HoopsHype rumors

April 10, 2012 | 06:56 PM ET Update

At halftime of his final game with the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night, Lamar Odom had an angry exchange with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the visitors' locker room in Memphis, according to sources familiar with the discussion. Sources told ESPNDallas.com that the heated words were "the culmination" of an exasperating weekend. That convinced team officials to initiate discussions on Easter that led to the parties agreeing split for the rest of the season. ESPN.com

According to sources, the crux of the heated halftime confrontation was Cuban asking Odom if he was "in or out." Sources said Odom, who had played only four minutes in the first half, reacted angrily to the question and did not take his seat on the bench until after the third quarter began. ESPN.com

One of the issues that pushed the Mavericks to part ways with Lamar Odom was his habitual tardiness, according to a team source. Odom was late to meetings, practices and shootarounds throughout the season, the source said. That included the morning meeting in Memphis before Saturday’s loss, Odom’s final game with the Mavericks. ESPN.com

Jason Kidd would rather shoot a contested layup than discuss the reasons for Lamar Odom’s departure from Dallas. “I have no idea,” Kidd said after Tuesday’s shootaround. “You’ve got to ask Lamar.” Isn’t it puzzling to see the reigning Sixth Man of the Year struggle so much that the Mavs got rid of him a few weeks before the playoffs? “That was last year,” Kidd said. “It’s like we were the champs last year. It has no impact on what we do this season. Every time you take the floor, there’s something that happens differently. For him, it just didn’t work out.” ESPN.com

New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov met with likely free-agent-to-be Deron Williams on Monday, Prokhorov told reporters during a Tuesday news conference at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "We (had) I think a very good discussion," Prokhorov said. "He really wants to win, and I want to (win) maybe even more. I really want to go into details, but I think at this stage, we're on the same page." ESPN.com

Williams has said he intends to opt out of the final year of his contract at season's end and become a free agent. The Nets can offer the All-Star point guard more than any team -- five years and $109 million, compared to four years and $81 million. "I think he wants to win and he wants to be part of a great franchise," Prokhorov said. "So we have the same view." ESPN.com

The day McGee arrived in Denver, general manager Masai Ujiri told him, "Age 18 to 23 is over. Think about 24 to 30 now." Ujiri flips through his iPad, each screen a chart comparing McGee with other NBA centers at a similar stage. The charts are a reminder of the patience required to develop big men. When All-Star center Andrew Bynum was in his fourth season, he averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, numbers not so different from McGee's. And Bynum spent all those years with the Lakers, an organization that was able to keep him on the bench and tutor him. SI.com

McGee's performance in Denver has been as inconsistent as ever, but the organization seems to agree with him. He marvels that players pass to one another. A trainer keeps McGee's inhaler on the bench, and when he is ready to check in, he takes two puffs. Something spectacular is about to happen. Last Friday against the Suns, it was an air-balled hook shot, followed by a furious dunk that shook the stanchion for a solid 20 seconds. This month represents a final audition for McGee, who will be a restricted free agent after the season. In a league starved for size, where teams still find a way to pay Kwame Brown $7 million, McGee will be in demand. SI.com

The sore left shin that has dogged Kobe Bryant the last two weeks continues to improve, but he will not play Wednesday against San Antonio. Bryant, who was originally kicked in the shin March 31, will miss a third consecutive game, Lakers Coach Mike Brown told reporters Tuesday. The Lakers are 1-1/2 games ahead of the Clippers and two ahead of the fast-charging Memphis Grizzlies for third place in the Western Conference. Los Angeles Times

Derrick Rose likely will not play Tuesday against the Knicks because of a sprained ankle, but Bulls executive vice president John Paxson does not believe the reigning MVP's multiple injuries this season are related. Rose has sustained toe, back, groin and ankle injuries this season. His latest ankle injury happened Sunday when the Bulls played in New York. "Everybody knows that when you go out and play, you always run the risk of something happening," Paxson said Tuesday on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP-AM 1000. Chicago Tribune

