HoopsHype rumors

February 28, 2012 | 06:40 PM ET Update

Don't expect to see Roy in a uniform this season. His retirement might have been about him realizing that a 66-game schedule was going to be too much for him. It might have been a concession that he needed more time off. It might, also, have been Roy realizing that the Blazers were going to push him into amnesty anyway, and instead of allowing the Minnesota Timberwolves to claim him, he took matters into his own hands and took himself off the market. Oregonian

Roy's a free agent now, if he wants to return to basketball. Just like Joel Przybilla, he can call his shot. Anyone who has ever seen Roy take over a game with a flurry of scoring late knows that look he has in his eyes. Heck, the Blazers should probably dispatch a staffer to Seattle to knock on Roy's door, and look him in the eyes. You'd know immediately if he means business. The rest of the Western Conference knows what I'm talking about. Portland has the second half of an NBA season to prepare for. There's lots of interesting basketball left. And I'm curious to see if Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews can all have a more productive finish to the season. Also, what the Blazers will do with their pile of expiring contracts at the March 15 trade deadline. Keep them? Or trade them? Lots of intrigue. But there's no better theatre than this Roy thing. Oregonian

On Tuesday, Williams admitted to HOOPSWORLD that he isn’t sure if he’ll return to the Nets. “My priority is winning a championship,” said Deron. “I don’t know where I’m going to be next season, and I have to be ready to take my game to the next level, wherever I am.” Certainly when the Nets traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks to the Utah Jazz, they expected to retain Williams for more than just a year and a half. “I feel good about where I am in my career. I’ve accomplished a lot of things individually, and that’s been great. I’ve been recognized as an All-Star and that sort of thing, but what I really want now is to win a championship,” said Williams. “The individual stuff is great, but I’m ready to chase a bigger team goal.” HoopsWorld

The Jazz remain open to moving starting point guard Devin Harris, league sources said, and reserve small forward C.J. Miles could be made available in the right situation. But Utah continues to take a long-term approach in building its team after the Deron Williams trade last February, and the Jazz won't make a move simply to pull the trigger. Salt Lake Tribune

February 28, 2012 | 05:53 PM ET Update

A winner, former Pistons general manager Jack McCloskey used to say, is a loser who just won't quit. And so it is in Dallas, where Mark Cuban never stopped believing in Dirk Nowitzki, year after frustrating year. Cuban got rid of Don Nelson, Michael Finley and Steve Nash, but he never let Nowitzki out of his sight. And he finally got enough talent and coaching around him to win a championship last season. This season, the Mavs started slow, but Nowitzki is stil lthe center of Dallas' hopes of repeating. "When I was a free agent (in 2010), it was kind of a weird time for me," Nowitzki said. "I'd never been a free agent before in my career. I'd always extended early. It was kind of like hang me out to dry, and I didn't really like it. So I had a great meeting with Cuban and really, that was all I needed to hear, his reassurance that he was going to go for it, and keep putting his resources out there for us to get a winning franchise and win a championship. Obviously I didn't know then that it would happen the first year; that's why I signed a four-year extension. That was obviously the perfect scenario." NBA.com

Tom Thibodeau announced at Bulls shoot around this morning that the team has released backup point guard Mike James. James has served two stints with the Bulls this season, most recently signing a 10-day contract in the wake of Derrick Rose's back injury. Chicago Sun-Times

His best game came in a Feb. 18 loss to the New Jersey Nets when he had 16 points and seven assists. Thibodeau did not rule out the possibility of James returning to the Bulls later this season. "There's always that chance," Thibodeau said. "I think the one thing he did a great job for us in both stints. The one thing: Mike stays ready. You can count on that part and then if there's the need, we wouldn't hesitate to bring him back." Chicago Sun-Times

