HoopsHype rumors

December 9, 2013 | 10:19 PM ET Update
VOTE FOR TWEETER OF THE YEAR USA TODAY Sports Images

In the fourth edition of the Tweeter of the Year vote, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford defends his crown against JR Smith, Roy Hibbert and several other tweeting stars. Make your picks now.

   

Ujiri termed the deletion of Gay’s $19.3 million 2014-15 contract option a “long-term” move and said the uncertainty of not knowing whether Gay would opt out (even though it seems unthinkable he would, given how poorly he’s played this season) made his job more difficult. “That option was tough on our part. It’s a tough place to be where you can’t go to Rudy and say: ‘Hey, we need to talk about the future.’ That option really put us in a tough position to plan. I would say flexibility long-term,” Ujiri said. Toronto Sun

Critics of the Kings' acquisition of Rudy Gay point to his high usage rate and low shooting efficiency. I asked the Kings GM how important it is to look at Gay's numbers in the position he was put in the last few years. "Very important," D'Alessandro said. "That’s a great question. I read everything that everyone reads. We have our processes too and we see things differently. That’s just the nature of that ever-growing and ever-expanding game. We look at him differently than maybe others do. I feel like a lot of times with certain players, it’s where they’re getting the ball, it’s where they’re scoring, it’s the position they’re put in. And I think we have a good idea, we’re talking as a staff a little bit, we have a good idea of what positions that we’d like to put him in." Sulia

#SacKings coach Michael Malone's thoughts on Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray: "The first thing is it’s always tough when you make a trade involving seven players. It’s never easy. I thank Chuck Hayes, John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson for everything they’ve done for me as a first-time head coach. I really appreciated the leadership of Greivis, John and Chuck. They are pros and I thanked them all last night. But in Rudy Gay, you get a 6’10, versatile scorer. And I know everybody’s hung up on his 38 percent this year, but if you look at his numbers throughout his career, he’s shot well over 45 percent a number of seasons. So I’m not as concerned as a lot of these analytic people get concerned about (Rudy). He’s a very talented player. End of games, he can make plays for you. He’s versatile. He can score in the post, handling the ball, catch-and-shoot, isolation, so he’s talented and we’ve become a much more talented team with him. Sulia

Masai Ujiri is not judging head coach Dwane Casey on the end results of Toronto’s games. He knows the previous edition of the team and the post-Rudy Gay version are not world beaters by any stretch. So Casey, in the final year of his three-year contract, apparently won’t have to go full bore after victories at all costs like most coaches looking for an extension do. “If we were grading on wins and losses, I’d be talking differently here. That’s not what we’re doing here. I think our grade is on growth, how we grow as a team, how we grow as an organization, how we build, how our young players are getting better, how we handle our situations, how we communicate,” Ujiri said Monday. Toronto Sun

The Utah Jazz announced tonight that the team will honor legendary former head coach Jerry Sloan in a special halftime ceremony when the Jazz hosts the Golden State Warriors on Friday, January 31, 2014, in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN. “On behalf of the Jazz organization and Miller Family, I am thrilled to announce our plans to retire a jersey and celebrate the enduring legacy of Jerry Sloan, one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history,” said Steve Miller, President of Miller Sports Properties. “We welcome Jazz fans to join us as we honor Jerry for his accomplishments and recognize his countless contributions to the Jazz franchise and state of Utah.” NBA.com

December 9, 2013 | 09:24 PM ET Update
 

THE TOP JERSEY SELLERS IN THE NBA IN THE LAST DECADE

LeBron James has the best selling jersey these days, but that's been more the exception than the norm during his time in the league.

   

One of the ways the Clippers may do that is the rumored addition of veteran forward Stephen Jackson. Rivers said after the Cavaliers game that the team would exhaust all potential avenues to fill in for Barnes, Bullock and Redick. “We are close,” Rivers said of adding another player. “It’s not done yet. Nothing’s done in our league until it’s done.” NBA.com

Stephen Jackson: One thing about me I never panic bkuz God taught me how to enjoy the bad and good times. It's easy to b positive when u are thankful and humble. God is Great. Let's turn up LA. Promise to give my all. #clips Instagram