Kendall Marshall has taken care of the next step in preparation for the NBA Draft. After declaring his intentions March 29 to leave the University of North Carolina early, the Dumfries resident has now signed with an agent. On Monday, McLean-based Octagon added Marshall to their client list after he officially signed with the sports agency. Marshall and his family considered seven sports representatives before narrowing the list down to five. Marshall’s parents Dennis and Kim then met with each of the five agencies. Insidenova Network

The Portland Trail Blazers have interviewed agent Noah Croom for the franchise's vacant general manager’s job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Croom has met with Blazers officials at least once in Portland, sources said. Before joining the Goodwin Sports agency, Croom was an assistant general manager from 1995-2000 with the Vancouver and Memphis Grizzlies. He was a candidate for several front-office jobs in recent years, but chose to stay as an agent. Yahoo! Sports

After a year off due to the NBA lockout, the Orlando Magic tentatively plan to host their annual summer league July 9-13. The exhibition games will be held on the Amway Center practice court. As usual, the event will be closed to the public. The Magic have not made any formal announcements yet. Summer league games are important because they enable coaches and recent draft picks to familiarize themselves with each other and allow draft picks to learn their new teams’ systems. They also provide opportunities for undrafted players and veteran free agents to latch on with new clubs. Orlando Sentinel

On a Sunday last May, Rick Welts boarded a plane in San Francisco knowing that by the time he landed in New York, his life would be changed forever. He wasn't sure if it would be changed for the better. At some point while he was flying over Middle America, the New York Times posted a story to its Web site acknowledging that Welts had become the highest ranking sports executive ever to reveal that he was gay. "It was a bizarre experience having no idea what was going on 40,000 feet below me," Welts said. "I'll never forget the wheels touching down, turning on my Blackberry and watching it almost explode with emails." Contra Costa Times

A 14-year relationship had ended badly in part because Welts felt the need to keep it secret from his work life. But he also was feeling a tug of responsibility to help push forward the national dialogue about sexual orientation in sports. "The barrier for people in my situation is that there hadn't ever been anyone who had taken this step," he said. "I thought something good might come out of it. There might be a kid out there who would think, 'You know, I probably could do whatever I wanted because of who I am, not in spite of whom I am.'" Welts' mother, who has since passed away, encouraged him to do what felt right. He began meeting with people such as Suns star Steve Nash, Russell and Stern about his complete life. All three agreed to be part of the article that would appear on the New York Times' front page and lead to an outpouring of support. "The big headline for me is that Rick finally felt a sense of relief," Stern said. Contra Costa Times

For fans who just can't get enough of John Wall's attitude ... comes twelve specially designed Reebok sneakers with the NBA star's golden touch. The shoe company will debut the Washington Wizards' limited edition 'Beyond the Gold' Zig Encore sneakers at one New Jersey store and only plan to offer a dozen pairs for sale. The $200 shoes will be packaged in a limited JW logo briefcase, with a FLUD x Reebok "Beyond The Gold" watch and John Wall-branded sunglasses. WTOP.com

April 10, 2012 | 02:54 PM ET Update

Nobody has reported this … until now. The last time Boston played Miami, the Celtics won so convincingly (91-72 on April 1) it prompted the Heat to call a players-only meeting. “Everybody who was here last year had something to say at that meeting,” guard Mario Chalmers said. SheridanHoops

That April Fool’s Day loss at Boston dropped the Heat to 4-7 on the road since the All-Star break. It was time to address a truth, one first mentioned by coach Erik Spoelstra. The Heat had lost the motivating pain of that Game 6 Finals loss to Dallas. They had to get back to “that dark place,” as they say. That’s what that players-only meeting was about. “Just getting back to the hurt,” forward LeBron James said. SheridanHoops

It’s too early to say whether the meeting is responsible for anything that’s happened, good or bad, in the last week or so. But the meeting got everyone’s attention. The Heat never wants to forget the pain of losing Game 6, they always want to maintain a memory of “that dark place.” “Guys put themselves back in that position,” James said, “back in that place, back in this locker room when we lost Game 6 and they were celebrating on our floor.” This was grown-up talk, a time for the veterans who lived the circus of last season and the crushing pain of that loss. “We didn’t give the young guys the opportunity to say anything,” Haslem said. “Those guys just listened.” SheridanHoops

