HoopsHype rumors

January 23, 2013 | 09:32 PM ET Update

Sources say that West hopes to play his way back into the league just like Mike James did earlier this month, earning a call-up from the Mavericks after a brief but successful stint in Frisco. James is nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the Mavs and, according sources, is a strong possibility to be signed for the rest of the season next week. ESPN.com

Jamal Crawford's crossover dribble is a straight-up pain to those who try to stop it. He can fake to his left and go to his right. Dribble behind his back or between his legs. Or hesitate before accelerating toward the basket. Often, the veteran Clippers guard will combine multiple moves in a blur of activity that resembles something out of a Harlem Globetrotters routine. Don't bother guessing which move he will go to next. Not even Crawford has any idea. "When I have the ball," he said, "I don't know exactly what I'm going to do, so there's no way the guy on me knows what I'm going to do." Los Angeles Times

The move has spawned the Twitter handle @JCrossover and a legion of nicknames from his teammates. Chauncey Billups calls Crawford "The Mechanic" because he's always fixing people up with his ability to create space for jumpers or drives toward the basket. Grant Hill dubs his array of moves "The Barbecue Pit" because Crawford is constantly cooking his defender. "To say it's extremely impressive is an understatement," said Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas, one of the inspirations for Crawford's crossover dribble. "You want to find a better word in your vocabulary to express how extraordinary his ballhandling skills are in terms of being able to get anywhere out on the floor that he needs to get to and also to create a shot. His creativity in terms of handling the basketball is off the charts." Los Angeles Times

Majerle said he believes the interview process to replace former head coach Alvin Gentry was a charade because he thinks General Manager Lance Blanks already had settled on Hunter over the assistant coaches. "It's been a hard pill to swallow," Majerle said. "The first thing that disappoints me is usually in a situation like this, the interim gets the jobs and that is Elston (Turner) with his 14 years of experience. Once he didn't get it, I thought I deserved it. The thing I keep hearing management say on the radio is that hiring me would've been the popular and easy thing to do. I earned it. I deserved a shot if it's not going to be Elston. I coached 5 ½ years. I coached the summer leagues. I didn't need a favor. Picking Elston would've been the easy thing to do." USA Today Sports

Majerle told the team he did not want to return as an assistant under Hunter and received his full salary while Turner is still weighing his future, although he has not participated in the past three practices and did not join the team for Hunter's first game as coach Wednesday night in Sacramento. "They talk about integrity," Majerle said. "To skip over two qualified people didn't make sense. They chose Lindsey, a guy not even on the coaching staff and who they told us was only there to help us. I think they had their minds made up already before the interviews. I was going to lay low and not comment but I heard people from the organization get on the radio and say I would've been the popular and easy thing to do and that's a slap in the face." USA Today Sports

"They didn't talk to the assistants a whole lot," Majerle said. "Sometimes, there's a fist bump. The communication wasn't great. Alvin was fired and I didn't hear anything until 9:30 that night. I didn't understand why they had to interview the assistants. They know us." Majerle said he was at the arena when he got a phone call from Blanks 45 minutes before Sunday's practice telling him that he was not the interim coach. "He wouldn't tell me who got it and said, 'I'd rather excuse myself from that conversation,'" said Majerle, maintaining that he would have stayed to work with Turner. USA Today Sports

January 23, 2013 | 07:53 PM ET Update

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have signed center Aron Baynes. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not announced. Born in Gisborne, New Zealand, Baynes most recently played for Union Olimpija of the Slovenian Basketball League in 2012-13. In 10 games he averaged 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in 26.2 minutes. NBA.com

Baynes, 6-10/260, began his professional career in 2009-10 playing for Lietuvos Rytas of the Lithuanian Basketball League, a squad that went on to win the Lithuanian National Championship. In 2010-11 he played in Germany for EWE Baskets Oldenburg before joining Ikaros Kallitheas in Greece the following season. In the summer of 2010 Baynes was named to the Australian senior national team and competed at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Baynes then represented Australia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where he averaged 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting .656 (21-32) from the floor. NBA.com