Dwyane Wade said he was sorry. To Kobe Bryant. So as far as the Miami Heat guard is concerned, it's case closed when it comes to his hard foul that broke the nose of the Los Angeles Lakers guard during Sunday's NBA All-Star Game. "I sent him a message, with my apologies. Unfortunate that happened to him, but that's all I could do," Wade said following Tuesday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena, the first time he has commented on the incident since Sunday. "He knows it's no ill intent on me to do that. Did I take a foul? Yes, I took a foul. So, talk about me for taking a foul. But I never wanted that kind of outcome." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Jeremy Evans joined Fox Sports Radio with The Loose Cannons to discuss if the contest went as planned, how he decided on the two-ball dunk, if he was hungrier because he was just a replacement on the roster, what the dunk contest would be like if misses counted against you, his favorite dunk of all time, why some stars don’t participate in the contest and the MVP of the league up to this point. Did the dunk contest go as planned? Did you pull off every dunk that you wanted?: “For the most part. It didn’t go as planned, I think, but getting the win, that’s all we had planned.” How did you decide that you’d dunk two balls at once?: “I feel like if I could get both of the balls to go in, it’d probably be one of the better dunks of the night. For me to jump over Gordon, for him to throw the toss, for me to catch one and then catch the other and dunk one and then the other, I felt like that was a pretty hard dunk, so I felt like if I did that I had a chance to win.” Sports Radio Interviews

Rose, who has missed 10 games with turf toe and back problems, endorsed Durant during All-Star weekend in Orlando. "I haven't [done] anything this year yet to be MVP," Rose said. "One guy that's ballin' right now is Kevin Durant. He's ballin' right now. Putting up numbers. Playing great, shooting high percentage. He's ballin'." ESPN.com

West has made more than $14 million during the lockout and at of this season he sold off his cars, jewelry, and was living in the Mavericks locker room for a while, he told the Dallas Morning News (via IamaGM). “Just about everything I own, except for my house and the clothes on my back,” West said. During training camp the Mavericks were allowed to get West a hotel room, but once the season starts that’s an added benefit and had to go away. West said he tried to rent but a lot of places wouldn’t take him because he has a criminal record (he was arrested near his Maryland home in 2009 for having a variety of weapons in his vehicle and some driving violations). West had a place to stay when the Mavs traveled but when in Dallas he slept in the locker room or in his car, he told the paper. NBCSports.com

“With the loss of my grandma, you look at basketball as a place where you can relieve all the stress and take your mind off stuff,” Hamilton said Tuesday after the Bulls’ shootaround. “You’re so emotional and everyone around you is emotional. You look for basketball to be your ‘out’ and put all your energy into the game. When you don’t have that, it’s hard.” This season has tested Hamilton’s patience. He has suited up just 11 times and is a game-time decision for Tuesday night's game against New Orleans at the United Center. “We want to make sure he is completely healthy and ready to go,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll let him warm up and see where he is. He looks great in practice, but there’s a huge difference between the game and practice.” Chicago Tribune

The U.S. Select Team, comprised of younger NBA players that work out with the senior team, will be vital to this Olympic cycle, Colangelo said, helping the Olympic Team prepare. Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala and Derrick Rose were '08 Select Team members who went on to become part of the core of the '10 World Championshp team. Rest for the older players has to be built into the schedule. "One of the things we're going to be very careful about is our players, coming off of a condensed season," Colangelo said. "We're not going to overwork them. We're not going to overkill them or anything like that. We've got to be careful. We'll back off (practice) a little bit. It's important to have our Select Team be there for all of that, and I may have a few extra. Even though we have a 12-man roster we have to submit in June, before the camp, I may ask a few guys to come anyway. If they wish to. And they should." NBA.com

But Colangelo does not think an extended summer for any NBA player, including NBA playoffs and the Summer Games, will necessarily lead to more injuries for those players in the 2012-13 NBA season. To the contrary. "It turned out to be a blessing that none of the Beijing ('08) guys played in Istanbul," he said. "Look at what happened with those new players. Derrick Rose ended up as MVP. Durant led the league in scoring. Westbrook made the All-Star team. Love had an incredible year. Tyson Chandler helps Dallas win a championship and parlays that into a pretty nice contract. All of those guys had great seasons. Nobody got hurt. That's the proof of the pudding." NBA.com

