HoopsHype rumors

January 28, 2013 | 09:42 PM ET Update

Pau Gasol isn't OK with coming off the bench, and doesn't see himself embracing it for the long term. But the Lakers' forward told CBSSports.com Monday he will not request a trade before the Feb. 21 deadline and is committed to the Lakers for the rest of this season. "Not right now," Gasol said when asked if he or anyone on his behalf would lodge a trade request before the deadline. "I don't think now is the time for that step to happen. Right now I'm very focused and committed to our team." CBSSports.com

The Thunder on Monday recalled guard Jeremy Lamb and center Daniel Orton from the Tulsa 66ers. Lamb has appeared in 14 games with Tulsa and averaged an NBA D-League-leading 21.1 points along with 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 33.4 minutes. Oklahoman

Howard even seemed to accept his second-star status two days after saying it was important to keep feeding the post players to prevent them from becoming "grumpy." "We all know Kobe's the first option and whoever scores after that, it doesn't matter. At the defensive end is where I take the lead and make sure other guys are accountable and make sure that I'm doing my job being active," Howard said. "All of us have had to adjust. We talked about it. When most guys are stars, they're stubborn sometimes. They want things to go their way and they want to take the shot and do this and that. But at the end of the day, we want to win. We have to take ourselves out of the picture and realize what we're playing for." Later, Howard added, "We all want to add another banner up there and all have rings…." Los Angeles Times

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was knocked out of Monday's game after suffering a mild sprain of his right ankle in the third quarter. It's Curry's second sprain of that ankle this month. He went the first 36 games without any issues with his right ankle, which was surgically repaired in April. But he missed two games after spraining it in shootaround on Jan. 16 before the Warriors hosted Miami. Curry had seemed to recover from that sprain until he did it again Monday. San Jose Mercury-News

Nuggets center JaVale McGee was ruled out of Denver's game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night due to soreness in his left shin. McGee has been experiencing pain recently in and around his left tibia. The Nuggets said he underwent a CT scan to try to determine whether a stress fracture was the source of the problem. However, there was no immediate indication of a stress fracture. McGee was scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday and doctors will review the results of both exams before formulating a diagnosis. ESPN.com

President Obama welcomed the Miami Heat to the White House to commemorate the team's 2012 NBA title. While there, the players presented the president with a signed basketball, made some impromptu speeches and wandered around the White House. Thankfully, Instagram was there to document the experience. USA Today Sports

January 28, 2013 | 07:56 PM ET Update

Although the framework of a workable trade has not yet been established, sources told ESPN.com that Toronto -- known to be perhaps Gay's most determined suitor -- has continued to make a hard push for the swingman. The Grizzlies, though, maintain that last week's luxury-tax-slashing trade with Cleveland means they no longer feel the same pressure to move Gay or another high-priced player before the NBA's Feb. 21 trade deadline. New Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien told local reporters late last week that "we really like our team" and that it is "more likely than not that we do nothing" in terms of breaking up Memphis' marquee foursome of Gay, point guard Mike Conley, forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol. ESPN.com

Working things out is what Kirilenko did last season, while playing in Russia. He was one of the guys who didn't want to wait around for the end of the lockout and have to play a jam-packed schedule in a tight window. Instead of back-to-back-to-backs and five games in six nights, Kirilenko opted for the much more relaxed European schedule. "I had a great opportunity to play in front of Russian fans, in front of my family and friends," Kirilenko said. "I used it for preparations for the Olympics." In London, he often reflected on his year at home with the joy a 28-year-old might feel with a year back in college – minus the school work. "It worked out," he said. "I knew I would get back to the NBA." USA Today Sports

“Baby steps. Still no slides, but I dunked yesterday. I was happy to know I could still do that, which is good. Just taking it really, really slow.” Been elevating much? “Gradually increasing. We did sprints today. That's the next step – doing sprints, next slides.” Are you where you thought you'd be at this point? “I'm a little bit farther ahead. I honestly believe that. Earlier, before I started getting better, I thought I'd have to play through a lot of pain, but the pain is subsiding a bit, which is good.” Delaware County Daily Times

