HoopsHype rumors

April 27, 2013 | 11:07 PM ET Update

According to several sources familiar with Howard's thinking, Howard will likely explore free agency before reaching his final decision. In today's media landscape, that means there will be a circus in July while Howard hears pitches from the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Even if it is merely Howard doing his due diligence before making a major life decision, the frenzy it is sure to create will give Howard a taste of the backlash he could face if he ultimately decides to uproot from L.A. just one year removed from the "Dwightmare" that surrounded his exit from Orlando. ESPN.com

"He's a character now," Thibodeau said of his diminutive, shot-happy backup guard. "I had a good understanding of who he is from my experience with him in Boston. You've got to take the whole package, and the good outweighs the bad." Robinson accepts Thibodeau, the stern coach who seldom smiles in front of news reporters, for whom he is, too. "Everybody knows coach is a drill sergeant. But he has a heart, somewhere in there. I know he does," Robinson said. USA Today Sports

“I'm not going out there to hurt anybody or be cheap or anything,” Bogut told reporters Saturday. “I'm just playing physical like they are. If someone steps up and wants to get into it, I've got no problem with that. It’s nothing personal. They’re physical. Kenneth Faried runs around and hits people. We just have to match their intensity. If it gets personal during games and guys want to have a crack at you, that’s playoff basketball. I’m not sitting here saying I hate McGee or I hate Faried. But if they want to be physical, we’re going to be physical back. We’re not going to take a step backward.” NBA.com

“They’ve been punking us, basically,” Barnes said with a fervor in his voice that he usually reserves for on-court interactions. “If we keep playing like this we’re going to be home next week that’s the bottom line. From top to bottom, our team has been punked. It doesn’t have anything to do with a scouting report or adjustments. If we don’t start playing like men, we’re going to be sitting on a beach next week.” NBA.com

Coach Gregg Popovich says starting center Tiago Splitter is out indefinitely after spraining his left ankle late in the third quarter of the Spurs’ 120-89 Game 3 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Unofficially, the team’s medical staff estimates it could be a week to 10 days for Splitter to return, a timetable that would make him available for most if not all of the second round. “He’s been really special for us,” Popovich said before Saturday’s practice at a gym in Santa Monica, Calif. “Hopefully, we can get him back as soon as possible. Somebody else will have to step in and guard their big guys.” San Antonio Express-News

April 27, 2013 | 07:58 PM ET Update

The whispers are becoming louder around the league. They say the Cavaliers might be willing to part with some of their young talent in trades. They went through all the growing pains with Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, and now they’re going to include them in trades? Sorry, I don’t buy it. If the Cavs are ever going to have a chance to get their hands on players like LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love, they’ll have to deal players like Waiters and Thompson, and much more. Morning Journal

The Cavs’ most prominent free agents are guards Wayne Ellington and Shaun Livingston and center Marreese Speights. The Cavs would like to sign Ellington. That means presenting him a qualifying offer of $3 million. It’s not as easy with Speights. It appears as if they hope he opts out of his deal. He might not fit their culture. Livingston emerged as a top-notch backup point — not quite as good as Golden State’s Jarrett Jack — but still a quality guard, nonetheless. He’ll likely ask for $3 million or $4 million, and settle for something like $2 million or $2.5 million, a source said. Morning Journal

Nate Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls’ Saturday playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets, leading Chicago to a comeback and forcing overtime at the United Center. This would be impressive on its own, but that number is just one point shy of the Bulls’ franchise record for points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. Who holds that record? Some guy named Michael Jordan. MJ did it on May 12, 1990, against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jordan’s performance was not enough to prevent the Sixers, led by current TNT analyst Charles Barkley, from winning the game. Nate did this to give the Bulls a lead at the end of overtime: For The Win

The Grizzlies, who have something not a lot of teams in the NBA have this season, two big men who can carry the team in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, got great performances ... again, from the two and beat the Clippers 104-83, and the series is now tied at 2-2. When the fell down 0-2, the "Grizzles miss Gay" excuse was rampant. Gay was their leading scorer and traded to the Toronto Raptors in a three-player deal in January. But without him, there is better ball movement and Randolph and Gasol have more opportunities to take over like they did in Game 4. USA Today Sports

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is piecing together his coaching staff in Cleveland. One of his first calls likely went to former offensive coordinator John Kuester. Brown would like to add him to his staff. However, sources say he might be reluctant to return to the NBA. Morning Journal

Talk about a slam dunk! After five years of dating, former NBA star Michael Jordan, 50, and his model-fiancée, Yvette Prieto, 35, made it official with a wedding in Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday. About 500 people arriving by tour buses piled into a Presbyterian church called Bethesda-by-the Sea, where Donald Trump was married to Melania in 2005. People