The Lakers needed to talk. So they did. Loudly. They held a clear-the-air team meeting before Wednesday morning's shoot-around, with Kobe Bryant very directly asking Dwight Howard if he disliked playing with the long-time Lakers star. "Guys went at each other a little bit," said a person who witnessed the meeting. Los Angeles Times

Bryant also spoke up, acknowledging he could be "hard to play with" and asking Howard if that bothered him. Howard's answer was unclear, though he did not engage Bryant in nearly as vocal a manner as Bryant engaged him. "He didn't go back at Kobe," said the person who witnessed the meeting. It was not known how long the actual meeting lasted, but the Lakers' shoot-around went an hour longer than expected. Los Angeles Times

Why should things actually change this time around for the 17-24 Lakers? "I think it's a little bit different now," Howard said. "I just think it will be different. Our mentality might be a little bit different." By saying "our mentality," Howard was referring to his own mindset first and foremost. "I have to be more," said Howard, who is averaging 17.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on the season. "I have to do more for this team. There are a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I have to step up and take it. It has to be me. It has to start with me. I'm a guy that has to dominate for us to win. We're not going to win unless I dominate." ESPN.com

The former three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year said that domination does not necessarily mean needing more shots and apologized for his complaints about getting just five shot attempts on Monday after the Lakers' 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls. "That's over with," Howard said. "I can't think about it. That was immature. I shouldn't have done it, but today is a new day and today is a new game." D'Antoni said that Howard's offense will come, but the team is relying on his defense. "We need to get Dwight involved offensively, but it can't predicate, 'Well, you better,' because then he won't [defend]," D'Antoni said. "We need to post him up more, we need to get the ball more and better, at better spots." ESPN.com

The Lakers center said he is not surprised by the trade speculation surrounding him following a report by ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne and ESPN.com's Marc Stein saying that the Lakers have begun mulling their options to move Howard. "The only reason they're saying that is I have an opportunity to walk away at the end of the year, so I totally understand that," Howard said. "But that's my right at the end of the year. It doesn't matter what team [wants me], or whatever they decide to do. I plan on being here for the remainder of the season, and my focus and our team's focus is what we can do is to get into the playoffs, and from there, it's anybody's game." ESPN.com

Below, a transcript of some of the more relevant bits from White's 16-minute Wednesday morning radio interview, in which he discussed not only his possible return to the Rockets, but also how the issue started, his view of mental-health-related stigma in America in general and the black community in particular, the difference between the dynamics of college and pro teams, how he's like Magic Johnson, and much more: On his mental illness and communication with the NBA: "Well, the first thing is, I have a number of mental health issues. None of them are severe alone, and none of them are severe unless they are exacerbated. That's what happens with mental illness — for example, my anxiety affects me on a daily basis, but when it becomes exacerbated, then it has physical symptoms, just like an injury, like a physical injury. Like, if I had a heart condition. Yahoo! Sports

On fans upset that he's refused to report despite making millions of dollars a year: "Well, I haven't received a paycheck yet. So that's the real truth. [...] One of the things that most of us know — I wasn't listening to the radio, actually; somebody called me and said I was on so I turned it, I was at Jack in the Box — most of the people in the studio know that what everybody thinks really don't matter. A lot of people ain't paying enough attention to their own lives, so they probably ain't paying close enough attention to somebody else's life to make an accurate depiction or an accurate comment about it. And that's what's going on here." Yahoo! Sports

On how long he anticipates the "standoff" with the Rockets will last: "Well, actually, you know, we're in the 12th hour of it being over." On his choice to consistently advocate for his position on Twitter rather than remaining quiet in the public eye and handling the situation with the Rockets behind closed doors: "Well, you know, you've got to do what you think is best. And everybody's their own kind of person, and me, I'm just a — you know, I'm a combustible guy. I say what I want, you know, because there ain't enough people to stop me. And that's the 'me being an a**hole' answer, but the real answer is that I believe that sticking with the truth is always going to win in the end. You know, there's the whole idea of 'politically correct' — I don't really believe in that, because I believe 'politically correct' keeps us from resolution. Yahoo! Sports

