HoopsHype rumors

February 20, 2013 | 11:57 PM ET Update

The Wizards had been rumored as a possible destination for Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, but three league sources all denied that the team was a serious contender for his services. Smith is a talented player whose skillset matches with the Wizards’ desires to be a more up-tempo team, but his salary demands – a maximum contract worth $94 million over five years – and what the Hawks sought in return forced the team to cool on its pursuit, according to a league source with knowledge of the team’s plans who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. Washington Post

The trade talks between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers have stalled, which means it is unlikely that Kevin Garnett is going anywhere. If Garnett is to be traded, a source told Sporting News, it will be to the Clippers or not at all. Sporting News

The Houston Rockets traded one Kansas power forward and traded for another in a separate move. The Sacramento Kings sent rookie Thomas Robinson, guard Francisco Garcia, and forward Tyler Honeycutt to the Rockets in exchange for forward Patrick Patterson, guard Toney Douglas, center Cole Aldrich and $1 million on Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been made public. USA Today Sports

February 20, 2013 | 10:18 PM ET Update

The Lady Cats, Charlotte's dance team, did a second-quarter number that required them to line up in a V-shaped formation from the top of the key through the free-throw lane, right where the Pistons' coaches were meeting. The coaches were dislodged by the dancers and had to take their strategy session elsewhere. Booth Newspapers

February 20, 2013 | 09:37 PM ET Update

Brian Windhorst: Suns have to make roster move to make room for Morris deal. Teams have been expecting a Jermaine O'Neal buyout/release if not traded. Twitter @WindhorstESPN

February 20, 2013 | 08:48 PM ET Update

Peter Vecsey: This just in: Despite what you've read or heard, Danny Granger is not available. Pacers are running the keeper play. Twitter @PeterVecsey1

A spokesman for the Blazers said Wednesday that Hickson's tweets were treated as an internal matter that has been addressed. The team has a Twitter policy which it reviews with the players. Hickson is not the first person to say something considered objectionable on Twitter. But as a member of the Trail Blazers, he represents the team and the NBA. His Twitter profile says he plays for the Blazers. "I think I represent the Trail Blazers great. When I tweet, I tweet outside basketball. Like I said, it's my personal things I do and like I said, it's an opinion," he said. "I can do something good and a million people think it's something good and one person thinks it's wrong." Oregonian

February 20, 2013 | 08:17 PM ET Update

The Wizards have expressed interest in Josh Smith and offered the Atlanta Hawks any combination of players outside of Wall, Beal and Nene (in the hope that they could add Smith to the core and he would sign a long-term deal). However, the Hawks weren’t interested. HoopsWorld

Peter Vecsey: Confirmed NOLA shopping Gordon. Dialogue (little bit) w GST. He's off-dribble penetrator it lacks but already have 1 too many fragile guards Twitter @PeterVecsey1

Sources say the rumored Eric Gordon-to-the-Warriors' deal will not happen before Thursday's trade deadline. Don't count out the chance that it could be visited (or re- visited) this summer. Why? Will explain shortly. Sulia

February 20, 2013 | 07:19 PM ET Update

League executives continue to believe that Phoenix is the most realistic destination for Smith. It would be a slam dunk if the Suns were willing to surrender two first-round picks in the deal -- their own and the Lakers' pick obtained in the Steve Nash trade -- in addition to center Marcin Gortat. However, rival execs believe strongly that the Suns will not agree to give the Hawks multiple picks, especially their own, which will be high in the lottery. CBSSports.com

Also, the Golden State Warriors had some brief dialogue with the Hawks about Smith, but sources said it never rose to a serious level. Ferry's insistence on including Stephen Curry -- and not including Andris Biedrins, who is owed $9 million next season -- put the brakes on those discussions. CBSSports.com

February 20, 2013 | 07:03 PM ET Update

Tim Bontemps: A league source says there's "not much" to the Pierce rumor, which makes sense given what the Nets have to offer in return. Twitter @TimBontemps

Barring a last-second deal forming, guard Will Bynum is poised to stay with the Detroit Pistons past Thursday’s trade deadline, agent Mark Bartelstein told RealGM. Bynum had seemed expendable once the Pistons traded for Jose Calderon, but he has averaged 10.6 points in seven games since Calderon joined the lineup and Detroit appears locked into its current roster to end the season. RealGM

Marc Stein: Just under 20 hours left before trade deadline for stances to change, but mostly standing-pat rumbles coming from both Clipperland and Utah Twitter @ESPNSteinLine

February 20, 2013 | 05:46 PM ET Update

"The Celtics still highly value Pierce and it wouldn't make sense to trade him for that kind of a package if they're keeping Kevin Garnett," one league source said. Boston has shown interest in forward Mirza Teletovic and securing another possible first-round pick, but the Nets have shown no inclination to pay that steep of a price for Pierce. Yahoo! Sports

The Nets and Celtics discussed a deal for Pierce at the 2012 trade deadline, but the Celtics decided to keep him for another playoff run. Pierce, 35, is averaging 18 points for the Celtics this season, shooting his worst from the field – 41 percent – in the past eight seasons. Boston had interest in guard C.J. Watson in a separate deal, but Brooklyn doesn't want to part with him, sources said. Yahoo! Sports

Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore has learned through mulitple NBA sources that the Magic have no plans of trading J.J. Redick by Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline. Pingalore is reporting this on the heels of a story that has surfaced by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated saying, "I think J.J. Redick gets moved. I think Orlando sort of sifts through the offers and come Thursday early afternoon will take the best one on the table." Pingalore was told by sources the DeVos family is adamant to keep Redick in a Magic uniform and potentially sign him to a long term deal this summer. WKMG Local 6

