HoopsHype rumors

November 19, 2012 | 08:02 PM ET Update

Howard reportedly talked with Nets point guard Deron Williams about teaming up and making a fresh start together when the franchise moved to Brooklyn before the team re- signed Brook Lopez and traded for Joe Johnson, but Howard had little interest in talking about Williams now that they are opponents. "That’s my decision," Howard said. "My life. If he’s upset because I made a decision for me, then so be it. If he doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over." ESPN.com

Nor does he see life without Howard at his side being so bad. Plan B has been a good one so far for Williams and the Nets, who landed veteran shooting guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks as part of the sales pitch that convinced Williams to re-sign on a five-year, $98 million maximum contract days later -- and made Howard an afterthought. "I'm happy for him," Williams said of Howard. "It looks like he's having fun out there in LA. I know it's a lot off his plate now -- although I guess he still has to hear (the free-agency chatter) because he hasn't said if he'll re-sign (with the Lakers this summer). But he's got a home now. I think he's happy there and I wish him the best of luck." USA Today

"It's an unfortunate circumstance," Silver answered. "I don't want to sugarcoat it. It's been that way since the beginning of time, certainly since the beginning of this league. In this league in particular, superstar players have enormous leverage. We talked about, in the collective bargaining negotiations, how we can put teams in an optimal position where that doesn't happen, and that is by giving teams the opportunity to offer longer-term contracts and greater amounts of money per year. "But, ultimately, players do have the right to become free agents and to move. Dwight did have several good years in Orlando. [The Magic] played at the highest level, obviously in The Finals. And it's not the way we like to see it happen, but on the other hand, there were negotiations with powerful players' unions and both sides have positions. I think at this point the Magic are making the best of the situation and are in rebuilding mode. That's something that teams around the league have had to face." Orlando Sentinel

John Denton: NBA Commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver on Dwight Howard's defection from the #Magic: "This is not the way we like to see it happen." Twitter @JohnDenton555

D’Antoni, who has spent the past two games watching the Lakers post back-to-back victories on television in the trainer’s room, said Monday that he wants to make his Lakers coaching debut Tuesday against the Nets, but hasn’t gotten medical clearance. He has not fully recovered from knee replacement surgery. “I’m going to try,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see. We’ll talk to Gary (Vitti, trainer) tomorrow and see how it goes. “Sunday I said I would and it didn’t work out. I don’t want to say, yeah, and have it not work out again. We’ll just see. It’s a lot better. Every day it gets 10 points better. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go.” Orange County Register

"Mike wasn't just a player," said Marco Crespi, a professional coach in Italy and former assistant of D'Antoni in Milan and with the Phoenix Suns. "He was a franchise player. The difference maker." Or, as Gheradini said: "In Italy, he was everything." So much so he caught the eye of an American kid living in Italy at the time named Kobe Bryant, whose father, Joe Bryant, was a teammate of D'Antoni's on Olimpia Milano. D'Antoni was a revelation to Bryant, who was still in the process of formulating his skill set and would study the best players of the day trying to mimic and steal aspects of their game to incorporate into his own. "Growing up, I tried to watch and learn from so many basketball players, all the top ones," Bryant said. "He was certainly a top one. He was certainly a player that I admired. He was tough. He was a tenacious guard that made great plays. He was probably the greatest guard ever to play over there." Los Angeles Daily News

Bryant was soon emulating D'Antoni and the others, taking the court at halftime of Olimpia Milano games and wooing the crowd as a precocious 12-year-old. "We'd practically have to kick him off the court to get the second-half started," D'Antoni says now, laughing. After games the American players and their families would often hang out together, with Kobe tagging a long and listening intently as D'Antoni and the others would talk about basketball. Little did D'Antoni know he was helping spawn one of the greatest basketball players of all time. "I had no idea he'd grow up to be Kobe Bryant," he said. Los Angeles Daily News

"You have Kobe, you have Metta, you have Pau (Gasol) and you have Dwight Howard, obviously, protecting the paint," said Lakers backup guard Chris Duhon, who played under D'Antoni in New York. "These guys have pride. They're not going to give up 157 points. It's definitely different than when I was in New York. We basically just said, 'Hey, let's just outscore 'em tonight.' I don't think defense is going to be a problem here." That remains to be seen, of course. But with the Lakers offense unleashed in the week since D'Antoni was hired, their point totals creeping toward 120 as the floor spacing improves and the dunks, ally-opps and wide-open jump shots increase, it's obvious the Lakers will be much more entertaining than they ever would have under Brown or Jackson. Los Angeles Daily News

