HoopsHype rumors

January 22, 2013 | 11:36 PM ET Update

The Los Angeles Lakers have consistently turned away trade inquiries in recent weeks for All-Star center Dwight Howard and still believe they have a strong chance of signing him to a new contract when Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, according to sources close to the situation. But sources told ESPN.com this week the Lakers might be forced to reconsider that position between now and the Feb. 21 trade deadline because of Howard's growing unhappiness with his role under coach Mike D'Antoni and the potential that raises for Howard leaving them in July without compensation. ESPN.com

Howard has not publicly indicated any desire to sign elsewhere when he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1 and came to Los Angeles determined to succeed with a minimum amount of fuss after the hits he took image-wise during his drawn-out departure from the Orlando Magic. But sources say that Howard, as the Lakers' struggles have mounted, has dropped hints within team circles about his discomfort in D'Antoni's system and that he could consider moving on if things don't improve or change. ESPN.com

The Lakers, sources say, have been telling interested teams that they don't want to make a major move of any kind between now and the trade deadline given how tumultuous their season has already been. Following the much-heralded offseason acquisitions of Howard and Steve Nash, Mike Brown was fired after just five games and replaced by D'Antoni after the Lakers flirted with bringing back legendary coach Phil Jackson. In addition to rebuffing the trade interest in Howard, Lakers officials are also reluctant to trade Pau Gasol for players who fit D'Antoni's system better -- despite Gasol's recent demotion to the bench -- because they still have no assurances Howard will stay beyond this season and don't want to risk losing both of their elite big men after trading away Andrew Bynum in the original Howard deal last August. ESPN.com

ESPN.com reported earlier this month that there's no shortage of rival executives who believe that the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks -- who'll both have the requisite cap space to steal him away -- would get serious consideration from Howard if he decides to explore his options in free agency. "I have it as Lakers, Dallas or Atlanta for Dwight," one Western Conference GM said recently. ESPN.com

Back in late October, the Trail Blazers declined to pick up Williams' fourth-year option, making him a unrestricted free agent. Without a huge body of work to pull from, Williams' stock will be an unknown. However, he's confident in what he can provide on the court and he says it all starts with getting healthy first. “I'm not even worried about that (free agency),” Williams said. “Right now, my main focus is getting healthy. Once I get healthy, I'll be fine.” CSNNW.com

Blanks, whose team is 13-28 overall and has lost 13 of its last 15 games, said reports of his heated verbal argument with O'Neal in the coach's office Monday were overblown and in no way connected to the recent promotion of player development coach Lindsey Hunter to interim head coach. Former coach Alvin Gentry was, for all intents and purposes, fired on Jan. 18. "There's no acute issue," Blanks told USA TODAY Sports of the argument with O'Neal first reported by Yahoo! Sports. "Our interaction had nothing to do with the coaching situation. I can tell you that, with one hundred percent certainty. The time that any reporters are going to put into it is going to be wasted time – unless they're trying to create an issue for us. "But if they're coming at it in a fair sense of there being a story, there's no story. JO and I are two competitive guys who had an argument, and that was it. We walked out (of the coach's office where the argument took place) giving high-fives and brother hugs, and it's over." USA Today Sports

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul will miss Tuesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a bruised right kneecap. It is the fourth game Paul has missed this season with the injury after returning to start the last two games against Washington and Golden State. ESPN.com

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season. "Don't celebrate too early," he said. In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials Tuesday, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California's capital city. The three-time NBA All-Star turned mayor unveiled 19 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to be part of a group that would buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partner he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week. "We've been here before," Johnson said. "Our backs have been against the wall. They told us it wasn't going to happen. But each and every step along the way, as long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself." NBA.com

January 22, 2013 | 10:34 PM ET Update

Rick Bonnell: Hornets become Pelicans Thursday, putting ball in Bobcats' court on nickname. There would be deliberate market research before any change. Twitter @rick_bonnell

January 22, 2013 | 09:07 PM ET Update

RealGM.com, citing an unnamed source, reported Tuesday that the Brooklyn Nets are preparing once again to try and acquire Dwight Howard. A league source, however, emphatically told Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com that the report isn't true. ESPN.com

A year ago, I met with Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to discuss his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. It was for a story on the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. Bryant's 81 is the closet anyone has come to matching or surpassing Chamberlain's 100. One of the questions I asked Bryant: "Have you ever watched the replay of that 81-point game?" He said no. "There's nothing I could have learned from that game," Bryant told me. "It was just pure fluke, a freak of nature-type thing." USA Today Sports

Bryant had that seven-year itch to finally watch it, and Bryant live Tweeted while watching. "I can't believe I've never watched this game till now," Bryant Tweeted. And: "After my first bucket I realized their rotations weren't sharp or early." And: "This game was the 1st and only game my grandma has seen me play as a pro, On my late grandfather's bday no less#countonfamily" USA Today Sports

