HoopsHype rumors

February 15, 2013 | 11:19 PM ET Update

Billy Hunter’s 16-year stewardship of the players union is likely to end Saturday afternoon in a hotel conference room where more than 30 players are expected to gather, deliberate and ultimately fire their longtime executive director. Hunter, 70, will not be present to defend himself when his fate is decided. He was accused of nepotism and a wide range of questionable business practices in a 469-page independent audit released last month. Hunter is also under investigation by the United States attorney’s office, the Labor Department and New York’s attorney general. New York Times

February 15, 2013 | 10:12 PM ET Update

Other significant pieces would have to be involved, since Rondo's $11 million salary is substantially less than Howard's $19.5 million. If the Lakers dealt Howard for an All-Star point guard who is out for the rest of the season following ACL surgery, they'd effectively be throwing in the towel on this miserable, underachieving season and looking to next year. The Celtics would be going all-in for a quick rebuild centered around Howard, with the hopes they could find a point guard in the draft or in free agency to capably run their offense – which they've managed to do in Rondo's absence anyway. Celtics president Danny Ainge has flirted with several trade possibilities for Rondo over the years, and the point guard's hyper-competitive drive and strong personality have proved difficult for coach Doc Rivers to manage. CBSSports.com

There are at least two significant impediments to a Howard-Rondo deal. First, as Howard said Friday, the Lakers continue to insist they won't trade him, which sources say is the impression the Celtics have gotten, too. Second, Celtics president Danny Ainge would not trade Rondo without an assurance that Howard would re-sign with Boston as a free agent this summer, a league source said. Howard has shown no inclination to commit to anyone, including the Lakers, until the season is over. Since the league source familiar with the discussions characterized them as preliminary, it's possible that the talks could be tabled until after the season. In that case, Howard would have to agree to a sign-and-trade to the Celtics that would only yield him a four-year deal as opposed to the five years the Lakers could offer him (or the Celtics, if he were traded there by Feb. 21 and subsequently re-signed). The Celtics could only acquire Howard in a sign-and-trade if they eschewed their full mid-level and remained below the so-called luxury-tax apron, a threshold $4 million above the tax line that was added in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. CBSSports.com

Also, league sources say several other teams intrigue Howard as possible destinations. The Nets, his first choice last season, remain a viable option -- but only via a trade before Feb. 21 since the Nets are well above the tax apron. The third team on Howard's original list, the Mavericks, have plenty of cap room and tradable contracts. The Rockets, hosts for this All-Star weekend, have become more attractive, sources say. CBSSports.com

"The only thing that matters is the present right now," Howard said when asked about his free agency. "There's no need for me to talk about what happens at the end of the season, and there's no need to go back and forth about it. I just feel like, at the end of the year, that's when I should have my opportunity to make my own decision. And I shouldn't be pressured or criticized for waiting until the end of the year. I don't think it's fair for my teammates. I don't think it's fair for the fans or anybody to be worried about what's going to happen at the end of the year." USA Today Sports

"There's no need to talk about (free agency)," he had said during the un-fun scrum. "I want to have fun. I want to enjoy myself, and not talk about free agency or what I'm going to do at the end of the season." And this: "I've got to do what makes me happy. That's it." And what makes you happy? "Having fun on the court," Howard said. "That makes me happy." Are you having fun now? "Not at the present time, no," he said. "Hopefully it gets better." USA Today Sports

Asked Friday to give a percentage on how the shoulder is feeling, Howard said he really couldn’t, that your labrum is either torn or it isn’t. “The shoulder is not going to change,” he said. “It’s torn.” The back is a different story, and it is here that Howard almost seemed to be looking for sympathy, which, considering the way things have gone for him lately, is in short supply. Howard had back surgery in late April to repair a herniated disk, and it has not yet felt right. “My back, anybody who has ever had back surgery, it takes a while, it takes a full year to recover from back surgery,” Howard said. “People don’t understand, you can come back early as less than yourself. For me to be doing what I am doing coming off the surgery, is big.” Sporting News

“I understand it,” he said. “Playing in LA, everybody has high expectations for the team. Especially the guys that we have together, everybody expected us to be a great team. But at the same time, it’s tough when you come back from major surgery. I hate talking about it, but it is what it is. Coming back from back surgery, it’s major. It’s not like an ACL, this is your back. Your back controls your whole body and a lot of people don’t understand that.” Sporting News

LeBron James has been blowing past opponents all season. Now he's blowing by questions about the Cavs, too. As expected, James avoided the issue Friday when asked about returning to the Cavaliers during the summer of 2014. "That’s one thing I’m not even thinking about right now,” James said. “I’m focused on All-Star weekend now and even more trying to win another championship." Akron Beacon Journal

Two years ago, Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh along with forward LeBron James, opted to take their talents to Miami, exiting Toronto and Cleveland. Bosh admitted that weather is a factor. “It (weather) plays a part,” Bosh told CSNNW.com. “It plays a small part in it. But at the end of the day, it's about winning. If you have the opportunity to consider the climate, it's a very good thing to consider. But it's not too many cities like that. So, sometimes you just have to be realistic with it and think totally about basketball.” CSNNW.com

Westbrook said they’re still good friends, and they’re from the same area so they’ll continue to hang out in summers, and Durant said they’ll remain tight after learning together as professionals. “We miss him,” Durant said. “Of course we all grew up together and I’m happy he’s playing well in Houston, but we’ve got to move past it. “It’s been almost three or four months now, so it’s time to move on.” Houston Chronicle

Stephen Curry has played himself back into Team USA mix, Jerry Colangelo tells me. David Lee and Paul George are also on the radar. That's obviously good news for Lee and George in All-Star seasons, but especially significant for Curry, who was in the 2010 world championships but did not make the roster for the 2012 Olympics. Sulia

Steve Novak, the Knicks' alternate player representative, said the purpose of Saturday's meeting is to "make sure everybody has the same information and decide what that information means." But Novak said Hunter should be given the opportunity to present his side to the players who will decide his future. "I don't think any decision should be made without both sides, on any issue," Novak said. "Obviously, the reports have come out and guys have all seen that and that's from one side. I think as a union and him being our representative for so many years, it wouldn't be right not to hear from both sides." CBSSports.com