Still, given that the Mavericks also have a billionaire owner, Mark Cuban, and just won a championship in 2010-11, they'll certainly be able to make a great sales pitch to Williams to entice him to leave. "Let the best man win. If he wins, I will crush him in a kickboxing throwdown," Prokhorov joked of Cuban. ESPN.com

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have signed guard Jerome Dyson to a 10-day contract. Dyson, a University of Connecticut product, has appeared in 44 regular season games (all starts) with the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA Developmental League this season, averaging 17.8 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 34.0 minutes of play. The 2010 Third Team All-Big East selection was signed to the Hornets training camp roster on December 9th, 2011, appearing in one preseason game with New Orleans (five points and one assist in seven minutes of action). He was the last player waived on December 24th prior to the start of the season. Hornets247.com

Since inking his 5 year $55 million contract, Gordon hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs, let alone the Conference Finals and all the losing is starting to grate on him. “I’m not going to lie it’s a lot easier. Obviously when you’re playing for seeding and those types of things,” Gordon told HOOPSWORLD. “We’re professional athletes. We still have to come out and give it 110 percent.” The Pistons have lost three straight games and five of their last ten and nine of their last fourteen. “I don’t deal with losing very well,” said Gordon. “It’s tough but it is what it is right now and we just need to figure out in the future how to get out this.” HoopsWorld

Unless things go drastically wrong, the Trail Blazers will have two first round draft picks in the 2012 NBA Draft – their own and the New Jersey Nets' protected top three pick. If this is the case, the Trail Blazers' All-Star is all in for rebuilding. “I don't think I've reached my prime yet,” LaMarcus Aldridge said. “So, if we get a good group of rookies in this draft, they'll be able to gain some experience in the next couple of years and we'll be a force a couple of years from now.” CSNNW.com

It's not often you hear a franchise player say he's willing to go through the rigors of a rebuilding team, but Aldridge does explain why he's up for the task. “You don't reach your prime until you're about 28 or 29,” Aldridge said. “I'm 26 so I got a few more years until then. If we bring in the right guys, we'll be very good down the road.” CSNNW.com

No one can say when or if Amar'e Stoudemire will return again this season but Mike Woodson made it clear on Tuesday that once Stoudemire is healthy enough to play again he will step right into the starting lineup. "I've got to think the doctors and Amar'e are on the same page in terms of where he is," Woodson says, "and when they tell me he's ready to go he'll be right back in the starting lineup, playing the way I expect him to play." New York Daily News

Stoudemire continues his media boycott: he says he's not ready to answer questions about his status. He is, however, working diligently to return with the help of Knicks physio Dave Hancock. "He's still working out, taking it a day at a time," Woodson said. "He looks pretty good. Again, I think it's going to be up to Amar'e and the doctors when he decides to make his move. "Until he tells me he's ready to play, I got to continue to go to guys that are in uniform. When he tells me, I'm going to welcome him back with open arms big time." New York Daily News

Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge continues to have trouble with his ailing right hip, which has been giving him trouble for several weeks. Today, Aldridge and team trainer Jay Jensen few to Vail, Colo., to have the hip evaluated by specialist Marc Phillipon, the team announced. Aldridge will not be with the team when practice begins at 11 a.m. today, and his status for Wednesday's game against Golden State is questionable. Oregonian

Connecticut sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb has declared for the NBA draft. The 19-year-old from Norcross, Ga. led the Huskies in scoring last season at 17.7 points per game, and was a key part of the team that won the NCAA championship in 2011. Lamb said in a statement released Tuesday by UConn that it was a difficult decision to go professional but it is in the best interest of his family. ESPN.com

Duke junior forward Mason Plumlee is returning to school. The 6-foot-10 Plumlee averaged 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this past season and has been contemplating whether to leave Durham early or return for his senior campaign for the past couple weeks. NBA executives told CBSSports.com that Plumlee is projected as a late first-round pick, but could have slipped into the second round. CBSSports.com

Contrary to what the official tournament website might indicate, Scoop Jardine will not play this weekend at the Portsmouth Invitational. Jardine, the former SU point guard, is in Syracuse working out in preparation for the upcoming NBA Draft. Jardine, who spent last summer as a member of USA Basketball's World University Games team that toured China, said he has not had a significant time off from the everyday pounding and grinding of basketball since the Orange lost to Marquette in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Syracuse.com

