had to get amnestied, and then mentally -- to help my career out, to better myself -- I had to get amnestied because I still wasn't right. SI.com

Meralco still felt the need for a change, thinking that it needs a legit banger inside the paint. Three games into their conference, the Meralco management decided to let go of Famous and tap National Basketball Association veteran center and former Barako Bull import Earl Barron to take his place and man the middle for the Bolts. The 30-year-old former University of Memphis standout played briefly for several NBA teams from 2005 until early this year. Manila Standard-Today

Where are you at with getting back to work? Arenas: When I got amnestied, I was told by my mentor [Magic general manager Otis Smith] to do a couple things before I decided to get back to the NBA, and that was clear my mind, get my thoughts together and get myself healthy. That's what I've been doing, getting healthy. I didn't like the product I put out last year and the only thing you can do about that is just get it better. SI.com

What goes into clearing your mind? Arenas: Reflecting. You just reflect on your basketball career and see how far you came. I watch a lot of game tape of last year in Washington and finishing up in Orlando. I just realized even going back to training camp it was basically a spiral down. I didn't have it anymore. I didn't have the spirit. I guess somewhere that summer, or somewhere the season before that, I lost the spirit to play, and that's what showed last year. I was depressed. When something drastic happens in our life, one person goes and hides and doesn't want to be seen. That's what I did. [Others] want to stand up and fight and think they're tough. Like if someone gets shot, you're either scared of guns or you think you're Superman. In my situation, I wanted to hide. I didn't want to be seen anymore. SI.com

Arenas: As much as I've done for fans and for people, it sucks the way the world works. You can do a hundred things for people, but you do one bad mistake and everyone crucifies you and that's all they want to remember. They don't want to remember I gave my own money to the [Washington] D.C. school district and built up the D.C. school district. They don't want to remember none of that. They just want to remember, "Oh, I single-handedly destroyed the Washington Wizards franchise." It sucks, but that's the way it is. SI.com

What do you mean? Arenas: Like when you get in a trouble -- it's not like I got in trouble in the regular world. I didn't get in trouble in the regular world. I got in trouble in my fantasy world. And when I hear [former players] crucify me, it irritates me sometimes because I used to read stuff on them so it's like, "How do you even have the nerve to say that?" Sometimes I just hate listening to them when they talk about the NBA and the new players and stuff like that, because the funny thing is the older players used to say the same things about them, too, and it goes on and on and on and on. But when you get in trouble at your workplace, the only way someone finds out is if somebody wants you to hear about it -- just like at your home. If I hear something about you at your house, then somebody at your household wants me to hear about it. SI.com

Arenas: OK, I owed my teammate [Javaris Crittenton] money and I pulled a gun on him? OK, does that even make sense, like I owed you money but I'm pulling a gun on you? When somebody writes an article, it can be 10 percent right and 90 percent wrong, but if they write it, it's going to be 100 percent right. And the more you try to explain it, the more you look like you're lying. If I did everything they said I did in that locker room, how come they never tried to void my contract? That's the only way I can explain it. Not even attempted [to void the contract]. Not even talked about attempting it. That's actual facts. I'm not making that up. SI.com

I guess negative things sell, and we can tell because we've got these reality TV shows where everybody just beats themselves senseless and we just keep tuning in. That's where my iffiness comes back and the reason I stayed away so long, is like, "Do I even want to be a part of that anymore?" I'm happy now. I'm a race-car driver. SI.com

A race-car driver? Arenas: I ride Shifter Karts, Go Karts. There's a place in Orlando -- Orlando Kart Center -- where I ride. I'm all right for a beginner. I went to California and went to this MB2 center [for indoor Kart racing], and out of 200,000 people I already broke down to a 1,000 in just six races, which isn't bad. So I'm doing my thing, got a new profession, having a little fun. You know, this is the first time I've been able to enjoy life. I put so much time into basketball. It's kind of funny now how you read stuff. I remember before I was this gym rat who loved to play basketball, and all of a sudden I was [made out] to be [like] Shawn Kemp. SI.com

Arenas: You know how when you think someone is talking about you, and you try to go in with high spirits when you start off, but as soon as one bad thing happens you revert? Once I got to Orlando, I got my spirit back. I was around some people who like me and we're on an eight-game winning streak and then all of a sudden I get my playing time cut and then from there I just lost it. I couldn't think anymore. Every shot, I thought about shooting -- just like [the Magic] players playing now. They're not losing their game -- Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, they're not losing their games. They're just going through so much pressure now with the Dwight [Howard trade situation]. I tried so hard to fit in and let people know, "Yo, that [Wizards incident] was not me. The things people are saying about me is not me. That's not who I really am." I made a mistake, and I was tying so hard to fit in with everybody that I couldn't play the right way. SI.com