For the first time, the Orlando Magic will wear “El Magic” jerseys to honor their Latino fan base. The Magic will wear the jerseys at three home games, beginning Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, coinciding with the team’s “Noche Latina.” The team also will wear the jerseys during the March 19 game against the Chicago Bulls and the March 21 game against the Phoenix Suns. The Magic air Spanish-language radio broadcasts of their games, with Joey Colon handling the play-by-play on AM 1270 WRLZ (Radio Luz). Orlando Sentinel

You've probably seen many versions of Twitter's bird logo by now, but did you know that the little fella actually has a name? He's Larry. Larry the Bird. A tweet by Ryan Sarver, a Twitter employee who works on the company's platform and API, reminded us of this silly bit of trivia. Sarver tweeted that Doug Bowman — Twitter's creative director — discussed "the evolution of the Larry the Bird logo" on Monday. NBC.com

We already knew that Andray Blatche is fond of wearing Uggs. Now, we also know that Andray Blatche wears his Uggs while waiting in line in public. This comes via @LiveyourrrLife, who says he spotted Blatche in a Washington DMV last week. (Although, truth be told, this doesn’t really look like a DMV. It does, however, look like Blatche. So he wears his Uggs to wait in line in public, if nothing else.) In other Wizards news, Nick Young says he’d like to be on “Dancing With the Stars.” Washington Post

February 28, 2012 | 12:31 PM ET Update

The five-year veteran, who was selected sixth in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, retired on December 10, 2011, after suffering from ongoing trouble with his knees. Lately, Roy has been working out in his hometown gym, preparing for a life changing possibility. 'It burns being away from the game and watching the entire season from the outside,' a frustrated Roy said as he followed the shortened 2011-12 NBA season from his living room couch. Eurobasket.com

According to sources close to the player, regardless of his knee problems, Roy's decision to retire wasn't all health related. 'There's something to it, but it's not the right time for me to get into it right now,' Roy said. 'I've been doing some treatment and I'm trying to leave the window open to returning to basketball.' When met with skepticism regarding his comeback, Roy explained, 'It's the truth. It's really hard being so far away from the game. I spend time watching Jamal (Crawford) and following all of his games; Will (Conroy) and Tre (Simmons) are both doing their thing, so it's driving me to wanna come back out there. If the treatment I've been looking into can work, I believe there's a good chance you will see Brandon Roy back hoopin'.' Eurobasket.com

Sonny Weems might have his eye on a return to the NBA, but can he leave Lithuania? Weems’ team has been eliminated from Euroleague title contention, but his coach says he expects Weems to stay with Zalgaris Kaunas through the end of the domestic Lithuanian league and the regional VTB league seasons. “I do believe Sonny will remain through the rest of the season,” Zalgiris coach Aleksandar Trifunovic said after Maccabi Tel-Aviv knocked off Kaunas 70-66 to clinch a spot in the Euroleague playoffs. SheridanHoops

The Suns went into the break miserably, losing a chance at momentum with a home defeat to Golden State. Nash said the All-Star break was good timing to put the loss that enraged Coach Alvin Gentry behind them and regroup with two days of practice. “We’ve got to find a way to believe and fight for it and see what happens,” Nash said. “You never know if we got on a five-, six-, seven-, who knows, 10-game winning streak, what it does to your chances. I don’t know if we’re good enough to do that but we’re good enough to win some of these games we’ve lost. And if we do that, you never know when you’ll get a little break or a nice bounce and you put yourself in the playoffs.” Arizona Republic

Statistically, the Suns should be on the fringe of the race to be among eight playoff teams. Phoenix ranks eighth in the West in defensive field goal percentage and ninth in offensive field goal percentage. However, only Golden State rebounds worse in the West than Phoenix. “I’m disappointed,” Sarver said. “I think we haven’t performed up to the level of our potential. If we want to be a playoff team, we have to make up ground and definitely hold the fort better (at home). I think we can make up the ground but we’ve got to start winning more at home. “I think we’re potentially a playoff team but we’re going to have to show it.” Arizona Republic

