HoopsHype rumors

December 25, 2012 | 07:26 PM ET Update

After straining the patellar tendon in his right knee this past Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers, Fisher asked for, and has been granted, his release from the Dallas Mavericks. Sources close to HOOPSWORLD say the wear and tear on his body, stress on his family and the fact that Fisher feels like he has nothing left to accomplish were the main reasons for his exit from Dallas. HoopsWorld

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent guards Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not released. Mack (6-3, 207) was originally selected by Washington with the 34th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. In 11 games this season with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League, he has averaged 19.7 points (ranked sixth) and a D-League best 7.5 assists in 40.7 minutes per contest. He was named NBA D-League Performer of the Week on December 10. In 64 games during his rookie campaign with the Wizards, Mack averaged 3.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 12.2 minutes per game. The former Butler Bulldog averaged 4.1 points in eight games during the 2012 preseason with Washington before being waived on October 28, 2012. NBA.com

But last spring, the rigors of his inaugural, lockout-compressed pro season forced him to exclusively commit to a more modern platform. "I had to give up the journal," Irving says. So now the Cavaliers' 6'3", 191-pound star conducts his motivational sessions with his thumbs, pecking out words he would never say in a news conference, filling a 3.5-inch iPhone with a vision of himself he hopes to never forget. Irving wrote this in December 2008, upon transferring to St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J.: The lights are on, baby. Time to show the world what you're really about and who the best is in the country. This was from June 2009, amid a pivotal AAU summer: I'm going to make it, even if I have to run through a ton of walls ... F-- being friends. I'm going to destroy these dudes. More recently, in November 2012: Unleash everything you have and never look back. You are the best point guard in this league, so act like it. Let's go. "It is," Irving admits, scrolling through the notes, "kind of funny to read these now." ESPN.com

These goals, writ largest on the page, were met. Others were not. Under Player, Irving settled on 17 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg and 1 bpg and drew an arrow pointing to the phrase Lead the team in defense. While Irving topped his scoring target, he fell short of the others. And he knows it. "I always tell Kyrie, 'We know what you can do on the offensive end,'" says Cavs coach Byron Scott, who sees much of former pupil (and ROY) Chris Paul in his current one. "But if you want to be an All-Star? If you want to be a complete basketball player and not a one-hit wonder? You gotta defend. You gotta do the little things." Last season Irving ranked in the bottom 4 percent of the NBA defensively, according to Synergy Sports, allowing opponents to shoot 48.3 percent. ESPN.com

Yet none of those moments said as much about Kyrie as the one in July, at Team USA camp, when he strode up to Kobe and demanded to go one-on-one. "You're not going to lock me up! It's over," Kyrie said, as if reciting from his iPhone. Replied Kobe, who knew Kyrie's family tree: "Get your dad on the phone right now ... He'll be like, Son, are you crazy? Are you crazy?" In the end, they agreed on stakes, a cool $50,000, to be won next summer, rules and location TBD. And Kyrie's father, when he learned of the wager? He could hardly have been prouder -- even if he won't be around to witness it. You see, back in 1992, when Dred and Elizabeth had mystified their friends by having their second child so young, so soon, it had, in fact, all been part of their plan. All along, Elizabeth had wanted to be vibrant enough, when both kids hit their 20s and were out of the house, to travel abroad with her husband in their 40s. "They were best friends," Kyrie explains, recalling the story his dad often told. "They promised each other they'd struggle, get through it and see the world" -- never knowing that future would not arrive. ESPN.com

In each of the Knicks' past three games, Kidd has either dived on the floor or into the Knicks' bench to save a loose ball, a source of inspiration among teammates. And he has continued to produce, even when his shot fails. He had eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in New York's win over the Nets on Wednesday, in which he shot just 2-for-9. He shot just 3-for-14 against the Cavs on Dec. 15, but added six rebounds, eight assists and two blocks as the Knicks held off a late rally. Typical Kidd. Impacting the game in ways that you don't see in the box score the next morning. "It's been beautiful to watch," Woodson says. "I'm just happy that he's a part of our franchise." ESPN.com

