Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Wojnarowski’

Marquee Coaches, Players Continue To Rule NBA’s Bizarro World


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Good luck deciphering what’s real and what’s patently absurd in regards to the on-again, off-again saga that is the Los Angeles Clippers’ pursuit of Doc Rivers as their next coach.

Franchises making trades to appease coaches, who in turn will walk away from one team to coach another … it’s news from basketball’s bizarro world. And free agency is still two weeks away.

As of this morning, Rivers remains the Boston Celtics’ coach, with three years and $21 million on a contract that the Celtics would love for him to see through. The Clippers have two other prime choices, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, ready and willing to take over the reins of a franchise coming off its finest season in history.

But how long Rivers remains the Celtics’ coach could be up in the air, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The sides have reportedly rekindled talks that stalled over the weekend and trying to put the finishing touches on a deal that would send Kevin Garnett and Rivers to the Clippers in a deal that would include Eric Bledsoe and perhaps DeAndre Jordan, along with other assets:

Discussions over a blockbuster deal reached an impasse on Saturday when Boston general manager Danny Ainge held firm that Bledsoe had to be a part of package that included DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick, but sources say that Boston has shown a willingness to find another asset to supplant Bledsoe and complete the complicated deal, sources said.

 The Clippers are prepared to give Rivers a five-year deal to coach and believe acquiring Rivers and Garnett – who will waive his no-trade clause – will lock up the re-signing of free-agent superstar Chris Paul, sources said.

The prospects of bringing Rivers back to the Celtics have become less appealing for Boston, who understand, as one league executive said, “There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. You can’t pretend this didn’t happen and just go back to work.”

Even if we are to believe that a Clippers-Celtics trade is contingent upon the Celtics getting their hands on Bledsoe, we all have to swallow the reality that this is still a system where marquee coaches and players continue to rule the world. Because no fringe player should ever hold up a slam-dunk deal that involves a franchise starving for direction and leadership missing out on a leader like Rivers.

The complications arise when you try to figure out what Rivers has in mind without hearing him explain it. He hasn’t uttered a public word about his intentions, leaving others to speculate about what it is he plans to do regarding his future — with the Celtics and in coaching altogether.

With a report surfacing that Rivers could opt for a return to the broadcast booth either way, the Clippers and Celtics could be going through all of this for nothing (according to A. Sherrod Blakely of the

The potential trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have freed up Doc Rivers to coach them is still considered a no-go.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Rivers will be back on the sidelines as the Celtics head coach this season.

A league source tells that Rivers has not entirely ruled out taking some time off to resume his broadcasting career and return afterwards to coach.

“You guys (media) have been around Doc long enough to know that’s always been something he’s talked about,” the source said. “So it shouldn’t come as a surprise. And frankly, now is probably as good a time as any for him to go that route.”

If Rivers needs an escape route for the rebuilding process that seems inevitable in Boston, rekindling his broadcast roots might be the best route. The ill will a potential move to the Clippers’ bench will foster in Boston will be severe.

But if the Clippers are serious not only about acquiring Rivers, Garnett and Paul Pierce to pair with Paul, but also pursuing and eventually adding Dwight Howard, who is central to Phase II of this fantasy basketball plot, consider me impressed by the audacity of the Clippers to dream this big.

Never mind that the Lakers still believe that Howard will stick around. Building a future around the game’s best big man is much easier to do than building around an All-Star like Blake Griffin, who would have to be a part of any theoretical sign-and-trade deal.

(The Lakers doing this sort of business with the Clippers is yet another patently absurd idea that, in this environment, is every bit as plausible as anything else we’ve heard.)

If all of this hinged on the return of an injured stars like, say, Kobe Bryant or Rajon Rondo, all of the hand-wringing over the minutiae would make a little more sense. Any time there is a potential blockbuster deal to be made, you have to be willing to listen. Ainge has always been willing to do so and the Lakers and Clippers have not been strangers to the blockbuster in recent seasons (both Paul and Howard were acquired via blockbuster deals).

But for all of this to rest on the shoulders of Paul’s backup, albeit a talented young player in his own right, just doesn’t seem right.

Report: Sixers’ Collins To Resign

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – After an experiment gone terribly wrong, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins could be gone.

