HoopsHype rumors

December 18, 2013 | 10:41 PM ET Update

The Rockets have been looking to trade Asik since he requested one on Nov. 17, when he was moved out of the starting five after an experiment of pairing Asik with offseason signee Dwight Howard proved a failure. The Rockets are fielding other offers for Asik, who is scheduled to make $15 million in the final year of his contract next season but, because of a quirk in NBA rules, only counts as an $8.3 million salary-cap hit. Sporting News

“There is nothing that’s going to happen with that until after the year is over,” the source said. “It would have to be an exceptional offer to get them to make a move like that. It’s not happening, not now." Sporting News

A couple of us were standing in the alcove of the practice facility at the ACC the other day when Amir Johnson wandered by on his way out of practice. Of course, the smart-aleck remarks started right away (“Hey, are you still here?”) and brought back an immediate retort from him. “Hope so. I want to play the rest of my career here,” Amir Johnson said. Toronto Star

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December 18, 2013 | 07:24 PM ET Update

The Lakers are still assessing their long-term plans and whether there's a way to keep Gasol beyond this season, with the 33-year-old headed for unrestricted free agency in July. Sources say that team officials have communicated to Gasol in various ways that they remain interested in keeping him in L.A. beyond this season. ESPN.com

The Lakers did have talks with the Houston Rockets, sources say, but those conversations never got serious, even with Houston determined to trade disgruntled center Omer Asik before a self-imposed deadline of Thursday. ESPN.com

Sources say that the Lakers do have certifiable interest in Knicks center Tyson Chandler, but the Knicks appear to have no interest in fielding offers for Chandler at this time, having just welcomed the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year back to the lineup after a fractured fibula sidelined Chandler for the past 20 games. ESPN.com

The Lakers (12-13) have sorely missed all three point guards, including Farmar, who average averaged a steady 9.2 points and 4.4 assists before missing the past seven games. Despite their depleting point guard depth, the Lakers don’t expect to add a point guard either through the free agency market or a trade. Instead, they will continue to delegate point guard duties to Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and Nick Young. Los Angeles Daily News

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS
IN LAKERS HISTORY
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Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson headline a fantastic list that includes up to 33 NBA champions.

December 18, 2013 | 06:45 PM ET Update
THE TOP 50 PLAYERS
IN ROCKETS HISTORY
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Average height of the main three players is 6-foot-10. It's truly a big man franchise.

December 18, 2013 | 05:55 PM ET Update

The Boston Celtics have gained traction in trade talks to acquire Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The talks have centered on a package including forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a first-round pick, sources said. It's unclear if Lee will go to the Rockets or be routed to a third team. Rockets center Dwight Howard and Bass played together on Orlando's frontline, but sources insist Howard was never enamored with the partnership. Yahoo! Sports

The structure of most of Houston's trade scenarios are three-way deals, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Asik has been demanding a trade since the Rockets signed Howard in July, and has become an increasingly unhappy presence within the franchise's locker room. Houston coach Kevin McHale abandoned a short-lived attempt at starting Asik and Howard on the Rockets' frontline. Asik is considered a starting-caliber NBA center and is especially dominant on the defensive end. He has two years and $20 million left on his deal. Yahoo! Sports

Wolves guard Chase Budinger -- out all season so far because of that second knee surgery in 11 months -- has been cleared to participate in contact practices, starting tomorrow, the team announced today. Still uncertain is how much practice he will need before he is cleared to play in a game. You can be sure the Wolves will be conservative with him after he needed that second surgery to resolve his torn meniscus issue. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS
IN CELTICS HISTORY
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How bright is Boston's history? Well, the first 19 players in the list won NBA titles with the team.

