HoopsHype rumors

January 17, 2013 | 09:22 PM ET Update

As for persistent trade rumors and the idea that a 24-13 team could be broken up by the Feb. 21 trade deadline, the Griz are not blaming their troubles on anyone but themselves. "It's about being committed to work ethic, being committed to second and third efforts, and being mentally tough," Hollins said. "When you get to January and February, everybody's tired. You just have to find a way to go out and get it done. You can't just say 'I'm tired and I'm not going to compete.' "There are no worries for two hours (when the game tips off). It's just me and the ball and my teammates. That's the way you have to look at it versus thinking about everything else. And I have to do the same thing. I have to go out there and be focused, and be sharper in what I'm doing as far as timeouts, substitutions and play calling as well." Memphis Commercial Appeal

There is, however, a human nature factor to constant trade talks, according to veteran forward Zach Randolph, who also has been discussed in potential deals. "We're mentally up and down," Randolph said. "We have to focus on us being together and play with confidence. All this trade talk definitely has something to do with (the team's psyche) but it's the business of basketball and we've got to deal with it. "It was definitely (former owner Michael) Heisley's plan to keep us all together and make a run for the championship. So when you come in with something different, of course, it kind of bothers you. You're like, 'Wow,' but it's the business of basketball. People have to understand that." Memphis Commercial Appeal

Griz CEO Jason Levien, who has declined requests from The Commercial Appeal to talk publicly about his plans for the team, has talked to Gay a few times about the team's situation. Levien's first question to Gay centered on whether the 6-8 forward still wants to be in Memphis. Gay indicated his desire to continue as a Grizzly. Yet neither Gay nor Randolph received an invitation to dinner with team owner Robert Pera last week when the team concluded a three-game road trip at Golden State. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol were the only players invited to dine with Pera. "It is what it is," Gay said. "I just hope it wasn't at my favorite restaurant." Memphis Commercial Appeal

The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to terms with French swingman Mickael Gelabale. Terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Gelabale was expected to join the injury-filled Wolves on Friday after Lazar Hayward's 10-day contract expires. NBA.com

Yet none of that is of apparent concern with the Griz after losing their past three contests by 21, 26 and 21 points, respectively. The players were cohesive Thursday during a players-only meeting in which they vowed that the time had come to stop talking about what needs to be done and execute. They were attentive and receptive during a lengthy film session coach Lionel Hollins used to critique and challenge every player on the roster with brutal honesty. Then came a training camp-style practice that called upon players to bring physical endurance and mental toughness. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Two Lakers and two Clippers were selected Thursday as staters for the Western Conference All-Star team. Kobe Bryant received 1.59 million votes, the most of any player in the fan balloting, as the Laker star was chosen to his 15th NBA All-Star team. His Lakers teammate Dwight Howard was also selected as a starter for the West squad. This is Howard’s seventh All-Star selection. Clippers Chris Paul (sixth All-Star team) and Blake Griffin (third All-Star selection) will also start for the West. Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant will complete the starting five for the West. Los Angeles Times

Speaking on TNT NBA Tip-off, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal said Garnett, who received 553,222 votes, the least among the 10 starters, didn’t deserve the honor this year. “I love Kevin Garnett, but he’s not having an All-Star year,” Barkley said. “It’s not fair to Tyson Chandler. He should be starting in the All-Star Game.” Boston Globe

Chandler is averaging 12.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for the Knicks as the NBA’s sixth-best rebounder this season. “Tyson Chandler should be starting,” O’Neal said. “[Garnett] is older now. He’s slowing down. Even though he’s averaging 15 [points per game], he doesn’t look like the Kevin Garnett of old. In my mind, he’s not playing like an All-Star. “It’s a political system. Yao Ming was never better than me, but he was always voted as a starter.” Boston Globe

The All-Star starters were announced Thursday night. With Derrick Rose off the ballot following knee surgery, fans not surprisingly voted in no Bulls. But when reserves are announced Jan. 24, Deng, along with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, will draw strong consideration in coaches' voting to make his second straight All-Star game. "When I play with Derrick it makes the game a lot easier for me," Deng said. "So without Derrick, I've worked on a lot of areas of my game. A lot of people will tell you my jumper off the dribble has improved. That's something I worked on a lot. "It was a tough summer with the Olympics and everything. But I never wanted to come back and have people hold fatigue over me as an excuse. I spent all summer working on my game like I was a rookie in this league." Chicago Tribune

Wallace, who returned to the N.B.A. this season after more than two years away, has averaged 7.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 14.6 minutes in 20 games this season. Woodson praised his toughness and defensive attitude. Wallace was quick to dismiss the reports, telling reporters: “My season ain’t over. I’m going to be back. I was laid off for three years, so one little foot injury ain’t going to stop me. I’m good.” New York Times

The Nets abandoned New Jersey prior to this season, moving into their new ­arena after 36 mostly forgettable years and indifferent fan support. However, this is not the first time they left the Garden State for New York: After that one year in Teaneck, they moved to Long Island for nine seasons before returning. But the hardiest of their North Jersey fan base did not desert the team. Instead they make the tortuous two-hour-plus trek from Bergen and Passaic counties to downtown Brooklyn. Bergen Record

