HoopsHype rumors

April 17, 2012 | 06:09 PM ET Update

Larry Brown has agreed to become the head coach at SMU, sources told ESPN.com. An official announcement could come as early as Tuesday. The only holdup involves Brown's assistants. Sources said Brown has offered Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich a "coach-in-waiting position." Jankovich is leaning toward accepting the job, but he's also conflicted about leaving a Redbirds squad that returns every key player from last season's 21-14 team. ESPN.com

The NBA didn't rule on a fine and/or suspension for Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West today. West poked a finger into the ear of Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward with 3:40 left in the second period of. West was assessed a technical foul on the play, and a league spokesman said the NBA could make a ruling on the situation as early as Wednesday. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Warriors GM Larry Riley said PG Stephen Curry is likely done for the year after being re-evaluated Monday night. Riley said Curry is improving but not 100%. " It doesn't appear he will get there before this (coming road) trip so it's doubtful he"ll return this season." If Curry reaches 100% by the end of the road trip, Riley said he still wouldn't play Curry. " i see no point in throwing him out there for one game or two games" Sulia

He's got nearly 10 million Facebook fans and over four million Twitter followers, but Miami Heat star LeBron James wants to get more social. The NBA player has turned to adland, asking digital shop SapientNitro to build out his website and boost his ability to engage with fans over social-media channels. "I'm blessed with the best fans on the planet and love engaging with them directly," Mr. James said in a statement. "Every day, new technologies come out that allow me to take that fan connection to another level. In SapientNitro, I found a partner that has the brand thinking, creative ideas, digital expertise and global delivery scale to support my expanding ambitions." Advertising Age

April 17, 2012 | 05:29 PM ET Update

New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman has a bruised left tibia and is likely to miss the remainder of the season, according to the team. Kaman sustained the injury to his leg in the home win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Apr. 15. In 47 games this season -- 33 that he started -- Kaman averaged 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and a team-best 1.6 blocks per game. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Kobe Bryant will miss his sixth straight game Tuesday with an inflamed shin as the Lakers play the Spurs. Without Kobe, the Lakers are 4-1. Once again, they'll have to heavily rely on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol and hope someone like Metta World Peace or Matt Barnes steps up. Or that Kobe busts out his awesome coaching skills again. Obviously the Lakers have an eye towards the postseason and are going to need a completely healthy Kobe if they plan on making any kind of dent in the West. He's had to work extremely hard this season leading the league in usage and minutes, so the time off could be a bonus for him heading to the playoffs. Kobe said during Sunday's game against the Mavericks that he would be back "well before" the playoffs. Well, there are only five games left for the Lakers. So how would Mike Brown define "well before?" CBSSports.com

What do we have to do to fix the game of college basketball? “First of all college basketball doesn’t control college basketball. The NBA controls college basketball. They are the ones along with the players union that sets the rule. College basketball just reacts to what the NBA does to include the early entry date. College basketball put out April 10th. Well that date doesn’t mean anything. April 29th is when guys have a chance to put their names in the NBA draft. I think one of the main things that has to happen is college basketball has to have a relationship with the NBA. There should be someone in charge of college basketball who on a day-to-day basis sets an agenda for our great sport. We don’t have anything like that. As a resolve we don’t have a voice with the NBA or the players union and that’s just kind of sad.” Sports Radio Interviews

Analysis: How bad do the Bobcats want Anthony Davis? They have lost 12 straight and got blown out of the water at home by the second-worst team in the league, the Wizards, on Monday night. Of all the players in the draft, Davis is the only one who could make a dramatic impact in Year 1. No team needs him more than the Bobcats ESPN.com

Analysis: Kidd-Gilchrist, like the other Kentucky players, still hasn't officially declared for the draft, but he will. The Wizards desperately need MKG's leadership, toughness and work ethic. But I hear they also may be tempted by Brad Beal's shooting and the upside of Andre Drummond. I think the Beal vs. Kidd-Gilchrist scenario is a toss-up. But after the Kwame Brown and JaVale McGee experiences, I would be surprised if Washington chased Drummond. ESPN.com

Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore has learned through NBA and Orlando Magic sources that Dwight Howard does not want to play for head coach Stan Van Gundy any longer. According to his sources, Howard is still upset with Van Gundy confirming Pingalore's report from earlier this month that Howard went to Magic management asking for Van Gundy to be fired. On Friday, the Magic had their physical therapist Ed Manalo travel with Howard to Los Angeles, where Howard went to have his back diagnosed. WKMG Local 6

After visiting Los Angeles, Pingalore's sources confirmed that Howard was adamant about joining the team in Cleveland but the Magic asked him to return to Orlando. Howard would eventually travel to Cleveland. However, Howard sat in the hotel for the game Sunday evening and rejoined the team as they traveled back to Orlando. "It was strange since that Howard wanted to go to Cleveland and offer support but never made it to the game," said one of Pingalore's sources. Howard would also likely sit out the postseason, according to the source. WKMG Local 6

Responding to questions that have arisen following comments Friday on ESPN Seattle radio that Vancouver is the “most viable” destination should the ownership group of the Kings exhaust their attempts to remain in Sacramento following a failed deal to construct a new arena, Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena owner Francesco Aquilini said he is not actively in pursuit of bringing the league back to the city the Grizzlies called home from 1995-96 through 2000-01. While preferring not to address the Sacramento situation directly, Aquilini told The Province on Monday: “I can tell you we don’t have any plans to bring an NBA team to Vancouver.” The Province

Yet Aquilini was quick to add that an NBA future for Vancouver isn’t far-fetched, as long as key questions regarding the ability of the market to support a franchise could be answered. “I think if there was enough support, enough of a fan base, definitely the arena is ready to go,” Aquilini said. “There was a basketball team here before, the building is really plug-and-play. We could start tomorrow if we wanted to. But the question is always about market size. That really is the issue. The (Grizzlies) did leave Vancouver for a reason, because there just wasn’t enough market support. If there was, they wouldn’t have left in the first place. We’re continually doing work on that, to assess whether there is enough of a market for an NBA team in Vancouver.” The Province

Less than a week after a deal to build a new arena to house the Sacramento Kings collapsed, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he has a Plan B. At a City Hall news conference, Johnson said he is looking into moving forward with a downtown arena plan. The city would still partner with AEG, but not involve the Kings. The Plan B arena would be smaller, but could be expanded. Johnson said they would be looking at a new NBA tenant or possibly a professional hockey team. CBS Sacramento

April 17, 2012 | 02:12 PM ET Update

And when this run is done, the Celtics will dive head first into an offseason when they could have some major salary cap space to spend. “I’m excited about the summer,” Grousbeck said. “I’m excited about next summer, too. I’m excited about the Celtics really. I think we’ve got a lot of possibilities in our future. Danny said to me that he’s been in front offices for something like 13 years — coach, general manager — and he’s never had cap space once. And I think that’s an angle that’s interesting. I said, ‘Maybe you should try it.’ ” Boston Herald

One of the keys will be, if a major player or two isn’t available to them, resisting the urge to spend money just because it’s there. They may have to be willing to tread water if at first the right talent won’t accept their offer. It may be simply a matter of semantics, but Grousbeck didn’t endorse those words. “I don’t know if I would agree that the phrase ‘tread water’ makes sense,” he said. “When we went on a four-year building process last time, it wasn’t treading water. I would define it as trying to patiently build. So if you’re playing (Rajon) Rondo and E’Twaun (Moore) and JuJuan (Johnson) and Avery (Bradley) and two first-rounders and maybe some of these guys back, that’s not necessarily treading water. “I think treading water is getting a bunch of mid-career vets who aren’t going to get any better.” Boston Herald

The majority of the teams in the NBA probably won't touch him at his current pay after this performance. They won't look at this season as an anomaly; they'll be concerned that this might be his new constant. But all Odom is looking for is one team. Just one. To take a chance on him. And more than likely, there will be a team that will. Preferably to Odom -- I'm guessing -- one of the teams representing L.A. If we can read anything into the photo of Odom leaving the Mavs facility wearing his Lakers championship T-shirt, that part of him never left. It didn't make the trip with him to Dallas. ESPN.com

