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TODAY'S NBA RUMORS

Updated Monday, February 17, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. ET

Nice moment at LeBron James’ press conference when he was asked, “Kobe, can you share your favorite off the court memory?” “I don’t mind being Kobe this weekend,” said James. “Sorry,” said the media member, “I’m a bit nervous.” “That’s fine,” said LeBron. “My mom might not like it, but I’m OK with it.” … The Kobe memorial is scheduled for next Monday in L.A., the day after the Celtics play the Lakers there. Tatum said he would like to attend if he can. Boston Herald

The Hawks’ local television ratings are up sharply this season, but still rank low among NBA teams. Ratings have increased 49% in the Atlanta TV market for Hawks telecasts on Fox Sports Southeast, compared to the same point last season -- the third largest percentage increase in the NBA, according to a Sports Business Journal analysis of Nielsen data. Nevertheless, the Hawks’ average rating of 0.89 in their home market is the seventh lowest among the 27 teams included in the study. AJC.com

The Portland Trail Blazers have completed the two-way transfers of center Moses Brown and forward Jaylen Hoard to the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. NBA.com

MAIN MORNING STORIES

The 69th NBA All-Star Game was bound to be delightful. There were 10 first-time All-Stars, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo served as captains for the second straight season, and the game was in Chicago for the first time in 32 years. New changes to the format of a game constantly wrought with questionable defense and effort would ensure a unique experience, and those changes were made in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. ESPN.com

The new format featured a revamped fourth quarter in which the teams play to a Final Target Score, first introduced in The Basketball Tournament as the Elam Ending. The Final Target Score was determined by taking the leading team's total cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points -- the 24 representing Bryant's jersey number. The first team to reach the Final Target Score during the untimed fourth quarter wins the game. ESPN.com

The 2020 All-Star Game saw Kawhi Leonard win the first-ever Kobe Bryant MVP award, and saw both teams honor the late Los Angeles Lakers legend in the most fitting possible fashion: by playing hard to the very last second. Under the new "Elam Ending" rule instituted this season, with the game ending when one team or the other reached a specific final score, the game ended when Chicago native Anthony Davis sank the second of two free throws to lift Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory over Team Giannis here at United Center. ESPN.com

After James Harden made two free throws to make it 154-152, Pascal Siakam went 1-for-2 from the line to make it 154-153. From there, the two teams -- playing without the benefit of any television timeouts during an untimed fourth quarter -- went back-and-forth, trying to make a basket. Eventually, the score reached 156-155 in favor of Team LeBron -- meaning that the next basket for either side would result in a win. With the game being played without any television commercial timeouts in the fourth quarter, the game took on a thrilling, desperate edge for both sides. Both teams were called for multiple offensive fouls, and settled for contested, ugly shots that looked like they were taken with tired minds and legs. ESPN.com

Chicago Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf has been gathering background on potential candidates to take over the franchise's basketball operations, sources confirmed to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The John Paxson-Gar Forman front office leadership structure is unlikely to continue in its current form beyond this season, sources say. ESPN.com

The Cleveland Cavaliers and John Beilein have discussed the possibility of him stepping down as head coach during the NBA All-Star break, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst on Sunday. Beilein left for the All-Star break weighing his future as coach -- including the possibility that he has coached his final game, league sources told ESPN. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY, FEB. 16, 2020

Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. outlasted Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in a memorable Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday that required two tiebreaker jams. But the final result was not without controversy, with at least two judges saying afterwards that they wanted the second dunk-off to end in a tie. Jones and Gordon each got a perfect 50 on both of their dunks in the final. Then they had two more perfect scores on their first jam in the dunk-off. ESPN.com

Howard and Connaughton earned one 50 each, but neither made it to the final. That stage was reserved for Jones and Gordon. Orlando Magic forward Gordon was particularly impressive, scoring 50s with his first five dunks of the night. The Miami Heat's Jones earned two 50s in the championship round along with Gordon, forcing a special "dunk off" round. That's where things took a turn. After Jones and Gordon each scored 50 with his opening dunk of the extra round, Jones took off from just inside the free throw line with a windmill. The judging panel that included Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker, Common, Chadwick Boseman and Scottie Pippen gave Jones a 48.>ESPN.com

Between them, Buddy Hield and Devin Booker took 108 3-point shots Saturday night. It took until the 108th and final one to determine who would come out on top in the NBA's 3-point shootout -- with Hield, thanks to hitting four of the five money balls on his final rack, ultimately winning the All-Star Weekend event by a single point. "I felt great," the Sacramento Kings guard said. "Like I said earlier, as a shooter, this is on your bucket list. You have to come in, and you want to win a 3-point shootout. With a stacked field like that, it makes it even better. "Pressure is on, and you've got to show up." ESPN.com

Indiana's Domantas Sabonis and Miami's Bam Adebayo will make their NBA All-Star debuts on Sunday, but on Saturday night, the first-timers didn't disappoint as finalists in the skills challenge. The Eastern Conference big men stole the show in the eight-man contest, with Adebayo ultimately hoisting the trophy -- which he says he'll gift to his mother, Marilyn Blount. "It's because all she's been through and all the struggles she's been through and what the living conditions I had to go through and how she still strived to make me happy and make our house feel like home," Adebayo said. "I can't do nothing but give her that and keep giving her every other accolade I get." ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY, FEB. 14, 2020

For a brief moment, Lou Williams and the LA Clippers thought they might be able to escape Boston with what they thought could have been a four-point play. But after saying they saw one official count what they thought was a Williams 3-point shot with the foul with 23.6 seconds left in the first overtime Thursday night, the Clippers watched the officiating crew quickly rule that Williams was fouled by Gordon Hayward before the shot with the Boston Celtics holding a 127-124 lead. The Clippers would eventually force a second overtime before Boston went on to win, 141-133, at the TD Garden. ESPN.com

"I thought the one call was huge, the no four-point play," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't know what you have to do -- that's a shot. The officials are telling us that they had a foul to give so they were trying to foul. When you see the film, they clearly were not trying to foul. You can see Hayward bring his hands back up as the guy is going up. But you can anticipate that they're going to commit a foul. ... That was a big no-call." ESPN.com The Clippers (37-18) lost their second straight road game feeling that the home team got the big calls. Paul George was fined $35,000 earlier Thursday for saying he felt there was "home cooking" by officials in a 110-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. The Clippers were called for 19 personal fouls, eight more than the Sixers, that night in Philadelphia. ESPN.com

Fans of basketball in Africa will be able to watch the NBA on ESPN and ESPN2 as of February 14, The Walt Disney Company announced on Friday, after acquiring the rights for the league across the continent. Viewers of paid TV networks that host ESPN will be able to watch, in English across sub-Saharan Africa, the rest of the regular season, including ESPN's double-header on Fridays, the Playoffs, the Conference finals, and the Finals. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY, FEB. 13, 2020

The Celtics have pushed back their departing flight from Los Angeles on Feb. 24 so that players and staff will have the option to attend the memorial service for late Lakers star Kobe Bryant at Staples Center that morning. The Celtics will face the Lakers at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 and originally were scheduled to depart Los Angeles around noon the following day. But after it was announced that Bryant and his daughter Gianna — who died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash that took the lives of seven others as well — would be honored on Feb. 24, the Celtics shifted their plans. Boston Globe

The NBA fined Clippers forward Paul George $35,000 on Thursday for publicly criticizing officials after a loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Following the 110-103 defeat, George said he believed the Clippers played well but that “there was some home-court cooking tonight, to say the least.” LA Times

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will replace the injured Damian Lillard in this weekend's NBA All-Star Game and 3-point contest. The NBA named Booker as Lillard's replacement Thursday, one day after the Portland Trail Blazers star suffered a right groin strain. ESPN.com

All-Star point guard Luka Doncic displayed no signs of rust in his return after missing seven games due to a sprained right ankle. Nor did he disrupt the rhythm Kristaps Porzingis established during Doncic's absence. Doncic had 33 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists in the Dallas Mavericks' 130-111 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. Porzingis contributed 27 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocked shots in the blowout victory during the Mavs' finale before the All-Star break. It was one of the young Dallas franchise cornerstones' best performances as a duo, as Doncic and Porzingis showed the kind of synergy they struggled to form early in the season and then saw interrupted by extended injury absences for each. ESPN.com

A one-of-a-kind basketball card with an NBA logo patch from Michael Jordan and LeBron James' jerseys just sold for $900,000!! Yes ... that's no typo. This is legitimately the most expensive basketball card, EVER. TMZ Sports has learned Ken Goldin from Goldin Auctions sold the card at a private sale this week ... and he tells us it was a historic purchase. TMZ.com



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY, FEB. 12, 2020

It caught Zion Williamson a little off guard to see what he's been able to do so far in his short career for the New Orleans Pelicans. The No. 1 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, in just his ninth career game, put up 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists -- in just under 28 minutes -- in the Pelicans' 138-117 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. It's the kind of impression others have felt he could make on the game early on, but not Williamson himself. ESPN.com

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Zion Williamson is the first rookie since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77 to have a 30-point, five-rebound, five-assist game in fewer than 30 minutes. It was the fewest games a No. 1 pick needed to score 30 points since Allen Iverson in his debut in 1996. ESPN.com

The New York Knicks issued a statement after the team's branding consultant, Steve Stoute, went on ESPN's First Take and discussed the team's coaching decisions. "Any decisions regarding the operations of the team will be made by the new President of the New York Knicks," the team said in a statement. ESPN.com

On Tuesday morning, Stoute told ESPN's First Take that "there had to be a change" in firing former president Steve Mills. He also implied that replacing Mills with Scott Perry means that the franchise will hire a new coach. ESPN.com

While Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia home crowd have had their moments, Paul George felt the Sixers had a big home-court advantage on Tuesday night. After the LA Clippers lost 110-103 to the Sixers, George pointed toward what he felt was "some home-court cooking" for Embiid and the Sixers. "I thought we played well, we lost by seven," George said after the game. "There was some home-court cooking tonight, to say the least." ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY, FEB. 11, 2020

For the first time since he was traded away last summer, Andre Iguodala faced off against the Golden State Warriors on Monday at Chase Center. Iguodala, 36, spent six seasons with the Warriors, winning three NBA championships and the 2015 Finals MVP award before he was dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies last summer to clear cap space. Now a member of the Miami Heat, Iguodala received a pregame standing ovation Monday, after a video tribute was shown on the scoreboard. "From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everybody that supported us, supported me my entire time here," Iguodala said during a brief speech to the crowd before tipoff. "It definitely feels like home every time. I just left, but it feels like home. Really appreciate you guys, and appreciate you all being loyal Bay Area fans. My brothers will be back in action, full squad next year, to wreak havoc on the league for 80 games. Love y'all." ESPN.com

Jimmy Butler says he isn't thinking about his past. He doesn't wonder about the alternate reality in which he stayed with the Chicago Bulls, the team that drafted him with the 30th pick in the 2011 draft and the franchise hosting Butler and his fellow 2020 All-Stars this weekend. "Zero," Butler says emphatically when asked how much he thinks about what could have been at his first NBA home. As Butler returns to Chicago this weekend, Bulls fans are left to wonder what might have been if the franchise had taken the risk the Heat have: handing the keys of the franchise to a player with an uncanny work ethic but a history of chemistry issues. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY, FEB. 10, 2020

Tyler Johnson has gone from missing games with a sore knee to seeing his last days in Phoenix. The Republic confirmed through multiple sources the Suns are waiving Johnson as the combo guard has missed last four games with right knee soreness. In the final year of his contract that's paying him $19 million, Johnson is averaging a career-low 5.7 points a game. Arizona Republic

Bam Adebayo is back in play for the USA Basketball national team, which came as somewhat of a surprise to the Miami Heat center. Unlike the previous selection process for international competitions, instead of offering tryout opportunities, USA Basketball has opted for streamlined process of naming 44 finalists this week and then announcing the 12 members of the 2020 Olympic team in June, prior to the Tokyo Games, based on availability and health. An Olympic training camp will follow in July. Sun Sentinel

Hawks point guard Trae Young, named a starter in the upcoming NBA All-Star game, was not one of 44 finalists for the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team announced by USA Basketball Monday. Young is currently fourth in the NBA in scoring at 26.8 points per game and second in assists at 9.1 per game. AJC.com

Danilo Gallinari remains with the Thunder. Miami’s offer didn’t meet Sam Presti’s demands, and the Heat didn’t want to increase its offer unless Gallinari agreed to sign a one-year contract extension. So the Thunder/Gallinari marriage is intact, with a split almost surely coming this summer. Gallinari is 31, and 31-year-olds who still have game know their chances for one last big contract are dwindling. So Gallinari almost surely wants to capitalize. Oklahoman

I don’t know, but my guess is Gallinari will want something like a three-year, 75-million deal, and with few big-time free agents on the market, he’s likely to be highly recruited. That kind of commitment doesn’t jive with the Thunder rebuild. Oklahoman

A career 44.1% shooter, Andrew Wiggins was one of the more inefficient high-volume scorers in the league in Minnesota. Fans should want him to shoot around 48%, which is what Harrison Barnes averaged in his final season with the Warriors. If he hits open jumpers and cuts to the rim often, that’s an achievable goal. Steve Kerr wants Wiggins to run the floor and make plays defensively. If he’s cutting to the rim often, his free-throw attempt rate will reflect that. Getting steals will help the Warriors get out in transition and play at a faster pace. Mercury News

Zach LaVine, 24, is the de facto leader of a Bulls team that ranks as the third youngest in the NBA. There are only two players on the roster who have more NBA experience than he does, and only Cristiano Felicio has been with Chicago longer. In the second season of the four-year, $78 million deal he signed in the summer of 2018, he is still pushing to thrive as Chicago's franchise player, and helping the Bulls thrive along with him. Dwyane Wade expressed support for the Bulls shooting guard earlier this season, tweeting, "I can't say it enough Zach LaVine is a problem. I can't wait to watch him over the next few years blossom." ESPN.com

The police officer who accused Raptors president Masai Ujiri of assaulting him in the moments after Toronto won its first NBA championship in Oakland is suing Ujiri for damages. In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in California, sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland says Ujiri hit him in the face and chest with both fists during an altercation near the court at Oracle Arena on June 13, 2019. Strickland, who was providing security at the game, says Ujiri failed to show the required credentials to access the court, where the Raptors were celebrating their title-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors. Toronto Star



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY, FEB. 8, 2020

The Milwaukee Bucks are clearing the way to sign forward Marvin Williams, as soon as Monday, by waiving Dragan Bender, league sources told ESPN. Williams' buyout is complete with the Charlotte Hornets and he will be waived as soon Saturday. He will clear waivers with the remainder of his $15 million expiring salary, and become an unrestricted free agent. ESPN.com

The Charlotte Hornets are finalizing a contract buyout for veteran forward Marvin Williams -- clearing the way for him to become a premium target for contending teams, league sources told ESPN on Friday. Williams, 33, will clear waivers with the remainder of his $15 million expiring salary and become an unrestricted free agent. ESPN.com

The entire viewing audience that tuned into Friday night's matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz was looking for a show. What the people got was a controversial finish in a game the Jazz would win 117-114. The odds were already stacked against the Trail Blazers when Friday started. Portland beat the San Antonio Spurs 125-117 at home Thursday night, led by All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, who had 26 points and 10 assists. But Utah had the night off, putting the Trail Blazers at a rest disadvantage. ESPN.com

Utah Jazz All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell answered Lillard's tying field goal with a bucket of his own with 19.5 seconds left, forcing a Portland timeout. Out of the timeout, Lillard went to work and appeared to have a layup that hit the right side of the backboard before Utah All-Star center Rudy Gobert blocked it away. Except, Gobert wasn't called for goaltending. Utah small forward Bojan Bogdanovic (team-high 27 points) split a pair of free throws to give the Jazz a 117-114 lead, which was the final score after Portland fill-in center Caleb Swanigan missed a corner 3 at the buzzer that would have forced overtime. ESPN.com

Free-agent guard Darren Collison has a meeting set with his agent, Bill Duffy, early next week to finalize a decision on a potential comeback, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday. Upon a decision to return, Duffy's next step will be to set up formal meetings for Collison with the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers, sources told Wojnarowski. ESPN.com

EuroLeague: Malcolm Delaney stepped up with one of the best performances in his Turkish Airlines EuroLeague career to guide FC Barcelona to an 84-80 come-from-behind win against AX Armani Exchange Milan and earn the MVP honor for Round 24. Delaney scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half while making 3 of 4 two-point shots and tying his career-best with 6 three-pointers made on 9 attempts. Euroleague.net



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY, FEB. 7, 2020

Hours after the Los Angeles Lakers saw the NBA trade deadline pass without making a deal, the franchise might have tipped its hat as to its next move. Or, perhaps more appropriately, tipped its hood. Free-agent point guard Darren Collison settled into a second-row seat near Lakers owner Jeanie Buss in the third quarter of L.A.'s 121-111 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at Staples Center, and while the pair was out in the open in front of nearly 20,000 fans, both arrived at the seats with their hoodies pulled up over their heads. ESPN.com

New Orleans Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram left Thursday night's 125-119 win against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle. Ingram injured the ankle when he stepped on Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison's foot on a drive to the basket late in the second quarter, but he stayed in the game. Ingram returned to the floor in the second half but exited with 6:33 left in the third quarter after motioning to the bench that he needed to come out. ESPN.com

Several elite international prospects are slated to attend the sixth annual Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in Chicago February 14-16, a joint venture of the NBA and FIBA held during All-Star Weekend. Despite only being conceived in 2015, the BWB Global Camp has quickly ascended to the top of NBA executives' calendars as a must-scout event, with some of its alum include the likes of Deandre Ayton, RJ Barrett, Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lauri Markkanen and Rui Hachimura and others. The 2020 NBA draft will feature two likely lottery picks who participated at last year's BWB in Deni Avdija and Killian Hayes. ESPN.com

The Cleveland Cavaliers are finalizing a deal for the leading rebounder in the league, Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, sources tell ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Drummond is a two-time All-Star but has an opt-out for next season in his contract. The Pistons had been shopping him believing he would become a free agent and they would lose him. ESPN.com

The Golden State Warriors have agreed to trade D'Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal that includes Andrew Wiggins, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Warriors also get a 2021 protected first-round draft pick and a 2021 second-round pick and will send Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Timberwolves. ESPN.com

The Miami Heat have agreed to trade Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and James Johnson to the Memphis Grizzlies for Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday. Along with the trade, Iguodala has agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension with Miami, sources said. The extension includes a team option. ESPN.com

The New York Knicks are planning to hire CAA basketball player agent Leon Rose as the franchise's president of basketball operations, league sources tell ESPN. Shortly before firing team president Steve Mills this week, Knicks owner James Dolan began exploring the front office model of hiring a top basketball executive out of the player agent ranks, sources said. That has gained popularity with the successes of Bob Myers of the Golden State Warriors and Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN.com

Knicks owner James Dolan, as The Post reported Wednesday, wanted to move fast on a hire, which all but eliminated Masai Ujiri from contention. It was reported Dolan was looking at the agent model that has worked for Golden State (Bob Myers) and the Lakers (Rob Pelinka). The Knicks recently hired as a consultant Steve Stoute, who is a friend of James, and he was influential in helping the presidential search that likely was ongoing for more than two days. NY Post