On that "12th hour" comment, the nature of his resolution with the Rockets and whether we'll see him play basketball this year: "The resolution, when I say we're in the 12th hour, I mean we're literally in the 12th hour — like, I think any hour now, this whole thing'll be over and I'm gonna be, I'm supposed to be returning to the D-League on Feb. 11. So that was the plan. We'll see if it finally goes through, but the last thing I heard was that that's what we're gonna do, that's what we're planning to do, and we're just waiting on everybody to get the right paperwork and stuff like that." Yahoo! Sports

Matt Bonner being Matt Bonner, the realization that the social media campaign to get him into this year’s 3-point shootout was gaining momentum took place at a sandwich shop. A man behind the counter at Lenny’s Subs told the scarlet-haired sharpshooter he had re-Tweeted the movement’s suddenly ubiquitous hashtag — #LetBonnerShoot – in support. “I had to look up what hashtag meant,” said Bonner, who does not have Twitter or Facebook accounts. “Then I came to realize this whole social media phenomenon had started. It’s very flattering. I’m honored to have so much support.” San Antonio Express-News

Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond has agreed to a three-year extension worth approximately $5.5 million combined, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the team does not disclose financial terms. The deal comes on the heels of the Bucks' coaching change on Jan. 8, with Scott Skiles leaving and assistant Jim Boylan taking over. Milwaukee has won six of its last eight games and is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference at 22-18. USA Today Sports

“I just turned down a ridiculous number for this team,” Grousbeck says before we head down to our seats, unable to contain himself. How ridiculous? He’s a dealmaker, a longtime private equity guy, and he knows we’re in the middle of doing FORBES’ annual valuations of NBA teams, so of course he’ll whisper it but won’t say on the record and won’t disclose who made the offer. But if it had worked out, he insists, it would have dwarfed the $360 million he and a group of investors, including fellow private equity pal Steve Pagliuca, paid for the team back in 2002. Pushed, Grousbeck offers this: “There are franchises in the NBA that will be worth a billion dollars,” he says. “If there aren’t already.” Forbes.com

Yet lead investors Grousbeck, 51, a former partner at Highland Capital, and Pagliuca, 58, a veteran of Bain Capital, insist that their team isn’t for sale. At least not yet. Grousbeck, who grew up in nearby Weston, Mass., is clearly a fan, one who discusses draft picks and all-star selections as easily as his latest cable deal with Comcast. He delights in marketing the team, a powerhouse brand that he snapped up during a dormant period, to his fellow New Englanders. Pagliuca, who has largely concentrated on the media business during his 30 years at Bain, where he still works, also likes tying himself to community affairs. Raised in Framingham, Mass., some 20 miles west of Boston, he’s made a play for the struggling Boston Globe and a run for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Also a committed hoops junkie, Pagliuca once played as a walk-on at Duke University. Forbes.com

The boldest move was Garnett, who came in a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves (with Ainge practically swindling his former teammate Kevin McHale, Minnesota’s GM) with two years remaining on a six-year, $126 million deal. After two subsequent extensions Boston will wind up paying the big man $140 million for eight seasons, until he’s 39. It’s risky. The club’s full executive committee reviewed the deal, seeing it as a make-or-break moment. “If it works, it’s a championship. If it doesn’t, it’s a financial burden,” Grousbeck says. “Every single guy said, ‘I’m in, and if anyone wants to be out I’ll do their piece’.'” Given Garnett’s central role in returning the Celtics to NBA glory and four years of consistent sellouts, it is working so far. “Winning after taking a risk makes it all the more fun,” he says. Forbes.com

On Monday, Jan. 28, seven months after winning the NBA championship, the Miami Heat will meet with President Obama at the White House to be honored. The President will also recognize the Heat for their support of the military and their families. While in Washington, the Heat will also meet with wounded warriors. USA Today Sports

January 23, 2013 | 05:18 PM ET Update

As for Granger, he's getting assurances that the team has no intention of trading him. But if the right scenario comes along that lands the Pacers a young talented power forward or point guard, I think there's a good chance he's gone by the deadline. ESPN.com

Rookie forward Royce White is close to returning to the Rockets and to reporting to their D-League affiliate. In a call in to a morning show on 97.9 The Box, White said he plans to report to the D-League on Feb. 11, pending “paper work” on a plan with the team. According to a person with knowledge of the plan, the Rockets are close to making an announcement in which White would return to the team under a written agreement that includes key elements of the protocols that White wanted to have as an addendum to his contract. Houston Chronicle

