HoopsHype rumors

November 18, 2012 | 07:45 PM ET Update

Of course, it’s all theoretical and nothing can be claimed with certainty, but the man behind “Linsanity,” the pun-laden fervor that swept across the globe last season, said Sunday it’s likely he would still be running D’Antoni’s system. Lin left the Knicks after they declined to match Houston’s three-year, $25 million offer sheet in the off-season. And D'Antoni already had re-signed by then. “If he was still there, honestly, I would guess I’d have a higher chance of being there,” Lin said after the Rockets’ morning workout today. “But I think the decision at the end was a management decision and I actually don’t know for whatever exact reasons. But I really enjoyed playing for him. It was kind of the time of my life.” New York Post

Pretty much D’Antoni’s too. He said as much Saturday – “It leaves me with an unbelievable memory of two weeks that were incredible,” said D’Antoni. Now the two are set to be rivals as D’Antoni’s Lakers entertain the Rockets. D’Antoni was named this week to replace the fired Mike Brown, whacked five games into his second season. D’Antoni has been on crutches after knee replacement surgery so his expected debut comes ironically against Lin. “I’ve kept in touch with him ever since he resigned in New York,” said Lin. “I got to catch up with him a little bit toward the end of last season and we’ve just been texting. So it will be good to actually see him. It will be weird to play against him.” New York Post

Rasheed Wallace had always been a Knicks fan since his college days at North Carolina. But that wasn't the only reason why the 38-year-old wanted to play in New York after a two-year retirement. He wanted to prove post play was still in. "I was just sitting back, watching the way that some of these guys that you call great post players not playing the post," he said a few weeks ago after practice one day. "So it's the passion to come back to show ya'll how post players really need to play in the post. Old-school basketball. Ya'll used to all this new young stuff, high flying and dunking. Nah, that's not basketball. There's terrible footwork by a lot of young guys out here. Let's go back to old-school basics." ESPN.com

Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum admitted before Sunday’s game with the Cleveland Cavaliers that he might have injured his left knee bowling one week ago Saturday. “It’s the same exact injury, mirror images of the knee; I think it happened bowling, to be honest,” Bynum said. On Friday Bynum, who has been trying to rehabilitate his right knee (bone bruise) told reporters that a trip to see Dr. David W. Altchek in New York revealed that he also has a bone bruise on his left knee and that the cartilage in both knees are in a weakened state. Philadelphia Inquirer

Asked if he knew anything about the bowling situation, Sixers coach Doug Collins said, “no.” Bynum said he noticed swelling in his knees after the injury. He also questioned the wisdom of bowling under the circumstances. “In hindsight, I guess you really shouldn’t go bowling but it’s not anything more than what I’ve done in my rehab,” Bynum said. He then added: “I’m kind of taking the position that if that happens bowling, what happens while dunking? Philadelphia Inquirer

On what it means to get swelling after doing something as innocent as bowling: "Obviously that’s the question that all the doctors kind of have, and myself. You do that, which is relatively nothing, three steps. What would happen when you play? I think that’s the most important thing and why everyone is being so cautious. I can’t answer and they can’t now, either. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on." Philadelphia Inquirer

Gerald Wallace returned to the Nets lineup today after sitting out six games with a sprained ankle. But a start against the Kings doesn’t mean he’s back for good, as Wallace admitted he’s still working through soreness and pain. The forward spoke pregame for the first time since suffering the injury over two weeks ago, saying it was a deep bone bruise that prohibited him from getting on the court earlier. “A sprain is something that doesn’t really bother me,” Wallace told the Daily News. “But the bone bruise was so severe I couldn’t put any weight on it. “I couldn’t put weight on it. They said my ankle rolled all the way over my two bones hit together.” New York Daily News

Along with the boos during Saturday night’s loss came chants of “Fire Wittman!” One disgruntled fan stood and shouted as the game ended, “Ted, we deserve better!” The lone ray of hope is anticipating the return of John Wall and Nene, both of whom don’t have a timetable for return. Nene participated in his first practice Friday, but he is still likely to be weeks away from returning. As fans point out, not too many teams would be off to a good start with their two best players sidelined with injuries, but Wittman isn’t buying it. “That’s an excuse,” he said. “We’ve got enough here to win games, and we’ve got to believe that. I’ve got to help them believe in themselves. We’re low on confidence right now.” Washington Times

