HoopsHype rumors

December 22, 2012 | 07:24 PM ET Update

The Dallas Mavericks on Saturday agreed to release Derek Fisher at the 38-year-old's request. The move has actually been in the works for a few days, sources said, but the Mavericks asked Fisher to stay with the team until another point guard could be secured. Fisher consented to stay on and played Tuesday night against Philadelphia, only to suffer a strained patellar tendon in his right knee early in the Mavs' home win. ESPN.com

Dallas Mavericks point guard Derek Fisher will be waived from the team at his request, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The Mavericks later announced the move. Fisher signed with the Mavericks on Nov. 29 and had been a good fit in his short time with the team, but he did not like being away from his family in Los Angeles and asked Dallas owner Mark Cuban to respect his wishes and facilitate this move. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Fisher has already left the team and is in Los Angeles rehabilitating the right knee that he injured on Tuesday in a game against Philadelphia. USA Today Sports

Because of his strong desire to be back in Los Angeles with his family, guard Derek Fisher was released Saturday by the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs had signed Fisher to a one-year contract on Nov. 29, and he immediately moved into the starting lineup. In nine games with the Mavs, Fisher averaged 8.6 points and 3.6 assists in 25.4 minutes per game. Fisher's departure will either thrust Darren Collison back as the Mavs' starting point guard. Or they could give the job to Dominique Jones, who had 13 points and seven assists during Friday's 92-82 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Fisher’s statement: “In Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia, I suffered an injury to my patellar tendon. The recovery time will be approximately two weeks. With this news and the difficulty I have been having being away from my family, I have asked the organization to waive me so I can return home. “(Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban has been extremely supportive and has granted me this request. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. From Mark, to Coach (Rick) Carlisle, to the players on the Mavericks’ team, I sincerely thank them for the opportunity. “I have made decisions in the past, leaving money and opportunity on the table, and I will need to do that again. My family is my priority and that is where I choose to be. I won’t close the possibility that I will play again, however for now my family and being close to them remains the priority.” Dallas Morning News

The Mavericks, league sources told ESPN, will be calling up Chris Douglas-Roberts from the Frisco-based Texas Legends to replace Fisher. Widely rated as the top current NBA prospect in the D-League, Douglas-Roberts is scheduled to play for the Legends in Saturday night's home game against Iowa before joining the Mavericks on Sunday in San Antonio. ESPN.com

The Mavericks are eager to see if Douglas-Roberts can give them the backcourt scoring and penetration they've been seeking after his time in the NBA's developmental league, but sources said that Dallas is likewise expected to continue exploring potential trade options to strengthen its point guard position, which has been a problem all season. ESPN.com

Vesely has not appeared in eight games this season, including the previous two against Atlanta and Orlando. The DNP-CD against the Magic was more alarming because the Wizards had only 10 players and Wittman chose to use nine of them. Vesely was battling a cold, and his teammates were jokingly keeping their distance in the locker room before the eventual 90-83 loss. But Vesely clearly wanted to get on the floor and play, as he sat next to the injured Bradley Beal and tried to encourage his teammates from the bench. Afterward, Wittman explained that there were “not enough minutes” for Vesely. “It’s tough, especially when the team is losing,” Vesely said of his current role. “Everybody try to stay positive but sometimes it’s hard. I try to practice everyday, work on my game and stay ready for my chance to play.” Washington Post

Lakers point guard Steve Nash will play tonight against Golden State, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. USA Today Sports

Lakers guard Steve Nash is expected to play Saturday night against the Warriors after missing the team's last 24 games, a league source told ESPN. Los Angeles said earlier Saturday that Nash would be a game-time decision. Nash participated in his second consecutive practice Friday without limitations as he continues to recover from a fractured left fibula. "There's a chance I play (Saturday)," the 17-year veteran said Friday. "But I think Christmas, for sure." ESPN.com

Woodson said he would like to put Stoudemire through some practices before he plays. The Knicks aren't expected to hold any until Dec. 30, so Woodson said he doesn't "foresee" Stoudemire playing on the upcoming three-game trip. "It's still kind of like day-to-day until he's comfortable and ready to go, and he's not there yet," Woodson said. "At this point right now, we're still trying to hash out when he's ready to play, and he's not ready yet. He's still day-to-day. We'll continue the journey until he lets us know and the doctors let us know he's ready to go." Newsday