The one constant in every proposed trade has been Bledsoe, who has been Paul's understudy the past two seasons. Paul said he has talked about the various rumors and dealing with trade talks with Bledsoe. "I've talked to Bled a little bit," Paul said. "But, one thing about Bled is that he understands. He understands this is a business and at the end of the day he understands how much he means to this team. If you would have seen the last two days of practice, he's been hooping. I pulled him to the side at the end of this one and told him, 'I can't guard you. In practice, I can't stay in front of you, so that's why I stay on you during the games, because if you stay on me like this in practice, I want you to do the opponents like that.' " ESPN.com

The Los Angeles Clippers do not expect to make any trades before Thursday's NBA trade deadline, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said on Wednesday. "We feel good with our team right now," Del Negro said. "Nothing's changed from that aspect. Nothing has been presented to any of us that makes sense to do anything different right now. We're always available and always looking to make our team as strong as possible but right now we feel comfortable with our team." ESPN.com

February 20, 2013 | 05:12 PM ET Update

Jared Zwerling: Sources tell me the #Knicks are shopping Ronnie Brewer. Not sure for who. J. O'Neal (via trade) & L. Amundson (via pickup) are also targets. Twitter @JaredZwerling

J.J. Redick only has a few more hours in an Orlando Magic uniform and will be dealt by tomorrow's NBA trade deadline. Or so predicted NBA insider Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated on our Open Mike radio show Wednesday. "I think J.J. Redick gets moved," Mannix said. "I think Orlando sort of sifts through the offers and come Thursday early afternoon will take the best one on the table. If the Magic can get a first-round pick -- even if it's a late first-round pick -- in return for J.J. Redick, they'll take it, if for no other reason that I don't get any sense that Orlando is going to pay J.J. between the $7-10 million per year he's going to be looking for in a 4- or 5-year deal." Orlando Sentinel

SLAM: Are you tired of all the LeBron James vs Michael Jordan comparisons? Charles Barkley : Well, I’m not tired; LeBron’s a great, great, great…I mean he’s unbelievable. But I think before we can put him in the same class as Michael Jordan he’s got to win four or five championships. I mean he’s bigger, stronger, but I don’t think you can try to compare the two until LeBron wins more than one championship. He’s got to win four or five championships but he’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen in my life. SLAM

SLAM: Before LeBron left for Miami, you said it was a mistake and you didn’t like it. Now that he’s won a Championship, do you feel the same way? CB: I do. I do ‘cause I think if he won a championship in Cleveland it would mean more to those people than it does to those people in Miami. You have to try to build your own legacy. He was a two-time MVP, if I were a two-time MVP and I was playing in my hometown I wouldn’t leave to go anywhere. People would have to come and join me. SLAM

February 20, 2013 | 03:05 PM ET Update

Themis (Greece) Given that Kobe and Howard do not like eachother, Why do not the Lakers trade Kobe and keep the younger Howard and build for the future. The could still get a lot for Kobe even though he is 34. Chad Ford (1:41 PM) One, Kobe has a no trade clause, so they can't just ship him anywhere. Two, Kobe is very popular in LA. Dwight is not. It would be a very hard sell to fans. However, with that said, I've heard rumblings that if Howard told Laker officials this summer that the only way he'd stay in LA is if Kobe leaves, the Lakers could end up choosing Howard over Kobe. It's an unlikely scenario, but one worth watching. ESPN.com

Chad Ford: SHOULD Dwight be a Laker after the trade deadline passes? I think the answer is no. He and Kobe are stuggling to get along. Mike D'Antoni doesn't really know how to use Dwight. The chances that Howard tries to bolt this summer are high. If the Lakers lose him and get nothing in return, it would be devastating. I'd be calling up the Hawks and Nets and trying to work a deal that fixed multiple holes in my roster. ESPN.com

Despite all that has gone wrong in Dwight Howard's first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, general manager Mitch Kupchak says the team is still hitching its wagon to the All-Star center. "Dwight is our future," Kupchak told "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio on Wednesday. "Kobe [Bryant] has one more year on his deal [this year, plus one]. That's all I can bank on or this organization can bank on. I have no idea if he wants to continue to play beyond next year. As of now, we're looking at a two-year window, [and that] plays to the urgency of the situation and how we build the team. ... This team's window to win is this year and next year." ESPN.com

Peter (Seattle) Does Andrea have any trade value? He was playing decent last year before injuries, but he just never got it rolling this year. It seems a few teams could use a floor spacing center. Chad Ford (1:15 PM) The answer must be no because the Raptors have been very active in trying to move him and, so far, haven't had any luck. His contract plus his poor rebounding and defensive numbers are hurting him. ESPN.com

Eddy (Boston) You see the Celtics making a splash at the deadline? If so, for who? Chad Ford (1:17 PM) I don't know what to believe. Multiple GMs say the Celtics are as active as any team in the league. Danny Ainge keeps saying it's unlikely they do anything big. I've heard Ainge is pushing KG, Pierce and Rondo. Reports say they're all being told they won't be moved. It's pretty clear to me that the Celtics have to do something ... and they have the assets to do it -- either breaking things up or adding to their core. The idea that Ainge is going to sit on his hands just don't seem right. Welcome to another Danny Ainge trade deadline drama. ESPN.com

One rival executive said fourth-year point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova are not expected to be traded. But center Samuel Dalembert (expiring deal worth $6.7 million) and fourth-year forward Ekpe Udoh could help get the deal done. USA Today Sports

