HoopsHype rumors

December 27, 2012 | 09:00 PM ET Update

Just like in Utah two years ago, where coach Jerry Sloan retired following a reported rift with his point guard, Williams was blamed for the departure of Avery Johnson, who was abruptly fired Thursday morning by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. "I was surprised," Williams said in a telephone interview with Daily News. "I never had any conversation with (GM) Billy King about not liking coach, nothing about coach Johnson. Avery was a big reason I came back, because him and Billy. So I was surprised. "We've never had an argument, we've never had a fight, any disagreements, anything. So, I think it was more kind of what happened in Utah, people still saying I got coach Sloan fired even though he resigned and that's going to stick with me for a while." New York Daily News

"I definitely don't think the losing is coach's fault. I have to play better," Williams said. "I have to figure out how to balance. When I said the comments that our offense was heavy on isolation plays, that's a lot of our guys games. That's a lot of Joe (Johnson's) game. That's how he's coachable. "So a lot of times I'm going to be sitting in a corner and watching him work, and that's fine. And Brook (Lopez) needs the ball on the block. I don't have the ball in my hands as much as I'm accustomed to. I'm still trying to figure out how to get going, get my offense going off of that. Is it coach Johnson's fault I'm missing wide open shots? No. That was never his fault. That's on me. I have to play better. So I never said or thought it's his fault we were losing." New York Daily News

Don’t rule out the possibility of Phil Jackson coaching the Brooklyn Nets. Todd Musburger, Jackson’ agent, sent a text message to David Aldridge of Turner Sports and NBA.com saying Jackson “has no interest in the Nets job at this time.” At. This. Time. Yes, those are the three words that we should focus on in Musberger’s statement, because they are merely a time-sensitive disclaimer. SheridanHoops

The NBA announced Thursday that Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been suspended one game without pay for “flailing his leg and making contact with the groin of the Charlotte Bobcats’ Ramon Sessions” during a Wednesday night game. SI.com

Dwight Howard has been fined $35,000 for the flagrant-two foul he committed by shoving Kenneth Faried in the face on Wednesday, the league announced in an official release. The league cited Howard’s “excessive contact with Faried above the shoulders” as the reason for the fine, and watching the multiple replays, it’s hard to disagree. NBCSports.com

Brandon Roy practiced fully and intends to do so tomorrow. If Friday's workout goes well, he said there's a chance he could return for the first time since Nov. 9 for Saturday's game. "If everything feels good, I'll talk to Coach and see if Saturday is the day," he said. Roy did 5-on-5 half-court work on Thursday and will scrimmage with his teammates on Friday in his first back-to-back practices since he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee five weeks ago. "These two days are good for me," Roy said. "Today was a good day, so going again tomorrow will just give me the confidence and reassurance that I can go out there and play in the game." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

December 27, 2012 | 06:55 PM ET Update

As for Ford’s assertion that the Pistons are strongly interested, I’d attach a giant asterisk to that. They were well known to be fond of Cousins coming into the 2010 draft, but they’ve since addressed their frontcourt with Monroe and Drummond. They also have Slava Kravtsov, a player they anticipate will be part of their rotation next season. It doesn’t mean they’d turn down a chance to acquire Cousins for a reasonable price, but they have far more pressing needs now. NBA.com

Orlando Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said on Thursday that he had no animosity aimed at Emeka Okafor even though the Washington center delivered the blow that dislocated his shoulder and knocked him out of action. However, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn chose to bite his tongue when he was asked whether or not he thought Okafor’s chop across the arms that caused Davis’ shoulder to grotesquely pop out of place was a flagrant or dirty foul. ``I don’t think my opinion matters at all,’’ Vaughn said cryptically before breaking into laughter. NBA.com

December 27, 2012 | 05:46 PM ET Update

Stotts said he’s rarely surprised when a coach is fired. Johnson is the second coach fired this season, which is not even two months old. In November, the Lakers fired Mike Brown after a 1-5 start. “It’s the unpleasant truth of our profession,” Stotts said. “It’s a zero-sum game. There’s a winner and loser. That’s the reality.” Oregonian

Wall was cleared to “ramp up” his level of activity on his troublesome left knee two weeks ago and Wittman said the former No. 1 overall pick was able to do five-on-none, “dummy,” offensive and defensive drills with the team for the first time during Thursday’s practice. “That’s a step forward,” Wittman said. “Obviously, no contact still yet but he did full speed, up and down, with the dummy stuff we ran and that’s the first time he’s done that with the team. That’s a step in that direction.” Washington Post

December 27, 2012 | 04:50 PM ET Update

Chris Mannix: Asked about Phil Jackson, King said he wouldn't comment on reports, says he will give "all our support" to Carlesimo. Twitter @ChrisMannixSI

