HoopsHype rumors

January 14, 2013 | 08:39 PM ET Update

I think a lot of teams are going to take a look at Greg Oden next summer, but no one team tops his list, including the Heat. Oden is not even going to start compiling a list of teams until he is 100 percent healthy. If he can't get there, he won't come back. Too many false starts, one source with knowledge of Oden's plans said late last week. There is no timeline. Oden is still in Columbus, where he's taking classes at Ohio State. NBA.com

Jonathan Feigen: Rockets to call up rookie Patrick Beverley from the D League, per source. Was planned anyway but Lin ankle sprain set the timing. Twitter @Jonathan_Feigen

Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony was so hungry from his annual 15-day fast that he would even eat a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Just days after Boston bigmouth Kevin Garnett riled him by reportedly saying, “Your wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios,” Anthony turned his rival’s heckling into humor. “I’m definitely going to get a bowl of that, for sure,” a mellow Melo said at the launch of his new signature sneaker, Air Jordan Melo M9, at Cipriani on Wall St. New York Daily News

And while that campaign fell short — he’s been a starter only in 2007, and a reserve six other times — he took to Twitter on Sunday to make one final push to catch Kevin Garnett for the third starting frontcourt spot in the East, with voting ending Monday at 11:59 p.m. EST. He did so after the Heat’s owner, Micky Arison, and Dwyane Wade, made their own social media pleas to “vote Bosh.” “Just being competitive, honestly,” Bosh said. “I saw that I was behind, and I’m like, alright, whatever I can do. It’s not everything, but in the spirit of competition, let me do what I can.” Palm Beach Post

January 14, 2013 | 06:28 PM ET Update

Right now the Grizzlies are exploring Rudy Gay’s trade value, a search that has turned up interesting names like Bradley Beal from Washington and J.J. Redick from Orlando, to name two of the many teams who have expressed interest in Gay. They are not in a big hurry to move Gay, but the process of assessing his trade value could well culminate in a move made before next month’s trade deadline. HoopsWorld

Multiple league sources confirm that the Wizards have spoken with Memphis about prying away Gay, the team’s leading scorer, with one adding that Washington is “pushing for” his services. That push, however, does not include Beal, the third overall pick of the 2012 draft. Washington Post

Ronald Tillery: Griz recall Tony Wroten from D-League. The team needs bodies with Rudy Gay (grandmother's funeral) and Quincy Pondexter (knee injury) out. Twitter @CAGrizBlog

Clippers point guard Chris Paul has a contusion in his right kneecap and will not play Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedExForum. There also is a good chance that Paul won't play in Houston on Tuesday night in a back-to-back game. Paul didn't participate in the Clippers' shoot-around earlier Monday, sitting on the sidelines with what he said was a swollen knee. He had a stimulant device connected to his knee. Los Angeles Times

After working up a sweat with associate coach Michael Curry and head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson – Bynum was shooting jumpers along the baseline, out on the perimeter and attempting some shots with minimal jumping - he said that he now thinks it possible that he’ll join the team by the all-star break. “I have no idea exactly, I just want to get back,” Bynum said Monday. “I think, I’m hoping around the all-star break. That’s what I’m hoping. I have no idea exactly when I’ll be back.” Philadelphia Inquirer

The Mavericks beat the Kings on Thursday night despite Dirk Nowitzki struggling to hit just 7 of 21 shots. Dirk’s rust and the Kings players weren’t the only ones slowing down Dirk though – during a late review, a Sacramento Kings security guard was faced with the task of keeping Dirk away from the referees who were looking at a monitor. The security guard did an admirable job, sliding his feet and staying between his man and the… television. Dirk even threw in some fakes, but the guard would not be shook. Dirk had fun, the guard had fun and the announcers loved it. Its good to have Dirk back. And hopefully the Kings bring their best defender with them to Seattle. The Big Lead

January 14, 2013 | 03:43 PM ET Update

An intriguing big man has emerged on the trading block that the Miami Heat could go after. League sources said the Denver Nuggets are looking to deal center Timofey Mozgov, who has been unable to get much playing time on a deep team and has an expiring contract. Mozgov is aware he could be moved by the Feb. 21 trade deadline. FOXSports Florida

The Heat also could dangle a first-round draft pick they are due from Philadelphia that is lottery protected. It would go to Miami as soon as next June if the 76ers don’t make the playoffs. “I heard Miami is trying to find a big guy,’’ Mozgov said when asked about the Heat, who have had rebounding problems all season. “We’ll see. I don’t know (what might happen).’’ FOXSports Florida