Some use the Best Trails and Travel shuttle bus endorsed by the Nets that leaves from Paramus for $20 round-trip. Ten people took the charter Friday, and an average of about 15 fans have ridden the bus to home games since it began in December, according to Brian Bernadin, the company’s transportation department manager. But the shuttle needs 30 to 40 riders per game to be profitable, leaving the company to evaluate its future. “We might pull out,” Bernadin said. “We’re doing it just for the fans. We’re taking a loss on it. If we see some potential, we’ll take a loss. But if we don’t see potential, we would discontinue it” before season’s end. Bergen Record

January 17, 2013 | 06:54 PM ET Update

If the Grizzlies do trade Gay, don’t expect them to acquire a star player or even a high-potential rookie. The more likely scenario is Gay being traded for a package that includes several role players on short, reasonable contracts and possibly a draft pick. That’s why players like Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns and J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic have been mentioned as realistic targets for Memphis. Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards was briefly mentioned as a possibility, but that was quickly shot down, which lines up with the idea that teams aren’t willing to move a star-in-the-making for Gay. HoopsWorld

NBA Commissioner David Stern has no problem with teams aiming microphones at their own players during games. If anything, he wants more mikes on the court. Talking ahead of the New York Knicks' game in London against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, Stern shrugged off a report that chairman James Dolan used listening devices at Madison Square Garden to record everything said to and by Carmelo Anthony. With the league and media already recording most things that are said during games, Stern said that adding more microphones can only be a good thing. "Anything that is said on the court is really subject to being picked up," Stern said. "For my money, I'd like to see the audio track of our games be a little bit more robust, anyway. ... If anything, there are going to be more mikes around the game rather than fewer." USA Today Sports

Kevin Durant wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors as a young player growing up in Washington, D.C. "They were a new team when I was growing up, so I wanted to be a part of that," Durant said. Durant was a big fan of Vince Carter, who played for the Raptors from 1998-2004. "His enthusiasm he showed, just his athleticism, and how he brought Toronto from being one of the newer teams in the league to almost going to the finals,” Durant said. “He changed the culture there in Toronto." RealGM

Jonah Ballow: .@Iman Shumpert says he feels no knee pain or soreness at the moment. He adds, "I would play 48 mins if they let me" #Knicks #NBALondon Twitter @jonahballow

According to a person familiar with his thinking, the former University of New Mexico coach and Los Angeles native is looking to return to the college ranks either at the University of the Pacific or Southern California. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of coaching searches. The Tigers' program in Stockton, Calif. is a diamond in the rough if ever there was one, and longtime coach Bob Thomason – who took the West Coast Conference team to four NCAA Tournament appearances and six conference championships when UOP was in the Big West – will be retiring after this season. The Trojans job opened up on Monday when Kevin O'Neill was fired after he'd gone 48-65 in three-plus seasons. USA Today Sports

According to a person close to former Kings, Warriors and D-Fenders coach Eric Musselman, the former D-League Coach of the Year is also interested in the UOP and USC openings. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of coaching searches. Musselman is currently an assistant at Arizona State, where the Sun Devils are 14-3 overall heading into a Pac-12 showdown against Arizona on Saturday. USA Today Sports

While it appears the fate of the Sacramento Kings won't be officially known until April, sources working to keep the Kings in Sacramento say the ownership group is forming faster and better than expected. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is assembling the ownership group to compete with a widely reported $525 million bid from Seattle, led by San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told News10 the group could be announced as early as next week. News10.net

One competitive advantage for Sacramento is the money involved. Seattle's $525 million bid is for the entire team. Several sources say new local owners wouldn't have to hit that high mark, just enough to buy out the Maloofs' controlling stake in the team, which reports say is approximately 53 percent. If the Kings were to stay, there would be no relocation fees or costs and the city of Sacramento's loan of $77 million wouldn't have to repaid immediately. The source said in both scenarios, the Maloofs would walk away with the same amount of cash. News10.net

On the possible sale and relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, he said, "The one thing we do know is that no purchase and sale agreement has been submitted to us, and we assume if one were going to be executed, the next thing they would do is submit it to us," Stern said. Stern said Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA standout, requested the opportunity to address the Board of Governors or the relocation committee if such an effort comes to pass, "and I said, 'Always,'" Stern said. But Stern also said Seattle mayor Mike McGinn "came in some time ago and told us that he was in favor of having a team, and we always entertain mayors, even for cities that don't have teams." He also added that Chris Hansen, an investor who has a deal in place with the city of Seattle to build a $490 million arena there, has been in talks with the league. "So we've been -- we are more or less in a series of communications, but right now we don't know anything in terms of actionable plans," Stern said. Booth Newspapers