Chris Mannix: Also hearing that Nate McMillan is not on Nets radar right now. Might be tough for the Nets to land a big name this late in the season Twitter @ChrisMannixSI

Staying in the family, coaching industry sources believe Stan's brother, Jeff Van Gundy, is getting closer to entertaining offers to return to coaching. Would a high-profile job in New York, in a conference where defense still carries the day, be enough to lure him away from the broadcast microphone? The Nets would do well to find out. CBSSports.com

David Aldridge: I wondered if Nets go after young, up & coming coach like Quin Snyder. Veteran exec: "I think they'll go for a name. Russians think big." Twitter @daldridgetnt

Adrian Wojnarowski: While front office had discussions w/ ownership on Johnson's future, GM Billy King made ultimate choice to fire him now, sources tell Y! Twitter @WojYahooNBA

Johnson badly wanted a contract extension with the Nets, and the organization was unwilling to deliver it until he had taken this upgraded and expensive roster into the playoffs. In the end, there was a sense that Johnson had lost too much of this locker room – that the Nets had lost their way – and ownership and King came to a decision together to fire him on Thursday morning. Yahoo! Sports

Within the organization, the Nets' recent free-fall had made them resemble a lottery team again, and King – with the support of ownership – ultimately wanted a change now, sources said. An able tactician, Johnson had built up too little organizational goodwill once the Nets started to spiral to 10 losses in 13 games this month. There's a reason all those former Spurs teammates who became GMs never considered hiring Johnson as coach. From Cleveland to Phoenix, they all passed on Johnson. His demand for control, his penchant for passing blame – in ways large and small – played a part in his demise. Yahoo! Sports

Stefan Bondy: This firing wasn't on Deron Williams, I'm told. Just two weeks ago he talked to Avery about changing the offense and Avery obliged. Twitter @NYDNInterNets

This has been the year of LeBron James, who earned the NBA championship, the Olympic gold medal and Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. And as his outstanding 2012 ends, one persistent rumor has taken hold. A lot of people believe that James will be returning to Cleveland. "It's the worst-kept secret in the league,'' one general manager said. SI.com

Because his production far outweighs his pay, Smith is almost-certainly going to opt out of his deal this summer and have a free agency decision to make yet again. While he offered no promises, he made it clear that staying with the Knicks is his preference. "Honestly, I don't even know," he said. "Right now, I'm just trying to play it out and do the best I can throughout this year and hopefully I'll be back here. That's my plan. I don't want to play anywhere else. I love it here." USA Today Sports

So beyond the fact that you're easily one of the most under appreciated guys we've ever had in this game, I wondered how you saw the idea that you could be a Hall of Famer. How do you see it? Andre Miller: "For the most part, I think you hit it right (about his career). It's just being unappreciated, disrespected. There's a lot of words I could point at. But I think everywhere I've played, when you describe what an NBA player, what a superstar is, I think it's a player that makes people around him better, makes the team better. I think pretty much everywhere I've been, I've helped guys get better. I've helped guys get big contracts, and statistically I think the durability and everything playing into it, being able to play at a high level and only miss three or four games throughout my career is deserving (of Hall of Fame). Three or four games in 14 years, and I think I can still play at a high level worthy of being a starter in this league. This is the position I'm in with this team, but I think sometimes I can take it a little bit more personal. USA Today Sports

Luis Scola was fairly productive for the Houston Rockets for five seasons before they waived him over the summer. He averaged 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, but one Houston fan was not happy with the big man — and it had nothing to do with his game. As you can see from the image above that Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted on Twitter, a fan recently wrote him a letter thanking him for waiving Scola in the offseason. The fan’s reason? Scola was not well-groomed. “For comic relief, a note I received this off-season,” Morey wrote. “They are probably disappointed in (James Harden).” Larry Brown Sports

December 27, 2012 | 02:06 PM ET Update

The Nets fired Avery Johnson as their head coach Thursday, feeling that the team had not performed at the level expected. The decision was made by the team's Russian ownership and relayed to Johnson Thursday. Johnson went from Coach of the Month for November to being fired in December. The news comes after the team, 11-4 three weeks ago, dropped to 14-14 Wednesday night with a loss in Milwaukee. NetsDaily

According to a person with knowledge of the team's plans, Nets assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo will be named the team's interim coach. The person requested anonymity because the decision had not yet been announced. USA Today Sports

Andray Blatche: @BrooklynNets @bkdefend wow this is cray Twitter

Adrian Wojnarowski: After release from Spurs and a workout with Wolves, forward James Anderson will sign with Rio Grande of D-League, league sources tell Y! Twitter @WojYahooNBA