Jamison is just five points shy of 20,000 in his career. Sometime this week, perhaps even tonight in Philadelphia, he will become one of only 20 players in NBA history to reach 20,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. Out of the previous 19 players to hit those numbers, only Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are active and of the 16 other players to do so only Shaquille O’Neal, who retired two years ago, has yet to be enshrined in the hall of fame. ESPN.com

Harrington has been sidelined with a sore right knee since Nov. 12 and recently experienced a setback while increasing his rehabilitation efforts. He had a diagnostic arthroscopy and lavage procedure on Monday night in Vail, Colo., to clean out loose particles in his right knee. Dr. Richard Steadman performed the procedure. After resting for four weeks, Harrington will be evaluated again. Washington Post

Former NBA player Lamar Odom has pleaded no contest to a drunken driving charge and accepted a sentence of three years of probation and three months of alcohol abuse treatment. Los Angeles city attorney's spokesman Frank Mateljan says Odom entered the plea Monday to one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. In a deal with prosecutors, he was also ordered to pay $1,814 in fines and penalties. The status of his suspended driver's license will be determined at a separate hearing. Odom was arrested Aug. 30 after his Mercedes-Benz SUV was spotted weaving on a Los Angeles freeway. USA Today Sports

December 9, 2013 | 08:10 PM ET Update
VOTE FOR TWEETER OF THE YEAR USA TODAY Sports Images

In the fourth edition of the Tweeter of the Year vote, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford defends his crown against JR Smith, Roy Hibbert and several other tweeting stars. Make your picks now.

   

Everyone said no, and they did so abruptly. This is how far Gay’s value has declined league-wide over the last 18 months. I know GMs who say they wouldn’t touch him now in free agency for the midlevel exception. Only one team was left: the Kings, with a new ownership group determined to make a splash and a new GM, Pete D’Alessandro, who worked with Toronto GM Masai Ujiri in Denver. Grantland

Kevin Love was back at practice today after missing Saturday's loss to Miami because of the death of his grandmother back in Portland. He declined to talk to media members after today's practice at Target Center, but is headed with the team to Detroit this afternoon for Tuesday's game there against the Pistons. "He's fine," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "He went through the whole practice and seems good." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Jordan Farmar, who tore his left hamstring in the first quarter of a Dec. 1 loss to Portland, showed healing and improvement in the area in an additional ultrasound exam on Monday afternoon with Dr. Luga Podesta. Farmar “still has a ways to go” before he returns to practice or games, according to team spokesman John Black. Lakers.com

Addressing the NBA's weak Eastern Conference on Sirius XM Radio's new NBA channel, deputy commissioner Adam Silver said Monday the league's competition committee will examine if divisions have outlived their usefulness. "One thing I have learned from David (Stern) over all those years ... is every day we should wake up and take a fresh look at everything we do. Divisions fall into that category," said Silver, who will take over for Stern as NBA commissioner in February. "Historically, based on geography in terms of ways to schedule and convenience of travel, the goal was to enhance rivalries and I'm not sure if that's still what's happening. "That's something I'm sure the competition committee might when they next meet will be taking a fresh look at it." USA Today Sports

Scott Agness: Pacers owner Herb Simon is very proud of his team’s 18-3 start. "It’s been enjoyable. Last night wasn’t much fun though." Twitter @ScottAgness

December 9, 2013 | 06:54 PM ET Update

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Josh Lewenberg: No untouchables on the roster, Masai says, indirectly. "If someone offers us Michael Jordan today am I going to say no?" (I would hope so) Twitter @JLew1050

Was Rudy Gay surprised to be traded? The new #SacKings SF shares his thoughts: "It wasn’t a surprise," Gay said upon arriving at Sleep Train Arena this afternoon. "I think timing was surprising to me, but I wasn’t surprised at all. I pretty much knew what direction the organization was going to go in." Sulia

David Locke: Love that note about Korver shots only at full speed in practice. Amazed at how much NBA practice shooting is done in non-game fashion Twitter @Lockedonsports

December 9, 2013 | 05:32 PM ET Update
 

SOCIAL MEDIA PICTURES: PHOTOS PLAYERS POST

Just like everybody else, NBA players are spending more and more time on social media sites and photo-sharing services. Check all the pictures they are posting on Instagram, Twitter and more here.