Stephen A. Smith on ESPN radio: Then this past weekend, at All-Star weekend – I haven’t’ seen anyone report it, so I guess I’ll be the first. Coach Gregg Popovich dropped a few f-bombs in Dwight Howard’s direction, during All-Star break. Now why is that guys? Because during the timeout, Gregg Popvich drew up a play for Dwight Howard, in the game… except when it was time to run the play, Dwight Howard wasn’t in the game, wasn’t paying attention, was on the bench in his warm ups chillin out socializing with folks, and Gregg Popvich almost went ballistic, and basically was cussing at him according to numerous people I spoke to since this weekend. So, all of that speaks to the focus, or lack there of, that the Kobe Bryant’s and others have alluded to with their comments over the last few months. You can’t have something like that. It’s an All-Star game and you have Gregg Popovich upset at you. beyondthebuzzer.com

Here's a rundown of all the speakers/performers expected at Dr. Jerry Buss' memorial service on Thursday ... CBS2′s Jim Hill will be the emcee. The other expected speakers are: Timothy Leiweke - President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group; Johnny Buss - Buss' oldest son; Frank Mariani - Dr. Buss’ long-time business partner); David Stern - NBA commissioner; Jerry West - former Lakers executive; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - former Lakers center; Phil Jackson - former Lakers coach; Shaquille O’Neal - former Lakers center; Pau Gasol - Lakers forward; Pat Riley - former Lakers coach; Kobe Bryant - Lakers guard; Magic Johnson - former Lakers guard. Sulia

February 20, 2013 | 02:36 PM ET Update

On how the team and Josh Smith are handling the trade rumors: Al Horford: “Josh is doing a good job of of handling all the trade rumors and everything. I think we’re pretty focused on what we have at hand. We know we have our hands full with Miami. Today was a good practice, we got our strategies down for the game and we’re looking forward (to the game against Miami). Sports Radio Interviews

There was a time that you demanded a trade, what changed when you met with Dr. Buss during that time? Kobe Bryant: “Well we got on the same page. The thing that was important to me at the time is I was facing a tremendous amount of pressure to win a championship post-Shaq. I didn” want to be one of the players that went down in history as a player that didn’t win. During that transition period it was my impression that we were going to spend whatever it took to bring a team here that’s a championship level. We were actually doing the opposite so when he and I sat down ad talked I told him how I was feeling and he told me what his plan was. ‘This is how I plan to rebuild, this is the year that I believe it’s going to take us to get to that level, this is what’s best for the organization financially and then once I heard that I said, ‘I’m cool, let’s do this thing.’ I didn’t know what the heck was going on. It just seemed like they were just cutting cost and letting me run up and down, scoring all the points. After that meeting, we just were on the same page and it was history from there.” Sports Radio Interviews

Kobe Bryant on the idea that Dwight Howard doesn’t like this offense much: “Well, I don’t like passing as much as I’m passing either but I have to do it in order to win. We just do what we do to help each other win ball games, even if you prefer to do something else. At this point it really doesn’t matter, it’s just about helping us be successful and he’s great, he could be absolutely great and obviously Steve, we know how fantastic Steve is at doing it and it really plays to our strengths.” Sports Radio Interviews

Miami has been playing out of their mind over the last month. Do you think the Knicks can still beat them? Carmelo Anthony: “I don’t have no doubt about it. [Michael Kay: Really?] I have no doubt about it. You don’t expect me to sit here and say no do you? [Michael Kay: You don't have any doubts about it?] Well, I mean, we have our 10. It’s all about matchups at the end of the day. It’s about what team can match up with what team. On any given night a team can be beaten in this league. It’s been proven this year. We are just trying to come into the playoffs full steam ahead and when it’s our time to match up with Miami we’ll figure that out.” Sports Radio Interviews

On Buss increasing ticket prices and that leading to a stronger economic structure for the league: “It contributed to making it possible to change the economic model of the league. Because in 1987 or thereabouts, our entire arena infrastructure began to be rebuilt, starting I guess with the Palace at Auburn Hills. And then, in the last 30 years or so, every team has played in either a new, a rebuilt, or another new one. … And it would all be made possible by a change to the economics of the league. And really, the buildings became entertainment centers. They became entertainment palaces — video boards, enhanced lighting, restaurants and the like, suites. And the Forum of course was the precursor of most of that, and then Staples Center has taken it to the next level.” Sports Radio Interviews

One of the things about my game, though, was that I could do all my stuff on my own. I think I'm in the top 20 of players of all time. You take Karl [Malone] -- he needed John Stockton. That's not a knock on Karl. I didn't need a point guard. I could get mine any time I wanted to. I'll say it on the record: I was better than Karl. He was great. I was better. The only thing he could do better than me was score and that came down to John Stockton. SI.com

SI: Tell me one thing you learned from being on the Dream Team. Barkley: That's easy. Don't ever drink beer with Larry Bird. You'll be carried home. I was. SI.com

What do you consider a bigger move personally, getting Shaq or Kobe?: Jerry West: “Trading [Vlade Divac] was difficult, and particularly when you’re trading someone of his caliber — a starting center — for a 17-year-old kid who couldn’t even sign a contract. But we were lucky because I had a great working relationship with Arn Tellem … who used to be Kobe’s agent. Arn was very instrumental in us being able to get him, way down the draft list. Charlotte got a very good player in Vlade Divac, and they played well with him, but at the end of the day we got the prize we wanted. … We got really lucky and that’s what sometimes you need.” Sports Radio Interviews

On if championships should count when assessing a player’s career: David Stern: “They do and they should. It doesn’t take it away from someone if he doesn’t have any. There are great players — Patrick Ewing, Bob Lanier, Dominique Wilkins, Bob McAdoo — all 50-greatest material, they don’t have championships. But the reality is that it does count a bit. And Michael has six and Kobe has five and LeBron has one and the world is standing back to see how well he’s gonna do. And we saw that with Larry and Magic, how they made everyone around them better. And Michael wasn’t the Michael of Ahmad Rashad fame and deification until he started winning championships, and that’s just the reality of it.” Sports Radio Interviews