While the Knicks have been focused on acquiring D’Angelo Russell as they eye point guards before Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline, the Knicks also at some point made an inquiry on Pacers playmaker Aaron Holiday, the younger brother of Jrue and Justin. Holiday, 23, is in his second season. After a modest rookie year, he’s played in 47 games, made 19 starts and in 23 minutes per game is averaging 10.2 points and 3.5 assists. NY Post

The Atlanta Hawks requested waivers on center Nene on Thursday, the team announced. The Hawks had acquired Nene from the Houston Rockets in the four-team trade that sent Clint Capela to Atlanta. ESPN.com

The skidding Philadelphia 76ers made a move Wednesday to fortify their bench, landing forward Glenn Robinson III and guard Alec Burks in a trade with the Golden State Warriors, a league source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Philadelphia is sending Golden State a 2020 second-round pick via Dallas, a 2021 second-round pick via Denver and a 2022 second-round pick via Toronto, a league source said. ESPN.com

The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to a three-year, $35 million extension with guard Dillon Brooks, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Brooks, 24, had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists on Wednesday in Memphis' 121-107 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. He took averages of 16.1, 3.4 and 2.1 into that game. ESPN.com

EuroLeague: Nikola Mirotic ruled in FC Barcelona's thrilling come-from-behind 76-77 road win at Valencia Basket on Wednesday night, and in the process earned MVP of the Round honors. Mirotic made a game-winning basket with 3.4 seconds left, capping a 15-point fourth-quarter rally. Mirotic finished with 26 points, matching the third-highest total of his career. He made 5 of 6 two-pointers, 3 of 6 triples and 7 of 8 free throws. Eurocupbasketball.com



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY, FEB. 6, 2020

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Heat is working to acquire two veteran skilled wing players who have scored nearly 23,000 NBA points between them. The Heat is in “advanced talks” to acquire former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodola from Memphis, according to The Athletic. What’s more, according to ESPN, the Heat also is has been working to also acquire Oklahoma City forward Danilo Gallinari. The objective is to add both players in deals before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. Miami Herald

The Heat is operating under a hard cap of $138.9 million this season and Miami stands about $12,000 below that figure. So the Heat would need to send Memphis salaries equaling or in excess of the $17.2 million that Iguodola is making this season in the final season of his contract. Miami Herald

That could be achieved by trading some combination of James Johnson ($15.3 million this season, with another full season left on his contract), Kelly Olynyk (due $12.7 million, with a $13.6 million player option for next season), Meyers Leonard ($12.2 million in expiring contract; out indefinitely with an ankle injury), Dion Waiters ($12.1 million) or Justise Winslow ($13 million, and due $13 million next season with a $13 million team option in 2021-22). Miami Herald

The Miami Heat's pursuit of former championship forward Andre Iguodala has moved into the final hours of the NBA trade period, with apparently mutual interest from the Memphis Grizzlies in a potential deal. With Thursday's 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline looming, both The Athletic and Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday night that the Heat have emerged as a frontrunner for the forward who has been seeking to make his NBA return with a contender. Sun Sentinel

Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose has dropped out of the Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend in Chicago for reasons that are "injury-related," a source tells ESPN's Eric Woodyard. The 2011 MVP was scheduled to compete in front of his hometown crowd during the All-Star Showcase on February 15 in the United Center. ESPN.com

Warriors guard Alec Burks and forward Glenn Robinson III will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Nets as they are on the verge of being traded, a source confirmed with The Mercury News. In the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, Burks and Robinson have been linked to trade rumors as the Warriors look to shed salary and avoid an expensive luxury tax bill. Mercury News

Per a source, Burks and Robinson are being traded to help alleviate the Warriors’ luxury tax. SF Chronicle

The Miami Heat have reached out to the Warriors to gauge their interest in trading three-time All-Star and emotional team leader Draymond Green, according to a report Wednesday. With the NBA’s trading deadline of Thursday at noon PT fast approaching, Miami faces long odds of convincing Golden State to part ways with Green but the Heat are trying hard, reports Greg Sylvander of Five Reasons Sports Network in Miami. Mercury News

The Lakers and Clippers have the top two records in the Western Conference, respectively, but that hasn’t stop them from making a run at New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris. Both teams have had conversations with the Knicks this week to see what it might take to acquire Morris, according to several people who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The Knicks have a strong interest in Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, but New York knows his salary of almost $2 million won’t get a deal done for Morris, who makes $15 million after signing a one-year deal last summer. LA Times

Knicks: To add to the tension, the trade deadline is Thursday, and Perry is fielding offers with almost no untouchables on the roster — save for their 2019 No. 3-overall pick RJ Barrett. The Knicks (15-36) return to action Thursday night versus Orlando, hours after the deadline, and “Sell the Knicks’’ chants could abound if the club falls well behind in the game. “[Perry said] we’ve got to keep moving forward,’’ Julius Randle said. “We’ve had a lot of things happen throughout the year. We’ve just got to keep moving forward, keep doing our job, keep playing with passion and determination and all those type of things. So that’s all we can focus on. None of us can focus on anything that’s out of our control, honestly." NY Post

When the best player on a basketball team believes you don't have an offensive identity 50+ games into the season, you might just have a problem. Sound the alarms in Philadelphia. "No, we don't," Joel Embiid said at practice Wednesday when asked if the Sixers have an offensive identity. "Spacing is an issue. Sometimes we play fast, sometimes we play slow. But at the end of the day when you think about it, and as we are trying to get ready for the playoffs also, the game slows down and it becomes a halfcourt game. That's where we struggle the most. Hopefully, we do a better job in the next three games before [the] All-Star [break]." Philly Voice



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY, FEB. 5, 2020

The Houston Rockets acquired the Minnesota Timberwolves' Robert Covington and traded center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a four-team, 12-player deal on Tuesday night, league sources told ESPN. The NBA's most expansive trade in nearly 20 years saw the Timberwolves acquire two first-round picks, including Houston's 2020 pick, which they moved on to the Denver Nuggets for guard Malik Beasley and forward Juan Hernangomez, sources said. ESPN.com

Among the trade details, sources told ESPN: Minnesota also acquires Atlanta's Evan Turner and Denver's Jarred Vanderbilt. Denver acquires Minnesota guard Shabazz Napier, forward Keita Bates-Diop, forward Noah Vonleh and injured guard Gerald Green. Atlanta acquires Houston center Nene Hilario. Houston also receives Jordan Bell from Minnesota and an Atlanta 2024 second-round pick via the Golden State Warriors. ESPN.com

The NBA is changing the format to this season's 3-point contest at All-Star Saturday Night by adding a pair of deep shots that will be worth three points apiece, the league announced Tuesday. That change means each round will now be a total of 27 shots instead of 25, and competitors will now get 70 seconds to finish their shots instead of the customary 60. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY, FEB. 4, 2020

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, and while the Indiana Pacers may not make a significant move, they’re once again trying to move little-used forward T.J. Leaf, league sources tell IndyStar. Leaf, the No. 18 pick in 2017, has been out of the rotation since November when he filled in with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner injured. He has appeared in 22 games, mostly after the outcome had been decided, because JaKarr Sampson jumped him in coach Nate McMillan’s rotation. Indy Star

The Knicks have parted ways with team president Steve Mills and will begin an immediate search for a replacement, according to a statement released by the team on Tuesday. GM Scott Perry will oversee the team on an interim basis, the statement said. ESPN reported that James Dolan, the Executive Chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden, will pursue Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who is under contract through the 2020-21 season. NY Newsday

The Knicks have several players drawing interest around the league. Marcus Morris, 30, is averaging nearly 20 points per game and is on a one-year, $15 million contract. Allonzo Trier, Reggie Bullock and Julius Randle have also come up in trade talks. NY Newsday

According to a source, Perry and Mills had a divide over trade issues with the deadline approaching. One issue the Knicks front office debated was on Marcus Morris — whether to trade him or attempt to re-sign him this July. Only Perry made the trip to Cleveland to witness the Knicks’ overtime victory over the Cavaliers on Monday night, their second straight win. NY Post

The Post has previously reported that the Knicks would be interested in Raptors team president Masai Ujiri. ESPN says that is now Dolan’s goal, though Ujiri is under contract through next season. NY Post

The Timberwolves are orchestrating multiteam trade discussions with Houston and Atlanta in hopes of ultimately turning discussions into a four-way deal that brings Golden State guard D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota, league sources told ESPN. The Timberwolves, Rockets and Hawks have the assets to fulfill some of each team's goals: forward Robert Covington to Houston, center Clint Capela to the Hawks and potentially two first-round picks and an expiring contract to Minnesota, league sources said. ESPN.com

The Pistons and Phoenix Suns are engaged in talks to send Luke Kennard to the Suns in a deal that could return the Pistons a first-round pick, in addition to young guards Jevon Carter and Elie Okobo. Wait, Luke Kennard? Wouldn’t the 23-year-old be part of the Pistons’ rebuild? Well, yes — and no. Detroit News

A league source confirmed Monday that Zach LaVine will participate in the three-point contest Feb. 15 during NBA All-Star Weekend, just four days after he felt he was snubbed from making the All-Star Game as a reserve. “I’ll want to do something,’’ LaVine said Friday when asked what was left on the table for him, especially with the festivities in Chicago. “We’ll figure out what I’m going to do in the next couple days.’’ Chicago Sun-Times

The league was hoping LaVine would jump into the dunk contest, especially when the Magic’s Aaron Gordon accepted an invitation. LaVine and Gordon had one of the premier showdowns in the history of the contest in 2016, won by LaVine. Chicago Sun-Times