Josh Howard: I had ACL surgery on my right knee about two weeks ago and everything turned out well. My recovery is going great. I'm taking it one day at a time, but actually enjoying it, because this time I know what I have to look forward to. The recovery time will probably be the typical 6-8 month range and I know what I have to do to get back to game shape. I'm very motivated. I can't even be upset right now. I've already been through this situation before with my left knee and that was worse, so I'm not going to let this stop me. The surgery was done by Dr. Souryal, the Dallas Mavericks team doctor. He said it was a clean tear of the ACL this time and nothing else was damaged. JoshHoward.com

I'm not the same guy I was way back when. I'm a man now. I've taken care of my responsibilities. I take care of the business at hand when it's presented to me on and off the court. It's sad that I can still honestly say that I have naysayers. I continue to prove them wrong, but they motivate me. I'd honestly like to thank them for that. I've been through a lot in my career and for me to be a 10-year pro in the NBA speaks a lot in itself with all the adversity that has come my way. This is just another hurdle that I'm going to jump over. God has bigger plans for me and I'm willing to accept them. As soon as I get myself right, I'll be looking forward. JoshHoward.com

January 28, 2013 | 07:15 PM ET Update

One source says there is nothing to the notion that Gay would wind up with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers, as neither can offer the Grizzlies the expiring contract they need. The Toronto Raptors, another potential destination for Gay, have the same problem. The Charlotte Bobcats, who are seeking a star and a franchise cornerstone, would do well to bring in Gay, but they’d either have to trade rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or commit to playing Gay at power forward with Kidd-Gilchrist, and both notions are a stretch. It remains more likely the Grizzlies take the patient approach now that they’ve alleviated the immediate tax threat—there is no hurry to make a deal, especially in light of the poor offers they’ve gotten so far. But Gay is very much still on the market, the Grizzlies still eager to break up their three weighty contracts in order to dodge future tax bills. Sporting News

The Sixers could try to sign Bynum to a shorter deal. But that takes two willing parties. (Not known, either, is whether any team that signs Bynum will be able to get insurance on his balky knees, the problem the Knicks had while signing Amar'e Stoudemire. However, Stoudemire has had two microfracture surgeries; Bynum hasn't had to have that procedure.) "We don't have enough information," DiLeo said. "We want to re-sign him. We plan on re-signing him. We made the trade having him as part of our future. That's the direction we're going in right now and we don't have enough information to make a decision." NBA.com

So with that being said, should the Knicks give a hard look at the 6-10 Sims, who was with the team during the preseason? One agent who represents a Knick said, "It's a good look." Even though the D-League favors guard play, Sims has dominated. He's currently averaging 16 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 31.8 minutes for the Knicks' D-League team, the Erie BayHawks. In three of his recent games, he scored 22, 20 and then 30 points in a row, and this month, he's had 18, 12 and 10 rebounding nights, including a five-block game. ESPN.com

The Indiana Pacers announced Monday they have re-signed free agent Sam Young. Per club policy, terms of the contracts are not released. The Pacers originally signed Young on Sept. 12, 2012 and waived him on Jan. 6, 2013. He played 28 games with the Pacers, averaging 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds. NBA.com

Howard emerged from the meeting more determined to give effort regardless of his level of involvement on offense, and Bryant has posted 28 assists the past two games with more conscientiousness in involving others in the offense. “I’m happy that me and Kobe are getting on the same page,” said Howard, who noted that it wasn’t always an easy process. “Two big dogs, and we bump heads,” he said. “Instead of us bumping heads, we need to do things to lead this team.” Orange County Register

Rookie guard Jared Cunningham has been re-assigned to the D-League's Texas Legends, the Mavericks announced. It will be the first-round pick's second stint in the D-League. Cunningham averaged 18.1 points, 3.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 37.0 minutes in seven games with the Legends earlier this season. ESPN.com