   

“I think Daniel Hackett will stay in Siena all season”, said Scotti. The Italian-American guard will be a free agent in the summer of 2014 and he would like to take a shot in the NBA. As his agent confirmed: “There is interest for him from different NBA teams already”. That makes it really difficult for a European team to pay a buy out to Siena in order to get the player and then lose him at the end of the current season, because the NBA seems to be his priority at this point. EuroHoops.net

The Pelicans (9-10) announced Monday that Tyreke Evans will be out 1-2 weeks with a sprained left ankle, the same injury that caused Evans to miss six preseason games. Evans joins Davis and reserve center Greg Stiemsma on the New Orleans injury list, leaving the Pelicans with just 12 available players. NBA.com

December 9, 2013 | 05:13 PM ET Update

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN CLIPPERS HISTORY

Modern-day Clippers like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are among the all-time best players in franchise history.

   

Free agent forward Stephen Jackson has signed his contract agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers, a league source told RealGM. Jackson had been working on his deal with the Clippers, and the two sides reached completion on Monday afternoon. Jackson, 35, was waived by the San Antonio Spurs late last season – a tumultuous split that left the 16-year NBA veteran searching the market in free agency. RealGM

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday they have waived guard D.J. Augustin. Augustin was signed by the club as a free agent July 22. Augustin appeared in 10 games, averaging 2.1 points, 1.0 assists and 8.2 minutes. Raptors.com

The Sacramento Kings today acquired forwards Rudy Gay and Quincy Acy along with center Aaron Gray from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for guard Greivis Vasquez and forwards John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes, according to Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro. “We’re excited to welcome these additions to our team,” said D’Alessandro. “In Rudy we’ve acquired one of the league’s proven scorers while Aaron and Quincy provide size and depth in our frontcourt. We also appreciate the contributions and efforts that John, Chuck, Greivis and Patrick made to the Kings organization. We all wish them the very best moving forward.” NBA.com

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday they have acquired guard Greivis Vasquez (GRAY-vis VASS-kezs), guard-forward John Salmons (SAL-mons), and forwards Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for forwards Rudy Gay and Quincy Acy and centre Aaron Gray. “We thank Rudy, Aaron and Quincy for their time here. They were great professionals and strong community ambassadors of the Raptors,” said Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri. “The trade gives us good flexibility and more certainty as we plan for our future.” Raptors.com

Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk returned to the practice floor today for the first time since spraining his right ankle on Nov. 23 in Atlanta. His status for Tuesday’s matchup with the Nets remains uncertain. “I haven’t gotten the clear thumbs up from our trainers, but I would say that he’s at least, at worst, questionable for tomorrow,” head coach Brad Stevens said after the team’s practice. NBA.com

Miami HEAT player and South Florida native Udonis Haslem announced today that he will open his first SUBWAY® restaurant in the city of Hollywood on December 12th. For years, Haslem has been a huge supporter of SUBWAY® restaurants because they provide healthy options at affordable prices. The Grand Opening, scheduled to take place from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 12th, will be a festive affair complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a DJ, prizes, giveaways, an appearance by the Sub Man and more. The restaurant is located at Oakwood Plaza, 3050 Oakwood Boulevard, Hollywood, FL 33020. NBA.com

December 9, 2013 | 03:47 PM ET Update

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEOS: THE BEST OF VINE AND INSTAGRAM

Adding to our social media tools, you can now watch here all the videos NBA players are posting online – including those by Nate Robinson, Iman Shumpert and JR Smith, of course.

   

Ronald Tillery: Re: QPon's injury. Rook Jamaal Franklin now gets fair shot in wing rotation. Griz won't add player that will “stunt” Franklin’s opportunity Twitter @CAGrizBeat

Anthony Slater: Andre Roberson back with the Thunder. His last two games in Tulsa combined: 46 points, 28 rebounds, 7 steals. Twitter @anthonyVslater

December 9, 2013 | 03:26 PM ET Update
 

SOCIAL MEDIA PICTURES: PHOTOS PLAYERS POST

Just like everybody else, NBA players are spending more and more time on social media sites and photo-sharing services. Check all the pictures they are posting on Instagram, Twitter and more here.