On other issues, Stern said the NBA is continuing to look at options for how to increase its international presence, but that any decision on placing a team in Europe is still years away. Stern, who is stepping down next year, said his successor, Adam Silver, will have to find a way to "deal with success" when it comes to satisfying the international interest in the game. "The international horizon is huge," Stern said. "The only question is, does it have to be a team (in Europe) or not? There are so many ways to capture the success that that's just something that is going to be left to Adam and his group to decide." USA Today Sports

January 17, 2013 | 05:03 PM ET Update

The Miami HEAT announced today that center Dexter Pittman has been recalled from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League. He was assigned to the HEAT’s D-League affiliate on December 26. Pittman appeared in 10 games (seven starts) and averaged 12.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.90 blocks, 1.20 steals and 25.1 minutes while shooting 46.3 percent from the field. He posted four double-doubles and was named to the 2013 NBA D-League Showcase Second Team. In his last game on January 15 vs. Santa Cruz, he posted a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double while blocking six shots in the 99-83 win. NBA.com

The Philadelphia 76ers have announced the signing of Shelvin Mack to a 10-day contract. In 14 games for the Maine Red Claws of the D-League this season, Mack averaged 20.5 points, 8.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.43 steals while shooting 46.2% from the floor, 41.8% from 3-point range and 89.6% from the line. RealGM

The obvious is official: The Mavericks will sign Mike James to a second 10-day contract. Coach Rick Carlisle confirmed that after Thursday’s practice. The fact that James played a significant role in the Mavs’ win Wednesday night over the Rockets, helping close out Houston, offered a pretty strong clue he’d be back. “Coach is continuously putting trust in me out there on the court, and I’m going to continue taking advantage of it,” James said. “I’ve been here before. I’ve been an NBA player longer in my career than I’ve played any other place, so I’m just going to continue taking full advantage of this.” ESPN.com

Despite growing up in Washington, D.C., NBA superstar Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors. On Thursday, during an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Durant said: "Believe it or not, I wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors, that was my favorite team." Durant cited that one of the main reasons he grew up cheering for the Raptors was because of the Raptors' jerseys and the fact they were new to the league. "They were a new team when I was growing up, so I wanted to be a part of that," Durant said. SportsNet

However, the Dallas Mavericks' forward participated in the three-point shootout in 2000 and '01 during All-Star Weekend, and has been in the All-Star game from 2002-'12. But that streak will come to an abrupt end when All-Star Weekend is held in Houston from Feb. 15-17. That's because the arthroscopic right knee surgery Nowitzki underwent on Oct. 19 forced him to miss the season's first 27 games and prevented him from gaining any traction towards continuing his All-Star Weekend streak. But that's OK with Nowitzki, who won the three-point shootout in 2006 in Houston, and also participated in this event in 2008. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Yeah, that's obviously a disappointing streak to end, but it is what it is,'' Nowitzki said after this morning's practice at American Airlines Center. "I had fun representing the Mavs all these years, but it's a tough year for me with injuries. "So I guess those four days (off) I'm going to enjoy and get a good amount of work in as well and be recharged for the second half of the season.'' Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Who would you most like to play one-on-one, either active or retired? Kobe Bryant: Jordan. No question. What would happen? Kobe Bryant: I’m not sure, but he would win some and I would win some in a seven-game series. It would probably come down to the last few shots. ESPN.com

You versus LeBron? Who wins? Kobe Bryant: Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it. Damn. That’s pretty confident. Kobe Bryant: LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who’s an all-time great. But I’d get him. Who could get you? Kobe Bryant: Kevin Durant is the guy that would give me the most trouble. With his length and ability to use the dribble, he’d be tough. ESPN.com

I always wanted to see you play Tracy McGrady. Kobe Bryant: I played T-Mac. I cooked him. Roasted him. Wasn’t even close. Ask him, he’ll tell you. When I was about 20, we were in Germany doing some promotional stuff for that other sneaker company and we played basketball every day. We were in the gym all the time. We played three games of one-on-one to 11. I won all three games. One game I won 11-2. After the third game he said he had back spasms and couldn’t play anymore. His back bothered him for most of his career. Kobe Bryant: Well, now you know. ESPN.com

Payton also is watching a lot of basketball. And what point guards is he watching? “I like Damian Lillard because he’s from Oakland, California, and he’s a phenomenal basketball player,” Payton said. “He should be the rookie of the year, he’s playing very well right now for Portland and I love his game. “I’ve been watching Deron Williams for a long period of time now and I like him. He is the epitome of an old-school basketball player. He just goes out there and gets it done, he’s not about being fancy, going through your legs three or four times, pulling up in your face. He just gets it done. He just gets what he has to get, gets his assists, gets his rebounds, gets his points and just gets his team to win.” NBCSports.com