Arenas: You know, so much happened so fast, and I never got to think about it. I get injured, I get injured, I get injured ... and then my coach gets fired [Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was fired after the team's 1-10 start in 2008-09], my owner [the late Abe Pollin] died [on Nov. 24, 2009] -- he was my dad away from home -- and then the gun incident and the media and all that stuff. I get back [to the team], I get traded and then me and my girlfriend [Laura Govan], we're going through it, and then she puts me on blast, so it was just so much. My mom [who abandoned him when he was 3 before he was raised by his father, Gilbert Sr.] died during all that, and I didn't even get to reconcile with her to say I forgive her and all that stuff. I had so much in there and I didn't have time to really think about anything. SI.com

Hadn't you met your mom only once? Arenas: Yeah, because she left me when I was 3. I got to meet her my first year in the NBA, and then I never got to talk to her, sit down with her. I know her whole thing was, "Does he know I'm sorry for [leaving]?" And I didn't get to say, "I forgive you, don't worry about it." You know, I grew up to be a good man. I might have my issues like every other person, but other than that I have a good heart, a good spirit and I didn't get to sit down with her. SI.com

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has been suspended two games by the NBA for arguing a call and throwing the ball at offical Sean Wright in last night's loss to the Pistons. Rondo felt he was fouled by both Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe on a drive to the basket with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter and the Celtics trailing 66-54. After the no-call, Rondo picked up the ball after a Celtics' 24-second clock violation and whipped it underhanded to Wright as Wright's hands were up making the ball. Boston Globe

China reached the quarter-finals on home soil with Yao in Beijing four years ago and came through a tricky transition to regain the Asia championship title in Wuhan last September and qualify for London. “We are going to have a surprise for everybody,” Yi told Reuters before his Dallas Mavericks team lost to the New York Knicks 104-97 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. “You’ll see.” Leader-Post

Arenas On Twitter ... "See, the problem with Twitter is -- especially athletes tweeting in today's society -- they're tweeting fantasy stuff. And when I say fantasy stuff, they're tweets are, 'Oh, we had a good game.' 'Oh, tough loss.' 'Oh, hard day of practice today.' 'All right, tweet fam,' this and that. "As fans, you get this illusion that that's how these people act. And then when they get upset, and they write some reality stuff, it's [people saying], 'Listen to these rants.' No, that's how he actually feels. The 52 'I love you's and 'Miss you's and 'Talk to you guys later's -- that's the crap. That's the crap they're feeding you, so when you have somebody like myself that goes on Twitter ... SI.com

"On Twitter, I'm just saying real stuff and making it funny. Story-wise, none of the stories were real. Like the infamous date, where everyone went so crazy and bashed me for, all the women. I was sitting on the couch and I just made the story up. The funny thing is, people who know me are reading me like, 'I know you're not on a date.' And I was like, 'Yeah, I'm not going to put my stuff out in public like that.' "I don't go out. I'm not going to sit there and tweet with a girl, but the thought of having a live tweet out there was what I wanted to do. Make it seem real. Make it believable. You've got to remember, as long as you write it, then people will believe it. That's the sad part." SI.com

On why he shut down his Twitter account ... "Because I was done. What I wanted to do is, I was giving out my shoes because I knew my fate after the lockout. I didn't need the shoes anymore, so I was giving them away. And while I'm giving them away, I'm going to make you listen to my jokes. So you're forced to listen to my jokes, and hear me say anything that pops up in my mind, which most of the time I'd written down anyway. And you get the shoes. You don't have to pay for it. You just have to put up with my ignorance or whatever. It was all just fun. My tweets were deeper than what people wanted to believe. There was always subliminal stuff inside my stuff." SI.com

February 20, 2012 | 04:31 PM ET Update

Warriors guard Stephen Curry will defend his title in the NBA's Skills Challenge at the All-Star game in Orlando this weekend. Curry, who won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge last year, will be competing against consisting of Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets on Saturday at Amway Center. Contra Costa Times

JaVale McGee was surprisingly ignored when the NBA selected its four participants in the slam dunk contest, but the Wizards will have some representation on all-star star Saturday night, as John Wall has been invited back to compete in the Skills Challenge competition in Orlando. Wall will attempt to improve upon his fourth-place finish in the event last season, when he completed the obstacle course of passes, dribbling and shooting in a time of 39.3 seconds. He will go up against defending champion Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, San Antonio’s Tony Parker, Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving. After being selected, Wall told the Wizards’ team Web site that he planned to maintain the same routine as last season. “All it is, is you got to get the basketballs through the little [cylinders] when you make the passes. That’s the toughest part, making the passes. Everything else is pretty easy,” he said. Washington Post