December 22, 2012 | 04:42 PM ET Update

The third-year big man had a verbal altercation with coach Keith Smart during halftime of the Kings' loss at the Clippers on Friday and was left in the locker room for the entire second half as a result. Two people with knowledge of the incident told USA TODAY Sports that nothing of a physical nature occurred between Cousins and his coach and that the yelling went back and forth between both men. Cousins, according to one of the people, used extensive profanity while sharing his latest frustrations. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. USA Today Sports

Cousins was reached by USA TODAY Sports Saturday after the announcement, but he chose not to comment. He did not take part in the team's practice today, and it's not known how long he will be out. The Kings play at home against Portland on Sunday and play at Portland on Wednesday. USA Today Sports

Brandon Jennings and Rajon Rondo were exchanging not-so-pleasantries in the first quarter Friday night in Boston. And that was a decidedly good sign for the Bucks as they went on to a 99-94 victory overtime victory against the Celtics. Jennings responded to a not-so-gentle nudge from Rondo and the trash talking commenced. "It was the first quarter," Jennings said. "I thought at one point we were going to start fighting, but nobody wants to give up that money." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“I felt like I was the best point guard and the best way I could show that was going to all these workouts and the combine to prove it up,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “When I had a chance to go in front of every team with Marshall and all the other players that are suppose to be better than me, I made sure I showed them that I was the best. We were all out there, we were all out on the court at the same time, everybody was there to see it and I showed them.” CSNNW.com

The New York Knicks confirmed on Saturday that Rasheed Wallace has a stress reaction and chronic condition in his left foot. The Knicks are still listing him as day to day, when he was previously diagnosed with a "sore left foot." Wallace, who had been serving as Tyson Chandler's backup at center, has missed the past four games, during which the Knicks have gone 2-2. With Wallace out, Chandler has been playing additional minutes. Not only is Wallace out, but Marcus Camby has plantar fasciitis. ESPN.com

December 22, 2012 | 10:02 AM ET Update

Kobe Bryant spoke last week about what a "crazy year" it's been for the Lakers, who are on their third coach and still awaiting Steve Nash's return to the lineup. "Stability," says Kobe, is the "thing that's been missing." It's also that elusive stability, sources close to the situation say, that prompted the Lakers to pass on signing free-agent point guard Delonte West after strongly considering it during a 1-6 start to December. The Lakers decided it was wiser to wait for Nash, who's expected to return to the lineup by Christmas Day at the latest, rather than try to incorporate yet another new piece to the puzzle. Bringing in another point guard hasn't been ruled out, sources say, with Nash's backup Steve Blake still out after abdominal surgery. The Lakers, though, would prefer not to rush it. ESPN.com

Sacramento's Tyreke Evans acknowledged in a recent visit with ESPN.com that he does feel the need "a little" to prove himself all over again after two so-so seasons in Sacramento. But Evans also insists he can tune out trade speculation. "I'm just here to play basketball," he said. "If I get traded, that's what happens." The 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year likewise brushed off the notion that it was a significant setback not to receive a contract extension from the Kings before the Halloween deadline -- " I wasn't worried about it," Evans said -- and expressed optimism about the state of his game before a knee bruise cost him six games this month. "I've been working on my jumper all summer," Evans said. "When it goes in, that opens up a lot of other things for me." ESPN.com

Nate Robinson, who began his career with the Knicks, said he's not worried about his non-guaranteed contract. "Life is not guaranteed," the always upbeat guard said. "Look at all the tragedy that is happening in the world now. If I get the guarantee, I'll be happy. If not, I'll keep pushing and won't drop my head. I'll keep working hard and continue to be the player I am. It's been awesome here." Robinson's contract is structured as such in part to make it more attractive as a piece in a trade, one source said. Because it's unlikely the Bulls will make a deal before the contract's January guarantee date, it's likely Robinson will stick. "Like all players, Nate has strengths and weaknesses," Thibodeau said. "When he plays to his strengths, he's very good. He's streaky and a catalyst." Chicago Tribune

At least one source involved, though, is expressing optimism that Stoudemire will try to blend in, unlikely as that seems after hearing him predict a "return back to dominance" earlier this week. The source -- convinced Amar'e knows that the Knicks have no hope of trading the 30-year-old with two seasons and more than $45 million left on Stoudemire's contract after this one and all those injuries on his résumé -- tells ESPN.com: "He has to fit in. There's no other option." ESPN.com