Payton talked about a number of other topics with PBT as well (which you can hear more of in his own words in our Friday prodcast): On being nominated for the Hall of Fame: “It’s showing a lot of people have respected the things I’ve done in basketball and it’s showing I’ve done a lot in basketball. And I’m really happy for it. Not a lot of people can get in the Hall of Fame, it’s a great honor. I hope that I can make it.” On the NBA possibly returning to Seattle soon: “I don’t like to talk about it until it is done. Hopefully it will be there, hopefully it will come back. The Seattle people deserve it very much, they’ve been going on without basketball for seven years now and hopefully that can be done. It would be a great deal for the city of Seattle.” On defending Michael Jordan: “What you’ve got to understand is Michael Jordan couldn’t be stopped he could just be contained because he was a great offensive player. He could get to the free throw line. He could jump over you. He had great moves, he did a lot of things.” NBCSports.com

From what Carmelo Anthony saw Friday, he said he believed Kidd would when the Knicks faced the Bobcats. “He’ll be back in the next couple of days,” Anthony said. “I’m pretty sure he will be. I don’t really think it’s too serious.” Tyson Chandler, a teammate of Kidd’s in Dallas when the Mavericks won the N.B.A. title two seasons ago, agreed with Anthony. “Anytime a guy is on the court doing quick-twitch things,” Chandler said, “it’s just a moment before they are ready to come back.” New York Times

Former Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley remains intrigued by the idea of one day owning an NBA team again. "I have expressed some interest, maybe, of getting back in the league, depending on the situation. Obviously, that's important," Heisley told USA TODAY Sports Thursday. "Yeah, I would be interested in getting back. Right now, I don't have any ongoing, definitive conversations with anybody who might be currently selling their team. "At least some people around the NBA know I am interested. (NBA Commissioner) David Stern called me and asked if that was the case, and told him, 'Yeah.' " USA Today Sports

January 17, 2013 | 01:57 PM ET Update

Agent Wallace Prather stopped short of making a trade request, but multiple sources said the Hawks have engaged in some trade conversations regarding Smith. CBSSports.com

Much will depend on whether Ferry intends to take a win-now approach with a roster that is projected to have a league-high $36 million in cap room next summer, or build slowly with picks and young players. One rival executive familiar with the discussions said Ferry would not be inclined to take on 32-year-old Pau Gasol and the $19.3 million on his contract next season, but another said Ferry is seeking a veteran All-Star in any potential Smith deal. CBSSports.com

At least in this early feeling-out period with more than a month to go before the deadline, Memphis has been unable to find a team willing to give up comparable talent and let the Grizzlies off the luxury-tax hook at the same time. The Grizzlies' new front office led by CEO Jason Levien is determined to make a basketball trade, not a salary dump. Unless the posture of potential trade partners changes in the next five weeks, there's a growing sense among teams dealing with the Grizzlies that they will hold onto Rudy Gay and deal with the problem around the draft or during the summer free-agent period. CBSSports.com

Hickson has expressed several times how happy he is with the Blazers and there is a belief that Portland will do a new deal with Hickson this summer. The problem is Hickson may have played himself into a market value the Blazers won’t match. There are several teams with interest in trading for Hickson. However, if he is traded he loses his Bird rights. The only way that makes sense for Hickson to approve is if the trading team is going to have cap space to sign him without Bird rights and expresses a willingness to do it. HoopsWorld

Mark Cuban's statement this week that the "bank of Cuban is open," signaling a return of his willingness to make bold moves and take on money, prompted a yawn from some rival executives. "Open for what?" one general manager said. Perhaps Cuban felt compelled to put everyone on notice that he's back in the game after a two-year aberration of trading Tyson Chandler and assembling a team of expiring contracts in the face of punitive measures for tax-paying teams in the new CBA. But short of trading Dirk Nowitzki, which Cuban has vowed not to do, rival teams see little in the way of a franchise-shaping move the Mavs can make between now and the Feb. 21 trade deadline. CBSSports.com

Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick in 2007 who hasn't played in an NBA game since 2009 due to a litany of knee injuries, is aiming for a comeback. Part of Oden's plan is to sign with a team in the next month and get into a training and conditioning program with an eye toward returning to the floor next season. The Celtics are among the teams monitoring Oden's progress, and sources tell CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman that the Spurs and Cavaliers have expressed interest, too. CBSSports.com

Michael Finley is trying to comeback in the NBA. The experienced player talked to Basketusa about his return to the court admitting that Tony Parker offered him to play in France for ASVEL Villeurbanne. "At the beginning of the season, the Dallas Mavericks offered me a spot at the training camp but I got injured. Other teams are interested in me, I am just waiting for one of them to make the right offer to me. I have spoken with Tony Parker and he offered me the chance to play for his team in France. But my family and my children are in Dallas. I may go for a month, if it is ok for him. I had no offer yet to play but my agent is in contact with 5-10 teams. I cannot reveal the names, I can just say that 5 of them are qualified for the playoffs at the moment. I hope to return to the NBA as a player. But I won't have the chance, I'd like to stay in the NBA as GM or to work for a franchise". Sportando

Joan Nielsen: Ricky Rubio in white starter's jersey this morning. No actual confirmation yet that he's starting, will keep you posted. Twitter @JoanNiesen