Alexey Shved: The lifestyle here is calmer than in Moscow. The restaurants close at 11 or 12 PM, the night clubs – no later that at 2 AM. So in any case you are able to wake up at 11 fully rested. In general, after living in Russian capital, I really like Minneapolis. It’s small and cozy and there is almost no traffic jams. Of course, you can have a lot of fun in Moscow, but the city is too big. Rush'n Hoops

The reality is that the Mavs need Nowitzki to be a heavy-minute player to have any reasonable chance of making a playoff push. However, they aren’t going to put him at risk with a heavy workload before he’s ready to handle it. “I couldn’t have done that in San Antonio,” Nowitzki said. “For that, I probably would have practiced two more weeks. But we just don’t have that time. ESPN.com

Dirk Nowitzki’s scoped right knee feels “100 percent.” The rest of his legs, however, have a long way to go to get back in regular game shape. Nowitzki anticipated that would be the case before his surprise season debut in Sunday’s loss to the Spurs. The conditioning concerns were confirmed during his 20-minute outing, when he had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. “My wind actually felt fine for the first game back after two months,” Nowitzki told reporters after this morning’s shootaround in Oklahoma City. “But my legs were a little heavy. There was just a little pep missing. I can’t really move around or get up out there. So I think we’re going to monitor my minutes until I start feeling better and moving better out there. But for the first time in two months, it actually was decent. “Up and down running, I was fine the last couple weeks, but the showing on defense, the push-back, the jumping, the rebounding, I’m still having a little trouble with. Not knee-wise, but just the muscles are not firing that quick as they should.” ESPN.com

Al wants to play. Al wants to return and the Magic are trying to help him achieve that. If Al does not play for 41 games the NBA’s insurance carrier picks up 80% of his contract money, so there is no real hurry to do anything with Al, but give him a chance to get better. If he gets better and can play, maybe they can trade him… if he doesn’t or struggles to get into game shape, then insurance eats the bulk of his deal. HoopsWorld

December 27, 2012 | 01:15 PM ET Update

I asked him directly if he is shopping Aldridge. It was as if I had told Olshey the best joke he had ever heard. In fact, I think he is still laughing as I write this. Olshey said he has made zero calls to other teams about Aldridge. He did say he has fielded one inquiry from another team, but it was more exploratory in nature, that team feeling the Blazers out. And he said he has no plans to make any future calls about Aldridge as February approaches. Oregonian

Hickson, on the other hand, could be expendable, in part because he is playing out of this world, far better than his $4 million salary. After finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday, Hickson has nine consecutive double-doubles, and is averaging 12.8 points and 11.1 rebounds, statistics that could be pricing himself right out of Portland. Not only will teams be interested in his high-energy game, the Blazers might be interested in getting something in return before he hits the free agent market. Oregonian

The Wolves had former San Antonio forward James Anderson and former NBA forward Joey Graham in for workouts Wednesday in their search for a defensive-minded swingman to replace injured and waived Josh Howard. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Dwight Howard leveled Kenneth Faried midway through the third quarter Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center, and it was the Lakers who eventually staggered off the court. Sure, some will call the flagrant 2 foul an honest mistake for the easygoing, fun-loving Lakers center who actually stopped to pat an official on the rear before walking off the court after his ejection. Other descriptors seem more fitting. Needless. Foolish. Dangerous. "I thought he went intentionally to endanger him," Denver Coach George Karl said. "Kenneth, it looked like he was pretty stunned after that." Los Angeles Times

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni succinctly characterized Howard's value to his team in this particular game when asked what losing the six-time All-Star with more than 17 minutes left meant. "Not a whole lot," D'Antoni said. A dejected Howard sat in a corner of the locker room afterward, speaking in hushed tones about what he said was his first career ejection. "It was a hard foul," he said. "That's all I know." Los Angeles Times

"Dwight Howard is basically Kosta Koufos" was the message I got from one NBA insider midway through the Lakers' loss Wednesday night in Denver, referring to the Nuggets' largely anonymous center. Not long after, someone else who works in league personnel offered: "If you dropped in from another planet and had no idea who the players were, you would never know that Dwight Howard was one of the best players." Orange County Register

When the Nets dramatically overhauled their roster this summer, the plan wasn’t to put together a .500 team. But that’s exactly what they are after last night’s 108-93 loss to the Bucks dropped them to 14-14 this season. “We’re a way better team than what our record is,” Gerald Wallace said. “I’m [bleeping ticked] off about us losing, and especially the way we’re losing.” New York Post

The question seemed to catch Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale totally off guard. What is Royce White's status with the team? "Good question," McHale said, taking an extended pause to contemplate his answer. "I don't know. Royce has kind of been away from us." ESPN.com

