HoopsHype rumors

January 3, 2013 | 08:45 PM ET Update

As his Clippers prepare for the latest Los Angeles turf war on Friday night at Staples Center against the Lakers team to which he was almost traded back in December of 2011, the point guard who has transformed one of the worst organizations in professional sports into a legitimate title contender wouldn't have it any other way. "Never, ever – ever, ever," he told USA TODAY Sports emphatically on Wednesday night when asked how often he wonders what life with the Lakers might have been like before commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal with New Orleans back then for those infamous "basketball reasons." " USA Today Sports

The most remarkable part of all, however, is that the Clippers have managed to convince Paul that they're serious about winning it all. If he's going to re-sign as a free agent this summer – and all current indications would point to that happening – that was a must. "Yeah, no question; no question," he said when asked that very question about the organization. "That's what we're trying to do. "This summer, when we got this team together (he was convinced). I realized that that's the mentality we've got. You get older, and you realize that these teams don't' come by too often. So for me, I've got a beautiful family, got great friends and family and stuff like that. I just want to win a championship. That's all I need." USA Today Sports

As he jogged off the court Thursday, Washington Wizards guard John Wall was wearing a jersey, not a T-shirt. It’s a telltale sign that he participated in practice, as opposed to doing what coach Randy Wittman likes to call “dummy” drills. Wall declined to speak with reporters, but Wittman didn’t seem to mind, especially now that he can finally say the words “John Wall” and “practice” in the same sentence. “He did some live contact today, as did Trevor [Ariza],” Wittman said. “You could see the excitement in [Wall‘s] eyes to reach that point. It was good. That’s a positive, trust me. Now we’ve got to get him in shape. That’s the main thing. He’s been out a long time.” Washington Times

Just as the Chesapeake Energy Arena is generally considered the loudest arena in the NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder fans have placed the Thunder No. 1 in local TV ratings. The Thunder is averaging a 7.9 household rating in Oklahoma City through 26 games on Fox Sports Oklahoma and is the top-rated NBA team on any regional sports network, well ahead of the Miami Heat (5.8 average on Sun Sports) and San Antonio Spurs (5.7 on Fox Sports Southwest). Oklahoman

Jeanie Buss: Twitter family - Phil finally gave me that ring I wanted! :-) http://twitpic.com/bs8xc5 Twitter @JeanieBuss

January 3, 2013 | 07:03 PM ET Update

Mike James: Well, I was talking to the Mavericks, and I guess before they make their decision, they want to see me in a few D-League games. I'm pretty sure a lot of General Managers would want to see me play before signing a deal. It's unfortunate that I have to go this way. But at the same time, if I want to keep pursuing my basketball career, this is the situation I've been placed in. I have no choice. I'm ready to accept and overcome this challenge. I'm looking at it differently than I did last year. I'm ready to just go out and play some basketball, which I enjoy doing. Ridiculous Upside

He internalized his problems to cope. When his parents asked how school was going, he kept the conversation short. When they asked how he was doing, he smiled and tried to appear happy. It couldn’t have been farther from the truth. “It’s kind of a weird feeling,” Stiemsma said. “You’re kind of in a funk, kind of not really motivated. I didn’t really do much with my teammates at the time, who were great. Some of my best friends now were even some of my teammates from then. But it was kind of laying around, sleeping a lot. If I didn’t have to go to practice, I probably wouldn’t leave my bedroom. I’d just go get something to eat and that’s about it.” CSNNE.com

These changes in mood didn’t go unnoticed, though, especially by the team’s trainer, Perez-Guerra. As part of the team for more than 20 years, Perez-Guerra views his job as more than treatment and taping before a game. He uses his time with the players to talk to them, see how things are going in their lives, and help however he can. In Stiemsma’s case, he could sense something was wrong. “Between [academics] and basketball not going as well as he wanted to on the floor, he started becoming more and more withdrawn, sad, almost to the point where he really didn’t care about basketball,” Perez-Guerra told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview. “He was looking more towards, why was he feeling this way -- ‘Why am I here? I’m not sure I really need to be here or I don’t deserve to be here.’ There were a lot of complicated issues that he was dealing with.” CSNNE.com

And then there was that 3am visit, which both men brought it up as a significant moment in their relationship. “I knew that he was having a really, really rough day that day and I was really concerned,“ Perez-Guerra recalled. “Obviously in these cases you can’t rule out anything and I just wanted to make sure he was ok. I feel that that’s part of what I do as an athletic trainer beyond treatment, rehabilitation, but also being there for people who may have a mental issue going on. “I honestly felt a little uncomfortable and I just wanted to go and make sure he was alright, and that’s what I did. … I believe we talked for about two or three hours, and I think that’s where he took the next step and decided that he had a problem and he wanted to get better.” CSNNE.com