And here is Sweetney in a photo published this week by Vaqueros de Bayamón, the Puerto Rican team he recently signed with. Sweetney’s previous Puerto Rican employer referred to him as “Big Mike” Sweetney, which appears to be an accurate nickname. Washington Post

February 28, 2012 | 09:44 AM ET Update

Sam Amick: He's owed $8.9 million this year (pro-rated, 66 gms), $2 million buyout for next season. But source tells me buyout isn't going to happen. Twitter

Amid rumors that Odom might not return to the Mavericks and a midseason buyout could be a possibility, owner Mark Cuban told ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon via email Monday night: "We haven't discussed a buyout and we wouldn't do a buyout. No chance that happens at all. We want to help Lamar work through any personal issues and expect him to be a valuable contributor to the Mavs this season. Players go through challenges from time to time and we try to be (an) organization that fully supports our players when things are challenging for them. We will do the same for Lamar." ESPN.com

Two sources close to Odom told me last week that Lamar is in constant need of affirmation, that he basically requites daily verbal and physical and emotional hugs from everyone around him. God knows Cuban, Donnie and Carlisle have been at their most huggable for Odom since acquiring him at the start of this season for a bag of magic beans. Scout.com

I have said this before and I think it’s fair: I put the kibosh on sarcasm as best I could last Wednesday, when L.O.'s absence was announced. Yes, his behavior is unusual and yes, his commitment is worthy of question. And the questions continue because Lamar wasn’t back at practice Monday to begin the second half of the season playing for the very, very patience defending champs. Scout.com

Odom left the team last Wednesday to attend to his ill father in Los Angeles, a source confirmed. Odom missed the Mavs' loss to his former team, the Lakers, and apparently won't be in uniform when Dallas resumes the regular season at home Tuesday night against the New Jersey Nets. "Lamar is not here today," Carlisle said Monday. "He is still dealing with a family matter and the hope is he'll join us soon, and we'll update you when there's an update." ESPN.com

Though it may pain the purists, it's not just about basketball for Howard. He wants to take his brand global, to leverage the international influence of Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov while building his brand as Brooklyn's first star. His wandering eye is enticed not only by the Barclays Center that is set to open next season, but the businesses in the booming area around it that could afford many off-court opportunities. He wants, as one source said, to "be Kobe Bryant, not be with Kobe Bryant." Of course, it's hardly that simple. SI.com

Among the many complications here is that any and all hopes of landing Lakers center Andrew Bynum -- the best big man in the league to fill the Howard void -- appear to be dashed because of Howard's view of the Lakers. Close friends of Howard say he was, in fact, informed that Bryant sees him as a second or third option on a championship-caliber team if he came to Los Angeles. And while the stance has its merits on the surface, it simply didn't help matters to engage in any sort of alpha dog discussion if that's what indeed went down. The Buss family that owns the Lakers, in turn, is said to be irked by Bryant's alleged role in the matter and hopeful that Howard -- who they see as the business and basketball draw for the next decade -- can still be convinced otherwise. But Howard's focus, one source close to him insists, was on the Nets regardless of Bryant's perceived influence. SI.com

Meanwhile, back at the trading post, some deals may actually be getting close to finalization and the Lakers are in middle of them. They’re determined to acquire a point guard sooner than two weeks from now. If it’s a multi-player transaction, Pau Gasol will be sacrificed. Should the Magic change their mind about accepting Andrew Bynum for Howard (Pau’s inclusion might do it), Jameer Nelson would almost have to be part of the package unless an above-average ball-handler can be obtained elsewhere. New York Post

That someone could be Ramon Sessions ($4.2 million/$4.5 million). The Lakers are doing some fast talking to the Cavaliers, who are swamped by calls, as are the Kings. Sacramento leads the league in cap room, $9.4 million, whereas Cleveland has $7.1 million. Teams want them to take contracts for draft picks so they can maneuver. New York Post

