HoopsHype rumors

May 27, 2013 | 08:55 PM ET Update

The Charlotte Bobcats have reached an agreement in principle with Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford as their new head coach, a person familiar with the deal told USA TODAY Sports. It is a two-year deal with a team option for a third year. It is worth $6 million if he is there for all three years. USA Today Sports

The Mikan drill is a classic basketball practice taught to players at an early age. Shoot a layup with a right hand on the right side, grab the ball as it drops through the net, move to the left side and shoot a left-handed layup. Back and forth, over and over. Then do the drill, named after Hall of Fame big man George Mikan, with reverse layups. And if the you want to look at a major reason for Miami forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen's success during the playoffs, look no further than the most basic of drills. "I do it until my shoulders burn," Andersen said. "(Former Denver Nuggets assistant) Adrian Dantley had me doing that a lot when I was with Denver. It really panned out and really helped me out around the basket and made me more efficient." USA Today Sports

May 27, 2013 | 06:14 PM ET Update

Spanish radio station Cadena SER is reporting that Real Madrid will make free-agent-to-be Tiago Splitter their top target during the offseason. The report, translated stateside at HoopsHype.com, describes the bid as a long-shot. Splitter, is well-known in Spain’s Liga ACB, where he played 10 seasons for three clubs. He was the 2010 MVP with Tau Cerámica, before joining the Spurs for the 2010-11 NBA season. The Brazilian became a naturalized citizen of Spain in 2004, and his wife is Spanish. San Antonio Express-News

When the friends became teammates in the 2010 offseason, their games hardly were complementary. But with James taking his game more often into the post, and with Wade expanding his game there, as well, there can be nights like Sunday, when each can thrive without their points coming at the expense of the other. "It's taken time," coach Erik Spoelstra said, "to allow everybody's strengths to come to the forefront without it being a my-turn, your-turn deal." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Pacers spent much of Monday's interview session promising changes and adjustments. Anything to combat the attack the Heat used to exploit one of the NBA's best defenses. News reporters asked Hibbert over and over how he could help Paul George with James posting up in the paint while also defending his man on the perimeter. "I'm going to do both — guard the paint and get out there," Hibbert said. "This series, if we want to win, I have to do everything. … It's the playoffs, and I don't want to go home. If I have to move my feet a lot quicker, I'll do it." USA Today Sports

John Paxson says Derrick Rose received unfair criticism for not returning to action this season and believes the Chicago Bulls star will benefit from the work he did on his body during his time away. Paxson, the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations, told WSCR-AM 670 on Sunday that Rose "took a lot of unfair shots" from critics who felt he should have returned late in the regular season or during the playoffs. "It's the way of the world now, the social media, everything that goes on," Paxson said. "Everybody wants to point a finger and blame and accuse and that kind of stuff. And the reality is, Derrick and us, we were all on the same page from the beginning. If he was ready to play mentally and physically, he was going to play. It didn't happen this year." Chicago Tribune

May 27, 2013 | 04:42 PM ET Update

According to two people with knowledge of the situation, Vivek Ranadive has begun the process of finding a replacement for Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie and is considering San Antonio Spurs team president R.C. Buford, Golden State assistant general manager Travis Schlenk, and Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace. Former Indiana general manager David Morway may also receive consideration, and Ranadive's internal list is not believed to be limited to this group. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search. USA Today Sports

Ranadive's focus, as is clear from some of the backgrounds of the people being considered, is on establishing a smart, winning tradition in a small market after the Kings have missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons. He is likely to assume control of the team later this week, and the deal is expected to close on May 31. USA Today Sports

Ranadive is not expected to retain Kings coach Keith Smart, either, but clearly wants to have his new front-office in place before beginning that process. USA Today Sports

The Timberwolves will host four workout sessions for potential 2013 NBA Draft picks on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The workouts are primarily for players who currently project to be late-first round or second round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft NBA.com

It has been reported that Ujiri is the lowest-salaried GM in the NBA, earning about $500,000 a year, or half of the league’s average. According to NBA sources the Raptors have offered Ujiri a four-year deal worth about $9 million. SportsNet