The rebuttal, posted on a new website and signed by four attorneys from three law firms, takes the Paul-Weiss report to task for a "lack of objectivity" and for being "rife with inaccuracies." "If Mr. Hunter ever needs to address the report line-by-line and point-by-point, he will do so," his attorneys wrote. But not during All-Star weekend. One of Hunter's attorneys, Michael Carlinksky of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, said in a statement that Hunter would not be attending the players' meeting in Houston Saturday after being told repeatedly that he would not be welcome. "We have been asking for two weeks if we can come," Carlinsky said. "The message from the interim executive committee was you are not coming." CBSSports.com

With the future of the Sacramento Kings in question and the possibility of a Sonics return to Seattle, Mitch Richmond and Gary Payton find themselves in a precarious position. By this time next year, Payton’s No. 20 could be hanging in the rafters of KeyArena, while Richmond’s No. 2 banner might be locked away in storage somewhere in Sacramento. In retirement, they are the closest of friends. The two sat next to each other as they were announced as finalists for this year’s hall of fame class on Friday. The two acknowledge it’s a bizarre situation they are in as the cities they once called home jockey for position in the fight for the Kings. “Yeah, we talked about that,” Richmond told Cowbell Kingdom of his hopes that the Kings stay in Sacramento juxtaposed to Payton’s desire to bring back the Sonics. “He wants his jersey up and I don’t want my jersey down. So I think it’s a little bit combination of both.” Cowbell Kingdom

February 15, 2013 | 08:02 PM ET Update

Downs is among the players the Celtics have had discussions about bringing aboard to fill one of the team's vacant roster spots. "Yeah, I've been talking with Danny and with Austin here and there," Downs told CSNNE.com. "And my agent has been talking with them. There's some interest. They just keep telling me to keep playing hard and play the way I'm playing and good things will happen. I don't know if it will be soon, but I hope so." CSNNE.com

Jorge Sierra: Former Knick Bill Walker will be assigned to a D-League team next Tuesday, agent Mike Naiditch tells HoopsHype. Twitter @hoopshype

Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist said Friday in Houston that 49-year-old Jordan beat him a one-on-one game. Jordan turns 50 Sunday, while Kidd-Gilchrist is seven months away from turning 20. "It was hard for me," Kidd-Gilchrist said before playing in the Rising Stars Challenge rookie-sophomore game Friday night. "I lost. He's the greatest man that ever played the game. "Oh, yeah. He's good." USA Today Sports

February 15, 2013 | 06:12 PM ET Update

FOX Sports Ohio sources all but guarantee Atlanta forward Josh Smith will be moved. No one is quite sure where he might go, although Brooklyn, Dallas and Phoenix are mentioned most as possible destinations. FOXSports Ohio

San Antonio could emerge as a potential landing spot for Smith, according to an Eastern Conference GM. With Smith’s expiring contract, it is believed the Spurs wouldn’t have to surrender much in return -- and that coach Gregg Popovich and stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili would be able to keep the sometimes-difficult Smith in line. FOXSports Ohio

One source said he believes Smith could be retained by Hawks general manager Danny Ferry past the deadline, provided the offers aren’t to Ferry’s liking. “They won’t just give the guy away,” the source said. “(Smith) is practically an All-Star. You can deal with the contract situation later.” FOXSports Ohio

Of course, sources say the Nets haven’t completely given up on the idea of somehow obtaining L.A. Lakers center Dwight Howard. But they realize their options are limited. Just as they did over the summer, if the Nets want to make a strong play for Howard, they’ll likely need to get a third team involved. While many sources consider it unlikely, some don’t rule out the idea of the Hawks dangling Smith as part of package to obtain Howard, who was born and played his high school ball in Atlanta. FOXSports Ohio

The Raptors have also engaged the Sixers in conversations centered on Bargnani, sources said. No word on what the Sixers would need to offer in return, although a Western Conference executive suspects it would involve center Spencer Hawes. FOXSports Ohio

The Nuggets supposedly wouldn’t mind adding Orlando guard J.J. Redick, whose contract expires at season’s end. But sources say conversations involving Redick have all but disappeared after he indicated he wants to stay with the Magic. FOXSports Ohio

KG is down in Houston and met with the media today to talk about his "last All Star Game," his career, and this year's Celtics. In reference to the quote in the title, Garnett was talking about his future with the team and the business of basketball. Here's the full answer: "[Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], since Day 1, even when Ray was here, the first day we got there he always told us he would do whatever he had to do to make the team better, he wouldn't put guys above the team," said Garnett. "That was the foundation and we all understood that, never had a problem with it. I've always told him where I was, as far as being a Celtic. My expectations were not to come back to be traded. We both understand that, but this is a business and you have to understand that, I do. "It's my preference, I will retire a Celtic and be buried in green and that's where it stands. As far as the organization, where they feel they want to go, their visions for the future, I can't speak on that. You have to ask them that. For right now, this is what it is, if it changes, I'll have to deal with that." Celtics Blog

His favorite All-Star moments? "Meeting Wilt Chamberlain in Cleveland [1997], Kobe's first All-Star Game in New York ['98], '03 in Atlanta because it was close to home and I had a bunch of friends and family that I hadn't seen, Jordan's last All-Star Game -- those are some of the ones that stand out," Garnett said. CBSSports.com

In a roomful of youngsters, Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan were the lone graybeards on Friday. Garnett said as the years go by, he appreciates these moments more. "As you get older, you tend to cling on. You tend to appreciate those small moments -- moments like this -- and I'm no different from that," he said. "You've got to take this and enjoy it a little bit more. I appreciate it, and I've grown to appreciate it. ... I'm more than grateful to be here. I'm obviously honored and humbled to have this opportunity to be here with this great class of guys." CBSSports.com

"I'm nothing new on the block that someone hasn't seen, nor when I leave will nobody walk through and have a similar style," Garnett said. "I never looked to claim anything from this game because there are plenty of players that have come before me. I've always said I just play it hard, I work on my craft and I tried to perfect my craft as best I could. And that's what I am; I'm a worker and a person who loves what he does. "I'm sure there's people in the past who came through and had that kind of makeup. And after I'm gone, I'm pretty sure there will be somebody else who has that type of makeup." CBSSports.com