December 18, 2013 | 04:43 PM ET Update

Wearing a pair of clear protective goggles, Matt Barnes participated in his first on-court activity with the Clippers in a month at Wednesday’s shootaround. “I’ve been cleared,” Barnes said. “I haven’t really got a chance to practice, so I don’t know how much I’ll play, but I’m cleared.” Barnes suffered a retinal tear in his left eye on Nov. 18 when he was inadvertently hit by Zach Randolph as the two chased down a loose ball. He has been sidelined since. Three eye surgeries, headaches and a month of waiting behind him, Barnes is anxious to get back, even if that means wearing goggles for a couple of weeks. “I hate them,” Barnes said of the eye-wear. “I just don’t like anything on my face, so it will be something to work through, but anything to get back on the court.” NBA.com

Rick Adelman said after Monday's game that he expected Cunningham would miss some time with a late-game ankle injury that looked bad because of Cunningham's reaction when he landed on a Celtics players foot and caming tumbling down in great pain. "Yeah, I let out a little war cry," Cunningham said. "I did. I admit that. It was more shock than anything." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Martin underwent treatment after practice and didn't talk with media members before leaving the arena, but I'm hearing he's feeling better with what likely is knee tendinitis. His knee first bothered him last week in Detroit and really flared up in the second half of Friday's game at San Antonio. He said before Monday's game that he needed to get his knee "right." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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.

   

December 18, 2013 | 04:07 PM ET Update

The Portland Trail Blazers are not involved in any talks centered on acquiring Houston Rockets center Omer Asik via trade, a league source informed CSNNW.com. Portland owns the best record in the NBA and team chemistry is a big reason why. Adding a talent such as Asik to the mix would be a risk that is not worth taking, another source said who is briefed on the situation. CSNNW.com

With the Spurs, Diaw has close friends and France teammates Tony Parker and Nando de Colo, Gregg Popovich, a stable organization and, most importantly, another opportunity to make a championship run. The seven-game Finals defeat to the Miami Heat disappointed Diaw into the EuroBasket tournament – leading to the conclusion that exercising the option was a no-brainer. “It was an easy decision coming back,” Diaw told RealGM. “In the Finals, we were so close. I wanted to go again and come back with this team. It’s been a great season this year, and we play a good style of basketball and we’ll get another shot together.” RealGM

Michael Carter-Williams is back in the mix. The 76ers rookie point guard practiced for the first time Wednesday since being sidelined on Dec. 5 with a skin infection and soreness to the front of his right knee. The 6-foot-6, 185-pounder had missed the previous seven games. Asked if Carter-Williams would play in Friday night’s game against Brooklyn at the Wells Fargo Center, coach Brett Brown said it “was pointing in that direction.” Philadelphia Inquirer

According to a source, Stoudemire was angry Woodson’s remark led to some speculation he might require yet another surgery. Woodson said the media got a little carried away with his remark but took some responsibility, too. “A blip on my part, he’s not injured,’’ Woodson said at the morning shootaround. “You guys kind of ran with that he’s going to be out. There’s a chance he could possibly play when we get home [Saturday], based on a conversation I had when we had treatment. He has logged some games in and not a whole lot of days to rest.” New York Post

Mike Woodson and Knicks president Steve Mills walked side by side into Milwaukee’s Bradley Center for the morning shootaround, as ongoing speculation has the embattled Knicks coach fired everywhere but by owner James Dolan. Not yet anyway.The Knicks are 4-11 since Dolan gave his vote of confidence to Woodson in a sitdown interview with The Post. By early December, Dolan had moved off those remarks, putting Woodson on the hot seat. But Woodson is still here, even after his timeout blunder in the Washington heartbreaker Monday. New York Post

“That’s you guys speculating on my job,’’ Woodson said when asked whether he has received support from Mills. “I’m fine. Steve has been supportive through this whole thing. Hey, it’s what it is at this point. If we get healthy bodies back, I’d like to see where we’ll be if I had a full deck. We haven’t been able to get to that point. We’ll keep working until we get there. And when we do, I feel really good. I feel good now. We let games slip away. But I feel good in terms of how we’ve been playing. We’ve been competing. I’d like to get a full deck back and see where we are as a team.’’ New York Post

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December 18, 2013 | 02:10 PM ET Update

The Portland Trail Blazers have been identified as the 'Wild Card' team in on a trade for Omer Asik, a league source told RealGM's Andrew Perna. The Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers are also pursuing a trade with the Houston Rockets for Asik, according to a report on Tuesday by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski added that there was an unidentified 'Wild Card' team. RealGM