   

Vivek Ranadive was the driving force behind the Kings' acquisition of Rudy Gay. He wanted Gay for a few months, "analytics be damned," one league source indicated. The Kings think Gay will put up much better shooting numbers playing with DeMarcus Cousins, as he did in Memphis playing off of Marc Gasol, compared to what he did in Toronto. We'll see. I don't know if the starting five Sacramento will put out there in the short term -- Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Gay, Derrick Williams and Cousins -- makes any sense from a basketball standpoint. But, some nights, they'll be very entertaining. NBA.com

But Morey also has a familiar face in Philly to work with as well in 76ers GM Sam Hinkie. Morey has already done a deal with Hinkie and Hinkie has a solid big man in Spencer Hawes, who is on an expiring contract who also can shoot from the outside. (ESPN.com has theorized Thaddeus Young would bit a good fit in Houston alongside Howard as well.) NBA.com

The Wizards also have long coveted Asik, and he'd give them some strong insurance against having to count on the health of Nene holding up long-term. But I don't see Houston biting on a package involving, say, Martell Webster (who can't be dealt until Dec. 15, anyway) or Howard's old caddy in Orlando, Marcin Gortat. NBA.com

The Cavs are committed, though, to acquiring as much talent as possible before making final decisions on whether it all meshes. (They still have a future first from Miami, a first from Sacramento and a first from Memphis, along with their own.) They may have to move some of the pieces if Andrew Bynum can come back from his knee injuries; they're pinning their hopes on the fact that the same medical team that helped Zydrunas Ilgauskas make two All-Star teams after his foot injuries early in his career is working with Bynum. NBA.com

But Kobe is Kobe. He demands attention from the opposing defense -- and, often, fealty from his own teammates on offense. There will be two adjustments occurring concurrently for the Lakers: Kobe getting used to playing again, and everyone else getting used to playing with him. And so we asked a cross-section of NBA folk the following question:Now that he's back, Kobe will (blank), and the Lakers will (blank). Here were some of the answers. WESTERN CONFERENCE EXECUTIVE: Kobe will be 90 percent of the player he was, and the Lakers slip into the playoffs. Who knows. Never underestimate him. NBA.com

NBA HEAD COACH: Kobe will try to facilitate, and the Lakers will struggle momentarily while trying to adjust to him. EASTERN CONFERENCE ASSISTANT COACH: Kobe will ... not sure if he'll share the ball, and I doubt the Lakers can be a playoff team ... the defense is bad, and he won't help it, and my gut says eventually he'll hurt their chemistry, but you never know, maybe they need (him) and will accept him shooting it 30x a game? NBA.com

FORMER NBA PLAYER: Kobe will adapt, and the Lakers will make the playoffs. EASTERN CONFERENCE EXECUTIVE: Kobe will be good, and the Lakers will be middle of (the) pack in WC. NBA HEAD COACH: Kobe will be good, and the Lakers will still be just OK. WESTERN CONFERENCE ASSISTANT COACH: Kobe will be a guy I wouldn't bet against, and the Lakers will continue to improve and definitely make the playoffs. EASTERN CONFERENCE GM: Kobe will play well and the Lakers will make a strong push for playoffs. NBA.com

Swimming With Sharks: Rivers, of course, could have gone anywhere to coach. But the Clippers, with their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, were an attractive destination. And Paul was there because ... well, you know. If Paul were with the Lakers, Rivers may well have been the next coach of the Nets. Don't tell me Ainge would have balked at having Doc within the division; he didn't mind Pierce, one of the all-time great Celtics, within in the division, on what everyone thought was going to be a dynamic team. NBA.com

December 9, 2013 | 02:41 PM ET Update

COMMERCIALS: ALL DURANT, ALL THE TIME

Kevin Durant has come second in the draft and MVP votings, but nobody in the NBA can touch him nowadays when it comes to pitching products - whether it's shoes, video games or soft drinks. He leads our Commercials Rankings and No. 2 (Kobe Bryant) is not even close.