And if he gets into a mindset to play basketball no matter what, he'll have opportunities elsewhere, too. The general consensus among NBA executives I asked was that Odom will "easily" get a shot with another team and might get more offers for a trade than any other player in the offseason. Lloyd Walton, former player and career counselor at the National Basketball Players Association, said he thinks Odom is likely to bounce back. "You have to look at his entire career before you can say something like [one bad season will be held against Odom]," he said. "He doesn't have a history of having seasons like this; he doesn't have a list of coaches who he's played for or teammates that are going to say anything bad or negative about him. It was just one of those situations that didn't work out. Most teams will understand that." ESPN.com

New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams will miss Wednesday night's game because of a sore right calf, according to the team's official injury report. Williams missed Monday night's 101-98 loss to the Miami Heat with the same injury. Williams suffered the injury after a collision with Boston Celtics center Greg Stiemsma Saturday night. Williams, who felt a foul should have been called on Stiemsma on the play, received a technical foul for arguing the call. ESPN.com

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose will travel with the team for Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats after tests on his injured foot didn't show anything significant, according to a source familiar with the situation. Rose missed his 24th game on Monday. He's been sidelined by a turf toe, back spasms, a groin injury and now a foot injury he suffered on Sunday in Detroit. While the Bulls have played well without the reigning MVP -- 16-8 -- they lost to the lowly Washington Wizards on Monday at the United Center. ESPN.com

Derrick Rose is day-to-day with a right foot injury, the latest in his pain-plagued season. Rose has missed 24 games with turf toe (five), back spasms (five), strained groin (12), sprained right ankle (one) and this latest injury, which he suffered in Sunday's overtime victory over the Pistons and sidelined him for Monday's loss to the Wizards. Chicago Tribune

The Grizzlies breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday when results of magnetic resonance imaging on center Marc Gasol's left knee revealed a bone bruise. Gasol received the MRI late Sunday night after leaving in the fourth quarter of an 88-75 road loss to the New Orleans Hornets with what was initially diagnosed as a hyperextended left knee. Gasol experienced no ligament or structural damage and is listed as day-to-day heading into the Grizzlies' road game tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "It's all good. I'll be back as soon as possible," Gasol wrote on his Twitter page. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Brown reiterated to ESPN.com Monday night that he had a good interview Sunday with SMU, but declined further comment. Meanwhile, multiple sources have confirmed that SMU has pursued a coach-in-waiting scenario for the 71-year-old Hall of Famer, should he agree to coach the Mustangs. The job has been vacant since SMU fired Matt Doherty last month after six seasons. But UNC-Wilmington coach Buzz Peterson told ESPN.com there was no truth to a report that he would go with Brown to SMU. ESPN.com

Benson reiterated his desire to change the Hornets' nickname to something more identifiable with New Orleans, as the Jazz name was before the team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. "I'm going to ask all of you to help me with this, too," Benson said. "We want to change the name from Hornets . . . . to something that means New Orleans and Louisiana. The 'Hornets' doesn't mean anything.' " "He doesn't own the team yet," Stern joked, a reference to the final approval process Stern indicated could take place by a vote of the Board of Governors in the next 30-45 days. But Stern did close the door on the reacquisition of the name of Utah's NBA franchise that had its birth in New Orleans in 1974. "It belongs to Utah," Stern said. "I wouldn't make it such an important point. There are many things that are indigenous to the area. I'm sure there will be some wonderful nicknames (suggestsion)." Benson also said his two sports franchises, Saints and Hornets, will be managed separately, with some slight personnel crossover in yet-to-be-determined areas. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Those looking for behind-the-scenes drama on how Pau Gasol handled ongoing trade speculation won't find it on HBO's "Real Sports." Those hoping for more explanations on his unraveling in the 2011 NBA playoffs won't find answers on the critically acclaimed series, either. Instead, Gasol's segment featured Tuesday night focuses on his multifaceted interests. It mentions how Magic Johnson's announcement in 1991 that he had HIV inspired Gasol to go to medical school: "I wish I could do something in the future to cure this disease." Los Angeles Times

In a recent interview with Xinhua published on April 12th, Yao talked about his decision to sue Wuhan Yunhe, Jordan’s case against Qiaodan and the future of Chinese sportswear brands which “happen” to be identical with names of sports celebrities. “Behind my name is my experience, and my blood, sweat and pain. I take this very seriously, and that’s why I’ve decided to defend my rights,” said Yao. “I am confident that Michael Jordan and many others like us feel the same way. And it’s important to help everyone understand this in order to protect consumers and stop companies that are purposefully misleading them.” NiuBBall.com