He sees himself as an assistant general manager with a strong voice in personnel decisions – as if the legendary trash talker could have any other kind – and not some famous figurehead with a ceremonial role. (There is no interest in coach.) More than anything, though, Payton sees himself getting back into the NBA after being retired since 2007 following a career as a dominant two-way point guard who would further turn opponents into scorched Earth with his words on the court. “I would rather be an assistant,” he said. “Right now, you’ve got to work at being a GM. You’ve got to learn a lot. You’ve got take your lumps. I think I would rather take my lumps and be behind somebody and learn it and get taught the right way to do it and then in a couple of years be that type of person.” And the conversations with Hansen? “I talk to Chris all the time,” Payton said, adding: “He knows. He’s already knowing anyway that he would want me to be a part of the team anyway. I’ve been with Chris and talked to Chris for a long time.” NBA.com

February 15, 2013 | 05:06 PM ET Update

Trade rumors and contract talk have been swirling around you for a few weeks now. How do you deal with stuff like that and still do your job? Josh Smith: Well, you know me. I really don't pay attention to any kind of trade rumors. I just try to go out there and play my game and not worry about outside distractions. GQ.com

So when you said last week that you feel like you're worth a maximum contract, that's like a businessman setting his value as high as he can. The question was asked to me, if I felt like I was that, and I just gave an honest answer. I think if you don't know the value of yourself, who will? GQ.com

With all this talk, all these rumors, I guess the real question is, What do you want to happen? I mean, the future for me is uncertain. I can just speak on... I just want to be a successful player. No matter who it's for, I want to be a successful player, whether it's here or somewhere else. I've been here for a long time, and it's been a blessing, because a lot if players don't get the chance to play for the same team for nine years. But I can't predict the future, I don't know what lies ahead of me. GQ.com

For the first time since he declared this weekend's NBA All-Star Game would be his last, Celtics star Kevin Garnett addressed the comments during his Media Day session (available via the NBA's live stream here). "I took the question as if somebody was asking me about next year," said Garnett prior to his 15th All-Star Game appearance, "and I had no insight into saying that I was going to be a definite All-Star, so it came out like I'm saying, 'This is my last,' but I'm not an egotistical guy or none of that, and I wasn't going to just say, 'Yeah, I'm going to be an All-Star, so I'm going to be here next year.' To be honest, I'm more than grateful to be here. I'm obviously honored and humbled to be here with this great class of guys, and I wasn't going to make a comment that I felt like was out of hand — to say that next year I would be here, because next year no one knows. That's where those contents came from." WEEI.com

He was asked again. "Every year you make this, it's not something that you take for granted," he said. "That's all I'm saying. Some guys go a whole career and never get a chance to obviously experience an All-Star event, and I'm more than grateful. You know what I'm saying? I wasn't going to be in a position to where I was speaking on next year and my production next year and what it is. I have no idea, so that's where those contents mainly came from." And again. WEEI.com

Kevin Garnett on relationship with Carmelo Anthony: "I'm not going to discuss that. Actually, I saw Melo a couple minutes ago, we dapped and it was good to see him here. I'm happy for not only him but Tyson Chandler and all the other guys that are here: Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, the first-timers. That's what this weekend is about. Nothing negative." WEEI.com

"I’m learning this new journalism these days, they don’t really put out the whole question, they just ask the parts at which they want. So I’ll explain it. The question kinda came off as whether next year and [Garnett] making the All-Star [game], I was like, ‘Woah, woah, woah. This is probably my last,’ then went into that way and spoke on it. But yeah, I don’t anticipate -- I never said that I wasn’t going to anticipate playing like an All-Star next year, I didn’t say that. But to sit up here with all those young guys and up-and-coming talent, I can’t just that. I’m not that brash, that egotistical of a guy say nothing like that. I’m more than honored to be here, it’s not by coincidence, I’m working hard like the next man. But to sit up there and say that next year [he'd be an All-Star], I would never disrespect the game like that." ESPN.com

The most glaring deficiency since Green came to Boston has been his rebounding. The Celtics were so bothered by his lack of production in that area that when they signed him to a 4-year, $36 million extension last summer, Ainge included a rebounding incentive clause in the deal. More rebounds, more pay. "That one area was our biggest concern," Ainge said. "To me, it's not a lack of effort. It's about bad habits. "I don't think Jeff has ever focused on rebounding in his life, from what I can tell." ESPN.com

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks will be in the starting lineup for this Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Houston, a league source confirmed. The forward suffered a deep right arm contusion on Wednesday night in a loss to the Toronto Raptors, and after the game he said his availability for Sunday was in question. ESPN.com

But then Martin started to reminisce about his time at Kansas State, where he previously coached. "I'm going to give you a quick story," he told the media. "We played at Texas Tech and I had a young man on my team named Michael Beasley, and he's averaging, on the year, 24 and 14. We played Texas Tech, we lose by five or something like that and he's a freshman. He scores 21 or something." Beasley scored 22 points on the night on 6 of 20 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds in the 84-75 loss. So while Martin's recollection isn't perfect, the gist of his point remains valid. "Well that game was in Lubbock Texas, started at 9:00 p.m. because it was an ESPN2, middle of the week game or whatever," he said. "So we get on the plane. We land at 1:30 in the morning. The airport to our gym, where everyone's car was at, maybe a 10 minute drive. "He got off the bus, went into the arena and shot 500 balls at 2 o'clock in the morning. And he is a real good player. Not an average player; a real good player." Arizona's Sports Page

Well, was, anyway. Things haven't really panned out for Beasley in the NBA. "He didn't do that because I asked him to, he did that because he knew he didn't play well that day," Martin said. "That's what it's about. In life you get what you deserve, so he put in the time. "He earned the right to average whatever the heck he averaged for his career. I know this: I never had to worry about him not being ready to play, I never had to worry about him not doing what I asked him to do. Funny how that works." Arizona's Sports Page