Cleveland Cavaliers' guard Kyrie Irving and the San Antonio Spurs' guard Tony Parker have been named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 21 through Sunday, Jan. 27. Irving led the league in scoring at 35.7 points per game, guiding the Cavaliers to a 3-0 week. He scored at least 32 points in all three games, finishing the week with a .612 shooting percentage from the field (41-of-67 field goals) and a .950 shooting percentage from the foul line (19-of-20 free throws). Irving poured in 40 points on 16-of-24 shooting from the field in a 95-90 win over the Boston Celtics on Jan. 22. USA Today Sports

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday he expects Rajon Rondo to be ready for Celtics training camp in October after he was declared out for the season Sunday with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. "Rajon will get surgery in 10 to 14 days, when the swelling is right and we anticipate that he'll back and as good as ever in training camp," Ainge said. "(Kendrick Perkins) Perk came back in six months and that's a little bit unusual and Adrian Peterson came back in six months and so did Wes Welker. I guess every body is a little bit different and [with] every injury there's some differences." Boston Globe

Cuban confirmed a Forbes report that the Mavs turned a profit last season for just the second time during his ownership tenure, although he called the reported $13 million figure “a little high.” Unless the Mavs take on significant salary before the trade deadline, Cuban said he expects to make a profit again this season. That’s not necessarily the plan. “I’ve got money,” Cuban said. “I like that trophy a hell of a lot more than I like money.” ESPN.com

However, the decisions weren’t designed to avoid luxury tax. Cuban believed that it’d be in the Mavs’ best basketball interests to create significant space under the salary cap, providing them the financial flexibility to remodel an aging roster, hopefully with the addition of a superstar or two. That plan obviously hasn’t panned out to this point, but Cuban continues to make winning a much higher priority than profit with the Mavs. “You operate as a business from the perspective of your customer. You want to give the best service, create the best atmosphere, make everybody happy. But I’ve made money and lost money, won games and lost games. “Losing games hurts a whole lot worse than losing money.” ESPN.com

LeBron James was like a kid in a candy store Monday afternoon when he and the Miami Heat visited President Obama at the White House to commemorate their 2012 championship. After he presented the president with an autographed basketball from the team, he asked if he could say a few words. Obama, a huge basketball — and Chicago Bulls — fan replied, "It's your world, man." USA Today Sports

The nine-time NBA All-Star couldn't contain his emotion as he addressed Obama, at one point accidentally calling him "coach." "I mean, on behalf of myself and my teammates we just want to thank you for the hospitality, for allowing us to be in the White House," James said. "I mean, we're in the White House! "I mean, Coach said — Prez said — it's real casual, so, we're kids from Chicago, Dallas, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, Miami, we're in the White House right now! This is like, 'Hey, mama, I made it!' " USA Today Sports

Kris Humphries says he's 100% HERPES FREE ... and claims he's got the test results to prove it ... TMZ has learned. Humphries just filed a response to a lawsuit filed by Kayla Goldberg -- who claims the NBA star gave her herpes during a condomless sexual encounter in Hollywood back in 2010. In the docs, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, Kris does not deny sleeping with Kayla, but insists he never passed on the herpes virus -- because he got tested for the disease after the hook-up and it came back negative. TMZ.com

Her spending was brisk and prodigious — $32,000 for a Cadillac Escalade; $26,000 for a Lexus; $69,000 on an assortment of furniture; $11,750 for a trip to New York; $339,000 to buy and improve a new house; $7,100 for a deposit on a swimming pool; $5,000 for lawn equipment; $277 for dinner and a movie; $34,000 on lawyers. All within 10 months. But what angers one family member is that Sherra Robinson Wright, ex-wife of the late NBA player Lorenzen Wright, spent the money from life insurance proceeds a judge said was to support the couple's six children. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Blake practiced again Monday and is set to play Tuesday against New Orleans for the first time since Game 7 of the regular season on Nov. 11. Blake underwent Dec. 5 surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle and will finally get his chance to play under Mike D’Antoni, who said he has tried to acquire Blake for the past “10 years” and is “looking forward to see what he can add.” Chris Duhon and Darius Morris haven’t given the Lakers much consistency in the guard rotation, and Jodie Meeks is trying to regain a significant role now. About Blake, D’Antoni summed matters up well by saying he believes Blake is a “better shooter than he’s shown in L.A. so far.” Orange County Register

