HoopsHype rumors

December 8, 2012 | 07:57 PM ET Update

The Wizards don’t have any plans of sending Vesely to the NBA Developmental League, according to a league source, but he has seen a precipitous decline in his minutes since being replaced in the starting lineup before a Nov. 26 loss to San Antonio. Washington Post

Vesely has appeared in less than one second combined in the past four games – and that was simply to guard the inbounds passer on the final possession against Portland. After a recent loss in New York, Vesely admitted that he has struggled to stay confident with the team playing poorly. “It’s tough for everybody to stay positive,” Vesely said. “I can’t say how you can stay positive. I just try not to think about it too much and go on to the next day.” Washington Post

The Lakers will eventually have to trade forward/center Pau Gasol. It could happen in the offseason. Despite what was said recently, the Timberwolves would like to get their hands on Gasol. They'd play him at center. News-Herald

Ryan Anderson is trying not to think about it but admits it’s an honor being linked to Pau Gasol in trade rumors. “The way you say it,’’ Anderson, a New Orleans forward, said when I asked if it’s an honor just being linked in trade rumors to Gasol of the Lakers, a four-time All-Star and two-time champion. “Champion. It’s a pretty crazy cool honor. But it’s something I don’t spend too much time thinking about. I’m focused on here. I’m focused on the now. Things that I can control.’’ Anderson said the Hornets haven’t said anything to him about trade rumors involving Gasol. “They haven’t spent any time with me talking about that,’’ Anderson said. “Our team isn’t really focused on anything like that. From what I understand, everything I’ve ever seen about it is from an L.A. standpoint. Over here, we’re just focused on this year and what we have to do to grow this team.’’ Boston Celtics: The Celtics announced today that they have assigned forward Kris Joseph to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. Twitter @celtics

We keep hearing about how the Cavs might trade center Anderson Varejao. The Cavs would ask for a heck of a lot for the All-Star center, and yes, he's going to be an All-Star. How many teams have had their best player make the All-Star team and have then trade him a couple weeks later? It doesn't happen very often. It's going to be hard to get equal value for him. He could be more valuable to the Cavs than he is other teams. News-Herald

The Oklahoma City Thunder has assigned guard Reggie Jackson to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Jackson has appeared in 10 games this season with Oklahoma City averaging 1.8 points and 1.0 rebound in 5.6 minutes per contest. NBA.com

Yet as much as the Knicks point guard likes the idea of inspiring others, he has a confession: Playing in the NBA was never something high on his to- do list. "It was not my dream," Prigioni said after a recent practice. "So many of my friends, they had done anything they could do to come over here and play in the NBA. But to me, I was happy with European basketball." Happy enough that he had rebuffed several overtures from NBA teams, including the Knicks, during the last couple of years. Prigioni, who was voted the best point guard in the Spanish ACB League three times, made a good life for himself in Spain after moving there from his native Argentina in 1999. He met his wife there, had a family and made enough money to feel financially secure. Newsday

Scola, a power forward for the Phoenix Suns and a teammate of Prigioni's on Argentina's national team, knew the Knicks were going to go after Prigioni again in the summer. And he was convinced that it would be a giant mistake if his friend didn't listen this time. "He's a great player, and he belonged over here," Scola said in a recent phone interview. "I tried to convince him that this is something he had to do, that he had done everything he could do in Europe. I did not give him well-balanced advice. I told him he had to come here." Prigioni turned 35 on May 17, about a week after the Knicks were eliminated by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Though he didn't think he needed the letters "NBA'' attached to his resume to be happy, he began to see that it was getting harder to challenge himself as he got older. "I decided that I wanted one more challenge in my life," Prigioni said. "Why go down at the end of your career? I thought what would be the biggest challenge for me. I wanted to see if I could help an NBA team." Newsday

Forward Carmelo Anthony will sit out of the New York Knicks' game against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night due to pain and discomfort in his lacerated left middle finger. Anthony hopes to play Sunday in the Knicks' home game against his former team, Denver Nuggets. "I think right now it's just a comfort level of being able to just go out there and dribble and get through the first time getting hit," Anthony said in describing the remaining hurdles before he takes the court. "The first time I get a hard pass, just getting passed that, we'll see what happens from there." ESPN.com