Though Yao officially sued Wuhuan Yunhe in May 2011, the case actually started in 2003 while he was playing for the Houston Rockets after the sportswear company attempted to use a “Yao Ming Generation” trademark on its shoes and clothes. Unsure whether or not to take the issue to court for fear of further encouraging copyright infringement, Yao ultimately decided to file a lawsuit once Wuhan Yunhe expanded its sales nationwide. Yao won and the company was ordered to pay a RMB 300,000 fine. But Yao and his legal team elected to appeal because the settlement figure was deemed not high enough. “After winning the ‘Yao Ming Era’ case in the first ruling, we chose to appeal, because we thought a RMB 300,000 fine was not sufficient to punish or deter. The manufacturer would still think the price paid for law violation is low”, said Yao. NiuBBall.com

Jordan’s case is still pending in Shanghai Second Intermediate Court. Yao also had words for these types of infringement-based business models. While companies who infringe may provide short-term profits, he thinks brands will never be able to break through and create a long-term prosperity by stealing other peoples’ names. “Although a settlement is yet to be made, it tells us a piece of truth – that is, to obtain vitality, an enterprise must be innovative. I remember an advertisement slogan which goes ‘it has always been imitated but never outshone’. If businesses continue to refuse innovation, they will fall into the awkward situation of “always imitating others and never being able to outshine,” Yao said while laughing. “Rules are everywhere. Sports have rules and so does business. Only when everyone plays by the rules can we have positive competition and realize sound development. Therefore, relevant laws and regulations need improvements as well.” NiuBBall.com

April 17, 2012 | 10:22 AM ET Update

Portland Trail Blazers guard Jamal Crawford will be courted intensely by the Phoenix Suns, a source within the organization tells CSNNW.com. “Aside from Steve (Nash), he's (Crawford) high if not the top free agent priority on their list,” the source said. “He would fill a need at the two-guard position and he knows they want him.” CSNNW.com

DeShawn Stevenson is as close to Deron Williams as any player on the Nets, bound by their mutual respect and connection to Dallas. Not a day goes by without Stevenson asking Williams about his future. The answer has never strayed from undecided. “I don’t know. I ask him everyday. It doesn’t change,” Stevenson said. New York Daily News

With a roster full of expiring contracts, the fear is that the lineup from Monday's loss to the Heat will too closely resemble opening night in Brooklyn. Avery Johnson understands it’s going to take more than a shiny new building to resurrect the franchise – “if we can get healthy, get Deron re-signed and add some veterans to help out team. …. Stevenson agreed, and then emphasized, “the key is that we get D-Will back.” Stevenson revealed some positive news for the Nets. He said the plan is for him and Williams to train at the PNY Center in East Rutherford during the offseason, even though both will become free agents. It gives time for Williams to see the Barclays Center sprout to near completion before choosing his next team. New York Daily News

A. Sherrod Blakely: #CelticsTalk: @AdenElmi:Do you see the #Celtics trying to pick up eric gordon or roy hibbert this off season?-> Can't see the #Hornets or #Pacers allowing either one of those guys to walk this summer. But is there interest on the #Celtics part? Absolutely. Twitter

Bass has a player option at $4 million for next season. That certainly be a major issue for the Celtics this summer, as Bass could become an unrestricted free agent and cash in on his newfound success. “I want to be here a long time playing alongside Rondo,’’ he said. “[But] to be honest, I am not that type of guy to even be thinking about things like [the option] because I just try to get better every day.’’ Boston Globe

The money between a 10-day deal and a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season was minimal, so General Manager Chris Grant calculated it was worth it to secure Sloan just in case other teams were interested in giving him a 10-day deal. Sloan said the Houston Rockets were showing interest, but he was glad to have the Cavs’ offer. The Rockets signed point guard Courtney Fortson the day after the Cavs signed Sloan. “I’m glad to be here,” Sloan said. “Mr. Grant tells me all the time, ‘There’s a reason we didn’t just give you a 10-day. There’s a reason we signed you for the rest of the year and non-guaranteed next year.’?” Akron Beacon Journal