November 19, 2012 | 05:45 PM ET Update

Patterson often targeted and taunted Randolph, with their bad blood culminating during a 2003 practice: Randolph noticed teammate Qyntel Woods arguing with Patterson and came to Woods's defense, sucker-punching Patterson. (Remembers Stoudamire, "I didn't see what had happened because I had got the steal, so I was going the other way. Then all I heard was, 'Come on, Zach.' I turned back around and it was chaos.") After Patterson suffered a fractured eye socket, Canzano later recalled that "there was a period of a few days after that incident where Randolph hid out at Dale Davis's house because he feared that Patterson was going to try and shoot him." Grantland

Randolph said Canzano held a vendetta against him. "If he hadn't been a chronic problem and a guy who brought people with him to Portland who were on the radar of the gang enforcement and hadn't had the incident drag racing downtown, the accusation of sexual assault, and all the other problems that he had there, maybe there'd be some merit to that," Canzano said. Grantland

Two years later, a Portland exotic dancer sued Randolph for sexual assault. (Police never filed criminal charges.) Randolph's lack of self-awareness during this stretch remained staggering. When Portland players were allowed to choose their own pregame warm-up songs, Randolph selected T-Pain's "I'm 'n Luv (Wit a Stripper)." These days, Randolph praises Portland as a city, respects the team's fans, and even has nice things to say about owner Paul Allen. He also believes the police and certain media members held a grudge against him. "They don't take well to young, black urban kids coming out, having came from nothing," Randolph said. "You come to Portland with braids, come with cornrows, people can't relate to that. They peg you a different way and look at you a different way. If a guy's got braids, he's a thug." Grantland

Zach Randolph isn't worried about whether his 14-year-old son, Zachariah, retraces his sizable basketball footsteps. "Basketball isn't everything," Randolph likes to tell him. Yes, he counsels him on the game. But most of their conversations are about life's choices and consequences. Be positive, Randolph tells him. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Make smart decisions. "That's an important age — 14, 15, 16," Randolph said. "I didn't have that father figure in my life. Maybe if I would have had a daddy saying, 'Zach, don't do this' or 'Get in the house' or 'Where's your report card?,' then … " Grantland

Now 31, Randolph has become the face of the Memphis Grizzlies, a franchise that limped badly until its improbable upset of no. 1 seed San Antonio two springs ago. He is unquestionably a beloved figure both in Memphis and in Marion, about 65 miles north of Indianapolis up I-37. He's fit in so naturally in Memphis that many mistakenly believe Randolph actually hails from the city. He tutors younger teammates like Tony Wroten and Josh Selby, something that would have seemed far-fetched — to say the least — after Randolph's struggles transitioning into the league. "I talk to the kids because I've been down that route," Randolph said. "I can handle adversity because I've been knocked down and got up. I've been on the highest of highs and lowest of lows and I've got a strong will. Some people have never been through nothing, and when a situation happens they crumble. But I've been there. And I'm the same person." Grantland

Stoudamire advised Randolph to sever ties to Oregon — for now — explaining that, "Sometimes, when things happen, you can't look back." To his credit, Randolph is looking forward and making the most of his fourth chance. Two winters ago, he turned on the electricity for dozens of less-fortunate Memphis residents. He and teammate Tony Allen spent Valentine's Day pampering poverty-stricken mothers with manicures and pedicures. He bought turkey after turkey for families in need on Thanksgiving. He rescues pit bulls for a local shelter. Maybe he didn't see NBA players growing up, but he's seen the look in children's eye when they see him. Zach Randolph knows he is making a difference.7 "If Memphis trades me tomorrow, I'm going to be in Memphis in the summertime working out," Randolph said. "I'm going to be in the community. I'm always going to be connected to the people." Grantland

"This town has a relationship with me," Randolph explained. "It's not the white side, the black side, it's the whole town. They understand the grind. They've been through it. It's a blue-collar town. People work hard. When you talk about Memphis, it's usually First 48 or something bad. But there's good people everywhere. And you don't look bad on nobody because somebody went to the penitentiary or somebody did this. You treat everybody the same because everybody's got skeletons. Some people just hide them more. Some don't get brought to the light, but ain't nobody perfect. Nobody." Grantland