Me: Is the future for you here in Portland clearer now than maybe it was last season? LaMarcus Aldridge: Yeah. I think they've definitely made some big steps in the right direction, bringing in Dame, re-signing Nic, having Wes, having J.J., they've made some steps in the right direction. I think they can go even further this upcoming summer to bring in some more guys -- Me: Somebody large would be helpful, right? LA: Yeah. You know, I love J.J. He's good for us. But somebody seven foot, 7-foot-1, a lot taller than me, that would be great. NBA.com

Me: You're in the prime of your career. Dirk [Nowitzki] is going through rebuilding at the end of his career, and Dallas is struggling. How skeptical were you about doing that here? LA: I was scared. I'm not gonna lie. Because we did have a rocky start. But everybody's been good about it, working hard, trying to get better, trying to take advantage of everything we have here -- resources, watching film, getting in the gym with Dame and Nic and Wes and myself. I think everybody's doing their part, and I think J.J. Hickson has been big for us this year. I can't leave him out. He's been massive on the boards, a guy every night that I think has been big for us, too. NBA.com

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have recalled guard Cory Joseph from the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. Joseph, who has been assigned to the Toros three times this season, has appeared in 14 games with Austin, averaging a team-high 20.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.29 steals in 39.2 minutes while shooting .465 (100-215) from the field, .442 (19-43) from three-point range and .780 (71-91) from the foul line. NBA.com

Any indication about the next stage of rehab? “I have to decide when I'm going to start. I think we have it pretty much mapped out, but it's based on me and my body and how I'm feeling. But we're progressing because I'm not feeling anything. We'll continue to do that. I'm fine. I don't get a click. I don't get any pain. It's pretty good.” What's the next basketball stage? “I have no idea. It'd still be linear, so probably straight line, going up and down. I'm still running on that treadmill, taking weight off. So the first step would be putting that weight back on.” Delaware County Daily Times

Wolves forward Kevin Love will have surgery to repair the third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Michelle Carson to repair Love's hand, which was broken in the third quarter of the Wolves' victory at Denver Jan. 3. Love is expected to be out eight to 10 weeks following surgery. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Manu Ginobili underwent an MRI this morning that revealed a Grade 1 left hamstring strain. The injury occurred in the second quarter of Sunday night's game vs. Minnesota. Ginobili is expected to miss 10-to-14 days. NBA.com

Before his injury, most NBA types had McCollum going somewhere between the mid- to late lottery and the middle of the first round. Now, the uncertainty about when he'll be able to get back on the court could work against him. But opinions on how much he'll be hurt in the Draft differ. "It doesn't help," one NBA general manager said. "I don't know how quick he can come back, but you don't have many quality games on him to go on. How long can you ride the Duke game? He had an early game against Pitt [McCollum scored 17 points for Lehigh in a 78-53 loss to the Panthers in November] ... but I know everybody was targeting the North Texas game, and VCU was a good team to watch because of the way they play. "I think it has to hurt some. If you're picking 15th, and the kid doesn't have the body of work of some of the other candidates, it has to hurt. A lot depends on how soon he can come back and work out. It's a long way before the Draft." But another GM, asked Sunday how much McCollum would be hurt, texted simply: "None." NBA.com

"The one good thing is that I think he played in 109 straight games before the first injury," another Western Conference executive said. "So he has a history of playing. People will look at that and say this is not a guy who's been hurt his whole career. With modern technology being the way it is, people will look at the MRI. I think the impact will be less than10 percent of what they thought of him (before). When you have a small school guy, you always wonder. Damian Lillard [who played at Weber State] is the perfect example. If he was playing in the ACC last year, he may have been the first, second or third pick." One Eastern Conference GM, though, saw a potential positive to McCollum's injury. "Now he'll slip down, and a good team will draft him," the GM said. "And they'll get a good player." NBA.com

USC announced it fired fourth-year coach Kevin O'Neill on Monday morning after just four Pac-12 games. Interestingly enough, the firing came two days after one of O'Neill's best wins on the Trojans' bench, a 76-59 victory at Utah. He'd also lost to the likes of Nebraska, Georgia and UC-Irvine earlier this season. USC says it will begin its search for O'Neill's successor now, and assistant Bob Cantu will coach the team in the interim. "I would like to thank Kevin O'Neill for his four years of service to USC," athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "He took over a program under difficult circumstances because of our NCAA issues and, despite that, he was able to do some good things. USA Today Sports