Collins has already informed ownership that he does not plan to return to the Sixers’ bench for the final year of his contract, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Collins, 62, has one year left on a four-year deal, but has told management he won’t return in that job. Collins’ possible return to the franchise in another role – perhaps in the front office – hasn’t been ruled out, a source said.

Ownership wanted him to return for the final season of a contract that would’ve paid him $4.5 million, one source said, but Collins informed owner Josh Harris of his decision to leave in recent days.

The news comes just hours after USA Today reported that John Langel, Collins’ agent, said: “[Doug is] the coach, and he’ll continue to be the coach.”

A summer trade for Andrew Bynum forced the Sixers to take apart the team that surprised with last season’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Andre Iguodala (Denver), Nikola Vucevic  and Moe Harkless (Orlando) helped form the nucleus of what was expected to be one of the most promising young teams in the Eastern Conference before the blockbuster trade, which also involved the Magic sending Dwight Howard to the Lakers.

But Bynum missed the entire season with knee issues that ultimately required surgery. The Sixers season fizzled as well; they are ninth place in the East, leaving a frustrated Collins to try and pick up the pieces.

Jackson’s Boot Could Kick The Spurs

HANG TIME, TexasStephen Jackson has always brought a dash of the unexpected to every team he’s ever played on and last season that nonconforming flair helped get the Spurs to the Western Conference finals.

This time around, it got Capt. Jack booted off the team.

Just over two hours before opening tip Friday night against Sacramento, the Spurs announced that they had waived the 34-year-old swingman.

It was reported by Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski that Jackson had been “sparring” with coach Gregg Popovich over playing time for much of the season and the situation had deteriorated in recent days.

Jackson averaged 6.2 points in 19.5 minutes while playing in 55 games this season. But his unhappiness with his role is believed to stem from a desire for a next contract. He was in the final year of a deal that paid him $10.059 million this season.

According to sources, the feeling was that Jackson’s discontent was becoming a distraction in the locker room and Popovich’s feeling was that it could affect the younger players on the team as the Spurs enter the playoffs. It was simply time to cut out — or lop off — a brewing problem.

Jackson could sign on with another NBA team, but would not be eligible to take part in the playoffs, which open in eight days.

The mercurial veteran was hardly devastated by the Spurs decision to release him, based on his Twitter account. In a Tweet posted in the afternoon @DaTrillStak5, Jackson said: This how I get over the BS life brings. Haha #pinklemonadejumbochanel#spoilmywife #makesmehappy. It was accompanied by a photo showing a pink Chanel purse and five stacks of $100 bills.

It seems he was not appealing for the sympathy vote.

But so much for the Spurs’ depth.

The way things are going, if the regular season lasted any longer, they might not have enough players.

The Spurs had earlier announced that backup center Boris Diaw underwent surgery Thursday for the removal of a lumbar cyst on his spine and would miss 3-4 weeks, meaning he is unavailable for the start of the playoffs. The team was already playing without guard Manu Ginobili, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury and also expected to be unavailable for the beginning of a first round series. In addition, point guard Tony Parker, had sat out three of the four previous games with a sore neck and is also bothered by an assortment of other injuries.

The Spurs entered Friday night a half-game behind the Thunder in the chase for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but now have more pressing matters at hand.

Jackson’s absence from the rotation will only amplify the absence of Ginobili from the second unit and makes a team with the third-best record in the entire league suddenly vulnerable in the postseason.

Heat Still Hunting Worthy Adversaries


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is the Miami Heat team general managers around the NBA hoped they’d never see.

LeBron James at the zenith of his basketball powers, Dwyane Wade doing his best to match LeBron play for jaw-dropping play and Chris Bosh ready at all times to take advantage of the attention being paid to those superstars. The supporting cast, led by Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Ray Allen and others appear to be settled in and braced for whatever comes their way between now and The Finals.

Sure, we’re still two months away from the end of the regular season. And anything can happen between now and The Finals. But you’re lying to yourself if you don’t admit that the Heat look like a team without a true equal in this league right now. Everyone else, even the mightiest of the mighty from the Western Conference, seem to be playing for second place.

The San Antonio Spurs looked like they were on a collision course for a while, but that was before Tony Parker went down with an injury and we learned he’d miss the next month with that sprained ankle.

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have shown themselves to a worthy foe, but they don’t appear to be appreciably better than the team the Heat took apart in The Finals last year (when Wade and Bosh were playing injured). Plus, the Heat swept the regular-season series with them after a 4-1 victory in The Finals last season.

Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks waxed the Heat twice earlier this season and had them on the ropes early Sunday at Madison Square Garden before folding under the relentless pressure the Heat applied.

The Indiana Pacers believe themselves to be a worthy adversary for the reigning champs. And we’ll find out for sure Sunday night in Miami when these two play their final regular season game. But believing you are ready and actually being ready for the challenge of dethroning this Heat team are two different things.

If you don’t believe it, check with the Boston Celtics, who possess all the confidence needed but lack the raw materials to complete the task.

Kobe Bryant and the reconstructed Los Angeles Lakers were built to deal with any team, including the Heat. But we all know how that plan has worked out to date.

We’d even held out hope that the Los Angeles Clippers, as fresh a story as we’ve had in the league in years, could vault themselves into the conversation of elite teams that could contend with the Heat. But we’ve seen the separation between Chris Paul and his crew and the truly elite outfits in some of their recent head-to-head matchups.

Have the Heat reached that point when they no longer need to look over their shoulder to see where the rest of the pack is in relation to them? Are they racing against history and their own dreams of a dynasty as opposed to the other teams with title dreams?

If the answer to those questions is yes, the Heat can point to one crucial change in their chemistry and makeup that has led them to their current dominant state of being (they’re going for a franchise-record 15th straight win tonight at Minnesota, 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV).

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has found the perfect mix to surround James with. Spoelstra has a system that allows the most dynamic and dominant force in the game today the freedoms to not only assert himself when need be (as he did in the fourth quarters in weekend wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and Knicks), but also to play his game without the need to conform to anyone else’s notion of what a superstar of his caliber in this situation should be.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports breaks it down beautifully here:

For everyone else who insists that Heat president Pat Riley is vital to James’ future, make no mistake: Staying with coach Erik Spoelstra will mean even more to James’ future.

Spoelstra’s been tough enough to stand firm with a mercurial star, and innovative enough to expand the Heat’s offense and defense to deepen James’ impact on winning and losing.

Before Miami, James could be so easily distracted in the 24-7 news cycle of minutiae. These days, ESPN analysts are baiting him with a $1 million offer to participate in the dunk contest on All-Star weekend. This isn’t the 1980s and early ’90s, when even superstars needed All-Star weekend to market themselves.

Those days are over, and James has come to understand that with him, less is more. Once, the contest was necessary for Michael Jordan, but today’s stars – least of all James – don’t need it.

“Right now, it doesn’t stand anywhere,” James said Sunday. “Right now, I’m focused on what we’re doing as a team.”

That would be focused on steamrolling the competition and running away from the pack, two things that have come into clear focus in recent weeks.

When they were introduced to the public, the Heat stars predicted they’d win multiple titles during their time together. Well, we’re not ready to hand over any hardware before it’s time … but surely you can understand why they’d be confident right now.


Ball Is In Ainge’s Court Now


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That cold wind that blew through Boston for the second straight weekend — courtesy of a deflating development with one of the city’s beloved professional teams — was actually felt all over the NBA world.

Much like the news out of Chicago last spring when Derrick Rose tore his ACL, Sunday’s news that Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo‘s season had come to an abrupt end with the discovery of an ACL tear in his right knee forces a reshuffling of things in front offices league-wide.

With the Feb. 21 trade deadline approaching, any and every NBA GM who has Celtics boss Danny Ainge on speed dial is looking over their own assets as they prepare to call him and gauge his mood. Instead of taking his time and surveying the landscape as he attempts to rebuild the Celtics around Rondo, an All-Star starter for the first time in his career this season, Ainge now has to decide if it’s time to start over in Boston.

With all due respect to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a longtime HT fave, the time to write that obit on these Celtics is upon us. This idea that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the rest of this inconsistent Celtics crew is anything other than a first-round out (provided they make the playoffs, of course) seems a bit far-fetched.

They were struggling with Rondo, their best player. To assume they’ll do anything other than that without him … again, far-fetched.

Ainge has never been shy about taking risks before, so we can’t imagine he’d go conservative this time around. Rondo will return from this setback and he should remain one of the cornerstones of the franchise’s rebuilding project. Ainge has to decide if Pierce, a Celtic his entire career, and Garnett stick around or not.