Bryant responded to a fan who wanted to know what Bryant did with the shoes he wore in that game. "@4yearsenior I sent them to the hall of fame," Bryant replied on Twitter and @nikebasketball Tweeted, "Here is the proof @kobebryant @4yearsenior #countonkobe" with a photo of the shoes in the Hall of Fame. When I talked to Bryant, I wanted to know why he didn't watch it, just to see if he had a chance at 100 points. ""If I did watch it, it would only (upset me) if I saw I really could have had 100," Bryant said. USA Today Sports

Lakers forward Jordan Hill was examined today in Nashville by Dr. Thomas Byrd, and has scheduled surgery for tomorrow morning on his left hip. Hill, who suffered the injury on January 6th in a game against the Denver Nuggets, has appeared in 29 games this season, averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes. NBA.com

When asked how he felt about the coaching change, Gentry gave the impression he wasn't exactly on board with the idea. "Decisions are made that you don't agree with," he said. "They have the right to do that." Gentry said he will use this new-found time off to visit his daughter, visit other teams around the league and visit his friend Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University because, quite simply, he can't stand to just sit around. "I'm going to focus on my next endeavor and the next place that I can possibly be." Arizona's Sports Page

But according to Van Gundy, Gentry should not have been forced to shoulder the blame for the team's recent woes. "I thought he did an outstanding job in Phoenix," said Van Gundy. "I think he's a good coach and a great ambassador for any organization. I think he's exactly the type of man you would want your son to play for and to emulate. "I couldn't speak more highly of a person than Alvin Gentry." Arizona's Sports Page

Kevin Johnson revealed the first step in his fight to save the Sacramento Kings. Speaking to a large contingent of fans and press gathered at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, Johnson introduced the faces of a local ownership group willing to throw their hat into the ring in the battle to keep the Kings. “We have been great partners with the NBA,” Johnson said, flanked by business and political leaders and fans who stood with him. “And we have done what any community should do to keep this team here and certainly we are going to continue to build on that.” Cowbell Kingdom

While “whale watching” for the major-equity investors continues, Johnson has received 20 pledges for a million dollars each from a diverse, potential local group. “It’s really about the local community stepping forward and that’s what we are committed to do today and that’s what we’re going to talk a little bit about,” Johnson said. Cowbell Kingdom

The Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a 10-year extension of their STAPLES Center lease it was jointly announced by Andy Roeser, President, Los Angeles Clippers and Timothy J. Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG, owner and operators of the Los Angeles arena. Terms of the agreement were not released. “We are very excited about our present and our future at STAPLES Center. It is indeed an honor to benefit from the sustained stability that accompanies being part of the greatest venue in the NBA, and we are glad to provide this state of the art backdrop to our deserving and loyal fan base,” said Clippers’ President Andy Roeser. NBA.com

January 22, 2013 | 05:06 PM ET Update

Suspended Houston Rockets rookie forward Royce White told HBO's Real Sports he understands he may never play in the NBA because of the complexities of his generalized anxiety disorder, yet said, "I'm not going to accept it without a fight." In the nearly 16-minute segment, which airs on HBO Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET (and at 10 p.m. PT), White admitted to reporter Bernard Goldberg that he has shown up for some team activities. "I have not always showed up for practice, but every time I didn't show up for practice, it was a medical reason," White said. USA Today Sports

Carmelo Anthony is already getting Kevin Garnett questions with the showdown two days away in Beantown. "I don't know what message we sent to him,'' Anthony said when I asked if he feels he showed KG he's not backing down. "We just want to win.'' Iannazone asked Melo if the tiff between him and Garnett is over. "Oh yeah,'' Anthony said. "Honestly, it’s not even on my mind right now. It hasn’t been on my mind since that day.'' Or since he left the bus area - unable to get a piece of Garnett. Anthony admitted Boston's arena should be "a hostile environment.'' Sulia

Because of his 3-point game, Bonner has garnered a small but significant following that is now soliciting the league to allow the 6-foot-10 shooter to participate in this year’s 3-point contest during All-Star Weekend. There’s an online petition at Change.org that currently has more than 250 signatures, and a Twitter hashtag — #letbonnershoot — that’s been catching on among indie-rock bands, including Arcade Fire. "There's so much injustice in the world that we can't do anything about, but this is something we can change. #LetBonnerShoot," reads a recent tweet that was RTed 300 times. (The campaign is reminiscent of the Let Shannon Dunk push in 2010. That one ended with an underwhelming Shannon Brown appearance in the slam dunk contest.) Grantland

Bonner’s brother Luke has also taken up the cause; according to his Twitter page, he is appearing on NBA TV today to speak about the #letbonnershoot movement. Whether any of this will actually make a difference is unclear at this point, though short of reviving the ghost of 1988 Larry Bird, this could be one of the things the league could do to make the 3-point contest intriguing again. Grantland