The NBA held a conference call with members of the league's relocation committee to outline deal points on the proposed sale of majority ownership of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based ownership group, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The call detailed what NBA officials described as "a non-binding set of deal points" on a $525 million sale of majority ownership to the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group, sources said. Discussions have continued in the past week to push the purchase to toward completion and ultimately clear the way for the franchise to move to Seattle, sources told Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo! Sports

The call took place on Tuesday – one day before Yahoo! Sports reported the finalizing of a deal – and informed several league owners that the Hansen-Ballmer Seattle group would purchase 65 percent of the Kings, sources said. The league office told members of the relocation committee that the non-binding agreement would constitute 53 percent of the franchise owned by the Maloof family and an additional 12 percent from minority owner Bob Hernreich. The sale price of $525 million is considered an overall valuation of the franchise. The committee is comprised of several NBA owners, including committee chair Clay Bennett of Oklahoma City. Yahoo! Sports

The Maloofs own the team, and they aren't interested in selling to anyone interested in keeping the team in Sacramento. Not Ron Burkle, the billionaire founder of the Yucaipa Companies, who tried to buy the team from the Maloofs two years ago. Not Mark Mastrov, the founder of the 24-Hour Fitness chain, who tried to buy the Warriors in 2010 and said this weekend he'd be up for buying the Kings and keeping them in Sacramento. The Maloofs have already implemented plans for a cash call to their minority investors to try and raise capital to pay some of their debts, but that's not going to change their overall intent. "They've got a clean path" to Seattle, one industry source said last week. NBA.com

The Maloofs believe they've "exhausted," according to the source with knowledge of the talks, every financial possibility in Sacramento. The family walked away from the $391 million deal for a new arena that everyone else involved -- including Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star -- believed was agreed upon last year. And they were excoriated for that. But they didn't think the city would live up to its end of the bargain, and they still doubt the city can produce the money it says it can. NBA.com

The source said the family is "tired" after more than a decade of trying to get an arena deal done that it can live with. "I would venture to say in the reptilian part of their brain, they're happy to leave Sacramento," said former Sacramento City Council member Rob Fong on Sunday evening. "They feel burned by the Mayor from the last time out." NBA.com

But there are other, realpolitik factors that are also working against Sacramento. The NBA's revenue sharing program kicks in full force starting next season. Teams such as the Kings that are expected to be recipients of the revenue sharing funds will get up to $16 million apiece under the new plan from the taxpaying teams. A sale of the Kings to Hansen's group would almost certainly change the team from a tax recipient to, if not a payer, a team that would not need the financial largesse of other teams to survive. The NBA's current television deals with ABC/ESPN and Turner Sports (which employs me, in the interest of full disclosure) expire in 2016. Forbes has already estimated the next deal will increase by at least 30 percent above the $7.4 billion the league gets from its TV partners. A new TV deal that replaces Sacramento, the nation's 20th-largest market according to Nielsen ratings, with Seattle, the nation's 12th-largest, is likely to be worth more. NBA.com

There is no indication around the league that Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has started to rally support among the NBA power brokers who could become his last line of defense to keep the Kings in Northern California, a backing that would be critical as part of a potential showdown vote. He has obviously been in contact with the league office, including commissioner David Stern. But sources confirm Johnson has yet to reach out to many, if any, members of the Board of Governors who would decide whether to approve a sale if a deal is closed with the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group that would move the team to Seattle. If the Maloof family does sell to Hansen-Ballmer, as is a possibility, Johnson will be down to his final hope: The Board of Governors, one representative from each team, either an owner or high-ranking executive as proxy, refusing to approve. Such an outcome would be very rare, and maybe even unprecedented, for the reasons Johnson would be pressing. The former All-Star point guard would be telling the BOGs to vote for Sacramento by voting against Seattle. He would, in essence, be urging owners to deny the bid of a group that by every indication has the financial resources and wants to CPR new life into a floundering franchise by moving it to a city with major corporate backing and a tradition of supporting sports. That would require Johnson to build a coalition of very sympathetic and strong members of the Board of Governors. NBA.com

January 14, 2013 | 12:30 PM ET Update

Two audio technicians were stationed at two corners of the court — one a few feet just behind the Knicks bench, the other diagonally opposite — and they were holding those umbrella- shaped contraptions known as parabola microphones, which fed the audio into a DAT recorder on the truck on the loading dock. These guys had one directive from Dolan: Record every syllable Carmelo Anthony utters and absorbs while he’s on the court and on the bench, the Madison Square Garden CEO ordered them, and send the tape directly to me. Newark Star-Ledger

