HoopsHype rumors

March 29, 2013 | 08:03 PM ET Update

After Danny Ainge told WEEI radio Thursday that LeBron James should be "embarrassed" for complaining about officiating, Miami Heat president Pat Riley, an old adversary of the Celtics, released a statement to the Miami media saying Ainge "shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team." Through a team spokesman, he added, "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him." When told by the Globe of Riley's comments, Ainge laughed, completely unaware that his statements about James would spark such controversy. "What did I say?" he asked. "I would say we're both right. LeBron should stop complaining. I complained as a player and I should manage my own team. We're both right." Boston Globe

Kevin Love did not get his healing shooting hand scanned yesterday or today and will be re-evaluated sometime next week. He is not expected to return to his New York City surgeon, so expect him to get his hand imaged sometime then and the results sent to his doctor to see if he will cleared for contact action. That doesn't necessarily mean he won't play again this season, but the clock is ticking. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Miami point guard Shane Larkin has yet to formally announce if he'll remain in college or enter this June's NBA draft, but the heralded sophomore may have hinted at his decision Friday evening. In a picture posted to his Instagram account, Larkin thanked his teammates and coaches for making this a special season. Miami lost to Marquette in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night, capping a season in which the Hurricanes won both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. "Regardless of what future decisions I make this has honestly been the best year of my life," Larkin wrote. "Thank you to my teammates, coaches and most importantly all of the fans for the support. I will forever be grateful for every moment shared with you all. This season was magical and something I will remember for the rest of my life. Im blessed to be a Miami Hurricane and represent the U! Thank you!!!!" Yahoo! Sports

Flip Saunders wouldn't directly address the accuracy of Twin Cities reports now listing him as the leading Gophers basketball coaching candidate. Instead, the former University of Minnesota player and ex-Timberwolves coach described himself as an "NBA analyst" and an "ex-coach." "I guess the positive thing right now is that I have not been in Minneapolis," Saunders said Friday, March 28, on his weekly radio show with host Dan Barreiro on KFXN-FM 100.3. "I'm doing everything that I have planned to do. I haven't changed anything." Twitter and broadcast reports by WCCO-AM 830 and KFXN earlier Friday listed Saunders as the No. 1 candidate to replace Tubby Smith, who was fired Monday. St. Paul Pioneer Press

March 29, 2013 | 06:29 PM ET Update

Al now refuses to call it quits even though the Magic have told him he probably won't play the rest of the season, another older player caught up in a youth movement. He's in the same boat with Hedo Turkoglu. Harrington has been around too long not to realize how a rebuild works. He's a pro's pro, but that doesn't mean he likes sitting. "I understand what they're doing here. I do. But I think I have something left in this old tank," he said. His knee, apparently, is no longer an issue, although injuries throughout his career have taken a toll. Orlando Sentinel

Harrington hopes to hook on with another team, preferably a playoff-caliber club. If he can't, even as much as he loves the game, then he will face facts. "I'm through playing with bad teams," he said. "If I can't [sign with a playoff team,] then that's probably it. What would be the point?" Orlando Sentinel

Back to the Rudy Gay trade: Were you informed every step of the way? Or did you just generally know this was happening? Lionel Hollins: Of course, of course. People made it seem like I didn't know, or that I was upset. I wasn't upset. Somebody asked me a question: "Would you want to do the trade or not?" And I said I would not. But I also voiced that to management before the trade was even made, because they asked me. They asked about the specific package — Davis and Prince? Lionel Hollins: Oh, yeah. On every package. Grantland

Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Thursday that he was surprised LeBron James complained the previous night about hard fouls committed during the Bulls' 101-97 victory that snapped the Miami Heat's win streak at 27. "I think he's too good of a player to do that," Gibson said on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN 1000. "You just play, two teams really going out there and play hard, going to the basket extremely hard and physical." ESPN.com

"I didn't try to collar him," Gibson said. "I just fouled him. It wasn't intentionally. "I just tried to make a play on the ball, but I fouled him. When he fell, it looked like I collared him. I was really trying to grab him, just not hold him up. Nobody was intentionally trying to hurt anybody out there. When he said those comments, I was really shocked. But it's part of the game, I guess." ESPN.com