Landry's low-post game wasn't the only reason Golden State wanted him. Sure, the jumper-loving Warriors needed his bankable skill. But Landry also possesses an intangible general manager Bob Myers wanted. The Warriors needed a guy who got his front teeth knocked out with an elbow (in December at Dallas) and missed one game, a guy who got shot in the calf (in an incident after a car accident in Houston in March 2009) and was back in the lineup 21 days later. So Myers flew Landry to Las Vegas during the summer league to express his interest in him. Landry ended up signing a two-year, $8 million deal in August (with a player option for the next season). "You can say you're tough, but not a lot of people have stories like that to back it up," Myers said. "That guy's tough. He's so tough, he doesn't have to say it. Everybody just knows it." San Jose Mercury-News

The Knicks will get their first look at Lakers point guard Steve Nash, who spurned the Knicks in the offseason and missed the teams’ first matchup earlier this month while he recovered from a broken leg. “I’ve lived in New York the last 10 summers,” Nash told reporters. “I have a lot of friends in the city. I’ve always wanted to play for the Knicks. It was a really, really big option for me. Plus the fact they had a chance to be a contender. The No. 1 reason I signed [with the Lakers] was because I could see my kids. I’ve been back [to Phoenix] four times. The kids have been out here twice. That’s more than I could have gotten from New York to Phoenix in the whole season.” New York Post

J.J. Redick spread some Christmas cheer Tuesday. The Orlando Magic guard announced that he and his wife, Chelsea, have earmarked the $25,000 of the $50,000 he received as co-winner of the Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award to a nonprofit called Loaves & Fishes. Loaves & Fishes, which is based in Apopka, helps people in need with food and other essentials. It was formed in 1984. The Redicks picked the organization after they asked Central Floridians to nominate worthy charities. Orlando Sentinel

December 25, 2012 | 01:58 PM ET Update

However, with his recent injury, that could be hard to pull off unless he makes an impressive return in the month or so leading up to the deadline, so it might not be possible to move him. Actually, I'm sure they could find a taker -- Phoenix, for one, is a team that I've heard has some interest -- but at this stage of his career, Hamilton and his representatives might not be open to playing for a non-contender, even for half of a season. CSN Chicago

Kobe offered Vanessa's Instagram for public consumption via his Facebook. One of Vanessa's messages: "Treat me ... like a Queen, and I'll treat you like a King. Treat me like a game, and I'll show you how it's played." Her profile description is "Proud mommy of 2 smart, kind, beautiful and loving little girls. Philanthropist, wife, loving mommy & loyal friend. Mexican, Italian & Filipino." Sulia

December 25, 2012 | 08:43 AM ET Update

He was nicknamed “Flight White’’ and “Flight 75’’ in college because of his leaping and dunking ability. Now that he’s back in the NBA after an Italian League hiatus, Knicks reserve swingman James White is being nominated by the Players Association for the All-Star Slam-Dunk competition February in Houston. New York Post

White was approached by union officials last week about the dunk competition. The union has more influence in the Saturday night skill competitions in the new format in which the conferences compete against each other. A team captain will be chosen for the East and West and make the final call on participants. A league source said the Knicks’ Steve Novak is expected to compete in the 3-point competition. New York Post

Ryan Anderson played his last game with the Magic seven months ago. When he returns to Orlando on Wednesday, it might seem more like seven years ago. Management has changed. The coaching staff is completely different. Only two Magic players are expected to get minutes who had been teammates with Anderson last May. “It’s going to be different, obviously,’’ said Anderson, a forward who was traded to New Orleans last July, said of his first visit back with the Hornets. “It’s a completely different team and staff. But going back to that arena will be exciting. I was part of the team that started off that arena, with the fans and the great atmosphere.’’ FOXSports Florida

The deal was done July 11, when the Magic didn’t have a coach after having fired Stan Van Gundy on May 21. General manager Rob Hennigan was in his third week; Otis Smith having been let go from that job the same day as Van Gundy. “Obviously, they were going to go in a different direction that I wasn’t really too much aware of then,’’ said Anderson, 24. “I found out afterward what their plan is. They want to build their nucleus with young talent.’’ FOXSports Florida

"Should have accepted what was said and stayed quiet," Cousins said, noting what exactly he said should remain in the locker room. "I messed up. I'm apologizing to all my teammates for it, for responding the way I did, and we'll move on from it." Sacramento Bee

Cousins' behavior not only has been disruptive, he often appears distracted, even depressed, and he has performed far below last season's level. His reinstatement Monday after a mere one-game suspension also is more than a bit curious. Rookie Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall draft pick, routinely misses layups and dunks. Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Aaron Brooks and Jimmer Fredette are small guards and natural scorers, and with the possible exception of Fredette, not intuitive passers or playmakers; the Kings still desperately need a floor leader. Additionally, injuries have factored into John Salmons' uneven start and more recently halted Tyreke Evans' development as a seemingly comfortable fit at shooting guard. Sacramento Bee