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been hospitalized for a few months with an undisclosed form of cancer, someone with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to respect the wishes of the family. USA Today Sports

"Yeah, (Buss) has been on my mind, that's been on my mind for a while," Lakers star Kobe Bryant told USA TODAY Sports at All-Star weekend in Houston. "I'm just trying to stay. Gotta stay positive." Asked if he knew Dr. Buss' status, he said, "I don't know. I haven't gotten an update." USA Today Sports

Q: How long do you think a search for a new executive director should take? Tellem: The search for a new director need not be quick, nor should it be a popularity contest. To make the best possible choice, patience is required. Ideally, the process would extend through the summer so that the candidate or candidates can meet with key players during the offseason. To do less than this -- to speed the process unwisely -- might only compound the current problem. Considering that a long-time labor agreement is already in place, whoever is hired must protect labor rights while working with (NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO) Adam Silver and the league to grow revenue. Sports Business Daily

Q: Who should run the NBPA in the meantime? Tellem: After many months of internal turmoil, stability will be the key during any transition. (Union counsel and interim Exec Dir) Ron Klempner has been with the union a long time. He's quite capable of running things smoothly until a new executive director is found. I’m confident that he will look out for and protect the interests of the players. Sports Business Daily

Q: What about the other union positions? Tellem: The union needs a clean sweep of executive leadership positions. The players would be wise to hire an outside general counsel, one not affiliated with either Billy or (NBPA President) Derek Fisher. He or she should be independent and impartial. Jim Quinn of Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York is worthy of consideration. So is his law partner, Bruce Meyer. Jim’s proficiency in sports-related labor law dates to Oscar Robertson’s landmark 1970 anti-trust case. During the last lockout, both Quinn and Meyer were enlisted by the union to mediate a deal with (NBA Commissioner) David Stern. Sports Business Daily

In Charlotte, he starts thinking about 218. Every morning since returning from the islands, he's been in the gym. At mealtime he texts his nutritionist to find out what he can and can't eat. Ostensibly, the reason is that he stepped on a scale after leaving the excess palace of Mister Terrible and saw this number staring back: 261. Nine days later, sitting in his office and surrounded by basketball, he's down to 248. He'll claim it's about health, or looking good for his 50th birthday party. But in his mind, there's a target: 218, a familiar and dangerous number in Jordan's world. That's his playing weight. When he mentions that Yvette never saw him play basketball, he says, "She never saw me at 218." On the wall of his office there's a framed photograph of him as a young man, rising toward the rim, legs pulled up near his chest, seeming to fly. He smiles at it wistfully. "I was 218," he says. ESPN.com

Guerin, who previously had failed to be elected to the Springfield, Mass., shrine, through the regular process, was inducted directly into the Hall by the Veterans Committee at a press conference in Houston, site of NBA All-Star Weekend. “It’s a blessing,’’ Guerin said of finally getting in. “I had been disappointed before, but there’s nothing you can do about it. People would approach me through the years and say, ‘You really should be in the Hall of Fame.’ And that would make it hurt a little more. “It had been frustrating before. I always heard there were times were I didn’t make it by a vote or two.’’ FOXSports Florida

A judge says Kim Kardashian's divorce case is ready for trial. Superior Court Judge Stephen Moloney says a trial date should be set and Kardashian's estranged husband, Kris Humphries, has had adequate time to prepare. Moloney's ruling Friday in Los Angeles came after months of wrangling between lawyers for when a trial can be set to end the former couple's marriage. Humphries wants an annulment, while Kardashian is seeking a divorce. USA Today Sports

February 15, 2013 | 02:13 PM ET Update

You have to stand by your guys, and Erik Spoelstra apparently knows it. With Rajon Rondo out of Sunday's All-Star Game with an ACL injury, Spoelstra had to choose a replacement. For a traditional lineup, and honeslty, in terms of deserving to start, Kyrie Irving was the choice. But with Chris Bosh on his bench, Spoelstra would have to snub his own F/C. So Spoelstra did the smart thing and kept his third star, the George Harrison of the Heat, Bosh happy. Bosh will start the All-Star game, Spoelstra told ESPN. CBSSports.com

Mitch Richmond on his conversation with friend & former Sonic Gary Payton on #SacKings/Seattle situation: Richmond has been named a finalist to the hall of fame along with Payton. The two, who are close friends, have talked about the possibility of Richmond's old team becoming Payton's if the Kings move to Seattle. "Yeah, we talked about that. He wants his jersey up and I don't want my jersey down. So I think it's a little bit combination of both. But hopefully, Sacramento works something out (so) that they can continue to keep the team." Sulia

Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo defended the Hall's decision to elect Granik. "The committee that looked at all the people who were submitted as candidates came to the conclusion that Russ Granik was the person they wanted to put forward this year," Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports. "Everyone has their moment. Some people might get it on the first shot, second shot. In terms of a direct-elect, people are now going into the Hall who never went into the Hall. This is a great example of how this system is really working. USA Today Sports

February 15, 2013 | 01:11 PM ET Update

David Aldridge: Very interesting interview w/HOF finalist Gary Payton that will run today on @NBATV. Asked who reminds him of himself, he said John Wall. Twitter @daldridgetnt

Powerful NBA player agent and Wasserman Media Group Vice Chair Arn Tellem called for players to take time in finding a replacement NBPA player leaders vote to terminate Exec Dir Billy Hunter’s employment contract Saturday. WMG represents more than 50 NBA players, and Tellem was one of a group of seven so-called “power agents” who held meetings without Hunter during the '11 NBA lockout about decertifying the union, something Hunter initially opposed. Tellem already has sent a letter to WMG's player clients, urging them to fire Hunter. However, he said Thursday evening that the agents who met during the lockout have had no conversations about the future of the union. Sports Business Daily