LeBron James sat out of Thursday's practice to receive extensive treatment for his bruised right knee but hopes to play in Friday's game against the Chicago Bulls. It wasn't initially clear whether James aggravated the slight knee injury during the Heat's 119-109 overtime victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. But James has dealt with soreness in both knees for much of the season. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn't reveal James' latest injury during his session with reporters immediately after Thursday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. But during the final stages of practice that were open to the media, James was seen riding a stationary bike. ESPN.com

Obviously nobody, not even Carlesimo, is pretending he’s the favorite for the position. Prokhorov avoided the subject on Friday by acting as if he didn’t know who Jackson was, and even Carlesimo had some fun with the talk on Saturday. When asked if he’d give the Nets permission to speak with Jeff Van Gundy, Carlesimo gave a quick “no.” “I told Mikhail in no uncertain terms I don’t want him talking to anybody,” Carlesimo continued. “Especially Jeff. That’s a personal thing. It’s not a comment on his coaching abilities, it’s a personal dislike.” HoopsWorld

NBA commissioner David Stern says he's stepping down in a little more than a year, but he's not leaving without throwing out some big ideas for the league. Appearing on the the ESPN radio show SVP and Rosillo, Stern was asked if he thinks there will be a team in Europe at some point. "I think so. I think multiple NBA international teams," he said. "Twenty years from now? For sure. In Europe. No place else. In other places I think you'll see the NBA name on leagues and other places with marketing and basketball support, but not part of the NBA as we now know it." USA Today Sports

January 3, 2013 | 04:29 PM ET Update

In an attempt to convince the Dallas Mavericks that he can help them, veteran point guard Mike James is joining the D-League's Texas Legends in time for Saturday's game against Tulsa, according to sources with knowledge of the deal. After playing for 10 NBA teams, most recently last season with the Chicago Bulls, James has cleared the D-League waiver process to become eligible to sign with the Legends as a free agent. ESPN.com

Booker said he already knows what kind of reaction his former teammate will receive when he makes his debut in an opposing team’s uniform. “Probably a lot of boos,” he said. “I heard they got extra security over on his bench, just in case somebody wants to throw stuff. So I don’t know how true that is.” Booker then joked, “I hope he makes it out alive.” Washington Post

But his Thursday radio interview he made it clear it’s not personal, he sees this as the kind of workplace safety issue we’ve all seen around the office. The other thing that becomes clear is this is all about power and who has it. “This is about who — in general — has executive authority in medical situations…” White said during the interview with Justin Termine and former NBA player Mateen Cleaves. “Right now a GM does not have to listen to the medical advice of even his own doctors.” NBCSports.com

White remained vague on the details about what he wants, save to say it was about how he is handled by the organization. He said the travel situation was not at the heart of the issue now. He also said that he did not report to the D-League because that was a change from the plans he and the team had been working on (something the team has denied). “There’s right and there’s wrong, and there’s safe and not safe, and right now things are not safe,” White said. NBCSports.com

Plenty of Rockets fans are calling for him to be traded, something not likely because Houston couldn’t get anything for him even if they wanted to move him, and there are no signs they do. “I don’t see how going to another team will help anything, the protocol still needs to be in place. It’s not Houston’s fault…” White said. “I want to be in Houston. I love the city and the fans I’ve met in person have been supportive.” NBCSports.com

Four players have now garnered more than 1 million votes apiece but there were otherwise no meaningful changes in the third round of 2013 NBA All-Star balloting, released by the NBA on Thursday. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant remains the overall leading vote-getter, narrowly topping Heat forward LeBron James. Bryant topped James as the leading vote-getter in the second round of ballots released Dec. 27 after James topped Bryant in the first round released Dec. 13. Bryant tallied 1,177,456 votes to James’ 1,151,304. Thunder forward Kevin Durant (1,088,797) and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (1,054,099) each topped the one million mark and continue to be the third- and fourth-leading vote-getters, respectively. Heat guard Dwyane Wade remains in fifth, edging out Lakers center Dwight Howard. SI.com

Washington Wizards guard John Wall, out since Sept. 28 with a stress injury in his left knee cap, moved closer to returning by participating in limited contact drills during Thursday's practice. Wall, who did not speak with reporters after practice, wore his No. 2 practice jersey and also participated in other running and non-contact drills. Washington coach Randy Wittman told reporters he was pleased with Wall's movement. "He's still the same player. Fast. Aggressive. He looked good. Looked like his old self," Wizards guard A.J. Price told The Washington Post. USA Today Sports