April 27, 2013 | 06:35 PM ET Update

Nate Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls’ Saturday playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets, leading Chicago to a comeback and forcing overtime at the United Center. This would be impressive on its own, but that number is just one point shy of the Bulls’ franchise record for points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. Who holds that record? Some guy named Michael Jordan. For The Win

Signs are pointing to Dwyane Wade sitting out Game of the Heat's first-round playoff series against the Bucks on Sunday. Wade did not participate in the Heat's full-court practice drills on Saturday at Marquette and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade's status was day to day. The Heat plays the Bucks at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, meaning Wade will not have a full day to receive treatment on his knee before tipoff. Spoelstra said that Wade "is improving" and that the Heat's training staff will evaluate his injuries before game time and then make a decision. Miami Herald

Gasol said he’s experienced the most frustration nursing never-endining injuries including knee tendinitis, a concussion and plantar fascia in his right foot, ailments that sidelined him for a total of 33 games. Even if he’s suiting up Sunday for Game 4 against the Spurs, Gasol said he’s far from healthy. So much that he said he will explore various non-surgical procedures to treat the knee tendonosis in both of his knees. “It’s something I’ve dealt with all year, but I have to do something to regenerate the tissue,” Gasol said, “so I don’t have to play with this pain.” Los Angeles Daily News

Kobe Bryant went to Germany two years ago to have a derivation of the platelet-rich plasma procedure on his right knee, which entailed involves blood being taken from the patient and isolating the components in hopes of accelerating the healing process and relieving pain. Would Gasol go to Germany, too? “I’ll go to wherever I need to go,” Gasol said. “It’s a possibility.” Los Angeles Daily News

The key issue in the case was determining what percentage of time Mauer had lived in a Florida townhouse, and how long he lived in Afton in those tax years. Mauer argued he mostly lived in Florida, which is one of seven states that has no personal income tax, but the court ruled otherwise. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

April 27, 2013 | 03:15 PM ET Update

The vitriol about the play in which Thunder star Russell Westbrook was hurt has escalated to death threats directed at Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, including one from someone that describes himself as a Thunder ballboy. Mitchell Brown sent a tweet that threatened, “Patrick Beverly (sic), I’m coming to kill you.” He sent another using Beverley’s Twitter handle; “@pavbev21 I’m coming to kill you.” Thunder spokesperson Matt Tumbleson said, “We do not condone his comments. He works game nights on a voluntary basis. We will handle this matter internally.” Houston Chronicle

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have completed the purchase of the operating rights for a team to compete in the 17-team National Basketball Association Development League. The NBA D-League is the NBA’s only minor league. The acquired operating rights were previously held by the Utah Flash, a team that went on hiatus two seasons ago. The Philadelphia 76ers’ new NBA D-League franchise will relocate to Delaware and commence play this coming autumn for the 2013-14 NBA D-League season, which runs from November through April. The team will be known as the Delaware 87ers, and will be nicknamed the “Sevens.” It will play its games on the campus of the University of Delaware at The Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. NBA.com

We’re not sure what brought this about or what his qualifications are, but boxing legend and all-around crazy person Mike Tyson is live-tweeting Game 4 of the NBA playoff series between the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets. He’s taking over the @NBAonTNT account, so it’s unlikely he says anything too off-the-wall, but it’s still going to be arguably (no, not arguably, definitely) more interesting than the game itself. For The Win

April 27, 2013 | 02:29 PM ET Update

Teammate Paul George tried to tell him everything would be all right. Associate head coach Brian Shaw asked Hibbert if his $58 million contract was effecting him mentally. Hibbert’s final stat line in that late December game against the Hawks — 0 points and one rebound in 21 minutes, along with a bruised ego. “That was probably the lowest I’ve ever been in my career,” Hibbert said as he sat sprawled on the couch of his home in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis this week. “It was the worst game that I had played.” Indianapolis Star

No, the former Duke Star who flew in to the Bay Area on Friday morning was here to see the Golden State Warriors' last hope, his sharpshooting sibling who would have to carry this day against the Denver Nuggets and so many more to come with David Lee on the shelf. As for all this talk about a left ankle sprain that may have caused him to miss what turned out to be the defining game of his four-year NBA career? Seth, who played most of his senior season with a right leg injury that required a surgery two weeks ago in which a metal rod was inserted into his shin area, wasn't having it. "I told him to suck it up," Seth Curry told USA TODAY Sports after the Warriors downed the Nuggets 110-108 at Oracle Arena to take a 2-1 series lead. "He knows I played all year with an injury. It's a different situation, but I knew he'd do whatever it takes to play." USA Today Sports