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, at NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, an elite list of players and coaches, as the 12 finalists from the North American and Women's committees to be considered for election in 2013. The recognition of being honored as a Hall of Fame finalist is a career highlight in the sport of basketball. This year's list includes six first-time finalists: five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, three-time National Coach of the Year Sylvia Hatchell, two-time NBA Championship coach Tom Heinsohn, nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton, five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley and six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond. Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood, four-time NBA All-Star Bernard King, five- time NCAA Final Four coach Guy Lewis, six-time NCAA Final Four coach Rick Pitino and four-time NCAA Final Four coach Jerry Tarkanian. The Class of 2013 will be unveiled at the NCAA Final Four in April. NBA.com

February 15, 2013 | 12:34 PM ET Update

Brook Lopez: He also told the two Mikes how he prepared last summer for a career without the Nets. Asked about hearing his name in trade rumors, Lopez seemed to be saying he was prepared for a deal and that as a result, he focused on his goals and ready no matter where he wound up. It's a business, it's the nature of the business but I tend to try to ignore that stuff and work on bettering my game and putting myself in a position especially this summer whne they were really rampant I was working on putting myself in a position to succeed whether I was still with the Nets or wherever I was, with whatever trade is going down. NetsDaily

Five years ago, in Luke Ridnour's final season in Seattle, he played with future hall of famer Kevin Durant. While a reunion with Durant is unlikely, Ridnour could soon call another expected hall of famer a teammate: New York Knick Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks are one of several teams with interest in the Minnesota Timberwolves guard, according to a league source. 1500 ESPN

The Lakers were blasted by the Clippers on Thursday night 125-101 at Staples Center. During and after the game, Kobe Bryant was livid. "It's not a good feeling at all," said Bryant. "Once things got difficult, we didn't step up to meet that challenge and I'm not very happy right now and hopefully my teammates feel the same way." Bryant scored 20 points on just 13 shot attempts while dishing 11 assists. He did struggle with six turnovers. "We've just got to sit over the [All-Star] break and just kind of reflect and think on how important this is to you and what it means to you," he said. Los Angeles Times

Charles Barkley has his own rules. He can say most anything he wants without fear of repercussion. That makes him funnier than most everyone on television. But he has a serious side. He wants to build his own basketball team. He turns 50 on Wednesday, and wants the thrill of real competition one more time, the kind that a cushy network studio job can’t provide. And more than anything, he wants to save his Suns from irrelevance. “That’s my hometown team,” Barkley said. “I live in Phoenix. I watch the Suns religiously. And I’m very disappointed in their direction. “They’re not competitive. Even the really bad teams like Cleveland and Sacramento have players to build around. The Suns? Their best players are Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat.” Arizona Republic

Attorneys for Billy Hunter released a rebuttal on Friday to a massive report that questioned his judgment and leadership of the National Basketball Players Association, citing their disappointment that the executive director has not been invited to All-Star Weekend to defend himself in person. "When a law firm spends $5 million digging through 17 years of someone's life and interviews more than three dozen people, fairness dictates that the person be allowed an opportunity to respond in person to the people who are most concerned," Hunter's attorney's wrote in the 21-page rebuttal posted online. CBSSports.com

Jordan plays his new favorite trivia game, asking which current players could be nearly as successful in his era. "Our era," he says over and over again, calling modern players soft, coddled and ill-prepared for the highest level of the game. This is personal to him, since he'll be compared to this generation, and since he has to build a franchise with this generation's players. "I'll give you a hint," he says. "I can only come up with four." He lists them: LeBron, Kobe, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki. As he's making his point, Yvette walks into the living room area and, in a tone of voice familiar to every husband who argues sports with his buddies, asks, "You guys need anything?" ESPN.com

There's a shudder in every child of the '80s and '90s who does the math and realizes that Michael Jordan is turning 50. Where did the years go? Jordan has trouble believing it, difficulty admitting it to himself. But he's in the mood for admissions today, and there's a look on his face, a half-smile, as he considers how far to go. "I … I always thought I would die young," he says, leaning up to rap his knuckles on the rich, dark wood of his desk. ESPN.com

Later that night, standing in his kitchen, he squints across his loft at the television. His friend Quinn Buckner catches him. "You gonna need to get some glasses," Buckner says. "I can see," Jordan says. "Don't be bulls----ing me," Buckner says. "I can see you struggling." "I can see," Jordan insists. ESPN.com

It was 1 in the morning. They were flummoxed by a safe. Jordan hadn't opened it in years, and he couldn't remember the combination. Everything else stopped as this consumed him. After 10 failed attempts, the safe would go into a security shutdown and need to be blown open. None of the usual numbers worked. Nine different combinations failed; they had one try left. Jordan focused. He decided it had to be a combination of his birthday, Feb. 17, and old basketball numbers. He typed in six digits: 9, 2, 1, 7, 4, 5. Click. The door swung open and he reached in, rediscovering his gold medal from the 1984 Olympics. It wasn't really gold anymore. It looked tarnished, changed -- a duller version of itself. The memories came to him, how he felt then. "It was very pure, if I can say it right," he'd explain later. "It was pure in 1984 … I was still dreaming." ESPN.com

For a rage-filled day and a half, he thought he'd lost two of his Bulls championship rings, No. 3 and No. 5. He tore the house apart screaming, "Who stole my rings? Who stole No. 5?" "You talk about a mad f---ing panic," he says. Following the final title, the Bulls presented him a case with room for all six rings, but Jordan had never put them together. Now as he found them spread around the house, he slipped each one into its slot. He began plotting amendments to his will that if the missing rings emerged for sale after his death, they should be returned immediately to his estate. Buying a duplicate wouldn't be worth it, because even if he didn't tell anyone, he'd know. Finally the missing rings were found in a memorabilia room, and the set of six was complete. He could exhale and continue packing. ESPN.com

"The thing we'd do," he says, "we'd stay up all night and watch cowboy movies. Westerns." Jordan still watches them obsessively, and it's easy to imagine he does it to feel the presence of his father. One of his employees joked that she'd rather fly commercial than on Jordan's Gulfstream because a passenger on his plane is subjected to hours of shootouts and showdowns. "Name a Western," George says. "He'll tell you the beginning, middle and end." "I watch 'em all the time," Jordan says. "I watch Marshal Dillon. I watch all of 'em." "I think his favorite Western is my favorite Western," George says. "You and I have three we really like," Jordan says. "'Outlaw Josey Wales,'" George says. "That's my favorite," Jordan says. "Two Mules …," George begins. "… for Sister Sara," Jordan finishes. "The other one I like is 'Unforgiven,'" George says. "My father loved that," Jordan says. ESPN.com