The Wizards will face the Indiana Pacers for the second time this season on Monday at Verizon Center, and Wittman says he’ll try just about anything to get that first win. He’s expected to change his lineups, giving struggling players fewer minutes, while relegating a few guys to a seat at the end of the bench with a DNP [Did Not Play] next to their names in the box score. “I’m going to continue to look for different combinations and try to find who is playing well together,” Wittman said. Washington Times

They were 1-3 in the first four and 3-1 in the next four. Clearly not a coincidence. What changed? Some of it was scheme. Some of it was attitude. The coach, an experimenter by nature, pulled back on his pressure defense and matchup zone. Those are weapons and he’ll keep using them. Just not over-using them. And the players realized that in a defense-first agenda, they were under-performing big time. “It’s about our energy,” said forward Byron Mullens, who was never seen as a defender before this season. “And it was coach really getting on us. “We can be really good on defense. It’s all the emphasis in practice.” Charlotte Observer

The explosion that tragically took two lives and destroyed dozens of homes last week on the Southside of Indianapolis was an event that was felt deep in the heart of Indiana Fever star Katie Douglas. “I was born on the Southside,” she said. “I live on the Southside. This happened only miles from where we just won the WNBA title. This happened just a few miles from where I grew up.” Douglas and teammate Tamika Catchings joined with Indiana Pacers’ star and Indianapolis native George Hill to host the victims of the Southside explosion in an event where they could get away, even for just a couple of hours, from being consumed by their shocking circumstances. NBA.com

November 18, 2012 | 03:53 PM ET Update

Barnes seems to have developed a comfort level on the court. No longer the hesitant rookie, he is attacking with confidence and producing numbers that figure to put him in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Over his last two games, Barnes has scored 37 points on 14-of-26 shooting. He's also grabbed 22 rebounds, including five offensive. Barnes newfound effectiveness is the payoff of his budding relationship with Jackson, who has been grooming the former North Carolina star since the Warriors drafted him No. 7 overall. "I think coach has done a good job of teaching us in practice," Barnes said, "putting me in good positions to be successful, giving me different touches. Early on, it was an adjustment." San Jose Mercury-News

Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and nine rebounds, and the New York Knicks bounced back from their first loss of the season, beating the Indiana Pacers 88-76 on Sunday. JR Smith added 13 points and Raymond Felton had 11 for the Knicks in their only home game in a span of seven games. After falling 105-95 at Memphis on Friday, the Knicks (7-1) go right back on the road to start another three-game trip Tuesday in New Orleans. In a game that was ugly even without Jason Kidd's bad headband style, neither team shot 40 percent, but the Knicks built a big early lead, went up by as much as 20 and were never challenged. USA Today

“I’ve said they’re a contending team. But to go any further, you’ve got to do it. You can’t talk about it, you’ve gotta do it. And that’s kind of where all the teams are,” Walsh said. “They have the whole gamut of guys. I think around the league, they’ve got as good (depth) as anybody. “I think Glen has done a wonderful job, got exactly the right guys to add to what was here before. And I’m really happy for the fans. Because during the years when we were breaking the team up, the two years they knew we were going to lose…I’m glad to see they can come here now and say ‘Wow, this is a team that can be really good.’ And I think that they will be. “I’m happy that what I started here is coming to fruition here.” New York Daily News

The Timberwolves haven't had much good news lately on the health/injury front, but they got some at practice today: Nikola Pekovic was back on the floor participating fully, and Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio participated in 5-on-0 offensive walkthroughs for the first time. That's a good sign, although it doesn't necessarily mean their timetables -- Love around Dec. 1, Rubio sometime later that month -- have been moved forward. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The FIBA Europe Board has expressed its dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the planned reform of the global calendar, decided by FIBA's recent Central Board in Kuala Lumpur. In particular, the FIBA Europe Board, which convened in Ljubljana, Slovenia this weekend, reiterated its rejection of the FIBA proposal for a four-year cycle for EuroBasket, its flagship even and Europe's premier basketball event. FIBA Europe believes that the two-year cycle should be maintained. FIBA Europe