If Turner and the Suns part ways, the team is expected to look within the organization to fill out Hunter's coaching staff. Corey Gaines, who has WNBA coaching experience and has served as a scout and player development coach for the Suns, is a likely addition to the bench, sources said. CBSSports.com

Scalabrine, who retired over the summer after a very serviceable 11-year NBA career, took on four of Boston’s best ballers in 98.5 The Sports Hub’s 1-on-1 “Scallenge,” put on by morning hosts Toucher & Rich. Listeners sent in their try-out videos, showing off their skills and talking some trash towards Scal, but it turns out even Boston’s best was no match for Scalabrine. He said before the “Scallenge” it would be no challenge, and Scalabrine did not disappoint on that proclamation. CBS Local

Scalabrine — who spent the last few seasons of his career seen as the “human victory cigar” — easily defeated all four of his opponents, throwing down monstrous jams and sinking smooth jumpers as he beat them all by a combined score of 44-6. But Scal applauded his competitors for their effort. “When you go into a game you have to realize that these guys can play,” Scal said of his opponents. “They’re strong, they’ve played against guys quicker than me, they’ve played against guys bigger than me, they’ve played against guys stronger than me.” CBS Local

January 22, 2013 | 02:19 PM ET Update

Ronald Tillery: Griz will sign shooting guard Chris Johnson of Dayton, per source. Team brass liked him at D League showcase. CA story coming. Twitter @CAGrizBlog

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired forward Jon Leuer (LOO-er) and a trade exception from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for forward/center Marreese Speights, guards Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby and a protected future first round draft pick, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced. Currently in his second professional season, Leuer (6-10, 228) recorded 19.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists on .512 shooting (.467 3FG) in 36.5 minutes in eight games (seven starts) for Cleveland’s exclusively-owned NBA Development League team, the Canton Charge. The 23-year-old also has made nine appearances for the Cavaliers this season, averaging 2.4 points in 10.1 minutes. NBA.com

The Cleveland Cavaliers have recalled forward Kevin Jones Jones from the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers exclusively owned and operated NBA Development League team, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today. NBA.com

NBA basketball side the Brooklyn Nets could be set to play a match in the Croatian capital to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of its former Croatian star Drazen Petrovic. The Brooklyn Nets, who were called the New Jersey Nets when Petrovic was a star there in the early 1990′s, will play a match against Petrovic’s former club Cibona in Zagreb if there is enough interest, it was reported on Euro Leagues website. Croatia Week

January 22, 2013 | 01:25 PM ET Update

Net Daily: Nets source: Howard trade rumor "total BS" ... "fabricated" by "Jarrod Whatever His Name Is" Strong words delivered minutes after report. Twitter @NetsDaily

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired forward/center Marreese Speights, guard Wayne Ellington, guard Josh Selby and a future first round draft pick from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for forward Jon Leuer, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. The Cavaliers also waived guard Jeremy Pargo. “Marreese will strengthen our front court, while Wayne and Josh will add depth to our back court. At the same time, we are adding a valuable asset with another future first round pick, while also maintaining our future flexibility,” said Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant. “We wish Jon and Jeremy the best as they move on with their careers and thank them for their time with us here in Cleveland.” NBA.com

The local faces of Mayor Kevin Johnson's pitch to keep the Sacramento Kings in town are expected to be unveiled today. Johnson will reveal the names of more than 10 local business leaders seeking to be part of a new ownership group for the Kings. Those local owners would partner with a deep-pocketed investor when Johnson presents the team to the NBA as a counter-offer to the Seattle group that has agreed to buy the Kings. Among the group of local investors seeking to buy a part of the team are developers David Taylor and Phil Oates. Sacramento Bee

The Miami Heat may be champions of the NBA... but when it comes to singing, the champs need to stick to their day jobs. Appearing at Shane Battier's charity Battioke event last night, Heat players spared no time in butchering some of the world's most popular songs. Local 10 Miami

January 22, 2013 | 12:02 PM ET Update

Ronald Tillery: Source confirms Speights, Ellington, Selby and protected first in 2015 to Cavs. Griz receive Jon Leuer and $6.4 million trade exception Twitter @CAGrizBlog

Funny, but Nelson has defied the critics who said he was too short by staying in the league long enough to hear whispers he's getting old. Turning 31 on Feb. 9, he knows what he's facing in the next phase of his career. And he has news for the doubters --- again. Nelson hopes to be able to play until he's 40. "God willing, yeah," he said. "I hope my body holds up until I'm 40." Orlando Sentinel

"We need to go back to basics," Bryant said. "We need to put guys in positions to do what they do best. We need to strip it down. Steve is best in pick-and-roll. Pau is best in the post. I'm best from the free-throw line extended down. Let's go back to basics. "We've got to evaluate what's going on. Management is looking at it. The players are looking at it. I'm looking at myself. I'm shooting a low percentage right now, and I've got to look at that. It's on me to make shots, but I'm having to make tough shots, getting the ball 30 feet from the basket and [expletive] like that. Yahoo! Sports