Kevin McHale: It feels good to be back. I’ve been gone for a pretty long time and I’m going to rely on the players to make plays and the coaches to help me out. It’s been awhile but hopefully it’s the right time. I don’t know if there is a right time. I don’t think there is a playbook for this but I’m excited to be back. NBA.com

December 8, 2012 | 06:39 PM ET Update

The Lakers are debating whether to bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis, said a person familiar with the team's thinking. Gasol has struggled mightily this season, averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, both career lows. The Lakers are trying to decide how a demotion to the bench would affect Gasol. If they determined it would be adverse, they'd keep him in the starting lineup. It was unclear when Gasol would return, though it could be Sunday against Utah at Staples Center. The Lakers then take off for another road trip, to Cleveland, New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Los Angeles Times

How frightening can retirement be? This frightening: Tuesday, former Miami Heat guard Eddie House found himself trying to stand as a voice reason amid a televised debate with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. Perhaps that's why, even 34 and one year removed from the NBA, House doesn't consider himself truly retired. "I'm still working out. I'm waiting to get a call," he said this past week by phone after leaving ESPN's studio. "If I get one, I get one. I'll be ready. But if I don't, just trying to open up other doors. Hopefully something good happens." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Indiana's Roy Hibbert isn't averaging double-digits in points but is being paid double digits in millions of dollars this season. Even so, the regressing former All-Star center is confident he will eventually be the NBA's best at his position. "People said I wouldn't be in the NBA," said Hibbert, the highest-paid Pacer at $13.8 million this season. "People said I wouldn't be a starting center, this, that and the other. I just prove people wrong. I'm having a slump right now, but in the grand scheme of things I'm going to turn it around and hopefully be the best when it's all said and done." Yahoo! Sports

Hibbert aims to top Dwight Howard as the widely accepted best center in the NBA. A fake Hibbert Instagram account took a shot at Howard recently and gained some traction on the Internet before it was debunked – "I'm the best center in the league #[expletive]Dwight" it read. "That wasn't me, but I will be the best center in the league one day," Hibbert said. Yahoo! Sports

"The contract? I really haven't thought about it," Hibbert said. "My life really hasn't changed that much since the contract happened." What has changed on the court for Hibbert is the way teams are guarding him. Every game, Pacers coach Frank Vogel calls an offensive play for Hibbert early in an attempt to get him going. Vogel said Hibbert is a target now because he was an All-Star last season. Also, the absence of Pacers forward Danny Granger (knee injury) allows defenses to double-team Hibbert easier in the post. Hibbert says the inconsistent Pacers (10-10) are also "getting every team's best" after advancing to the Eastern semifinals last season for the first time since 2005. "He's playing with physicality," Vogel said. "His shots are going in and out. We believe they are going to come." Yahoo! Sports

Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express has interviewed Andrei Kirilenko on the phone after the game against Cavaliers, during which Kirilenko had eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks. Here’s my translation: - Does the back bother you anymore? - Everything’s all right. I played today, after all, so this means my back is alright. But physically it was hard, yes. When you get out of game rhythm for a week and a half, it takes its toll. - So you got a bit out of shape over this time? - It’s not exactly like that. I just need to get into game rhythm once again. Today I just got winded after the first few minutes. Though after that I went back to normal. Rush'n Hoops

With the Wizards trailing by 13 in the final minute, Coach Randy Wittman called on veteran Earl Barron to replace Nene and finish out the game. Vesely has received a DNP-Coach’s Decision in each of the past two games but Wittman said recently that he hasn’t given up on the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft. “I don’t want him to step away from game playing, I want him to be ready every night,” Wittman said. “As our guys know, it can change at any minute. We’ve said that all year, with who I started and who’s played and who hasn’t played. He’s got to keep practicing hard and it’s going to come. It’s going to happen.” Washington Post