Now that Stoudemire has returned to practice -- only with the Erie BayHawks so far -- Mike Woodson has wanted to see the ball go through the power forward on the block. The coach expects to utilize Stoudemire there when he returns, possibly as early as next week. "We're specifically running to catch it on the block some, and work on some of the things that he worked on during this summer. I thought that was pretty good as well," Woodson said before the Bulls game on Friday night. "We're going to post Amar'e some when he comes back. We will stick him down there and try to get him the ball, and let him work a little bit and see what happens." ESPN.com

Q: And your own play up to this point? Jrue Holiday: I think I've been all right, playing pretty well. Q: What were your individual goals for this season? A: One thing I'd love to be is to be an All-Star, but more so it was trying to be a leader. We had a lot of guys last year who were basically the leaders of the team. We came in and they kind of told you what to do. On the court, they ran stuff. I think now I'm kind of dictating the tempo for our team, just trying to be that floor general. ESPN.com

Q: And now that you're committed for the long term, how curious are you about what this team will look like with Andrew Bynum and how much are you thinking about the future and the Sixers being able to keep him? A: More so than curious, I'm just excited. I'm excited for him to finally play, and I'd love to play with him. (But) I think the season at hand is the most important thing. ESPN.com

“We miss Lou dearly. I miss his smile, his personality and all he brought to this team,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said. “I think he has led them in scoring the last five games. They are a very balanced team, a lot like the team he played on here. Their leading scorer scores 17 points a game. I think there are eight teams like that and only three of them have winning records, and Lou has fit into that team beautifully. He is a guy that can throw up a huge night and we know that ” CSNPhilly.com

But what does World Peace want? It's always entertaining to find out. He initially said the right things about the demotion, claiming he would accept it for the betterment of the team but not wanting to go too in-depth about it, quickly touting his new music single ("Represented," for those who care) and reminding reporters it was available now on iTunes. On Friday, however, World Peace appeared less open to the concept when asked if he was still fine with coming off the bench. "I'm not answering that at all. Absolutely not. I have no comment," said World Peace, the Lakers' second-best player in a surprising number of games this season. Los Angeles Times

World Peace came off the bench Tuesday against Charlotte and posted 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals. While some players might see the move as a demotion of sorts. World Peace had little problem taking a back seat. “I just want to win, that’s our focus,” World Peace said. “I can’t speak for other players, but its all about us wining. That’s our whole purpose.” Bryant said World Peace’s attitude toward the change impressed him, but he wasn’t surprised he was agreeable. “Hes’ always been a great team guy ever since he’s been here,” Bryant said. “It’s a good example of how everyone can sacrifice for the team.” Orange County Register

Here are some quotes from the Kings locker room regarding DeMarcus Cousins being left in the locker room at halftime of tonight's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers after a verbal altercation with head coach Keith Smart. Smart on why Cousins didn't play in the second half: "It was conduct detrimental to the team and we left it at." Sacramento Bee

Smart on if Cousins would play Sunday against Portland: "I'm going to focus on tonight and then I'll move forward to the next day." PCousins said he "was in the wrong" during halftime. "What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room but I was wrong. But what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room." Sacramento Bee

The Knicks shot ugly, fought ugly and ultimately lost ugly. In the worst Garden night of the season during which they fell behind by 25 points late in the third quarter, the Knicks fought the referees, fought the Bulls players, but didn’t fight hard enough to win. As the final buzzer sounded on a discouraging 110-106 loss, coach Mike Woodson, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler — all ejected — weren’t around to hear it . The loss dropped the Knicks (19-7), percentage points behind Miami (17-6) for best record in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks, who also lost to Chicago two weeks ago, shot 33 percent in the first three quarters and trailed 83-61 and then blew their cool. New York Post

First, Anthony got ejected with 6:45 left for a hard slap on the ball held by Joakim Noah, picking up his second technical foul. Then Woodson followed Anthony to an early shower 1:30 later, earning his second technical for profanely berating the referees. Woodson, outcoached by Tom Thibodeau, appeared to mouth “terrible bleeping call,’’ then adding “bleep you.’’ as a kicker. Bad move as all hell broke loose after that. It got uglier as Chandler and Noah squared off after the Bulls rugged center held Chandler in the paint on a rebound battle. Chandler violently broke free and the two centers appeared to knock heads. Chandler went after Noah, needing to be restrained by teammates. Both players got ejected for “fighting.’’ “I was frustrated by the way the game was going,’’ said Chandler, who got outplayed by Noah, finishing with five points. “That was that. I felt like he got a hold of me and didn’t let go.’’ New York Post