"She had no authority to spend that money like that,'' said Ruby Wharton, Herb Wright's attorney. The generally reserved Wharton said she won't litigate the case in the newspaper but when a reporter called last week she noted the report on Sherra Wright's spending — a "bombshell,'' Wharton called it — triggered prompt action. The spending report filed in September in Circuit Court as a follow-up to Lorenzen and Sherra's February 2010 divorce prompted Probate Court Judge Robert S. Benham to appoint a guardian ad litem in October to investigate the Wright children's circumstances. Memphis Commercial Appeal

January 28, 2013 | 03:14 PM ET Update

"We weren't going to trade Rondo," Ainge said flatly. "But I'm not going to bring someone in now who is just going to sit on the bench. We could sign a couple of players to minimum contracts, but that's all we can do right now. We have to see whether someone becomes available through trade or free agency who can actually crack our rotation. "Right now I'm looking to give the guys we have a chance to play," he said. "Then we'll see what happens in the next few weeks." Boston Herald

Prior to the March 15 trade deadline, the Trail Blazers offered up Crawford for Bledsoe and a first round pick, the source said. They called and called until the very end. “Yeah, I knew they (Trail Blazers) were calling for me,” Bledsoe told CSNWW.com. “They have a great fan base, but I wasn't too worried about it at the time.” CSNNW.com

Golden State center Andrew Bogut may make his long-awaited return tonight at Toronto, a person with knowledge of his situation confirmed. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on his situation. The Bay Area News Group first reported the news and has deemed his return likely. USA Today Sports

January 28, 2013 | 01:24 PM ET Update

When the Warriors tip off Monday night, don't be surprised if a 7-foot-1 Australian is on the court. Warriors starting center Andrew Bogut is aiming at coming back Monday night in Toronto. It will all depend on how he feels after pregame warmups. But multiple sources said Bogut is planning to give it ago. At Monday's shootaround at the Air Canada Centre, Bogut was wearing his practice jersey on the blue side -- reserved for the starters. Plus there was a buzz about the center's probable return. San Jose Mercury-News

Noah was more pragmatic about how the new guys would deal with Thibodeau. "I wasn't worried, because you don't really have a choice," Noah said. "You don't have a choice. At the end of the day, he's so stubborn. I mean, as a player, I'm probably as ... I can't think of the word. But, like, I fight authority all the time. But I don't know what the word is." Stubborn? "Stubborn," Noah says. "I'm stubborn. Just as stubborn as he is. But he usually wins that battle." NBA.com

"What I really like about this team is, all right, right now, we're playing without Luol Deng," Noah said. "We're playing without Derrick Rose. And we're a team of fighters ... we're gonna keep improving. And if we have that mentality in the locker room, and we have that mentality on a nightly basis, the guys that are hurt see that. That makes them want to come back and give everything they've got. Well, Derrick's like that, anyway." NBA.com

Metta World Peace and LMNO Prods. are teaming up to bring you that hidden camera show for athletes that you never asked for. The production company is the driving force behind I Get That a Lot for CBS. They've partnered with Metta World Peace's Artest Media group to create a show that will feature all sorts of pranks and hijinks involving professional athletes and the folks in their inner circles. Philadelphia Inquirer

Pau Gasol: Please RT! Thousands of #childrenofsyria are freezing in refugee camps. Learn how we can help keep them warm unicefusa.org/work/emergenci… Twitter @paugasol