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is one of three NBA players who have agreed to play on Britain's Olympic team. British basketball says Deng, Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon and Charlotte Bobcats center Byron Mullens have "confirmed their availability and commitment" to play at the Olympics. They are part of a 21-man preliminary squad. WCBD-TV 2

Nick Friedell: Pax on Thibs' contract situation: We want him here. He wants to be here. As Gar said, when you have same goals, it gets worked out. Twitter

Stunned by their school's decision cut loose Isiah Thomas last Friday afternoon, members of the Florida International basketball team found a clever way to support the fired coach. As a speaker introduced a highlight video from FIU's season at Monday night's end-of-the-year banquet in the team's honor, the Golden Panthers got up from their table, walked in a single-file line in front of the podium and exited the building en masse. Yahoo! Sports

Time is ticking to find Johnson's replacement. Joe Alleva is on the clock to find LSU's fourth head coach since 1972. Names such as Johnny Jones, Randy Livingston, Reggie Theus, Jamie Dixon and Scott Drew have been thrown around, but only Alleva knows his true target. SportsNOLA.com

Sacramento's arena drama switches this week to Manhattan, where the Maloof family will ask their fellow NBA owners for support in forcing the city to negotiate a better deal with the team. The Kings owners say they will bank on respect and understanding from the league's board of governors when they make their pitch behind the gilded doors of the St. Regis Hotel in midtown. They are likely to face opposition from David Stern, the NBA commissioner, who has a close relationship with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and was instrumental six weeks ago in crafting the deal the Maloofs are questioning. Unlike last April, when Johnson and his entourage swept into the NBA board of governors meetings to make their case for Sacramento, Johnson said he doesn't plan to be in New York for the meetings Thursday and Friday. Sacramento Bee

City officials contend they have done what they needed to do. Now, they say, it is up to Stern and other NBA officials who helped negotiate the deal to persuade the Maloofs to get aboard. "We've done everything we were asked to by the NBA," said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg, the city's point man on the arena. "We are hopeful the NBA and the team can … bring back a solution." Sacramento Bee

A source familiar with the issue said the Kings would like more decision-making authority at the arena. The team reportedly also has concerns about parking issues, wants more input on the design, and has issues with the proposed lease terms and revenue streams, among other sticking points. The current "term sheet" calls for the Kings to sign a 30-year lease. NBA Commissioner Stern stepped in to temporarily patch over the first of those hurdles two weeks ago by agreeing to pay the first $200,000 of predevelopment costs, and said he would bring the issue before the board of governors. That $200,000 is enough to get work done through April 17, city officials said. Sacramento Bee

Prokhorov also preached patience in building a championship team. He praised the efforts of coach Avery Johnson and Billy King while saying he “hopes” to attend more games because he is no longer running for president of Russia. Sunday’s victory over the Cavaliers was his first game at the Prudential Center in nearly 15 months. “The Nets like the arena is under construction. In the building stage,” he said. “I will keep my prediction of a championship. So I will do my best together with my friends, together with my partners, we will make the Brooklyn Nets the champions of the NBA. And I am very committed with this.” New York Daily News

Within hours, more than 200,000 fans had thrown their support behind the project; within a week, more than 1 million had voted in favor of pushing the statue into production. As of the latest update, dated April 10, the statue — which captures the moment Marbury lifted the CBA championship trophy, shown above — has been modeled in clay, "transported to the Jiangxi Province [and is] ready to start after the bronze work," according to a translation of a post from the HoopChina forums. Hit the jump for some shots of the model, thanks to HoopChina, with a hat-tip to Sean Sweeney at Dime. First, a (just about) full-size look: Yahoo! Sports

April 10, 2012 | 08:32 AM ET Update

Goran Dragic even has a collection of plaid shirts in case he wishes to sit down with Jim Graycic to announce The Decision on Slovenian cable. It turns out, this really is the Year of the ‘Dragon.’ “It was a little bit different,” said Dragic after the Rockets knocked off the Trail Blazers, a team desperate for a point guard and with the cap room for a spending spree. “Before, they never asked me this type of questions. ‘Are you going to come to Portland?’ Still, all the doors are open. We’re going to see what is going to happen this summer. I feel great in Houston. Hopefully, I’m going to stay in Houston.” Houston Chronicle