Washington has been decimated by injuries, with John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Beal and Nene among the unavailable players, and lost their sixth straight. ''That was an embarrassment, and I apologize to our ownership and to our fans,'' Washington coach Randy Wittman said. ''I especially apologize to anyone who watched that entire game. I would have turned it off after the first five minutes.'' Jordan Crawford led Washington with 20 points, but no one else scored more than 10 points. ''This was a situation where we had some key guys out, which meant our other guys had a chance to step up and prove that they belong in the NBA,'' Wittman said in a postgame news conference that only lasted one question. ''That didn't happen. We may only have nine guys, but I need to find five of them who are willing to show me that they deserve to be here.'' Yahoo! Sports

Johnson said one thing the Nets haven’t thought about doing to address star point guard Deron Williams’ season-long shooting woes is to bring in a shooting coach. “We haven’t talked about that,” Johnson said, “and if we’re going to start talking about stuff like that’s it’s more mental. “I think right now, he got in the gym early, he was soaking wet sweating before we even got out there. ... He didn’t miss many shots today in our workout and there’s nothing mechanically wrong with his shot.” New York Post

A day after Chris Paul trumpeted DeAndre Jordan for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in his hometown of Houston this February, Jordan said he’d only compete under one specific circumstance. “They’ve asked me a couple of times and have gotten the same answer. I don’t want to go to the All-Star Game just to dunk,” he said. “I understand that it’s home, but I’m not going to do it unless I’m playing in the game.” Jordan said if fans want to watch him dunk, they should get to the arena a little early. “We have a dunk contest in warm-ups every night,” he said. Orange County Register

Slava Kravtsov was thrilled to make his NBA debut Friday for the Detroit Pistons even if, as he noted, "the first time I stepped on the court was not our coach's decision." It has been that kind of season for Kravtsov, the Ukrainian import who went 28 games without playing before getting some garbage time against the lowly Washington Wizards in a 100-68 win. He enjoyed it, even if it came in particularly strange fashion. Kravtsov's debut came about because Rodney Stuckey took a whack to the mouth which knocked loose a tooth -- he was expected to travel with the team to tonight's rematch in Washington -- leaving Wizards coach Randy Wittman to select the free-throw shooter when Stuckey had to go directly to the Pistons' locker room with 10:03 remaining. Booth Newspapers

Rasheed Wallace’s mysterious “sore foot” injury is really a stress fracture, according to a Knicks source. Officially, the team is listing Wallace’s status as day-to-day, but privately it is optimistic that the injury won’t sideline the veteran forward for an extended period of time. Wallace missed his fourth straight game on Friday and hasn’t practiced or played in 10 days. New York Daily News

The hope is that he’ll be back at some point after the Knicks’ three-game West Coast trip that begins on Christmas Day against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Wallace, who has missed six games overall because of his foot injury, is using a walking boot on his left foot. Wallace, 38, returned to the NBA after sitting out the past two seasons for unspecified reasons. He insists that he was never retired and has made an important contribution to the team. Wallace is averaging 7.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 14.6 minutes per game while serving as a de-facto defensive coach. New York Daily News

Ersan Ilyasova didn't mean to injure Jeff Green. The two got tangled up fighting for a rebound with less than 30 seconds to go in overtime during the Milwaukee Bucks win over the Boston Celtics and Ilyasova elbowed Green in the face in the battle for the ball. Green staggered to the ground before leaving the game with a bruised left cheek and chipped teeth. "I tipped the ball and I tried to get it," Ilyasova told CSNNE.com. "I felt I hit him with my elbow when I was just jumping down, his face was kind of looking up." CSNNE.com

Stoudemire, coming off another left knee surgery, still has two years after this one left on the pact and one general manager said it’s the wide impression around the NBA that Stoudemire is very available. But because the Knicks would have to get back around $20 million in salary, a trade seems unrealistic until the final year of his uninsured contract. Stoudemire’s health is such a concern, according to a source, U.S. Olympic team officials didn’t bother inquiring about him last summer despite several of their big men going down with injuries. New York Post