By Friday, James had moved on. "I stated what I felt and I left it at that," he said. "I haven't even gone on about it at all. I know everything that I say is going to be either blown out of proportion or taken the wrong way. But I had to say what I had to say and I move on." Of Ainge's comment, James said, "Not surprised to hear anything from Boston. No, not surprised at all." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

UCLA freshman Kyle Anderson "does not have plans to declare" for the NBA Draft at the April 10 NBA advisory committee deadline. "At this time, (he) is returning to UCLA," Kyle Anderson Sr., his father, told the Orange County Register via text message on Friday. Orange County Register

"It's a business," Tucker said of holding out Dragic at Utah, who could help the Suns to a second draft lottery pick if they pass the Los Angeles Lakers. "All that stuff doesn't matter. We're going to play regardless of who they play or don't play. "I watch college and nobody there could impact the team like what people think. There are no game-changers. That's so irrelevant to guys in the locker room." USA Today Sports

The post All-Star break missive has changed dramatically. The Suns had a wide-eyed goal of going 19-10 after the break but passed that loss total a week ago. "We don't look at it as tanking because we've still got to go to practice every day," Suns co-captain Jermaine O'Neal said. "If you go out there, you really are trying to win. It's a tough period with nine games to go and everybody wants that draft pick. I guess since the women's team (the Mercury won the WNBA draft lottery's No. 1 pick). I wasn't even here and I heard that a lot last year — tanking the season to get Brittney Griner. If you're going to do it, then that's what you do it for because she changes the outlook of that team right away. I don't believe any college player on the men's side can have the same effect as a Brittney Griner. "Based off everything you hear, nobody in the draft could make this team a contender right away. You have to protect your entity." USA Today Sports

Great Britain’s men are set to find out their new coach next week, with Cleveland Cavaliers assistant Joe Prunty to be named in charge, according to sources in the NBA. MVP has learnt that final contractual arrangements are likely to be signed off following Easter Weekend to name a successor to Chris Finch, following an extensive recruitment process arranged, somewhat controversially, by an external agency. MVP 24/7

News of Prunty’s impending appointment was met with shock by a number of current internationals who had expected someone with prior working knowledge of international basketball to take charge. “I cant believe we are considering an NBA guy with no European experience,” said one member of the 2012 Olympic team, speaking to MVP on condition of anonymity. “I was hoping for a Euro coach that would teach the guys not just compete. That really is disappointing. I thought for sure they would want a fresh start and create a more European-style team.” MVP 24/7

So perhaps it’s fair to say you think the game then was better, but maybe not the players? Lionel Hollins: The depth of athleticism now is better. The depth of basketball IQ, of competitiveness, of manliness, was better then. Manliness? Lionel Hollins: Oh, there are a few men still in the league now. But guys then were playing for their living — playing for their families and their livelihoods. There are guys in the league now who don't even care if they ever play, if they ever get off the bench. Grantland

His relationship with Michael Jordan: It's good. I call him up and bust his chops when his team is not doing well, which is a lot. What he will do on his first day of retirement: I keep telling my wife I'm going to go grocery shopping with her. But I don't know, whatever it is, it's going to be fun. Gothamist

The issue of race in the NBA and becoming mainstream: David Stern: I don't know if or where it ended, but of course it [race] is an important part of our history. I remember being called by an agent for an advertiser who said he didn't want to advertise with us anymore because we were getting "too black." An important columnist at the time, who I won't name, said "there's no way America will accept a majority black league." It's a much larger story, but race is a part of our story, maybe it always will be, or at least an undercurrent, but it's wonderfully, wonderfully ignored by a generation of people who just grew up being basketball fans. Gothamist

David Stern: On Magic Johnson and his HIV announcement. Magic was probably more important to the NBA than any other player because he had a love of the game that was instantly recognizable. And of course he had the perfect foil in Larry. I have a lot of feelings about that [Magic announcing he's HIV-positive]... First of all, what people need to understand is we thought he was going to die. There's no mincing words; you didn't survive, Magic was going to die. Magic Johnson, by himself, changed the opinion of AIDS, not just in this country, but the world. Before Magic we had children like Ryan White being thrown out of school. After his announcement, Nickelodeon did a special with HIV-positive children and Magic Johnson. Now HIV / AIDS is a treatable disease. Gothamist