The Big 3 era in Boston ended last season when the Heat pushed past the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, so there is no need for some burial ceremony for these guys. This is strictly a business situation for Ainge. Find the best possible scenario to deal either Pierce or Garnett (one but not both) and whatever periphery pieces that need to be included to facilitate a deal, and then patch up the rest for the future.

The list of younger players available on the trade deadline market seems to increase by the day. Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Josh Smith are all talented players who could be available by the Feb. 21 deadline. Add one or two of those impact players to a young core that includes Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and a healthy Rondo (whenever he returns) and you’re talking about a nucleus capable of keeping the Celtics in the playoff mix and beyond.

Assembling a championship-caliber team, however, will require Ainge to be much more ambitious. It also requires a more intricate long-term plan, with whatever Ainge does next just a small piece of that larger puzzle.

In the immediate aftermath of the Rondo news, Rivers suggested that the next man will step up and take over for Rondo. And maybe a man who stepped away — Keyon Dooling — will come back and try to help fill the void. While that’s showing an extreme amount of confidence in a roster that has struggled with adjusting to its roles all season, it’s an admirable stance to take. It’s also easier said than done.

Whatever happens, know that Ainge’s fingerprints will be all over it, as Ainge explained to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

“In our situation, you can’t just philosophically say, ‘We’re going to do this,’ ” Ainge told Yahoo! Sports. “You have to tell me what it is. You have to tell me what opportunities we have.”

“Here’s the thing: If I wanted to say, ‘Hey, let’s play for the future,’ that’s hard to do. And if I play only for the ‘here and now,’ that’s hard to do.”

Those kinds of trades are hard to do, Ainge meant.

“I’m going to look and see what opportunities are there, like any other year,” Ainge said. “Last year, I was close to making a change that I felt would give us a better chance in the here and now, and in the future. And those are hard to do.”

When Ainge goes looking to see what opportunities are out there, the rest of the league’s executives need to keep eyes on their phones, because something big is bound to happen.

The ball is in Ainge’s court now and the rest of the NBA world is on alert!

How Not To Treat — Or Act Like — A Superstar, Northwoods Edition

Give Kevin Love credit for this much: he didn’t say that he didn’t say what he supposedly and, as it turns out, most definitely said.

Yeah, those comments offered up to Yahoo! Sports  were all his, the Minnesota All-Star power forward acknowledged to reporters after the team’s practice Wednesday. His critical, grumpy, even petulant-sounding remarks about the Timberwolves, his bosses and his less-than-desired contract experience were accurate. But he also said he did not like the tone of the story and that he talked about other, more upbeat topics about the Wolves that apparently got left on the cutting-room floor. Like his tendency to use perceived slights for motivation.

Here is some of the offending quotage as told to Yahoo! NBA guy Adrian Wojnarowski in a piece largely focused on the decision by Wolves management to offer and sign Love to an extension for four years rather than five:

“I don’t know who labels people stars, but even [T’wolves owner] Glen Taylor said: I don’t think Kevin Love is a star, because he hasn’t led us to the playoffs,” Love told Yahoo! Sports. “I mean, it’s not like I had much support out there.

“That’s a tough pill to swallow.”

No, Kevin Love isn’t over Taylor and GM David Kahn refusing him what he had earned. He isn’t over Kahn marching into the trainer’s room after a loss and thrusting a contract offer sheet into his hands. Where else does it work that way in the NBA? “I’m not the one to always follow professional protocol – but I do know what it is, even at 24 years old,” Love says.

Love also is quoted talking about the broken hand he suffered in training camp and speculation within the franchise that maybe he had hurt it in some way besides the “knuckle push-ups” he claimed. He questions Kahn’s performance and vision, and Wojnarowski provides context (Minnesota had the sixth, fourth and second overall draft picks from 2009 to 2011 and came away with disappointments Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson and Derrick Williams). That has led to a crazy-quilt of roster building. “You walk into the locker room every year, and it’s completely turned over,” Love said. “You start to wonder: Is there really a plan here? Is there really any kind of a … plan?”

But most of the piece dwells on Love’s disenchantment with the franchise and the prospect that he could leave via an opt-out clause in 2015.

Love will never get over how badly he wanted the designation as the Wolves’ franchise player, how deeply he believed it had been deserved and how Kahn was so smugly defiant in refusing to recognize it. When the Wolves should’ve been throwing a parade that Love wanted a five-year maximum contract designation a year ago, the franchise could forever regret the consequences of telling a superstar player he wasn’t worth that commitment.