With his next steal, and that figures to come at some point in tonight's game against the Boston Celtics, Jason Kidd will pass Michael Jordan and take over sole possession of second place on the NBA's all-time steals list. Kidd has had at least one steal in each of the last eight games he's played (excluding the Jan. 27 game when he injured his right calf and left after just two minutes). In the last three games, Kidd has eight steals, including three Sunday in the loss to the Knicks, tying him with Jordan with 2,514 career steals. ESPN.com

So many of Kidd's thefts are a result of pure anticipation and pure instinct, understanding where an opposing player wants to go with the basketball and then almost ambushing the play. "Jason reminds me of Larry Bird that way," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He has a unique anticipation, it’s almost savant-like. He kind of senses things before they happen, I mean he senses when a guy’s going to throw the ball into the post before the guy even knows he’s going to throw the ball into the post. And then Jason, he gets around and is able to knock it away and goes the other way. Bird was the same way, so he’s an all-time great, one of the best ever." ESPN.com

Atlanta Hawks forward Marvin Williams missed Monday's game against the Chicago Bulls because of a death in his family. Coach Larry Drew says he's not sure if it was an immediate family member or not. He was not sure, either, when Williams would rejoin the team and would not say where he traveled to. Williams is averaging 9.6 points. ESPN.com

Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman is optimistic Derrick Rose, who missed the last five games with back spasms, will face the Atlanta Hawks in a matinee contest on Monday at the United Center. "As long as everything goes good once he gets on the floor," Forman said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "He looked a lot better yesterday, and he's pain free. So as long as he's feeling OK there's a chance he'll be on the floor today." ESPN.com

Andrea Bargnani, who has been out two weeks with a second bout with a strained left calf, won’t play Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, sending the Raptors into the off weekend still without a full roster. Coach Dwane Casey said he couldn’t be sure when the 7-foot Bargnani would return; he’s still out “indefinitely” according to the team. Bargnani, who leads the club in scoring at 23.5 points per game, hasn’t played since Jan. 25 in Utah and also missed seven games earlier with the same affliction. He’s only played 13 games this season. Toronto Star

Since he’s done no on-court work — he’s doing low-impact rehab in a swimming pool with little work even in the weight room — it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to join the team for back-to-back road games at Houston and New Orleans right after the break. Toronto Star

For those keeping score, this time it's Greg Oden's left knee. The Trail Blazers announced that their center will have an arthroscopic procedure in Vail, Colo., today to remove debris from his left knee, which at the moment is the most troublesome of his many injured limbs. Oden is recovering from a fractured patella and microfracture surgery on the left knee. Oden had the surgery in November 2010, but the knee had bothered him for some time before that. The trouble started on Feb. 12, 2009, when he chipped the knee during a game against Golden State, sidelining him for 14 games. He fractured the patella in the knee on Dec. 5, 2009, during a game against Houston and has not played in a game since. Oregonian

The Blazers have given no indication when Oden could return to the court, although his contract with the Blazers expires at the end of this season. The Blazers extended an $8.9 million qualifying offer on Oden for this season, but after an exam revealed a setback in his left knee just before the start of training camp, the team and Oden's agents renegotiated the deal down to a reported $1.5 million for the season. Oden has appeared in 82 games for the Blazers and has career averages of 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. Oregonian

The Memphis Grizzlies are inviting fans from across the Mid-South to join them as they take their moves from the hardwood to the dance floor for the Third Annual Grizz Gala, presented by Gold Strike Casino Resort and First Tennessee Bank. The event will take place at Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica on Friday, April 13 from 6-11 p.m. All proceeds from this event benefit Memphis Grizzlies House at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. The blue tie affair will give fans a chance to take part in an evening that brings the class and excitement that the Memphis Grizzlies represent on the court and in the community. Gold Strike Casino Resort’s world-class culinary team will prepare a delectable menu of heavy hors d’oeuvres that attendees can enjoy with Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo and other team members. Throughout the evening an open bar will be available to guests who will also have an opportunity to meet and participate in interactive games with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and the rest of the Grizzlies roster and coaches. NBA.com

The owner of the New York Knicks has finalized its deal to return the NBA team's games to about 2 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in the New York area. The Madison Square Garden Co. said Monday that it agreed to a multi-year deal under which the cable operator will carry its networks MSG, MSG+ and Fuse. dispute between MSG and Time Warner had left the cable subscribers unable to watch Knicks games since Jan. 1. That coincided with a media frenzy surrounding Jeremy Lin, an untested Knicks point guard who led the team to seven straight wins. New York Post