Not only are J.R. Smith and former Knick Jamal Crawford leading candidates for the Sixth Man Award, but they're also being talked about as first-time All-Stars, with voting coming to a close on Monday. While Smith is averaging 17.0 points and 2.9 assists for the 24-13 Knicks, Crawford is at 16.2 points and 2.5 assists for the 28-9 Clippers. Both guards are also good friends, and they occasionally tweet each other. "Jamal and I have a unique relationship," Smith told ESPNNewYork.com recently. "Even when I was in Denver, he was in Atlanta, we used to talk all the time, so it's not so much about Sixth Man. It's just about how our team is doing, how we're helping them out." ESPN.com

Marc J. Spears: LA D-Fenders and ex @SacramentoKings coach Reggie Theus interested in USC hoop job, source said. Twitter @SpearsNBAYahoo

According to a Jilin newspaper, McGrady will sit down for non-mandatory media sessions only under the following conditions: An up front payment of $5,000 for a one-on-one interview and $1,000 for a group interview. Which explains why nobody has gotten an exclusive interview in China with McGrady yet. And it also explains why you haven’t seen a lot of off-court pictures either because if you want one of those, you apparently have to pick up the fee for his hotel suite. NiuBBall.com

January 14, 2013 | 09:26 AM ET Update

According to a person with knowledge of those conversations, Gay is likely to remain a Grizzly through the end of this season. The message to Gay at the moment is that if he is dealt by the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline, then the Griz will have been offered a no-brainer scenario. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Griz CEO Jason Levien declined to comment when asked recently about persistent reports that the team is shopping Rudy Gay and gauging the value of other core players such as Zach Randolph. Memphis Commercial Appeal

“I know there are a lot of contending teams that I can help,” Prince told RealGM. “But right now, this is the team I have to help. Everybody wants to be in the position where they have a chance of winning a championship every year, but obviously it doesn’t work that way.” RealGM

The Celtics’ transformation into a true contender may have taken longer than expected and there may be more obstacles as the season progresses, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Sunday that he is content with the roster. Ainge has been scouting college games during the Celtics’ five-game winning streak, watching the rapid improvement of his team’s bench, the spark provided by Avery Bradley, and the improved defense over the past 10 days. With two available roster spots, the Celtics could make an addition, but Ainge said there is no guarantee he will make a deal. Boston Globe

General Manager Mitch Kupchak said the Lakers would consider applying for a disabled-player exception for injured big man Jordan Hill, though the team was leaning against it because of its already bloated $100-million payroll. They would be allowed to spend $1.78 million on a free agent if the NBA granted them the exception. "We'll look into it," Kupchak said. "We have until Tuesday." Los Angeles Times

Yet the older brother of Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin still is chasing his dream in the NBA Development League, playing for relative pennies on the Santa Cruz Warriors with the hopes that it will eventually pay off. Like so many players in this 12-year-old, 16-team league that is looking more and more like Major League Baseball's farm system every year, he earns between $13,000 and $25,000 (plus benefits, free housing and a per diem) for an entire season. "I'm trying to get back to the NBA," said Griffin, a second-round draft pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2009 out of Oklahoma who played for a season in Belgium before returning stateside. "That's the only reason I'm here. If it was coming down to money, I'd be overseas somewhere. I feel like I can develop better in the D-League. It's the NBA game, NBA style of play. And then besides that, every NBA team is watching every game pretty much. It's the best league in the world as far as NBA exposure." USA Today Sports

Francisco Elson is set to join Iranian basketball team Mahram, according to the team’s sporting director. The 37-year-old Dutch professional basketball player has played in NBA teams such as Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz from 2003. “He (Elson) will train with Mahram for 10 days and we will decide about signing him,” Hamid-Reza Samadzadeh said. MehrNews.com

The Knicks didn’t break away in the 100-87 victory until early in the fourth quarter. Smith was part of the first-half malaise with a wretched last-second foul in the first half on a desperation 3 -point shot by Brian Roberts. But Smith had a solid fourth quarter to finish with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, six assists and four rebounds. “We’re starting to see progression, but we’re playing against a team that’s not going to be in the playoffs and we expect to play better than that,’’ Smith said. “We talk about being a championship-caliber team, these games shouldn’t be close.’’ New York Post

Amar’e Stoudemire’s minutes restriction is up from 25 to 30, but he remains a sub. Woodson moved James White to starting shooting guard and rookie Chris Copeland started at small forward, allowing Carmelo Anthony to start at power forward, which is Woodson’s preference. Woodson was asked about sliding Stoudemire into the starting five and left the door open, as he always does. “We just gradually play him and see how things go and tonight he’ll come off the bench,’’ Woodson said. New York Post