Dell Curry said he never had any doubt that Stephen would play. He was so confident, in fact, that he didn't bother to check on his son's status at any point leading up to the tipoff on Friday. "A couple buddies of mine texted me, and was like, 'Is Steph playing?'" he said. "I was like, 'They're going to have to cut his foot off for him not to play.' I didn't talk to him about his ankle. "I knew he was going to play. There was no doubt about that, whether his ankle was healthy or not. I told him before the game, I told him that this was the game that I thought would decide the series." USA Today Sports

Brooklyn Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said before Game 4 of the first-round matchup with the Chicago Bulls that he hasn't read Friday's comments from a disappointed Gerald Wallace, but that the issue has still been addressed. "I didn't see [Wallace's comments] to be honest with you, but I've talked to Gerald and hopefully we've done a better job of letting Gerald know the things that are important for him to do to help us be successful," Carlesimo said. ESPN.com

As the Nets prepare for Game 4 of their first round series with the Bulls Saturday afternoon, the Nets got some good news in the form of Johnson seemingly coming through the game without incident. “I actually feel a lot better than I expected,” Johnson said. “I didn’t have a problem getting out of bed this morning. I don’t know … as each day goes by, it just kind of gets better and better, but it is a little tough and frustrating at this point.” New York Post

Michael Jordan is tying the knot with fiancee Yvette Prieto this weekend, and we're on the ground, digging up the basketball legend's wedding secrets. The wedding is reportedly set to take place at Bethesda by the Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, Florida -- the same church that provided the setting for Donald and Melania Trump's 2005 wedding. Two thousand friends and celebrities are expected to attend the wedding festivities, which will no doubt include some wining and dining at MJ's 37,000 sq. ft. home on Florida's Jupiter Island. etonline.com

A CBS Houston sports blogger has come under fire for questioning whether an Oklahoma City Thunder Girl was "too chunky" to be an NBA cheerleader. Blogger Claire Crawford targeted Oklahoma City Thunder cheerleader Kelsey Williams' looks on the court after the Houston Rockets faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. ABC News

"The Rockets looked terrible in Game 1, but some say they weren't the only bad-looking people on the court," Crawford wrote. While she conceded Williams was a "pretty blonde," she wrote Oklahoma City fans had criticized her for "having 'pudginess' around her waistline." "But if she's comfortable wearing that tiny outfit and dancing for NBA fans, then good for her," Crawford wrote. "Besides…not every man likes women to be toothpick skinny. I'd say most men prefer a little extra meat on her bones." ABC News

April 27, 2013 | 08:45 AM ET Update

"I said some things, you know, that I probably shouldn't have to make [the fans] think that [these might be my last days]," Jennings said to me after the Game 3 loss. "But in general I wouldn't want to leave without actually accomplishing something here and that's getting out of the first round or something like that." ESPN.com

He also said that right now his focus is not on what my focus is for this story. "That's why we hire agents. At the end of the day this is a business but they take care of all of that and we can concentrate on playing basketball." His focus in the moment is solely about where he stands and what stands in front of him: The Miami Heat. A young brotha still trying to find a way to make his pre-series claim of "beating the Heat in 6" wrong by just one game. ESPN.com

As long as sign-and-trades are an option in the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA, anything is possible. So maybe this farewell feeling hanging over Milwaukee is an indication that instead of matching the best offer another team makes and keeping Jennings around for a lame-duck season, the Bucks will sign him and trade him. "At the end of the day they have supported me here since Day One." Jennings said about the Bucks and Milwaukee. "The good and the bad. From my rookie year, from being a little guy that came from Italy that nobody knew about, they still had my back through it all. So at the end of the day, I still love this town and hopefully I'll be here." ESPN.com

Simmons breaks down why he thinks James will eventually join forces with music mogul Jay-Z, who recently divested his interest in the Brooklyn Nets in order to partner with Creative Artists Agency as a sports agent. This is the same agency that James left back in September to sign with childhood friend and former CAA agent Rich Paul as part of a new agency called Klutch Sports. To be clear, Simmons offers a disclaimer that his idea is his own and not based on the sort of insider info that Simmons so often cites. USA Today Sports