Patrick Beverley was just saying a few days ago that he had a problem with the fact that only one Clipper – Kawhi Leonard – was due in Chicago for this season’s NBA All-Star Game. Well, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, now Beverley will be there too, joining Detroit Pistons guard and fellow Chicagoan Derrick Rose in the Skills Challenge on Feb. 15. Beverley will be one of the eight “most skilled players in the NBA,” per the NBA, to compete by completing an on-court obstacle course. Beverley won the event in 2015, when he was a member of the Houston Rockets. OC Register

Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn has a MCL sprain in his right knee, the team announced Tuesday. Dunn will be re-examined following an initial two-week phase of immobilization and physical therapy. ESPN.com

The Phoenix Suns are in discussions to acquire Detroit Pistons guard Luke Kennard, league sources tell ESPN. The Pistons' intrigue with a deal centers on the opportunity to land a future Phoenix first-round pick, perhaps as soon as the 2020 NBA draft, league sources said. ESPN.com

With the trade deadline looming, the third-year guard https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28631360/grizzlies-dillon-brooks-relishes-chance-play-andre-iguodala-trade[Dillon Brooks] didn't mince words when asked about speculation that Iguodala will be moved. "A guy that's on our team doesn't want to be on our team," Brooks said after scoring 15 points as the Grizzlies beat the visiting Pistons 96-82 on Monday. "I can't wait until we find a way to trade him so we can play him, and I can show him what really Memphis is about." ESPN.com

At least two of Brooks' teammates appeared to agree with his comments. Star rookie Ja Morant reacted with a shouting emoji on Twitter, and guard De'Anthony Melton posted a shrugging emoji. ESPN.com

Meanwhile, the 76ers (31-20) completely imploded in the second half, getting outscored 81-54. It was eerily quiet in their postgame locker room. "We were soft," said [Ben] Simmons, who was a game-low minus-31 and had a game-high four turnovers. It's not the first time Simmons has called the 76ers soft. In January 2019, Simmons said his team was "too soft" after it was dominated in the paint and on the boards in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Butler, then a Sixer, disagreed. But a month later, Philadelphia made a big splash in trading for Tobias Harris. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY, FEB. 3, 2020

With Thursday’s NBA trade deadline looming, the Knicks are reportedly eyeing D’Angelo Russell/b>. The New York Times reported late Sunday that the Warriors are “listening to pitches” for Russell, who came to Golden State just last summer in a sign-and-trade that sent Kevin Durant to the Nets. The Knicks are one of those teams pitching potential trade packages, according to The Athletic. NY Post

The Houston Rockets are actively discussing several trade scenarios involving center Clint Capela, including with a host of Eastern Conference franchises, league sources told ESPN. The Rockets are engaged in three-way trade possibilities that might allow for them to use Capela to gather the draft assets needed to acquire an impact wing player, league sources said. ESPN.com

Atlanta has been interested in acquiring a starting level center and has talked with Houston about Capela and Oklahoma City about Steven Adams, league sources said. Atlanta's talks with Detroit about center Andre Drummond lost momentum in recent weeks. ESPN.com

Jrue Holiday is the belle of the ball. New Orleans is 4½ games out of the No. 8 spot, with four teams to jump. If the Pelicans can nab a haul for Holiday, they should. With Zion Williamson playing like a star, how many wins do the Pelicans lose if they downgrade from Holiday to a league-average shooting guard -- say, Gary Harris? ESPN.com

The Nuggets aren't trading Michael Porter Jr. It feels as if there could be a deal-making sweet spot centered on Harris, Malik Beasley, and an unprotected future Nuggets first-round pick. ESPN.com

Both Miami and Denver will look other places for help, too; the Heat are among teams who have expressed interest in Danilo Gallinari, for instance, sources say. ESPN.com

Teams who have called about JJ Redick have been shooed away, sources say. Reminder: Everything is fluid. ESPN.com

The Hawks are among the teams who have expressed interest in Capela, per Woj. They have talked to several teams about centers. Some of those teams have inquired about John Collins, sources say, thinking the Hawks might be worried about extension talks with Collins in the offseason. ESPN.com

Sources say the Knicks seem hell-bent on keeping Marcus Morris Sr. -- someone the Clippers coveted in free agency. Of course, if the offers get rich enough -- and Morris is good enough to generate something of a bidding war -- the Knicks could change course, as Wojnarowski reported Monday morning. Again, I can't stress this enough: Everything is fluid until 3 p.m. Thursday. ESPN.com

That Clips package (Harkless/filler/first-rounder) should be enough to get them in the conversation for Andre Iguodala. Memphis has continued to insist in talks that they will trade Iguodala, sources say, and not buy him out -- a blow to the Lakers, who would love to sign him as a free agent. ESPN.com

The Lakers have investigated the market on Kyle Kuzma, per sources and prior reports. They have poked around on a long list of ball handlers. ESPN.com

The Wolves are still in hot pursuit of D'Angelo Russell, sources say. ESPN.com

The Bogdan Bogdanovic situation could go to the wire. The Lakers and Hornets are among teams who have expressed interest, sources say. ESPN.com

The Cavs appear to have very little market for Kevin Love right now, sources say. ESPN.com

The Pistons haven't given up hope of moving Andre Drummond, but if they manage it -- far from a sure thing -- they will probably not get the return they envisioned, sources say. ESPN.com

The Nets are almost certainly not dealing LeVert, Dinwiddie, or Jarrett Allen for a package centered on picks, sources say. ESPN.com





NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY, FEB. 2, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard continued his historic streak of dominant play Saturday with his third 50-point performance in his past six games as the Blazers defeated the visiting Utah Jazz 124-107 to win their fourth consecutive game. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Lillard is the first player in NBA history to average better than 45 points and 10 assists over a six-game span. He has gone for at least 47 points in five of the six games, and had his first career triple-double (36 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) in the other one. ESPN.com

Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving said he would undergo an MRI after spraining his right knee. Irving left Saturday night's 113-107 road loss to Washington in the fourth quarter, after getting tangled with the Wizards' Bradley Beal and falling back awkwardly on the knee. "What a week," Irving said. "I'm OK, though. Just gotta get an MRI. X-rays were negative, just [have to] go home and see what's going on." ESPN.com

All-Star point guard Trae Young suffered a right ankle sprain late in the third quarter of the Atlanta Hawks' 123-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Young said he wanted to continue playing, but the Hawks ruled him out for the rest of the game. He missed two games after spraining the same ankle earlier this season. On Saturday, Young said he didn't know about the severity of this injury. ESPN.com

Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Warren left Saturday's game against the New York Knicks in the third quarter due to a head injury and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, according to coach Nate McMillan. Warren left after falling under the basket where it appeared he hit his head on the floor. A few possessions prior, Warren appeared to collide with teammate Domantas Sabonis and was shaken up, remaining down for nearly an entire possession before staying in the game. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY, FEB. 1, 2020

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry will miss all of February as he continues to recover from a broken left hand. He will be reevaluated in four weeks, and the team said it is hopeful for his return sometime in March. Curry sustained the injury during an Oct. 30 loss to the Phoenix Suns and had surgery on the hand on Nov. 1 in Los Angeles and then a second procedure in early December to take pins out of the hand as he continued his rehab process. ESPN.com

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson headline the list of players selected to the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend, the NBA announced Friday. The game, to be played on Feb. 14 at the United Center in Chicago, will follow the United States vs. the World format for the sixth consecutive season, with All-Star Game starters Young and Doncic selected to lead their respective teams. ESPN.com

Young and Williamson are joined on the U.S. team by Warriors forward Eric Paschall, Grizzlies teammates Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., Heat teammates Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, and Hornets teammates Devonte Graham, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington. ESPN.com

On the World team, Doncic (Slovenia) will play alongside Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Canada), Suns center Deandre Ayton (Bahamas), Knicks guard/forward RJ Barrett (Canada), Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke (Canada), Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada), Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (Japan) and center Moritz Wagner (Germany), Pistons guard/forward Svi Mykhailiuk (Ukraine) and Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie (Nigeria). ESPN.com

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard put on a commanding performance in Friday night's 127-119 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 48 points, dishing out 11 assists and grabbing nine rebounds. On the night the Lakers honored Kobe Bryant in the organization's first game since the former guard's death Sunday in a helicopter accident, it was Lillard who stole the on-court show. The All-Star guard went 22-for-32 from the field and 7-for-11 from beyond the arc. ESPN.com

Celtics star Kemba Walker has left knee soreness and will miss Saturday night's nationally televised showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers, coach Brad Stevens said. "Kemba's out," Stevens said following the team's morning shoot-around at their practice facility prior to Saturday's game (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC). "Most likely, at minimum, the next two games, maybe, and then we'll reevaluate it after that." ESPN.com

So, with fewer pick-and-roll opportunities, Al Horford has instead been relegated to standing on the perimeter to stretch the floor and be a threat in catch-and-shoot situations -- a necessity on a team as shooting-starved as the Sixers are. Because of that, Horford's catch-and-shoot opportunities are coming about as frequently as in the past for him. But the results are very different so far. ESPN.com

When Horford has spent time on the court without Embiid -- and, as a result, playing once again at center -- he's looked like the player the league has grown accustomed to watching. To that point, when Horford has shared the court with Simmons and Harris -- as he typically does when Philadelphia plays a smaller second unit with Simmons and Horford surrounded by shooters -- the Sixers are outscoring their opponents by a robust 6.7 points per 100 possessions in more than 1,000 minutes. ESPN.com

