HoopsHype rumors

January 12, 2013 | 06:49 PM ET Update

The Lakers have until Tuesday to apply for a "disabled players exception" for Jordan Hill. It was announced on Friday that Hill will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury that will sideline the forward-center for six months. According to the Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ, the Lakers can apply for an exception worth half of Hill's $3.56-million salary. There's no guarantee the league will approve the exception if the Lakers even apply for it, but if granted, the Lakers would gain about $1.78 million in additional spending power. Los Angeles Times

Rookie guard Doron Lamb was assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League on Saturday. Coach Jim Boylan confirmed the move after the Bucks practice session at the Cousins Center. Lamb practiced with the team but was scheduled to report to Fort Wayne on Sunday. Lamb will practice with the team and play in road games against Los Angeles on Wednesday and Bakersfield on Friday. "It's an opportunity for him to play a bit," Boylan said. "Practice is practice and working out is working out, but there's nothing like playing in a game. This is not a punishment by any means. "This is to make him better and develop him. He shows great potential. We're excited about his future. At the same time, there's really nowhere for him to play right now. A lot of teams are using this open enrollment for the D-League teams where you can send a guy down and bring him right back. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that guard Malcolm Lee will undergo two surgeries next week. On Monday, Jan. 14, Lee will undergo a right knee cartilage repair. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Jonathan Glashow at Midtown Surgical Center in New York. On Wednesday, Jan. 16, Lee will undergo surgery on his right hip. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Lee is expected to miss the remainder of the 2012-13 NBA season. NBA.com

New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert could make his season debut on Thursday against the Detroit Pistons in London. "He's been cleared," coach Mike Woodson said after Saturday's practice at the team's training facility. "He'll practice on Monday and if we get the two practices in -- for sure one in London and there's no setback -- he'll be cleared probably to play in the Detroit game." ESPN.com

Pau Gasol still hasn't been cleared for basketball activity. The Lakers forward-center has been out with a concussion since taking a JaVale McGee arm to the nose on Jan. 6 during a loss to the Denver Nuggets. Gasol will be reevaluated before the Lakers battle the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at Staples Center. Assuming Gasol is sidelined, Coach Mike D'Antoni will continue to go with Earl Clark, who suddenly becomes even more important to the team with Jordan Hill lost for the season because of a hip injury. Los Angeles Times

In a stunning new twist on the Sacramento Kings saga, a group including the new owner of Downtown Plaza is proposing to buy the team and build a $400 million arena on the site of the troubled shopping center. A source connected to the proposal said the group believes it would make a viable alternative to the Maloof family's potential sale of the team to a consortium planning to relocate the Kings to Seattle. A source said the group includes other deep-pockets investors who have the ability to pull the deal together. "We make the case to the NBA that we've got the funding," said the source, who insisted on anonymity. Sacramento Bee

The source said the group includes JMA Ventures, the San Francisco investment firm that bought Downtown Plaza last year at a bargain-basement price. Any deal for the Kings would have to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, and Sacramento officials are hoping to present a credible alternative to Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager who wants to buy the team and move it to Seattle. Sacramento Bee

Wearing a famous cat’s red and white-striped hat, Philadelphia 76ers guard/forward Dorell Wright will read a classic Dr. Seuss book to 250 students at the team’s Read to Achieve event presented by Pepsi on Monday, January 14 at Cynwyd Elementary School (101 W. Levering Mill Rd., Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004) from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Following introductions of the Sixers Dream Team and Sixers Flight Squad, Wright and a member of the Flight Squad will read the book interactively with the students, who will also be wearing “Cat in the Hat”-style toppers and Read to Achieve T-shirts. The Sixers’ Read to Achieve program is presented by Pepsi, a proud sponsor of the Philadelphia 76ers, and encourages children of all ages the importance of reading, both in school and at home. NBA.com