Miami Heat forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant have been named the NBA Players of the Week for the games played Nov. 12 through Nov. 18. James led the league in scoring with 29.0 points per game, while also averaging 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in leading the Heat to a 3-1 record during the week. He scored 32 of his season-high 38 points in the second half against the Houston Rockets in guiding Miami to a 113-110 come-from-behind victory. Macon Telegraph

Charlotte Bobcats power forward Tyrus Thomas is expected to miss two months after a magnetic resonance imaging revealed a tear of the plantaris muscle in his left leg. Thomas hobbled out of Saturday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Monday’s MRI revealed the muscle tear near his calf. He also has a second-degree strain of the calf itself. The injury does not require surgery, but has a relatively long recovery period. Charlotte Observer

As part of the Warriors 15 Plays for the Holidays, forward David Lee saved the day for the City of Oakland’s Department of Human Services, Communities United Committee, Community Action Partnership and the Emergency Food Providers Committee by donating $25,000 to continue their annual city-wide event to feed seniors and those who are homeless and/or low income. Heading into the annual event funds were unavailable to continue the dinner until Lee stepped up and donated to help provide a free meal and entertainment to more than 2,000 low-income families, seniors and homeless individuals. NBA.com

The Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced that the Memphis Grizzlies have been nominated in four categories for the 27th Annual Midsouth Emmy® Awards. Grizzlies’ Director of Video Production Pat Stage, has once again been nominated for best Sports Programs/Series for “Memphis Grizzlies: Grind Forth.” Stage has also been nominated for best Promo Spot/Sports for “Made In Memphis” and for best Editor/Program for “Grind Forth” Edit Composite. These honors mark his 12th nomination and the Memphis Grizzlies’ 15th nomination overall. NBA.com

The Los Angeles Clippers today announced the following personnel changes within the team’s Communications Department: Seth Burton, with the team for six years as Assistant Director of Communications, will be elevated to the post of Director of Communications, effective immediately. Burton fills the vacancy left by the recently-departed Rob Raichlen who left after 20 years. In addition, long-time NBA Communications veteran Dennis Rogers will join the Clippers as Director of Team PR and Publications. Rogers currently serves in the role of Director of Basketball Communications with the New Orleans Hornets, and will assume his new duties with the Clippers on December 3, 2012. NBA.com

The lynching is the first topic Randolph discusses when asked about Marion — not that it's where he honed his skills, not that it's where he helped Mae build her dream home. "My town," Randolph said. "That goes to tell you a little bit about my town." He thinks about those lynchings from time to time. He remembers standing outside an apartment building as a teenager when a cop cruised past him in a car. The cop reversed course, Randolph says, and without provocation expressed his disdain for Randolph, telling him he'd never amount to anything before driving off. "It's everywhere you go," Randolph said. "That really hurt me." He never elaborates on what "it" is, but maybe "it" laid the foundation for another of Randolph's lifelong beliefs: Good and bad exist everywhere. Grantland

Grant County (which includes Marion) elected the state's first black sheriff, Oatess Archey, in 1998. The descendants of the families involved in the infamous lynching met for reconciliation and a public atonement in 2003. Several members of the town's current City Council are black. "Unfortunately, you can't change the history," Seybold admits. Maybe that goes for Randolph, too. "I'm just now starting to do more stuff for my town," Randolph said. "I definitely want to see the town change. I want people to treat people equal. Ever since the mayor came, the town has changed and it's going in a better direction. It used to be real bad with the court system. You go to Marion and people doing crimes, they give people like 60 years for breaking into houses, young black kids. But it's getting better." Grantland

People in Marion say that Randolph isn't just involved, he's immersed. Whenever he returns, he asks Sturm how his ailing mother is doing. He held a reception for Mae's marriage and ran into Jenny Maidenberg, a social worker at his elementary school. Although Maidenberg and her husband weren't originally invited, Randolph asked them to stay the whole night. They did. He spends hours at the Boys & Girls Club, where he virtually grew up. The club's director, Adam Myers, remembers the chaos that broke out when Randolph showed up one day. Marion now annually celebrates a Zach Randolph Day. Grantland