The Lakers, also in dire need of a legitimate scoring threat at small forward, have genuine interest in Michael Beasley, but it’s doubtful they’ll use the $8.9 million trade exception (from Lamar Odom being shipped to Dallas) to acquire him because of the increased luxury tax consequences stemming from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman recently committed to boosting Derrick Williams’ minutes, making Beasley extraneous. Minnesota is pushing hard to relocate his $6.2 million expiring contract and have the Nets and Celtics leaning. New York Post

There are renewed rumblings about the Warriors possibly getting Brook Lopez from the Nets in a multi-team deal involving Howard. That would cost them big time, though; Monta Ellis would be part of the Magic’s compensation. New York Post

The Mavericks were always the biggest threat to snatch away Deron Williams and the dream of bringing a championship contender to Brooklyn. On Monday, coach Avery Johnson shined a light on the elephant in the room. "For me personally, working for Mark Cuban, he's a threat," said Johnson, a former Mavs coach. "I know the guy. So I think because of the success he's had and I know he got criticized a lot for having all those years when he didn't win a championship. "But he's had some really great success here that rivals any situation, so that's a threat. And for us, we don't make any assumptions until we get Deron signed on the dotted line." New York Daily News

Before Jason Kidd signs a contract this summer, the 38-year-old said he’ll consider retirement. But if the future Hall of Famer feels there’s enough in the tank, a final stop with the Brooklyn Nets is still a possibility. “You can’t rule that out. You have to see what happens,” said Kidd, who will become a free agent at the end of the season. “First I want to make sure I want to continue playing. But we’ll see what happens here in Dallas. I wouldn’t mind staying here in Dallas if that opportunity presents itself. “But if Brooklyn presents itself, we’ll see.” New York Daily News

Luchey said "we're considering all options" and that it's realistic that Chandler could sign with a professional team in Italy this spring, in order to stay in shape and make some money. Chandler played in China during the NBA lockout and returned to the States this month. Denver Post

For example, the Raptors are trying to move Leandro Barbosa’s expiring contract ($7.6 million) in hopes of signing restricted free agent Wilson Chandler to a financial arrangement Denver might be reluctant to match. The Nuggets undeniably appreciate Chandler’s on and off-court qualities, but is he good enough to start at small forward? Hence, they’re not forced to go overboard as long as they’re bidding against themselves. New York Post

Gerald Green is not the same kid who came out of high school in 2005 when he was a first-round pick of Boston. But he has the same type of athleticism and explosiveness so the Nets took a low risk, high reward gamble and yesterday signed the 6-foot-8 forward to a 10-day contract. “Once I came out of high school, I was a little immature. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know how to be a professional,” said Green, who joined the team in time to practice at SMU yesterday. “I’m a totally different individual.” Coach Avery Johnson conducted a two-forward workout last week in Houston and was impressed by Green, who can help at the Nets’ injury decimated small forward spot. Green impressed — and that impression improved when he was the MVP of the NBA D-League All-Star Game in Orlando over the weekend. New York Post

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have signed forward Lance Thomas for the rest of the season and inked forward Solomon Jones to a second 10-day contract. Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released. Thomas has been with the Hornets for two consecutive 10-day contracts, appearing in nine games during that span with averages of 2.7 points and 3.7 rebounds. Thomas, a Duke University product, appeared in two regular season games with the Hornets before being released on December 31, averaging 0.5 points. In two preseason games (both starts), he averaged 3.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. SportsNOLA.com

Ten days to make an impression. Ten days to redefine his life. N.B.A. teams use these contracts to fill spots on their benches. But the commitment is painfully meager: the player is signed for 10 days but can be released after one. If he lasts, he can be offered a second 10-day contract. When that ends, he must be signed for the rest of the season. Or just released. It is a tightrope, a lonesome reality show, an almost cruel audition far removed from the world of N.B.A. All-Stars, who gathered last weekend in Orlando, Fla., to share their good fortune. Of about two dozen players who signed 10-day contracts last season, a third were signed for the rest of the season. But Emmett was not complaining. New York Times