February 20, 2013 | 01:24 PM ET Update

When I told him it didn’t seem to make sense for him to accept a trade (because he would lose his Bird rights) and I didn’t see a scenario in which a trade would happen, Hickson flashed his big pearly whites and nodded in approval. “There you go then — you just said it,” he said, laughing. “You just answered all your questions.” Oregonian

Royce Young: Per @Darnell Mayberry, Perk's out tonight with a sprained knee from practice. You may now read into that with the deadline being tomorrow. Twitter @dailythunder

February 20, 2013 | 12:37 PM ET Update

Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is a good listener, and league executives continue to call Ainge about point guard Rajon Rondo's availability even though Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL, an NBA executive told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about ongoing negotiations. USA Today Sports

Ainge has assured Rondo that he won't be traded, according to his agent Bill Duffy. However, Ainge maintains the Celtics aren't in the market for a major deal. USA Today Sports

There's also a third issue that concerns league executives: How will Smith impact the locker room? The Hawks suspended and fined Smith earlier this season for "conduct detrimental to the team." Brooklyn's offer: MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and a first-rounder for Smith, a person familiar with the proposed deal told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fluid negotiations. USA Today Sports

Whatever interest the Wizards had in Smith has disappeared, and Washington is not willing to give up any of the players Atlanta seeks for Smith, a person familiar with talks between the two teams told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak public about trade talks. USA Today Sports

The Bucks are considering putting Monta Ellis in a deal for Smith. There is some concern that Ellis will opt out of the final year of his $11 million deal and go where he wants in free agency. But, that's serious money to walk away from, and it's unlikely Ellis walks away from that for a long term deal. Ellis, 27, can collect $11 million next season, and still get the similar long-term deal starting with the 2014-15 season. USA Today Sports

Washington Wizards shooting guard Jordan Crawford is not pleased with his reduced role, and the Wizards are looking to move him, a person familiar with Washington's thinking told USA TODAY Sports. USA Today Sports

Season-ticket prices for Oklahoma City Thunder games will be going up for the 2013-14 season. Next year will be the Thunder's sixth season of existence and this will be the first price increase for half of all season-ticket members and for 97.5 percent of Loud City (upper deck) patrons. Dan Mahoney, who is the team's vice president of corporate and community relations, said the bulk of the adjustment will be a $2-$3 increase per ticket in Loud City; a $2-$5 increase per ticket for all but courtside and Champions Club; and a $10 increase per ticket for courtside and Champions Club. These adjustments will be for 2013-14 season tickets only, not for single-game tickets. Oklahoman

Patty Mills has averaged 11.3 minutes per game over the course of his four-year NBA career; he's had a lot of time to kill while serving as a backup guard on the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Luckily, he has used that time wisely, honing and developing a towel-waving game that ranks among the NBA's best and most varied. Yahoo! Sports

February 20, 2013 | 12:09 PM ET Update

Adrian Wojnarowski: In pursuit of guard help, the Celtics have made rookie center Fab Melo available in trade offers, league sources tell Y! Sports. In offering Melo, Boston's trying to preserve control of future picks and its current rotation to fortify for this season. Twitter @WojYahooNBA

Q: What did you think about the news that came out after Jerry Buss died, that you could have been part of a trade for Kobe (Bryant) to come here? Prince: “ ... Kobe would have looked weird in a Pistons jersey. The man has been in the league 16, 17 years. It would be weird seeing him in another jersey, but I’m pretty sure everybody is saying that about me, too. If that was to happen, who knows? Who knows? I’m not going down that road, because it didn’t happen.” Detroit Free Press

LeBron is also a big music guy. In fact, he was on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Music issue. Is he involved with you at all on song selection? DJ Irie (Heat's DJ): LeBron will be like, "Yo, play some 2 Chainz." He loves 2 Chainz, he loves T.I., obviously Jay-Z. Honestly, LeBron will actually school me on stuff because there are songs he'll ask for and I'll be like, "Where did you get this from? That's dope." I think he just like scours the net. I don't know what he does, but he's up on stuff like first. There are a lot of times where he'll find a song before I even know about it. ESPN.com

Have you ever been told you can't play something? DJ Irie (Heat's DJ): I'll be honest with you, out of the 12 seasons that I've been there, there's only one song that we were ever asked not to play that I could remember. And that was Soulja Boy "Crank That (Soulja Boy)." Obviously when you hear the song, there are no curse words or whatever, but the league said "Superman that ... " had a bad meaning behind it. ESPN.com

February 20, 2013 | 11:40 AM ET Update

The Milwaukee Bucks continue to discuss Josh Smith trade scenarios with the Atlanta Hawks in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. But those discussions, sources say, also serve as a strong indication of the rising likelihood that Brandon Jennings will not be moved this week. ESPN.com

Yet amid all of those talks, sources say, Jennings has moved alongside Larry Sanders and John Henson on the Bucks’ list of near-untouchables. This is despite Jennings’ widely presumed desire to leave Milwaukee in free agency this summer after failing to seal a contract extension in October like fellow point guards Jrue Holiday, Steph Curry and Ty Lawson and then changing agents earlier this month. ESPN.com

ESPN.com reported Tuesday that Monta Ellis is the primary player Atlanta is targeting in its discussion with Milwaukee. Sources say that the Hawks, furthermore, want Milwaukee to add at least one expiring contract to the equation with Ellis and possibly take on some salary. ESPN.com