November 19, 2012 | 04:26 PM ET Update

He has especially struggled this year, in which he has averaged 16.2 points on just 35.8 percent shooting. His 4.4 rebounds are his lowest average since his second season in the NBA. And Bargnani has appeared frustrated at times during the year. “Andrea is who he is,” coach Dwane Casey said. “If you’re looking for rah-rah guy that’s not him. He doesn’t show expression. Again that’s who he is. That doesn’t make him a bad guy or bad basketball player or whatever. But I do know that there are players who are like that who just don’t show any expression which doesn’t bother me. My thing is, you know, just be consistent. ... I don’t care about his expression. I don’t care if a guy’s a rah-rah guy or jumping up and down as long he’s putting the ball in the hole and playing defense.” Sporting News

Bargnani himself admits that the Raptors’ record in recent years is wearing on him, and he feels some pressure to turn things around. “Me personally, I would never say it’s too early to worry,” Bargnani said. “It has been four years now that we have had a losing record, so it’s definitely not early for me, Jose (Calderon), and the other guys that have been around. Nobody is thinking that it’s too early. We definitely have to turn it around and we are going to play better starting now.” Sporting News

For the third time in four days, New Orleans Hornets rookie forward Anthony Davis tweaked his left ankle but he is expected to start Tuesday night against the New York Knicks. Hornets Coach Monty Williams said Davis turned his ankle during Monday's practice at the Alario Center. "He turned his ankle a little bit, but I'm not sure what he's going feel like tonight,'' Williams said. "We'll see.'' New Orleans Times-Picayune

Erik Spoelstra doesn’t buy talk Heat defensive shortcomings have anything to do with relaxing after winning title. “That’s the easy thing for people to deduce, but it’s not necessarily the case,’’ Spoelstra said. “We’re still working through some things. Different pace. The rotation’s slightly different. Just things that you typically encounter at the beginning of the year. Our guys understand how important it is.’’ Sulia

Sun Capital, the Florida firm co-headed by Philadelphia 76ers boss and Romney donor Mark Leder, is among the buyers interested in Hostess Brands, shut last week amid a long-running bankruptcy and labor struggle, says Fortune's Dan Primack here. Sun already owns Manayunk-based PaperWorks and previously bought and downsized South Jersey's Aluminum Shapes and Jevic Transportation, among many other U.S. firms. "I think that we could offer a slightly better, more labor-friendly deal than what was on the table last week," Leder told Primack. Philadelphia Inquirer

November 19, 2012 | 02:43 PM ET Update

Several of Bryant's game-high 11 assists were delivered to Howard, who scored 28 points to Bryant's 22. One of Bryant's assists to Howard came after Kobe drove to the basket and dumped it off to the big man at the last second, gift wrapping a wide-open dunk. Another came with Bryant holding the ball at the top of the key and making eye contact with Howard to signal an alley-oop lob was on its way, and the two executed the play to perfection. "We're almost there," Howard said. "We're almost on the same page. I just tell Kobe, he's always going to attack but always just attack the basket and I'll try to clean up if you miss. We're just learning each other's game. It's going to take some time but we're doing the best we can." ESPN.com

Croatian rising star Dario Saric has been caught by the police the night between Friday and Saturday for DUI. The player, who is still without a team after FIBA ruled a €550.000 buyout to KK Zagreb, his former team, was driving his Jeep when he hit three cars parked. Sportando

November 19, 2012 | 11:43 AM ET Update

League sources said bluntly, that anything involving Varejao is also going to have to move out Luke Walton and his $6 million ending contract and return youth and draft picks. That might be too much to ask, so it’s more likely that Varejao stays where he is, but you never know how another team may view him, especially as the trade deadline gets closer. HoopsWorld

To say Derrick Williams has not lived up to his hype as the second overall pick is something of an understatement, and sources say if he could return a serious veteran player then the Wolves would move him. With so many injuries, it’s unlikely the Wolves try to force something in the next 30 days. But once Kevin Love returns to the lineup, Williams could be the next chip cashed in Minnesota. HoopsWorld