The Board, in principle, agrees with the introduction of windows during the season for the National Teams competitions. FIBA Europe has decided to have a full analysis of the proposed changes, informally through a working group and seminars involving its member Federation, and formally by bringing the issue before the General Assembly next spring. FIBA Europe

Donnie Walsh insists he has no regrets about not being able to reap the rewards of the groundwork he laid for the Knicks’ present turnaround. The former team president returned to the Garden with the Pacers on Sunday, and praised the improved Knicks as contenders in the Eastern Conference. “I’ve said before, I think they’re a contending team,” Walsh said. “There’s not that many contending teams…You see the roster, but now they’re playing up to the roster and they’re only going to get better.” New York Daily News

Asked if he regretted his departure from the Knicks, Walsh added: “No, because I knew when I came here that I wouldn’t be here. I did. I knew by the length of my contract…I came here and I wanted to have the challenge of seeing what I could do. When I left, it wasn’t a matter of being satisfied, but I think I did what I said I would do. I had a chance to come back and reconnect with the city I was born in. For me, it was all good, and that’s the way I look at it.” New York Daily News

The Toronto Raptors announced Sunday that Canadian-born centre Jamaal Magloire has joined the organization as a basketball development consultant and community ambassador. Magloire will assist with player development programs, help the coaching staff with individual skill development of players, and appear at organizational events and functions. Raptors.com

Magloire spent last season in a Raptors uniform, becoming the first Canadian to play for the club. He was born in Toronto and attended high school at Eastern School of Commerce. A veteran of 12 NBA seasons, Magloire owns career averages of 7.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 22.9 minutes in 680 outings. He appeared in 46 postseason contests, averaging 7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 19.8 minutes. Raptors.com

Just as "The Association" is on its fourth episode, so too is "Road to Brooklyn," the docu-series produced by Jay-Z's Life+Times YouTube channel. In the past, the episodes have focused on the team and the rivalry with the Knicks. In this one, it's all about the selection process for the Brooklynnets, including Kimberlee Garis, who runs the team as part of her job as Director of Entertainment Marketing, and AdaIr Wellington, Dance Team Coach. "We've definitely tested them, in all the different areas that are important to the shop," says Garris. NetsDaily

BrooklynFans, the video-based website, reports that the Nets have decided not to re-stock gear based on "Deez Nets" theme, echoing the 1992 "Deez Nuts" rap by Dr. Dre, whose lyrics have been accused of being denigrating to women. BrooklynFans reports, "Clerks at the arena team store tell us DEEZ NETS stuff flew off the shelves, but Barclays Center brass decided the phrase wasn’t in good enough taste to re-stock. So online shopping is again the way to go, as it usually is these day." NetsDaily

November 18, 2012 | 10:35 AM ET Update

Multiple sources told ESPN on Saturday that Bynum suffered an unspecified injury this month while bowling. On Friday, Bynum revealed that -- on top of the issues with his right knee that could keep him sidelined until January -- he also had suffered a "setback" with his left knee. ESPN.com

There are several activities that are prohibited in standard NBA player contracts, but bowling is not one of them. Bynum is known to enjoy bowling. Multiple calls to Bynum's agent, David Lee, were not returned. Bynum, yet to play or practice with the team, was acquired in the blockbuster four-team trade in August that also sent Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN.com

The target date of returning to practice on Oct. 24, two days after the Synvisc-One injections, came and went, and with it went the hope of Bynum's appearing in the season opener nearly three weeks ago. As it stands, the new date of hope is around Dec. 10, unaltered still by the latest news. At that time, the Sixers and Bynum hold out hope that he will be able to resume basketball-related activities and possibly return to the court by late December or the middle of January. But there is a big reason to be skeptical about what Bynum said regarding his latest setback. Bynum's new issues - which also include swelling in both knees - are the results of what he says are "routine things." "There was no [blunt] force or anything like that," Bynum said. Philadelphia Inquirer

To date, the only activities Bynum has participated in are swimming, riding the elliptical machine, and other low-impact exercises. There are the true red flags in this saga. Bynum is not to be faulted for his effort to get back on the floor. To the best of anybody's knowledge, he's doing everything he's being instructed to do by doctors, both inside and out the organization. Philadelphia Inquirer