February 20, 2012 | 10:32 AM ET Update

"I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him," Bryant said crisply after the Lakers' 102-90 loss Sunday. "It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all, but if they're going to do something, I wish they would just ... do it." Los Angeles Times

Bryant sympathized with Gasol, sprinkling in expletives while talking about the situation of the four-time All-Star. "If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it," Bryant said. "This way, he can be comfortable and go out and can perform and play and he can invest all of himself into the game. You can't have one of our pillars not knowing if he's going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something." Los Angeles Times

Not to mention if Gasol is headed elsewhere after escaping that fate when the NBA rejected the three-way trade that would have sent him to Houston, Lamar Odom to New Orleans and Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Lakers. "I believe in our team, I believe in our city and I believe that we can continue to be a special team and a successful team," he said. Los Angeles Times

But he might not be part of it, if those trade rumors come true before the March 15 deadline. Bryant made it clear that he wants Gasol to stay and that the Lakers are good enough to win again. "I'm sure we'll make some tweaks here and there, but the foundation is here," Bryant said, adding that Gasol is one of the "pillars" of the team. Los Angeles Times

Basketball, Bryant said, "is an emotional game" and he seemed to imply management is toying with Gasol's emotions by leaving him in limbo. Gasol, who said he hadn't spoken at length with General Manager Mitch Kupchak since the Paul trade was blocked, said he was unsure if he would approach Kupchak on Monday for some clarity. "Obviously, there's a lot of rumors, a lot of talks. And teams that seem to continue to make offers and they're listening," Gasol said. "Otherwise, those offers wouldn't be out there.... "If I own a player or if a player plays for my team and I say, 'Look, I'm not interested in doing anything because I value my player and want to keep him here,' then all that stops. But it seems that it's not that way. That's the feeling that I get. I haven't really confirmed it, but from the situation and now the talks, that's what I perceive." Los Angeles Times

“I’m not trying to force the team if they want to trade me to trade me tomorrow,” Gasol said. “Obviously I still believe in our team; I believe in our city. I believe we can continue to be a special, special team — a successful team.” Orange County Register

The NBA trade deadline is March 15, and Gasol is waiting for it while cognizant of various rumors involving him flying around “every other day.” Gasol said he has seen Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak after games, “but we haven’t really spoken about anything.” Gasol said he believes the Lakers are “listening” to offers as opposed to taking him off the trading block. “It seems it’s not that way,” Gasol said. “That’s the feeling that I get, and I haven’t really confirmed it, but from the situation and all the talks, that’s what I perceive.” Orange County Register

With the 18-12 Lakers placed fifth in the Western Conference through Saturday and having won seven of their last 10 games, there is an internal belief that Bryant's theatrics coupled with the current cast of characters might be enough to make a deep playoff run even if no roster moves are made. It's a good thing, too, as Kupchak certainly didn't sound as if a deal for Orlando's Dwight Howard or anyone else was in the works. Kupchak attended a workout for free agent guard Gilbert Arenas last Sunday, but the Lakers aren't expected to sign him anytime soon -- if at all. "Of course we'll talk to a lot of teams [about trades], like everybody else does, leading up until the trade deadline to see if there is a way to improve the team," Kupchak said. "But the likelihood is that this is the team that's going to finish into the playoffs. That's just the way it normally works, but we'll see." SI.com

Roland Lazenby: That's the next big disappointment for Lakers fans, that Gasol will be dealt at the deadline, probably in a crappy deal. Money dictates it. Twitter

“He hasn’t said so publicly, but he has made that known privately,” said the source, who spoke to SheridanHoops.com on condition of anonymity. Gasol has been the subject of trade speculation all season after the Lakers were ready to ship him to the Houston Rockets in the three-way trade vetoed by commissioner David Stern that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Gasol has acknowledged that is impossible to ignore the rumors, especially given the fact that Los Angeles had already deemed him expendable. Boozer has three years and $46 million remaining on his contract, while Gasol is due to make $38 million over the next two seasons. SheridanHoops

Many Warriors fans already have given up on this season and started looking toward building for the future. Warriors general manager Larry Riley has not reached that stage. But he's getting closer. "That'll be a decision we will make pretty soon here, probably in the next week or so," Riley said in a phone interview Sunday. "But we have a little more time to look at things." Riley said the next week, starting with Monday's home game against the Los Angeles Clippers, is crucial. Golden State, which has lost three straight, needs to start showing some results. San Jose Mercury-News

If the Warriors don't turn things around quickly, Golden State will be forced to turn its attention away from the playoffs and to developing the young talent. That probably means more time for rookie swingman Klay Thompson and even more minutes for second-year big man Ekpe Udoh. Maybe even rookie big man Jeremy Tyler gets into the rotation. It could also mean Riley will turn his attention to the trade deadline and potentially revamping the roster. Riley said he's not quite ready to start looking toward the future. "But the clock is ticking," Riley said. "No question." San Jose Mercury-News

