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December 22, 2014 | 05:10 PM ET Update

Joseph Goodman: Can confirm that the Heat has called about Josh Smith, but Rockets are the top suitor, according to @Adrian Wojnarowski. Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr

It's Miami week for LeBron James, finally. The long-anticipated Christmas Day matchup featuring James and the Cavaliers against the Heat in Miami – where James won two championships and played the last four years – is Thursday at 5 p.m. in the NBA's prime slot on Christmas. The Heat will honor both James and Cavaliers reserve James Jones with video tributes at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat confirmed Monday. Jones played for Miami from 2008 through last season. Cleveland Plain Dealer

December 22, 2014 | 04:28 PM ET Update

Tom Lorenzo: Daniel Orton got into a basket-brawl in China: youtube.com/watch?v=neFv8q… via @chernykh http://t.co/v2kV3Ykrga Twitter @TomLorenzo

 

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.

   
December 22, 2014 | 03:08 PM ET Update

Houston has aggressively pursued Smith for the past two years, failing in the summer of 2013 to agree to a sign-and-trade agreement with Atlanta to acquire Smith. Before ultimately signing a four-year $56 million deal with Detroit, Smith had been fixated on finding a way to join the Rockets, sources said. Yahoo! Sports

Houston can use its biannual exception – worth $2.077 million annually – to lure Smith. Most teams with an interest in Smith, including the Clippers, Kings, Mavericks and Heat, can offer only the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million. Yahoo! Sports

The Cavs also expressed an interest in Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov, but the sides haven't discussed Mozgov "in quite a while," a source told FOX Sports Ohio. FoxSports.com

The Cavs did take part in talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves about swingman Corey Brewer (since traded to the Houston Rockets). But league sources said those talks never reached the serious stage -- as the Wolves were seeking the Cavs' trade exception and draft picks. The Cavs likely would've needed to send back a contract as well. FoxSports.com

Teams in talks with the Cavs have asked about the contract of backup center Brendan Haywood, according to sources. The 13th-year veteran has played just five total minutes this season. Haywood reportedly is due $2.2 million this year, with a team option for a whopping $10.5 million next. FoxSports.com

THE TOP 100 PLAYERS OF THE CENTURY

From Jameer Nelson to you know who, HoopsHype ranked the best players so far in the 21st century.

   
December 22, 2014 | 02:28 PM ET Update

Darnell Mayberry: Kevin Durant did not practice today. Scott Brooks says the team likely won't know if he's ready until the day of the game. Twitter @DarnellMayberry

WHAT PLAYERS ARE WEARING

Many NBA players are trying to make fashion statements these days, but not all of them are having success at it.

   
December 22, 2014 | 01:48 PM ET Update

Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston's aggressively pursuing Smith, sources say. Rockets-Smith had strong mutual interest 'in 13, but couldn't get sign-and-trade done. Twitter @WojYahooNBA

Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston has advantage on most Josh Smith suitors, who only have minimum slots available: Rockets can offer Smith its bi-annual exception. Twitter @WojYahooNBA

Sam Amick: Rockets had interest in trading for Smith this season, but couldn't make it work (without losing Harden or Dwight). They want him badly now. Twitter @sam_amick

Jonathan Feigen: Rockets would offer Smith their bi-annual exception, worth $2.077 mil, source said. Would come w good role, good team, good friend (Dwight). Twitter @Jonathan_Feigen

Sam Amick: Rockets are feeling good about their chances in Josh Smith sweepstakes, and with good reason: chance to win, good role & cold, hard cash. Twitter @sam_amick

Marc Stein: But Josh Smith has had no bigger fan in the NBA in recent months than Kings owner @Vivek Ranadive Ranadive, so keep your eye on Sacramento Twitter @ESPNSteinLine

Adrian Wojnarowski: Rockets tried to trade for Smith, but couldn't make the contracts match without losing Howard or Harden. Howard's strong advocate of Smith. Twitter @WojYahooNBA

BUZZ METER: WHO'S TRENDING IN THE NBA TWITTERSPHERE?

Who's the man of the minute in the NBA Twittersphere? Find out here who's getting the most mentions at any given moment.