The man at the center of the proposed reunion is William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the CAA coach's agent whose ties to James have been well-chronicled and, as the premise goes, has such an overwhelming and eternal influence on the best basketball player on the planet that he'll convince him to come back. But there is no reason to anticipate this happening. The time has officially come to stop romanticizing the relationship with James and Wesley, and not only because of the obvious fact that the soon-to-be four-time MVP was willing to leave him behind and work with Paul in a partnership that isn't ending anytime soon. The 'Worldwide Wes' factor as it related to James had a Wizard-of-Oz feel to it all along, but the reality in the here and now is that James has long since moved on from that overhyped chapter and, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, the two hardly, if ever, speak these days.The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of their relationship. USA Today Sports

There’s an affinity for Martell Webster that’s unmistakable. The Wizards want the free-agent-to-be back, and he is willing to make it happen. “It’s high on the priority list, I’ll tell you that,” Webster said of returning as he clowned with teammate A.J. Price. CSNWashington.com

Against Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker. And in this universe, that can only mean one thing: Final score, 120-89, the worst home playoff loss in franchise history. San Antonio up 3-0 in the series. “I thought our guys played as hard as they could play,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said after. “but they ran out of gas toward the end.” SheridanHoops

It’s not that they didn’t want to win Game 3 against the Knicks. They desperately wanted it. Not just to avoid a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 hole in the first round of these NBA Playoffs, but to mend their city’s broken heart. To give Bostonians something to believe in. The Celtics just couldn’t will anything better than a 90-76 defeat. “Obviously, the result is not what we wanted,” said Garnett, “but looking in the stands, seeing people drunk, having fun and high-fiving for the most part was good. It was a good two-and-a-half hour diversion if you will.” WEEI.com

“The Knicks are really doing a good job on defense, trying to take us out of our offense,” Pierce said. “I think our 3- point game hasn’t really been there the whole series. We haven’t really got to the line a ton. But we have got to figure it out. We have got to do a better job of knocking down open shots, we’ve got to get to the free throw line, got to move the ball. Can’t turn the ball over. We turned the ball over a lot tonight and I think that’s something that’s biting us.” WEEI.com

With 7:06 left to go in the fourth quarter, J.R. Smith was called for a flagrant 2 foul when his right elbow caught Jason Terry square in the face. That meant an automatic ejection for Smith, and it could have repercussions for Game 4 on Sunday as the Knicks try to close the Celtics out. Terry had to be restrained by teammates. “I was trying to draw the foul,” Smith said in the locker room after the game. “He reached in one time. I thought he was gonna reach in again a second time. I was gonna try to get a quick shot off, but they made a call that the refs saw. Not really much I could do about it.” Boston Globe

Smith said he was going to prepare to play on Sunday, though flagrant 2 fouls can come with fines or suspensions after they are reviewed by the league. “I don’t really know,” he said when asked if the ejection was warranted. “I’m not really the judge of that. I’m going to let them do what they do. I’m really trying to stay away from getting into it with the officials. I’ve got to keep my head. “It was a bad basketball play on my behalf just because I got kicked out of the game. My team needs me. Just got to get ready to play Sunday.” Boston Globe

Tyson Chandler told The Post he lost 10 pounds because of flu-like symptoms he sustained late in the regular season while he was rehabbing his neck injury. Chandler played below par in the first two games of the Knicks’ first-round series against the Celtics, and coach Mike Woodson blamed that on Chandler’s weight loss. Last night, Chandler had six points and eight rebounds in the Knicks’ 90-76 victory, which gave them a 3-0 series lesd. “The fact he was off — he’s a lost a little weight — and we’re trying to get his strength back up,’’ Woodson said. New York Post

In the final seconds, as the arena DJ played Eminem's "Lose Yourself," the crowd, on its feet, nearly lost its collective mind. And when a last-gasp shot by Denver's Andre Iguodala glanced off the rim at the buzzer, the party was on. The victory chorus: Waaarrr-iors, Waaarrr-iors, Waaarrr-iors. "It was unbelievable," CEO Joe Lacob said through a mile-wide smile. "This crowd was just an incredible advantage for us. And we needed them tonight." San Jose Mercury-News

Geier said Westbrook’s doctors at this point “probably don’t know” the extent of the injury. “The MRI is notoriously bad at predicting one or the other,” said Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and director of MUSC Sports Medicine in Charleston. He has served as orthopedic consultant for the U.S. women’s soccer team. Oklahoman

While both Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni expressed sympathy for Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, neither of the Knicks’ point guards felt his potentially season-ending knee injury was the result of a dirty play. Westbrook, the All-Star point guard for the top-seeded Thunder, suffered a torn meniscus when he collided with Houston's Patrick Beverley as Westbrook was attempting to call timeout. “He wasn't trying to hurt him,” Felton said. “It's unfortunate. He was just trying to make a play.” New York Daily News