Vesely has more fouls (34) than points (29) or rebounds (30) and Wittman has complained about his lack of “activity” in his time on the court. Even with the Wizards changing to a more quicker pace offense, Trevor Booker still sidelined with a right knee injury and Trevor Ariza going down with a strained left calf, Vesely still hasn’t seen the court. “I don’t know,” Wittman said. “He’s got to be ready for that and sharp stay alert and use this time to the fullest. He’s got a good attitude.” Washington Post

What do Timberwolves lack right now? Or maybe someone? Ricky Rubio? - Of course things will get easier when he returns. Ricky can keep the high tempo of the game. Right now Minnesota is playing well, but we miss the quick passes which shred the defense. Sometimes we have this problem: we get into set offense, make the first pass – to that same Kevin, for example, and then just start waiting. But when you have the ball, you need to pass it to each other quickly, make the opponents move, creating more opportunities for the shots. Rubio will help us greatly in this area. His playing style is similar to Shved‘s, but he’s more pass-oriented. Though Alexey can make a timely pass too. - Rubio is already practicing with the team. When do you expect his comeback? - As I heard, it should happen no earlier than mid-December. I think in about seven or ten days. Ricky is already in good playing shape. But then it takes some extra time for him to get comfortable playing with new teammates. Rush'n Hoops

Carmelo Anthony was in the locker room while the Knicks shot around at the United Center. The Knicks are calling Anthony a game-time decision against the Bulls with the left-middle finger laceration that kept him out of Thursday’s 20-point win in Miami. Speculation is he won’t play, but Mike Woodson said Anthony would try to shoot before the game to test the finger. Newsday

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo's ankles are "fine" after twice tweaking them in Friday night's 95-94 overtime loss to the 76ers. He is expected to play in Saturday night's rematch in Boston. Paul Pierce landed on Rondo's ankle while grabbing a rebound with 1:47 remaining in regulation, but Rondo limped through it and continued to play. Then, on Rondo's failed baseline jumper as overtime expired, both ankles buckled as he slippped on a Sixers decal on the Wells Fargo Center floor. His Celtics teammates rushed to his aid, helping him to his feet and off the court. "He left the locker room walking fine," the Celtics media relations staff relayed, "and [coach] Doc [Rivers] nor our trainer [Ed Lacerte] mentioned anything." WEEI.com

"I was shocked. I don't know how to put it in words. It was an amazing phone call." Those are the words of Hugh Ulbert. To say that it has been a rough six years for Hugh and his wife Barbara Ulbert of Rockford IL., would be an understatement. Attending Wednesday night's Portland Trail Blazers versus Indiana Pacers game was just one of the bright spots that has come the Ulbert's way of late. Six years ago, they tragically lost their 15-year old grandson Nicolas after he mishandled a handgun that went off, killing him. Two years later, the Ulbert's oldest daughter, Bonnie, passed away in her sleep at the age of 46 on New Years Eve. The family believes she died of a brain aneurism. CSNNW.com

Now, you know the reason why the Ulbert family drove four and a half hours to attend Wednesday's Trail Blazers game. It was their first time seeing their son in action. About 30 yards to their left, there was Wheeler doing what he does best…calling Trail Blazer games. The family showed up in red and black "Boom Shaka Laka" t-shirts, one of Wheels' trademark go-to lines. They finally had something to cheer about. They were cheering the Trail Blazers on and every so often during the game, glancing over to their left, witnessing what a success their child had become. "It was really a nice thing I found on the schedule," Wheeler said. "For them to come up and get a feel for what I do was very gratifying." CSNNW.com

December 8, 2012 | 10:02 AM ET Update

In a possible blow to Virginia Beach's efforts to lure the Sacramento Kings, the governor of Virginia doesn't plan to include any subsidy for the team's move in his proposed budget. Virginia Beach officials were seeking $150 million in state funds to bring the Kings to their city, including a $70 million contribution toward a new arena and $80 million to assist the team's relocation. Sacramento Bee