Barkley, an Auburn graduate, explained to his co-hosts and all the people watching at home he was wearing the bandage because he'd been mugged and robbed on a trip to Tuscaloosa. Which, if you've been paying any attention, is a shot at the recent arrests of four Alabama football players charged with second-degree robbery. CBSSports.com

February 15, 2013 | 10:16 AM ET Update

Stephen A. Smith: "Now, here's the problem. He doesn't determine that. He can't force his way to Brooklyn, can't pull that off. You gotta remember, the way the rules are stipulated now, you understand, the reality of the situation is that with the Nets, he had his chance. Now, if they want to let go of Brook Lopez, and they're able to unload Kris Humphries, you know, things of that nature, something could happen. But the Nets have to be willing to capitulate and the Lakers have to be convinced he's definitely going to leave. They've got less than a week. You know trading deadline is rapidly approaching. It's February 21. It's a problem! "But I'm just telling you... RR: "He's still saying that? He's still thinks he's going to Brooklyn?" Stephen A. Smith: "He still believes it." NetsDaily

Because the Knicks aren’t sure if Wallace will be available or effective, and Marcus Camby has also been limited with a sprained left plantar fascia, the team has considered signing a free agent big man. Kenyon Martin and Lou Amundson are two players whom the Knicks have discussed internally, according to sources. New York was holding out hope that Wallace would return and be just as productive as he was earlier in the year. Getting Wallace back was their preference since he had been with the team for the whole season, had proven himself as a significant contributor and had emerged as a strong locker room presence. However, if Wallace is ineffective or unable to play many minutes when he comes back, expect New York to sign Martin or Amundson for the remainder of the season to bolster their depleted frontcourt. HoopsWorld

Garnett did say that this weekend "is definitely my last All-Star game," even though he has two years remaining on his contract. Garnett would not elaborate, and general manager Danny Ainge told the Boston Herald on Thursday that Garnett had not discussed retirement. "Y'all don't know what I know," said Garnett, who is averaging 15 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. "Let's just put it like this: I'm more than grateful for going. I'm not going to act like I've got more All-Star games in me. So I'm just going to actually enjoy this one with friends and family. That's what I meant." NBA.com

Making his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday afternoon, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including how the team plans to try and replace the production of Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, all three of whom have gone down with injury. Ainge said the trade options are “much less” than they were prior to the injury streak, and added, “It’s going to be tough. We have a tough week ahead of us.” At the same, he noted the team would take advantage of the break provided with this weekend’s All-Star game and “explore trades and free-agent signings.” WEEI.com

One name that was floated as a possible signee is Delonte West, a free agent who has some experience in the Celtics system. “Delonte is a player we certainly know, probably better than anybody in the NBA,” Ainge said. “And he’s on a list of guys we are looking at. We’re going to take this entire week during the All-Star break and explore trades and free-agent signings. We have a long list of players, and he’s on that list. It’s hard. It’s a difficult thing for players to not play basketball all year who haven’t played since last April and expect them to come in and be able to contribute.” WEEI.com

The Mavericks will face tough decisions after this season with Collison and O.J. Mayo. In Collison’s case, he’s shooting better than ever with career-best percentages across the board. It’s been an enlightening year for him on the court. And it wouldn’t bother Collison a bit if he got a chance to do it again. While it will be up to management to make the ultimate decision for the free-agent-to-be, Collison feels like this is home. “I hope so,” he said when asked if he wanted to stick around long term. “I love Dallas. I love the fans. The fans have been good to me, and the organization has been real good to me. Coach has worked with me and helped me be a better player every day. I haven’t had that in a long time.” Dallas Morning News

Then D'Antoni was asked if he would continue to stick with his eight-man rotation. "It depends. If that’s what I’m comfortable today, yes." Sulia

For Telfair, he already has been relegated to a non-rotation role to make way for first-round draft pick Kendall Marshall at backup point guard. Telfair came to Phoenix two years ago in hopes of playing in the playoffs for the first time. “If they’re a contender, and I’m going to get an opportunity to go compete in the playoffs and for the championship, then definitely, absolutely, right away,” Telfair said. “But other than that, I’d rather stay with my guys that I’m with right now.... I ain’t counting myself (out) as a Phoenix Sun yet.” Arizona Republic

Dan Gadzuric signed in Venezuela with Marinos de Anzoategui. Last season he played 2 games with the New York Knicks and also appeared on 12 games at the D-League with the Legends. He averaged 12 points and 11.3 rebounds per game with the Legends. Gadzuric also invited to the Sixers’ training camp but he didn’t make the final roster. TrendBasket

"I felt kind of hurt and disappointed leaving those guys, leaving something special, especially being around Kevin and Russell all summer after (the) Finals (with the Olympic gold medal-winning Team USA)," Harden says. "Probably a month after the trade, I started getting used to it and started figuring it out that this is my team now, and this is what I have to do. I have to be a leader now. I have a new role." The transformation from super sub to superstar wasn't gradual. Never mind that the trade had left him stunned, or that he knew none of his new teammates beyond the usual in-game pleasantries. Harden decided before his first Rockets practice that this was his team, and he didn't leave any doubt. "That first day was sort of eye-opening to some of us, because he literally just started screaming at people to tuck their shirts in," Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons said. "I'm sure some people were like, 'This guy has been here for an hour and he's already talking,' but ... he knew coming into this that we were a young team that needed that." USA Today Sports

This was not the first indication Gordon is frustrated with his role. When Dunlap pulled him from a game in late January, Gordon took inordinately long to leave the court and his expression showed considerable frustration. The two have met at least twice concerning Gordon’s role. Gordon came to the Bobcats in a June trade. Charlotte got Gordon and a future first-round pick from the Detroit Pistons, who took back small forward Corey Maggette. Gordon is now the Bobcats’ highest-paid player, making $12.4 million this season and $13.2 million next season. Charlotte Observer