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng injured his left shoulder during Friday night's 110-106 win over the New York Knicks and will be re-evaluated Saturday. Deng, who scored a team-high 29 points, got tangled up with Knicks guard Jason Kidd midway through the third quarter and felt pain shoot up his arm. He had a large ice pack on the shoulder immediately after the game and said it was still sore. "We're going to check again [Saturday], but I don't know exactly what it is," Deng said. "Something with the ligament there, I don't know if I sprained or ... we'll see. It's almost like a pulled muscle. I never had anything like this, but it just feels like a pulled muscle or a sprained tendon. I really don't know." ESPN.com

Deng wasn't sure whether he would have an MRI once the team landed in Atlanta. He also wasn't sure about his playing status. The Bulls face off against the Hawks on Saturday night. "We'll see how it feels," he said. "It's sore now. We'll see how it feels [Saturday] morning and then we'll go from there." ESPN.com

Toronto Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas broke his right ring finger during an NBA game Friday against the Orlando Magic. The Lithuanian center grabbed his hand after battling for a loose ball under the Magic basket midway through the first quarter. He left the court wincing in pain and an X-ray later revealed the fracture. USA Today Sports

There still is no scheduled date for the return of guard Chauncey Billups, who has missed nine games because of an injured left foot. But he offered some interesting perspective on the difference from when he was out last season with a left Achilles' tendon tear. "Oh, it's tough," he said. "It's really tough. It's easier this year because I know I will be out there playing at some point. Last year there was just no hope. This year I know I'll be playing." There is more than a flicker of light at the end of this journey. "There sure is. A bright one too," Billups said. Los Angeles Times

DiLeo said Bynum would follow a six-step process toward his recovery. The first will be riding a stationary bicycle. The final phase will be getting back to the court. One month, two months, this season? Neither DiLeo nor Bynum would give a specific time because nobody knows. "The doctors are taking their time because I want to play 10 to 12 more years, not two," Bynum said before the game. "The biggest thing is to take our time and get it right." Bynum said he expects to play this season. "I am confident I will be on the court this year," Bynum said. Philadelphia Inquirer

Before Friday's game with the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo gave an update on Bynum, who has bone bruises on both knees and has a degenerative condition in the cartilage of both. He hasn't played since being acquired as part of a four-team trade in August. "His knees are healing. He is improving," DiLeo said. "He has been able to increase his activity level." Philadelphia Inquirer

Hopefully it ends soon, if for no other reason than reporters are tired of asking the same questions and Nash is tired of answering them. For the record, Nash did not commit to playing in Saturday's game. "Christmas for sure," he said, referring to the Lakers' game Tuesday against New York. Los Angeles Times

Texas sophomore Myck Kabongo has been hit with a 23-game suspension by the NCAA for accepting impermissible benefits and providing false statements during two separate internal meetings with university officials. The NCAA announced the decision Friday, two days after Yahoo! Sports reported Kabongo wasn't honest regarding how he paid for a trip to Cleveland this past summer and would be hit with a season-long suspension. The Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement modified the decision after hearing the university's appeal Thursday. CBSSports.com

I asked Avery Johnson if he's concerned about losing his job. His long answer: "Let me give some real rocket science right now Bondy. Listen to this: at some point, after I signed on as a coach, when I signed on the dotted line, a couple of things are going to happen at some point: 1, I’m going to get fired, 2. I’m going to resign. 3. I’m going to get re-assigned. One of those three things happens to every head coach in this league. As soon as you sign your name on that dotted line. And a lot of times, one of those three we know what’s going to happen because we’re in control. Two of those three we have no control over. So what we do is we continue to do our jobs. I think the best thing about jobs is when we have adversity, we have setbacks, as a coach we continue to lead with passion. …At the end of the day for every coach, one of those three things are going to happen. So right now, what I’m really concerned about is us playing good basketball. So until ownership tells me otherwise I’m going to continue to do my job." Sulia

The Cavs (5-23) have looked lethargic. They’ve looked a little confused. They’ve looked like they are a long way from understanding how to win at this level. Even coach Byron Scott, a major player (and supporter) in the Cavs’ strategy of gradual improvement, is wearing a look of concern. And with good reason. “I’m not running out of ideas yet -- but I’m getting close,” Scott said. “As patient as I am, the one thing I am getting more than ever is frustrated.” FOXSports Ohio

Scott is frustrated that the Cavs never really seem to pick up the intensity during games any more. They just kind of stay the same while their opponents get better. He’s also frustrated that the Cavs have been playing to the level of their competition. Opponents from New York and L.A. tend to bring out the best in them. Opponents from boring Midwestern towns tend to bring out the worst. FOXSports Ohio

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