May 27, 2013 | 02:31 PM ET Update

Roy Hibbert: I've been over to Frank Vogel's house, had dinner. He barbequed and everything like that. He's one of those guys that you'd do anything for. I've earned his respect; he's earned my respect. And we see it out there. When he gets on us, we know it. He doesn't get on us too much; we police ourselves. We're a veteran team. But we have respect for him, and he's definitely garnered that sort of culture around here, made a culture around here that's respectful. NBA.com

Baylor guard Pierre Jackson was the best player at the New Jersey combine last week, according to scouts who were there. "The bar wasn't exactly high, but yes," one GM said. There weren't that many players who'll even be drafted at all in Jersey out of the 44 invitees. NBA.com

There are signals that Larry Bird may want to return to the presidency next season. Walsh has indicated he would have no problem stepping aside. But for now, Bird's absence has created the oddest dynamic: the people now in charge of keeping the Pacers together had almost nothing to do with bringing them together. "I've told him, he's weird to do that," Walsh said Sunday. "But he did that when he was my coach and we went to The Finals with him, and he resigned right after that. I would ask him, 'What's your dynamic here? Why would you leave now?' But I've learned to never psychoanalyze Bird." NBA.com

There was a time in Deron Williams’ life when the ball wasn’t bouncing his way. “I saw that I wasn’t living the right way. I wasn’t on the path to Heaven, and that is why we are here on Earth,” said Williams, the premiere point guard for the Brooklyn Nets. However, two spiritual decisions got him pointed in the right direction. After his salvation experience in 2009, Williams was baptized Jan. 24, 2010. “People who have been around me for years definitely notice the changes in the way I act and the way I carry myself,” Williams said. “People who didn’t know that I was a Christian have commented and said things to me. I played better since I found the Lord. I think my focus was better; my mind was clear.” Baptist Messenger

Williams was baptized while playing for Utah. He and his wife, Amy, were members of Salt Lake Christian Church, a nondenominational church in Salt Lake City. A commitment to read the Bible, pray and surround himself with other Christians has helped him grow spiritually. “It’s a crazy world we live in,” he said. “Everywhere you look there is sin and temptation. You have to ignore it and stay focused on the Lord.” Baptist Messenger

Utah small forward/shooting guard Gordon Hayward was also a teammate of Williams. Hayward called Williams a leader offensively, defensively and spiritually. “As far as what he brings through Christ, he connects the way he plays. He leads by example,” Hayward said. Baptist Messenger

With the playoffs going on, Billy Hunter was reluctant to file the lawsuit, but felt his reputation and ability to do business had been damaged by his ouster, according to a source. Hunter does not want to be reinstated as executive director, according to the source; the union has yet to pick his successor. Hunter claims in his lawsuit that Derek Fisher "actively manipulated" the Paul, Weiss report by making false statements to the firm's attorneys, including, in the Hunter lawsuit's wording, the charge "that Hunter had tried to bribe him to secure Fisher's support during the 2011 collective bargaining negotiations." NBA.com

May 27, 2013 | 12:24 PM ET Update

Eventually, Tim Duncan's Spurs finished a 104-93 overtime victory Saturday to seize a 3-0 lead over Memphis. Now Duncan is one win from returning to the Finals stage most assumed he already had vacated for good. “This is a special run for me,” Duncan said. “I really want to get this one done. I really want to get back to the Finals. I want to win another championship.” San Antonio Express-News

Net Daily: #Nets considered logo based on ABA days during rebranding, reports @SBJSBD Here's one theme they looked at. timothypmorris.com/images/1024/ne… Twitter @NetsDaily

A reporter asked Memphis restaurateur Kelly English late Friday via Twitter about a rumor that he’d “denied service” to Spurs point guard Parker at his exclusive Restaurant Iris on the eve of Game 3. English confirmed and all heck broke loose, with the national media eagerly jumping on what seemed to be a case of small-market gamesmanship in the midst of a playoff series. One problem: Parker says it never happened. San Antonio Express-News

As reported by our Mike Monroe at ExpressNews.com, the five-time All-Star says he was never at the popular hot spot in the first place. “I was in my hotel room eating room service with my girlfriend,” Parker said on Sunday. “She’s my witness. I don’t know what is going on with that, man. I did not do that. Can you stop doing promos? That is a new way of doing promotion now, using my name? “It’s definitely false. I don’t know why you (media) keep fueling that. I guess he’s going to have a lot of people now going to his restaurant because you guys keep talking about it.” San Antonio Express-News