After Dallas’ 105-100 victory over Houston, Carlisle was asked Mayo’s all-around performance, despite 3-of-14 shooting, was a sign that Mayo is learning to contribute in multiple ways. “It’ll be a bigger sign when I don’t have to scream at him at halftime about it,” Carlisle said. Call it tough love. Carlisle went on and on about how thrilled he has been with Mayo’s recent play, starting with the Jan. 1 Washington game. Carlisle saw slippage Wednesday night. “I thought in the first half, he took some shots that were ill-advised, when he is becoming a very good play-maker and a very good all-around basketball player. I’m sorry, it’s beneath me to watch a guy continue to veer off from the path that’s best for him and our team.” Dallas Morning News

Jordan Crawford knew something was wrong immediately after Boston reserve Jeff Green stepped on his left foot as he tried to go up for a layup. He landed awkwardly but was playing so well that he didn’t want to leave. The pain in his left ankle was so severe, however, that he couldn’t finish the game after scoring a team-high 21 points and the Wizards lost without him. “It hurt the first moment and I haven’t been 100 percent since that game,” said Crawford. Crawford played the next 25 games, establishing himself as the Wizards’ leading scorer despite an ever-changing role as backup shooting guard, to starting shooting guard, to backup, to starting point guard, to backup shooting guard once again. Until rookie Bradley Beal started to hit his stride this month, Crawford was the only Wizard who was a threat to consistently score 20 points. Washington Post

Bogut is out indefinitely because of a troublesome ankle injury that has limited him to just four games this season. In an effort to aid his return, a Nike basketball footwear technician met with Bogut at the team's training facility Wednesday for about 45 minutes to gain information for a custom sneaker that can ease ankle and foot pain, according to sources. Nike basketball footwear technicians have made custom sneakers in the past for numerous NBA players, including Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who has had lingering ankle issues. Bogut also has the option to go to Nike headquarters in the Portland, Ore., area to get more extensive testing for his specialized shoe. Yahoo! Sports

"He takes care of his rehab with our training staff and doctors and strength and conditions," Jackson said. "When he comes back, he comes back. I don't really look at that. I coach what's in front of me. There is no pressure. "I say, 'How are you doing? How are you feeling?' We have regular conversation, but I understand Andrew. I understand fighting back from it. I don't think he has to come back and save the day." Yahoo! Sports

Wallace has not played since Dec. 15 because of a stress reaction in his left foot, and published reports late Wednesday suggested his season might be over. But Woodson and Wallace dismissed the speculation as the Knicks (24-13) took the court for a shootaround at the O2 Arena on Thursday before their game against the Detroit Pistons (14- 24). “He’ll play eventually – but not tonight,” Woodson said. The coach was then told of reports suggesting Wallace would miss the rest of the season. “That’s news to me,” he said. “That’s not coming out of our camp.” New York Times

National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter and union general counsel Gary Hall failed to get proper player representative approval for a five-year, $15 million contract extension for Hunter in 2010, Yahoo! Sports has learned. The possible violation of the NBPA's constitution raises questions about the legitimacy of Hunter's contract and his future as executive director. In a copy of the NBPA constitution and by-laws, obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Article V, Section I states that "the appointment of an Executive Director, and the terms of his employment contract, must be approved by two-thirds (2/3) of the combined total of all Board of Player Representatives and Executive Committee members." Yahoo! Sports

The analysis of how the National Basketball Players Association has spent its money and conducted its business took roughly as long as the human gestational period, but the law firm that has conducted the exhaustive study is almost ready to release its results. The business review at the crux of an NBPA power struggle is expected to be released by the end of the week, league sources told CBSSports.com. Despite indications that no illegalities were uncovered in the union's business dealings, there are deep concerns among those close to the union about how damning the report will be and how it will be perceived. CBSSports.com

Such vagueness in the union's bylaws was among a litany of problems uncovered by the Paul, Weiss investigators, according to multiple people familiar with the probe. But even if the union adopted the law firm's recommendations to firm up the vague aspects of the NBPA's governing language, it isn't even clear how many players would be needed to execute a no-confidence vote against Hunter -- much less who would be on the executive committee itself. Among the other issues discovered by the law firm were lack of player involvement in the union and a preponderance of players on the executive committee who are no longer in the NBA, sources said. Of the nine executive committee members, only four -- Jones, Chris Paul, Matt Bonner and Roger Mason Jr. -- are active players. Of the three players whose terms as committee members are not up, only Paul and Bonner are currently under contract with an NBA team. Fisher, the union president, is not. CBSSports.com

In December, Representative Elijah Cummings called it “incredibly ridiculous” that the NFL does not test for human growth hormone (HGH), lamenting years of stalling tactics from the players union. Cummings, from Maryland, is the ranking Democrat on a committee that has held many a hearing on doping in professional sports. His feelings about the NFL apply to the NBA, too. A few days after the NFL hearings, his office emailed ESPN.com the following quote: According to the expert witnesses who testified at our hearing, there is consensus among the scientific community that HGH testing is safe and reliable. Since the NBA agreed last year to start HGH testing -- and since professional basketball players already compete in the Olympics where they are subject to HGH testing -- there is no reason to delay HGH testing for the NBA itself. My hope is that all our professional sports leagues implement HGH testing right away to set an example for millions of young athletes across the country who look up to them. ESPN.com