Howard was unhappy after getting just five field-goal attempts in the loss, rarely getting the ball early in the game. "Look at the stat sheet," Howard said. "Look at the stat sheet." Asked how he can get more shots, Howard said: "It's simple. Play inside-out." Asked if it is out of his power, he said quietly: "Just continue to play. Not get frustrated. As hard as it is, can't get frustrated." Orange County Register

On the issue of Howard's belief that the ball simply doesn't go through him enough on offense, Bryant rejected the premise. "I've tried to go out of my way to get him the ball," Bryant told Y! Sports. "Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I've got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I'm going to shoot, so his back is turned. I'm trying to think about getting him the ball a lot – take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I'm fine with that. If that's going to help our team, I'm more than willing to do that." Yahoo! Sports

When LeBron James said he was taking his talents to South Beach, he wasn't talking about his vocals. The Miami Heat superstar took the stage Monday night at a charity event hosted by teammate Shane Battier and performed Michael Jackson's classic Rock With You. Let's just say that all-around dominance on the basketball court doesn't equate to all-around dominance on the stage. But we have not come here to bash LeBron. His performance was at a charity event that benefits youth and teens through philanthropy and scholarship programs. He got on stage and sold his performance without a hint of vanity. There's something admirable about that. The sweater: much less so. USA Today Sports

After a 95-83 loss in Chicago that he called "very, very frustrating," Kobe Bryant needed to blow off some steam. And thanks to his relatively new Twitter account, which instantly became a must-follow feed, the Lakers star showed the world just what he does when he's furious and stuck in the freezing Midwest unable to sleep. Via @kobebryant: Beethovens Moonlight Sonata calms me down when I reach my breaking point #relaxandfocus pic.twitter.com/8GkSU2qd USA Today Sports

January 22, 2013 | 11:35 AM ET Update

The Brooklyn Nets are preparing to make another run at Dwight Howard, according to a source. Playing in Brooklyn with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson was at the top of Howard’s list last summer and the Nets are convinced that the seven-time All-Star still has a strong desire to make the Barclays Center his home office. The Nets have played well under P.J. Carlesimo and feel like the addition of Howard could be the piece that gets them to the NBA Finals. RealGM

King, according to sources, was confident that he had a trade proposal that was a perfect fit for all teams involved. According to sources, King was planning to contact the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to gauge their interest in a three-team trade that would send Kevin Love to the Lakers, Brook Lopez to the Timberwolves and Dwight Howard to the Nets. Other small pieces would need to be included, but the proposed trade was thought to be intriguing enough to start conversations in the Lakers front office that would force them to deal with Howard earlier than planned. That idea, however, was hurt when Love was sidelined 8-10 weeks with a broken hand. RealGM

However, it is important to the Grizzlies because it saves them roughly $6.2 million in salary, getting them below the $70.3 million luxury tax threshold and helping them avoid tax payments after the season. The Grizzlies, recently purchased by Robert Pera, who has restructured the front office, had been shopping forward Rudy Gay in an effort to trim salary. This might be a sign that Memphis is willing to keep Gay and see how the season plays out. USA Today Sports

Dirk Nowitzki didn’t score more than 20 points in a game during his first month of action this season, but he believes he’s on the path back to his norm. “Basically with me not having training camp, training camp’s almost over,” said Nowitzki, whose right knee started swelling at the beginning of camp, leading him to undergo arthroscopic surgery Oct. 19. “Four weeks and hopefully I can get back in a rhythm a little better.” Recent history suggests Nowitzki is right to think he’ll return to being an All-Star-caliber player soon. ESPN.com

When the city put forth major time and energy to broker last year’s arena deal, they negotiated its terms with the NBA, not the Maloofs. The Kings owners had seemingly turned over all bargaining responsibilities to the league. “Obviously, we’re leaving that up to the mayor and the city and the NBA,” Gavin Maloof said on Kings Media Day in 2011. ”But the NBA is keeping us apprised of what’s going on.” “I’ll be as clear as I can that we know that the NBA had the power and authority to represent them,” Johnson said after the deal fell apart at last spring’s board of governors meetings in New York. “As they had been doing for many, many months.” Stern and the league’s first-hand knowledge of what transpired last year may come into play during the decision-making process. Johnson could use that to his benefit when he pleads Sacramento’s case to the league’s 30 owners. Cowbell Kingdom