The 11-time NBA All-Star, No. 19 on the league's all-time scoring list, got his athletic start in tennis. The passion, he said this week, has never left. It started — he was nationally ranked as a junior in Germany — in part is because of Boris Becker and Steffi Graf, who helped launch a tennis boom in his home country, "when everybody started playing." "Now, when I have some time I try to play almost every day at my court at home in Dallas … It's fun and good for the footwork in the offseason," says Nowitzki, back in action full time for the Mavericks after sitting out the first two months of the season following October knee surgery. USA Today Sports

January 3, 2013 | 01:38 PM ET Update

What is the latest with Andrew? You guys have been reluctant to put any new timelines on his situation, but what can you share there? Joe Lacob: Well, we've elected to take – and Andrew has to – to take a very quiet approach here, to just not say a lot. It's clearly by design. I think it's the right thing to do, to let him – without any pressure – work hard to make sure that he's 100 percent when he comes back, and we have the luxury of doing that since we've been playing well. I think, honestly, we're trying not to create any expectations externally, and we're trying not to create any expectations internally. When he's ready, he's ready. There's no pressure on him. We've told him repeatedly – no pressure whatsoever to come back by a certain date. You tell us when you're ready, and you feel great. Everything I hear is that he's coming along really well and that he's getting much closer. USA Today Sports

Pacers forward Danny Granger hasn’t seen the floor for a regular season game this season, but he has increased his rehabilitation activity with treatment to strengthen his left knee. Coach Frank Vogel said Granger has done little on the court, except occasionally shooting on his own, which we have seen at the end of a few recent practices. The practice court has been a popular spot before home games. Paul George started it last month with his new pregame routine that includes a couple hundred shots and George Hill now follows George before they take the main court for warmups. In the above picture, Granger is shooting with a ball boy prior to the Pacers game Wednesday against the Wizards. At the other end, Hill was playing one-on-one against fellow point guard Ben Hansbrough. Pacers.com

Celtics rookie Fab Melo suffered a concussion last weekend after bumping his head on the doorway in his Sioux Falls hotel room while the Maine Red Claws (Melo's NBA Development League assignment) were in South Dakota for back-to-back games against the Skyforce. Melo was seen by the Red Claws medical staff and did not play in the team’s Monday afternoon game. On Wednesday, the Celtics recalled him to be evaluated by team doctors that night. CSNNE.com

The center donned a button down shirt and dress pants to join his Celtics teammates in the locker room prior to their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. He does not know when he will be able to sport a uniform -- there is no timetable set for his return. "I still have a little headache," Melo said. "Sometimes I can't really focus on something for a long time, that's it." CSNNE.com

I asked Woodson about Stoudemire's remarks that he now has a "defensive coach'' that can get him to become a better defensive player. It was clear shot at D'Antoni when Stoudemire said he never had a coach that "taught'' him defense. Woodson disagreed. "I'm not going there with you guys,'' Woodson said. "I think Mike D'Antoni is a great coach. He does a number of wonderful things on both ends of the floor. Amar'e is entitled to his opinion but I think every coach in this league is a great coach. It's not an easy job by no means.'' Sulia

January 3, 2013 | 09:57 AM ET Update

Mitchell believes this could be one reason why Bargnani hasn't turned out to be the franchise player some thought he could become. "I wasn't allowed to coach Andrea the same way I was allowed to coach Jose (Calderon)," Mitchell told Tim & Sid on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday. "I was a hard ass on Jose; I was hard on him, but look at the type of player he turned out to be. "I was not allowed to be that tough on Andrea because within the organization we felt he couldn't take it. And my whole thing was if he can't take it then we can't build around him. And no one thought Jose could take it, and Jose did." SportsNet

Mitchell agrees to some extent, but said the Raptors ultimately made the best decision for them at the time. "That was a tough draft. I believe in that draft if Brandon Roy didn't have the knee issues he would have been the No. 1 pick, but the reason we passed on Brandon Roy is the reason you see now, his knees," Mitchell explained. "I'm not disappointed from the standpoint that we took Andrea, but I'm disappointed in that Andrea has yet to reach the potential he has because … Andrea has all-star type talent. He just hasn't played up to it yet. SportsNet