Kahn's top priority at this point is to add a two-guard/small forward with size. But there is truth to his interest in Denver center Timofey Mozgov, a restricted free agent this coming summer who played with Kirilenko and Wolves guard Alexey Shved on the Russian Olympic team. "They like Mozgov," a league source said. "They think he is a better value than Pek (Nikola Pekovic). They would let Pek go in free agency (this summer). They still may pursue Mozgov in free agency." 1500 ESPN

As of late Tuesday night, after weeks of phone calls and text messages, Minnesota Timberwolves president of operations David Kahn seems unconvinced he can make a trade by the 2 p.m. Thursday deadline, a league source said. It won't be from a lack of effort, however. Guards Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea and Brandon Roy and forward Derrick Williams are all available, according to league sources. So is Memphis' first-round draft pick, which the Wolves own. 1500 ESPN

The Pacers have been sniffing around for smaller more cosmetic deals, and Green seems to be the main piece they are trying to sell. Unfortunately the reason Indiana is looking at Green related deals, is the same reason they may not have anything doable at the deadline; he just doesn’t have a lot of value. HoopsWorld

A respected NBA scout told me Miami sophomore point guard Shane Larkin could enter NBA after this year and do well “He could play right now in the NBA,’’ said the scout. “He’s about the same size as John Lucas (III), but he’s better than Lucas.’’ Sulia

Whitfield, just back from the all-star weekend in Houston, echoed the sentiment of a top tourism executive this week: The time is right for Charlotte to make a run at hosting the NBA’s midseason showcase. New Orleans has the all-star game next year and New York is expected to get the game the following year. That leaves 2016 as the next available game. Whitfield told me Wednesday morning that bidding would likely begin in the next six months or so. Until then, he and other Bobcats executives will discuss and debate whether the 2016 game would be the best fit for the organization. Business News

As the NBA heads into the second half of its season, the Oklahoma City Thunder, residing in the nation’s 41st-largest TV market, is posting some of the highest local NBA ratings in at least two years. Through the first half of the season, Thunder games on FS Oklahoma are averaging an 8.6 rating, more than 45 percent higher than the second-place San Antonio Spurs, which are posting a 5.9 rating on FS Southwest. Sports Business Daily

February 20, 2013 | 11:23 AM ET Update

Chris Broussard: Rival GMs insist Rondo's available. Could they pry Josh away from ATL w/out giving up Pierce or KG? Jeff Green would be good fit in ATL Twitter @Chris_Broussard

So as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline nears, as Hickson’s name continues to surface as part of trade speculation, he’s not the least bit concerned. “I’m not going to get all hysterical about it being the trade deadline,” Hickson said. “I’ve been traded before. I’ve been waived before. This is nothing new to me.” Oregonian

Well, not quite. What would it take for Hickson to forfeit his Bird rights and approve a trade? “It’s not a point of what it would take,” Hickson said. “I’m still a Trail Blazer right now and that’s what I have to worry about. I’m committed to Portland and this basketball team. I’m not worried about approving a trade until that comes up. If it doesn’t come up, then obviously Portland’s not willing to trade me and that’s a good thing for me. But if it does, I’ll deal with it when I cross that path.” Oregonian

As for Thursday’s trade deadline, Hickson is approaching it as “been there, done that.” He said Tuesday night that he has not talked to Olshey about trade speculation and does not plan to. He will stay in contact with his agent, Andy Miller, to keep up on rumors. He almost certainly will hear more gossip from friends and family. But he’s been through it before, so he’s prepared. “It’s just a lot of talk,” Hickson said. “At the trade deadline, everyone kind of panics and gets into a frenzy. The media makes it into something it’s not. It’s just a matter of dealing with that situation when it gets there. Besides that, I’m just playing basketball right now.” Oregonian

"Everybody else has problems with Deron. I don't have any problems with Deron Williams," Carlesimo said. "I love Deron Williams and he's a great player. I'm a little bit befuddled at everything that's being made. He's a pretty good player. I don't have the problem with him that everybody else has or seems to have. I don't know what everyone else is looking at." ESPN.com

Austin Ainge visited last week Athens and watched him during a practice of his team. Celtics’ director of player personnel will probably return again in Athens this season, as many other NBA executives are expected to do. Adetocumbo plays the point guard position, but he is 2,07 m. tall (6 ft 9) and has an impressive 2,21 m. (7 ft 2) wingspan. UPDATE: After the Celtics, the Lakers travelled to Athens in order to scout the player in a private work out. Spaniard Antonio Maceiras, the head of European scouting of the team was present. EuroHoops.net

Josh Level, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward for New Garden Friends High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, collapsed on the court last night and passed away. Level was a junior and viewed as a 5-star prospect. According to Rivals, Level had offers from Oklahoma State, Charlotte, and Cleveland State. NC State had also expressed some interest. The Big Lead

February 20, 2013 | 09:41 AM ET Update

There's widespread belief among league execs that the Lakers will not trade Dwight Howard, who is an unrestricted free agent after the season and has had an inauspicious stay in L.A., to say the least. CBSSports.com

Colangelo has a realist's view of the situation. "It's been very clear that (Gay and his representatives) want to obviously see how this plays out, to be in a situation that's competitive," Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports. "He has now tasted a winning environment with the team they'd assembled in Memphis, and he wants to find that again. I'm hopeful to put us in a position where we can offer just that to Rudy and others that we are putting our stamp on this franchise. "He clearly is emerging as our No. 1 option right now, and to be a No. 1 option in a competitive situation is pretty appealing … It's a chance to establish a marketing identity and presence in two markets. You really have the best of both worlds. You can market yourself to the Canadian marketplace as a completely separate entity and the American marketplace as a separate entity." USA Today Sports