After the Celtics’ fourth straight defeat — a 95-90 loss suffered at the hands of Kyrie Irving (40 points) and the Cavaliers — guard Avery Bradley tweeted: “Nobody will score 40 on [me] unless they take 40 shots.” Irving scored his 40 on 24 shots, although just three of those attempts came against Bradley; meanwhile, the Cavs point guard made 6-of-11 attempts against Celtics point Rajon Rondo, according to Synergy Sports (h/t @ESPNForsberg. That may not even include plays like Irving’s isolation drive past with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when he blew by Rondo and got (questionably) fouled by Jared Sullinger on a three-point play. WEEI.com

We'll soon find out if this year's Los Angeles Lakers team is like the boy who cried wolf or the cat with nine lives because according to Dwight Howard, they have pressed the reset button on their season once again. "I think this will be the start of a new season for us tonight," Howard said after the team's shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. "Hopefully our effort and energy is where it needs to be tonight. But, it starts with me. I have to bring it." ESPN.com

January 23, 2013 | 02:15 PM ET Update

Lopez is having the best season of his career, blossoming into an aggressive defender and an All-Star candidate. The Nets are a lot happier with having Lopez over Howard – who has become a running joke amongst players – than they were last season. “We’re happy with Brook,” Williams said. “Brook is our center. He’s having an All-Star year. I don’t see Brook going anywhere.” New York Daily News

“(Lopez and I) talked about it last night,” Williams said. “All it is is rumors and sources. Sources are not credible to me. Until you put a name to a source, it’s not credible. “I’d be really surprised if Lopez doesn’t make (the All-Star reserves, which will be announced tomorrow). I don’t know how you could leave Brook off. What he’s meant to this team on both sides of the floor. He’s been the most consistent throughout this season. I think he’s an All-Star. …I think in general he just came in with a chip on his shoulders, being in thrown around in trade rumors for the last two years and being hurt last year and people doubting him, so I think he definitely came in ready to go this year and really confident. Hopefully people are taking notice.” New York Daily News

However, the eleven year NBA veteran says he’s absolutely certain he won’t be exercising the player option at season’s end and is intending on remaining in Minnesota. “I’m going to stay in the NBA for sure,” Kirilenko told HOOPSWORLD. “There is no doubt about it. I like Minnesota and I like [head coach] Rick Adelman.” “But we really need to get everyone back in the lineup,” Kirilenko added while admitting his frustration with Minnesota’s assortment of injuries this season. “It’s hard to play this way.” HoopsWorld

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed guard-forward Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract a day after sending three players to the Cleveland Cavaliers to free up salary space. The Grizzlies announced the deal Wednesday. ESPN.com

The Los Angeles Lakers already have fired one head coach in this disappointing season, but general manager Mitch Kupchak isn't placing all the blame for the team's 17-24 start on the current one. "Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike (D'Antoni) as a coach," Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview Tuesday from Memphis. "I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It's the coach's job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he's done things and I think that's what Mike is going through right now is just the process." ESPN.com

Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to team up on a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the city of Sacramento on a plan to help finance a new downtown sports arena, The Bee has learned. A source familiar with the negotiations told The Bee late Tuesday that Burkle and Mastrov are both committed to keeping the team in Sacramento and building the Kings into a contender. The teaming of Burkle and Mastrov is seen by city officials as a "dream team" counteroffer to the group that this week reached a deal with the Maloof family to buy the Kings and move the franchise to Seattle, the source said. Sacramento Bee

The Arison family paid $32 M for the Heat in 1988. Today, the team is worth $625 M, according to a valuation by Forbes Magazine. Forbes estimates that the Heat is the sixth most valuable franchise in the NBA. Tops on the list is the New York Knicks, which Forbes says is worth $1,001 M. The Lakers are second at $1,000 M. Forbes says that only the Knicks and Lakers break the billion dollar mark. The Heat lands between the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets on Forbes' list. Miami Herald