   
December 22, 2014 | 01:19 PM ET Update

As for where Smith might go next after he clears waivers (which is certainly expected), the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks are among the most intriguing options. In addition to the fact that the Rockets talked at length with Smith in free agency two summers ago, Houston center Dwight Howard grew up with Smith in Atlanta and has had interest in playing with him in the past. USA Today Sports

According to two people with knowledge of their situation, they will use the league's stretch provision on the remaining $27 million of Smith's combined salary in these next two seasons in order to save $8.1 million in salary cap space. That tool, which was negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement during the NBA lockout in 2011, is intended to help teams like the Pistons get out from underneath deals that are considered toxic to their team building. USA Today Sports

BUZZ METER: WHO'S TRENDING IN THE NBA TWITTERSPHERE?

Who's the man of the minute in the NBA Twittersphere? Find out here who's getting the most mentions at any given moment.

   
December 22, 2014 | 01:01 PM ET Update

Jonathan Feigen: There is no chance he won't. RT @VinnyCarwash: @Jonathan Feigen any chance he actually clears wavers? Twitter @Jonathan_Feigen

 

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN ROCKETS HISTORY

Average height of the main three players is 6-foot-10. It's truly a big man franchise.

   
December 22, 2014 | 12:47 PM ET Update

Marc J. Spears: Kings have interest in signing soon to be free agent Josh Smith, source said. Per @Adrian Wojnarowski, Kings could’ve traded for him last offseason Twitter @SpearsNBAYahoo

Marc J. Spears: Rockets center Dwight Howard is also close with Josh Smith, too. Ex-AAU teammates from ATL. Rockets had previous interested in Smith, too Twitter @SpearsNBAYahoo

Sam Amick: Early indications are that Dallas won't have interest in Josh Smith. Have to wonder if Rondo or his folks push for it, but I'm told no. Twitter @sam_amick

Jared Zwerling: If Josh Smith clears waivers, Dallas is intriguing (can sign for minimum). A Oak Hill Academy reunion b/w Josh & Rajon Rondo! They're close. Twitter @JaredZwerling

"We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future. As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced. "In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it's best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person." Booth Newspapers

Former NBA player Carl Herrera is out of intensive care and improving following a weekend shooting, the club he coaches said Monday. The Gigantes de Guayana team said in a series of Twitter posts that Herrera is no longer in critical condition "and is improving day by day." The team said doctors decided he will not need surgery. USA Today Sports

Herrera was shot Saturday during an apparent robbery attempt at a restaurant on Margarita Island off Venezuela's Caribbean coast. The country's Interior Relations Minister Carmen Melendez said security forces are on the trail of the attackers. USA Today Sports

BUZZ METER: WHO'S TRENDING IN THE NBA TWITTERSPHERE?

Who's the man of the minute in the NBA Twittersphere? Find out here who's getting the most mentions at any given moment.

   
December 22, 2014 | 12:11 PM ET Update

Chris Mannix: Smith should have plenty of suitors in free agency. Sacramento's made a run at him before. Keep an eye on Dallas: Smith is close with Rondo. Twitter @ChrisMannixSI

BUZZ METER: WHO'S TRENDING IN THE NBA TWITTERSPHERE?

Who's the man of the minute in the NBA Twittersphere? Find out here who's getting the most mentions at any given moment.

   
December 22, 2014 | 11:09 AM ET Update

Earlier this season the Cleveland Cavaliers called the Memphis Grizzlies to see if they were interested in trading Kosta Koufos, the Grizzlies' effective backup center. The Grizzlies haven’t been willing thus far to part with Koufos, a 7-footer who is an underrated rim defender with a reasonable contract, despite getting calls about him since last summer. In addition to the Cavs, the Sacramento Kings are among the teams that are interested. ESPN.com

Dion Waiters' name has come up in these talks. He has been out there to various teams as the Cavs scour the league for defensive help in recent weeks. ESPN.com

"It's going to be a mixture," Wade said of how he anticipates fans will respond to James. "How I think he should be received is a little bit different. The man helped take us to places we've only been once before he got here. So I think he should be received very well for that at the start of the game. And then, when the game [starts], then do what you've got to do." ESPN.com