Although the contract isn’t guaranteed and he could be waived at any time, the 24-year-old Sloan said this is the earliest he has ever secured a contract for the following season. Now he won’t have to spend his summer nervously waiting for the phone to ring. Instead, he’ll go home for about a week after the season ends, then he’s coming right back to Cleveland to participate in an offseason program. He’ll attend summer league in July with Irving, Tristan Thompson and the rookies drafted in June. Sloan eagerly agreed to return to Cleveland quickly and was thrilled the Cavs want him back so soon after the season ends. “That’s a good thing,” Sloan said, joking that it’s worse when teams don’t care where a player is or what he’s doing. “That’s when you have to worry.” Akron Beacon Journal

Jorge Sierra: Former Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell is headed to the Los Angeles D-Fenders, agent Seth Cohen tells HoopsHype. http://bit.ly/HMSmhd Twitter

Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he wants his team to be as solid at small forward next season as it is at other positions. "In an ideal world, you'd love to have one guy be that guy," Jackson said before the Warriors' 120-99 loss to San Antonio on Monday. Four positions are all but set next season: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. The remaining position is a big question mark. It could be Dorell Wright, the starter for the past two years. It could be Brandon Rush, who is heading into restricted free agency off a career year. It could be Dominic McGuire, the gritty defender who in many ways has been the heart of the Warriors. San Jose Mercury-News

Maybe veteran Richard Jefferson is the guy. The former star was acquired from San Antonio at the trade deadline. Another option would be acquiring a player to fill that void. Barring a major roster alteration, Jackson said the four on the roster will have a chance to claim the job. He said it will depend on the work they put in during the offseason and how they perform in the preseason. "All those things will play a factor," Jackson said. "But I'm looking forward to one guy separating himself." Rush is averaging 9.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 26.2 minutes. He's shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range -- both on pace for career- highs. "I would love to be back," Rush said. "I definitely want to be a part of this." San Jose Mercury-News

McGuire might be the cheapest option of the four, since Wright will make just over $4 million and Jefferson more than $10 million. Of course, that's not the only reason McGuire says he could get the nod. He said his ability to defend, make plays and rebound makes him the ideal candidate. "If you look at it," McGuire said, "the majority of the lineup scores, with the exception of Drew (Bogut) -- and he can do both. I don't think we need another scorer out there. It's not like I can't score. But I don't think we need anybody in that spot trying to go out there and that's their main focus. You put me around four scorers like that, you'll see more from me." San Jose Mercury-News

That had to have been the thought running through Jazzman Gordon Hayward’s head Monday night after Dallas’ Delonte West ran his finger through his ear. In one of the most bizarre scenes ever in an NBA game, West, already well-known for his odd behavior, fouled Hayward while the Jazz were on a fastbreak. Seconds later he walked up to the 22-year-old and stuck his finger in his right ear. Ogden Standard-Examiner

Hayward stuck both hands in the air and walked away, waiting for referees to respond. Oddly enough, none of the three officials saw the incident, but did call West for a technical foul after reviewing the play. “He had some lint in his hair,” West said after the game. “I was just trying to get it out for him. I was giving him a ‘wet willy’ that’s all.’” Ogden Standard-Examiner

Derrick Rose savors the spotlight when he's on the basketball court, but the Chicago Bulls star craves privacy away from the arena and laments that his stardom makes it difficult for him to have a normal life. “It gets on my nerves that I just can’t go out,” Rose told writer Will Leitch for the May issue of GQ magazine, which was released online Tuesday. “It’s just boundaries now. People are like, ‘You can’t go here, you can’t go there, you got to let that person know where you’re going.’ It’s just weird. I’m never alone. Ever. “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t take anything for granted. But it seems like the better I play, the more attention I get. And I can’t get away from it. You play great, you get attention. But I hate attention. It is weird. I’m in a bind. The more you win, the more they come.” Chicago Tribune

“Chicago isn’t used to stardom," Rose told GQ. "Back when Michael was here, everyone was used to actors and singers and people being at the games. But there’s been a drought since then, and even celebrities, they’ll stop here to film a movie and then pop right back out. They don’t know how to act toward celebrity. So I always have someone with me. I can have a hat on, glasses on, whatever. People still notice me. If I go outside without a hat on, I feel like I’m naked. ... This life doesn’t fit my personality.” Chicago Tribune