Ridnour is making $4.3 million in the last year of a four-year deal he signed with Minnesota. "I'm not worried about that," he said. "I've been in the league long enough and that's not really an important factor to me. "I know good things will come. I've got faith. I trust in the Lord and he's got a good plan. He always turns everything for the good. Whatever that is, however it happens, it will work out." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Langlois: If the Pistons clear Stuckey’s contract off their books, they’ll have somewhere around $10 million in cap space on July 1, Shadd. But Stuckey’s cap hold would more than eat up all of that cap space. It’s possible that the Pistons could get back under the cap by coming to terms with Stuckey for a figure less than his cap hold (approximately $13 million, or 150 percent of this year’s reported salary). But it’s unlikely Stuckey would be taking a pay cut from his current reported $8.5 million, so if they have any room under the cap after signing Stuckey (and factoring in Greg Monroe’s cap hold of about $10 million) it would be negligible. As for having the money for Monroe, the Pistons will be able to go over the cap to sign him provided they don’t renounce his rights – which they have no intention of doing. As a restricted free agent, Monroe can solicit offers from all teams; the Pistons would have 72 hours to match. I can’t imagine a scenario in which they would fail to do so. NBA.com

With Johnson’s comfort starting to show under D’Antoni it doesn’t come as a surprise the fourth year forward, an unrestricted free agent next summer, would be more than open to signing a multi-year deal to remain in Los Angeles Lakers long term. “This is definitely a place I want to be,” Johnson said on his upcoming free agency. “I love Los Angeles. I love the organization. I love the people that I’ve been around since I’ve been there. I definitely think this could be a long term thing. We just have to wait and see.” HoopsWorld

Johnson says the prospect of playing for such a storied franchise and in head coach Mike D’Antoni ‘s respected offensive system were big selling points leading him to sign with the Lakers. “D’Antoni talked to me before the season started about what he needed from me,” Johnson told HOOPSWORLD. “He told me to just worry about playing basketball. He said if you play aggressive and play hard you can pretty much do what you want out there as long as you play hard. So I definitely feel a lot more comfortable out there than I have the last few years.” HoopsWorld

As George talks about George, serving and volleying like a young Pete Sampras on grass, many of his teammates do the same. “He’s the head of the snake for us,” says All-Star forward David West succinctly, fresh off an 18-point, 8-rebound effort. “I’m not surprised at all by Paul’s hot start,” adds reserve guard Donald Sloan. “I watched him play last year, watched him develop. I could see it coming. He’s playing with a high level of confidence right now, and he definitely has the skill set and the right group around him.” SLAM

To be sure, George doesn’t sound boastful or braggadocios when he makes these proclamations. His teammates love him and he’s quick to praise them; he articulates his goals matter-of-factly; and he sprinkles in just enough talk about what he needs to improve on to make everything sound, well, believable. “I’ve got to be a better floor general, and I’ve got to get better at being consistent,” he says. “I took strides in my consistency, but if I want to get where I want to get to, I need to continue being a consistent basketball player. I feel like I can be in the category of LeBron, as far as being a walking triple-double guy.” SLAM

How's your foot? Nene: My Achilles, it's better. It's progressing. It's still a little sore. It's hard to warm up, and get relief. Do you have a return date in mind yet? We'll see day-by-day. Today, I played a little bit, and we'll see how I feel tomorrow. Grantland

Will you play in the FIBA World Cup in 2014 if Brazil gets a wild-card bid? I don't know. I had injuries in the past, and that gave other players the opportunity to play, to develop a little bit, to get experience. The season here, in the NBA, is almost 115 games if you make the playoffs. [The Brazilian Basketball Confederation has] no clue what it is. At the end of the season, you need rest. You need to calm yourself down a little bit. Grantland

In a recent commercial to encourage Bobcats fans to donate packs of socks to needy families, Cody Zeller and Josh McRoberts put on a wonderful mini-skit using some sock puppets. The video, while pretty amusing, is definitely for a good cause and comes with an incentive: Fans who donate to the sock drive get a free ticket to the Bobcats game against the Raptors on January 20. “I feel fortunate for how I was brought up and people don’t realize socks are so important especially as the weather is getting colder here,” Zeller said in a video posted on the Bobcats’ website. For The Win

Private investment firm Forstmann Little has agreed to sell sports, entertainment and fashion agency IMG to competitor William Morris Endeavor and its financial backer, Silver Lake Partners. The price of Wednesday's sale was not disclosed, but one insider said the deal will be worth about $2.3 billion. The sale could have massive ramifications in the areas of athlete representation and marketing, depending on how WME is able to adjust to the sports world, in which it currently has relatively little stake. ESPN.com