Why Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook were, and will be, fired up every time they play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers this season: source says the Black Mamba talked relentless smack during the Olympics that the Thunder stars weren't going back to the Finals after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and then added Dwight Howard right before the U.S. played Spain for the gold medal. Sulia

While Ilyasova is starting to find himself, veteran center Samuel Dalembert is questioning the way he is being used. Dalembert, who is 31 years old and an expiring contract, hasn’t been seeing the kind of minutes he hoped for. He too has been moved from the starting lineup to the second unit. He’s playing just 16 minutes a night and providing six points, four rebounds and nearly two blocks during that time, but it’s not what he expected. “It is not working,” Dalembert said. “It’s not quite, I thought my role would have been a little bit more. But, like I said it’s coaching and everybody is doing their best. HoopsWorld

Bucks head coach Scott Skiles is still figuring out the rotation. As of right now Sanders and Udoh are his starters. Ilyasova originally was a starter after his breakout campaign last season, but he’s since been moved into a reserve role due to his early struggles. “It is a little bit [tough],” Ilyasova said to HOOPSWORLD. “We got a lot of big guys in different spots. It’s hard to find room some times. It doesn’t really matter. Whenever I step out on the floor I just try to be myself and give 100 percent.” HoopsWorld

Apparently Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a crisis of confidence in the preseason, but his college coach quickly put out that fire. Kentucky coach John Calipari, speaking with local media in Lexington, revealed Friday that Kidd-Gilchrist sent him text messages that “I may have made a mistake’’ turning pro, and “I don’t think I’m good enough.’’ “He was scared to death,’’ Calipari recalled. Charlotte Observer

"There is a cloud over our team because we're not defending like we know we're capable of defending," James said. "We have some room for improvement. The good thing is we can be great. But right now, we're not good. We're not very good right now as a team and we've got to get to that point." USA Today

Toward the end of shootaround Friday, Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash approached Dwight Howard and offered up a couple of tips on how to shoot free throws. Though Howard is shooting just 46.9 percent from the foul line this season, while Nash is tied with Mark Price for the best free throw percentage in NBA history at 90.4 percent, the Lakers center said he's had enough of people giving him advice. "Listen, he was just suggesting some things, but it's not something that we've already talked about or anybody else has suggested," Howard said. "My mind cannot get clouded with everybody telling me how to shoot a free throw. I just have to go up there and shoot it my way and not get caught up in what everybody else is saying, because that's when I miss." ESPN.com

Kobe Bryant said Howard's deficiency from the stripe can be blamed on how he was coached to play basketball from an early age. "I think it all depends on how you're raised, how you're taught the game from when you were little," Bryant said. "I think that's why it's such a critical thing in how we develop our players growing up, whether it's AAU and all these other camps. "I think they pretty much wanted (Howard) to play inside the paint his entire career, ever since he was 12 years old. They wanted him to dunk everything and finish everything at the rim. They didn't want him shooting it because he was bigger than everybody and as a consequence, they left out the shooting aspect of his game. ESPN.com

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo lamented his decision to pull up for a baseline jumper on the final possession of overtime, admitting he likely had enough time and space to complete a potential winning layup. Instead, Rondo airballed an off-balance 16-foot jumper at the buzzer, allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to escape with a 95-94 overtime triumph at the Wells Fargo Center. "I should have took the layup," said Rondo. "I tried to make a plant and just slipped." ESPN.com

Point guard Chris Paul said he's pleased by the Clippers' four-game winning streak, but he's far from satisfied with their play this season. They haven't been as sharp he'd like them to be for a full game. He discounted the notion that the team is "on a roll," as a reporter suggested. "Nah, we've won a few games, but we're not on a roll," Paul said. "Right now, our season has consisted of streaks, a couple of good ones and a couple of bad ones. We've won four (in a row), but we've still got a lot of work to do. "The big key to all of our games for the rest of the season is to make sure we get off to a good start and bring the right kind of energy. - Good teams don't lose two or three games in a row. I think that's the biggest thing we have to make sure doesn't happen." Long Beach Press-Telegram