January 28, 2013 | 11:39 AM ET Update

J.J. Redick is having an outstanding season with the Orlando Magic and there are plenty of teams that would to take him off of general manager Rob Hennigan’s hands. Executives are calling about Redick and scouts are flocking to the Amway Center to see him play. Last night, Redick showed why. HoopsWorld

The Chicago Bulls are one team that has been linked to Redick. The Bulls were the team that extended a three-year, $19 million offer sheet to Redick in 2010, and they may pursue him again before the trade deadline. HoopsWorld

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have signed guard Shelvin Mack to a second 10-day contract. He signed his first 10-day contract on January 17 and was the 15th GATORADE Call-Up of the 2012-13 NBA Development League season. NBA.com

There is an opening on the Eastern Conference All-Star team as it was announced Sunday that Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Hawks coach Larry Drew made a case for Al Horford or Josh Smith to be named his replacement. “No doubt about,” Drew said before Sunday’s game against the Knicks when asked if he thought his two stars should get the call. “I think both of my guys have been overlooked. It’s unfortunate what happened to Rondo but certainly my guys should be in strong consideration.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After the Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls, 86-73, on Saturday night, rookie Bradley Beal had a new accessory to go with his post-game wardrobe: a soft, protective brace with Velcro straps on his right wrist. “My wrist is bothering me,” Beal said as he held the cast, “but it was a great team win for us. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team win.” Washington Post

January 28, 2013 | 11:01 AM ET Update

The Texas Legends are lobbying Allen Iverson to try work his way back to the NBA by playing for the Dallas Mavericks' Development League affiliate, according to D-League sources. Sources told ESPN.com that the Legends, who are co-owned by Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, ramped up their seasonlong pursuit of Iverson on Monday, offering him the chance to resurrect his career. ESPN.com

Memphis has rebuffed a number of offers for Gay, and to a lesser extent Zach Randolph, since December. Griz brass didn't feel it got fair-value proposals. Other NBA teams likely viewed Memphis as desperate to get under the tax and tried to steal core players in weak deals. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Asked if some of the chatter may be stemming from his agent, Dan Fegan, who was so heavily involved in Howard's exodus from Orlando last season, he said, "I never said anything about getting traded or asking to be traded to my agent. We didn't talk about it. The only thing I tell him, and I tell everybody else, is to be patient. It's a process. "I'm going to go through this process no matter what. I'm not going to give up on my team, or give up on myself, and I think that we can accomplish great things here…I just feel like with what we have (on the Lakers), we can win. I'll keep pushing myself and pushing the rest of my teammates so we can win." USA Today Sports

Howard, who spent the early part of the season discussing his future as if he would be with the Lakers for the long-term, is now refusing to look too far ahead. "My whole mindset is on us getting better, me getting better, me getting healthy," Howard said. "So I don't have time to focus on what's going on at the end of the season or even putting my mind there. My mind is solely on helping this team win and feeling better. Just all the other stuff, I don't want to get sidetracked with it. "I hear what people are saying. I don't need to say anything about it, but I'm the one that gets the bad end of the stick. Something happens on TV, something happens on ESPN, and they're saying it's me. I just try to play through it and stay happy and lead this team in any way I can." USA Today Sports

Marc Stein: Mavs say Mike James to sign rest of season. James' 2nd 10-day deal expires tonight. Rondo-less Celts, I'm told, had interest if Mavs passed Twitter @ESPNSteinLine

David 'Dubi' Pick: Hearing after Celtics draftee Kris Joseph decided not to explore French options, Orleans will pick up PF-C Brandon Hunter from Galil. Twitter @IAmDPick

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak expects to hear from the NBA sometime this week on whether the league will grant the team a disabled players exception for Jordan Hill. Kupchak said that might happen as early as today, though he said he's not overly concerned about it. The exception, worth $1.78million, goes to teams who have an injured player who will be out until June 15. Hill had left hip surgery last week and won't return until at least mid-July. Los Angeles Daily News