He was certain that if he got a fair shot, he could stick this time. Working in his favor was that the Nets had six games scheduled in the 10 days, which meant a lot of potential chances for him to get on the court, and a payday of $50,000 to $60.000. But he had little time to think that far ahead when he got the call. His flight was taking off in 45 minutes. “I’m like: Come on, man. I just got a call from the N.B.A. I need to get on this flight,” he said. American Airlines held the plane for him, but a Bighorns coach had to overnight his duffel bag. It was stuffed with everything Emmett had in Reno, including jerseys he wore on former teams, keepsakes of his itinerant basketball life. “That’s definitely the goal, to pack everything and not come back,” he said. New York Times

Emmett was down to one last game on his tryout, and he could see which way things were heading. He showered and dressed, then went back into the arena to meet with his sister Rafiki Carter, who had watched all 12.2 seconds of his game action. “You want to know how I feel?” he said, the frustration finally emerging. “I’m happy for the guys, them getting tough losses and whatnot.” But, he added: “I came here to play basketball. Not to look at basketball.” He then boarded the team bus back to New Jersey and sat in the back to be alone. At 11 a.m. the next day, Emmett was alone, again. This time, he was relatively happy. The Nets were off, with no practice scheduled, so Emmett took the opportunity to have the practice facility to himself. After two hours of jumpers, he had two team interns double-team him and still swished his last few shots. New York Times

Evans dunked two balls, which were thrown up by former Brownsburg High School and Butler standout Gordon Hayward. Evans wore a mini video camera on his ear during another dunk. And he jumped over comedian Kevin Hart, who is almost two feet shorter than the 7-2 Hibbert. “(Not to) take nothing away from the dunk contest, (but) it was a joke,” George said. “I guess whoever had the biggest celebrity involved in their dunk was going to be the winner. I guess I should have tried to reach out to some people. “If you leave it up to fans, they probably wouldn’t have known who Larry was. I think I was destined to lose it.” Fans voted for the winner. Indianapolis Star

Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose says he can dance, but that he doesn't feel as if the All-Star Game is the right venue to showcase those skills. "I can dance," Rose said after Sunday night's All-Star Game. "But there's a time and place for that and I don't think it was right, then and there." ESPN.com

As if the Charlotte Bobcats could afford any additional injury woes, there was fear over the All-Star break that small forward Corey Maggette might have a torn meniscus that would have ended his season. "Just a God-send he didn't have a torn meniscus," coach Paul Silas told the Observer on Monday night. "That's what I (initially) heard." The diagnosis proved to be less dire; Maggette has inflammation and swelling in his right knee, and sat out practice Monday. He said he hopes to practice Tuesday, and if that goes all right, Maggette will try to play Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich. Charlotte Observer

Kobe Bryant's visit to see Dr. John Rehm, an ear, nose and throat specialist, to learn more about the broken nose he suffered during Sunday's All-Star Game in Orlando, Fla., was postponed until Tuesday, the Lakers said Monday. The Lakers are scheduled to hold their first practice after the All-Star break Tuesday afternoon at 2 (PST). Then they play host Wednesday to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It's uncertain whether Bryant will be fit to practice or to play. Or whether he will be forced to wear a protective mask. Los Angeles Daily News

Danilo Gallinari was interviewed by La Gazzetta dello Sport and said that he should be able to return to action in 10 days. "I feel better, the ankle is not swollen anymore and in the next days I will start again running and jumping. I think that in 10 days I should be able to return to action. Denver Nuggets first half of the season was good, we have a positive record and we all are satisfied. Sportando

Monday night, Villanueva practiced with his teammates after not doing any running for two months and could be available by next week. "I'm feeling real good; I went through the first 20 minutes of practice, non-contact, and felt pretty good," said Villanueva, who has not played since a Jan. 4 loss against Chicago. "I'm taking it day by day from now on. I'm not trying to speed things up. I'm just working my way back into things." Detroit Free Press

Andrew Bogut: Today was the first day of training! Ive been cleared to lift weights and get out and about!!! Im going to be sore tomo..... Twitter

Rose played the Bulls' final two games before the break after missing the previous five. Coach Tom Thibodeau played him only 18 minutes in theAll-Star Game, none in the fourth quarter. "That was predetermined," Thibodeau said. Rose didn't get the memo, saying, "At times I wanted to get in there, but I think Thibs was worried about my back." Chicago Tribune