But one of the better moments came when Johnson, the former All-Star point guard who is working to keep the Kings in Sacramento, asked James if he is a strict Dad to his two school-aged sons. “They get in trouble,” James said. “I’ll tell you a quick story. They just got in trouble not too long ago, before I came on this road trip.” His youngest son, Bryce, loves skateboards. “I think he’s like a mini-Tony Hawk or something,” James said. James told him repeatedly to stop riding skateboards in the house. Then LeBron Jr. started doing it too. “I’m on an off day before I came on the trip, and my youngest son brings a skateboard in the house, and they run all the way to the other end of the house,” James said. “And I’m looking, because they know I’m going to say something to them. So I go watch TV again, and I see my oldest son LeBron flying on the skateboard, flying. Right before he gets to me, he is about to fall off the skateboard, he lets the skateboard continue to go, and it slams into my glass window.” Palm Beach Post

Given the number of tattoos on Mr. Smith’s body, inking up for her is hardly an indicator of commitment. Smith is just another victim in the never-ending losing battle against Pussy Galore. A wise man once said Pussy Galore is undefeated. My advice to J.R. would be to improve his shot selection and approach groupies in person, as to avoid public humiliation. The Big Lead

January 12, 2013 | 02:28 PM ET Update

So it was that Lionel Hollins went on the radio Friday morning and said that he'd like to keep the team together at least this year. He then reiterated his position before the game. "I like my team, we're 23-10; why would I want to break up a 23-10 team?" he said. OK, but did he tell management his thoughts on the matter? "I talk to them about a lot of things, but that's their call," he said. "If they didn't hear about it this morning, they'll hear about it tomorrow when you write a big, glorious column and I'll get the notes (Saturday) when I'm in Dallas and I should have kept my mouth shut." Memphis Commercial Appeal

Wall doesn't have to watch anymore. After months of three months of rest and rehab and about a week of practice with physical contact, Wall will make his season debut Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. "Not playing for three, four months was tough," Wall told USA TODAY Sports. "I don't know how I would take it – like players that are retired or their careers are over with. "It's tough to sit out. When you love the game, you're so itching to play but you've got to make sure everything is healthy and right to the point where you want to be." USA Today Sports

For basically two full seasons Stephenson didn’t play at all, with higher-ups in the organization saying things like, “We believe in Lance and his talent, and we hope that someday he’s able to put it all together.” Those kinds of comments explained why the team took a shot on Stephenson as a highly-touted second rounder with loads of talent but a questionable history, but the risk has really started to pay off. Stephenson has finally been able to put it all together. “I’ve matured all-around with everything—off the court and on the court with my teammates,” Stephenson said. “It was a lot of help from the veterans, who put me in my place and showed me how to be a vet, a good person, a good teammate on and off the court. I’m not saying that I’m so much better right now; I am still working on being more mature.” HoopsWorld

Brooklyn Nets small forward Gerald Wallace will miss Sunday night's game against the Indiana Pacers, the team announced Saturday. Wallace suffered bruised ribs midway through the first quarter of Friday night's 99-79 victory over the Phoenix Suns. X-rays were negative. ESPN.com

January 12, 2013 | 09:11 AM ET Update

Ric Bucher: Add the Washington Wizards to the list of teams that are in the mix for the services of Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay, according to a league source. Not clear on what the Wizards' offer might be but was told it was "a good one." Sulia

Could it be in the best interest for the Mavericks to trade you while you still have strong value? Nowitzki: “That is a tough question. You have to ask that to [owner] Mark [Cuban] and [general manager] Donnie [Nelson] if that's something they would consider. As far as I'm concerned, I think I am going to finish my career in Dallas. I really only have this year and next year left on my contract for big money and then we will see what happens. The good thing is we have [salary] cap space for the first time in my career. We've always been over the cap. We've never been able to sign someone flat-out. We always had to do different deals to get somebody in. “The good thing with cap space is you can turn your situation around pretty quick. It might look a little ugly at times this year, but you can take chances on a contract and be a player in free agency this year.” Yahoo! Sports

Nowitzki: “I've said a million times, 'You got two options: If you don't get the big fish and there was nobody else out there, either blow up the whole team or trade me or trade everybody; or keep your core, get a bunch of one year deals in and try to be a player in the next summer when you have cap space again.' [The second option] is the best option we went for. “People said I said I wanted to be traded. What I said was you have two options and we tried to go for the second option and sign eight, nine new guys, which is tough at times. We are still battling through that. They played together for two months and now I am new again trying to play with guys. It's been a real adjustment period, but hopefully from here on out it's going to get better.” Yahoo! Sports