Despite those words from Cousins on Friday, it appeared the Kings planned to take a tougher stance with Cousins, who by his own admission needs to work on how he responds to coaches and teammates, and that he would not be around the team so soon. On Sunday, without Cousins, the Kings put together one of their best efforts of the season, recording a season-high 31 assists in beating the Portland Trail Blazers 108-96 at Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento Bee

You were here last year for some time and we’re going through another DeMarcus Cousins situation. What was it like to be a teammate of his? Hickson: He’s a great player. You know, we all know that he has his ways about him. I think he has to do a better job of maturing and getting along with the coaching staff and his teammates, but besides all of that, he’s a phenomenal player. I think once he matures, he’s only going to get better. Cowbell Kingdom

Atlanta may be flying under the radar, but Smith believes they have what it takes to win a title. “I’m very confident and anything can happen,” Smith said. “Nobody gave the Detroit Pistons an opportunity to win it when they won the championship. They didn’t give the Dallas Mavericks an opportunity to win it either. I think we have the talent. We have enough talent and unselfishness in this locker room to go as far as winning a championship if we keep believing in ourselves.” HoopsWorld

Coaches may also be influenced by some of Smith’s on-court reaction to officiating. Smith’s scowl and sometimes overt actions certainly look bad. Many of the head men from the early part of Smith’s career are still in the league with the same or different teams in NBA’s often-limited coaching carousel. “He has the ability,” said Heat coach Eric Spoelstra, who noted he was unaware Smith has never been an All-Star. “He has the production. He’s been successful enough to have been an All-Star at some point.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“In the past year’s I’ve put up All-Star quality numbers,” Smith said. “I always seem to fall short. I think it impacts the people around me more so than me like my parents, my family, my friends. They feel like I’m deserving of that opportunity at least once or twice in my career. They see the things that people normally don’t see. They see the offseason workouts. All the energy I put into that in order to be a better person, be a better player. They see all the ups and downs of the season. They experience all that. They understand. They see me and they see all the struggles. They want it more. I definitely want it. I definitely want it, don’t get me wrong. I want to do it for them.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

However, this group has come together and has found a variety of ways to win. They can rely on their star-studded frontcourt of Josh Smith and Al Horford, on their talented backcourt of Jeff Teague, Lou Williams and Devin Harris or on their plethora of shooters such as Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson. “Everybody said it was going to be a rebuilding year, but in the locker room we knew what kind of team we had,” Harris said. “With the shooters we brought in and with the athleticism we had, we knew how good this team could be.” HoopsWorld

“The NBA and Europe are like different worlds – nothing is the same – but I like this style better than the style in Europe,” Shved said. “I’m really happy to be here. I’ve been playing more because we’ve had so many injuries, but I’m happy that the coaches believe in me. I want to do my best on both ends. We’ve been playing well over the last few games and we don’t want that to stop.” HoopsWorld

“For sure, he’s made everything easier,” Shved said of having Kirilenko has his teammate. “We’ve played together for a long time – last summer with CSKA Moscow and then all summer on the Russian team. We understand each other. I know what he likes to do, when he likes to cut and where he likes his passes. He knows the same with me. We play well together, but we need to play better with the whole team. We need to do what’s best for the team.” HoopsWorld

"He's a big boy and definitely hard to keep off the glass," Joakim Noah said. "He has a high IQ and we know he affects the game in a lot of ways. "He's a hard worker and has a great attitude, a positive guy. He sacrificed a lot for the team. He obviously wanted to play more and have a bigger role. That's probably one of the reasons he left. But he was one of the reasons we were so successful." Chicago Tribune

Noah joked that he was getting corny when he wistfully recalled how seeing an unused backgammon game on the team's charter plane made him long for Asik. The practice sparring partners whiled away hours playing the game. "I wish him nothing but the best," Noah said. "But hopefully he plays like (crap Tuesday)." Chicago Tribune