Justin Bieber is adding to his growing cartoon art collection ... with a tribute to Kobe Bryant ... complete with imagery of the Black Mamba balling out with the Lakers. Our sources tell us Justin's team reached out to Idiot Box Art owners Emily Bright and Tamara Martin to purchase their newest original piece honoring Kobe ... and the Biebs snagged one for only $1,200. TMZ.com

EuroLeague: In a game with plenty of meaning in the race for the playoffs, Bojan Dubljevic helped Valencia Basket secure a crucial home victory over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens – earning his second MVP of the Round award of the season in the process. The Valencia center, who also took the prize in Round 16, scored 19 points on 8-of-9 two-point shooting as his team stayed in the top half of the standings with a hard-fought 94-87 victory. Euroleaguebasketball.net



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY, JAN. 31, 2020

This year's NBA All-Star Game will mark a changing of the guard of sorts, as -- for the first time in a decade -- there will be nine players making their first appearance in the league's annual midseason showcase. In addition to the three starters named to their first team last week -- Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Pascal Siakam -- six others were named by the league's coaches Thursday night as reserves for the Feb. 16 game: Utah Jazz teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram; Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo; Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis; and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. ESPN.com

In addition to the new blood, there will also be a few players with plenty of All-Star experience under their belts -- led by Chris Paul, who earned his 10th All-Star selection Thursday night, and Russell Westbrook, who picked up his ninth selection, after the two of them were traded for each other this summer. ESPN.com

The other players selected from the Western Conference are Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (fifth time) and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (second). The remaining Eastern Conference reserves are Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who will make his sixth All-Star appearance, Heat forward Jimmy Butler (fifth) and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (second for each). ESPN.com

The N.B.A. announced major changes to the All-Star format on Thursday, turning every quarter into a mini-game for charity before an untimed final quarter with a target score that will decide which team wins. Scores will be reset — back to 0-0 — at the start of the second and third quarters, then restored to begin the fourth quarter. That’s where the tribute to Bryant and the No. 24 jersey he wore for the last decade of his N.B.A. career comes into play. The team that wins the All-Star Game will be the first to reach a target score, determined by the total points the team in the lead scored in the first three quarters combined — plus 24, the obvious nod to Bryant. NY Times

The N.B.A. has been considering the target score concept since last summer when Chris Paul, the president of the players’ union, suggested it. Paul, an Oklahoma City Thunder guard, is a big fan of The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all $2 million event composed mostly of college alumni teams. The Basketball Tournament uses what is called the Elam Ending; the game clock is turned off at the first stoppage with 4:00 or less in the fourth quarter, and the target score there is eight points more than the leading score at the time. Paul reached out to say the N.B.A. should explore the idea. NY Times



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY, JAN. 30, 2020

The NBA has alerted teams to the impending release of adjusted 2020-21 salary and luxury tax projections, signaling the likelihood that a decline in revenue will cause a drop in the figures, league sources told ESPN. The league office is expected to deliver revised projections as soon as Thursday, an accommodation that allows teams to make more informed financial and roster decisions ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline. ESPN.com

The advance notice and pre-trade deadline timing of these looming projections, communicated in a recent league memo, is a departure from past protocol. The loss of the league's China-driven revenue has caused many front-office executives to tell ESPN that they've been preparing for the possibility that the original 2020-21 cap projection of $116 million could drop as far as $113 million. ESPN.com

The projected luxury tax figure had been $141 million, which largely impacts teams such as Boston, Brooklyn, Golden State, Houston and Philadelphia that are expected to be luxury tax teams in 2020-21. Three more teams -- Denver, Milwaukee and the LA Clippers -- could be in the tax pending the retention of their own free agents. ESPN.com

You can add faulty Madison Square Garden showers to the list of disastrous things that occurred during the Knicks’ ugly 127-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. After the game, Grizzlies’ star guard Ja Morant complained about having to take a cold shower with no water pressure. “This is beyond me,” Morant told reporters after the game. “I’ve taken cold showers before, but at least I had water pressure. “(I’m) gonna go to the hotel and take another shower.” NY Post

Portland not only handled Houston, but both Lillard and Anthony reached personal milestones. Lillard notched his first career triple-double, while Anthony climbed to No. 16 on the all-time scoring list. That is not a typo. Wednesday marked Lillard’s first triple-double in 594 games played. He finished with 36 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. NBC Sports Northwest

EuroLeague: KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz is calling in help from a veteran with the signing of swingman Zoran Dragic for the remainder of the current season. Dragic (1.96 meters, 30 years old) averaged 14.1 points in seven 7DAYS EuroCup games this season for ratiopharm Ulm of Germany. He last played in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in the 2017-18 season, putting up 10.6 points on average for Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Euroleague.net

Sikorsky, the manufacturer of the helicopter that crashed with Kobe Bryant and 8 others, is actively taking steps to make sure other fliers of the S-76 add the critical system missing from Kobe's chopper. The specific model flying Kobe was the S-76B and, as you know, the NTSB said it wasn't equipped with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS). It was an optional feature until 2005 -- Kobe's was built in 1991. TMZ.com



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY, JAN. 29, 2020

The Lakers gathered their players and coaches at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, California, on Tuesday for the first time since Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a tragic helicopter crash Sunday. Following a light workout and optional shootaround, the team gathered for a luncheon and an impromptu story session broke out, sources told ESPN, with players and staffers -- from ownership on down in attendance -- taking turns retelling their favorite Bryant memories. ESPN.com

One of the highlights was when LeBron James, sources said, took the room back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold-medal game when he and Bryant teamed up on Team USA against Spain, featuring Bryant's Lakers teammate Pau Gasol. James recalled in amazement the moment, just a few possessions into the game, when Bryant "blew up" Gasol when Gasol was setting a screen -- he just ran straight through him, putting Gasol on the hardwood. ESPN.com

The league-leading Milwaukee Bucks will clearly go as far as Giannis Antetokounmpo can take them this season. But there are nights when others steal the show. And Tuesday was one of them. Khris Middleton posted a personal-best 51 points, 10 rebounds and six assists on 16-for-26 shooting, leading the Bucks to their ninth straight win, a 151-131 rout of the Washington Wizards. ESPN.com

The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant didn't have a recommended warning system to alert the pilot he was too close to land, but it's not clear it would have prevented the crash that killed nine on Sunday because the pilot might have lost control as the aircraft plunged into a fog-shrouded mountain, federal officials said Tuesday. Pilot Ara Zobayan was climbing out of the clouds when the aircraft banked left and began a sudden descent that lasted nearly a minute. "This is a pretty steep descent at high speed," said Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board. "We know that this was a high-energy impact crash." ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY, JAN. 28, 2020

A light fog had settled on the runway of John Wayne Airport Sunday morning when Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six other passengers boarded a chartered helicopter to fly to a basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks. A half-hour later, they were flying over thickening clouds in the San Fernando Valley. The pilot was worried enough to ask flight controllers to keep track of them. As he approached the hills of Calabasas at 150 miles per hour, they radioed him, telling him he was too low for them to see on radar. LA Times

The pilot commenced a climb, rising 765 feet in 36 seconds, enough to clear adjacent hills. What happened next is a mystery: the Sikorsky S-76B suddenly veered off course and descended rapidly. The twin-engine aircraft dropped 325 feet in 14 seconds, reaching 176 miles per hour before losing contact and hitting the hillside above Las Virgenes Road, killing all nine people on board. LA Times

Federal investigators on Monday began a wide-ranging investigation into the crash heard around the world. They plan to look at the histories of the pilot, helicopter maintenance records and the foggy conditions that can quickly disorient pilots. The helicopter was not carrying a black box, cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder, officials said, although investigators did recover an iPad with ForeFlight, an app pilots use to log flight plans and weather briefings. LA Times

If the weather was poor, Deetz said, Bryant’s pilot would take one of two routes: over the Cahuenga Pass or continue up the freeway over the Los Angeles Zoo. When visibility was especially poor, he would fly over the zoo because it was at a lower elevation than the Cahuenga Pass. Zobayan passed over the zoo Sunday morning, and requested to enter the controlled airspace around Burbank using “Special VFR” clearance because weather conditions had deteriorated to less than the minimum visibility for regular visual flying. At that point, pilots landing at Burbank and Van Nuys airports were required to fly using instruments. Zobayan was directed to “hold” while airport traffic cleared. LA Times



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY, JAN. 27, 2020

The pilot flying Kobe Bryant and seven others Sunday was given clearance to fly in worse than normal weather conditions, without relying on instruments to guide him, according to recordings of his communications with air traffic controllers. Shortly before the helicopter crashed, killing everyone on board, the pilot asked for and then was approved for what’s known as special visual flight rules, according to audio reviewed by The Washington Post. Washington Post

In the recording, the pilot requests to fly under the special conditions. The Burbank tower controller responds that it will be a few moments and asks the helicopter to hold. Seconds later, the controller tells the pilot that he can plan to transition to the north side of the Van Nuys Airport. He tells the pilot, several departures are coming off a runway and to “expect to follow the I-5 north and cross that way.” Washington Post

Tears clinging to his cheeks, Clippers coach Doc Rivers on Sunday called the death of Kobe Bryant “devastating” and mourned that the former Lakers great “had so much more left to do.” Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine passengers who died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in the hills above Calabasas. Across the country, the Clippers received the news less than four hours before they were scheduled to play Orlando. Players warmed up before tipoff but the mood inside Amway Center was solemn. The locker rooms for the Magic and Clippers remained closed before tipoff, at the direction of the NBA. LA Times

Gianna Bryant always wanted to follow in her father Kobe Bryant’s footsteps. And Bryant and others in the NBA saw much of the father’s spark and determination in his daughter. Gianna, 13, and Bryant were among the victims of a helicopter crash that took the lives of all passengers and the pilot Sunday morning in Calabasas. LA Times