Do you think the option you spoke of that included trading you was seriously considered? Nowitzki: “I don't think so. They didn't tell me. A fresh start basically with a lot of young guys was not an option. The option was to bring a bunch of one-year deals in and go for it, trade for somebody or go for it next summer. The decision was made pretty quickly and so here we are now.” Yahoo! Sports

Are you going to recruit Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard when he becomes a free agent this off-season? Nowitzki: “We're not that close. It's going to be tough. Dwight is in L.A. Obviously, CP3 [Chris Paul] is with the Clippers and they're both in great situations. So, we will have to wait and see what the summer brings. Maybe we can still do something at the trade deadline. We still got a couple weeks to get better and you know Mark and Donnie are always working something to make the franchise better.” Yahoo! Sports

Also heard that it's actually the Hornets who've been getting calls from interested teams, but the latest signals emanating from New Orleans suggest that the future Pelicans have no intention of moving him. ESPN.com

Even before Jim Buss' appearance Thursday on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, there was a growing sense among those congregated in Reno that the Lakers don't have another blockbuster move in them this season. They're going to need a 30-15 finish just to get to the 45 wins that are typically sufficient to snag the eighth playoff spot in the West. But the sense out there is that trading Pau Gasol -- even if the Lakers could actually find a deal they like when Gasol's numbers, mobility and trade value are at all-time lows at age 32 -- would just as likely lead to more upheaval and adjustment for a team that fired Mike Brown after a mere five games, stunningly chose Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson as Brown's replacement and then had to wait 20-plus more games before reintroducing Steve Nash into the lineup. ESPN.com

Backing up the widespread notion that Cavs officials were asking for a lot in return for Varejao in trade talks with various teams, recent Hall of Fame inductee Peter Vecsey reported this week that Cleveland told the Clippers it would take DeAndre Jordan and prized reserve guard Eric Bledsoe to get him. ESPN.com

When it comes to Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, meanwhile, multiple teams on hand for the Showcase expressed the view this week that the Kings' serious sale talks with a Seattle group headed by Chris Hansen quietly have been a factor leading Cousins to be deemed untouchable to any team that has called about him recently. Given that Cousins, for all the headaches, easily outperforms his rookie-scale salary of $3.9 million, it's believed that the Kings are prepared to let their new owners decide whether to keep the mercurial big man or move him. ESPN.com

In recent days, I've heard Millsap billed as "more of a Jazz guy," given his lower salary range compared to Jefferson's, but this much is clear while you debate that claim: Utah's need for a point guard has only grown thanks to the recent thumb injury sustained by Mo Williams. ESPN.com

Sources close to the situation stress, however, that restricted free agent-to-be Brandon Jennings is the least likely Buck to be dealt in-season, even though Milwaukee declined to sign Jennings to a contract extension between July 1 and Halloween when it had the chance. ESPN.com

``First of all, you have to hope that there’s another team that wants you because there are never any guarantees there,’’ Redick said. ``The way I approach things and the way I have been approaching things recently is to just focus on the day. I do feel overwhelmed at times if I try to picture myself a month from now (at the trade deadline) or six months from now in free agency. It’s just not worth worrying right now. ``At the (trade) deadline, maybe there’s an offer that (GM) Rob (Hennigan) has to consider. But I don’t get any indication from him that they are actively looking to move me,’’ Redick continued. ``So if I’m here past the deadline, that’s the first hurdle. NBA.com

Then, you deal with free agency and what comes after the season.’’ Redick said there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t wonder what would happen to his life if he were traded away from the Magic. After all, it’s the only professional franchise that he’s ever played for. But he did spend last summer living in New York City and he recently purchased an offseason home in Austin, Texas, to somewhat prepare him in case he has to move on from Orlando. ``You have to prepare for different scenarios, you really do,’’ Redick admitted. ``It’s just human nature so that you’re not as shocked or as emotional if something happens. Things happen quickly in this league. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of former teammates and you just never know.’’ NBA.com