   

Memphis Grizzlies forward Quincy Pondexter has a stress fracture in his right foot and will be out indefinitely, the team announced Monday. The fourth-year small forward was hurt during the Grizzlies' 108-82 loss Saturday to the Golden State Warriors. USA Today Sports

Thaddeus Young said he has not given too much thought to the trade rumors that surfaced over the weekend. The Sixers were listed as a potential landing spot for Houston forward Omer Asik, an ESPN.com report by Marc Stein said. The Rockets, according to multiple reports, are trying to move Asik by Dec. 19, and Stein’s report said Young would be the return in any deal involving Asik. “It is what it is. Just taking it day by day,” Young said, after the Sixers’ morning shootaround Monday. “I’m not worried about a trade or anything like that. It’s a business. If it happens, it happens. I just have to live with it, keep moving on it. At the end of the day, I’m here. I’m ready. I’m focused. I’m ready to go out here and think about the game tonight.” Sixers Dish

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have recalled center Aron Baynes and guard Nando De Colo from the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. Both players made their second appearance for the Toros this season on Sunday afternoon when they led Austin to a 116-87 home victory over the Reno Bighorns. NBA.com

December 9, 2013 | 02:02 PM ET Update

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Just before practice, Melvin Ely grabs a quick snack. After practice, he runs three miles before eating a big lunch. Then he snacks, then eats dinner, then eats another snack. Then it’s game time. All in all, Ely eats eight times every day. It might not sound like the diet habit of a world-class athlete, but the 35-year-old Ely is arguably in the best shape of his life. The Legends’ most senior player feels like he’s in his 20s again after dropping nearly 30 pounds in the offseason to get down to 245. It’s another example of a hard-working, hungry – literally – veteran prolonging his career and setting the example for younger players. NBA.com

Ely is highly regarded by his teammates, and the center said the younger players, including Harris and point guard Sean Singletary, are now turning to him for advice on how to handle themselves away from the game, and he couldn’t be happier to help out. “Normally, these guys just pick my brain about old games, but now they’re asking me about certain situations and how to handle things, and I like it,” he said. “To ask somebody that question, you have to have a lot of trust in them, and I do feel honored when they do it. So when they do it, I just give them my past experience. I’ve been in a long time, so I either did it or I’ve seen it done.” NBA.com

It’s unclear how long Ledo will be with the Legends. The Mavericks’ roster is log-jammed at the shooting guard and small forward positions, and because Ledo is such a young, raw talent, playing time of any kind is the most important thing for his development. One of those players is Douglas-Roberts, who said he’ll try to help Ledo’s development. “I don’t know how long he’s gonna be down here, but I definitely plan on staying in his ear a little bit, kind of showing him the ropes,” he said. NBA.com

He was averaging 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds and shooting 37 percent in his first 12 games. He was stiff, appeared to lack passion and often complained about his lack of explosiveness and need to reinvent his game. He even mentioned retirement. Now in his last four games, Bynum is averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks while shooting 55 percent. Not surprisingly, the Cavs are 3-1 during that time. “I’m still lacking a little bit of explosion,” Bynum said. “But my touch is coming back and my timing is coming back. I’m starting to see the ball go in.” Akron Beacon Journal

“I would be surprised if I didn’t see how hard he worked. “George Sibel and the rest of our performance team has done a remarkable job with him. I don’t care how good of job they do as a group, if he doesn’t buy in and if he doesn’t do the work it ain’t going to happen. I’ve seen first hand how hard he’s worked. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s at the point where he is right now knowing he still has a pretty high ceiling,” Brown said. Akron Beacon Journal

"This is going to sound crazy, but this season has been pleasant for me," Dunleavy said. "To be able to compete and have a chance every night and go into the game thinking you're going to win, it's a big change for me. I've been on some pretty dysfunctional teams. We do a lot of things well, particularly at the defensive end. We also usually rebound well. We have to shore up our 3-point defense. We've been in a lot of close games that could go either way. You can make those games up over the course of an 82-game season." Chicago Tribune

Carter-Williams was released from the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania Sunday, after being admitted Thursday with an infection on the front of his right knee. He was treated there by UPenn's infectious disease specialist Neil Fishman and Sixers team physician Brian Sennett. The injury stemmed from contact with another player Dec. 1 at Detroit. It's unlikely he'd be available Monday against the Clippers. For now, the 21-year-old Carter-Williams is on oral antibiotics. The Sixers are waiting for the soreness in the knee to go down before they consider re-inserting the point guard into the lineup. Sixers Dish