Bryant coached his daughter’s club team and would take them to watch other professional basketball teams. During games, he’d talk to them about certain plays and situations. Gianna was quick to remind people that her father, who has three daughters, didn’t need a son to continue the family’s basketball legacy, according to the revered former NBA star. LA Times

Many Lakers were sleeping as they flew home from Philadelphia on Sunday, as devastating news began to spread through the plane. Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash. One of the players who was awake was the only one who had been a Lakers teammate of Bryant’s. Dwight Howard began circulating the news as soon as he found out. Kurt Rambis and the Lakers director of media relations, Alison Bogli, addressed the coaches. Then Lakers coach Frank Vogel went to the front of the plane to address his team. LA Times

They were shocked. Devastated. Speechless. LeBron James, who passed Bryant on the league’s all-time scoring list the night before, appeared broken up. He idolized Bryant as a teenager and looked to follow his lead into the NBA. When James departed the plane he was met with other members of the organization who embraced him tightly and lingered. LA Times

Kobe and Gianna leave behind an incredibly strong wife and mother, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born last summer. The horror of this is unspeakable. The tragedy of this is immeasurable. Go ahead and keep crying, you won’t be alone. A huge hole has been cut out of Los Angeles’ heart, and the wound is breathtaking. Kobe was your childhood hero. He was your adult icon. For 20 years he was on posters in your bedroom, on the television in your living room, in the lunch talk in your school cafeteria, in the smack talk at your office water cooler, and ultimately riding on a truck down Figueroa Street while you cheered and bragged and bathed in his greatness. LA Times

Bryant’s legacy was complicated. The events of 2003 in Eagle, Colo., color some people’s memories of Bryant. Others remember him primarily for that competitive stubbornness that made his early-2000s partnership with Shaquille O’Neal such a devastating combination but also made it ultimately impossible to sustain. But in L.A. he was beloved, unconditionally, largely because he was a Laker for life. OC Register

It was Jerry West’s sharp eye for talent led to Kobe Bryant’s illustrious 20-year career as a Laker and a legacy that transcended the game and made him a Southern California icon. As the story goes, West needed only to see the then-17-year-old from Lower Merion High go one-on-one against Michael Cooper, the retired Laker who’d been a decorated defender, for 10 minutes in an Inglewood gym to recognize how special Bryant was. The Lakers orchestrated a pre-draft deal with Charlotte, which had the 13th pick, agreeing to send veteran center Vlade Divac to the Hornets to acquire the rights to Bryant, who would go on to win five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs and one-regular season MVP. OC Register

When I heard the news, I thought immediately of Michael Jordan, who Bryant told me on several occasions was the player he aspired to be. Certainly, Bryant came closer than anyone else to matching the talent, the intensity -- and the aura -- of His Airness. I reached out to Jordan via text, knowing the news would be overwhelming and deeply personal. "I'm devastated!!!!" Jordan wrote me. "Too emotional to respond. I can't find the words to make sentences!!!! "I just started crying," added a teary-eyed Charles Barkley. "That's all I've been doing, is crying." ESPN.com

Grief-stricken players and teams around the NBA paid respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday in myriad ways as the stunning news of the former Lakers great's death shook the league. Nearly every team playing across Sunday's eight-game schedule -- not long after it was learned that Bryant died in a helicopter crash at age 41 --took a planned shot-clock violation. Teams took turns holding the ball for 24 seconds and eight seconds in the backcourt in honor of the No. 24 and No. 8 jerseys that Bryant wore. The tributes drew standing ovations across the board. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY, JAN. 26, 2020

Years ago, it was LeBron James following Kobe Bryant by coming straight out of high school to the NBA. On Saturday, it was James passing Bryant for the No. 3 spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list. James entered the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Philadelphia 76ers needing 18 points to eclipse Bryant's career total of 33,643 points. It was a grind, as Los Angeles struggled to create offense most of the night, but James reached the milestone with a running layup in the third quarter. ESPN.com

James finished with 29 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, and he gave the Philadelphia faithful one more lasting memory from the historical night with a breakaway, tomahawk slam dunk off a feed from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the 6:57 mark that forced a 76ers timeout. But James also had eight turnovers in the loss. ESPN.com

James inscribed his sneakers with "Mamba 4 Life" and "8/24 KB" in gold marker before the contest, showing respect for the former Lakers great. It didn't stop there. All week in the lead-up to the milestone, he was quick to laud Bryant. ESPN.com

The Nets had lost five straight games before beating the Pistons in overtime on Saturday, but remain hopeful of what they can accomplish when they are back to full health — not to mention getting Durant back next season. Irving has missed 27 games because of injuries — first his shoulder, then his hamstring — but remains a threat unlike any player the Knicks have. The Knicks, meanwhile, have leaned heavily on the veteran free agents they signed last summer after missing out on Irving and Durant. They could be on the move by the Feb. 6 trade deadline, opening more minutes for their younger players, most of whom have taken steps back this season. NY Post

With the Nets coming into Detroit on a five-game losing skid, Kenny Atkinson brought Spencer Dinwiddie off the bench for the first time in well over two months. And it worked like a charm in a slum-busting 121-111 overtime win over the Pistons on Saturday. Garrett Temple started next to Kyrie Irving, instead of Caris LeVert. Meanwhile, Dinwiddie came off the bench after 32 straight starts. The defensive-minded Temple did a lot of the heavy lifting on that end as Irving went off for 45 points — his most since his Brooklyn debut. NY Post

Then the Wolves showed up Saturday night at home against Oklahoma City and, for extended periods of the game, weren’t intense and didn’t execute, which resulted in a 113-104 loss — Minnesota’s ninth straight. “There’s frustration, obviously,” Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “We want to win, I want to win. But no one is going to feel bad for us, so we’ve got to go out there and get it done. Obviously, we’ve got to stay positive, because this league doesn’t (care) about us being upset and feeling depressed. … The league is what it is. They’re going to kick you when you’re down, and they’ll keep kicking you until you get up. We’ve got to get up.” Pioneer Press

“It’s frustrating, but we’ve just got to put a whole 48 minutes together,” Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins said. “That’s the main thing. We can’t have times where we play good one quarter, good two quarters, or we play a good three quarters. We’ve got to have four solid quarters. We’re playing good teams, and we can’t expect to win if we don’t play good.” Pioneer Press



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY, JAN. 25, 2020

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra responded swiftly to swingman Jimmy Butler not being selected as a starter for next month's NBA All-Star Game in Chicago, calling his omission "a joke" and adding that he's hopeful it will help change the voting process. "I just think it's ridiculous that we're still in these antiquated positions," Spoelstra said before Friday night's 122-117 loss to the LA Clippers. "So who's to say what position Jimmy is? Does it matter? I put him No. 2 on my [lineup] card. So I go Kendrick Nunn, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, I go Bam [Adebayo] and then Meyers [Leonard]. But you could flip any one of those guys around. And in many ways he's our point guard. So should he be in the All-Star Game as a point guard? I don't know." ESPN.com

It was the sort of sequence which elicited laughter as much as it did cheers. The Miami Heat trailed the Los Angeles Clippers 118-112 in the final minute Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena and Dion Waiters, playing for the first time this season after three suspensions, found himself matched up against Lou Williams. The guard had space in the midrange and pulled up from his sweet spot. Waiters swatted it away. The ball bounced right back to Williams as he backpedaled to the three-point line for a desperation shot. Waiters blocked it again and raced down the court in the opposite direction. With 34.2 seconds left, the once-ostracized wing drilled a three-pointers to cut the Clippers’ lead to 118-115. After three suspensions in the first half of the season, Waiters was tantalizingly close to playing the hero for the Heat with Jimmy Butler, Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic all sidelined. Miami Herald

After six consecutive losses, Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton decided to mix things up on Friday night. Walton decided to start Bogdan Bogdanovic at guard over Buddy Hield against the Chicago Bulls -- but not as a form of punishment. And his gamble worked. "We don't win that game tonight without Buddy," Walton said. Hield contributed 21 points with eight rebounds off the bench in 23 minutes to help the Kings snap their losing skid with a 98-81 victory. That included pouring in 11 points in the third quarter. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY, JAN. 24, 2020

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James again were named captains for the NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Thursday night. Antetokounmpo and James earned the honors after leading their respective conferences in fan votes and will be two of the 10 starters for this year's game, which will be held Feb. 16 in Chicago. They will next draft the rosters for the All-Star Game from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. ESPN.com

The East starter pool also includes Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid, while the West starter pool includes James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic. The reserves will be announced next Thursday. ESPN.com

Philadelphia 76ers guard Josh Richardson is expected to be re-evaluated in two weeks with a strained left hamstring, a league source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Richardson suffered the injury in the first quarter of Wednesday's 107-95 loss to the Raptors. He is averaging 15.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 38 games this season, his first with the Sixers. ESPN.com

Wiggins seemed as if he was in witness protection during the first half: three points, four turnovers. Saunders made sure to let Wiggins know he was displeased with that effort. “He was yelling at me a lot of the time,” Wiggins said. “… I needed it. The first half was a bad first half. I wasn’t aggressive. I was settling. I feel like in the second half, I just was a little more aggressive, tried to get downhill, creating for guys and do whatever I could to help the team win.” Star Tribune

Rookie forward Chris Silva is headed to the G League for the first time this season. The Heat announced Thursday that it has assigned Silva to its developmental affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He will be available for the Skyforce’s home games against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Friday and Saturday, and he is expected to rejoin the Heat for its home matchup against the Magic on Monday. Miami Herald