Al Jefferson knows a little something about signing a big contract. He did so with the Wolves in 2007, when he signed a five-year, $65 million deal that his agent urged him to refuse. So when asked about former teammate Kevin Love's continued unhappiness -- as expressed to Yahoo! Sports last month -- with a four-year, $61 million-plus deal he signed last year, he had his own take on the matter. "To me, he accepted the deal, he signed the deal, move on from it," said Jefferson, who shares the same agent with Love. "It was his decision to sign the deal. You don't want the deal, you don't take the deal." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Hickson is an early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year after getting released by the Sacramento Kings last March. Since then he’s gone from an athletic, but undisciplined former prospect to a remarkably efficient offensive weapon. And since he’s still just 24, he’ll undoubtedly have offers over the summer. “I don’t know,” he told HOOPSWORLD about his future with the Blazers. “All I can do is control what I can control and that’s play the game of basketball and the rest will work itself out.” HoopsWorld

The Jazz are carrying a maximum 15 players, including exiled Raja Bell and D-League assignee Kevin Murphy, so they'd have to waive or trade someone to bring in another point guard. A move does not appear imminent. Deseret News

Grizzlies wing Tony Allen admitted, “I ain’t no analyst,” but he offered up an opinion of his former team anyway, and his diagnosis of the Celtics was about as pretty as their 14-17 record. “They’re missing a lot of pieces,” said Allen, who left Boston for a three-year deal in Memphis two summers ago. WEEI.com

Somewhat offering his stamp of approval on the replacement of Ray Allen‘s 3-point shooting prowess with fellow veteran Jason Terry, Allen instead harped on the absence of players … well … like himself. “I don’t think they’ve really got a defensive-minded guy yet,” added Allen. “I mean, they’ve got one [Avery Bradley], but I can’t say he’s 100 percent just yet. I don’t think they’ve got the center like Perk [Kendrick Perkins]. It’s kind of hard finding a guy like — a guy who clogs up the paint, talks trash to you and can actually back it up. They’re just missing a lot. I don’t know. I don’t see the same team from 2008.” WEEI.com

Stoudemire said he thinks he will get to the point where he will be a starter, but qualified it by saying he’s fine to stay as a reserve if the club is winning. Tuesday was the first time he hadn’t started since Nov. 4, 2006. He had started his last 417 games. “I’ve done it before,’’ Stoudemire said. “I came back from microfracture injury [in 2006] and I came off the bench for a few weeks, then I got back in rhythm and top shape and back to where I was before the injury. I expect to get back into top shape and where I was before. But again, if we’re playing well, I have no problem coming off the bench.’’ New York Post

“I think having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,” Stoudemire said after practice in Greenburgh. “I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career. So to now have a coach who actually teaches defense and teaches strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays, it’s going to be helpful.” New York Daily News

Most people remember the day Kirilenko wept in confusion over his role in Jerry Sloan's offense, and the time his wife said she'd allow A.K. a free extramarital dalliance per year — an offer he now dismisses as an inside joke. He left the Jazz to play in Russia during the lockout of 2011. He could have returned to the NBA once the lockout ended, but instead stayed with his CSKA Moscow team, saying fans and teammates were counting on him. Deseret News

His appearance at ESA wasn't on the level of a Karl Malone night. But that doesn't mean he isn't still a story. Media flocked to the shoot-around on Wednesday morning, more showing up for pregame questions. Same questions, same answers — except maybe this one: "Do you miss the smell of brine shrimp?" "Well, everything but it," he said. Later he did postgame interviews, walked to the team family lounge, spoke with ex-teammate Matt Harpring, then unnecessarily paused for more interviews on his way out. Bad guys don't usually do such things. Deseret News

"I felt a little bit better today," Williams said. "I got really warmed up in here in the training room and came out and felt good, and just really tried to push the ball. Even when they scored, I was just kind of yelling at the bigs, telling them to take it out so we can just run and get into a flow instead of walking the ball up and passing it around, not playing our game." Newsday

The Nets made sure to credit the coach for his work in Tuesday's practice, which was Carlesimo's first with the team. Williams liked what he saw and heard in Oklahoma City, as well. "He did a great job of coaching tonight, of picking his spots, talking to me,” Williams said. “He’s definitely passionate, and Avery (Johnson) was too. Avery was more reserved, wanted to be more even-keeled on the bench, he didn’t want, I don’t want to say, people see him sweat. PJ is just one those guys who is just fiery. If he’s feeling a certain way, he’s going to tell you.” Sulia

"He's pretty forward, man," Johnson said before the Nets played the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena Wednesday night. "He just kind of tells you like it is. If you ain't playing worth a ----, he'll tell you, you ain't playing worth a ----. As players, some of us may respond a little different to it, but for me, I can appreciate it. Newsday

Durant got ejected for the first time in his career tonight. It came with 1:57 left in the ballgame after he expressively disputed what he believed was a no-call. “I said it was a bad call,” Durant said when asked what he said to get tossed. “They got a quick trigger now on techs. I think I’m allowed to be frustrated, especially in this league (that’s) full of ups and downs. Players are allowed to be frustrated. It is what it is. (I’ll) move on from it. Oklahoman