[Josh] Would you say you were lucky that as the brand of basketball was growing in China, along comes a 7' 6" Chinese man entering the NBA draft? There's a great quote: Luck is the residue of desire. Keep in mind at the 1936 Olympics, when basketball was first introduced, China was one of the original 32 teams. I think they came in 16th place. But they truly believed they invented the game. Sports is an incredible international language—and let's leave Dennis Rodman out of this—but it can do amazing things. Gothamist

Silver, 50, said Stern was planning a trip to India next month. "Another country of over a billion people with a young population that loves basketball." He said the NBA is working with Brooklyn Nets Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the Russian government to further grow basketball there as well as projects to develop the game more on the continent of Africa. Silver said he believed establishing teams outside the United States was part of the NBA's future, but remained in the conceptual stage. "When we do expand, we'd need to expand probably with multiple teams, so that you wouldn't have an orphan team in Europe, but that you'd potentially have a division so those teams could play each other more often and NBA teams presumably traveling in Europe could have more teams to play when they're over there," said Silver. "It's still a concept, but I'm comfortable with it." Reuters

A golden period awaits the National Basketball Association (NBA) with global interest and business opportunities growing, the man set to replace Commissioner David Stern, said on Thursday. Adam Silver, who will replace Stern when the NBA's longest-serving commissioner steps down next February, considers China key to the league's growth potential and likes the idea of one day having team based outside the United States. "I'm excited about the opportunity ahead," Silver told Reuters after a news conference to announce that ESPN and the WNBA extended an agreement to televise the women's league by six years through 2022. Reuters

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on How to develop a business Rolodex -- and implement it. I was never that interested in the practicalities of business or career. I thought that if I played exceptional basketball, all else would fall neatly into place. I wish I'd forced myself to pay more attention to the many business contacts and opportunities I had. If I'd started my pro career with that awareness, I might have accomplished much more, not just in terms of my own business gains, but in growing my Skyhook Foundation to do even more in the community. Huffington Post

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on How to become financially literate and aware of how investments work. Like many professional athletes, especially back in the late Sixties, I focused on my sport and trusted others to focus on my business. That did not always work out to my benefit. I wish I'd stepped up to the role of businessman more, learning about how investments work and what my financial options were. Huffington Post

The NBA Detroit Pistons may only be winning one in three games on average, but whenever the "dance cam" pans over to usher Shannon Sailes, smiles abound despite the scoreboard. Sailes, known as the "Dancing Usher," has gained a reputation for his impressive, funny freestyle dances that erupt from the otherwise mild-mannered professional whenever the "dance cam" and he meet. Booth Newspapers

Today Robinson is not big time, his world far bleaker and monotonous. The pressure of prison is far greater than some foul line. He's serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for a 2010 conviction on bank bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making a false statement to a financial institution. He was found guilty of fraudulently borrowing more than $700,000 from an Iowa bank. He still owes $1,184,615 in restitution. There aren't any shining moments at FCI-Oakdale. Once the toast of his sport, he's little more than federal inmate No. 82671-004. While there are basketball courts out back, Robinson, 46, doesn't play. He stays in shape mostly by taking long walks in short spaces, round and round the yard, nowhere to go. Yahoo! Sports

Helen and Lou Ford gave it to him, taking him in initially and later adopting him. They'd go on to raise dozens of kids in Cambridge either adopted or foster. Robinson was their star though. The city eventually named their street Rumeal Robinson Way. He blew his NBA millions, he admits, through wasteful spending and a taste for high-priced toys. His attempts to become a businessman after basketball, notably his plan to open a resort and casino in his native Jamaica, unraveled and led him here. Yahoo! Sports

He strongly maintains his innocence, partly on the grounds that his request for new representation just before his trial should have been granted. He says while he did a poor job of handling sophisticated loans and debts, he is not a criminal. Robinson points much of the blame on prosecutors and Helen Ford. In an effort to help fund the casino/resort project, his adoptive mother signed her home over to Robinson's business group – she says unwittingly. The house was eventually lost to foreclosure. Yahoo! Sports