When it comes to overall market size, Seattle has the advantage. In Nielsen’s TV market rankings for the 2012-13 season, the Seattle-Tacoma area is ranked 12th and boasts approximately 1.8-million households to its credit. But that benefit does shrink a bit when taking into account that Seattle already has three major league teams. Sacramento, meanwhile, is eight spots below Seattle in the DMA rankings. As the 20th largest TV market in the country, the capital city along with the Stockton and Modesto areas combine to make up 1.4-million households. But consider this: Sacramento is one of just two NBA cities in Nielsen’s top 20 that have 100 percent market share. Outside of Sacramento, only Orlando, ranked 19th, can make such a claim. “If you look at how other cities have NBA teams, most of them have more than one professional team,” said Johnson in his press conference at city hall almost two weeks ago. “In Sacramento, there’s one professional major league team and it’s the Sacramento Kings.” Cowbell Kingdom

Things I picked up from this undated video, which was sent in by Herbie: 1) LeBron’s the man, but you already knew that. 2) Those black patches near the ears/shades of D Wade … that’s a new one. Never seen that look before. The Big Lead

January 22, 2013 | 10:32 AM ET Update

Adrian Wojnarowski: Trade market for Pau Gasol complicated because Lakers have made clear that they don't want back long-term money in deal, league sources say. Even the Lakers - flush with cash - don't want the tax burden of Dwight Howard (assuming he signs), Kobe Bryant and a third massive salary. Twitter @WojYahooNBA

Despite admitting dissatisfaction over his new bench role, forward Pau Gasol maintained he wants to stay with the Lakers. "I'd love to and I want this to work for us," Gasol said following the Lakers' 95-83 loss Monday to the Chicago Bulls at United Center. "I feel like I'm a part of this team and part of this franchise. I love to play here for as many years as possible because I identify myself with the team. I want it to work." Los Angeles Daily News

It not a huge secret that Celtics president Danny Ainge and his staff have been kicking the tires on their options for most of the past month. The Celtics have always been aggressive about shopping the marketplace, but despite rampant speculation that Boston might move one of its core pieces like say a Paul Pierce, Celtics sources say that unless it returned a bona fide All-Star of Pierce’s stature in return moving him was not in the cards. HoopsWorld

That’s doesn’t mean Washington isn’t looking to shake some things up. Sources close to the process peg the Wizards as a front runner in the ongoing Rudy Gay talks with Memphis and that they do have several other situations they are involved in. The Wizards are not sending out rookie Bradley Beal as some have reported, but they do have several pieces that are moveable and attractive. HoopsWorld

The Celtic chips most teams are talking about are guards Courtney Lee ($5 million), forward Jeff Green ($8.35 million) and forward Brandon Bass ($6 million). None of them are overly impressive in a trade on their own; however, any combination of them could get a salary high enough for a more significant deal. The problem is the reason the Celtics want to move them is they have been underwhelming this season and that’s really driven down their trade value. HoopsWorld

More than a few league sources peg Jordan Crawford as the chip that is drawing the most interest in return from the Wizards. Crawford is an impact scorer from the bench in the mold of a Jason Terry or Jamal Crawford. He also doesn’t earn much by NBA standards, scheduled to earn just $1.19 million this season. HoopsWorld

J.J. Redick, perhaps the Magic player most in demand, has rabbit ears when his name is connected to trade scuttlebutt. He was not happy when a recent West Coast report had him being shipped to Golden State, feeling the rumor was invented. Orlando Sentinel

“Realistically, I don’t see major changes coming,” said Ainge, well aware that market factors and the Rubik’s Cube difficulties of finding a transaction that meets the needs of two teams at the same time conspire against blockbuster trades. Boston Herald

Q: Do you think he really knew what he wanted? Stan Van Gundy: I think he might have known. He had a great fondness for Orlando, the fans and the way people treated him. I think he might've wanted a different environment, a big city. He's a young guy and I think he was conflicted. It was hard for him. Dwight doesn't like to disappoint people. That's one of things that sort of clouded the situation and made it as messy as it was. He's not the kind of guy to just say, "I want the hell out of here.'' With me, the situation wasn't good for our team. There was a lot of speculation, first about (Howard possibly) leaving. As a team, our guys dealt with it well. Before he got hurt, we had one of the top five or six records in the league. The distractions kept amping. The story got out that Dwight asked for me to be fired. Before the All-Star break, ESPN reported that the Magic had told Dwight that, at the end of the season, he could decide whether (general manager) Otis (Smith) and I came back. USA Today Sports

Stan Van Gundy: I had some real disagreements with (Magic CEO) Alex Martins. Otis and I were on the same page and I didn't have any problems with Dwight. I had problems with how our organization approached the situation, how they decided to cater to (Howard) in ways that I thought were counter-productive for our team. I thought we should have dealt with some of the rumors (about his coaching future). I made it known that it wasn't a matter of my fate. They could have ended all the speculation and fired me right then — I said that to them. That stops the speculation and gets you back to basketball. They wouldn't do anything about it. USA Today Sports