Redick was so broken by the lack of opportunities in those first two seasons that he once contemplated asking for a trade from the Magic. Ultimately, he stuck it out, went to work on his body and evolved into one of Van Gundy’s favorite and most-trusted players over the previous four seasons. NBA.com

The plan hasn't worked. Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois are the only players remaining from the title team, and the struggling Mavericks, who failed to land a major free agent, could miss the playoffs. While Nowitzki is still holding out hope for an “unbelievable” free-agent splash this summer, he has pondered the possible success that was lost after the post- title changes. “That's what we went for [a marquee free agent]. Unfortunately, now it ain't looking too good,” Nowitzki said after the Mavericks' 117-112 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night improved their record to 14-23. “But I think you can judge if we made a mistake or not on what we do with the [salary] cap space. We don't know if we can actually turn that cap space into something unbelievable. “If we can do that, maybe it's a good choice. As of right now, it's tough. We are fighting for the eighth seed. It's obviously not what we want to do in Dallas. We want to win championships and we want to always play for the top four seeds. So right now, it's tough to see where the future is going.” Yahoo! Sports

How different could it have been if the Mavericks’ roster were kept in tact after winning a championship? Nowitzki: “Great question. What Mark didn't want to do, especially now with the new CBA, was lock himself in where he has a bunch of older guys with big deals. And then when we get too old, you're basically locked in for another two to three years and you can't do any moves. As I understood the CBA more, how the taxes are going to be, I understood his point of view on it. “But us as players, we would have loved to have kept Tyson [Chandler], Caron [Butler], J.J. [Barea], all those guys who really would have had another shot last year. But it is what it is and you have to make tough decisions in this league, and Cuban thought it would be better to have the [salary] cap space for the future.” Yahoo! Sports

Their relationship may have been icy when Kevin Garnett asked for a contract extension six years ago and Kevin McHale traded him to the Celtics. Much time has passed, and both now reflect on their years together in Minnesota. McHale, the former Celtics great who’s now coach of the Rockets, shared an emotional hug with Garnett following the Rockets’ win over the Celtics Dec. 14 in Houston, a few weeks after the death of McHale’s daughter, Alexandra, from complications from lupus. “We spent a lot of time in the gym together when I was not as gray and moved a little bit better,” McHale said before the Celtics’ 103-91 win over the Rockets Friday night at TD Garden. “Great kid. Great work ethic. Turned himself into a fantastic player for years and years and years. With his energy level, what he’s still able to accomplish in the NBA, not so much his age, but look at the amount of minutes he’s played. It’s just phenomenal. I’m happy for him.” Boston Globe

Garnett, who still harbors disappointment in the Timberwolves organization and how his tenure ended, expressed gratitude for his time with McHale. “Kevin hasn’t been my coach for a long time but he’s taught me a lot,” Garnett said. “So I see the similarities and I see some things that I remember or is refreshing to my mind sometimes when I am watching his teams play. The disadvantage is he’s taught me everything that I know. Other than the competition, it’s always good to see people you’ve worked with still in the game. “I think Kevin’s been one of the best teachers I’ve ever been around. And he has a lot to give to the game and he loves basketball that much and it’s good to see he’s still around.” Boston Globe

With the Celtics experimenting with new rules, Garnett was obligated to speak with the media before a game for the first time in nearly 18 years. He has had a personal policy not to speak to media prior to games, saying he began his practice as a rookie with the Timberwolves. “I played like crap [after talking to the media] and the next time [teammate] Terry Porter told me never to do interviews again and I’ve never done an interview again,” Garnett said. “But here we’re trying something out and it’s for the betterment of the team, so I hope this will work.” Boston Globe

Oklahoma City (28-8) matched the Clippers for the NBA's best record -- and the Thunder made it look easy with a virtuoso game from Durant, who had 38 points midway through the third quarter. "Coming in here, it's tough to win no matter what," Durant insisted after the Thunder coasted down the stretch. "We did a great job of just playing together at both ends of the floor all night and not taking those guys lightly. They've got two of the best players in the world out, so we just wanted to come out and have a good game." ESPN.com

Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, has no sympathy for the Lakers. "They're not done. They have a lot more games left, and I'm pretty sure they're going to find a way to get it together," Westbrook said. "Our job is to worry about our team and our organization. It wasn't easy. I just think we did a good job of playing team basketball defensively, and it showed. Kevin took control most of the game." ESPN.com

Novak occasionally makes the sign after hitting a three-pointer. He does it in honor of Aaron Rogers and his hometown Green Bay Packers. “It warms my heart, it really does,” Novak said of the former Knick. “The best part about doing the belt is hearing the stories of all the little kids around the world that hit a 3-pointer and do the belt. You know, one day when little Nathan grows up, I hope that his dreams come true and he can be just like me .” New York Daily News

That lack of immediate success did quite a number on Redick, a professed planner and control freak. In those stretches when he was the last player on the bench and was only used in break-glass-if-necessary scenarios, Redick fretted for hours on end about what the future held for him. ``I didn’t know if my future was in the NBA. Trust me, I went through the mental checklist of worst-case scenarios,’’ Redick remembered, still somewhat shaken by the dark moments from 2008. ``(Magic point guard) Jameer (Nelson) always jokes with me, `Didn’t you once say that you wanted to backpack Europe as your profession?’ So there were some times there that were really tough for me. But now it’s a testament to hard work, perseverance and trusting in God’s plan.’’ NBA.com

Cavs guard Jeremy Pargo has launched a Twitter campaign, #LetPargoDunk, to get into the Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star Game in Houson. Using the Twitter handle @DontHa8Pargo, he has featured clips of himself dunking. To watch, go to youtube.com/watch?v=5q9633pc0hw. Of course, Cavs fans got to see the real thing when he dunked against Atlanta on Wednesday. Even though the league doesn't let fans vote for the dunk participants, Pargo thought the publicity campaign might catch on anyway. "I've seen guys over the years do it and it came out good for them," he said. "It's something we talked about as a team. Guys were willing to help. Hopefully it works. I don't know if it will work." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"We believe," said Zach Randolph, when I asked if the Grizzlies saw themselves as a title contender. "We're just trying to stay focussed on the next game." Maybe management won't find a deal that compels them to pull the trigger before the February trade deadline, but all indications are they're aggressively looking for one. Sulia

Sixers GM Tony DiLeo said Friday that he 76ers’ plan is to try and stay in playoff contention until injured center Andrew Bynum can play, which could theoretically be as soon as mid- to late February if he has no more setbacks with his knees. In the meantime, DiLeo claimed the Sixers won’t hesitate to make a move prior to the Feb. 21 trade deadline (“we will explore all possibilities”) if it makes them better in the short term and also doesn’t cut into the salary-cap space they could have available next summer. “We have a lot of questions,” DiLeo told reporters after the team’s optional practice. “We just have to wait and be patient and try to get some answers. We want to see how Andrew fits in and how our players fit in with him.” phillyburbs.com

The Knicks announced on Friday that Camby will be out two to four weeks after an MRI of his injured left foot revealed plantar fasciitis, a condition that sidelined Camby for the preseason and has limited him to just 14 games. What’s more, Rasheed Wallace has been out four weeks with a stress fracture in his right foot and Amar’e Stoudemire, who missed the first two months following knee surgery, is being limited to 21 minutes a game. New York Daily News

Friday night Jordan Hill showed up in street clothes to Staples Center and didn’t look good limping down the hall. Slowly. It hurt to watch him walk. Turns out it was with good reason — he needs hip surgery and will be out for the season, the Lakers reported. NBCSports.com

After seeing the team doctor and a hip specialist it was determined he had loose fragments as well as a possible labral tear, the Lakers announced. Basically, it makes it painful to walk, let alone run and jump. The only way to fix it is surgery that will cost him the rest of the season. NBCSports.com

Sorry, Lakers fans. You can't have Phil. Despite the reappearance of chants for Phil Jackson at a recent game, Mike D'Antoni is still the Lakers' coach. And will be in the future. "'WE WANT PHIL' is not going to happen," Jackson said in an email to The Times. Los Angeles Times

Still, Jackson has been getting plenty of attention from NBA teams, according to a person familiar with his situation. Apparently, other teams want Phil. "He could be on an NBA sideline in 10 minutes if he wanted," said the person. Los Angeles Times