Cleveland Cavaliers' Brazilian center Anderson Varejao admits it would be a dream to be selected for February's NBA All-Star game. After an injury-ravaged past two seasons, Varejao has been one of the form players of the competition this season, averaging 15 points and 15.4 rebounds. "I see and hear a lot of people talking about it. It gives me more confidence and I will try to live up to those expectations," Varejao told Estado de Sao Paulo on Friday. "It would be a dream to play in the All-Star game. But it's not an obsession. It would be incredible to participate but it's not my sole focus. I can't create expectations in case I get frustrated later. But obviously if I am chosen I will have a lot of fun." GlobalTimes.cn

Carmelo Anthony has taken Tyson Chandler’s advice once already and he may take it again and miss Saturday night’s game with a cut left middle finger. Anthony could want to save himself for Sunday night when his former Nuggets invade the Garden. As much as Anthony considers the Heat the biggest game of the season, he also doesn’t want to lose to George Karl’s Nuggets as he did last season at the Garden. The Knicks’ trip to Denver was cancelled last season because of the lockout and Anthony’s first foray to the Rocky Mountains since demanding a trade comes March 13. New York Post

For just the third time this season, the Sacramento Kings played without Tyreke Evans in their lineup. Soreness in his left knee forced him to sit out the Kings’ 91-82 victory over the Orlando Magic yesterday evening. Doc Evans, Tyreke’s older brother, told Cowbell Kingdom that the Kings starting shooting guard underwent an MRI on his left knee yesterday morning. The results came back negative for any damage. “The MRI was good,” Evans said following Friday night’s game of the medical testing he experienced earlier in the day. “Nothing was torn. It’s just swelling and it’s pretty sore, but that’s pretty much it.” Cowbell Kingdom

Toronto coach Dwane Casey, currently in his fourth season as a head coach, admitted Friday he almost joined a hospital company rather than joining the coaching ranks coming out of Kentucky in the late 1970s. Casey was a backup point guard on coach Joe B. Hall’s UK team that posted a 30-2 record on the way to winning the 1978 NCAA championship. The Morganfield, Ky., native spoke fondly of his days playing for the Wildcats, who beat Duke in the ’78 finals. But he also said he had no intention of becoming a coach. “I wasn’t going to be a coach,” he said. “My senior year I walked into coach Hall’s office and I was lost. There was a company called Humana and a guy named Wendell Cherry was the owner. He was a Kentucky grad and he wanted to hire me.” Standard-Examiner

Commissioner David Stern scolded Gov. Christie and said New Jersey "has no idea what it's doing" by seeking to allow sports betting in the state in a deposition published Friday in the ongoing legal battle between the governor, the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA. Stern and the heads of Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NHL and the NCAA were questioned recently by lawyers representing the state as part of the leagues' lawsuit seeking to stop New Jersey from instituting sports gambling. "The one thing I'm certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it's doing and doesn't care because all it's interested in is making a buck or two, and they don't care that it's at our potential loss," Stern said when asked how the advent of sports betting in New Jersey would harm the NBA. "And wholly apart from the fact that a governor, who's a former U.S. Attorney, has chosen to attack a federal law which causes me pause for completely different reasons since I've at times sworn to similar oaths about upholding the law of the United States," Stern continued. Charlotte Observer

USA Basketball is expanding its reach into youth basketball by partnering with iHoops, the joint initiative formed the NBA and NCAA to improve programs for young players. NBA.com

The Lakers haven't exactly been a study of symmetry and cohesion on the court, so they tried an off-court activity, going as a team to watch the movie "Lincoln" on Thursday. The reviews were mixed. "It came as a big shock to [teammates] when he was killed," Kobe Bryant quipped to reporters after Friday morning's shoot-around. Los Angeles Times

Dwight Howard said Steve Nash fell asleep and was "snoring pretty loud." Howard might have been joking, but Jordan Hill was not. "I fell asleep 8 times," Hill wrote on his Twitter account. Gasol was animated, and positive, on Twitter. "Very good movie! It describes one of the most important moments in the history of the USA," he wrote. "Highly recommended!" Los Angeles Times

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