Retirement doesn't bother Miller. He's managed his substantial income well, the importance of sound financial decisions honed during his childhood when money was scarce. He continues his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and plans to expand his yearly golf tournament this year. “People always talk about high divorce rates (after retirement), but I'm going to be happy to be home with my wife,” he said. “I still have the hunting show. Instead of staying at the JW Marriott, I'll be in a tent out in the middle of nowhere with a gun for protection in case there's a bear in camp.” news-sentinel.com

The Knicks are 7-4 since Stoudemire and Lin went down, including wins over the Bulls and Magic. But Stoudemire’s absence was really felt against Miami, where the Knicks were overly reliant on Carmelo Anthony to generate offense. Anthony scored 42 points, while J.R. Smith (16 points) was the only other Knick to reach double figures. “We definitely relied on (Anthony) but he was so hot,” Chandler said. “I don’t know how you can go away from him. But we definitely have to get a little ball movement.” Anthony said on ESPN radio Monday that the possibility of playing Miami in the first round would be a “fun series” and that the Knicks would be up for the challenge. “The guys on my team, to where we’re at right now, and the identify of our team that we have, we’re not going to be an easy matchup,” Anthony said. New York Daily News

When he’s able to separate the two, West is an X-factor at the NBA level, a combination guard who can be a significant factor. Sometimes, like Monday night against the Utah Jazz, he goes overboard. His "wet willy" of Gordon Hayward, sticking his finger in Hayward’s ear, earned him a technical foul and a seat on the bench. It earned him a spotlight in the media after Utah’s 123-121 triple overtime win at EnergySolutions Arena. It could earn him a fine from David Stern’s office as well. "I went over the line," West said. "I saw some lint in his hair, and I wanted to get it out for him. Seriously, we were like two warriors out there. But I forgot the NBA is a gentlemen’s game. They want us to battle and scrap, but they want us to do it nicely." West went on to lament on how physical an NBA game is and how emotional the moments are. What he forgot — and failed to mention — is that the Mavericks are fighting for their postseason lives, despite their lofty status as defending NBA champions. Salt Lake Tribune

Former Lakers guard Derek Fisher received a mixed reception that was roughly 75 percent positive when he entered the game at the 2:12 mark in the first quarter. Fisher buried his first shot, a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left in the opening period. It was Fisher's second appearance at Staples Center since signing with OKC on March 21. His previous appearance was a 102-93 victory against the Lakers on March 29. This was Fisher's home arena, but this was a Clippers home game. “Hey, Derek,” a fan screamed while Fisher stood at the free-throw line. “You're weak. You're no good. That's why you got traded.” Oklahoman

But if Babbitt had known that his shot would prompt the city’s top-rated sports radio show to open its broadcast the next day with a five-minute dissection of the Chalupa, if he had known that Yahoo Sports would later plug a highlight video featuring him and myriad images of the flat-bread-wrapped entree, if he had known that fans would tag him “Cha-Luke-a” for the remainder of the season, or that his roommate would encourage him to seek a Taco Bell endorsement deal, or that Wesley Matthews would dub him the team’s designated Chalupa shooter, well ... “If I had known,” Babbitt said, “I would have missed the shot on purpose.” To say that Babbitt made this statement half-jokingly would be a bit generous to the joking portion. In all likelihood, he was 30-percent kidding at best. Columbian

But Babbitt also confessed that by then, he had grown accustomed to being a punchline — a scrub whose haircut and dance “moves” had elicited more ink than anything he’d accomplished on the court. So even though most of us would sit on the end of the bench with the Taco Bell chihuahua in our laps for $1.7 million a year, Luke saw that particular association as one solidifying his jester status. “There are guys like that on every team, where it becomes a joke. That’s what I was, and to some people, I still am. I’m trying to bust out of that,” said Babbitt, 22. “I play to be a winner, to be a contributor, not a guy who comes in and makes Chalupa shots. ... Still, we’ve got the best fans, and I can’t really blame them because for a year and a half, I hadn’t really done anything else.” Columbian

“The only reason I’m in the NBA is because of God. It’s nothing that I did,” said Babbitt, who lists faith as his top priority, family as his second, and basketball as his third. “If you look at the statistics, it’s not very common for a 6-8 white guy from Reno, Nevada, to be here. This is an opportunity for me and I’m going to use it to glorify God.” Columbian