WME already markets for Serena Williams, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. It also represents commentators including Andy Roddick, Ray Lewis, Michael Strahan and Dan Marino. ESPN.com

December 18, 2013 | 09:36 AM ET Update

The Houston Rockets, as they've been telling teams all month, remain on course to trade disgruntled big man Omer Asik by Thursday, according to sources close to the process. Numerous teams consulted by ESPN.com in recent days have said they are convinced the Rockets will indeed go ahead with a trade headlined by Asik before their self-imposed deadline of Dec. 19, with sources saying Tuesday that the Boston Celtics are increasingly active in the Asik talks. ESPN.com

As a result, the Celtics now are widely regarded as the strongest rivals to the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of likely destinations for Asik, with many rival executives expecting the final form of a trade built around the 7-footer from Turkey to feature at least three teams. ESPN.com

One possible scenario that has emerged, sources say, is a three-way trade in which Boston lands Asik, Cleveland absorbs the contract of Celtics forward Jeff Green and Houston scores no fewer than one of the future first-round picks it covets for surrendering Asik. Other players would have to be involved in such a trade to make the salary-cap math work, but it's the sort of trade that would fall in line with Cleveland's well-known focus on upgrading its options at small forward. ESPN.com

As the Rockets extract offers for disgruntled center Omer Asik before a self-imposed Thursday deadline, one scenario that has emerged has Asik going to Boston in a three-team deal with Philadelphia as the facilitating team, league sources told CBSSports.com. One league source described the scenario as a long shot, calling it a "weird deal." Indeed, there would have to be strong incentive for the Sixers to steer Asik to a division rival. But both teams are strongly in the mix as possible destinations for the Turkish center, who has requested a trade after his role changed with the arrival of Dwight Howard in Houston. CBSSports.com

Sources say the $15 million is not a figure that scares off the Sixers or Celtics, which is why those are the two teams most frequently mentioned as landing spots for Asik. ESPN.com

Chris Mannix: Consistently hearing that BOS isn't all that enthralled with Asik. League source on if Jeff Green could be involved in Asik deal: "No way." Twitter @ChrisMannixSI

So there was more logic than substance when a general manager told us, “It looks like Danny (Ainge) doesn’t want anything to happen in the league until he gets a chance to see if he can find something in it for Boston. I think he’s got his fingers in a lot of pies.” As of yesterday, nothing was cooking. “We’re waiting for an opportunity that makes sense for another team and for us,” said Ainge, the Celts president of basketball operations. “We’re looking to see if there is a win-win out there. But there really isn’t much of anything happening right now. It’s December.” Boston Herald

As the Houston Rockets move to the cusp of trading disgruntled center Omer Asik, Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia have emerged as the frontrunners to land him, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Yahoo! Sports

Another team, deemed a "wildcard" by one league source, has teetered on the edge of negotiations and could become more seriously involved before the Rockets' self-imposed deadline of Friday to complete a deal. Houston is pursuing a power forward in a deal, with candidates including Atlanta's Paul Millsap, Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young, Boston's Brandon Bass and Jeff Green and Cleveland's Anderson Varejao. Yahoo! Sports

Sources have described the Atlanta Hawks as Houston's preferred trade partner since the Rockets came to the conclusion last month that, despite their attempts to placate Asik, they eventually would have to give in to the unhappy center's long-running desire to be moved in the wake of Dwight Howard's arrival in July. Yet it remains unclear, sources say, how interested Atlanta really is in parting with coveted forward Paul Millsap -- who's considered an ideal frontcourt complement to Howard -- in exchange for Asik. ESPN.com

Although sources say there has been dialogue between the Rockets and Hawks this week, it's believed that Atlanta officials are lukewarm on Asik and would hold out for more of a two-way player if they're being asked to pay him nearly $15 million next season, which is what the defensive specialist is due to receive in salary in 2014-15, thanks to a balloon payment in his contract that the Rockets inserted during the summer of 2012 to dissuade the Chicago Bulls from matching Houston's offer. ESPN.com