Nearing 70, the now widowed Helen lives in a smaller apartment in the Boston area. Robinson claims she "conspired with the feds" in his case. She also took part in numerous media stories that, he said, made it seem like the lost house was the center of the case. All while, he said, discounting the Mercedes, the mink coat and the other gifts he provided her through the years. She eventually testified on behalf of the prosecution, a devastating blow Robinson said. "People are going to believe your mother when she says you were doing things," Robinson said. "… The damage was done before [I] stepped into court. There's a lot of misunderstanding about my case." Yahoo! Sports

He really didn't have much proof to the claims as the Spurs never advertise for the away team's fan base. They never said Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were actually going to be there and such claims were going to be made by the Miami Heat. He wouldn't sue his favorite team of course, so decided to take his frustrations out on the away team. As of today, McGuinness has dropped his claim against the Spurs but has not replied to any attempts of being reached. McGuinness did not immediately respond to an email Friday seeking comment about dismissal of his lawsuit. This lawsuit may have scared teams into playing some of their players in either a meaningless game or sacrificing rest for the playoffs, but it seems they can breathe a sigh of relief for now. After all, the Spurs are watching out for their organization and fan base and not the other team's. ProjectSpurs.com

March 29, 2013 | 03:50 PM ET Update

The Chicago Bulls announced today they have re-signed forward Malcolm Thomas to a second 10-day contract. Thomas, a 6-9, 225-pound forward, originally signed a 10-day contract with the Bulls on March 19, 2013. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed. NBA.com

The Los Angeles Clippers have signed guard Maalik Wayns for the rest of the season. The Clippers announced the deal Friday for Wayns, an undrafted rookie from Villanova. Wayns has appeared in three games for Los Angeles, averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 assists. The Clippers signed him from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League on March 9. USA Today Sports

LeBron James spoke up passionately about what he perceived as unnecessarily hard fouls against him in Wednesday's game against the Bulls. For Boston GM Danny Ainge, LeBron's complaining was "almost embarrassing." "I don’t think either one of those were flagrants, and I think the one — LeBron against Boozer — was flagrant, yes. I think the officials had it right…," Ainge said during a weekly radio-show appearance in Boston. "I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.” Miami Herald

Why the heck is Ainge calling out LeBron? Who the heck knows, other than Ainge just wanted to take an easy shot at LeBron on a pro-Celtics radio show. "Nothing that comes out of Boston surprises me," James said on Friday morning after the Heat's shootaround at New Orleans Arena. Miami Herald

Taj Gibson joined ESPN Chicago with Carmen and Jurko to discuss if Chicago’s gameplan was different in order to end the Heat’s streak, a controversial play involving LeBron James, where ending the winning streak ranks in terms of regular-season accomplishments, the Bulls’ odds in the playoffs and the potential of Derrick Rose’s return this season. Was there anything different about the gameplan given that you were trying to end the Heat’s streak?: “Not really, we just went out and played our normal style of basketball. We just got back to the basics. We’re normally a real dominant rebounding team. We try to help each other on defense. One thing we just did is play a little bit harder, because they really embarrassed us the last time they played in Chicago, and we really didn’t like the way they were celebrating. So we just came out and put forth more effort and guys stepped up.” Sports Radio Interviews

LeBron said you collared him. Did you?: “I didn’t try to collar him, I just fouled him. It wasn’t intentionally. I was just trying to make a play on the ball, but I fouled him. … I was really trying to grab him, just trying to hold him up. Nobody’s intentionally trying to hurt anybody out there. When he said those comments, I was really shocked, but it’s part of the game I guess. … You can’t expect the game to be so lightly taken after you just blew us out by 20 the last time we played you guys.” Sports Radio Interviews

Kanter was examined by the Utah Jazz medical staff and underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on his left shoulder on Thursday. The MRI test confirmed a dislocation of his left shoulder. Kanter did not travel with the team for Friday night’s game at Portland and will remain out indefinitely. He will continue to be re-evaluated and updates on his status will be provided as new information becomes available. NBA.com

On a team without stars, Ty Lawson is the one guy who makes the up-tempo Denver Nuggets offense go. The Nuggets announced Friday that Lawson has a plantar fascia tear in his right heel. He will miss Friday's game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Pepsi Center. The team reports that Lawson will not need surgery to repair the tear, and his injury status is currently listed as day-to-day. USA Today Sports