The Manti Te’o Kiss Cam is something even the lonely ones among us can get behind. Seeing as you don’t need a beaux to make it to the jumbotron — né, are required to not have one — even you destitute Clevelandians can make it big. If you happened to be at the Cavaliers-Celtics game and Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, and if you came alone, which at a Cavs game, you probably did, maybe you were one of the lucky few to end up on the Manti Te’o Kiss Cam. For the record, the Manti Te’o Kiss Cam is exactly what you think it is. SportsGrid.com

January 23, 2013 | 07:56 AM ET Update

According to multiple team sources, the Nets have not engaged in trade talks for Howard and remain skeptical the Lakers will deal their center by next month’s deadline. They’ve also talked privately with Lopez about the circumstances, reassuring him that he’s not involved in any trade proposals after he signed a four-year, $61 million deal. New York Daily News

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

It’s unclear if the Nets contacted Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak about Howard, but other teams were told the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is unavailable. The feeling is the Lakers (17- 24), who appear on their way to missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005, will wait it out and sell Howard on being the centerpiece of their future. “The Lakers will call Howard’s bluff,” said a league executive. “And then he’ll re-sign.” New York Daily News

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. ESPN.com

The Nets won’t have the cap space to sign Howard in free agency, so they’ll need a trade to own his Bird Rights and fit his contract into a cap exception. Dallas and Atlanta are among the teams that are likely to have enough space to sign Howard as a free agent, threatening the Lakers’ plans. New York Daily News

Even at the tender age of 37, Allen remains unequivocally one of the elite shooter in the game. Just check his 3-point shooting percentage this season: It’s .432 — the seventh-best in the league. Yet, while it appears Allen still has more than fumes in his tank, the Miami Heat reserve guard acknowledges he may be closer to his career finish line than people think. “I don’t know when I’ll retire,” said Allen, who began his pro career in Milwaukee in 1996 and spent six-plus productive seasons with the Bucks before being dealt to Seattle. “I’d like to get through the year first. I feel great; my body feels good. I just got to get through. “I’m at a point where I’ve been pretty successful and I’ve gotten to the point where I really understand the game and how to play it. “But I’m not going to be that guy who just hangs on. At some point, I can let it go.” Racine Journal-Times

But Allen said that’s hardly a slam dunk he’ll play beyond this season, that this could indeed be his farewell season. “It’s possible, yeah,” Allen said. “Who knows what’s going to happen over the course of the summer? I have two years left on my contract. We’ll see how it goes.” Racine Journal-Times

The veteran point guard is in the last year of his $3.25 million contract. Unlike Maxiell, Bynum said the prospect of change never crosses his mind. He still plays like a man bartering for his future, with his second consecutive 15-point game Tuesday, to go with four rebounds and six assists. "Deadline for what?" Bynum said when asked about the trade deadline. "My future's here, man. My future's here in Detroit. You ain't been watching? I ain't been thinking about it. Nothing to think about. Nothing to think about." Booth Newspapers

But he’s about as intriguing a rookie as the Mavericks have had since Howard, or at least since Beaubois splashed on the scene four years ago. And the kicker is that he wants to be here. Long term. Not just for this season or next. But he sees himself as a Maverick and, if we will have him, a transplanted Texan. All of that is dependent on him proving he deserves to be here, of course. “I really want to make this my home,” said Crowder, who is operating on a two-year contract. “I really enjoy playing for the organization, and I like Texas and Dallas. So that’s one of my biggest goals for now, to try to make this my home. I want to help us win games. I don’t look forward to moving to another team. I want to make this my home for my whole career.” Dallas Morning News

Chris Vernon: Grizzlies are thinking about signing Josh Childress. Nothing official but he is in the mix to fill out roster Twitter @ChrisVernonShow

Howard and several other players have soured on D'Antoni's perimeter-oriented offensive system, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard. A few have gone to him about slowing down the tempo and playing inside-out, but so far D'Antoni hasn't been willing to change. "Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike as a coach," Kupchak told ESPN. "I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It's the coach's job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he's done things and I think that's what Mike is going through right now is just the process." ESPN.com