In an interview with Sporting News, Hecker detailed the situation that led to his departure, which effectively ended a well-respected career of over 20 years with teams including the Grizzlies, Clippers and Cavaliers, and the tension within the Memphis coaching staff that preceded it. Not only was Hecker let go during the playoffs, but Hollins—winner of 56 games last season—was not retained after his contract expired. It started with a situation involving a fan sitting near the bench. One rumored version of the story had Hecker going after a young fan sitting courtside, telling him to sit down because he was blocking the coaches’ view. Hecker said that was not the case. “There was a big guy sitting there next to our bench,” Hecker recalled. “He had to be 6-4, 250 pounds. He kept standing up, and they stand up a lot there in Oklahoma City, I can understand all that. But I said to him, ‘Sir, can you please sit down in a timely fashion because I can’t see the game?’ He says, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘I am one of the assistant coaches.’ I told him, I understand standing up, it is exciting, you are in the front row. But he was blocking everybody.” Sporting News

Shortly after that, Hecker spoke with his lawyer, and the Grizzlies informed him that he had been let go. Hollins was said to have been willing to allow Hecker back on the staff if he apologized, but Hecker did not. Soon after, the Grizzlies were swept out of the playoffs by the Spurs. “I sensed we could have won the whole thing—if we had gotten past San Antonio, we would have given Miami all they could handle because of our bigs,” Hecker said. “The team was going sideways, though. The karma and direction were not right. … You can’t have guys going one direction and everyone else going in the other direction, but one guy having his own agenda.” Sporting News

As for the strange end to his coaching career, Hecker said he is at peace with it. He has moved back to his house in Utah, and says he is coaching kids now. “I don’t need the NBA,” he said. “I am not one of these guys who wants to coach until I drop dead. I am coaching 11-year-olds and I enjoy that as much as coaching in the NBA. But the pay is not as good.” Sporting News

“Why would you hire a guy with no wins in the NBA and get rid of another guy who took you to 56 wins?” Hecker said. “Just from a strict business standpoint, why? They were afraid of Lionel, because they couldn’t control Lionel. … Joerger, because he had worked it so hard, they felt comfortable with him. They said they didn’t need Lionel, they could just hire (Joerger). He was taking all the credit, basically, anyway.” Sporting News

December 9, 2013 | 11:00 AM ET Update

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN CAVALIERS HISTORY

It will be very hard to surpass the No. 1 player on the list – especially now that he's back..

   

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the teams linked to Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, who reportedly is about to be moved. One league executive told FOX Sports Ohio not to rule out the Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks, either. FOXSports Ohio

Following the Pacers’ 118-94 loss in Oklahoma City, George told reporters that Durant is his toughest cover in the league. “It is,” he said. “It is a tougher matchup. I watch their games, I watch a lot of NBA games. And offensively, KD is most of the times he’s scoring in bunches off of iso plays and one-on-one plays. “And when they play against us, he’s moving a lot. He’s the screener, he’s getting back-screened and he’s coming off pin-downs and it’s a little different when I’m guarding him and it makes it a tougher cover.” Durant finished with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-23 shooting. Pacers.com

As Bryant revealed in a postgame news conference that was an entertaining reminder of why he's one of the most fascinating figures in all of professional sports, he recently showed all six Stars Wars movies to one of his two daughters. He gave himself an F for his nine-point, eight-turnover performance in his Los Angeles Lakers' 106-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors but offered thoughtful insight as to why he's so optimistic about what lies ahead. . "I had my kid watch every single Stars Wars, Episodes IV, V and VI, and then start I, II," Bryant said. "We literally just finished it last night." USA Today Sports

December 9, 2013 | 09:12 AM ET Update

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN RAPTORS HISTORY

Nasty break-up and all, Air Canada is the best thing that ever happened to the Toronto Raptors.

   

New Raptors front-office boss Masai Ujiri has managed to trade away Andrea Bargnani and now Gay over the past six months to create financial flexibility going forward and -- with Toronto apparently determined to avoid any accidental success in the Atlantic Division -- is said to be happy to surrender veteran point guard Kyle Lowry next. ESPN.com

League sources told ESPN.com that the Kings will be trying to find a new home for forward Jason Thompson, who presumably wouldn't quibble with a fresh start after the arrivals of Gay and Williams to play alongside Cousins. ESPN.com

Jackson, meanwhile, has been working out on his own in Texas in hopes of hooking up with another contender. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich abruptly released the 35-year-old in April just six days before the end of the regular season because the Spurs felt that Jackson was unwilling to accept a lesser role in the playoffs behind fast-developing youngsters Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. ESPN.com