Howard returned to action Sunday after missing the previous three games because of torn cartilage in his right shoulder. He put up Dwight Howard-type numbers in an easy 113-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers: 22 points and 14 rebounds. "He was a great presence for us, good energy," Steve Nash said. Then Nash dropped one of the strongest proclamations made to the media in the Lakers locker room this season: "You know, he's the anchor of the team. When he plays with energy, plays hard defensively, we're a different team. The only way for us to realize our aspirations is if he's that presence defensively." ESPN.com

Demps says he’s not as concerned about Rivers as maybe some others are because of what he sees from Rivers in practice and in his contributions outside the box score. “He is fighting,” Demps said of Rivers. “I think of Austin as fighting and doing the best he can and working with the coaches. Rookies are going to have their ups and downs. We hope that he can figure out the NBA game and find his niche. What works and what doesn’t work and what can he do to help the team. “The thing I will say about him is that he’s competes. Some nights he’s not making shots, but his dribble penetration is creating shots for other guys. Sometimes he’ll draw three or four guys, he’ll shoot it and misses it, but somebody else was able to grab the weak side rebound, so sometimes the stat sheet doesn’t look as good as his production. The thing is I see him before practice working, after practice working. He hasn’t given up and he’s fighting and he’s trying and it’s his rookie season. HoopsWorld

Immediately upon seeing Popovich quick-stepping to an exit, a question flashed in the mind of veteran guard Stephen Jackson, whose two technical fouls against the Lakers four days earlier produced both his own ejection and a five-point possession for L.A. “Is that my Dad?” Jackson wondered. “Am I Pop Jr.?” Laughing at his own suggestion, Jackson stressed the bond Popovich’s players feel for a coach willing to take a pair of $2,000 fines on their behalf. “Any time a coach does that, you know what it means: Go out there and play harder, go out there and get this game, even if he’s not on the sideline,” Jackson said. “Every player loves a coach who goes to bat for him. You can’t get better than the way Pop does it.” San Antonio Express-News

Utah's extra feisty and physical defense was a popular topic in the Pistons locker room, according to the Detroit News. Beat writer Vincent Goodwill described the Jazz as using "physical play (that) bordered on early-90's assault as they mucked up the game, preventing the Pistons from doing virtually anything on the offensive end." Forward Jason Maxiell: "They took advantage and hit us and we didn't fight back, got us into a hole." Guard Brandon Knight: "They punched us in the face and there was nothing we could do about it. "Instead of fighting back, we just kind of laid down a little bit." Deseret News

When the third quarter ended Saturday, Jazz center Al Jefferson rushed over to Corbin to plead with his coach. He'd just scored 10 points in the period, leading Utah to a four-point lead after previously trailing by 15, and he didn't want to head to the bench to start the fourth. "I told him, 'We've got to win this game. I'm good. I'm good. Let me stay in,'" Jefferson explained. "He agreed with me. Even when he took me out in the middle of the fourth I didn't want to come out, but I knew I needed to." Deseret News

When asked about Irving's potential on Sunday he did not fawn over his young point guard's potential as much as you'd think. "It really depends on Kyrie, how good he wants to be," Scott said. "In talking to him, he wants to be one of the best. Right there, that’s a good start. A lot of it just depends on how hard is he willing to work to get there. That’s going to be the key. Like I said, talent wise, he has just about as good of talent as anybody in the league at that position." What about Paul? "Chris as the same age, probably one of the toughest kids I’ve seen at that age and probably more determined than I’ve ever seen anybody," Scott said. "His competitive nature was probably as high as I’ve seen anybody at that age." Sulia

Lillard has already established himself as the likely choice for Rookie of the Year based on his work in the first half of the season. He's averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He has been named the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month for November and December and has eight games of at least 20 points and seven assists. He's also helped the Blazers, who finished 28-38 last season, to a winning record. "Any time a rookie is playing at the level he is playing at with the poise that he is playing with, it's going to grab everyone's attention," Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Are all the Western guards playing at a great level? Chris Paul is at a super level. [Russell] Westbrook is in there. All those guys keep moving up. Can [Lillard] possibly be there based on where he is right now? Maybe, maybe not. "But his team is winning, he's playing at a great level, and everybody sees the poise as a young point guard and how he runs a basketball team. So it heightens people's attention and the possibility depending on how the votes go." Yahoo! Sports

"Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul – I think they are all definite All-Stars," Lillard said. "It will be tough for me being a rookie and those guys putting in so much more time than I have." Yahoo! Sports

While the two conversations were separate, each conveyed the same conclusion: This isn’t the year a franchise-changer will emerge from the draft process “I don’t think this is a good draft,” said one scout. “This is the year you should consider trading your draft pick – no matter where it is.” Charlotte Observer

Meanwhile, Hollins is coaching the final year of his contract without knowing where the organization is leaning with regard to a new deal. Hollins, the team's all-time winningest coach with a 10-10 playoff record, surely will seek a raise from his $2 million salary. There have been no concrete talks about a contract extension between the Griz and Hollins' agent, Warren LeGarie. Memphis Commercial Appeal

P.J. Carlesimo is wearing the “interim” tag well, making the most out of an unexpected opportunity since taking over for Avery Johnson. As candidates like Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy take their names out of the running for the Brooklyn job — and as the Nets keep winning — Carlesimo is earning the confidence from key players. “I don’t know how much it matters (getting the interim tag removed) to P.J., but I don’t look at him as an interim,” Joe Johnson told the Daily News. “He’s our guy right now. I have 100% faith in him. I don’t look at him as, ‘He’s just going to be here for a little while.’ I’m figuring he’s the coach.” New York Daily News

In an NBC Sports Radio interview last night, Stan Van Gundy again poured cold water on any likelihood of him taking the Nets’ head coaching job in the future. “I just don’t think that’s a place [my family] would relocate to at this point,” Van Gundy said. New York Post

These Blazers could be just as vulernable, and therefore volatile, as Miles. There is pressure for Aldridge to carry the team. For Batum to live up to his big contract. For Lillard to win Rookie of the Year. For Matthews to show he is more than just an effort guy. How Stotts handles them, and teaches them, is important. “He is patient with us,’’ Batum said. “In practice, he teaches us. Every time we do film, he teaches us a lesson. Every time. Where we are right now, with this group we have? It comes a lot from him, because he does a good job with us.’’ The teacher in the 11th row behind the Blazers bench, agrees. “I’m so proud of him,’’ Phelps said. Oregonian

Hours after a dramatic nationally-televised victory over the Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan executed his second round of layoffs since joining the organization in October on Friday. In a statement to Blazersedge, McGowan said that the layoffs would be the last of his current restructuring plan. "We concluded our second and final round of staffing restructuring which unfortunately included the elimination of seven positions across our organization," McGowan said in the statement. "These decisions were made because I have determined that we are operating with more staff members than most NBA franchises. Additionally, it has been my goal to restructure the organization by removing layers and creating a more efficient operation. "This restructuring has accomplished these goals and we are now getting more in line with where we need to be in regards to headcount. We believe that this round of restructuring completes our major realignments, but we remain committed to doing those things necessary for the successful operation of the Trail Blazers." Blazers Edge

"Instead of trying Dirk Nowitzki (with the Dallas Mavericks in his recent return from knee surgery) and playing on a 15-minute limit ... why not do 15 minutes in the D-League?" Kirk Lacob said. "Then if you play well, then it's 25 minutes the next time, and they build you back up. Then come back, and you can start in your first game in the NBA, and you don't have to waste all that time." USA Today Sports

Hours after Carmelo Anthony showed his game was just fine in the Garden, he told The Post his marriage was just fine at home as well. The Knicks star vehemently — and repeatedly — denied his marriage was on the rocks, and that he was estranged from wife La La. “Hell no,’’ Anthony told The Post yesterday at Cipriani Club 55, shortly after starting at power forward and pouring in a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds to lead the Knicks to a 100- 87 win over New Orleans at the Garden. “Hell no we’re not [living separately].’’ New York Post

“Just letting you know me and my wife have no problems. We’re good,’’ an amiable Anthony doubled back to tell The Post at his sneaker debut — which La La was expected to attend, but did not. When Anthony was asked where she was, he replied “She’s at a makeup showcase.’’ New York Post

Forward Rudy Gay will not play Monday night when the Grizzlies host the Los Angeles Clippers in FedExForum. Gay has been excused to attend his grandmother's funeral in Baltimore. He will rejoin the Griz for their game Wednesday at San Antonio. Gay's grandmother, whom he credits for a major role in his upbringing, passed away about 12 days ago from an undisclosed illness. Gay has been reluctant to talk about her condition, only saying that she was in her 80s. Memphis Commercial Appeal

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