So after surviving the long road back from an Achilles tendon tear and a knee injury that threatened his career and limited him to just six games last season, is he concerned that this is a major problem here in late December? "Of course, of course," he told USA TODAY Sports on his way out of Sleep Train Arena. "There's always the fear of having another tragic injury. I'm human, just like everybody else, and have those concerns. I try to dedicate as much time as possible to my body and making sure that I'm as loose and ready to go as possible, and try to put those thoughts on the back burner and come out every single night and give it my all the best I can." USA Today Sports

Fans on social media pondered the question: Is Magic coach Jacque Vaughn on the hot seat? The short answer is likely no, at least not yet. The long answer is a touch more complicated. Basketball Insiders

On Sunday, the Cavs had fans at the Quicken Loans Arena vote for their favorite Miller hairstyle. Mullet Mike was getting no respect as the first few votes rolled in, which I personally think is an atrocity. Larry Brown Sports

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith is almost as passionate about golf as he is basketball, and a lot of that joy for the game comes from his friend Brad Hennefer. Hennefer has been golfing since he was a child and recently won a gold medal at the Special Olympics by 48 strokes. Hennefer and Smith say they find inspiration from each other—both in sports and in life. Bleacher Report

BEST PLAYERS THAT DIDN'T GET THEIR NUMBERS RETIRED

There's no shortage of great players who don't have their jerseys hanging in the rafters at the arenas of the teams they starred for.

   
December 22, 2014 | 08:51 AM ET Update

Weekend Trade Rumble: Heard various Pacers were asked if Indy should try to bring Lance Stephenson back. Response NOT one of encouragement. That's Charlotte's challenge in trying to move Stephenson. Pacers were worn out by season's end & he had Hornets exasperated in record time Twitter @ESPNSteinLine

Suns guard Goran Dragic left open the possibility of going to any team in free agency when talking before Saturday's game and stuck to the idea after the game when asked again about being an unrestricted free agent in July. "It's still early to talk about that," Dragic said. "Right now, I want to be 100 percent focused on the team and try to help the team and players. In the offseason, I'm going to probably sit down with my family first and with my agent and try to explore all the options. From there, I'll try to choose the one best for me." Arizona Republic

"As an athlete, you need to be focused every game," Dragic said. "That's why, even if there's some trade rumors, I never read those and I never pay attention because that's a really bad thing. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. The only thing I can do is be a good professional and be ready every game and help my teammates." Arizona Republic

But when asked if he’d consider heading overseas, the Italian 7-footer bristled. "You asking me if I still want to play in the NBA?" Bargnani said. "Why wouldn’t I? You mean homesick? Right now my focus is coming back. I’m not thinking about that. I love playing in the NBA. I’m in the NBA. Right now all my focus is, I got to get back." Bergen Record

The coach said general manager Sam Hinkie will pick the addition to the roster. A team source said that former Sixer Malcolm Thomas is among the candidates. The power forward was waived on Nov. 10. At the time, he had to have knee surgery that sidelined him four weeks. Philadelphia Inquirer

Zoran said he has no regrets about negotiating a buyout from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga to come to the NBA, even if it means being relegated to developing through individual work and rare practices. "I know it's my rookie year and that's how it is," Zoran said. "I must be patient and practice hard. When I get an opportunity, I need to show what I have. "I am happy. Everybody basketball player's dream is to come to the NBA but my dream was to come here and stay in the NBA." Arizona Republic

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook took exception to questions Sunday about his perceived lack of passing following the Thunder's 101-99 loss to the Pelicans. "It's one game, man. I'm not going to keep answering questions about me not passing when we lose," Westbrook said. "When we won eight in a row, nobody said nothing about me not passing. So I don't want to hear it now." ESPN.com

In those final 298 seconds, Westbrook didn’t pass the ball. Not one time. I don’t mean he got no assists. I mean, he didn’t pass the ball. Westbrook took eight shots, most of them belonging in the dubious category, contested drives or quick long balls. Westbrook made just one of those eight shots and committed another turnover. The Thunder scored a solitary two points in the final 5 1/2 minutes and lost to the Pelicans 101-99 Sunday night. Oklahoman