He entered action Sunday shooting 38.2 percent from the floor, 10 percentage points below his career average. He is coming off the bench and too often settles for jump shots. Interim coach Keith Smart said Hickson, who played center last season after the injury to Anderson Varejao, is still adjusting to power forward, a position where he believed he could be dominant while in Cleveland. "Honestly I don't know," said Hickson when asked if the position switch is the problem. "It's more mental than anything being in a new system, two new coaches in less than two months, new style of play, new personnel on the court. New front office, new way of doing things. Everything is a blur to me." Would Hickson want to return to the Cavs next season? "Of course, why not?" he said. "I'm not saying 'no, I don't want to come back.' If the opportunity presented itself, why not?" Cleveland Plain Dealer

The former Cavalier forward was at The Q with his new team and sounded like a player who would rather be almost anywhere except Sacramento. Even Anaheim. Hickson is struggling to adjust to a new team and a return to his natural position of power forward. He is averaging 5.2 points and less than 20 minutes a game all the while costing himself significant money in a contract year. "I'm not having the year I wanted to have, not just personally but we're not winning," said Hickson, an unrestricted free agent as season's end. "But after going through the season [the Cavs] went through last year, I didn't want to come to a situation like this. I wanted to rebuild here, but I got traded and things happen." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Marc J. Spears: D-League Austin forward Eric Dawson to sign 10-day with Spurs, source said. Ex-D2 Midwestern State star avg. 15.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. Twitter

The Atlanta Hawks today signed center Erick Dampier to a second 10-day contract, according to Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Sund. The 15-year veteran has appeared in four games for the Hawks this season, after signing his first 10-day contract on February 9, averaging 2.5 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 spg and 0.3 bpg in 6.5 mpg. NBA.com

The Cavs informed point guard Ben Uzoh that he will not be signed to another 10-day contract. The 10-day deal he was on expired Sunday night. The club likely will sign another guard to a 10-day contract in the coming days. Uzoh appeared in two games with the Cavs, averaging two points and six-plus minutes. Cleveland Plain Dealer

According to a report published by NetEase, Smith had US $1.06 million deducted from his salary over the course of the season for missing practices. Most of the missed practices came during pre-season while his team, Zhejiang Chouzhou, was getting ready for the start of the regular season. The sum was deducted from his salary, a final number that represented about one-third of his total salary. NiuBBall.com

Zhejiang Chouzhou general manager, Zhao Bing, said that the team was simply enforcing a clause in Smith’s signed contract and that the team gave him ample warning throughout. “This was the arrangement when he came to the team,” said Zhao. “Every practice we let him know. If he expressed to us that he wasn’t going to come to practice, we’d tell him that in accordance with our contract, we’re deducting money from your salary. And he’d always get back to us with, ‘Whatever. If you’re going to take it, then just take it.’” NiuBBall.com

Equally interesting was Andrew Bynum's suggestion that his knees would have benefited more from rest than from getting a workout in the team's Sunday shootaround, and he might have had a point. The lessons didn't sink in, because the Suns scored 35 points in the first quarter and 63 in the first half en route to only the sixth 100-point game against the new, defensively diligent Lakers this season. Coupled with Bynum's pointed reminder that Coach Mike Brown left him on the bench for most of the Lakers' failed third-quarter comeback — "I wasn't any part of that, but I was rooting for my teammates," Bynum said — a distinct air of frustration overpowered the scent of damp towels in the Lakers' locker room Sunday. Was Bryant trying to initiate a power struggle or reacting to a baffling, inconsistent performance against a team the Lakers had beaten by 12 points at home Friday? "We're a great defensive team. You didn't see that tonight until the second half," Bryant said, referring to the Lakers' belated clamp-down that limited the Suns to 39 second-half points. Los Angeles Times

Magic all-star center Dwight Howard, addressing the media after not talking after last Friday morning’s shootaround and Friday night’s game against Milwaukee, said the Magic need to relax during all-star break and turn their attention toward the playoffs. Magic fans hope that Howard — who has asked for a trade — will be around for the postseason. The Magic fell to the Heat 90-78 on Sunday, with Howard double-teamed and limited to 12 points. “They just outplayed us tonight and on the offensive end we didn’t have it going. That happens, but we have to play through it,” Howard said. “The biggest thing is being ready during playoff time.” Orlando Sentinel