Even if the Rockets do decide to keep their free agents, Dragic would have to decide to stay with them. (Lee will be a restricted free agent.) A team like Portland can offer him big money and tons of playing time. Dragic might not be thinking about it now, but he will. He likes Houston, his teammates and coaches. But someone that came all the way to Slovenia to play ball, against the advice of many that said he was not ready, Dragic could be enticed to move again. “It’s going to be a crazy summer for me,” he said. “Still, I have to get every game, try to be focused, play hard and try to make playoffs with Houston Rockets. What is going to happen after the season, we’ll see.” Houston Chronicle

Amazingly, despite all the flak he has taken from fans and media this season, Felton is warm to the possibility of being back in a Blazer uniform in 2012-13. “I’d still love to play here, without a doubt,” the seven-year NBA veteran says. “This is one of the places I’d love to play. I let everybody know I would love to play in Portland again. I have a great relationship with my teammates. “I have loved every experience I’ve had through my time in the league. I have never (been a player in) one city I didn’t like, but I love it here in Portland. It rains a lot, I will say that. But other than that, I love it here. I loving playing in the Rose Garden. (Garden denizens) are some of the best fans in the NBA, if not the best. It’s been great.” Portland Tribune

Felton’s play has not been, of course. Surprised by the quick turnaround after a collective-bargaining agreement was signed in December, the 6-1, 210-pounder — acquired in the draft-day trade that sent Miller to Denver — arrived at training camp a candidate for a Jenny Craig commercial. “I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be,” he confesses. “I wasn’t out of shape, but I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in. The (CBA signing) threw me off. You get a phone call you have to report to your team in a week. Then you get two weeks and, boom, there’s your first preseason game. “It was tough, especially for me, a point guard trying to have a chemistry with all new guys while learning a new system in a new organization. Everything was different. But it happens — no excuses.” Portland Tribune

The Nets announced today that they will not resign Dennis Horner to another 10-day contract and instead signed Armon Johnson to one. Johnson will become the 22nd player to wear a Nets uniform this season, the most in the NBA. He is a point guard and may backup Deron Williams due to the very poor play of late from Sundiata Gaines. From Russia With Dunk

Drama may make for good reality television, but Lamar Odom’s emotions were too much for the Dallas Mavericks’ top brass. The Mavericks yesterday bounced Khloe Kardashian husband Odom — who arrived from the Los Angeles Lakers in December — after four months of poor performance, family drama and off-court antics that left the team’s management fed up. He’s been put on the inactive list until after the playoffs, after which the Mavs can trade him. “They grew tired of his BS and kicked him to the curb,” an NBA source told Page Six. “[The team] didn’t need someone pouting like a little kid.” New York Post

Sources believe the pressure of also playing in front of reality cameras for “Khloe and Lamar” pushed Odom into a slump. “When he wasn’t playing well, it meant he looked bad,” said a source. “And when you have a show about your life, when you are off-court, you have to deal with the producers asking all those questions. He had a horrible summer, but . . . he was more concerned about the cameras and how he looked.” New York Post

Phil Jackson has a message for everybody criticizing Andrew Bynum. Settle down. The former Lakers coach told The Times he enjoyed seeing Bynum's development, even if it had been filled with inexplicable turns the last few weeks. "Bynum is not quite mature, but everyone should relax and watch him grow up," Jackson said via email. "This year has been a big step for him offensively…nice to see…and when he takes up the mantle as defensive captain the Lakers can get back in the hunt." Los Angeles Times

The Detroit Pistons, even at their lowest early-season points, never looked like a team looking forward to the offseason. That all changed in two losses in Florida the last two days, by a combined 53 points, including a season-worst blowout Monday which left head coach Lawrence Frank at his own personal low point. Frank called the 119-89 loss to the Orlando Magic “embarrassing” and “humiliating.” Booth Newspapers