Specifically, Utah’s starting lineup of Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale had outscored opponents by 178 points this year entering Wednesday night, which is far and away the best mark in the NBA. The closest lineup to the Jazz’s starting five is the Denver Nuggets’ starters, a group which had outscored opponents by 152 points this season entering Wednesday. Behind them is the Miami Heat’s starting lineup. Deseret News



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY, JAN. 23, 2020

For three minutes and eight seconds, Smoothie King Center turned into Zion Williamson's playground. The rookie's burst in the fourth quarter saw him give the New Orleans Pelicans' fans everything they wanted to see and more. Williamson scored 17 consecutive points during a stretch that electrified the crowd and helped turn a double-digit deficit into a brief Pelicans lead before he headed to the bench for the last time with 5:23 remaining. ESPN.com

In those final minutes, the San Antonio Spurs gained control and won 121-117, but the story of the night was Williamson, who was making his NBA debut. He started his run with a wide-open 3-pointer. Then he caught a lob over LaMarcus Aldridge for a layup. He followed that with another 3-pointer, a putback layup and two more 3-pointers, the last of which came while Aldridge was guarding him and gave the Pelicans a 107-106 lead. ESPN.com

When Williamson checked out at the 5:23 mark, he wasn't happy. Neither were the fans. Minutes later, while Brandon Ingram was shooting free throws, the crowd was chanting, "We want Zion." ESPN.com

Williamson scored 22 points in 18 minutes in his first game Wednesday, a 121-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He shot 8-for-11 from the field (including 4-for-4 from 3) and added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers. If Williamson keeps up that type of production, the Rookie of the Year race could get interesting, but with Williamson having missed 44 games and Ja Morant lifting the Memphis Grizzlies to playoff contention with his play in the first half of the season, the award is most likely out of reach for the No. 1 pick. ESPN.com

For everything that was happening Wednesday, the Pelicans did their best to treat things just like any other regular-season night. Except it wasn't. The 165 credentialed media members, the red T-shirts on every chair, the massive amount of fans before tipoff -- that was unlike any other basketball game for this team. So as much as Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin wanted everyone to believe that it was just another game the team needed to win, the magnitude of the evening couldn't escape him. ESPN.com

Despite recent rumors and speculation with the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, Rosas insists that Towns, 24, is Minnesota's franchise guy for now and the future. "Karl-Anthony Towns is as untouchable as they come," Rosas told ESPN. "He's the best player on our team and he's the guy we're building around. Everything we do is to help him become the best player and to help us become the best team we can be. He's a special talent that we're going to do anything possible to help him achieve his highest potential." ESPN.com

Israel: Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv bolstered its frontcourt by inking power forward Amar'e Stoudemire for the remainder of the season, the club announced Wednesday. Stoudemire (2.08 meters, 37 years old) arrives from Fujian Sturgeons of China, where he averaged 19.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 11 games this season. He played the previous two seasons for Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, helping it win the Israeli League title and reach the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals in 2017. Eurocupbasketball.com

Vanessa Hudgens was the life of the party in the crowd at the Knicks vs. Lakers game ... cheering and snappin' pics while Kyle Kuzma played. Hudgens hit up Madison Square Garden on Thursday for LA's matchup with New York .. one day after she was spotted at an intimate dinner with Kuz in Brooklyn. TMZ.com



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY, JAN. 22, 2020

Mavericks center Dwight Powell suffered a right Achilles injury in the first quarter of Tuesday night's game against the LA Clippers, collapsing to the ground without contact. The Mavs announced minutes later that Powell would not return to the game. A torn Achilles probably would sideline Powell for the rest of the season. ESPN.com

Just a city block and an avenue away from the Olympic Tower office where he had peered out over a metropolis, if not the entire world, dreaming up ways to grow the sport of basketball, the life of former NBA commissioner David Stern was celebrated Tuesday. A crowd of thousands filled the lower bowl at Radio City Music Hall, as people from all corners of the sport -- players and coaches, referees and agents, public relations staffers and journalists, family and friends, league executives and team employees, Hall of Famers and the entire current New York Knicks roster -- gathered to honor Stern's 30-year tenure running the NBA. ESPN.com

To see the regular season debut of rookie superstar Zion Williamson with the New Orleans Pelicans it won't cost you much more than a movie ticket (before taxes and fees). As of Tuesday night, tickets for the San Antonio Spurs vs. the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center started around $20 via resellers StubHub, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek. Of course, if you want an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the No. 1 overall draft pick, you can purchase tickets for upward of $1,000/each. Times Picayune



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY, JAN. 21, 2020

In the next week or so, Jim Boylen expects those roster conversations he has with his front office to get tougher. The Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline is only getting closer, and the Bulls coach has been around long enough to know the business of basketball isn’t always pleasant. Boylen, however, surprisingly insisted that he wants the current band to stay intact. “Yeah, absolutely,’’ Boylen said, when asked if he was hoping the front office would stay the course with this group. “I’ve said before we have a hard-working, high-character group of guys and guys who are willing to be coached and willing to work. That’s a credit to them. Those are things I think are important.’’ Chicago Sun-Times

There was some concern about Marvin Bagley after he left Saturday’s loss to the Utah Jazz in the final minutes with an apparent injury to his left foot. Bagley recently returned after missing eight games with a sprained left foot. Kings coach Luke Walton said Bagley felt fine when he woke up Sunday morning and the team’s training staff determined he was “all good” going into Monday’s game. Sacramento Bee

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is being held out of Monday's matinee against the Philadelphia 76ers in the hope that resting his tight right hamstring will prevent another extended absence. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said that Irving first presented with the hamstring symptoms on Sunday. He underwent treatment to try to loosen the hamstring, Atkinson said. When Irving was still tight on Monday, the Nets quickly pulled him from the lineup. ESPN.com

When asked if Irving hurt himself during pregame warmups, Atkinson acknowledged it’s an issue the All-Star guard had been dealing with for a few days. “No, we looked at him (Sunday),” Atkinson said. “We knew there were some issues and then we tested it again (Monday) morning and decided collectively to not play (against Philadelphia).” NY Post

The Miami Heat found themselves having to do it the hard way Monday against the Sacramento Kings at AmericanAirlines Arena, with forward Jimmy Butler sidelined due to what the team termed "right hip soreness." The team announced the absence less than two hours prior to tipoff, saying there was no specific incident that could be cited during Sunday's road loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Sun Sentinel

Rockets guard Austin Rivers warmed up on Monday in hopes of returning from his sprained right thumb but was held out for a second consecutive game since trying to hide the injury last week. “I’m playing Wednesday,” Rivers said. “I tried to play (Monday) but the trainers didn’t want that. The medical staff thought it would be smart, best if I waited one more day. I’m disappointed." Houston Chronicle

Thunder center Nerlens Noel is dealing with an ankle injury again. Noel (left ankle soreness) will miss the Thunder's game at Houston Monday, the Thunder announced before tip-off. Oklahoman

Bradley Beal finished with 29 points and passed Wes Unseld to become Washington’s fourth all-time leading scorer. He now has 10,653 points in his career, trailing only Elvin Hayes, Jeff Malone and John Wall (in that order) in Washington. Last week, Beal took the Wizards to task for not having a “winning attitude” following the team’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. On Monday, the 25-year-old led the pregame huddle outside the locker room, emphasizing a “just win” message. After the speech, the Wizards raced out to the floor for warmups, with Beal sprinting out of the tunnel last. Washington Times

Bulls coach Jim Boylen went back to his “Death Lineup’’ late in the first half against Milwaukee, rolling LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison out on the floor. The Bulls were up one with 5:40 left in the half, and by the time both teams went into the locker room they were only down one, so call it a wash. Boylen used that small lineup in the fourth-quarter comeback against Cleveland, and obviously wants to see it more often. It gives him a defensive presence with Dunn and Hutchison, and also forces Markkanen to play the five, which he struggled doing early on this season when given the opportunity. Chicago Sun-Times



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY, JAN. 20, 2020

One last clarification on the imminent addition of Trevor Ariza and his impact on trades and the Trail Blazers' salary cap: Though the contract counts only as the current guaranteed amount of $1.8 million, the salary protection can be adjusted upward to any amount up to the full contract number of $12.8 million to make a trade work. So based on the 175 percent range to make a trade work, the contract can still bring back significantly more salary than the Trail Blazers would send out, making it very favorable to the other team. NBC Sports Northwest

For all of the promising games Frank Ntilikina has turned in this season, Saturday’s loss to the 76ers was one of his more pedestrian. The Knicks point guard finished with just five points (on 2 of 8 shooting), three rebounds, two turnovers and no assists while playing 16:30 in the 90-87 loss at the Garden. Ntilikina was playing his second game after missing a pair of games with a sore groin. Interim coach Mike Miller indicated the layoff might have been a factor. NY Post

Dennis Smith Jr. (strained oblique) will miss his 13th straight game on Monday against the Cavaliers, but the Knicks could know more about his status by Tuesday after he is reevaluated by the medical staff. “He is progressing well,” Miller said. “He has been practicing some. With games every day, we haven’t practiced anything steady. So he’s been able to get some practices in, but not a lot of contact and not much full court.” NY Post

All-Star Game voting ends Monday, and Jokic is in all likelihood headed to next month’s showcase in Chicago. But the Nuggets, now 29-13, didn’t offer him much help Sunday. Will Barton and Jerami Grant were their two other primary sources of offense, and neither one could connect from outside. Denver shot just 3-for-23 from 3-point range. The loss snapped Denver’s three-game winning streak heading into a three-game road trip that begins Monday night at Minnesota. Denver Post

The Portland Trail Blazers have completed the two-way transfer of center Moses Brown from the Texas Legends to Portland, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. NBA.com/blazers



NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY, JAN. 19, 2020

First, don’t think the Hawks and Pistons are finished discussing a potential Drummond trade. The Pistons are obviously motivated to find a deal, and the Hawks have shown interest – just like other clubs. With the Feb. 6 trade deadline less than three weeks away, expect to hear more rumors and more posturing. What else can be gleaned? The willingness to trade Drummond shows the Pistons view themselves as likely sellers before the trade deadline. Detroit Free Press

The Kings have some important roster decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead. They made their first move Saturday, reaching a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers to obtain expiring contracts, future assets and an open roster spot that could be utilized in a subsequent move before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. A league source told The Sacramento Bee the Kings had agreed to send Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan to Portland in exchange for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round draft picks. The trade cannot be finalized until Gabriel is eligible to be traded on Tuesday, which left the Kings shorthanded as they opened a five-game road trip with a 123-101 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Sacramento Bee

Kuzma was the principle defender on Westbrook for 26 possessions Saturday -- with 25 of those coming in the second half, according to Second Spectrum data. When Kuzma guarded Westbrook, the Rockets' offense averaged 92.3 points per 100 possessions. When anyone else was on Westbrook, that number spiked to 101.9 points per 100 possessions. "Rondo kind of pulled me to the side at halftime in the locker room and just asked me if I could guard him, and I said, 'Of course,'" Kuzma said. "Westbrook was really hurting us in the first half, posting up our guards, and he's just tough, he's a tough load. He's a big, strong, physical guard. In the second half, that kind of got eliminated, putting a bigger body on him." ESPN.com

Houston hit a low point with its 124-115 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, when LeBron James was showered with MVP chants in the Rockets' home arena. It was Houston's third consecutive loss and fourth in five games, the 26-15 Rockets' worst stretch of the season, causing them to slide to sixth place in the Western Conference midway through what they believed could be a championship campaign. "We've got to stay positive, man," said Westbrook, who had 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the loss. "Like I said the other day, in adversity, whatcha gonna do? Gotta look at yourself, stay locked in. It's a part of the season, man. It happens, but now, as a unit, as a team, we've got to stick together and figure out the best way to put our best foot forward." ESPN.com

Zach LaVine lauded the Bulls’ new-look closing lineup of he, Dunn, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison and Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls ventured to switch pick-and-rolls with that lineup late, as opposed to their usual blitzing, and outscored the Cavaliers 31-14 in the final period while forcing 10 turnovers. “We made a lot of defensive stops, we got in transition. Chandler [Hutchison] came in and made some really big plays. Kris Dunn on the defensive end was incredible,” LaVine said. “And that helped me even recently get in some passing lanes. We put it together in the fourth.” NBC Sports Chicago

"All these other idiots who don't play basketball and never played basketball, when they say you wanna judge a guy's greatness by number of championships ... they're idiots." It's safe to say Robert Horry is fed up with NBA fans using rings instead of common sense in debates ... telling TMZ Sports titles don't mean a damn thing when talkin' G.O.A.T.s. "Here's the thing that people are so stupid about. They measure great players by how many championships they win. It's the stupidest thing," Big Shot Bob told us at the California Strong charity softball game on Sunday. TMZ.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY, JAN. 18, 2020

The Portland Trail Blazers are uncertain about the severity of the left ankle sprain that forced shooting guard CJ McCollum to exit Friday night's 120-112 loss to the Dallas Mavericks early in the second quarter. "Usually, the second day is the worst," McCollum said. "So we'll see how it feels tomorrow. Get some treatment, try to compress it and see how it feels." ESPN.com

By time the first quarter was over, the Mavericks had used a 26-14 run to erase the Blazers' lead and take their own one-point advantage into the intermission. But the far more pressing issue was the loss of CJ McCollum, who rolled his left ankle at the 4:37 mark of the quarter. McCollum hobbled to the locker room on his own, though he did not return. "It's tough, injuries are a part of the game obviously," said McCollum. "It's unfortunate that I was next up on the list, but just got to try to battle, fight through it, next man up." NBA.com/blazers

Even as recently as September, the Chris Paul-to-Miami talks were said to be simmering, with the Heat still interested. Ahead of the season, the Heat were tempted by the idea of adding Paul to pair with Butler, but not at the expense of their emerging young talent such as power forward Bam Adebayo or lottery rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro. But they also could see where the season took them before acting impulsively on a deal. If it went bad, they could revisit and the Thunder would listen. Miami was 13-5 entering December, boosted by the revelation of former G League player Kendrick Nunn, by former All-Star Goran Dragic surging as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, by youngsters Adebayo, Herro and starting shooting guard Duncan Robinson energizing the roster. ESPN.com

Markkanen admitted he and his teammates try to stay away from talking about their lack of success against winning teams. “We know that, but we don’t [discuss it],” he said. “But we acknowledge that it’s there. I think it’s good motivation for players going forward.” The problems is that days are dropping off the calendar quickly, and the Feb. 6 trade deadline is now in sight. If the Bulls feel they can’t compete for a playoff spot — even in the shaky Eastern Conference — then Thaddeus Young, Denzel Valentine and possibly even Kris Dunn could be trade candidates. Chicago Sun-Times

The Bulls (15-28) and Cavaliers (12-29) will face off Saturday night in Chicago, both teams on the second night of back-to-backs. But already unideal circumstances just got a bit more adverse for both teams. Per the Bulls, their team flight from Philadelphia — where the team just suffered a 100-89 loss to the 76ers — and the Cavaliers' flight from Memphis — where the Cavs currently battling the Grizzlies — have both been delayed overnight. Both teams plan to fly into Chicago on Saturday. NBC Sports Chicago

With it, the Spurs (17-23) remained in ninth place in the Western Conference, trailing red-hot Memphis. “That’s on us. Strictly on us,” said DeRozan, who finished with 25 points, nine assists and nine rebounds. “We can’t be mad at nobody else.” Indeed, the Spurs left the AT&T Center on Friday with a loss they almost certainly will live to regret. Express News

Marc Gasol, himself just back in his second game since a 12-game absence had a season-best 20 points, including a career-high six three pointers in seven attempts. According to head coach Nick Nurse, Gasol put a lot of time in working on his shot while he was nursing his hamstring injury. “Marc went to work on his shooting mechanics and stuff while he was out,” Nurse said. “He did a lot of standstill, form shooting, but he did go to work on it, spent a lot of time doing it. It was an opportunity for him to try to do that with all time off, so give him credit. He’s reaping some of the rewards of that, I think.” Gasol wasn’t much more forthcoming about the changes he made. He did suggest that looking at the basket played into it, but it was hard to tell if he was kidding. Toronto Sun



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY, JAN. 17, 2020

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving said he has spoken to teammates about comments in which he listed the players he saw as being a part of the team's future. "I reached out to make sure nothing was taken out of context -- making sure that the guys knew exactly what I meant," Irving said on Friday after practice. "And that is the only thing that matters. Everyone can say, if I was in this position, 'I would've said this, I would've done this.' They have have no idea because they've never been at this level, so how could you even comment on it?" ESPN.com

Teague wasn’t bad that first year, nor were the Wolves. They, too, won 47 games and made the playoffs — with Teague’s dutiful work in 70 games serving as the heartbeat of a joyless march back to the playoffs finally for the Wolves and again for Teague, who had never missed the postseason in his career at that point. But if the fit problem was perception and Rubio comparisons that first year, it all fell apart in Year 2. Butler, the player he said he came to join, abandoned the Wolves early last season in Marbury-like fashion. Thibodeau, the coach/GM who picked Teague to run his team, was fired midyear. Ryan Saunders, with a new style and a new emphasis, took over as interim coach. Star Tribune

"It's kind of hard because in the NBA, the way it's built, they want you to flop," Antetokounmpo said of playing physically. "It wants you to be weak, kind of, because sometimes I think when you're strong and you're going through contact, they don't call the foul. But when you're flopping and kind of going into the contact and throwing the ball out, they're just going to call foul, but that's not who I am, that's not what I'm gonna do. "I'm just gonna try to power through contact. It's going to be ... where if a guy grabs me or pushes me, I've got to show it more, but I think I've done a better job of showing it more so the refs can see that the guys are holding me, pushing me and just being physical." ESPN.com

Lonzo Ball knew just how to celebrate his friend and teammate's big night. Brandon Ingram was still on the court, doing his postgame television interview after pouring in a career-high 49 points and helping the New Orleans Pelicans end the Utah Jazz's 10-game winning streak with a wild 138-132 victory on Thursday. So Ball made sure every player in the locker room had a bottle of water. Most grabbed two. When Ingram walked in, the Pelicans did their best to stay calm before dousing the 22-year-old with water from every direction. Televisions, lockers, the floor -- everything was soaked. ESPN.com

Two-time Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Rudy Fernandez and Real Madrid will stay together until 2022 under terms of a new contract that the club announced on Friday. Fernandez (1.96 meters, 34 years old) is playing in his ninth EuroLeague season with Real, averaging 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 18 games so far. He was voted by fans and media to the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2012-13 and 2013-14, and to the second team the following season, when he and Real won the first of their two continental titles this decade. Euroleague.net

Booker is holding up his end of the bargain as usual, but Ayton’s suspension and a dropoff from Rubio in recent weeks haven’t allowed all three of them to sync up in the same game since the season opener. The trio finally did so on Thursday night in New York, combining for 80 of the Suns’ points in a 121-98 victory over the Knicks. Ayton had his third strong game in a row, primarily in the first half, where he played his best basketball of the season and arguably his career. He was back in the starting lineup over Baynes and had his first career 20-20 game, posting 26 points and 21 rebounds to go with two assists and two blocks. Arizona Sports


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