As Danny Ainge downplayed the possibility the Celtics will be involved in a transaction before tomorrow’s NBA trade deadline, general managers and personnel people around the league are saying quite the opposite. They’ll be stunned if the Celts don’t make a deal of some sort. “They’re too active,” said one. “They’ve been putting a lot of different things out there, and you’d have to think at least one of them is going to come through.” Boston Herald

Hornets officials had no comment regarding trade rumors Tuesday night, but Gordon said for the second consecutive day that he’s not concerned about the trade deadline. However, he acknowledged that anything is possible. "I don’t really get caught up to it,’’ Gordon said Tuesday night. "But you just never know your situation. That’s part of the process but at the end of the day, you can’t worry about that as a player. If it happens, it happens. I’m definitely not worried about it.’’ New Orleans Times-Picayune

Redick won't get that kind of a deal, but teams with interest in the guard tell Yahoo! Sports they could be willing to pay him in the range of $7 million annually. Redick has great value for contending teams who understand how far he grew under former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. His ability to make shots comes at a premium in the NBA. Yahoo! Sports

A report by ESPN's Chris Broussard said that swingman Evan Turner, who is averaging career highs in points (13.8), rebounds (6.6), assists (4.4) and minutes (36.2), is on the trading block, though an NBA source told the Daily News nothing is going on with Turner. Philadelphia Inquirer

With Rasheed Wallace’s and Marcus Camby’s health a nagging concern despite their returns to practice yesterday, the Knicks are one of a handful of teams to inquire about Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov this month, according to a league source. The trading deadline is tomorrow. New York Post

It's similar to the Ramon Sessions situation last season. He had a player's option on his deal and the Cavs traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers last February. "It's out of my control," Speights said. "It's up to the front office. Whatever they do on Thursday, we'll see what happens." The 25-year-old Speights said he wouldn't mind staying with the Cavs. "I love Cleveland," he said. "I love these fans. I love playing with these kids, these players. Whatever happens Thursday is out of my control." News-Herald

The San Antonio Spurs will likely move forward DeJuan Blair close to the deadline, ultimately accepting the best final offer for him, sources said. Blair has wanted a trade for more than a year, and clearly will not re-sign with the Spurs as a free agent this summer. Yahoo! Sports

Spurs forward DeJuan Blair has seen his name in nearly every speculative trade story that has hit the Internet since All-Star weekend, but his approach to Thursday’s trade deadline is educated indifference. “I’m not really worried about any of that,” said the four-year forward from Pittsburgh. “I’m just worried about right now and today. All the rest of that is BS.” San Antonio Express-News

“I’m not sweating nothing,” he said. “If I get traded, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m not mad or anything because everybody knows what I can do, given the time and opportunity. So I’m just going to keep working, keep my mind clear and not worry about all that trade talk. If my agent doesn’t tell me, or the Spurs don’t tell me, I know it’s just BS, people saying where they think I should go or what would be a good fit. San Antonio Express-News

Behind a glut of power forwards, the Houston Rockets are showing a willingness to move rookie Terrence Jones for a first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Rockets selected Jones out of Kentucky with the 18th pick in June and he's shuttled between the Development League and Houston most of the season. Jones has played minimal minutes in 11 games for the Rockets. Yahoo! Sports

Executives believe the Warriors will look to move two of their minimum-salary players to get under the tax for the same reason. The clock would start on Golden State's repeater status even though they're less than $1 million above the line. CBSSports.com

That means sticking with the starting lineup that keeps Amar’e Stoudemire on the bench and theoretically getting healthier. With Thursday’s trade deadline rapidly approaching, Mike Woodson gave no sign that the Knicks would be making any changes on that front. “I don’t think we have anything working,” Woodson said Tuesday at practice. “You always talk, but we like the makeup of our team and as we stand today this is our basketball team and we’ve got to move forward.” New York Daily News

But Williams, whom the Celtics signed to a 10-day contract Monday, won’t be able to join the Celtics on the court until he receives a letter of clearance from the Chinese Basketball Association, and he didn’t receive that letter in time for Tuesday’s game against the Nuggets. Williams most recently played in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the CBA. Under the NBA’s agreement with FIBA (Federation International de Basketball), a player must receive a letter of clearance from the FIBA team he played for before joining an NBA team. “Sometimes that’s quick, sometimes that’s a long process,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “We’re trying to finalize that paperwork. I’m hopeful that it will get done soon.” Boston Globe

Lester Hudson has returned to Dongguan and practiced with the team. He will probably return for the playoffs, which will start on February 27. hupu.com

Yet while it has been reported that Gay was happy to get out of Memphis, he said both that and the idea that he definitely wouldn't re-sign with the Grizzlies wasn't true. "It was a total shock to me," he said of the trade. "I never went to any of (the new management) and told them that I wanted to be traded. I've never done that. The summer before, I did. I said this team has a chance to be a competitor in the West, and we're going to be good, but if you plan on doing anything – this is the summer before – I said I want to express to you that I may be wanting to move on. "And this was with Chris Wallace (the general manager who remains but who is no longer involved like he was under former owner Michael Heisley) … I wanted to see it through, because we started so well. We were playing so great as a team, it kind of made me feel like this is it. This could be the chance for us. There's not too many times when you can build a team like that. Obviously financial stuff goes on, but when you build a team like that you have to see it through." USA Today Sports

The NBA TV is harder to find for Rudy Gay since he came to Toronto, not to mention the SportsCenter highlights that the Baltimore native has been such a big part of since being shipped to Canada. There's the cold, the customs, and all the adjustments of international living that stars who came before him – from Tracy McGrady to Vince Carter and Chris Bosh – learned to live with. But Gay, who was traded from Memphis on Jan. 30 and has led the Raptors to a 6-2 record, five wins in a row, since his arrival, is fitting in just fine. "I see this (Raptors team) as another Memphis," Gay, who has hit two game-winning shots and is averaging 21.3 points per game since coming to Canada, told USA TODAY Sports by phone in a lengthy interview on Saturday. "A lot of the pieces are there." USA Today Sports