Houston Rockets rookie forward Royce White is optimistic that he and the team can reach a resolution that will bring the two sides together. At the same time White, who has been away from the Rockets since last Sunday, wants to do what is best for his daughter, Samone, and son, Royce Alexander White II. FOX 26 Sports

White, who said his decision to leave the NBA if he and the team cannot overcome their problems is "totally etched in stone," suffers from general anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. "We have a chance here, myself and the Rockets, to not only right this situation, but to just grow together," White said. "We're talking about writing an addendum that addresses mental illness in a specific way, which you have to do, because as much as mental illness is a health issue, it's a very individualistic health issue. "I know they want to learn about this. I think that's what people are missing here. This isn't a me versus them thing. This isn't us being at-odds thing. This is them being in a new, very unique situation. Them not being totally familiar with the situation has very health-related symptoms for me. "It's not about the Rockets being blamed. The Rockets have tried to support me, but knowing how to support, is just as important as trying." FOX 26 Sports

White confirmed an ESPN report that he will meet with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey on Monday to discuss his situation. However, he said that meeting will not produce immediate results. "It can't be that fast," White said. "We have to do it justice. There's no quick fix for mental health issues, because it's a gray area. It may take more time, but taking more time is the right thing to do. "The Rockets have been great in saying 'we understand that we don't know a lot here.' The Rockets asked me 'what can we do better or how can we support you?' I've been writing some ideas based on what I know about mental illness and what I know about myself of trying to create a nice, sound protocal to add in there. I'm making great progress." FOX 26 Sports

White said he knows the Harlem Globetrotters announced that what they have to offer might be an alternate way for him to earn a living by playing basketball. While he is honored by their gesture, White said it is not something he will pursue. "For the Globetrotters to be paying attention, in one sense it's an honor," White said. "In another sense for them to extend a hand and saying they understand and they want to support is a great honor. "It's just not being discussed amongst us. It's not something that I'm interested in seeking at this point. I'm really interested in resolving things with the Houston Rockets and getting back on the court and getting a plan in place that not only serves me, but hopefully blazes a trail for other people, not only to get the things they deserve mental-health wise in this work environment, but to prevent the things happening later that always you see happen. FOX 26 Sports

And White believes he and the Rockets can find some middle ground. "Yea I do," White said. "I think that it's possible. I'm a humanitarian. I believe in Humans, and everybody who is involved here and all the choices that are being made are being made by humans. "At the end of the day humans, we should be able to figure anything out, theoretically." FOX 26 Sports

If I allow the health ramifications to come I'm risking my life because we don't associate mental health consequences with fatalities, but we know that that's the case. "Somebody is drinking to offset the stress from anxiety and they flip their car and they kill themselves, they kill somebody else, that's fatal," he said. FOX 26 Sports

Sam Amico: Word around NBA is Jazz G Alec Burks is available. Burks, the 12th overall draft pick in 2011, has played in just 5 of Jazz's 10 games. Twitter @SamAmicoFSO

“That would have been a great place to start fresh,” Howard said Friday. “It was just everything about it — the coaching staff, owners, just everything. It seemed like they were going in the right direction.” Howard said he and Williams were “very close” and had often discussed playing together. “During the process, I think he kind of got upset when I signed the E.T.O. because we had talked,” Howard said. New York Times

Lakers center Dwight Howard knew of the Rockets’ obsession about acquiring him and said he would not have minded joining the Rockets. They were not, however, his preference and long term he intended to play for one of his preferred teams. “I didn’t have a problem with it,” Howard said. “At the same time, there were two places that I would have rather (go) to and I’m here at one of them. I’m happy. If I would have gone to Houston then I would have went and played as hard as I could for the Rockets. I’m glad it so happened I came to the best organization in the history of the NBA.” Houston Chronicle

Nash was weighing offers from the Knicks and Toronto when the Lakers unexpectedly came calling at the 11th hour. “I always wanted to play for the Knicks in the Garden,” Nash said Friday during an interview at the Lakers’ training center. Although that possibility had been rumored for years, “this summer was very close,” said Nash, who is rehabbing a leg injury and will be re-examined next weekend. New York Times