The Knicks made a foray into the Omer Asik sweepstakes and had discussions with the Rockets and a third team about a three-way swap, an NBA source told The Post. But the source said the Knicks are likely to fall short of obtaining the Houston 7-footer who has asked to be traded. Asik, who makes $5.5 million this season, is an obvious fit as the Knicks are thin and injury-wracked up front with Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire both risks, but have a glut of shooting guards. New York Post

Sam Amico: Mike Brown, btw, admittedly can't pronounce name of #Rockets C Omer Asik. "If I can't pronounce his name," #Cavs aren't trading for him. Twitter @SamAmicoFSO

Multiple league executives said the Rockets also are open to packaging Jeremy Lin with Asik, but that scenario appears unlikely as well. As one executive said of Lin, "I'm not sure there are many, if any, takers for him right now." CBSSports.com

French center Alexis Ajinca is finalizing a buyout with Strasbourg of the Euro League and is on the verge of a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources told CBSSports.com on Tuesday. The Pelicans and Strasbourg have agreed on the standard $575,000 buyout under NBA rules, though agent Mark Bartelstein said there are "a couple more steps" that have to happen before the deal is official. CBSSports.com

“Cold blooded,” Cleveland’s Dion Waiters said of the game-winner. “Incredible,” Joel Freeland said of the dominant individual performance. “He’s like a silent assassin on the court,” Earl Watson said of Lillard. “He’s deadly when he shoots the ball.” Lillard was certainly a last-second marksman for the Blazers on Tuesday, calmly and confidently nailing a 30-foot step-back three with 0.4 seconds left to lift them to a 119-116 victory over the Cavaliers before 15,689 at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the second consecutive game-winner for Lillard — who hit a fadeaway jumper to beat the Detroit Pistons Sunday — and provided another remarkable moment in a season that continues to amaze. “It’s crazy that we’re pulling off wins like this,” Freeland said of the Blazers, who possess the NBA’s best record at 22-4. Oregonian

A recent hamstring strain slowed Lawson’s momentum after he averaged 20.9 points and 8.9 assists in November. He is starting to his legs back under him and is more concerned with helping his team win than earning All-Star recognition. “As the hype started building, my parents, my friends, everybody starting talking about it,” Lawson said. “The West is definitely tough for point guards. You have to win and also have good stats. Right now, I’m not trying to think about it. I’m just trying to win games. If it happens, it happens. I want to be an All-Star, but I care about our team winning more.” If it doesn’t happen for Lawson this year, Durant feels it’s only a matter of time. “He just started to become one of those guys you depend on as a point guard,” Durant said. “He’s eased his way to the starting lineup and now he’s turned into a star. Give it a few more games and you’ll start hearing Ty Lawson’s name all the time because he’s having a great season.” NBA.com

Smith made 13 of 17 shots against Portland and then sank 13 of 29 against the Pacers. "We talked about it," Cheeks said, "putting the ball in his hands a little bit more and trying to get him off the perimeter ... to try and get him on the block a little bit more. Just give him a little more opportunity scoring wise "I went to him. We just talked about what we can do to get him better, get him better shots, get him more comfortable on the block. It was a two-way conversation, what I could do to make him better because him better makes us better. "I just looked at his numbers in Atlanta and figured out what I could do to get him better shots." Booth Newspapers

To me, that looked like the start of a punch that Jordan Hamilton thought better of before it landed but couldn’t stop. And Hamilton is going to get suspended for that. NBCSports.com

All-Star point guard Tony Parker will miss road games at Phoenix (Wednesday) and Golden State (Thursday) with a right shin contusion, the Spurs announced Tuesday. Parker, 31, will be re-evaluated when the team returns to San Antonio, at which point his status for Saturday’s home game against fellow Western Conference power Oklahoma City will be determined. San Antonio Express-News

It appears he will not need to walk around with crutches anymore, and that has to be a sight for sore eyes to the Grizzlies Nation. Gasol has a tendency to return as quickly as he can from injuries, so hopefully, he can make a speedy return for the sake of his currently-hopeless team and stop the bleeding before they fall back too far to contend for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. SheridanHoops

Casey said the Raptors are still waiting word from the Cleveland Clinic on the medical tests conducted on big man Chuck Hayes. It’s unclear whether Hayes will be cleared to make his Toronto debut on Wednesday. Casey says Hayes will need to get back into game shape, after being out of action for the past couple of weeks while he awaited clearance. Though Hayes is known for his post defence, Casey and Johnson both singled out his passing ability when considering what Hayes will bring to the table. “Back in his Houston days, I remember he was definitely a great passer,” Johnson said “He’s an excellent quarterback with the basketball,” added Casey. Toronto Sun