Stan Van Gundy: When I (publicly) confirmed what I knew that (Howard) had asked for me to be fired, I thought, "The story dies." We didn't get to find out because Dwight played only two more games. I've been asked if I had any regrets about what I said. My only regret was that I didn't bring things to a head a lot earlier. If you're going to coach, your responsibility is to do the best for your team. I presented (management) with the option of getting rid of me. I wasn't trying to save my job. When I (publicly) confirmed Dwight (tried to fire him), I knew it wasn't the best move for me to keep my job. But if you're going to coach just to keep your job, you're not going to be very good. USA Today Sports

It wasn't just that the Lakers lost again. It was how they did it, where they did it, and he was simply seething. He even put out a call to ditch Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo style and post up more after Pau Gasol got moved into a reserve role. "We're going to have to look at some things," Bryant said after Los Angeles lost 95-83 at Chicago on Monday. "We're going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That's just my intuition, but that's my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we're definitely going to have to change something." USA Today Sports

"Very, very tough, very, very frustrating, trying to keep my cool," Bryant said. "It is embarassing. It is not even embarassing. I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you're in the house of MJ, Pippen, PJ (Phil Jackson) built, to put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable." USA Today Sports

Asked if it is out of his power, he said quietly: "Just continue to play. Not get frustrated. As hard as it is, can't get frustrated." Asked if the inside-out offense could be a start to turning their record around, Howard said: "We've just got to play the right way. All I can tell you guys is we've got to keep believing. We can't lose faith in each other. It's tough." Orange County Register

"I'm not excited about it," said Gasol, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds. "But right now I'm more worried about us as a team and us struggling, so it would be selfish of me talking how I feel about [this] in particular." Los Angeles Times

Craig Sager reported this early in Thursday night’s TNT telecast, as seen in the video clip above. “Pau Gasol and I talked to before the game,” Sager said. “He is not at all happy with the decision. He says I have never been a role player in my life. I don’t like it right now. I said, what about the possibility that maybe your time with the Lakers could be coming to an end at the All-Star break or the trade deadline? He said it certainly looks like a possibility to me.” NBCSports.com

After dipping to a career-low average of 7.7 points last season, World Peace bounced up to 13.5 this season. He had 12 against Chicago on four-for-11 shooting. "Some people forget what type of player I am. I could be averaging 20-plus points, to tell you the truth, you know?" he said. "Coach [Mike] Brown really wanted me to just play defense so I wasn't scoring the ball as much. He wanted me to take on just a defensive mind-set. He said embrace it. So I did. "It doesn't help me because these general managers these days, they try to negotiate and look at numbers when they know that you helped them win. They look at numbers at the end of the day. Los Angeles Times

Noah sat for the fourth quarter and overtime of Saturday's loss to the Grizzlies and responded with strong game in Monday's victory over Lakers. Noah had season-high 6 blocks. “Thibs would never talk bad or say anything bad about us in the media, but that was all me,” Noah said. “He took me out. I was emotional about it. I was pissed off. I said some things I shouldn’t have said. You learn from it and move on. That’s the mindset I wanted to have. It was my fault. There are so many games. I didn’t want it lingering. I have the ultimate respect for my head coach.” Sulia

There would be seven new All-Stars next month in Houston if the 16 NBA players polled by HoopsHype had their say. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, Knicks center Tyson Chandler, Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Pacers forward Paul George and Rockets guard James Harden received tremendous support in the voting while Sixers guard Jrue Holiday and Bulls center Joakim Noah squeaked in for the last spots. All-Star veterans like Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh or Paul Pierce also made the list while the usual snubees - Atlanta's Josh Smith, Milwaukee's Monta Ellis, Memphis' Rudy Gay - were left out. HoopsHype

Most overrated player today? Stan Van Gundy: Jeremy Lin (of the New York Knicks). He's not a guy who should be third in the (All-Star) voting. I never thought (Nets point guard) Deron Williams was overrated but right now people still look at him as one of the top two or three point guards in the league. He hasn't been that (in recent seasons). USA Today Sports

Humphries did not need them to document the vitriol Knicks fans spewed at him Monday afternoon at the Garden, but maybe he could have picked up a sign of life from the crowd after the Nets pulled out the 88-85 win. “They were harassing me when I was going in and out of the tunnel,” Humphries said. “But after, I asked them, ‘Why’s everyone so quiet?’ New York Daily News

Humphries expounded on his remarks via Twitter: “the Garden got really quiet on the way out!” If this insult jumpstarts a real rivalry, let it be known it involved, like most things these days, Kim Kardashian, Humphries’ former wife. New York Daily News

The Knicks’ J.R. Smith, who missed the potential game-tying basket at the buzzer, responded with his best shot when he made reference to Kardashian’s latest man, Kanye West. “Wasnt quiet when Kanye tore it down last month!” Smith tweeted back at Humphries. New York Daily News