Nash met with the Knicks, the Raptors, the Nets and the Dallas Mavericks in early July. Each held a different appeal. Dallas offered a return to the city where Nash became a star. Toronto offered a chance to return to his home country. The Nets and the Knicks offered the allure of New York, where Nash lives in the summer. By the morning of July 2, Nash had narrowed his choices to the Knicks and the Raptors. “I was happy to play with both,” he said. That same day, the Lakers unexpectedly jumped into the fray, making an initial two-year offer if the Suns would agree to a sign-and-trade deal. Nash wanted three years. And the Suns, a divisional rival, were reluctant. “The L.A. thing was kind of right at the deadline,” Nash said. “I didn’t even know it could be.” New York Times

But, along the way, Johnson came to be defined by something totally out of his control: his six-year contract for more than $120 million signed in July 2010. Suddenly, a player who was incredibly productive for the Hawks was only thought of in terms of the dollar value on his contract. “Look at it this way,” Woodson said. “If somebody offers you $120 million, are you supposed to say, ‘I don’t want it?’ I mean, come on. “To me, it’s all relative. My thing is this: Is the guy a competitor? Does he play at a high level? I think he does, and I think Brooklyn has landed a solid player that’s a nice piece to their puzzle. It doesn’t get much better at the two spot than him.” New York Post

Josh Childress was a teammate of Johnson’s in Atlanta and is again this season with the Nets. When he sees Johnson now, Childress admits he sees a different person than the one who had the weight of a franchise on his shoulders in Atlanta. “I see a more relaxed guy,” Childress said. “Not from an intensity standpoint, but more from a ‘I don’t have to do everything, or do as much as I was doing’ one. He can just play and play freely, and not have to worry about shouldering the load.” New York Post

According to sources close to the situation, Warrick’s camp had been working on securing a buyout for the veteran over the past couple months so the forward could choose his next career destination. However, they couldn’t come to a separation agreement with the Hornets. Warrick is set to earn $4 million this season, with a team option for the 2014 season. HoopsWorld

Fresh off Rondo's second 20-assist effort of the young season during a breezy 107-89 triumph over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday at TD Garden, Terry reaffirmed his belief that Rondo is the best point guard in the league and said he deserves to be in the MVP conversation this season. "This year he's definitely going to be in the talks when they're talking about MVP, if we can continue to win," said Terry, who played with an MVP in Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. "The way he controls the game, his leadership, his ability to dominate the game on both ends of the floor is what makes [Rondo] special." ESPN.com

Rondo, back in the lineup after sitting out Thursday's loss in Brooklyn with a sprained right ankle, handed out 20 helpers while adding six points over 32:12 against the Raptors. Ironically, it's the first time this season he's failed to register a double-double, but he did stretch his double-digit assist streak to 33 games, with eyes on John Stockton (37) and Magic Johnson (46). Apprised of Terry's MVP chatter, Rondo didn't shy away from it. "Well, you know, JT's on my side, so he's a little biased, but the MVP is in the picture," said Rondo. "I would like to be one day. But, we've just got to keep winning." Pressed on the topic, Rondo added: "I mean, who wouldn't [want to be MVP]? That's a dream." ESPN.com

And yet teammate Courtney Lee suggested Rondo was playfully upset because he thought he could have put up an even more staggering assist number. "He was actually mad about the 20 assists," said Lee. "He felt like he could have got 30 tonight." ESPN.com

Garnett didn’t sound ready to place Rondo in MVP consideration. But he took the opportunity to talk about Rondo’s uniqueness. “I’ve always looked at an MVP as someone who not only makes his teammates better, but can dictate the game from different stat lines — he’s able to get rebounds, do multiple things for his team,” he said. “I’m biased because I’ve played with (Rondo) and see how hard he works. When you think of presence in the game, that’s hard, because that’s where the modern day Kobes and LeBrons are. (Rondo) gets his knack because he doesn’t score the ball and all of that. (But) when you think of the overall package, it’s unbelievable what he’s doing.” Boston Herald

The Wizards lost 83-76 to the Jazz on Saturday night at Verizon Center. The loss drops the Wizards to 0-8, which ties last season’s start – the worst in franchise history. Once again the Wizards managed to make the game competitive through three quarters before fading down the stretch. “I think we could have won more than half the games we played,” said Bradley Beal, who scored all of his six points in the first half. “That’s just my opinion. Our intensity is there, our competitiveness is there, all the way up to the fourth quarter. That’s what really kills us.” Washington Times