Center Nik Vucevic appears to be making progress as he recovers from the mild concussion he sustained March 19. Vucevic shot baskets this morning on the Orlando Magic’s practice court after his teammates prepared for their game tonight against the Washington Wizards. Lead assistant coach James Borrego and video analyst Adam Glessner fed Vucevic the ball as Vucevic put up his shots. How nice was it for coach Jacque Vaughn to see Vucevic back on the court? “Good,” Vaughn said with a smile on his face. “He still hasn’t been handed over to me yet, so I’d probably like that step probably the best. But it’s good to see him out there with Coach Borrego and getting some shots up.” Orlando Sentinel

Who is more important in keeping the Kings in Sacramento? The commissioner or the fellow owners? “I think the fellow owners. The commissioner would very much say that his job is to create options and lay out the facts for the owners. I think he will do that in a very effective way. The owners, it is up to them to protect their brand and the association of the NBA. Not one team or one city is more important than the NBA. I certainly know that first-hand. I think the owners frown upon moving a team from one city to another. They want to do everything that they can to preserve a team and a market. It’s a death blow to the league and they don’t want to do that. Normally when you have a team leave from one city, it’s either a team is not being supported by the fans in the corporate community or they can’t build a building. That is why the team left Seattle; they weren’t getting the support they needed and they couldn’t build a building. That is not the case in Sacramento. Our fans are some of the best in the NBA bar none and we have two arena deals. We just had one approved two nights ago by council to make a $258 million investment in a brand new arena downtown and we had an arena deal approved a year ago. The two primary factors, we have addressed in Sacramento. It would be unprecedented for owners to say, ‘We’re going to pick up this team and move it to another city.’” Sports Radio Interviews

Chris Charlier, the Nets CEO, told the New York-based France-Amérique, that the move to Brooklyn has "increased by ten times the marketing potential of the team" adding "If we sell the franchise today, we would have a huge increase in re-sale value." "So far, everything is going well," said the Frenchman when asked about the team's success from a business aspect, "The move to Brooklyn has increased by ten times the marketing potential of the team. If we sell franchise today, we would have a huge increase in value." NetsDaily

Like most kids in Brazil, Wizards big man Nene grew up playing soccer. He spent last season’s lockout kicking the ball around, and when he came to D.C. last year, he expressed interest in working out with the United squad after the NBA season was over. Unfortunately, injuries last year prevented him from making the trip out to RFK Stadium. “I feel more close to Brazil [when I play],” Nene told the Denver Post, back when he was still with the Nuggets. “I miss it so much, and my friends live there. But I can come here and play soccer and enjoy it. It’s a sport I love. I grew up playing soccer. And I just get to have some fun.” Washington Post

March 29, 2013 | 11:46 AM ET Update

But before anyone gets too excited about the part of the story where he talks about the door being open to a return, a few words of caution. There will not be much money to spend and it’s obvious that Bryan and the upper management have thrown their hats in the ring with Kyle Lowry and for them to back off on that commitment after just one year would be a huge reversal of form. Toronto Star

Malcolm Thomas will sign his second 10-day contract with the Chicago Bulls on Friday, a league source told RealGM. The Bulls have long been intrigued by Thomas’ activity and length and have needed frontcourt depth due to the injuries of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. While Gibson returned strong from a sprained MCL, Noah has missed the past three games with recurrence of plantar fasciitis. RealGM

He was traded when the team was on the road. He hasn’t had a chance to get back to the Air Canada Centre since, he hasn’t had a chance to say thank you. “It’s so quick sometimes, you don’t realize how many people you leave behind without saying goodbye,” he said after the Pistons practised here. “You don’t have the chance to say thank you. There are so many people who helped me during all those years in Toronto for everything. Not just about basketball, it’s everything. Like life, with my family. Everything.” Toronto Star

The turning point for Reggie Evans occurred when he held his tongue and stepped out of character, avoiding conflict after a teammate told interim coach P.J. Carlesimo that the forward needed to be benched because he was an offensive liability. Evans, typically outspoken, said he left it alone at that moment instead of lashing back, using the insult as motivation before progressing into the most positively surprising season for the Nets. “I got frustrated one day when one of my teammates told my coach to take me out the game. I bit my tongue. I didn’t say nothing to (my teammate),” Evans said. “But me, knowing me, I usually attack and say something. I bit my tongue. I said, ‘OK.’ I said, ‘All right, start being aggressive.’ So I took it in a positive way, instead of just doing my normal self, like ‘What you say? What you say?’” New York Daily News