If you didn’t know, LeBron James not exactly Daryl Morey (@dmorey) in high tops. He’s not stat guy. Funny exchange LeBron was told he leads the NBA in assists on corner 3-pointers. “I just think stats get a little crazy sometimes,’’ James said. “There’s a lot of crazy stats out here.’’ Sulia

Shane Battier said he "channeled'' his Buddhist teachings to hit 2 key late 3-pointers in #Heat win. "I channeled my Buddhist teachings from college,'' Battier said about not having hit a shot all night and then making a last second 3-pointer to force overtime and then hitting another 3-pointer in overtime in Miami's 119-109 win over Dallas. "I was completely detached. i was so pissed off from missing shots. Finally, I said, 'I don't care. I'm just going to shoot it.''' Sulia

Cousins hears the talk and is well aware of how the gossip gets started. Despite what most folks seem to think, he’s proving mature enough to shut it out and make amendments. “I keep saying that when I share the ball, we’re hard to beat,” he says, addressing his recent affinity for finding the open man. “So if I gotta take away from my game and get everyone else going and in the spirit of sharing the ball, I’ll do that.” FOXSports Ohio

Cousins admits that passing is something “I kind of went away from” both last season and the early parts of this one. So why the sudden shift in focus? “I want to win games, man,” he says, looking down and putting on a sock. “If it means shooting less, then that’s what I’m gonna do.” FOXSports Ohio

When Paul Westphal could no longer handle the young center, the Kings showed him the door and promoted long-time NBA assistant Keith Smart, known for his success in handling players with baggage. They also brought highly regarded big man coach Clifford Ray to assist in the task at hand, but neither has had the desired effect. “What is the support system that’s not in place?” Smart asked when posed the question of what the Kings haven’t done to help Cousins grow. “What is it? I’m trying to figure out what is it that we are supposed to have – that every team is supposed to have? Let us know, so we can find out what it is. And then we can let you know if we do have that.” Cowbell Kingdom

Rookie Magic SF Maurice Harkless is unhappy, and understandably so, after not playing in the last two games against the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. Harkless started 20 consecutive games before being benched, the move coinciding with the return of Hedo Turkoglu. When I asked Harkless what coach Jacque Vaughn told him, Harkless said, tersely, "Nothing." Surely, Vaughn explained him his reasoning. "He didn't tell me anything," Harkless said. Orlando Sentinel

If you are confused with just what new treatment Wolves guard Brandon Roy is seeking, you're not alone. Count Wolves coach Rick Adelman among them after Roy practiced a bit with the team on Monday and Tuesday. "I don't know exactly what that treatment [is], and that's something we have to find out," Adelman said. "Where are we going with this? What is the procedure here? What is the rehab here? And a lot of what is going to happen with him is what kind of pain does he have in that knee? "I think we have to figure out where we're going with this. Is it a day-to-day thing, waiting to see if he can go, if he feels good enough? I don't know exactly what he's doing. I don't know how much pain he has in his knee. That's not something I know about; he'll have to tell us." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox received the encouraging news Tuesday that he won't need surgery on his injured right thumb, but that only did so much to alleviate the frustration he feels over not being on the court yet again. Wilcox suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament while trying to draw a charge during the Celtics' 100-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 18, and received the dispiriting news a short while later that he would be out what was originally pegged as 3-4 weeks. ESPN.com

He was in a hurry to get to New York, where the Spurs complete another four-games-in-five-nights set tonight against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, a short cab ride from NBA commissioner David Stern’s Manhattan office no less. The last time Popovich faced a similar situation, he sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home before a nationally televised game at Miami. The league office responded by levying a $250,000 fine against the Spurs. Popovich wouldn’t have the chutzpah to do it again, would he? Well, probably not tonight. “Knowing Pop, he can do anything,” Parker said. “Me personally, I feel great. I didn’t play in the fourth quarter against Brooklyn, or Dallas either. I’m sure Timmy feels great. I think we’re going to play.” San Antonio Express-News

Mavericks forward Shawn Marion said Sunday he would be open to a players-only meeting following a 25-point loss in San Antonio. These meetings happen often in the NBA and the media has typically been cynical about their effect in the subsequent performance of a team, but the cold numbers show teams did improve their records following players-only meetings that were reported by the press in the last three seasons. It's not a large sample – only 15 cases since 2010-11 – but the results are pretty consistent. On average, the squads that called these meetings won 14 percent more in the following 10 games than they did before the players met without the coaching staff around. HoopsHype

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