Then, on a Friday night in Brooklyn, he beat the Pistons and the double-overtime buzzer with a game-winner. Three weeks later, another Friday night in Washington, D.C., he beat the Wizards and the buzzer, again. Confidence is a funny thing: When it goes, it’s gone. But when it grows … “There’s nobody you’d rather see with the ball in the end,” Brook Lopez says. “He wants it, every time,” Deron Williams says. “Yes,” Joe Johnson says. “I want to take that shot.” New York Post

Still, if there was little question Johnson was taking the shot for the Nets, there is no question Anthony will take it for the Knicks. But Gerald Wallace defends him brilliantly, veers him off balance when he drives to the baseline, forces an air ball. The Garden groans. “I missed it,” Anthony will say. “I didn’t execute. Shots I know I can make, I normally make, I didn’t make.” New York Post

Immediately following the game, there wasn't much talk coming from the Trail Blazers' locker room, so Jared Jeffries used that silent time to address the team. He basically gave his reasoning to why the Trail Blazers have been struggling of late and he offered a solution. “I said we got to stop this bleeding,” Jeffries said. “We got to stop (expletive) around at the beginning of the game. You can't let a team come in and get into a rhythm. If we let guys come in and get a rhythm and get comfortable, you let Martell [Webster] get comfortable and as soon as Crawford checks in the game, he gets comfortable then you wonder why he makes a shot like that. It's because you didn't take him away early, you didn't mess with his confidence at all.” CSNNW.com

“We're doing a bad job right now of playing the game consistently and the way we should,” Jeffries said. “We're a good team, but we're not taking anything away from nobody. It's frustrating because we're better than this. We're a good team and we always find a way to come back and be in games, but we need to find a way to be up in games.” Nicolas Batum had little to say. “I don't know what it is,” Batum said. “I'm not sure what the problem is. We're not closing games like we used to. We gotta figure it out because we got a tough schedule ahead.” CSNNW.com

Thibodeau said star PG Derrick Rose is "very close" to starting full contact drills in practice, the next step in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Could it happen this week? "Yeah — it could," Thibodeau said. Is it scheduled to happen this week? Thibodeau said, "It could." He also said Rose will have to go through full-contact drills "for an extended amount of time" and that he won't be playing after "one or two days of contact." USA Today Sports

Stan Van Gundy: There will be a big part of me that always will want to coach. But my family deserves to have veto power. They sacrificed. When we moved here (from Miami in 2007) my oldest daughter was going to be a sophomore in high school. She was pissed. I think she has forgiven me by now. I felt bad for her but I needed the job. It would have to be a place where I came home and said, "What do you think of such-and-such city?" I don't know if that's out there. Q: Could it be in, say, Milwaukee? Stan Van Gundy: We've done our time in Wisconsin. We spent three years there (from 1992-95 when Van Gundy coached Wisconsin). We loved Madison but when you've lived like this, and lived in Miami, I don't know that we're going back to winters. It's funny because my wife is from Vermont. But now, if it drops below 70 degrees, she's too cold. USA Today Sports

How would you feel about a temporary Brooklyn address? Stan Van Gundy: My brother and I believe the same thing — if somebody already has a job (they won't campaign for it). P.J. (Carleismo) has the (Nets) job. I know, like and respect P.J.. If it were the off-season, I would listen to (overtures from NBA teams). But I don't know. I've only been out of it six or seven months. I'm not ready to make that decision and just jump back in, like what Andy Reid did (with the Kansas City Chiefs). USA Today Sports

Would you be interested in coaching (Dwight Howard) again? Stan Van Gundy: If I were coaching, and he were available, I would tell my GM, "That is a guy you want." He's smart, he defends — he does a lot of things. (Howard) would have to answer this question: Would he want to play for me again? That was a definite issue. I told him at the time that I don't have any problem if an organization says, "We don't think this is working. Dwight's our star. We want someone he feels more comfortable with." What is not fine is what (the Magic) let it become. USA Today Sports

Stan Van Gundy: I was disappointed the ESPN (offer) fell through because I was going to do their studio show (until the deal fell apart). (But) my brother said, "You're not going to enjoy doing a (studio) show.'' Q: Do you believe you were submarined out of that job? Stan Van Gundy: I'm pretty sure I was by David. It's funny. People say it all the time that when an opportunity closes, you end up in a better place. It happened to me in Wisconsin. I lasted one season and got fired. I was 36 and absolutely depressed — like I just blew the best opportunity I ever will have in my life. A few months later, I'm in the NBA. (The ESPN job) would have been more money but I would have been basically flying to LA all the time. Now I work Wednesdays, a little on Fridays and do a college game on a Saturday every couple of weeks. I stay in touch with the game and I'm having fun with it. USA Today Sports

Why do you see Stern's footprints? Stan Van Gundy: (ESPN) contacted me – they drove the whole thing. All of a sudden, it came to a stop. Whether it was Stern directly, the league office making a call or someone at the top at ESPN . . . There's no question the comments I've made about David Stern kept them from hiring me. I said things that pissed him off. USA Today Sports