Three decades later, Stern’s achievements as the NBA’s chief executive are undeniable: He oversaw expansion (seven new franchises), an explosion in revenue growth, larger television contracts, and the founding of the WNBA. He spearheaded the NBA’s global outreach and served as its most tireless salesman, which is a particular point of pride. “We were hell-bent on being all over,” he says. “I would go anyplace. If it was a television show, they would say, ‘What are you doing here?’ I would say, ‘We’re the largest producers of programming in the world.’ I changed my tune at Davos. I would say, ‘We’re the largest producer of reality programming in the world. We produce 1,300 episodes a year.’ We were always pushing it. By now we’ve played something like 125 games outside of the U.S.” BusinessWeek.com

Stern admits to checking Twitter twice a day, and though he doesn’t have an account of his own, he says Metta World Peace is a frequent source of entertainment. “I’m not sure [Twitter] is quite my thing, but it’s my business’s thing, and it’s my business’s cultural thing, so we sweep it and we know exactly what the conversation is.” BusinessWeek.com

He is considering more realistic alternatives, “including continuing outside the U.S. and being available in any way I can to help the growth of the sport,” he says. “China is the go market, from General Motors to the NBA. We have offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing. China is terrific as an opportunity.” He then added: “[And] they appreciate white hair in China.” BusinessWeek.com

March 29, 2013 | 09:40 AM ET Update

The Grizzlies return to FedExForum on Friday night for a meeting against the Houston Rockets after losing back-to- back games on the road. Memphis fell behind the New York Knicks by 30 points during a loss Wednesday night when the Knicks’ broadcasters suggested that there was a wedge between Hollins and Randolph. “The only beef I had with Zach is he was excessively late for a shootaround that started at 4:30 p.m. (last Saturday),” Hollins said. “I told him I can’t start you and he understood. Everybody’s got their opinion about what goes on in our locker room. But only the people in there know. I haven’t had a beef with Zach and he hasn’t had one with me.” Memphis Commercial Appeal

Calderon isn’t committing to anything past the end of this season. And while the economics, and optics, make a return to Toronto highly unlikely, it’s something he would consider. “Why am I going to close that door? I was there a great seven and a half years . . . for sure you have to talk and see what they’re looking for, what they want, how they want it and . . . communication is really important sometimes,” he said. “I was perfectly happy and that’s why the door is wide open for Toronto; if not, I would say right now, ‘no way, I am not going back to Toronto.’ ” Toronto Star

Now he approaches restricted free-agency in July. Only once in his four seasons as a Bobcat has this franchise reached the playoffs. That’s a departure from the winning Henderson’s teams did in high school and at Duke. But, all things being equal, he says he’d like to remain a Bobcat and be part of the long-term solution. “I know one thing – the Bobcats have stuck with me,” Henderson said of free-agency. “So if we can work it out, (re- signing in Charlotte) would be a good thing.” Charlotte Observer

Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap indicated Wednesday he’d like Josh McRoberts back next season after McRoberts becomes an unrestricted free agent. Acquiring McRoberts at the trade deadline from Orlando appeared to be a minor deal, but he’s become a starter. Dunlap believes McRoberts’ passing has improved the Bobcats’ ball-movement. The Bobcats have totaled 20 or more assists in four of their last six games and Dunlap gives McRoberts credit for that. Charlotte Observer

The timing and the idea of holding out Goran Dragic, the Suns’ best player coming off his best game, for the past two nights said something to fans and players about the lack of importance to win for a last-place team. Dragic did not want to sit out. He was told to sit and it is not like when a 38-year-old Steve Nash did it to save his body for a playoff push. The Dragic move privately disturbed some Suns who have been trying to adhere to the mantras for all-out effort, no excuses and a winning culture. Arizona Republic