LeBron James under the weather is better than no LeBron James at all. That was James' thinking when he decided to play despite flu-like symptoms, and he scored 21 points to help the depleted Miami Heat close out a six-game road trip with a 97-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. "Me at 50 percent or 60 percent is better than me not playing at all," he said. USA Today

Q: What is a realistic goal for this Knicks team? Raymond Felton: We have a good enough team, we think, to go all the way. Q: You think this can be a championship contender? A: Yeah, I do. We have everything. We have depth. we have experience. We got knowledge of the game. We got a great coach and a great coaching staff. We got everything in place. It’s all about us sticking together, staying healthy and continue to get better. New York Post

He had 22 points against Phoenix, his third-highest output in 155 games over the last three years. It was a pretty good night for him. "Metta had not a pretty good night," D'Antoni said, correcting a reporter. "Metta had a great night." World Peace took 10 three-point attempts, making five of them. He probably won't shoot that many again this season. "I doubt it," he said. If he's in a grove, though, why not shoot…15 of them? "I definitely doubt it," he said. Los Angeles Times

Friday's outburst pushed World Peace's average to 12.9 points through nine games. It's a renaissance compared with his last two seasons. He averaged a career-low 8.5 points in 2010-11 and then established a new career low last season, finishing with a 7.7-point average. Much was made of his off-season conditioning as the Lakers arrived for training camp in October. He arrived in much better shape than a year ago, and it showed on the court. "I'm definitely quicker than last year. I can get to the basket a little easier," he said. "Last year, I wasn't able to get to the basket consistently because I would get tired after the first couple hard drives to the basket. Then the rest of the nights, I'm just shooting jumpers. Here I can actually drive and get my teammates opened sometimes." Los Angeles Times

The Timberwolves honor Minnesota's troops and military veterans throughout November, a month of ceremony and festivity that makes Dante Cunningham feel like he has come home even though he's a thousand miles away from Andrews Air Force base where he grew up. A self-described "military brat" and proud of it, Cunningham's bed at home and his locker at Target Center might not indicate he has spent a lifetime around the military. But his presence in the NBA does. "My room is a mess, I don't tuck the corners and everything like that," he said. "But definitely just the drive and determination to work hard -- to do better and get better -- I got from being around the military." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Mario Chalmers has looked more like a natural point guard this season, largely due to his ability to make smart passes in tight spaces. He credits that in part to his trainer Micah Lancaster, who incorporated something new into his offseason workouts. “You know that little pass back machine?” Chalmers said. “I worked with that in the summer time, put an X on the target, make sure I’m hitting that X every time.” Palm Beach Post

The three former Nets players who find themselves on the Springfield Armor roster talked to the Atlantic Twine blog about what the Nets would like them to work out while they're down in the D-League. Ex-Net Ben Uzoh, who the Armor acquired in a Draft Day trade, and the Nets two training camp invites sent down, Carleton Scott and James Mays, all spoke about what the NBA parent club asked them to do. Carleton Scott was told to shoot, shoot, shoot and don't worry about missing... Being a shooter, flat out. I can shoot the ball at will in any situation. That's what I can bring here. That's what I'm going to do. They told me to work on shooting, to have confidence shooting the ball, not worrying about missing. Just doing that and getting better on defense. NetsDaily

Ben Uzoh, who has had stints with the Nets, Raptors and Nuggets, said he would try to bring leadership... Just telling everybody how to work. how do you work, when do you work. you might always play ball, but you can always control your attitude, your professionalism, your effort. That;s what I'm accepting, embracing every day. So I can show guys. Keep working, keep fighting for my dream, keep punching. NetsDaily

D'Antoni is preparing to be in his usual role on the bench as the coach Sunday night for the Lakers' game against the Houston Rockets. It will be D'Antoni's first game on the Lakers bench, and he said he will be there unless he "wakes up too tired." D'Antoni definitely was testing his reconstructed right knee Saturday. After the Lakers practice, he met with reporters without either of his crutches. Not 10 minutes later, he begged off, saying: "I gotta go sit down." Orange County Register