Reporters asked Anthony at the close of Tuesday’s Knicks’ practice if he has put that Jan. 7 confrontation with Garnett behind him. Was he still brooding about the fact that after that game, which the Knicks lost, he had stalked Garnett, first outside the Celtics’ locker room and then alongside Boston’s team bus? Was he still kicking himself for ending up with a one-game suspension from the N.B.A.? Was he over it? “Oh yeah,” Anthony said, whether he meant it or not. “Honestly, that’s not even on my mind right now. And it hasn’t been on my mind since that day.” Lowering his voice to nearly a whisper, he added: “On my end, there’s nothing left over. It’s just another game that’s on the schedule.” New York Times

During the C's rougher-than-expected season, Garnett has challenged both himself and his teammates to look within themselves first and foremost in trying to figure out how to get this team on track. For Garnett, those soul-searching moments have yet to reveal the solution that he's so desperately seeking to discover. "I don't know man; I don't know man. I want it so bad," Garnett said. "I have to find a balance. Some of the things I messed up on tonight, that's not me. Garnett added, "I have to be better. I have to do better. I have to be more effective for 48 minutes, regardless." CSNNE.com

It was difficult for Paul Pierce to admit, but with his team having a 20-21 record and four straight losses, he had to. “I think we got pieces here,” the Celtics captain said before Tuesday night’s 95-90 loss to the Cavaliers. “We just got to come together. We got to figure this thing out. Can’t get discouraged. “I think that’s the one thing this team lacks, that mental toughness, man. When we lose our confidence, I’ve never been on teams like that. We got to stay together, we got to play with confidence. “Yeah, definitely, it hurts me to say that. It’s like I really sometimes don’t believe it. “We get down on ourselves. We got to go out there and believe we can win every game. It’s tough sometimes.” Boston Globe

All of which the Thunder take with them in their 109-97 victory. But without the NBA's best point guard playing, not only was the feel of the game altered but our perception of the outcome also changed. Or, as Clippers center DeAndre Jordan proclaimed: "I know what we're capable of and I still believe we're the better team." Long Beach Press-Telegram

It doesn't work that way anymore. This time 11 points in seven minutes turned into 13 points in 32 minutes. Martin isn't the first-option scorer on this Oklahoma City Thunder team. He's not even the first-option Kevin. That would be Mr. Durant, who had a game-high 32 points in the Thunder's 109-97 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. And don't forget about Russell Westbrook, who had 26 points of his own. "When your two big dogs come back in, you just go back to your third-man role," Martin said. "I accepted it. This is probably the happiest I've been in my career since my Sacramento days." ESPN.com

Instead they're a game ahead of last season's pace after 42 games. Martin can stake a claim in the best record in the league, if for no other reason than he didn't burst like a water balloon from the pressure of replacing the popular Harden. "Man," Martin said, exhaling at the memory of his arrival in Oklahoma City. "People really don't understand that. Especially a trade like that. It's going to be under a microscope. Them getting to the [NBA] Finals, just having good team chemistry and coming in and knowing you've got to be a big part of what they do now. "It's tough. But I think that's where my personality comes in. Just staying level, don't get too high, don't get too low, just be confident in what you did over the last eight years in the league. Coming in, trying to fit in and not mess up." ESPN.com

Will Suns let PF/C Jermaine O'Neal go and if they did would he still be the same without Phoenix's extraordinary training staff that has clearly rejuvenated him? No one thought he had something left for an 18th season, but clearly he does. A source says that his dispute with GM Lance Blanks was over the fact the Suns plan to diminish his role, something O'Neal did not want to see happen. With the array of teams that could use even the limited minutes O'Neal could provide as a rim protector and finisher -- including his previous team, the Celtics, along with the Heat and Sixers -- Jermaine assuredly would be snapped up if the Suns let him go. Sulia

A story written by Swedish writers while Jerebko was in London quoted the forward's father, Chris, and the Swedish national team manager, Jonte Karlsson, concerning his current nonrole on the team. Jerebko has been out of the rotation since November. The story offered the theory that the Pistons were showcasing Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva for a possible trade, which seems unlikely. "You do not sell a player and get rid of his contract if he is sitting on the bench," Karlsson was quoted in the story. Before Tuesday's game against Orlando, Jerebko said: "I didn't read the story, so I don't know what it said. Everybody has a right to their own opinion. It's media. They probably twisted it." Detroit Free Press