When McHale was asked about White on Wednesday night before a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the coach reacted as if the swingman was one of the furthest things from his mind. "He hasn't been around," McHale said. "I haven't seen him. As crazy as it sounds, you're just kind of going with the guys who are there." ESPN.com

In Sunday's loss to San Antonio -- his first game of the season after returning from arthroscopic right knee surgery -- Nowitzki played 20 minutes and finished with eight points and six rebounds. Afterward, the 11-time All-Star said he was comfortable coming off the bench for now -- a sentiment coach Rick Carlisle echoed after Wednesday's practice, when he noted that his superstar won't start in tonight's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. "He comes off the bench, but he may be in the first minute [of the game]," Carlisle said. "I'm just telling you he's coming off the bench and we'll see where it goes. "If there's a limited number of minutes we can play him to burn those up at the very beginning -- when there's no timeouts the first six minutes -- it's tough on him and it doesn't make sense for us. Our starters got to hold the fort until we get him in there." Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Raptors won five of the first six games Lowry missed and took a season-high five-game winning streak into a matchup with the Spurs here Wednesday night. And because of the leadership shown by veteran Jose Calderon, Lowry will come off the bench whenever he gets back. “Jose has earned the position,” Casey said before the game. “Jose has played as well as any point guard we’ve had this year so that’s where it is right now. “We’ll see in the next couple of days but right now Jose is the starting point guard and has done a solid job of running the team, building trust, directing the young guys, making sure they’re in the right place.” Toronto Star

“Conditioning is always an issue when you miss that kind of time and rust and rhythm and everything else,” said Casey. “He was a little rusty (at a Dec. 25 practice), a little out of rhythm so it’s going to take him a little time to get his conditioning back. Toronto Star

John Wall can't go anywhere without someone asking him when will he make his season debut for the Washington Wizards. Wall, who is recovering from a knee injury, doesn't have a specific game in mind, but he has pinpointed a month. January. "My timetable is some time in January," Wall told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night. "The way I am feeling with no pain, working out and doing it three [days straight] and it has no pain, I'm feeling good. I feel like I am taking the right steps and I haven't had no pain the last couple of days after workouts." Yahoo! Sports

Wall has missed the entire season due to a stress injury to his left patella. He says he has never considered shutting it down this season. He has been living in the weight room, bulking up to 210 pounds while also strengthening his core. He expects to drop 10 pounds before his return. Yahoo! Sports

New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon could make his much anticipated regular-season debut Saturday on the road against the Charlotte Bobcats. Coach Monty Williams said Gordon continues to make progress and predicted he could play Saturday. New Orleans Times-Picayune

"If I had to guess it would be Saturday against Charlotte,’’ Williams said before Wednesday night’s game against the Orlando Magic. "A lot of that is me, and we want to make sure that we bring him back when he’s in a lot better shape. He’s spent so much time rehabbing and getting his quad stronger, but we have to make sure he’s in a good place before he comes back.’’ New Orleans Times-Picayune

Felton took the X-ray of his shooting hand at halftime after sitting out last night. He injured the pinkie fighting for a loose ball with the Lakers’ Steve Nash. Felton will fly to New York tomorrow and see a hand specialist to confirm the next course of action, a Knicks official said. “I may need surgery,’’ Felton said. ‘I got to do what’s best for my hand so I can get back and help this team.’’ New York Post

Toronto Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas is expected to be out four to six weeks while he recovers from a hand injury, the club said Wednesday. Valanciunas was battling for a loose ball under the basket when he fell and broke the ring finger on his right hand during Toronto's 93-90 victory over the Orlando Magic on Dec. 21. TSN

Gery Woelfel: I'm hearing Avery Johnson and Deron Williams aren't seeing eye to eye. I'll bet Jerry Sloan will be shocked to hear that. Twitter @GeryWoelfel

I just know he's the highest pick not to play a minute this season and coach Kevin McHale said he doesn't know when he will. I also know that more than a few NBA executives have questioned the multitude of tweener Fs, even without White, on the Rockets' roster. And I can't help but think the mocking of TWolves GM David Kahn a few years ago because of an abundance of PGs on his roster. (Kahn, of course, is not nearly as media friendly or forthcoming with his thinking to outsiders. One media member, I'm told, sought favored-nation status and, after being rejected, has ripped him at every opportunity ever since.) Sulia

Former Timberwolves executive and Houston coach Kevin McHale returned to Target Center on Wednesday for the first time since his daughter Sasha died at age 23 last month from lupus-related complications. "It's just really sad," Love said. "I'll give him a big hug, tell him sorry for the loss and go out and try to kick his team's butt." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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