Andray Blatche can be a baaaaaad man. By both interpretations of the vernacular. His talent (if not always his effort) is undeniably positive, a big man with a handle so supple he makes guys half his size envious. And, man, does he have moves. Like Sunday night when he sized up Sixers center Spencer Hawes a step inside the arc and with one dribble to the right put Hawes on his heels, veered into the paint, launched himself to the rim while levitating the basketball on the upturned fingertips of his right hand only to flip his wrist at the last moment and throw it down. His behavior, however, is equally as undeniably negative. Confounding, maddening, a chain of self-inflicted screw-ups, senseless altercations, childish decision-making and outright selfishness. Google “Andray Blatche” and “trouble.” Before you can finish typing “trouble,” “trouble again” pops up. NBA.com

Blatche isn’t talking about the Wizards surrendering by using the amnesty clause to rid themselves of Blatche, even with all that talent to still to be mined and with $23 million over three seasons still to be paid. “There was no doubt in my mind that [being amnestied] was going to happen,” Blatche said. “So it was more of just getting myself ready for the next stage of whatever was going to happen.” Only nothing happened. Blatche’s phone didn’t ring. July, August, nothing. “Oh yeah,” Blatche said. “During the summer, I didn’t get no phone calls.” NBA.com

The only ringing Blatche heard was his his alarm clock jolting him out of an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar condo in an unfamiliar city. He was up by 8 a.m. each day and at 8:30 sharp, Blatche stepped into Houston’s sticky morning air to see John Lucas waiting for him. Lucas, ex-NBA player and coach, is a former drug addict who has guided numerous players back on the straight and narrow. He wanted to help the 6-foot-11, one-time prodigy rescue the career he’s dragging through the gutter. “I met him our last home game in D.C.,” Blatche said. “We had a meeting and he talked to me and said, ‘listen, I’ve been where you’re at right now.’ Basically that I can help you, get your body back right, and get your game tuned up to get you back playing. I believed him basically.” NBA.com

The player who fought his ex-Wizards teammate JaVale McGee outside a nightclub, propositioned a prostitute that was actually a cop, introduced “Lapdance Tuesdays” to the NBA and embarrassed himself with an inglorious attempt to secure a triple-double in a game, signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with Brooklyn in September. “In general, he knows what time I want him on the bus, he knows on the road, even if we have practice, he’s knows he’s probably going to have to get in an extra workout if we need him to,” Johnson said. “If we have a day off, some of the players have a day off, that may not mean a day off for him. My point is, he’s been very, very coachable and he really wants to be good. I’ve been pleased with that.” NBA.com

On the treadmill, on the sideline, in the locker room, Keith Smart sweats profusely. He sweats the small stuff and the big stuff. He sweats about his young center's destructive behavior, the Kings' erratic performances and a collective body language that suggests his 12 players work for 12 different corporations. The one thing he doesn't sweat is his ability to do the job. "I know I can do this," Smart said, "and my nature is that I never get discouraged. If we lose a game, I walk in the next day, and it's like a graveyard around here. I'll ask the guys, 'Did you read the obituaries? Did you see your name in there?' If you're here, you always have the opportunity to change." Sacramento Bee

Given the chance to stick around – and the Maloofs have given every indication they plan to keep Smart for the duration of a contract that runs through 2013-14 – the Kings' second-year coach will stick to his program while continuing to advocate for significant personnel changes. He notes the chronic need for an elite facilitator, for a locker room craving a dynamic, established star, along with the fact that his assembled cast – which is not devoid of individual talent – consists of too many small guards and not enough frontcourt length. Nonetheless, given the Kings' poor record (9-18) and an ill-defined style of play, questions about Smart's own stewardship have increased. Is he a capable head coach? Can he establish a team identity? And does he have the forcefulness and internal clout to discipline and nurture Cousins, the gifted center who has been suspended three times this season, most recently for cursing out his coach during halftime of Friday's game against the Clippers at Staples Center? Sacramento Bee

His work ethic is exhaustive, truly unlike anything witnessed on the Kings' premises. His postgame routine alone consists of watching entire replays and detailing every possession, a process that takes an estimated two hours. After five hours of sleep, he wakes up and prepares for practices that are brisk, specific and often lengthy. When the schedule permits, he drives to the Bay Area to spend time with his wife and two teenage sons. But while he sweats, his dress shirts soaked after games, Smart never hangs his head. With a few shrewd moves, he still thinks he can fix this. Can turn Cousins' head back around. Can solve the mystery of Evans and his ailing knee. Can coax ball movement and cohesiveness out of his individualists. Can convince Robinson and Jason Thompson to become more consistent rebounders. Can entice fans back into the arena with a more entertaining product. Sacramento Bee

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