Dalembert claimed he was the recipient of a Valanciunas elbow earlier in the game and was simply trying to break free of his opponent’s hold. Under NBA rules, the league reviews flagrant-2 infractions for possible suspensions. “I did see the replay,’’ Dalembert told The Post while mingling with his Canadian relatives. “Honestly, if I really wanted to hit him, he wouldn’t be playing right now. He was holding my arms. I kept mentioning that. Actually he was the one who elbowed me in the first half. He kept holding me, I said, ‘Stop holding my arms,’ and I made that sudden movement and I actually hit him.’’ New York Post

Dalembert said there was talk about the Knicks sending the tape to the NBA to attempt to reverse the call. “He was a little exaggerating,’’ Dalembert said. “Maybe the way it looked on TV wasn’t what it was. If I really hit him, he’d be really like …’’ Dalembert recently lost his starting job, but coach Derek Fisher started him to open the second half. The Knicks already were depleted with Amar’e Stoudemire taking another “recovery day’’ and not making the trip. “I was upset,’’ Dalembert said. “It was the first time in my career I got kicked out. I didn’t like the fact … I didn’t try to do anything intentionally. We were all physical down there.’’ New York Post

Young surprisingly did not draw an NBA-imposed suspension despite shoving his right forearm to the throat of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in Friday’s game. Young was soon called for a flagrant foul 2 and ejected. “I’m a nice guy, man,” Young boasted before playing in the Lakers’ 108-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena. “‘Swaggy P’ don’t get fined!” Los Angeles Daily News

“I don’t try to get into what the league thinks,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I just knew that when I didn’t hear anything today that it was good news. Normally, you don’t hear the league calling you and saying, ‘He’s not suspended.’ I didn’t think it was enough to warrant a suspension. But I also understand the rules about above the shoulders.” Los Angeles Daily News

Young has whispered in recent days about participating the NBA’s 3-point shooting contest. After shooting 4 of 9 from the perimeter against the Kings, Young basically roared by boasting “I’m the best 3-point shooter in the league.” Los Angeles Daily News

Waiters contributed 13 points in the fourth quarter, doing so one game after he didn't play a single minute in the second half of a win Friday. "I mean, he's learning every day," James said of Waiters. "He's a young guy. He hasn't experienced much in this league. For him to have a game like he did today, we needed it. We needed a spark off the bench. He was aggressive, he was decisive with what he wanted to do, and it was a huge, huge boost for our bench." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Alex Kennedy: Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel had a heated exchange during tonight's win vs ORL. Brett Brown said he loved the passion/intensity. Twitter @AlexKennedyNBA

A sore and struggling Kobe Bryant is considering taking some time off to rest. "I don't have much of a choice if the body is feeling the way it's feeling right now," Bryant told Yahoo Sports. "You got to be smart. You got to make sure you get enough return on your investment. With the amount of work that I do and put into my body and to get my body ready, for it to be sore as it is right now, sometimes you do have to consider sitting down. Yahoo! Sports

When asked if Bryant's offensive struggles were due to fatigue or being aggressive offensively, Scott said: "That's fatigue. I think that goes hand in hand. I'm going to think about it tonight and sit down with Kobe tomorrow and we'll talk about it. We'll come up with a solution and try to figure out the next few games and what we want to do." Yahoo! Sports

Right now, Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen can’t see a return to action anytime soon. “Nah, man. My eye is messed up. It hurts,” Allen said on the eve of the Griz game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in Quicken Loans Arena. Allen likely won’t play for a third straight game. Judging by how his right eye looks, it’s difficult to know when he’ll play. Allen has a right corneal abrasion, an injury suffered last Tuesday when he got poked in the eye during a victory over the Golden State Warriors. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Chris Dempsey: Gallo is expected to have surgery in the next day or two, and there is a tentative timetable now; out three weeks. #Nuggets Twitter @dempseypost

Winning over the royal son of the franchise, cornerstone Stephen Curry, was an important first step. Curry was close with former coach Mark Jackson, and the Warriors’ superstar was vocally unhappy when Jackson was fired. “It was two separate decisions that were made this summer,” Curry told FOX Sports after the Warriors' recent win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I wasn’t happy with the first one, letting Mark go. But obviously if that was the decision they made, they better get the right hire, and I think they did. Obviously, it’s shown with how we’re playing. “He’s the right man for the job.” FoxSports.com