“We don’t look at it as tanking because we’ve still got to go to practice every day,” Suns co-captain Jermaine O’Neal said. “If you go out there, you really are trying to win. It’s a tough period with nine games to go and everybody wants that draft pick. I guess since the women’s team (the Mercury won the WNBA draft lottery’s No. 1 pick). I wasn’t even here and I heard that a lot last year — tanking the season to get Brittney Griner. If you’re going to do it, then that’s what you do it for because she changes the outlook of that team right away. I don’t believe any college player on the men’s side can have the same effect as a Brittney Griner. Arizona Republic

He was also content with the sellout crowd’s rough treatment of Lamar Odom, who was booed relentlessly the second he started to take off his warm-ups, and every time he touched the ball. “Absolutely,” Cuban said before Thursday’s game against the Pacers, which he’ll watch before flying out in the morning to rejoin his wife and kids. “I was proud of the way everybody received Jet. Proud of the energy the crowd had [Tuesday night]. You could feel it through the TV. We felt it in the Caymans.” ESPN.com

Back in December, the NBA warned Rockets center and defensive anchor Omer Asik about flopping when he embellished a minor contact with Tim Duncan to draw a foul. Three months later Asik was up to his old tricks and this time he’s going to pay for it. The league announced Thursday Asik will be fined $5,000 for a flop against Duncan last Sunday. Once again Asik embellished a minor contact — and once again it worked. He drew the foul in a game that ended up being a one-point Rockets win. NBCSports.com

The Indiana Pacers heard all the buzz about .500 beards and Omar the barber. They made sure Omar’s clippers didn’t do any buzzing in the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room Thursday night. “We wanted to shut that s--- down,” big man Roy Hibbert said after the Pacers’ 103-78 blowout win, which guaranteed that the bearded Mavs won’t be shaving on this homestand. ESPN.com

That little tidbit was leaked to the media by shooting guard O.J. Mayo upon playful questioning following Tuesday night’s thrilling overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He meant no harm, but it was convenient fodder for an opponent looking for a little extra juice on the second night of a back-to-back. “I don’t think anything was meant by it as far as disrespect to how good the Pacers are,” Mavs center Elton Brand said. “We knew that wouldn’t be a cakewalk by any means. We knew that.” ESPN.com

Collins publicly mentioned that Hawes had just one rebound in 21 minutes. But instead of sulking, as he has sometimes done in the past, the 76ers’ 7-foot-1 center responded with much better play. “Spencer said, ‘I looked at myself and said that was the truth,’ ” Collins recalled after Wednesday’s 100-92 victory over the Bucks. “That’s what really good players do — examine themselves and say, ‘I can do better.’ That’s what he did.” Hawes said hearing it from Collins helped. “Coach (said), ‘We’ve got to know every night what you’re bringing to the table, what we’re going to get from you,’ ” Hawes said. “I think making a more concerted effort toward that has helped me and just slowing down (was important, too).” phillyburbs.com

Kobe Bryant has a bone spur in his left foot and is scheduled to be examined by a foot specialist Friday in Sacramento. Bryant finished the Lakers' loss to Milwaukee on Thursday night but didn't talk to reporters postgame as he got treatment on the foot. Lakers spokesman John Black said the bone spur has bothered Bryant "for a while" but didn't specify how long. Orange County Register

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday that Kevin Garnett is still dealing with the inflammation in his left foot that has caused him to miss the past three games, but that the original estimated two-week absence should be "more than sufficient time" for the injury to heal. "It's much better today than it was yesterday and I think he just could use some rest," Ainge said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM). "On top of that, KG has just little nicks, bumps and bruises that could use some healing time. He's got a sore calf muscle as well. It's just good for him to take some time off and get fresh. But the biggest concern right now is the inflammation in his foot." ESPN.com

Karl doubts that Lawson, who has a strained left heel, will play Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets at the Pepsi Center. Lawson, who received treatment and has missed three of the last four games, was not available for comment. He played 20 minutes during the Nuggets' 100-99 loss at San Antonio on Wednesday, scoring only two points as he struggled without his usual quickness. "Seeing him today, I'd say he probably won't play tomorrow," Karl said Thursday after practice. Karl was asked if he's worried about the injury. "I'm worried because ... a fast player needs his feet," Karl said, then grinned. "If Kosta (Koufos) rolled his ankle, he'd probably be OK. Ty needs his speed to be great." Denver Post