When reports surfaced that Gay was happy to leave town and that friction with Randolph was part of his reported discontent while in Memphis, Gay received a text message from his upset former teammate. "He texted me and was like, 'Man, I can't believe you would say this stuff about me,' and I didn't know what he was talking about," Gay said. "I hit him back, and was like, 'Yo, no matter what was said, that never came out of my mouth.' I never talked bad (about him) and I never will, because he's taught me so much about being consistent and about being out there every day. I learned a lot from Zach. "Obviously on the court sometimes, and you see it with everybody, you'll go at it or talk or have a difference of opinion. But as far as Zach, he's always been a great teammate. He's always been giving. If you need anything, you can ask Zach, and in return it was the same way. I never had a problem with Zach. Zach was always my boy. (The reports are) just crazy. I can't believe that. It's like, you've been with somebody so long and you're trying to ruin something that you built for so long." USA Today Sports

While Randolph said the two have since reconciled, he's ready to move forward. "That was definitely BS," Randolph said of the stories while at All-Star weekend. "We'd been together four or five years, and it was upsetting that we lost him. "But we were trying to get to a championship level (before), and we still can. We've got good players – Tayshaun and Ed. But they're different players. People are thinking we're not the same and that we probably can't do it, but I think we still can. We've still got a good team. We hate that the trade happened, but this is what it is and this is what we've got to go with." USA Today Sports

David 'Dubi' Pick: My Spanish spies clue that Valladolid executives explored options for FA Malcolm Thomas, who averaged 5.5 points in 28 games for Maccabi. Twitter @IAmDPick

Rod Benson: The moment you hear that you’ve been traded, there are many, many emotions. I could go on for days about how many NBA guys I’ve been told sat in their locker and cried after hearing they were traded. I can understand that, for sure. I certainly didn’t shed a tear, mainly because I hadn’t been there long. Also, I did get traded from one of the worst teams to a team considered to make a run at the championship. HoopsHype

Portland Trail Blazers forward/center J.J. Hickson acknowledged that a series of Twitter messages he sent on Valentine's Day could have been construed as offensive, but said that it wasn't his intention to offend. "I meant no harm by my tweets," Hickson said after the Blazers lost to the Phoenix Suns, 102-98, at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night. "I meant no harm in any way. I'm not that type of person to cause harm or commit harm to anyone. It's an opinion and everyone has one. It just matters what side of the fence you're on." Blazers Edge

The messages provoked responses that were both supportive and critical, and some users raised questions about the suggestive nature and demeaning tone of some of the messages. Asked by Anne Peterson of the Associated Press if he understood that his messages might have offended some readers, he acknowledged that he did, upon reflection. "Yeah, now that you asked me that question, yeah," he said. Blazers Edge

"I think I represent the Trail Blazers great," he said. "What I tweet and what I do outside of basketball, that's my personal things that I do. I could do something good and one million people would think it's good and one person thinks it's wrong." The messages were meant to be humorous, he concluded. "It definitely was jokes," he said of his intention. "Some people take it out of proportion and want to do other things with it. That's their problem, not mine." Blazers Edge

The NBA has a social media policy that applies to its players but it's not yet clear whether Hickson's messages violated the policy. The Blazers said Tuesday that they will investigate. Blazers Edge

During the second quarter of last night’s Wizards game at Verizon Center, the word on Twitter was that Raptors broadcaster Matt Devlin was taking some shots at Wale, after he witnessed some chatter between the Raptors’ Rudy Gay and a courtside Wale during the game. “So, Wale is inspiring, and I’m sure somebody on Twitter can tell me exactly if they’ve ever heard of Wale,” Devlin said on the Toronto broadcast. “He’s not Drake, that’s for sure.” Burn. The Drake dis made its way to Wale at the speed of light, and the D.C.-based rapper responded on Twitter. Washington Post

He also decided to take his objections to the broadcast booth in person during the third quarter, which was about 20 rows directly behind where he was seated. During the live broadcast, because why not. “I was just introducing myself, that’s all,” Wale told me of his uninvited visit to the booth. “Nah, I wasn’t angry. I was like, you’re not from here, you don’t know. You don’t know.” Washington Post

The tape, and the fans sitting in the suite behind the booth, tell a different story. As you can see from the second video below, Wale didn’t seem too happy. The fans in the suite with front row seats to the incident (who did not want their names on record) told me that Wale was yelling “I heard what you said. That’s not cool.” I caught up with Devlin after the game, and he said any “yelling” was a product of the loud arena, and that any beef was Twitter’s fault. “You know what, we were making fun of ourselves. Making fun, because we’re not hip,” he told me. “Obviously people on Twitter and social media, it kind of took on a life of its own. So he came up, we started talking and there was nothing to it.” Washington Post

Just knowing Buss was there was a good feeling for everyone, and the fact that he's gone now has instantly become the most frightening development of the modern Lakers era. Buss was the Lakers' voice. Who will become that voice? Buss was the Lakers' conscience. Who will carry that burden? It was Buss' unique vision that brought the Lakers 10 championships. Who is watching the store now? Mitch Kupchak, who is your boss? "I report to Jimmy Buss," he said. Los Angeles Times