Davis said this season has been a struggle. "I'm at the bottom of my game and I'm really struggling tremendously," he said. "I know what I can do and I have the potential. It can only go up from here." Davis' father, John Greer, died last Sunday and was interred in Baton Rouge, La. He lost his grandmother, who practically raised him, earlier this season. Davis missed Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Amway Center. Orlando Sentinel

But you can’t fire the ball at the official out of anger (in the video above, you have to get to the 3:00 mark before they show the angle that really explains what happened). Rondo did. As they walked up court Rondo yelled at the referee about the no call then underhand fires the ball at the ref. That almost certainly will mean a game off for Rondo. Without pay. NBCSports.com

O’Neal said that with 36 games left and a demoralizing .500 record, the Celtics should discuss matters. “I think at some point over the next 48 hours, I’m sure we’ll have a conversation just amongst our team in terms of where we’re at mentally,’’ he said. “Because that’s the key, mentally for us right now. I don’t care what’s going on, we shouldn’t lose to Detroit twice in a five-day span. They’re playing good basketball but they shouldn’t beat us twice.’’ Boston Globe

John Wall stated recently that he was disappointed that he couldn’t become an all-star in his second season, with him getting off to a poor start and the Wizards among the worst teams in the NBA. But with the Suns set to host the Wizards on Monday at US Airways Center, Nash said Wall shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture and stay focused on getting better despite his current circumstances. “If I had to advise him, I’d just tell him, ‘Stick with it. Don’t get down. Don’t get frustrated,’ ” Nash said before handing out 14 assists and scoring eight points in a 102-90 win over the Lakers. “Think long term. Think of all the work he puts in daily now and if that continues, think about the dividends that will play three, five, seven years down, not right now, right now, right now. He’s got a long career ahead of him.” Washington Post

“You can look at it both ways,” Nash continued. “A lot of people said, ‘It’s too bad you didn’t get to play right away.’ If you get experience, you do need to get out there and make mistakes in order to improve. That was my path. His is the opposite. He doesn’t have guys to watch and follow, but he’s getting the reps and experience. But the key is making the most of your situation. So he’s got to make the most of the fact that he is out there learning on the fly and take that as a blessing rather than looking at it like, ‘Ah, they are throwing me in the fire.’ This is great, ‘I don’t have to be the best in the league right now, I can be there three or four, five or six years.’ He’s got to stay positive. All the work he puts in now will pay off in the future.” Washington Post

All of this is fine with Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Both said they have no problem with the spotlight being on the New York Knicks' sensation rather than on the Heat, who have won six straight, all in resounding fashion. "Hey, he got it," Wade said when told that Clinton, who called Lin "great" and said "I love him," was being bombarded by even Heat fans mostly questions about Lin. "It's the Lin show right now." FOXSports Florida

Maybe some folks will notice the Heat a bit more when they face the Knicks at home Thursday. They might notice they've been pretty dominant lately, winning their past six by an average margin of 17.6 points. "It's cool with us," Wade said of the publicity surrounding Lin and the Knicks, who played the 1 p.m. EST game Sunday against Dallas while the Heat started at 3:30 in a game that turned out to be the undercard even though it was the second game of ABC's doubleheader. "We had a lot of bright lights last year. We're just focused on us, and it's a good thing for this team to be able to do that and be able to learn from our mistakes and not have it so put out there as much as it was last year. "So, congratulations to the Knicks for getting some of that sun. The Clippers had it early and then the Knicks took it from the Clippers. So we'll see who gets it next. Maybe somebody else will come and get it." FOXSports Florida

What have you taken from the Jeremy Lin phenomenon? Reggie Miller: "It's fantastic for the league. There are guys on the end of benches in high school, college and the NBA saying, 'If I just had that one shining moment. . . .' [Lin] was ready to be cut for Mike James, he got in that game vs. New Jersey and made the most of it. That's what I tell all the kids who come to my summer camps: 'You'll get a shot, it's about what you do with it.' Great story." Los Angeles Times

Somewhere in jam-packed Chesapeake Energy Arena, Nuggets executive Masai Ujiri sat, his heart ripped out in every bit the same fashion as the players and coaches he watched in person Sunday night. Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant was inflicting the kind of pain only a career-high 51 points could provide, making play after play after gut-wrenching play down the stretch. Russell Westbrook tacked on 40 points for good measure, and the Nuggets were left wondering when all of this will turn around, losing another nail-biter, 124-118 in overtime. "We were kind of laughing, saying,, 'When's the last time he missed a shot in the fourth quarter against us?' " Nuggets coach George Karl said of Durant. "He makes everything. An offensive rebound, OK, why does he come wide open? Why doesn't somebody else come wide open?" Denver Post