That same year, he tried to return to the NBA, but failed to make a team. He briefly played with the Guaynabo Mets in Puerto Rico in 2010 before latching on to the Idaho Stampede in the development league, where he played for two years before calling it quits in 2012. He said his downfall is partially due to the housing bubble. 'Personally, I was involved in a lot of real estate projects with the banks where I was the personal guarantor of the loans,' he said. 'And when the recession hit back in 2007 and 2008, the banks went really hard after the money. 'There's probably like 7 to eight banks that we had loans with. And it kind of hit me all at once. I had to pay back the money.' Daily Mail

January 17, 2013 | 08:11 AM ET Update

“Yeah, I'll be lying if I said it wasn't an exciting time in my life,” Hickson told CSNNW.com. “It's also exciting to play on this team that everybody counted us out at the start. We're making a lot of noise in the Western Conference. I'm trying to make this playoff run if I'm here after the trade deadline. Obviously, I'll be happy either way because I can veto any trade.” CSNNW.com

As the Feb. 21 trade deadline looms, the third-year point guard out of Kentucky is expected to attract serious attention from rival teams that are already convinced he could be their starting point guard. But being teammates with Paul and venerable veteran Chauncey Billups means there will be more time spent in the shadows than the spotlight – until now. This is the sort of consistent playing time Bledsoe has been lacking since Paul came to the Clippers via trade New Orleans in Dec. 2011, and he's made the most of it while leading the Clippers to road wins over Memphis (14 points, four rebounds, three assists) and Houston (19 points, seven rebounds, five assists). He was already the benefactor of an injury, as Billups has played in just three games this season and is out indefinitely with a foot injury. USA Today Sports

While Bledsoe is well aware that he could finish the season elsewhere, he insists he's just fine where he is - especially with Paul on the shelf. "Right now I'm just focused on getting better," he said. "The only thing I can go out there and do is compete every night." USA Today Sports

The 10-day contract of 37-year-old backup point guard Mike James is set to expire at midnight Thursday. James played 16 minutes Wednesday, scored four points, had five assists and helped Dallas make several key stops in the final two minutes. “I’d say that there’s a great chance that he’s going to be there tomorrow, after tonight,” Carlisle said. “And by the way, I thought his play at the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth may have been the difference in the game.” Dallas Morning News

Gilbert Arenas: "The NBA season is too long, but the CBA has just 32 games for the regular season, which is good. I'm old already, life in China is pretty good. Maybe when the CBA season is over, I will go back to the U.S. for the playoffs. But I'm sure that I'll be back in the CBA the next season." hupu.com

Talk ‘N Text are bringing in 6-foot-11 Keith Benson, a second-round draft choice by the Atlanta Hawks in 2011. Keith Benson started his pro career in Italy with Sassari who waived him after a few weeks of Serie A. Sportando

Drew said he will welcome Smith back with a hug before Thursday’s practice. “There is no different style,” Drew said of playing without Smith. “We put emphasis on pace and getting out and running. I think tonight we did a terrific job at that. Tonight, we were good. We were good tonight. With Josh, we are better. That is just the bottom line. It will be good to get Josh back tomorrow and I’m glad it’s not a situation where he will be out another game because we missed him tonight. Our guys responded tonight.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While these guys have put up so many points after starting so young, it remains to be seen whether either could break the NBA record of 38,387 put up by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from 1969-89. Bryant, who is 34 and has 30,619 career points, obviously could get there well before James. But he won't if he sticks with what he has speculated and retires when his contract expires at the end of next season. "I think Kobe will keep playing until he can't because he's so competitive," said Denver guard Andre Miller, a 14-year veteran who doesn't buy that Bryant will hang it up at age 35. Even if he keeps playing, Miller isn't so sure Bryant will break Abdul-Jabbar's record. But Nuggets coach George Karl believes it will happen. "I would think Kobe could do it," Karl said of Bryant, who will face James on Thursday night at the Staples Center. "He can do that in 3 ½ years." FOXSports Florida

Robert Horry laid into former teammate Kobe Bryant while speaking at the ninth Lakers All-Access event at Staples Center. "[When] Kobe is on the weak side, he needs to start paying attention to where the ball is and not be flying around, thinking he's some stealth bomber where he can get steals nonstop," said Horry. The Lakers (17-21) have struggled this season as a team to play defense, and Horry put a sizable share of the blame on Bryant. "That's the only reason you won two games, you solved the problem," continued Horry, speaking of Bryant's move to covering point guards Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks. Los Angeles Times

And with Miami coming to Staples Center on Thursday, Bryant was asked about LeBron James' belief that the Heat experienced an incredibly, unknowingly difficult challenge before winning an NBA championship last season ... much more complex and intricate than whatever the Lakers have encountered. "No one will ever be able to compare what we went through," James told reporters recently. "Even though they're not winning and they're losing a lot of games, it's still nowhere near what we went through. "That level of magnitude was nowhere near where ours was two years ago. Nothing. Nothing compares to it." To which Bryant replied Wednesday, "What does he want, a cookie?" Los Angeles Times