His Los Angeles Lakers, mired all season long in the sort of slump that no one saw coming, logged their best win yet Sunday by beating an Oklahoma City Thunder team that so many consider the best in the NBA. And Kobe Bryant didn't mince his words. "It feels good to finally beat a team that's worth a (expletive)," he said after the 105-96 victory in which he posted 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds while shooting 8-for-12 from the field. USA Today Sports

D’Antoni said Nash gets in trouble if he tries to go one on one — and Kobe Bryant gets in trouble if he tries to go one on two or one on three. But in the Lakers’ past two victories, Bryant has been looking to set teammates up after leading the NBA in scoring most of the season. “That tells you how great he is,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “He can do so many different parts of the game. Most guys can’t do it all, and he’s one of the few guys in this league that can do it all. he can have big rebounding games, he can have big passing games and obviously he can have 81-point games.” Orange County Register

Jamison's 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 13 minutes in the Lakers' 105-96 win Sunday over the Oklahoma City Thunder brought reminders of how the 17-year veteran has scored at a prolific and efficient rate. That's partly why he's 488 points away from cracking the 20,000 mark. But it also juxtaposed Jamison scoring only four points in six minutes in the Lakers' win Friday over Utah. "It's tough because especially to me, just to know what role is and what minutes I'm going to play to get a feel for the game," Jamison said in a quiet moment. "It's difficult. But the thing I have to do is whenever my name is called, just play." Los Angeles Daily News

It was just like any other pregame warmup at the TD Garden, only this time, he was wearing a Miami Heat t-shirt. "It was very weird," Allen said after the Celtics beat the Heat, 100-98, in double overtime. "Going to the other locker room, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on that side of the hallway. The whole year’s been an adjustment being in Miami after being in Boston for so long, so it was definitely a weird feeling for me.” CSNNE.com

Boylan fully realizes what an important piece Ilyasova is to the Bucks’ puzzle and has made a concerted effort to be on the same page with him. Boylan said he will often talk to Ilyasova at practice or after games. “Another thing I said to Ersan was that I want him to get back to playing with all of his energy that he played with last year,” Boylan said. “And he’s done that. “It’s all coming together for him and, hopefully, he can continue the way he’s been playing. I think he knows how I feel about him and the impact he has on our team, which is significant.” Racine Journal-Times

Matt Bonner was in line at a local deli not long ago, preparing to do the thing he does second-best — put together a primo sandwich — when the sub artiste stopped him mid-order. The man behind the counter interrupted to boast he’d just joined the Twitter movement bent on getting Bonner, the flame-haired Spurs’ forward, into the NBA’s annual 3-point contest. “He told me he had ‘hashtagged’ me,” the social media-shy Bonner said. “So I had to look up what ‘hashtag’ meant.” The campaign — #LetBonnerShoot — began as a joint venture between Bonner’s younger brother, Luke, and his friend Dave Hartley, bass player for the indie rock band War on Drugs. San Antonio Express-News

When Hartley first broached the possibility of starting an Internet drive on his behalf, Matt Bonner didn’t think much would come of it. “My first thought was, ‘War on Drugs is a great band, but they’re not U2,’?” said Bonner, 32. In short order, the grassroots effort spread like digital wild fire, attracting support from names as varied as New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, actress Eva Longoria and members of the musical group Arcade Fire, another Bonner favorite. Last week, the movement went mainstream, with Luke Bonner granting an interview to NBA TV, and his older brother talking with ESPN during the national broadcast of Saturday’s Spurs- Dallas game. San Antonio Express-News

However he gets in, and however he’s dressed, participating in the 3-point contest would be a lifelong dream come true for Bonner. “From a selfish, egotistical, personal angle, this is it for me,” Bonner said. “I’m never going to make the All-Star team. I always get looked over for the dunk contest. For me, the 3-point contest is what I do. It’s what I hang my hat on in the NBA. “So it would be great to participate, even if I go 1 for 25, just to be able to say I was selected as one of the best shooters in the league.” San Antonio Express-News