The Nets are well aware of what Phil Jackson told my longtime colleague Chris Sheridan earlier this week in a story on SheridanHoops.com about how he has "no intention of ever coaching again." NBA coaching sources nonetheless insist that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov remains intent on tuning that out and pursuing Jackson at the appropriate time, which might actually be months from now if Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo can maintain the offensive improvement seen from Brooklyn in this mostly soft stretch of schedule that has greeted Carlesimo in his first seven games as Avery Johnson's successor. ESPN.com

One place where Jackson hasn't been mentioned publicly is Seattle … yet. Jackson's son, Charlie, is a close friend of Seattle investor Chris Hansen, the head of the group trying to broker a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings from Gavin and Joe Maloof. Hansen hopes to start playing in Seattle next season, with an eventual move to a new arena in two years, according to multiple reports. Jackson said he would "ignore" a question about joining the Seattle team as coach or front-office official. Los Angeles Times

Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov, the founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain, told The Bee he has assembled a group to buy the Kings and "work with the city to get an arena deal if possible." Mastrov was a finalist two years ago in the bidding for the Golden State Warriors, with his reported offer of $350 million falling short. The team ultimately was sold for an NBA-record $450 million, which Mastrov said he "could not see clear" to match. He added that he has "been in touch with the Maloofs" about a possible purchase. Sacramento Bee

Mastrov said Johnson is aware of his interest in buying the Kings. "(Owning an NBA franchise) is a passion of mine," he said. "I love basketball and I love the NBA." Mastrov, who lives in Lafayette, is one of the fitness industry's "most respected" executives, said Pamela Kufahl, editor-in-chief of Club Industry magazine. Sacramento Bee

Johnson, the native son and former NBA point guard who has spent recent years trying to keep the Maloof family that owns the team from taking it elsewhere, told USA TODAY Sports on Friday night that Seattle hasn't won this game just yet. Asked if his window had closed in light of a Wednesday report that the Maloofs and the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group were finalizing a deal to bring the NBA back to Seattle and more reports on Friday that the deal was done in principle for $525 million, Johnson spread his hands wide and smiled. The window, he swears, remains open. "(NBA Commissioner David Stern) knows that I'm going to make a request to speak to the governing board (before any Seattle deal is formalized)," Johnson said, noting that the deadline to file for relocation is March 1. USA Today Sports

While the prospect of engaging in a bidding war with someone with someone like Ballmer (reported net worth $17 billion) is daunting, Johnson has spent recent weeks rounding up local and outside investors who he is confident could come with a competitive offer. Because a Sacramento-based offer would not include a relocation fee and the new owners could assume the $77 million loan that the Maloofs owe the city, he said the target figure for an offer that is comparable to the $500-525 million in Seattle is $425 to $450 million. "I think from my standpoint, we're thinking about $450 (million) — $425 to $450 (million)," he said. "There's a lot of due diligence that has to take place on both sides. But everybody we're talking to, who has some interest, they know the number is going to be pretty darn high. It's going to be over $400 (million) for sure. The good thing is that there's not a shortage of people who are interested." USA Today Sports

This saga is far from over, at least according to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The former All-Star point guard briefly addressed the latest rumors surrounding the Sacramento Kings’ future following a fundraising event for St. Hope, a non-profit education organization Johnson founded 23 years ago. “I wouldn’t count Sacramento out,” Johnson said Friday night when asked if he believed the sale of the Kings to Seattle was a done deal. Cowbell Kingdom

Reports also surfaced about potential buyers invested in keeping the Kings in Sacramento. Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, confirmed his interest in the team to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. When asked, the mayor neither confirmed nor denied that he’s had conversations with the fitness magnate about purchasing the team on Sacramento’s behalf. “Honestly, there are a number of people that are excited about the opportunity to own the Sacramento Kings and keep them here,” Johnson replied while meeting and greeting dozens of attendees at Friday’s banquet that raised approximately $450,000 for St. Hope. ”This is something that we knew was in the works for quite some time. It just became official that they finally publicly acknowledged the team is on the market.” Cowbell Kingdom