It was Ibaka's third game this season with at least 10 blocked shots — the third time in 11 games that Ibaka's had double-digit rejections. The last player to record three games of at least 10 blocked shots was Shawn Bradley, who had five during the 1996-97 season. “He's been phenomenal, man,” said Durant, who scored a career-high 51 points. “It's just fun to watch.” Ibaka recorded eight of his 11 blocked shots in the second half and overtime. But he earned his triple double in regulation, rejecting his 10th shot, a layup by Ty Lawson, with 2:32 to play in the fourth quarter. All told, Ibaka blocked at least one shot of six Nuggets players. He got Afflalo, Corey Brewer and Andre Miller twice apiece and lightening quick point guard Ty Lawson three times. “Serge cleaned up a lot of our mistakes,” said Brooks. “That's what he does…Serge is protecting the basket as well as I've seen. To have three games of double-digit blocked shots…It's pretty impressive. He has a desire to help his teammates out, and that's what he does. He has great instincts.” Oklahoman

As much of a boon as it would be to finally get Lopez back from the broken right foot that caused him to miss the first 32 games of the season, he wouldn’t be a panacea. “We can’t expect him to come out and score 40 points for us and run every play for him,” Johnson said before the game. “It’s good to have him back, but we can’t just put this whole game on his shoulders.” Johnson was right to temper expectations as the Nets fell to the Bucks, 92-85, at the Prudential Center, and Lopez looked every bit as rusty as he was thought to be. He finished with nine points, on 2-of-7 shooting, and had two rebounds in 22 minutes. “Getting used to being back in an NBA game, it’s obviously very fast, so my head was spinning a little bit the first few minutes,” he said. Newark Star-Ledger

Forward Ersan Ilyasova pulled down a career-high 25 rebounds and scored a career-best 29 points in leading the Bucks to a 92-85 victory over the New Jersey Nets at the Prudential Center. When he fouled out with 2:01 remaining the entire Bucks bench stood up and applauded Ilyasova's effort. The 6-foot-10 Ilyasova grabbed 13 offensive rebounds on the way to tying the NBA season-high rebound mark of 25, set by Orlando's Dwight Howard in an overtime game against San Antonio on Jan. 18. And Ilyasova became the first Bucks player since Swen Nater in 1976 to have a 25-25 game (Nater had 30 points and 33 rebounds against Atlanta that year). Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"It's Ersanity, man," said Bucks center Jon Brockman. "That's a special game. He needs to take this (the box score) home and frame it. "He's been bringing effort like that every night. It's great to see that from a guy who has been working his tail off." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Anthony Morrow will use the All-Star break as an opportunity a pivotal figure in Nets history and a superstar lost to early. Morrow will participate in the three-point shooting contest this weekend wearing a Drazen Petrovic jersey. Petrovic was a Net for two-plus years, from midway through the 1990-91 season until 1993, and left a large impression on the franchise. He died in a car crash at 28 years old that summer. His No. 3 jersey is one of five retired by the organization after he spent his only two full seasons with the team averaging more than 20 points-per-game in each. Newark Star-Ledger

Garnett practiced with the Celtics Saturday in Chicago and then boarded the team flight to Detroit that night. But he left the team because of a family matter, did not play last night, and may not be available for tonight’s matchup with the Mavericks in Dallas. “It’s tough, especially when you go on this road trip and you just want to be healthy and you want to be right and you just haven’t had that opportunity,’’ Rivers said. “This is a road trip I’ve really been looking forward to - we thought a week ago Kevin was going to be good, Brandon [Bass] was going to be healthy and we don’t have either one for one of the games already, maybe two. And that makes it a tough trip.’’ Boston Globe

Dirk Nowitzki had a bit of a scare midway through the third quarter of Sunday's game when he tried to drive past Amare Stoudemire, but ended up hitting the deck and staying down for a moment to check out his left knee. "My left leg buckled on it and I hyperextended it a little bit," Nowitzki said. "It felt like it loosened up and I finished the game." It's the right knee that gave Nowitzki fits to start the season and took him out of action for four games to work on strengthening it. ESPN.com

Tobias Harris tried to do some drills Sunday morning but could barely raise his right arm over his head. So the Bucks rookie forward will not be able to play as Milwaukee faces the New Jersey Nets on Sunday night at the Prudential Center. Veteran Drew Gooden is not with the team as he continues his recovery from a sprained right wrist. Both players are listed as day-to-day. Rookie Jon Leuer again will get a start at center after lasting just 7 minutes against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Friday in the Bucks' 94-85 defeat. Leuer, Larry Sanders and Jon Brockman should get the center minutes against the Nets' Brook Lopez, making his first appearance (and first start) of the season after missing 32 games with a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Harris was injured when he ran smack into the Magic's Howard, who was setting a screen during the fourth quarter Friday. And it came moments after Harris had converted a three-point play to give the Bucks a 10-point lead. They were outscored, 22-3, the rest of the way. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The original timetable for Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari's return to the team was a month, and he remains on schedule, he said Sunday night. "I feel better," he said. Gallinari, who missed his seventh consecutive game, has begun doing some bike work "to get cardio going," he said, "but not more than that." Still, he's optimistic that he can to return to the team after the all-star break. "It's hard to tell, but I think I'll probably be back after all-star," Gallinari said. "That's what we're thinking." Denver Post