Me: Why have y'all shot the ball so badly so far? Iguodala: I think just trying to get adjusted to one another. Some guys may be passing up shots, trying to be too unselfish, where others, it's mental. They're putting too much pressure on themselves shooting. I think we'll be fine once we get it rolling, once we get some more kinks out. Because we're still young. I'm a big piece that's new to the team, and I'm still trying to figure things out. But defensively, it's been a 180, a big turnaround as far as getting stops when we need to. We've had one bad defensive game, and that was against Phoenix, when we didn't get stops. But other than that, we've played pretty good. NBA.com

Now, Miami is trying to carry it out for a full season. And the Heat's major offseason acquisitions, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, aren't going to be much help defending the paint; they're having enough trouble getting out to open 3-point shooters. Which leaves Battier swapping paint with bigger, younger power forwards. Will he be a skid mark by next spring?"We'll see. We'll see," Battier said with a laugh. "The thing about it is, it's taxing physically. But I just have to be smart about it. I'm not asked to grab 10 rebounds. I just block out. Blocking out's tough when you have to block out a guy like Faried. But I look at it as an unbelievable challenge for me. I've been counted out a lot in my life, and in my career. And I've always met the challenge. I just look at it as a new challenge, a new chapter for my book. I look forward to overcoming it." NBA.com

Meanwhile, Battier wages nightly battles inside, leaving James to handle the opposition's top perimeter wing. "Shane is a great defender, but it's a different position he has to defend," Bosh said. "There are different spots. We're getting used to it. At the beginning of the season, you know how it is -- guys are just really worked up to play us. You have a huge road trip early. You have to just stay steady and calmly focus on how to get better. We are small, but we're one of the best teams in the league. We're the defending champs. And we carry that with us every day." NBA.com

Sam Cassell (Assistant coach, Washington Wizards; recruited to Florida State by Williamson): I was playing at a junior college, San Jacinto. He came down there and our coach at the time had what he called talking time, a talk period where D-1 coaches could talk to you. Eggman came down and coach told him, '15 minutes, Kenny.' He said, 'boy, you can come to Florida State.' I didn't know anything about Florida State basketball. You couldn't tell me what conference they was in. But he said 'you coming to Florida State. I've got a situation that's perfect for you.' I said, 'if I do come to Florida State, what would be my role?' He said, 'how many points do you score now?' I said about 22, 23 a game. And he said 'I want you to try average 22 points at Florida State. And we're moving to the ACC next year. And you can play on Tobacco Road for eight games.' That did it for me. I didn't tell him that, but that did it. NBA.com

Allan Houston (assistant general manager, New York Knicks): It's really hard to find authentic people. I don't care if it's a teammate, a coach. It's really hard to find authentic people that don't have a motive. Eggman was a part of my family before I even thought about being in the NBA. My dad (longtime coach Wade Houston), Tap, Leonard Hamilton, all of them, they all hung out together, before black folks were getting head coaching jobs, and they were recruiting at Louisville and Florida State. When he was between coaching jobs he actually stayed at our house when I was little. I would always hear stories about how Egg would call. He had a whole wealth of knowledge that he would share, and it was freely given. NBA.com

Lionel Hollins (coach, Grizzlies): Before Egg even came to the team I was working for Adidas. I took a team to Germany for the Albert Schweitzer games. Before I could say hello to him, everybody in the gym was saying hello to him, and he was talking loud like he always does. We were in Germany, and everybody knew Eggman! Before we even got over there people were asking, 'is Eggman coming?' NBA.com

November 19, 2012 | 10:21 AM ET Update

The much-anticipated return of Brandon Roy to the Rose Garden will not happen this week after the Minnesota guard and former Trail Blazers legend has scheduled a right knee surgery for this week, The Oregonian has learned. The arthroscopy will be the seventh of his career, dating back to high school, and the fifth since he has been a professional. It is unknown how long Roy will be sidelined. Oregonian

Adrian Wojnarowski: Brandon Roy's knee scope will keep him out "a couple of weeks" for Minnesota, league source tells Y! Sports. @JWQuick 1st reported surgery. Twitter @WojYahooNBA

The Mavericks are desperate for more consistent point-guard play. They understand one intriguing name remains on the open market — grizzled veteran Derek Fisher. There has been no move so far to kick the tires on Fisher because owner Mark Cuban said before the Cleveland game that he and the coaching staff want to give the current group every chance to show what they can do. Dallas Morning News

Guangdong Southern Tigers has waived Derrick Caracter and signed Ike Diogu. NetEase