The Grizzlies’ power forward complained of minor back soreness but wasn’t seriously injured. That’s more than he could say for that Challenger given its rear end was smashed and all but detached. So Randolph cranked up a different set of wheels in order to make the Grizzlies’ 94-85 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers before 17,219 in FedExForum. “I drove my Rolls,” Randolph said, referring to his Rolls-Royce. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Rose, for starters, tweaked an ankle at some point in Sunday's game, which he finished. The extent of the injury is unknown, however sources said Rose wore a walking boot on Monday and his availability for Tuesday's shot at redemption against the Knicks is a game-time decision. Beyond that, Rose's two missed free throws late in regulation raise anew an issue that has clung to him since his lone college season at Memphis. Hamilton, meanwhile, remained rooted to the bench for the final 18 minutes, 14 seconds of the Bulls' stunning Sunday collapse to lose in overtime. Chicago Tribune

Nuggets forward Al Harrington left Monday night’s game against Golden State at the end of the third quarter and did not return. Afterward he revealed he has a torn meniscus. His loss would be devastating to the Nuggets’ bench and locker room, as he’s been one of the team’s best players and leaders all season long. He’s also been durable, playing in all 57 games this season with averages of roughly 14 points and six rebounds, despite nagging injuries all year long. Denver Post

Ramon Sessions’ jammed right index finger was feeling bad enough that he got splint taped to it by Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti after the game. Sessions is also bothered by a sprained left shoulder, which he could be seen reaching to cushion in the first minute of the Lakers’ victory Monday night in New Orleans. Orange County Register

Nuggets swingman Rudy Fernandez is headed back to Spain today to start rehabilitation on his back. He had back surgery on March 29 after spending much of the season trying to play through the pain. According to Fernandez, rehabilitation time should take 10 weeks. He'll work with doctors and trainers associated with Spain's national basketball team. He played many games this season while battling through a lower back strain, including pain that he called "probably the worst feeling I feel in my life. I was in pain when I slept, everything." Now, after surgery, he said things have improved. "Right now I don't have the pain, so I'm feeling better," Fernandez said. "And right now I'm so happy that the surgery was good. I know the doctors were very happy with the procedure." Denver Post

According to Andrew Nicholson’s Twitter account, he is joining Plumlee as new Priority Sports clients. Nicholson led the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring and put up 20 points in a valiant effort against Florida State University in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. His team came up just short of winning, but Nicholson made a name for himself and for the Bonnies. DraftExpress.com currently projects Nicholson as the last pick of the first round in the 2012 NBA Draft. Sports Agent Blog

There was more than a hint of drama as N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie stood silently in front of television cameras and reporters for nearly 30 seconds. The subject of NBA draft speculation wore a bemused smile as lights were clicked on and microphones were clipped to his gray Nike T-shirt. Of course that drama didn’t end once he started talking. At Monday night’s N.C. State basketball banquet, the sophomore forward said he was still gathering information and had not yet reached a decision on whether or not he would return next season. He said he planned on making a decision later this week. “I’m letting it go wherever it goes,” Leslie said. “I’m not stressing about it. Whatever I decide to do is going to be whatever I decide to do. I’m letting it play it out and just go from there.” FayObserver.com

BJ Young gave teammates and coaches hints that he would return to Arkansas for his sophomore season. They weren’t sure, though. Not until the second-team and freshman All-Southeastern Conference guard made his decision to return to school official when he was recognized for his All-SEC honors at the men’s basketball banquet Monday night. “I just want to be first team next year,” Young said, prompting a loud cheer from the crowd of around 170 Arkansas fans in attendance in the Broyles Complex. “Hopefully make the tournament as a team. Oh, yeah. I’m coming back for another year, too.” TheCabin.net

Victor Rudd Jr., who became the University of South Florida’s most compelling offensive force during its NCAA tournament run, will return to the Bulls next season after exploring his options for the NBA draft. Rudd, a 6-foot-8 swingman, averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds last season for the Bulls (22-14), who finished one victory away from the Sweet 16. Rudd will have two more seasons of eligibility. Tampa Tribune

Regardless of what the Magic general manager says, it stands to reason he wouldn’t be the person to approach with such a demand, so why ask him about it? Management does not make command decisions of such enormity, ownership does. Clearly, Howard went straight to the top, Rich and/or Dan DeVos. New York Post