Nuggets swingman Rudy Fernandez was added to the list of injured players, sitting out Sunday night's game with a low back strain. Fernandez is officially listed as day to day. He had been dealing with the back pain for a little while, but he could not go against the Thunder. Meanwhile, Nene remained out with a calf injury. He has worn a boot recently and should know more about his status in the next day or two. Denver Post

The Spurs will wait for results of an MRI exam scheduled for today on guard Manu Ginobili’s strained left oblique before they update his injury status, but Ginobili said he is hopeful the report will be better than he feared when he suffered the injury Saturday against the Clippers. In much less pain Sunday morning than he experienced in the third quarter of the Spurs’ 103-100 overtime victory at Staples Center, Ginobili said anti-inflammatory medication administered Saturday had worked well enough to ease his fears that he might be forced to miss another long stretch of games. Ginobili was playing just his fifth game since returning to action after missing 22 games with a fractured fifth metacarpal on his left hand. San Antonio Express-News

“I don’t think it is as bad as I feared it was,” said the veteran of nine-plus seasons with the Spurs. “Last night it was very bad, but the anti-inflammatories (medications) already are working. “We’ll know more tomorrow, but I am hopeful.” San Antonio Express-News

Plans for a $490 million arena aimed at attracting an NBA and NHL team to Seattle were unveiled this week, with a $290 million commitment from investors led by Seattle native and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen. The balance of the funds would come from tax revenues generated by the building and rent paid by the teams, according to the plan. But with the NBA already in a state of overexpansion, the irony for Seattle is that its path back to the NBA would have to entail doing what Oklahoma City did to Seattle in 2008: luring a team from somewhere else. The likely suspects are Sacramento and New Orleans, where both NBA teams are facing uncertain arena situations. "Teams go in cycles," Cuban said. "When you're at the top of the cycle, like Sacramento when they were winning, they were selling out every game and it was one of the hardest places to play. But it’s really how the market supports the team when you suck." CBSSports.com

What's it like being an All-Star — the perks, benefits, the whole experience? Reggie Miller: "There's two different levels. Getting voted in by the fans, which can be a popularity contest decided by a guy in his basement clicking 'Reggie Miller' a million times, and being a reserve selected by coaches. To me, it means more going in when selected by your peers. It was always exciting to be one of the 24 guys out of the 300-plus in the league selected to put on a great spectacle. Los Angeles Times

The ESPN editor fired Sunday for using "chink in the armor" in a headline about Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin said the racial slur never crossed his mind - and he was devastated when he realized his mistake. "This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny," Anthony Federico told the Daily News. "I'm so sorry that I offended people. I'm so sorry if I offended Jeremy." The headline - "Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin's 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets" - appeared on ESPN's mobile website at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and was removed by 3:05 a.m. New York Daily News

Federico, 28, said he understands why he was axed. "ESPN did what they had to do," he said. He said he has used the phrase "at least 100 times" in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story. Federico called Lin one of his heroes - not just because he's a big Knicks fan, but because he feels a kinship with a fellow "outspoken Christian." "My faith is my life," he said. "I'd love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake." New York Daily News

Bretos, too, said he didn't think of the slur Wednesday when he asked Knicks legend Walt (Clyde) Frazier about Lin on the air. "If there is a chink in the armor, where can he improve his game?" Bretos asked. The moment passed almost entirely without notice. A video replay suggests Bretos was not trying to be funny but made a poor choice of colloquialism. He tweeted his apologies Saturday, saying he meant no racial reference but would be extra-careful in the future. "My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community," Bretos wrote. "Despite intention, phrase was inappropriate in this context." Anchor Michael Kim took to Twitter to defend Bretos. "I truly believe it was an unfortunate use of words but I KNOW there was no malice there," he said. New York Daily News

Last night, Nick Young was invited to be a guest at a traditional Pakistani wedding ceremony that was held at the Wizards team hotel in Phoenix. The Wizards arrived in Phoenix Saturday afternoon and Young was walking down the hallway when he was invited by both the bridal party (Latif) and the groom’s party (Sidoiq). Washington Wizards Blog

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