So the potential hang-up I'm hearing with the sale of the Sacramento Kings is that the Maloofs don't just want to retain a small percentage of ownership, they still want a voice in how the franchise is run. Their leverage, a source said, is to threaten to take the sweetheart deal still waiting for them in Orange County and, should the other owners not approve the deal out of allegiance to Dr. Buss and the Lakers, take them to court with an anti-trust suit. Sulia

Madut and Bol Bol are the spitting image of their father, Manute - the 7-7 Dinka tribe anomaly and owner of one of the most ungainly three-point strokes known to man (he once made six treys in a 1993 game at Phoenix while with the Sixers). Manute played 10 years in the NBA for four teams, including two stints in Philadelphia, and his humanitarian work in his native Sudan is world-renowned. Manute was just 47 when he died June 19, 2010, in Charlottesville, Va., of acute kidney failure complicated by a skin disease known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. He is survived by 10 children - six with his first wife, Atong, four with his second wife, Ajok - including his two basketball-playing sons. Madut Bol, Manute's eldest son, is a 6-9, 200-pound senior center at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Bol Bol, 13, is from Olathe, Kan. At 6-4 1/2, he's considered one of the best in the country in his age group. Philadelphia Inquirer

Bol is being mentored by Val Reyes, his AAU coach. Reyes has received job offers from all over the country, suggesting that he move and bring Bol with him. He plans to stay put. Reyes, the father of six boys, has been like a second dad to Bol. "Bol's first practice, he was around 8 or 9 and scared to go to the gym," Reyes recalled. "I told him before he went in to tell everyone he's Bol Bol, Manute Bol's son, and since then, he's been fine. He just wants to be himself. He likes to have fun. We were in a tournament in Houston and he came jumping out at me in the dark like a spider one time. It's exactly something his father would do. He likes to play and joke around. I couldn't care less whether he plays basketball or not. I made a promise to his father. "I just want Bol to be successful at anything he wants to do. Education is the most important thing, because Manute was building schools in the Sudan for children. I bring it up to Bol; how would it look if he didn't follow up with his own education? I've stressed to him that his father would want him to graduate college." Philadelphia Inquirer

Madut and his family struggled financially, wondering where Manute's money was going, why he wasn't there to help. It caused friction between him and his oldest son. Plus, Manute never seemed to be around during Madut's formative years. At the time, Madut thought the NBA life was taking his father away. He didn't realize the sacrifice Manute was making. "We had an up-and-down relationship. I was upset because he was never around; we lost touch for a couple of years," Madut said. "I visited him when he used to live in Connecticut and I forgave him - and from there, it was still up-and-down. It was small things. He wanted to be more a part of my life. I used to wonder where he was earlier in my life, why he wasn't there then." Philadelphia Inquirer

It was too late. Just as he was walking out of the house, Madut received the call that his father had died. He made it for the funeral. Each morning, Madut wakes up to look at a picture of his father prominently placed on his apartment wall. He carries a picture of his dad in his wallet, a shot of a Sudanese sunset that includes his father's name, date of birth and death. He also lugs something else. "Every day I wake up just feeling guilty, even though people tell me I shouldn't," Madut said. "I think he wanted to be more a part of my life. I forgave him. I wake up and think about him and let him know that I'm sorry. I do feel guilty. I wasn't able to be there." Philadelphia Inquirer

Reyes shakes his head. His hope is that one day the brothers will connect. That a firmer bond grows through time. "I know Manute was very proud of Madut playing at St. Anthony's and it's something Manute would tell me all of the time," Reyes said. "I think it hurt Manute that he didn't have a stronger relationship with Madut. In talking to Madut himself, it's something I sense he regrets, too; that he wasn't as close to his father as he could have been. Bol was a second chance for Manute to a better father than he was with his older boys, and he was, he really was." Sometime this summer, Bol is hoping to return to the Sudan and visit his father's grave. It's a trip Madut is thinking about, too. "My father was a giving person, and he thought about others before himself. That's the way I want to be," Bol said. "You know, I can still hear his voice in my head, especially when I look at his pictures." Philadelphia Inquirer

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