Center Spencer Hawes will miss at least the next two weeks because of a strained left Achilles that has forced him to sit out the Philadelphia 76ers' last nine games. Hawes was examined by Dr. Richard Ferkel of the Southern California Orthopedic Institute during the All-Star break, the team said in a statement released Monday. He will no longer wear a protective boot on his left foot, but it's uncertain when he'll play again. ESPN.com

Calf problems have kept Toronto Raptors forward/center Andrea Bargnani out of the lineup for all but two games since Jan. 11. Word came last week that he should be ready to go after the All-Star break, but Raptors PR reports that the 7-0 Italian didn't' practice Monday and has "no return date set." The good news, though, is that Bargnani did do "some conditioning and running off to the side," according to the PR department's tweet. Yahoo! Sports

NBA great, LeBron James, is aware that Russia have a strong basketball squad, capable of causing the US Dream Team some problems at the London Games. Talking to Sport-Express newspaper, the Miami Heat star stressed that there’ll be a lot of strong teams at this summer’s Olympics. “They are Spain, France, Argentina and Brazil,” he said. “Plus, someone strong will make it to the Games through qualifying. Most likely, it’ll be the Russians.” RT

“It'd mean the world to me, man,” Durant said of making Team USA. “I'm just excited to just get that opportunity to be on the finalist team and hopefully they pick me and I can help the team out as much as they want me to help. If they want me to come off the bench and be a great teammate, I'll do that. If they want me to just come in and shoot all 3s, I'll do it. Whatever they need me to do I'm ready to do and hopefully I'm there. I just can't wait to play along some of the greatest players in the world.” Oklahoman

The city's decades-long fight for a new arena came down to a single question. It was Sunday afternoon, and Mayor Kevin Johnson sat across the negotiating table from the Maloof brothers, whose family has owned the Sacramento Kings since 1999. He looked them in the eye and asked, "Are you committed to Sacramento?" If they weren't, he said, there was no point continuing the talks. "Each of them, one after another, said, 'Yes, we want to be in Sacramento,' " the mayor recounted Monday, saying he hugged Joe, Gavin and George Maloof. "I knew at that point we had an excellent opportunity of making this deal happen." Sacramento Bee

There was some uncertainty leading up to that exchange. The Maloofs had met privately with NBA officials for hours on Sunday, as city officials huddled in a separate conference room or in the hallway. During those talks, the NBA laid out the proposed financing plan to the Kings owners – a plan the NBA and Sacramento officials had negotiated without the Maloofs' direct involvement. Sacramento Bee

The focus of those talks, according to interviews with multiple people briefed on the negotiations who were not authorized to speak publicly, was developing a plan to close a $35 million gap between what the city wanted from the Maloofs and what the family offered to put into the arena effort at the start of the weekend. That task got a bump from a phone call Monday morning. As negotiations stretched into a third day, Johnson called AEG, the giant arena operator the city is counting on to provide $50 million toward the project's cost in exchange for running the facility and collecting much of the revenue. The mayor asked AEG for more. The company agreed, pledging nearly $60 million. It's yet not clear what AEG got in exchange – city officials were reluctant to disclose all the details until legal wording is finalized for a "term sheet" to be released to the public Thursday. The AEG pledge was celebrated by high-fives handed out by Johnson, according to a source involved in the talks. Sacramento Bee

While Stern did not release details of that support, a source said he was indicating the league's willingness to provide a financial safety net to the Maloofs to help them come up with their share of upfront funding for an arena. With the phone call to AEG and the NBA's support in hand, it wasn't long into Monday's negotiating session – within the first hour, the mayor said – that "everyone in the room knew it was going to happen." "You want to celebrate," he said. "It's like you know you have more points than the other team, but there's still time on the clock and you can't celebrate quite yet." Sacramento Bee