“He’s been great,” Curry said. “He’s very comfortable in his role. He started this summer with reaching out to every player and expressing what their role was going to be and how he envisioned running the team. That he wasn’t coming in trying to reinvent the wheel with drastic changes because we were already a 51-win team with pretty much the same core back in action and great talent around us. “He understood he was taking over a solid roster. We could get better; obviously, we didn’t win a championship. But we were very competitive and laid a foundation for success. It wasn’t that he was building from the ground up. It was just about fine tuning what he saw we could do better.” FoxSports.com

Asked how the new coaching staff fits in with this locker room, Green lumped them right in. “It’s a great coaching staff. Easy to get along with. Easy to accept coaching from. Easy to accept criticism from. They do a great job. They’re fun guys, not uptight. Not that our last coaching staff was uptight either. They do their job, and we have fun together. It’s a good combination.” FoxSports.com

There were people who questioned your ability to coach at the beginning. Did you ever question your ability to coach? Jason Kidd: No. I never thought, "This is not for me." I thought I was doing the right thing the whole time. Bleacher Report

What did you think about that criticism? Jason Kidd: It was no different than me being a player. They've always questioned me. I'm the lightning rod for being questioned. I was trying to tape that thing together with duct tape. I was trying to stay positive. Coming in every day wondering if we could practice because we had injuries and an older team. We all learned from each other. We learned we weren't going to quit. When it turned, it turned. It's almost like anything I've been involved in—it's always bad and at some point it turns good. Bleacher Report

What would you do different about your exit from Brooklyn? Jason Kidd: Nothing. B/R: If they had given you what you were looking for, would you still be there? Jason Kidd: I didn't ask for anything. I asked them to improve the franchise. B/R: What's the biggest misconception about how you left? Jason Kidd: The power struggle. There was no power struggle. There's still no power struggle. Bleacher Report

What prompted you to leave or ask out? Jason Kidd: They wanted to fire me, they didn't think I was doing a good job, and when I say "they" I mean management. Then it all changed when things started going well. Also I think the biggest thing, and we don't talk about it anymore, but Brooklyn gave Milwaukee permission to talk to me. That's where it all starts and ends. It's as simple as it gets. Everybody can run with their conspiracy theories or power struggles. But at the end of the day, Milwaukee asked Brooklyn for permission and they granted it. Bleacher Report

At what point was Brooklyn talking about firing you? Jason Kidd: Early December. So things got better, but you hadn't forgotten that? Jason Kidd: Oh yeah. I don't forget anything. But that never stopped me from doing my job. Bleacher Report

The other Jordan CP3 sneaker, the signature line by Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, also Jack's favorite player, was placed on his mother's grave in Erie. The shoes were the last gift Lisa Elaine Gallagher gave her youngest child before she died of brain cancer in September at age 49, and Jack wore them long after it became obvious they were too small for his rapidly growing feet. “He really struggled with the loss of his mother,” said his father, Mike Gallagher, 51, who has Pittsburgh roots. “He said, ‘But they're Mom's shoes.’ ” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mr. Paul wrote the initials on his shoes and led the Clippers to a 104-98 victory, scoring 23 points in an emotional night for Jack, his father and the National Basketball Assoication superstar. “Some things are bigger than the game of basketball,” Mr. Paul said in a television interview after the game. “As a kid, I couldn't imagine losing any of my family members, let alone my mom, and to see how strong he was was inspiring to me.” Mr. Gallagher said the chance for his son to meet Mr. Paul and his teammates “really brought him out of the shell he was in.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Former NBA big man Daniel Orton was involved in a brawl during a CBA game. Per Basketball Buddha, And on Sunday, December 21st 2014, Orton lost control and took on th entire Tianjin team after one of their players pissed him off by tying him up in a semi leglock. Sportando

The Chicago Bulls are currently in 4th place in the NBA Eastern Conference, but they’re in first place in having fancy nights out on the town. Pau Gasol took his teammate Nazr Mohammad to the opera this weekend, because they are more cultured than you. Yes you, you simpleton. For The Win

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