Panathinaikos announced officially on Friday the 16th of November the singing of Jason Kapono and a few hours latter his wife had complications in her latest pregnancy. The Greek club is in constant contact with the player, waits to be informed about the new date of his arrival – he was scheduled to travel to Greece on Sunday – and clarified to the American player that his wife will have the best possible medical care in Athens. EuroHoops.net

Kapono seems to appreciate the behavior of the club, but he is worried due to the condition of his wife and he seems reluctant to come immediately to Greece on his own, or with his whole family. The Greens on the other hand can’t wait forever and even with his contract being signed, the deal could be voided. Kapono should decide what he will do in the next two or three days. If not, then Panathinaikos will not have any other choice than to move on. EuroHoops.net

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

According to the tweets, White had preferred to meet with his personal therapist with whom he had worked for years. Instead, he is being fined for not meeting with the team- designated therapist, Aaron Fink of Baylor College of Medicine. The person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports that White is not being prohibited from seeing the expert of his choice, but that his visits with Fink are considered mandatory. USA Today

After Damian Lillard iced the Blazers’ 102-94 victory over the Bulls with a dunk with 1.9 seconds left, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson bee-lined toward the rookie point guard at center court to express their displeasure. LaMarcus Aldridge and other Blazers prevented a post-game incident by intervening, but Lillard’s late-game display caused quite a commotion Sunday night at the Rose Garden. “I just told him he can’t do that,” Gibson said. “He didn’t say anything. He was making a scene out of nothing. He made the layup and me and Joakim just addressed it, like, ‘In the future, you have to be smarter. A lot of teams aren’t going to let you do that.’" Oregonian

“When I caught the ball, I didn’t know what to do honestly,” Lillard said. “I was just like, ‘Man, I’m here by myself, I don’t know what to do.’ I didn’t mean no disrespect to them ... next time, I just know to dribble the ball out.” Oregonian

“You don’t do that and I think he knows better now,” Aldridge said. “I don’t think he’ll do it going forward. That’s not good basketball etiquette.” Oregonian

Last season you've scored a lot of points off of Steve Nash pick and rolls. The team doesn't play that way anymore. Marcin Gortat: That's true, but I can score in various situations. Finishing pick and rolls, in transition, from midrange, around the rim. There are a lot of options. Unfortunately, my two strongest plays – the pick and roll and post-ups have been taken away from me. It's not easy, we have a lot of plays that don't include me. And my chemistry with Goran Dragic hasn't been quite equal to what I had with Steve. These are things that we need to work on. The Gothic Ginobili

Coach Alvin Gentry told me that the main post option was Luis Scola. You, on the other hand, are number one on defense. Marcin Gortat: Unfortunately... I've been doing the dirty work all my life, and now I have to come back to that. I will fight for what's mine. I'll try to prove to the coach that I can play an important role in the offence. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm even an option for Gentry. He doesn't even take me into consideration. The situation is critical. We're playing the same thing we've been playing last year, but the truth is we have a completely different set of players. I don't think it really works. I can't get frustrated now though, I have to stay positive. The Gothic Ginobili

Before the season you were promising a fight for the playoffs, but from the picture painted by the past few games, the Suns don't seem like a top 8 team in the West. MG: Before the season started, I was a huge optimist. I thought we'd play a completely different game. Right now, it doesn't look good. We still have a lot to learn, and a lot to fight for. We need to fix our team defence. We can't give up a hundred points per game. We'll see how it works out. Right now, I'm not losing hope, there's still a shot at the playoffs. The Gothic Ginobili

Did the coach honestly tell you what he expects from you? MG: We've talked before the season started. He said he expects me to play defence, rebound, block shots and quarterback the defence. He also said he wanted me to set up in the paint and wait for my shots. And I'm still waiting... (laughter) What are you expecting in the coming week? MG: After the game against the Miami Heat, we have a longer break and some time to correct some errors in practice. It won't be easy though. Maybe you should have an honest conversation with Coach Gentry? MG: I don't know if it will change anything. But I'll surely have a chat with him. The Gothic Ginobili

This is life post-Linsanity. For the first time since he burst onto the scene in February with the Knicks, Lin, now a member of the Houston Rockets, looks like just another eager young prospect, diligently working to find his way in the N.B.A. “It’s really, really low-key,” Lin said Sunday morning after the Rockets’ shootaround. “And it’s really peaceful. When I walk around, I don’t wear a hat or glasses or anything — unless I want to.” New York Times