D'Antoni was expected to make his Lakers debut Sunday against Houston. He even spoke to reporters Saturday without the aid of a crutch after the team practiced. "It's close by, though," he said. Los Angeles Times

Question: Will Bickerstaff be retained on the staff? Kupchak: "That is going to be Mike’s decision, but Bernie has done a wonderful job. He stepped into an awkward situation and really did a wonderful job." Sulia

Source: D'Antoni considered adding Kurt Rambis to his staff as an olive branch to LAL fans salty about Phil. That was before Rambis torched D'Antoni in his role as an ESPN analyst for not developing bigs or essentially being the right guy to bolster LAL's defense. D'Antoni is a nice guy, but I don't know if he's nice enough to ignore all that. Sulia

As for Karl, he knows what it's like to take over a team without a training camp. He did so in his first season with the Nuggets. "I think Mike will be good at it because he has a personality of trying to take that good of what he likes, maybe add a little Phil Jackson, and then try to figure out how to put the pieces together to get the strongest personality of the team," Karl said. "He can't have a training camp or a stretch of games where he can experiment, but their talent level is so high, that stuff will work out. Once momentum starts going his way, it'll roll fast." Denver Post

QUESTION: What do you make of the Lakers hiring Mike D'Antoni as their head coach? SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: The Lakers said they were built for a championship run immediately, so I think people are upset they didn't make the logical choice in Phil Jackson. But D'Antoni is a fabulous coach. He's going to bring a lot of excitement back. Kobe Bryant is one of the best players of all time. Steve Nash is happy that he's back. He's going to bring a slight element of Showtime back. KENNY SMITH: There were probably five or six candidates that were probably eligible with Phil Jackson leading the way. I'm not totally surprised at it. Mike D'Antoni has been on the Olympic team, has been around great players, coached Kobe and Dwight (Howard) before and has coached Steve Nash before. He's been on the staff. There's a familiarity with those guys. Los Angeles Daily News

QUESTION: How does D'Antoni's offensive system fit with the Lakers? O'NEAL: It's going to be good for Dwight (Howard). He's a great pick and roll big man. D'Antoni is an offensive wizard so he's going to keep everyone involved. He's the type that he's not going to yell at you for taking a shot. He just wants you to run hard and play hard. They're going to play with a lot of freedom out there. SMITH: If you played 15 minutes in your older system, you'd only have three or four shots. His system, if you play 15 minutes, you'll get nine shots. Your offensive output doesn't become an issue in not getting enough touches or the ball not going in enough places. He eliminates that by the style of play. Los Angeles Daily News

QUESTION: How fair is the criticism surrounding the defense in D'Antoni's system? O'NEAL: I don't think it's fair criticism. I won three in a row with Phil. We never worked on defense, as when I played for the great Pat Riley. Phil gave us the ability to figure it out. Our defense always started from guys on our team that wanted to play defense. Championship teams win because of team defense, not because of one guy shutting down your guy. SMITH: Because you're in transition, it's more difficult to play defense. The same way you want to get teams in 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 situations, you're in that. It is more difficult to play defense in that regard. But the fact is they have Gasol, Howard and Metta World Peace, who are three really good defenders. I don't think D'Antoni has had three defensive guys like that ever. You have shot blockers. That's the difference. Los Angeles Daily News

Sampson is serving as head coach through Kevin McHale’s leave of absence because of a family medical emergency. Though Sampson speaks with McHale several times a day, there is no timetable for his return. While the attention tonight will no doubt be on the other bench, where Mike D’Antoni is scheduled to make his debut as Lakers coach, the Rockets continue with more unusual circumstances, comparing filling in for McHale to a team playing without its star. Houston Chronicle

“He’s done a great job stepping up and being the head coach,” Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff said. “One of the things he’s done is being very inclusive. … We’re heavily involved in the process. He’s been great in assuming the responsibilities, but also with the assistants. “For everybody, you’re trying to fill in a small piece of what we had with Mac. I think it falls on all the assistants to do that. Whatever is your focus, you have to up it. There are more decisions you have to make now, more you have to contribute because Mac is gone. I think everybody has to step up.” Houston Chronicle

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