Kobe boasted about how he bonded with Bynum last All-Star. Same case with Dwight? Kobe: "I don't ... "I don’t know how much more we need to strengthen it really," Bryant said of his relationship with Dwight Howard. "I think it’s where it should be. The communication that I have with him is about execution and about what he needs to do on the court. That’s where it’s going to stay." Sulia

Kobe and Dwight (and Kobe's wife, Vanessa) get some potential bonding time later tonight via private jet ... to Houston for All-Star weekend. Vanessa is expected to be on board, so not I'm not too sure Kobe wouldn't rather talk to her during the flight than Dwight. Kobe did use the All-Star weekend in Orlando last season to bond with Andrew Bynum, who was making his first All-Star appearance. Kobe said late last season about that: "The All-Star break was really when our bond cemented itself," Bryant said. "Even though we were around so many of our other peers, it was just he and I. We were always around each other and we really didn't care what the other guys were doing. "It was really about us and being in constant communication: 'What are you doing? Let's go out. Let's hang out. Let's grab some dinner.' From that point on, we've always had this chemistry." Sulia

On Thursday, Jordan witnessed first-hand the new Kobe Bryant, the one who lately has focused on getting his teammates involved instead of shooting. Bryant did a little of both in the Lakers' 125-101 loss to the Clippers, scoring 20 points and handing out 11 assists. "He's a tough cover," Jordan said. "He can pass, he can post up, he can shoot from the elbow, shoot the long ball. So, he's really a tough cover. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro was eager to see Bryant create shots for his teammates. "If he doesn't want to shoot, that's fine with me," Del Negro said. Orange County Register

What he knows is this: He has outplayed Bryant routinely for several years now, including twice already this season. He has beaten Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats 10 straight times. And he has gotten the better of Durant six times in a row, including a 110-100 victory Thursday night in which James added another file to the anthology. "I'm at a point where I'm just trying to make my own way," James said. "I understand there are comparisons. Anytime someone comes in and does anything, there are comparisons. It's flattering but sometimes you just want to stay away from it." ESPN.com

In the highly anticipated second and final regular-season meeting between Oklahoma City and Miami, a rematch of last year's NBA Finals and perhaps a possible preview of this year's matchup for all the marbles, a slow start by Durant and his teammates doomed the Thunder in a 110-100 loss on Thursday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Durant, who ironically is on a historic pace for offensive efficiency this season, was mired in an 0-for-7 shooting start as the Heat built an 18-point first-half lead. By the time the NBA's scoring leader sank his first field goal, a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, just 4:22 remained in the opening half. The basket pulled the Thunder within 47-32. “It was tough, man,” Durant said. “I was missing some shots in the lane. I was missing some layups. But the thing about me is I keep coming at it, keep going back and believing in myself and trusting in my work and I was able to make a few in the second half.” Oklahoman

Hounded by James from the start, Durant struggled to get a clean look at the basket, let alone an open shot. Even when Durant tried to be aggressive, putting the ball on the floor and forcing his way to the rim, the Heat defense had clogged the paint and made him hoist contested shots. That's if he wasn't stripped on the way to the basket. “They did a really good job in pick-and-rolls putting two guys on the ball,” Durant said. “When I would set a pick and flash to the corner, I would see two guys. They were doing a lot of doubling. That's what they're really great at. They scrambled out. I just got to do a better job of reading the defense and making the right passes and trusting in my teammates more. I could have had more assists tonight.” Oklahoman

Maybe not, but after this blowout, the Heat has to be thinking they'll be sipping a little champagne themselves, should the Thunder return to the NBA Finals. “It'll be in the back of our minds,” Kevin Martin said of the six-game losing streak to Miami. “But we've got 29 more games to get prepared for the post-season.” Oklahoman

In theory, NBA All-Star weekend will give plenty of Lakers time to clear their minds and rest their dinged-up bodies. But not Dwight Howard, and the reasons go beyond his plan to participate in what will be his eighth All-Star appearance despite having an aggravated right shoulder and a surgically repaired back. "Our team trainers are going to come, and we're going to get a lot of work in while I'm there," Howard said. "I'm trying to get into better shape. That's my main goal. All the stuff I'll be doing, I'll do just to make sure I get into better shape." Los Angeles Daily News

Carmelo Anthony is expected to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game despite suffering a bruised right arm in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto that had him hinting that the injury could keep him out of the NBA’s winter classic. The league, according to a source, was notified on Thursday that Anthony intended to play on Sunday. The Knick forward was elected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in fan voting and Anthony could conceivably play just a few minutes and take the rest of the night off. That conversation between Anthony, the Knicks’ medical staff and Eastern Conference coach, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, will take place on Friday in Houston. New York Daily News

Carmelo Anthony smiled as children raced past him to show off their shooting and passing skills Thursday as the N.B.A. began its annual All-Star weekend festivities. Anthony talked with fans, signed autographs and answered a few questions from youngsters during an N.B.A. jam session with his teammate Steve Novak. Anthony did shoot the ball a few times, too. At no point during his hourlong appearance did he appear to be in pain. The Knicks said they expected Anthony to play in the All- Star Game on Sunday despite the bruised right biceps he sustained in Wednesday’s 92-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors. The N.B.A. has also been given no indication that Anthony would not be in uniform for the game. New York Times

Jamal Crawford sought out reporters and asked why no word was mentioned about the "incredible job" the Clippers' training staff has done this season working with all the injured players. Crawford suffered a broken nose against the Raptors, a sore right shoulder and a left thigh contusion. "Our training staff is the best," Crawford said. Los Angeles Times

Chris Kaman on his concussion: “It’s been progressing a little bit everyday then I tried to work out a little bit and had a minor setback where I had a really bad headache so they told me to slow down. Now, I’m trying to do the same thing. I’m staying in Texas for the All-Star break. I’m trying to get my workout in and get myself ready to play when the break comes back. I’ve never had that before. Sometimes you can’t control everything that. It never really made it into my head. It kind of sucks because it’s not like any injury where your ankle is hurt well toughen up and play. This is your brain. If you ruin that, you’re pretty much toast.” Dallas Morning News