Billionaire businessman and Putin election challenger Mikhail Prokhorov said on Tuesday, Feb 28, he is forming a "non-political" party seeking to unite Russia's civil society. "It will be an absolutely new party. It will be built, if you will, according to a non-political principle," Prokhorov said at a news conference, RIA Novosti reported. panarmenian.net

The tycoon and owner of the U.S. NBA New Jersey Nets basketball team is the only independent candidate running in Sunday's presidential polls, which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who held the presidential post between 2000 and 2008, is almost certain to win. "No one has ever done this before, and we'd like to be the first to create a party which will unite our civil society," Prokhorov, seen by critics as a Kremlin project designed to split the opposition, told the Moscow news conference. panarmenian.net

Michael Heisley and Tony Ressler were eliminated from the Dodgers bidding on Monday, leaving seven parties in contention to buy the team, according to multiple people familiar with the sale process but not authorized to discuss it. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Beverly Hills-based real estate developer Alan Casden and a group led by Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney remain in the bidding. The other four: Magic Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten; Connecticut investor Steven Cohen and longtime Los Angeles agent Arn Tellem; New York media executive Leo Hindery in partnership with Tom Barrack, chairman of Santa Monica-based Colony Capital; and Jared Kushner, owner and publisher of the New York Observer and son-in-law of Donald Trump. Los Angeles Times

Chicago businessman and Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley remains in the running to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. A source familiar with Heisley's group and Major League Baseball said Monday night that his group hasn't been eliminated from consideration, contrary to an earlier report. Although some groups, such as one headed by Chicago White Sox senior advisor Dennis Gilbert, have been eliminated, the source said talks with Heisley's group and MLB are still on-going. Chicago Tribune

Jeremy Lin talked about his decision to trademark the word “Linsanity’’ over All-Star Weekend to lessen bootleg products. “Our team (agent Roger Montgomery) came up with the idea to trademark it,’’ Lin said. “The important thing is I don’t want to put on a facade or be someone I’m not, so the products are representative of me.’’ The original Linsanity website was created last year without Lin’s knowledge. New York Post

The ice cream makers behind Ben & Jerry's have issued a public apology after a concoction meant to honour rising basketball star Jeremy Lin failed to be a slam dunk. 'Taste the Lin-Sanity' vanilla frozen yogurt, which featured lychee honey swirls and fortune-cookie pieces, outraged customers who said it perpetuated stereotypes about Asian Americans. Dailymail.co.uk

He retreats to a green room in TNT’s Atlanta studios to reminisce about all those moments. O’Neal wears a white shirt, periwinkle tie, dark suit pants and a matching vest. His head is shaved clean. He rocks a bushy neck beard. Needless to say, he is enormous—7’1”, 300-plus pounds. And when he’s ready to chat, he snatches the digital recorder with his massive hand and holds it close to his mouth. “I have a low voice,” he says. VIBE: Evaluate your performance so far in the new gig. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL: I’m at a low -C. I’m learning and will only get better. I just want to keep people entertained. I don’t want to be talking with the big vocabulary and all that bullshit. I’m short and to the point. I’m very educated and can give you somewhat of a vocabulary, but I don’t get to the philosophical side. VIBE

Marcus Morris, a former KU standout who currently plays for the Houston Rockets, was cited for misdemeanor battery early Sunday in Lawrence, city prosecutor Jerry Little told the Lawrence Journal-World on Monday. Kim Murphree of the Lawrence Police Department told The Star that police were called at 2:37 a.m. Sunday to The Cave, a nightclub at The Oread, a hotel near the KU campus. She said a male employee alleged he was punched by another man after an argument and that it was also alleged another man punched the employee from behind. Kansas City Star

Zollie Volchok, former president and general manager of the Seattle SuperSonics, died Sunday night. He was 95. Volchok, whose roots were in vaudeville and entertainment, was talked out of retirement by owner Sam Schulman to become the Sonics' general manager. He held that position when the team won its only NBA championship in 1979. The Mercer Island, Wash., resident also owned a 5 percent share of the Sonics when Sam Schulman sold the team to Barry Ackerley on Oct. 14, 1983. Ackerley died March 21. Sun Herald

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