Of course, the Heat does not need one of the league's best players to finish off the Bucks, but it wasn't like Wade didn't take a beating Thursday night in Game 3. On one play alone, he got smacked in the kisser, the elbow and the sore knee that caused him to miss six games near the end of the season. So on Friday, Wade retired to the treatment room in an Al McGuire Center on which he helped break ground a decade ago. "He's fighting through it," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Some days are better than others, depending on the collisions he has from the night before." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Starting power forward Tiago Splitter is expected to miss 7-10 days with a sprained left ankle, according to a Twitter post by Express-News columnist Buck Harvey. San Antonio Express-News

Calling his play "bummish" and "noneffective" in the Los Angeles Lakers' 120-89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Metta World Peace said he "probably" will not play in Sunday's Game 4. "I was the weak link tonight," World Peace said after going 0-for-6 from the field with no rebounds and one assist in 17 scoreless first-half minutes and not playing in the second half. World Peace said his sitting out will give the Lakers a better chance to extend the series and give himself more time to get healthy. "Then these guys will be at full strength," World Peace said. "We'll win on Sunday." ESPN.com

Still, World Peace, who returned to the lineup earlier this month just 12 days after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and helped L.A. secure a playoff berth once Kobe Bryant went down with a season-ending Achilles tear, blamed himself for Friday. "I wasn't helping the team," World Peace said. "Mentally, I was there, but it didn't translate. Physically I wasn't, but mentally I was there. I was trying to hustle a little bit, but Coach saw me dragging. Coach wanted a shot to win. He made a good choice. Collectively, we're going to hang in this thing together and get past this point. "I really believe if I didn't play tonight, it would have been a faster-paced game for us. Nobody would have been dragging. Everybody would have been 100 percent. It was like 5-on-4." ESPN.com

Simone Pianigiani, coach of the Italian National Team, lost Danilo Gallinari due to a torn ACL, will likely have Andrea Bargnani in Slovenia for Eurobasket 2013. Il Mago missed the second part of the NBA season due to an elbow injury but from May Bargnani will be in Rome to workout. "Andrea Bargnani will land in Rome in May and he will work with the physical trainer Cuzzolin. Datome? He will be in Slovenia. Belinelli? He cares of the Italian National Team. But in July we will decide he is going to play Eurobasket" said Pianigiani in a press conference. Sportando

The Lakers will receive 20% to 50% of the money they owe former coach Mike Brown, a person familiar with the situation said. They owe Brown about $7 million over the next two seasons but could recoup anywhere from $1.5 million to $3.5 million because he accepted a job to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers with a reported five-year, $20-million contract. Los Angeles Times

Quick thought on Sacramento/Seattle with the two important committee meetings days away: Count me among... the many who took note in the wiggle room in recent comments on expansion by David Stern. The commish anything but embraced the idea, but it was more of a polite dismissal compared to his backhand at All-Star weekend. Even the theatrics were good. When someone asked about the chances of expansion as a win-win outcome for the two cities, Stern gave a long pause before answering. Well done. Stern knew the question was coming. Stern knew weeks before the question was coming. Sulia

A pair of fans got into a brief fist fight as the crowd spilled out of the AT&T Center after the Spurs’ 102-91 victory over the Lakers Wednesday in the second game of their first round playoff series. The fight, shown on video at kens5.com, lasted less than a minute. A Spurs spokesperson told KENS 5 that the organization, which hires off-duty Bexar County deputies to augment security at games, is reviewing the situation. San Antonio Express-News

L.A. Lakers star Steve Nash thinks he has a good reason NOT to pay child support -- if he does, he thinks his ex-wife will spoil the kids with limos and other luxuries. Nash is locked in a legal war with Alejandra Nash over their 3 kids. She currently lives in Arizona, where a judge handled their divorce and ruled she was not entitled to child support. She's appealing the ruling and we now know what they're arguing over. Steve convinced the divorce judge -- Alejandra doesn't need child support because he made her a millionaire 5 times over in the divorce settlement. On top of that, she pulls in more than $30k a month. TMZ.com

Steve is saying he's paying plenty -- 90% of medical, school and extracurricular activities, and 82% of the nanny's $2k a month salary. He says he's worried if he pays more, she's an excessive spender who will spoil and damage the kids with crazy luxuries. But there's more going on here. As we previously reported ... Alejandra wants to move to L.A. but Steve is objecting. It's really weird, because the b-baller has said he chose to go to the Lakers rather than the Knicks so he could be closer to his kids. TMZ.com

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