As for the James hardship quote, Howard couldn't help but detail his own struggles amid the expectations of a championship that ballooned when the Lakers' training camp began in October. Just making the playoffs is their goal right now. "Laker fans expect me to do a lot night in and night out and you just have to deal with it," Howard said. "At times it can get tough and can get to a point to where you're like, 'I'm sick of it.' But I'm a strong person and I will overcome the situation that's been put in front of me. And I also understand that I've got to be patient with my body. Nobody else is going to be patient but me. It's going to continue to get better." Los Angeles Times

It was actually Boston's normal substitution pattern, and the elder Rivers held true to his word by putting his team's best on-the-ball defender on his son later in the game. But the whole experience left the elder Rivers uneasy while trying to balance his emotions as a coach and father. "It's just a strange dynamic," Rivers said of only the fourth father/son battle in NBA history. "I didn't enjoy it, honestly. I know it's neat for everyone else, but, as a father, I don't know if I enjoyed that." ESPN.com

There wasn’t much interaction during the game between father and son, and Doc acknowledged there is a sense of relief that the matchup is done. “You know, it was strange. It was funny, the one time he did something, I was about to say something and I didn’t say it — I caught myself — I forgot he was on the other team,” Doc said. “Other than that, it’s just a strange dynamic. I didn’t enjoy it, honestly. I know it’s neat for everyone else, but as a father, I don’t know if I enjoyed that. George Karl this summer, we were laughing, and he said, ‘It’s going to be strange’ and he said, ‘your [son’s] going to play more [than usual].’ And he was right.” Boston Globe

Jeremy Lin didn’t hesitate with an honest answer when asked if he feels like an All-Star. “Uh, no,” he said softly after another choppy performance Wednesday night as the Houston Rockets lost for a fifth consecutive time, unable to claw all the way back from 15 points down despite several chances late to go ahead. NBA.com

Starters for both conferences will be announced Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET on TNT. At last count two weeks ago, Lin was in third place among West guards, well behind Kobe Bryant, but only about 46,000 votes behind the Clippers‘ sensational CP3, who is averaging 16.8 points and ranks second in the league in assists and first in steals, while pacing his team to a 30-9 record. “That’s the furthest thing from my mind, to be honest, being on a five-game losing streak,” Lin said after finishing with 19 points and four assists, numbers that blurred a five-point night on 2- for-9 shooting through three quarters. “I don’t even care right now, I’m just trying to get a win.” NBA.com

The proclamation was a perfect prelude. Prior to Kenneth Faried's fourth double-double in six games — 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Portland Trail blazers on Tuesday — Greg Anthony said on NBA-TV that the Nuggets power forward should be an all-star reserve. "I think Faried has had an all-star caliber year," Anthony said on air. "When you play with the passion and fire that he plays with, it wills his teammates to compete just as hard." Denver Post

Before Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nuggets coach George Karl said, "We could have a very good record" at the all-star break, "but I haven't heard one name mentioned (for all-star consideration). Anywhere." To be fair, Karl might not have caught what Anthony said. "Kenneth has probably been the most consistent of our starters," Karl said, "but he's an energy guy, so he's not going to get much love." Denver Post

"I've just been trying to play like an All-Star this whole entire season, trying to keep that mind-set," Irving said before the Cavs faced the Portland Trail Blazers in The Rose Garden on Wednesday night. "Whatever happens, happens. Obviously, anything could happen in the next month, so I'm just going to continue to play the way I've been playing and try to get my team wins." Irving was the MVP of the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend last season, and when asked if he'd like to return and play in the regular All-Star Game this season, his answer was obvious. "Yeah, absolutely," he said Wednesday. "But that comes with playing every single night and just doing what I do." Cleveland Plain Dealer

In the next five years, 10 years, there will at least be a small recognition there really is a larger world out there. It’s coming. It isn’t hard to sense. “It’s going to be great,” J.R. Smith said. “The best cities to go to on the road in the NBA are the cities where you can explore, and see things, not feel trapped in your hotel. I know guys feel that way about New York. Here, I’m going to see a few museums tomorrow, get a feel for what the culture is about.” Said Novak: “We’re going to a soccer game tonight [Chelsea vs. Southampton] and I know a lot of guys are excited about that. It’s the kind of thing you don’t always get to do on your average, ordinary road trip.” New York Post

Lucas has kept in regular contact with Rose, checking on his rehab from surgery in May to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. “Knowing him, probably at the All-Star break, though it might be into the next month, March, but I just want him to come back 100 percent because the game needs him,’’ Lucas said. “Not just the Bulls, but the NBA as a whole needs him, too.’’ Chicago Sun-Times