Billups won't play against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Thursday, and there isn't a timetable the team is able to give for the shooting guard's return. "He's going to be out a little bit," Del Negro said. "I don't know how much. I'll know more [Friday], probably. But I don't expect him around for a while. "I'm not sure if Chauncey will be out a game, two games, two weeks. I don't know yet. It depends on how he reacts working out." Los Angeles Times

“It’s tough to hear, especially when we know how Danny’s been battling it all year long and trying to get back healthy and back to 100 percent,” Pacers forward Paul George told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s tough. We all know where he’s at mentally as far as wanting to play. You definitely want to play. For us to be doing so well and having the year that we’re having, of course you want to be part of that. Of course you want to be a part of that and be on the court. Not that he’s not a part of it now, but there’s really so much that Danny brings that we really could have used come playoff time.” HoopsWorld

He explained that the latest knee issue cropped up when the Knicks were in the midst of a four-games-in-five-nights span, and he simply didn't feel right trying to play through the pain after a loss to Oklahoma City. Still, he didn't blame the pounding he took in that heavily scheduled span, and instead alluded to his longstanding knee troubles. "I don't think it had anything to do with the minutes," said Stoudemire, who is filming a documentary titled "In the Moment" to chronicle his rehabilitation efforts. "I honestly think it was just a matter of time before [a separate surgery would be required]." In a separate interview, Stoudemire said he hoped the procedure, which he's had before on his right knee, would give that leg another five or six years of durability in the NBA. Given the number of injuries Stoudemire's been through, Anthony, when initially asked about his teammate, turned away from the issue of basketball briefly. "At this point, I'm just more concerned about his psyche and his mental [state]. That's my friend," said Anthony, who was promoting Degree deodorant near Madison Square Garden Thursday. (For his part, Stoudemire insisted that he's fine mentally, and that his spiritual life and family have kept him afloat in recent weeks.) Wall Street Journal

"Pitino has squeezed the hell out of those guys," said one NBA player personnel director, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because league rules prohibit discussing underclassmen. "I don't see any of them being consistently in a (NBA) rotation. I'm not even sold on Dieng." Two other league executives - one in both the Eastern and Western Conferences - shared that view of the Louisville roster, projecting Dieng as a late first-round pick and junior guard Russ Smith as a possibility in the second round. And though several other Cardinals will be on the NBA's radar including senior point guard Peyton Siva, sophomore forward Chane Behanan and freshman forward Montrezl Harrell (who might be the best long-term prospect of the group), it is atypical for such a powerful college basketball team to draw so little excitement from NBA scouts. Detroit Free Press

The anxiety heightened as former Lakers coach Bill Sharman watched the television screen. He "felt that Miami had a very good chance" to surpass the Lakers' all-time record of 33 consecutive wins set in the 1971-72 season when Sharman oversaw the team's first NBA championship in Los Angeles. Even with Miami nursing a double-digit deficit for most of Wednesday night against Chicago, Sharman said he didn't feel fully at ease as he watched the game with his wife, Joyce, and sister-in-law until the Heat officially ended their 27 -game winning streak. "We were all very nervous even when Chicago was ahead because the Heat team is so good and has come back from large deficits in other games," Sharman wrote in an email to this newspaper. "Who can say if the 33-straight winning streak will ever be broken? I am glad that it stays with the Lakers." Long Beach Press-Telegram

"I am really glad that Pat Riley was part of our '71-72 team," Sharman said. "I would have been among the first to congratulate him if they would have broken the streak." Long Beach Press-Telegram

On Wednesday, Brett Yormark and children from the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club cut the ribbon on a Brooklyn Nets-themed basketball court at the club's Navy Yard Clubhouse on Nassau Street. The court is a replica of the Nets home court (minus the herringbone but with the logos). It took about two months and $75,000 to renovate, all of it paid for by the Nets CEO's Yormark Family Foundation.The court was the foundation's first project. The new gym has a new basketball court, bleachers and wall padding. After the ribbon cutting, hundreds of local residents watched two club team dedicate the court. NetsDaily

Police say three NBA championship rings belonging to former Los Angeles Lakers forward A.C. Green have been stolen from his Southern California home. Palos Verdes Estates police Sgt. Steve Barber said Thursday that Green believes the rings were taken by day laborers he hired to move belongings into storage. USA Today Sports

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