Where the Lakers were once one kingdom led by a single benevolent leader, there are now two territories run by potentially feuding siblings. They are Jeanie's Lakers, and they are Jimmy's Lakers, which means, right now, they are nobody's Lakers. "Don't think for a second there's not an adjustment period," Kupchak admitted. "You lose a father or you lose a leader like Dr. Buss ... there will be changes, and there will be an adjustment period, but I don't anticipate a problem." Los Angeles Times

The Lakers will wear "JB" patches on their jersey for the rest of the season in honor of Buss dying Monday from an unspecified form of cancer that affected his kidneys. Bryant remains appreciative of Buss' presence for reasons beyond bringing the Lakers 10 of their 16 championships since purchasing the team in 1979. Long Beach Press-Telegram

February 20, 2013 | 12:36 AM ET Update

Engaged with multiple teams in trade talks for Josh Smith, the Hawks are struggling to get the assets they are seeking for the prospective free agent, league sources told CBSSports.com Tuesday. Hawks GM Danny Ferry has told prospective trade partners he is not interested in taking back future salary and he won't do a deal "just to do it," one person familiar with the discussions said. The Hawks have been in conversations with many teams about the 27-year-old forward, with the most persistent conversations happening with the Suns, Bucks, Celtics and Nets. CBSSports.com

There's widespread belief among league execs that the Lakers will not trade Dwight Howard, who is an unrestricted free agent after the season and has had an inauspicious stay in L.A., to say the least. But several teams believe the Hawks will make a serious push for Howard before the deadline. If Howard is determined to leave the Lakers as a free agent, the Hawks would have room to sign him, but only for a four-year deal. If they were able to trade for him now, Howard could re-sign for a full, five-year max deal in his hometown. CBSSports.com

Q: On if he finds any relief about Mitch Kupchak’s comments that he will not be traded: Howard: He’s been saying that for the last month-and-a-half or two months. There’s always rumors and stuff swirling around. One thing he tells me every day is to trust him, so that’s what I’m going to continue to do and control what I can control. Lakers.com

Q: On if he’s had any conversation with Kupchak or Jim Buss about his future: Howard: They haven’t really said too much about it all year. There’s always stuff that goes on on the outside. As far as on the inside, what we talk about is how I can improve and what we as a team can do to get better. That’s the only thing I’m more concerned with – how we can win games and how we can come together as a team. Lakers.com

Center Al Jefferson and power forward Paul Millsap remained at the center of all speculation entering Tuesday’s game against Golden State, but both said they pay little attention. "It don’t affect me," Jefferson said. "I cross that bridge when I get there, man. I just … I’m a Utah Jazz, this is my teammates and this is the way it’s going to be until I find out otherwise." Millsap said that the flip side of being a centerpiece of trade talk is knowing that teams are interested in him. "That’s how you’ve got to look at it," he said. "I try to keep it positive. When they’re not talking about you is when you should be concerned." Salt Lake Tribune

Q: On a report about him being unhappy in Los Angeles: Howard: Listen, I have never said anything about none of this stuff. So if anybody has a report or anything about what’s going on, if it’s not from me, then obviously it can’t be true. I’m not going to let this situation defeat me. I’m not going to let whatever has happened up until today or in the past affect me. I’m going to get back to being who I am and defeat whatever is in front of me. That’s where I stand in this whole situation. We’re going to look at this second half of the season as an opportunity for our team to do something special and something great, and we’re going to do this for Dr. Buss. Lakers.com

Q: On if his shoulder feels better or if he’s trying to maintain where it’s at right now: Howard: For anybody who has had a torn labrum, they understand there are days where it feels super good. All it takes that one movement or that one hit and it starts to hurt and it gets numb and all that stuff. There’s really nothing I can do at this point, but continue to rehab, continue to strengthen it and hope I don’t have any problems during games. Lakers.com

Q: On if he senses any progress that he made over the weekend in his shoulder: Howard: I really can’t tell until we start playing, but our trainers understood it was a busy weekend and I was doing a lot of stuff. They didn’t want to overwork my body – just making sure I got in the gym and make sure I did something with my body just to stay in pretty good shape. Lakers.com

Q: On Dr. Buss having an influence in him staying with the Lakers: Bryant: Of course. I think in 2007 was really the big one. I had to make a choice and believing in him, which wasn’t very hard to do once I took a step back and see everything that he accomplished. I had a chance to sit down with him and we talked about what his vision was and his vision for rebuilding this team and rebuilding this team quickly. It was easy for me because I was a Lakers fan growing up, so I saw how many championships he’d been able to win and see how many times he was able to rebuild. It was a pretty easy call for me. Q: On his talk with Dr. Buss about rebuilding the team: Bryant: He went into a little bit of the salary cap, free agents and all this other stuff, which, his memory was pretty remarkable in terms of what he was able to remember, the space he had available, who was available and how he was going to put it all together. When somebody has that kind of detail, it’s pretty easy to roll with. Lakers.com

Q: On what he learned most from Dr. Buss: Bryant: To be patient, to be patient and not rush decisions. When you believe in something, you act despite what public opinion may be or what others and when public pressure sometimes can persuade people into making choices that might not be necessarily the best in the long run. He never did that. He always stuck to his guns and made his decisions what he felt was best for the organization, and that’s what I take from him. Lakers.com

Q: On if he has a particular memory or two of Dr. Buss: Gasol: We would always see him for the team picture. He was always a very joyful guy. The most time I spent with him alone was the time I went and visited him at the hospital. That was probably the most meaningful time I spent with him. We had great times when we won championships. Those magical moments were brief and are overwhelming and there are a lot of people around you. But I always appreciate those one-on-one times, even though it was under those circumstances. It’s a moment I’ll always have with me. Lakers.com

A memorial service for Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss will be held Thursday across from Staples Center. The team says the service at Nokia Theatre is for invited guests only and isn't open to the public. NBA.com

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