May 27, 2013 | 08:29 AM ET Update

Several teams, including the Clippers and Nets, are believed to be waiting for the Grizzlies' season to end to explore Hollins' availability. With Memphis trailing the Spurs 3-0 in the Western Conference finals, league coaching sources expect Hollins to entertain multiple offers as his philosophy -- and ultimately, his price -- might be in conflict with those of the Grizzlies' new decision-making hierarchy. Hollins does not have a contract for next season. CBSSports.com

If Howard believes he'll be happier outside of Los Angeles, he would be forfeiting $30 million in guaranteed salary. The caveat -- Howard is likely to land another major contract before he retires. After four years, he would have every expectation of making up that money in a new deal. The only true advantage to locking in a fifth year this summer is protection against significant injury. If the fifth year is taken out of the equation, there's not a major difference between a deal with the Lakers and a prospective suitor like the Houston Rockets. Los Angeles Times

As detailed by Tony Nitti of Forbes.com, a Houston four-year deal would net roughly an additional $8 million in after- tax income. Texas doesn't have a state income tax. With Kobe Bryant's Achilles' injury, minimal young talent and a tremendous pressure to win, the Lakers' future is uncertain. The team may be able to lure major talent in 2014 with their prospective cap room, but Houston can already boast James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik. Los Angeles Times

One source said Chris Smith, J.R.'s younger brother, will not be considered. "Chris is not an NBA player -- not even close," the source said. "He will never play for them." ESPN.com

By moving James to the post, the Heat won the scoring battle in the paint, kept Indiana at arm's length and pulled away for a 114-96 victory and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. "I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense," James said. "The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that." ESPN.com

"If you're not perfect guarding them, they'll do what they did to us tonight," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We didn't have a great defensive night. It wasn't horrible, as bad as the numbers looked. You have to credit Miami for playing a great basketball game." USA Today Sports

Alex Kennedy: Vogel says Miami has a Big Four: James, Wade, Bosh and Shooters. "Their three‑point‑shooting support system is the fourth of the Big Four." Twitter @AlexKennedyNBA

Most scouts felt Noel had the most potential of any draft prospect before he was hurt, and when it happened, his stock didn't drop much. Cleveland picked a center, Tyler Zeller, in the first round of last year's draft, but 23-year-old Zeller doesn't have Noel's upside. Noel just turned 19 in April and is one of the few players in this class who could eventually become a star player. When Noel is asked if he can become one the league's best players, there's no hesitation. "I definitely feel that way," Noel said. "I know it will take a lot of work, but I definitely want to put the time and work in to be one of the top players in the NBA. That's a dream come true and I'll definitely take advantage of it so I definitely feel that I can become one of them and reach my full potential." USA Today Sports

Noel considers himself a defensive-oriented player. When he first started playing for a travel team as a child, he was only concerned with shutting down the opposition. In high school, he once blocked 22 shots in a single game. Growing up, he emulated Kevin Garnett because of his defense and intensity. "I definitely feel that I can be [the best defender in the league]," Noel said. "I have to do a lot of work and make sure I bring it every night, but I think I can get there." USA Today Sports

The Knicks' pre-draft workouts will start the first week of June, the team confirmed Sunday. All of the workouts, which will last up until the draft on June 27, will take place at the team's training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. ESPN.com

Andrea Bargnani in an interview with Il Corriere dello Sport confirmed that he will play Eurobasket 2013 with the Italian National Team. The competition is scheduled for next September in Slovenia. Bargnani spoke also about the NBA season which ended early for him due to an elbow injury. "I got injured for the second consecutive year: last year a calf problem, this season an elbow injury. Two probems which forced me to miss a couple of months. I have just started practice again" said Bargnani. "Future? In the NBA everything could happen. Today I am a Raptor. Tomorrow we'll see. I am very happy for my years in Toronto. I love the city and in my first three seasons in the NBA we made the postseason. Personally, I think I have always performed well. I don't have any regret" added Il Mago. "Italy? I am always happy to play for the Italian National Team. Last summer I could not play because of my calf injury. Now, due to my elbow problems I miss playing games but I can't wait to start" ended Bargnani. Sportando

Former Alaska governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin sat courtside at Sunday’s Eastern Conference Finals game between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Palin and her husband, Todd, took in the action, presumably while in town for Monday’s Indianapolis 500. For The Win

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