NBA commissioner David Stern expects a concrete financing plan from Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson within the next two weeks, with the aim of settling the Kings' future by mid-April. Stern said that Johnson will attend an April 17-18 owners meeting in New York to deliver his proposal, but the league expects to have heard it by then. "We have an April 17th meeting of the board, but if the Mayor follows through on what he's told us, we'll have it comfortably by March 1," Stern said Thursday. ESPN.com

Johnson is trying to line up investors to buy the Kings and keep them in his city with a new arena, rather than watch them move to Seattle. Speaking at an All-Star weekend event, Stern also said he doesn't currently see "a push for expansion" among owners, knocking down the idea that both cities could end up with teams. "My statement about expansion is talk to Adam next year," Stern said, with commissioner-elect Adam Silver standing behind him. "I don't have any plans to champion expansion between now and Feb. 1, 2014. That's up to the ownership and the commissioner." ESPN.com

Basketball’s statistical revolution — a movement begun in board rooms and on blogs and independent Web sites — has, at long last, reached its logical destination: the N.B.A.’s home page. The league on Friday is unveiling a redesigned, fully sortable engine that will contain just about every statistic in N.B.A. history. And the database, at NBA.com/stats, is free to the public. New York Times

These metrics have been available elsewhere for years, on sites like Basketball-Reference.com, HoopData.com and 82games.com. League officials said they were motivated not necessarily to catch up to the independent sites, but rather by the desire to give fans better tools to analyze the game. “What drove us is to make sure that the record was straight,” said Steve Hellmuth, the league’s executive vice president for operations and technology. “In other words, these are the official statistics, directly from the N.B.A., and they’re accurate.” New York Times

The mystique of Michael Jordan, who turns 50 on Sunday, is explained by those who met him on and off the court. The experiences range from hyper-competitive banter to awestruck fandom. Former NBA player Steve Smith on a 1992 playoff game in which Jordan scored 56 vs. the Miami Heat: "My rookie year we make the playoffs and we were the eighth seed playing Chicago. It was only a best-of-five then. He didn't score the first 10 minutes. Glen [Rice], myself, we were talking and going at it with him. We were up one, or they were up one, it was close. But this man scored 54 points, a lot of it on me, the next three quarters and ended up with 56. And the rumor was that he played 36 holes of golf earlier in the day, which hurt my feelings. I don't know if he played 36 holes or he played 18. But still, whatever it was, it hurt my feelings that he played golf and he came out and [scored] 56 [for] a win." Yahoo! Sports

Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, who played with Jordan on two gold-medal-winning USA teams: "I played with him in '84 during the Olympics and roomed with him that summer quite a bit. He led in every category on that team with some great players. Wayman Tisdale, Patrick [Ewing], Sam [Perkins]. But Michael was our guy. He led that team. It's funny. During that summer in the Olympics they played a lot of zone. So we would put Michael at the free-throw line and give him the ball and let him turn and make decisions. [Coach] Bobby Knight would get angry with him because he would leave his feet. He would turn, survey the situation and take a dribble or maybe not and raise up. He would hang in the air for so long he'd either find shooters in the corner or find Wayman and Patrick for dunks. Bobby was like, 'fundamentally you don't leave your feet to pass.' But they made a deal, when you turn the ball over you have to stop doing it. He never turned the ball over. He was that good. He actually turned Bobby Knight's thinking. You have to make exceptions for the great ones." Yahoo! Sports

J.R. SMITH: I think the most underrated thing about MJ -- still, many people know -- is his competitiveness. I mean, he wants to win at everything, whether it's cards, golf, basketball, anything. He wants to win at all costs. We've spent some time together and he's always told me to try to get my midrange game going because I've always been more of a long shooter and with dunks. So he's always told me to work on my midrange game as much as I could. It's been a blessing to be able to grow up in that era, when I was actually able to see him play and see his sneakers really grow. I've got an MJ tattoo on my chest. I got it last summer in Los Angeles. MJ's like my all-time leading hero ever. I have probably over, honestly, 1,000 pairs of sneakers, and probably 600 of them are Jordans. My favorite Jordan is the II's by far. Sometimes I wear them during games. It depends on how I feel and it depends on how my game is going at halftime. I may end up changing them. On Sunday against the Clippers, I was in warmups with my regular Nikes on. I was like, "Nah, I can't do this." Then I switched to my Melos, but I was having a bad half, so I switched to the Jordan XII's. ESPN.com

Hunter can be fiery and convincing. It's a skill that has served players in negotiations with the NBA. It has also served to squelch (Tellem would say "intimidate") those like Pat Garrity and Derek Fisher who have both questioned his business practices. Regardless, player reps have heard complaints about Hunter for years and Hunter's force of personality has, by numerous insider accounts, been the driving force preventing them from taking action. ESPN.com

The meeting, which will be run by interim union head Ron Klempner and president Derek Fisher has been intentionally scheduled at a time and place that would make it very easy for superstars to attend after All-Star practice concludes. The presence of stars, the thinking goes, could embolden players to imagine life after Hunter. (Theoretically it could also lend Hunter critical support, should any stars see his point of view.) Even assuming the predictions are right and Hunter can't save his job, there's still plenty to be worked out. For instance, will the players pay Hunter to go away? How much? And what about a replacement? Who'll conduct the search? Is Derek Fisher a candidate to take over? ESPN.com

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss is being treated for cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to a source familiar with the situation. A Lakers spokesman declined to comment out of respect for Buss' privacy. A hospital spokesperson also declined to comment about Buss, citing privacy laws. Former and current Lakers have visited Buss, 79, in the hospital, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace. "Dr. Jerry Buss, thinking about u & wish I could be there," former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal tweeted Thursday. "Get well soon." Los Angeles Daily News

"I've read what's been reported, but it's a family matter," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said at Staples Center Thursday during the Lakers-Clippers game. "I'm not really going to get into it." But in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper in October, Kupchak praised Buss on how his vision has largely contributed to the Lakers' success. "Dr. Buss has always been looked at as a gambler and not afraid of risk," Kupchak said. "That's the ownership's DNA. Jimmy has it, too." Los Angeles Daily News

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