After visiting Los Angeles, Pingalore's sources confirmed that Howard was adamant about joining the team in Cleveland but the Magic asked him to return to Orlando. Howard would eventually travel to Cleveland. However, Howard sat in the hotel for the game Sunday evening and rejoined the team as they traveled back to Orlando. "It was strange since that Howard wanted to go to Cleveland and offer support but never made it to the game," said one of Pingalore's sources. WKMG Local 6

Amar’e Stoudemire loves the atmosphere across the Hudson River when the Knicks play the Nets at Prudential Center. He loves that a Knicks-Nets game in Newark feels like a home game away from home. And though he has eyed the Knicks’ last-ever visit to New Jersey tomorrow as his big return from a bulging disk, the Knicks believe having him back in Cleveland on Friday is more realistic. Stoudemire has had two contact scrimmages, but yesterday’s practice was canceled because the club was beaten up further with Tyson Chandler’s knee injury. That hasn’t helped Stoudemire get into game shape. he will miss his 12th straight game tonight when the Knicks host the Celtics. New York Post

Though Ray Allen remains questionable for tonight’s game against the Knicks, the guard has taken the first step toward activation after missing the Celtics’ last four games with a sprained right ankle. Allen is expected to join the team here for tonight’s game and will be a gametime decision, according to team president Danny Ainge. “If he’s flying, then that has to be considered an improvement,” Ainge said. Boston Herald

Wolves center Nikola Pekovic has decided to have postseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. He has not decided when he will have the surgery or who will perform it. But his plans are to return home to Europe for two weeks immediately after the season ends before returning to the United States to have the surgery. Pekovic said he will split his rehab between here and Europe. Until then, Pekovic said, he will finish this season playing in the Wolves' final games. He had 10 points and four rebounds Monday in a 111-88 loss to Indiana. "It's something that will help me to be healthy next season," he said. "It will help me and my team and everything. I know without that trouble, I'll be more calm, not thinking about it. And hopefully, not miss any games." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Roger Mason Jr. said his surgery in New York on Monday to repair a broken left index finger “went well,” with the doctor actually placing a splint on it that would allow him to perhaps play within a week. Mason, however, is more likely to take his time while recovering, since there is also a pin in his finger that will have to be in his hand for eight weeks. “It probably makes more sense to just rest it and take no risk,” Mason wrote in a text message. The Wizards waived Mason in order to sign Morris Almond from the Developmental League. Coach Randy Wittman credited Mason for playing through the pain for 18 games and still trying to contribute to the team. Washington Post

Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore has learned through NBA and Orlando Magic sources that Dwight Howard does not want to play for head coach Stan Van Gundy any longer. According to his sources, Howard is still upset with Van Gundy confirming Pingalore's report from earlier this month that Howard went to Magic management asking for Van Gundy to be fired. WKMG Local 6

Despite engaging SMU in contract talks, Brown hasn't stopped his pursuit of the Portland Trail Blazers' vacant general manager position, sources said. Brown's true desire is to coach the Blazers, but he's trying to get team president Larry Miller to take him seriously as a front-office executive. There has been contact between the two sides, but mostly one-sided from Brown, sources said. Brown is still trying to land a formal face-to-face meeting with Blazers officials, and clearly he hoped the leverage from an SMU offer might help him. Yahoo! Sports

Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown is making progress in contract talks to become coach at Southern Methodist University, sources told Yahoo! Sports. No agreement was imminent on Monday night, but Brown's representatives were discussing financial parameters of a long-term deal. Brown, 71, has already begun working to assemble a coaching staff with assistance from Kentucky coach John Calipari and Creative Arts Agency agent William Wesley. Yahoo! Sports

With new Hornets owner Tom Benson saying he might rename the team, there’s been more speculation about whether the Bobcats would be interested in acquiring the Hornets nickname. Bobcats management can’t comment on that. But sources familiar with NBA procedure say it would take a minimum of two years from the time a team requested a name change until there actually was a change. That’s in part about giving uniform-supplier Adidas time to adjust to new logos and looks. Charlotte Observer

The members of the Pacers' three ABA championships will be honored during the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bulls. The surviving members of the 1970, '72 and '73 teams have been invited to the halftime ceremony. Mel Daniels, who will go into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September, will get a special recognition that night. Read more › Sulia

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