The prospects of Dwight Howard's injured shoulder healing during the season may be far-fetched, and surgery could knock him out for a considerable period. "Six months," Howard said. "I'd rather live with it than have six months out again. That'd be two summers in a row, so I don't want that." Instead he hopes to play through the injury. As Howard describes it, the labrum in his right shoulder is intact but torn away from the bone. "Will it heal?" Howard said. "I hope so." Los Angeles Times

For now, the people in sneakers will say the right things and hope they can play better without perhaps their best player. “Well, it just puts this team and the rest of the guys in position to be ready to step up,” Pierce said. “I mean, tonight was a perfect example. We showed we’re capable. We know with or without Rondo we still have the depth to compete with everybody. We’ve showed it in New York. We showed it tonight versus Miami. So it’s no more of a secret. You know it’s just about putting it together, being consistent, being disciplined and playing with the kind of grit we played with tonight. “We still like our chances in the Eastern Conference. I mean, we feel like we can play with anybody with the team we put out there. Even without Rondo. Guys are going to get an opportunity now. We know guys have taken the lesser role because of the way our team is built. Now they’re going to have to take on a bigger role. And we know we have guys that are more than capable of stepping up — whether it’s Courtney Lee or it’s Leandro Barbosa. We know these guys can play. It’s just that with the system we have, with Rondo being our primary playmaker, a 40- minute guy, these guys probably haven’t had a chance to really showcase what they can do. And now they’re going to have that opportunity.” Boston Herald

Chauncey Billups, battling tendinitis in his left foot, "had a really good workout" Sunday that included running "up and down the court," but the veteran guard's return also remained unknown, Del Negro said. "There's really no timetable," Del Negro said, adding that it would depend on how Billups' foot reacts when the five-time All-Star begins practice that includes physical contact. Los Angeles Times

Coach Doug Collins did not attend the 76ers' practice Sunday because of a sinus infection. The Sixers listed Collins as day-to-day. The 61-year-old coach left in the third quarter of Saturday's 97-80 victory over the New York Knicks to be treated for the infection. Collins was examined by team internist Daniel Lazowick after the game. He was replaced in the game by associate head coach Michael Curry, who ran Sunday's practice. Philadelphia Inquirer

Yao has formed a relationship with Lin — though he said he tries not to bother him during the season — and believes the 23-year-old guard who spawned Linsanity last season with the New York Knicks is in the perfect environment to develop in Houston. “I was there, first 10 games, didn’t play well and they continued to encourage me and they tried to help me to fit into the NBA, instead of trying to judge me a good or bad player. I remember that,” Yao said of his time with the Rockets. “Jeremy, of course, people expect that he repeat what he did in New York last year. Under that circumstance, he still consistently helps the team and I’m very impressed with what he did.” Washington Post

“Gilbert is a very nice person. You know they have a word for people, they say, ‘workaholic.’ He’s probably like a ‘playholic.’ He loves to play basketball,” Yao said. “Only thing in his mind is basketball. He plays the game and practice all day long. Unfortunately, he has some injury problem. The few games he played, he showed what it means to be an all-star. Even though he is a former all-star, he’s still at a different level.” Washington Post

Britain's basketball superstar Luol Deng has today delivered a hard-hitting letter to the Prime Minister over the slashed funding that is crippling the sport. The Chicago Bulls star has weighed in on the debate after UK Sport's funding was cut in the aftermath of the Olympics. In a letter sent to 10 Downing Street, Deng wrote: 'We all heard about the "legacy" that London 2012 was going to bring to sport in the UK and I refuse to sit back and let that legacy be completely demolished for basketball. 'I, along with other people involved in the game, have put too much in and care too greatly to let this happen. 'The sport of basketball is a pathway, a pathway that teaches so many valuable lessons on and off the court, how are we supposed to motivate these kids to carry along their journey when there’s now nothing at the end? No Team GB, no Olympic dream, no goal.' Daily Mail

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