It was business as usual for McHale, who has been away from the team for a week due to the Dec. 10 death of his mother Josephine in Minnesota. McHale came in with a list of things to practice, went over his thoughts about the last two games, and worked on getting the Rockets prepared to host Chicago on Wednesday night. “It’s nice to be back,” McHale said. His players agreed. Guard Pat Beverley said the team missed having McHale on the sideline. “It was good to see his face. Definitely missed him,” Beverley said. “I’m glad he is back, and he came right in talking about the game from his point of view, which is good for this team.” Houston Chronicle

Parsons said McHale seemed to be in good spirits Tuesday and the team would try to keep it that way. He said even though the Rockets did everything the same way under assistant coach Kelvin Sampson while McHale was away, the team now is more complete. “Not much changed with our system or principles, but not having his voice, his face, over there makes a big difference, so I am glad to have him back,” Parsons said. “As players, we are going to do whatever we can to make him feel comfortable at home and continue to play hard and try to win games for him.” Houston Chronicle

Jerry West, aka “Mr. Clutch,” hasn’t shot a basketball in years. But at a recent camp for young kids, he decided to give it a try, and to no surprise, he didn’t miss a shot. Would you expect any less from the five-time world champ? At 75-years-old, he’s still out there doing it for the kids and sharing his basketball wisdom. As a true legend of the game, he was giving some good tips for form shooting, when it looked like he started getting into a real rhythm. Elite Daily

The greatest regret of Gerald Wallace’s career lies in a field of dreams. It has nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with the sport he does not play. Thirteen seasons into his NBA career, there is still a nagging “what if” he can’t shake. The accolades, the contracts don’t extinguish a passion he has for another game. “I think out of my whole life, one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t finish playing baseball while I was in high school,” Wallace said. HoopsWorld

Before Wallace could see how far his talents would take him, though, he was faced with a decision as the entered his freshman year of high school. That summer he hit a five-inch growth spurt and skyrocketed to over 6’4. Continuing with both sports would be difficult if he wanted to seriously pursue one. “The main thing was I was told was, ‘If you’re going to pick a career, you’ve got to pick one and you’ve got to get focused,’” Wallace said. “I figured basketball would be a lot easier for me than baseball, especially with trying to be a catcher.” HoopsWorld

Former President Bill Clinton and NBA star Kobe Bryant will lead a panel on kids and sports at a conference next month. The roundtable discussion will open the Clinton Health Matters Initiative Conference on Jan. 13 in La Quinta, Calif. Topics will include barriers to access, coaching quality and safety. "There's so much to be gained, so much from health and fitness," Bryant told The Associated Press on Monday in Atlanta, where his Los Angeles Lakers were playing the Hawks. "It's a really important initiative for kids to understand that you're not just getting the benefits of being healthy, you're also understanding how to be great leaders, how to be unselfish, how to work within a group, competitive spirit." ESPN.com

There are seven TVs in his Los Angeles home. "In my mancave there are four TVs, because I like to watch all the basketball games. Outside on the porch, we have a TV. In my bathroom, in my tub, there's a TV, so I can watch TV. Games are always on." The mancave has one big 60-inch set and three smaller ones. One of the sets is connected to a Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii gaming system (his son likes to play the Madden NFL Football and NBA2K14 video games.) "I'm watching and he's playing." USA Today Sports

And then there's the 94Fifty smart basketball, from start-up InfoMotion Sports Technologies. Inside what appears to be an ordinary regulation-size synthetic leather basketball is Bluetooth technology and sensors that communicate with a companion app on your iPhone or iPad. The app "coaches" you with drills that cover such things as your dominant hand speed, weak hand speed, crossover speed and behind-the-back speed. The app can count the number of dribbles, and detect when you've lost control of the ball. It can measure how fast you get off shots, what kind of backspin you have on your shot, and what kind of arc you have when you throw the ball up toward the hoop. Alas, at $299.95, a smart basketball doesn't come cheap. Chromecast aside, the best new products of the year rarely do. USA Today Sports

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