When news leaked out Sunday night that Gay and forward Quincy Acy were being sent to Sacramento for a quartet of role players, none of whom come with booby-trapped contracts, reaction around the league was incredulous. “Doesn’t Sacramento watch the games?” said one long-time league executive. SportsNet

"I don't feel normal at all," Bryant admitted. "I couldn't wait to start watching film and start criticizing every little thing (after the game), you know what I mean? I'll go home tonight and I'll watch it all over again, but that's the exciting part. ... I feel very optimistic, like I know exactly what I need to do. That part is exciting." USA Today Sports

"As tough as ever to find that balance of where my mind needed to be," Bryant told Yahoo Sports later outside the locker room. "As soon as the injury happened, I had doubts whether this night would ever happen. And then, I kicked it into the full gear and fought myself to not think about the end result – just think about every single day of work it would take for me to get back again." Yahoo! Sports

Asked to give himself a grade for his first game back, Bryant said, "F — It's an F. For me, it's an F. No question." A few more honest gems from his self-assessment: • "There's a bunch of things I completely messed up on." • "(The game was) a complete failure to me." USA Today Sports

"It's like chopping a tree," he said of proving skeptics wrong for the latest time. "One swing of the ax is not going to get it done. You just have to keep at it and keep at it and keep at it and keep at it, and stay focused internally on what you have to do to improve. You know how it is – you see it in other sports all the time. A player is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but he throws three (interceptions) and then he's horrible. So it just happens. You've got to stay the course." USA Today Sports

Kevin Ding: Kobe said he weighs 225 pounds with 8% body fat. "Now I feel like after playing the game, I need to drop some more (weight)." Twitter @KevinDing

After the loss to Toronto, Young spoke with Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters about playing alongside Bryant and how different it can be: “Sometimes you can catch yourself watching him while you’re out there on the floor…We can’t just defer to him every time.” Lakers Nation

“An embarrassment,’’ Anthony termed the loss. “To lose like that on our home court, I think everybody should be pissed off.’’ New York Daily News

Brook Lopez now is second in the NBA player efficiency ratings and it's clear Kidd wants to take advantage of that and work within the bounds of his mostly unathletic and aging roster. "Yeah, we are going to slow it down,'' Kidd said Saturday. "We are going to try to get the ball inside, work in and out. When you have that opportunity, and have a player like Brook, or Joe also, command double-teams, you are going to have some [open] shots that we made [Saturday]. We are not a team that's going to try to zoom up and try to score 110 points.'' NetsDaily

One-half of the Lakers' 30-something backcourt returned to action Sunday. But what about Steve Nash? "I don't know," the injury-riddled point guard said several hours before Kobe Bryant played against Toronto. "I had three good days of practice and I could play right now, but we don't really have any confidence that it's sustainable. Instead of playing, missing a few weeks, playing, missing a few weeks … try to get to a place where I could play and sustain it. We don't know when that is right now." Los Angeles Times

Tyler Hansbrough is not expecting a long absence from the Raptors lineup. The man who has become the poster boy for physicality on the Toronto roster took an elbow directly on top of his left shoulder in the loss Friday in Phoenix. An MRI Saturday in Los Angeles showed the injury to be nothing more than a sprain. “I don’t think it’s going to be very long,” Hansbrough said Sunday before the game. “It’s already feeling better and it’s just a matter of me being able to play with it.” Toronto Sun

Knicks owner James Dolan may have a decision to make — and not only on Mike Woodson’s coaching future. If he wishes, the eccentric Dolan can forever shelve those new alternate orange jerseys after the Knicks fell to 0-6 in the uniforms with Sunday’s 114-73 disgrace to Boston at the Garden. According to an NBA official, the Knicks have now fulfilled the minimum requirement for the number of times they have to wear the brand new, all-orange jerseys that appear as haunted as Halloween. The NBA official told The Post the Knicks can wear the uniforms a maximum of 18 times this season and no fewer than six times under league rules. New York Post

You’d think Carmelo Anthony would love the all-orange after spending his best season as a basketball player in that color with Syracuse, where he won the school’s only NCAA men’s basketball title. “I’m not a superstitious guy,’’ Anthony said. “I won’t blame [the Boston loss] on the 12’oclock game. I won’t blame it on the orange jerseys. We could’ve lost in the white uniforms today.’’ New York Post

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