Tayshaun Prince smiled when asked about Lindsey Hunter. The former Piston was named interim coach of the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, and Prince recalled the vital role Hunter played in 2004 when the Pistons won their last NBA title. The move was surprising because Hunter has no coaching experience. He was promoted from the team's player development area. But Prince said Hunter, whom he called a "player-coach" when he played, has what it takes to succeed. "Obviously taking over a team that's been struggling is going to be difficult," Prince said after the Pistons' victory over the Celtics Sunday. "I'm definitely anxious and excited to see it because I know what type of guy Lindsey is, so I want to see how his plan (works)." Detroit Free Press

Former NBA player and coach Bill Cartwright has been hired as coach of the Osaka Evessa in Japan's professional basketball league. Cartwright coached the Chicago Bulls from 2001-03. Osaka announced Tuesday he would guide the team for the rest of the 2013 season. Houston Chronicle

Speculation that the proposed new owners of the Kings franchise will seek to pry R.C. Buford away from the Spurs when, and if, the purchase is approved and the team moves to Seattle has been met with bemusement within the Spurs’ organization. A source within the organization said that the Spurs’ general manager “is not going anywhere. “He loves living in San Antonio and loves what we have built here,” the source said. “You could probably find about 25 of the other 29 franchises that would like to have R.C., so the speculation is understandable, but he’s staying with the Spurs.” San Antonio Express-News

Told that the intended subject had nothing to do with the state of his red-hot team — it was a question about whether the N.B.A. had in certain operational ways become the realization of Martin Luther King’s dream — he dropped his guard and nodded. “I think a lot of credit has to go to David Stern,” King said. “His message to ownership has always been, ‘It’s not the color of skin, it’s can a guy coach?’ That’s what set us on the path to where we are today.” New York Times

“When we felt we needed to make a change, we chose the guy with the most experience, and color had nothing to do with it,” said King, relaxed in such conversation on a holiday when reflection on race is almost expected and on Monday was no doubt enhanced by the second inauguration of President Obama. New York Times

While Hansen deemed the deal "binding" in his statement on Monday, Stern has already made it clear to Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson will have a chance to present a counter-offer to the Board of Governors, though the timing is not yet known. What's more, a person with knowledge of the Maloofs' situation told USA TODAY Sports that it remains possible – depending on how the NBA handles the process going forward – they could sell to a Sacramento-based group if a competitive offer materialized. The person requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation. USA Today Sports

The push to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle has officially become political. And the gloves, as was expected, have come off in this seemingly-unfair fight. In a letter intended for California Department of General Services director Fred Klass that was distributed to USA TODAY Sports and a select few other media outlets, California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg raises questions and concerns about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's involvement in the proposed purchase of the Kings while lobbing veiled threats all along the way. Ballmer is part of the Seattle-based group that has reached an agreement with the Maloof family that owns the team to buy a majority interest for approximately $341 million (based on a $525 million total valuation of the franchise). USA Today Sports

Considering the deep pockets of the Hansen-Ballmer group and the fact that Seattle is, according to Arbitron, the 13th largest media market in the country and Sacramento is 27th, the overwhelming sentiment around the league is that the move would be approved. Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof, on behalf of the Maloof family, said in a statement: "We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise." USA Today Sports

Webber along with fellow former King Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal weighed in on the news near the end of the program. Here are few of their comments followed by audio of the roundtable discussion on Turner Sports’ venerable postgame show. Webber’s initial reaction: I’ve heard all the news. I still, you know, I don’t believe it. I have to not believe it. I refuse to believe it. Cowbell Kingdom

Webber on the deal being submitted to the league office: The paperwork is in like you said, but that just means the paperwork is in. It doesn’t mean anything else. You know, it’s funny. I’ve been hearing a lot of criticism everybody saying ‘Why everybody keep fighting? Just let it go, just let it go.’ Well if you’re in Atlanta, what if you were going to lose the Hawks? If you’re in Orlando, you wouldn’t let it (the Magic) go. You’re gonna fight ’til the end. A few of us are going to do that as well. Cowbell Kingdom

Perhaps in a move by the NBA to capitalize on the immense global popularity of Kobe Bryant -- who could be playing his final season in 2013-14 -- the Los Angeles Lakers will participate in the China Games next preseason, according to multiple team sources. ESPN.com

We anoint you Commissioner For A Day. First act? Stan Van Gundy: I think (Stern) had the right idea with our last lockout (regarding) this runaway train of money. It had to stop at some point. It's hard because players aren't going to want to give back. Selling advertising on jerseys is preferable to keep jacking up prices on the fans. I remember moving to northern California (as a boy) in 1968. My dad was a high school coach. We could afford to go see the Warriors. If you measured then the cost of a pro basketball ticket to a movie, it's not anywhere near what it is now. Maybe that train has left the station. USA Today Sports

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