Al Harrington, who hasn't played this season because a staph infection ravaged his right knee following offseason arthroscopic surgery, joined the Magic on the road for the second time this season. The 6-foot-9 power forward worked out before tipoff under the supervision of Magic physical therapist Ed Manalo. Magic fans seem fascinated with Harrington's status, and he's often asked over Twitter when he'll return. "I'm sure they're like that just because I haven't played yet," Harrington said. "It's like that toy that's on the shelf that everybody's just waiting to use." Orlando Sentinel

“As soon as I get my left leg as strong as my right, then I can progress to running and jumping and getting my explosion back,” Williams told CSNNW.com. “I'm not there yet and I don't when I will be, but my spirits are high.” For the first time this season on Monday, Williams participated in the team's shootaround as they prepared for the Washington Wizards. Trail Blazers trainer Jay Jensen thought it would be good for Williams to jump in the mix. “Jay told me to go ahead and try to shoot and move around with the team so I went ahead and did it and it felt good,” Williams said. “It was the first time I got to do it and be with the team. I just did a lot of shooting drills, so that was a good sign for me as far as healing. It was a step in the right direction.” CSNNW.com

After practice on Tuesday, Hunter said he wasn't sure of the status of Majerle and Turner but he certainly spoke as if he knew they wouldn't be rejoining the team. "I understand their situation," Hunter said. "As an aspiring coach this is what you want to do in life and it's disappointing when you don't get an opportunity. I definitely understand and my heart goes out to both of those guys and I wish them the best in whatever they do next." ESPN.com

Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to team up on a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the city of Sacramento on a plan to help finance a new downtown sports arena, The Bee has learned. A source familiar with the negotiations told The Bee that Burkle and Mastrov are both committed to keeping the team in Sacramento and building the Kings into a contender. The teaming of Burkle and Mastrov is seen by city officials as a "dream team" counter offer to the group that this week agreed to buy the Kings and move the franchise to Seattle, the source said. Sacramento Bee

Burkle's track record with the Penguins is appealing to the city, according to the source. He purchased the franchise when it was struggling and helped it secure a new arena and win a Stanley Cup. Sacramento Bee

Burkle is known to be focused on the arena plan that is unfolding at Sacramento's downtown plaza, where the property's new owners, JMA Ventures, have shown an interest in partnering with prospective owners of the Kings on the project. Mastrov made a serious bid to buy the Golden State Warriors before the team was purchased by the Joe Lacob/Peter Guber group in July 2010. USA Today Sports

Hanging over the situation is the fact that the NBA has received over $3 billion in public subsidy money for arenas since 1990, and sources with knowledge of the situation maintain that Sacramento’s current “model offer” of public funds will not go unrecognized by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Aside from a public relations nightmare similar to that of Sonicsgate, the league’s ability to secure future funds from cities could be threatened if Sacramento is abandoned for Seattle. Yahoo! Sports and CSN Bay Area have reported that the Board of Governors has already made up their minds to support a move to Seattle, but sources speaking to PBT on the condition of anonymity don’t see it that way. NBCSports.com

The Clippers agreed to a 10-year extension of their lease at Staples Center, which means they will continue to play in the arena until at least June 2024. The team moved from its outdated home at the Sports Arena, playing its first game Nov. 2, 1999 in Staples Center. "We're very excited about our present and our future at Staples Center," Clippers president Andy Roeser said in a statement. "It is indeed an honor to benefit from the sustained stability that accompanies being part of the greatest venue in the NBA, and we're glad to provide this state of the art backdrop to our deserving and loyal fan base." Long Beach Press-Telegram

This week I spoke to Biserka Petrovic, the mother of the late basketball genius Drazen Petrovic, who was born on October 22, 1964 in Sibenik, Croatia and died on June 7, 1993 in Denkendorf, Germany. His mother and biggest fan, who is also the driving force behind the Drazen Petrovic Museum and Foundation, wants to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his death with a game between KK Cibona Zagreb and the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, the two teams for which Drazen had his best performances in his short, but great career. It is an idea that deserves support. I really hope that such a game could take place next October at Zagreb Arena. Drazen deserves this effort. Euroleague.net

Any rumor missing? E-mail us at   hoopshype@hoopshype.com.