For the modest, soft-spoken Lin, it is surely a healthier environment. As much as he enjoyed his turn on the Broadway stage, Lin is not naturally inclined to seek the spotlight. He turned away countless interview requests and endorsement offers last season, and he recently acknowledged that he “went into a shell” during the height of his fame. “I think the beautiful thing about this opportunity is there’s less of a spotlight,” Lin said. “There’s room to grow, room to improve, growing pains, things like that — the stuff that has to happen with each player. I’ve only started 30-something games in three years in my whole career. There’s a lot of sophomores out there with more experience than me. I’m going to have to go through a lot to get better.” New York Times

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he currently has no plans to insert Kevin Martin into the starting lineup but left the door open for that to change down the line. “At this moment, no, I don't see it changing,” Brooks said. “You never know. It's a long season. A lot of things can happen. But we have a pretty good track record with our starters. They understand their role and they do a good job. Kevin, we're building him to be that guy off the bench that can give us what we need that particular game.” Oklahoman

Teammate Kobe Bryant spoke highly of Gasol on Sunday night. "Hopefully, people will talk about him a little bit, sing his praises a little bit," Bryant said. "He's not the type to toot his own horn. I think it's important for the city of Los Angeles to pay him respect for what he's done for this franchise. He kind of goes under the radar, slips under the map for whatever reason, but he’s a fantastic player." Los Angeles Times

Bynum said Sunday that his left knee swelled after he went bowling last Saturday night. He told his doctors and last Tuesday had an MRI that revealed he'd done some new damage. It was a setback because Bynum had missed the entire training camp and preseason with a bone bruise in his right knee. "I didn't twist it or fall or nothing," Bynum said before his team took on the Cleveland Cavaliers. "It kind of broke off cartilage and it made the bone bruise bigger. Obviously (how) is the question, it's relatively nothing, it's three steps (and roll). That's the most important thing and why everyone is being so cautious. I can't answer and (doctors) can't now either, we're trying to figure out what's going on." ESPN.com

But now he's in pain every day. His right knee started to hurt after a light workout when he practiced what he called an "up-and-under move." Now his left knee is hurting because of bowling. This has kept him out months. This has top doctors confused. This is a 25-year-old All-Star who was celebrated upon arrival as a franchise player who isn't sure when he can even practice again. "Germany is one theory," Bynum said, talking about what has caused this cascade of bad news. "Or the injections. Or I have bad cartilage. I don't know." ESPN.com

The feel-good story even extended to assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who improved to 4-1 since taking over game responsibilities after Mike Brown was fired Nov. 9. Bickerstaff was all but guaranteed a spot on D'Antoni's coaching staff. "Unless he loses tonight," D'Antoni joked before tipoff. "No pressure." Los Angeles Times

D'Antoni told reporters before the game that Bickerstaff would remain on his staff for the remainder of the season. "That's nice to know," Bickerstaff said, when informed of D'Antoni's plans to keep him as an assistant coach. ESPN.com

After spending the past week criticizing Mike D'Antoni's hire as Lakers coach both on Twitter and on ESPN, Magic Johnson wants to stop lamenting Phil Jackson getting passed over for the position. "You have to let D'Antoni get in there and wait and see what's going to happen," Johnson said in an interview with this newspaper. "It's too bad it's not Phil. That's who I wanted. But Jim Buss and Mitch made a decision. We as Lakers fans just have to see how it works out." Los Angeles Daily News

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Dan D’Antoni to serve as an assistant coach, it was announced today by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. NBA.com

Walsh, now the president of basketball operations for Indiana, sat courtside Sunday as the Pacers played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden and witnessed the Knicks’ current roster up close. Even if he does not want, or even expect, credit for the Knicks’ recent success, Walsh knows that the decisions he made during his three years with the team have helped the Knicks improve. “I did what I said I would do and I was happy to be here,” Walsh said before the Knicks’ 88-76 victory over the Pacers. “I enjoyed it and I’m happy for the people of the city because I really felt the desire for New York fans to have a team like theirs now. I’m glad it’s come. I knew I wasn’t going to be here for the payoff.” New York Times

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