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is out indefinitely after spraining his right ankle. Yes, that ankle. "It was really a freak injury," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said before Wednesday night's game against Miami. "We don't do much in shootaround -- (he was) just chasing after a loose rebound. It's unfortunate. We will shut him down. He'll get treatment, and we'll see where he goes." Curry sat out the defending NBA champions' lone trip to Oracle Arena this season, his first missed game of the season. He injured the ankle at the shootaround Wednesday morning when he landed on the foot of rookie Festus Ezeli. "I haven't had a sprain in two-and-a-half months, so my ligaments are as probably the healthiest they've been," Curry said. "Just have to wait and see how they recover. " San Jose Mercury-News

But Woodson said yesterday he hasn’t had any conversations with Knicks GM Glen Grunwald about signing a free agent such as Kenyon Martin. Wallace was scheduled to start running this week but that hasn’t yet happened. Woodson originally thought Wallace was returning after the West Coast trip Jan. 1st. "He'll be back, but when, I don't know," Woodson said. "We're gradually trying to get him back where he can run again so he can get back in a uniform. But when, we don't know when yet." New York Post

Gustavo Ayón is making progress in his recovery from a contusion in his right leg, but the Orlando Magic big man sat out his sixth consecutive game when the Magic hosted the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. In a video in Spanish posted on the team's website, Ayón said, "Overall, I'm feeling better. But I'm going to wait some days, until I feel like I'm back 100 percent. I am not going to risk being out for another two weeks just to avoid missing one game." Orlando Sentinel

After taking in LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Saturday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was back in Sleep Train Arena Wednesday when the Kings took on the Washington Wizards. Johnson spent a good seven to eight minutes talking to a small group of media members from his courtside seat. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation. Johnson on the positive vibe right now in Sacramento regarding the Kings: “I just feel that there were two big questions lingering over the last year. Were they willing to sell and what was the number? And a week ago we found out they were willing to sell and we know what the number is. That puts us in the ballgame. And we’re going to everything we can to surface a credible group of owners who have the resources and wherewithal to follow the criteria of ownership.” Cowbell Kingdom

Johnson on the potential “whale” that’s been mentioned as a potential buyer: “I would acknowledge a whale or two and I think what people mean by a whale or two – are there equity investors that are willing to come up with the necessary resources to match or come up with something that’s fair and comparable to what’s being offered in Seattle? And I will tell you, I said this, there’s not one or two, there are multiple who are very interested. That’s good for Sacramento. It says a lot about our community and our market.” Cowbell Kingdom

Johnson on whether he is surprised by the interest from potential buyers who want to keep the team in Sacramento: “Once it leaked and once it became public that there was a potential deal in Seattle, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. And these are people that have significant dollars. And these are people that want in at different levels. It’s good for Sacramento. It’s great when you’re community is the envy of a lot of folks who want to be a part of this community. And I’ve said time and time to prospective owners, you’ve got to keep the team in Sacramento, you have to do an arena deal. They want to be in this market – that’s awesome.” Cowbell Kingdom

Of the 29 (30 if you wanna count Staples twice) NBA arenas, MSG probably has the best pre-game and break-in-action music. When it comes to TV broadcast-only music for bumpers and the like, the Sacramento Kings’ local affiliate probably has the best selections, believe it or not. But when it comes to in-game song selection, there is no equal for FedExForum. While the sheer volume of it can be occasionally exhausting — only Barclays definitely beats it in terms of songs per minute — the stadium is unmatched for the breadth, diversity and high quality of the songs being played during any given point in game action. The Score

“The guys” at FedExForum are Nathan Black, the Forum’s official in-house DJ, and Justin Baker, the Click Effects Operator. Black, who has been with the Grizzlies since they came to Memphis in 2001, handles the music for the timeouts and halftime and pre-and-post-game, basically any time except for when the ball is in play. He’s the guy who has made songs like Tag Team’s “Whoomp! There It Is” and The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” FedEx fixtures, and who cemented DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” (with a special Grizzlies-specific verse from Memphis rapper Freesol) as the Grizzlies’ signature victory song. The Score

Now, the fans have gotten really into it. Potter says he’s “getting emails from people requesting stuff. ‘Oh, the Crystal Castles album! This xx song would be perfect!’” Not only that, but Potter also says that people have been sending him stats based on how the team has been performing based on what song has been playing — “Like, when you play the “Tron: Legacy” soundtrack, you’re shooting that percentage.” He later quips, “I’ll have to ask Hollinger what kind of stats he wants,” no doubt the final frontier in advanced stat analysis for the Grizzlies’ new VP of Basketball Operations. The Score

His pregame and practice chats can be informal rap sessions on a wide range of topics. On Tuesday, Howard declared which NBA player should join the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). "There's one guy in the NBA right now who could be probably the best MMA fighter in the world . . . [Nikola] Pekovic from Minnesota," Howard said. "I swear. I swear he looks like he could be a great MMA fighter." "Based on his body, I'm telling. He could go to MMA and be the champion," continued Howard. "Have you seen Pekovic? He's 7 feet. He's 300 pounds." Los Angeles Times

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