Read a report over the weekend that asserted Howard wants to hire as well as fire. His top choices supposedly are Brian Shaw and Michael Malone, proving he’s at least up to speed on worthy candidates. This just in: Howard does not intend to grant Patrick Ewing an interview. Howard has little respect for the Magic assistant. Of course, you probably already deduced that, given he felt the need to work on his post moves last summer with Hakeem Olajuwon. New York Post

Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams, who helped found the franchise in 1989, said Monday he would like to see star center Dwight Howard and coach Stan Van Gundy both remain with the franchise for a long time. Williams said restoring the team's health and winning would do a lot to help the franchise move past recent turmoil, capped when Van Gundy last week said that Howard wanted him fired. The coach and the star later met with Magic general manager Otis Smith, agreeing to co- exist the rest of the season and put the team first. "Finish well and then have a wonderful run in the playoffs -- that would probably cure most of the issues," Williams told The Associated Press before a scheduled speaking appearance at Michigan State University. ESPN.com

Williams said Van Gundy would admit that he can sometimes be too negative. And he said that while Howard has "grown up a lot" there is still room for maturation on his end. "I think this shook them both up -- that's my opinion," Williams said of the incident last week. "I think they're going to be better for it." ESPN.com

Just three days before the start of a scheduled NBA Board of Governors meeting, the potential sale of the New Orleans Hornets took a major step toward completion Monday according to league sources who said potential buyers Raj Bhathal and Gary Chouest were in the league office in New York. A source close to Saints owner Tom Benson said Monday that Benson spoke with Commissioner David Stern, while league sources confirmed that Bhathal and Chouest, reported for the last month and a half to be the leading bidders for the league- owned franchise, were in New York for meetings with the NBA. New Orleans Times-Picayune

One of the casualties of last fall's NBA lockout was the cancellation of the annual summer league in Las Vegas. But with a new collective bargaining agreement in place, the NBA will be back at Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center from July 13 through July 22, with 23 teams expected to participate. "We're excited to be back," said Warren LeGarie, the San Francisco-based agent who partners with the NBA to run the summer league. "Sometimes you take things for granted, and not having the summer league last year was tough for us and the fans. We really missed it." Las Vegas Review-Journal

Sources have confirmed that, barring any logistical problems overseas, the Celts will hold workouts and face European teams in both sites. There are still some contracts to be signed, but at present the C’s will play in Turkey on Oct. 5, and in Italy on Oct. 7. Team president Danny Ainge had no comment on the matter when it was presented to him yesterday, but it appears as though coach Doc Rivers will get his wish of going away for camp. Rivers always has spoken of his fondness of taking his team away from the familiar surroundings in the Boston area so the players can bond. Boston Herald

Three years ago, it was through a superb book by Hall of Famer Jackie McMullen entitled “When The Game Was Ours.” Two years back, it was in an HBO Documentary called “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” And now they’ve taken over the Great White Way, or at least a bright corner of it inside the Longacre Theatre, where “Magic/Bird” premieres Wednesday night. “No question, the story somehow still resonates, and that has to surprise both of us,” Magic said while perched over the stage from the front row of the balcony Monday. “I mean, the book captured our voices — not only as players, but who we are as men. And HBO tied it together very well, after we went into it thinking, ‘Ehhh ... they don’t know us as well as some writers did.’ “And now this,” he added, chuckling and nodding toward the stage, where a crew was entering its third hour of moving lights around. “I’m interested to see how people react to it, because really, we never saw it coming.” Newark Star-Ledger

We reminded him of an astute observation from Michael Jordan about a decade ago: Too often nowadays the league tries to create stars before they’ve earned it. “But you didn’t create Magic and Larry — they created themselves,” Jordan concluded. “A good point,” Magic replied. “I think it says something about the way we came up, (vis-à-vis) what Dwight and Andrew are going through. Neither guy went to college. Both had to grow up before our eyes instead of already having the maturity to handle this. “We could handle everything that came our way. But these guys don’t understand that when you perform selfish acts, that hurts the team. We were about one thing — elevating the team.” Newark Star-Ledger

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