For as foolish as it was to tell a first-team All-NBA forward, an Olympian, that that the Wolves would be saving the super max deal for someone else, Taylor and Kahn somehow gave into Love’s insistence of an opt-out after the third year of the four-year deal. Privately, Kahn has told people that he isn’t worried, that the Wolves can pay Love the most money on the market and that he doesn’t believe he’ll leave for less.

It’s a terrible miscalculation.

The story, obviously, went viral in Minnesota, dividing the Twin Cities like Moses’ staff, only not along traditional Minneapolis vs. St. Paul allegiances. No, this split is between those who blame the Wolves for messing with the team’s first superstar since Kevin Garnett in a star-dependent league and those irritated by what sounds like ego and lack of appreciation from a 24-year-old grumbling that he had to settle for $62 million rather than $80 million.

It’s not that simple, of course. Love know he is set financially for life, not just off his current deal but whatever he lands after that, whenever and wherever. But it was the statement Kahn and Taylor made by holding back that fifth year compared to, say, the way Chicago embraced Derrick Rose, not just with five years but without even offering or being asked for an out clause.

Are the Wolves holding that five-year deal (the CBA permits a club to extend only one player that long) for Ricky Rubio? Does it have anything to do with Rubio being a Kahn draft pick – he fell into the Wolves’ laps at No. 5 in 2009, right before Kahn grabbed the point guard he liked – and Love being a leftover from Kevin McHale‘s regime?

As for the team’s prospects as a perennial contender, coach Rick Adelman – a longtime Love pal from their days in the Portland area, where the Wolves star hooped with an Adelman son – has organized the basketball operation on and off the court. He even has increased his personnel input. But Adelman is 66, Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour will both turn 32 this season and, well, Kahn’s track record remains as spotty as ever.

From the Wolves’ side, there was the issue of Taylor, a central figure in the 2011 lockout as chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors, almost immediately handing out a contract of maximum length and cost so soon after a claimed fiscal crisis. And the truth is, Love – two-time All-Star, U.S. gold medal-winner, rare inside-outside threat as a top rebounder and 3-point – hadn’t put Minnesota on his back to a playoff berth the way, oh, Rose (with way more help) had.

Missing the start of the season with the broken hand surely didn’t help Love’s mood. His push-back from basketball after the London Olympics had him returning in less than his stellar shape last season. He resumed life as a double-double machine, but his accuracy has been way off – 38.2 FG percent, 21.6 from the arc and 67.4 from the line thanks to the bum hand – and the Wolves are only 4-5 since he’s been back. Team insiders have caught him arguing calls with refs rather than getting back on defense, or holding his 3-point form rather than crashing the boards when he misses.

Soon, maybe even this week, there’s the prospect of Rubio coming back and igniting the 9-9 team again the way he did as a rookie. If that happens, maybe the charismatic point guard would be more deserving of the five-year deal.

He’d have to want to stay in Minnesota, mind you, despite the prospect of Love leaving.

Thunder Trade Harden To Rockets

Contract extension talk between the Oklahoma City Thunder and reigning KIA Sixth Man of the Year James Harden took a wrong turn somewhere. How else to explain tonight’s shocking news, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, that Harden has been traded to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, rookie shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, two first-round Draft picks and a second-round Draft pick?

The Thunder will also send Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets to complete the deal.

This shakes up not only the Western Conference playoff chase but also the entire landscape of the league, what with the Thunder losing one of the most explosive scorers in the league as he enters the prime of his career. The Los Angeles Lakers remade their roster over the summer, adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to a nucleus of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. And the Thunder needed to keep the core of a team that had home court in The Finals last season intact if they intended to hold off challenges from the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference crown.


Kirilenko Could Join Wolves’ Pack

HANG TIME, Texas – You can never say that Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn lets the grass grow under his feet. If he delivers on the rumor of sending Wesley Johnson to Phoenix as part of a three-team trade that also includes New Orleans, he’ll have dealt away five first-round picks in just two years.

More important, he could bounce back after losing out on the offer sheet to Nicolas Batum by bringing forward Andrei Kirilenko back to the NBA from Russia.

According to the relentless Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, there would be a sign-and-trade deal that sends Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the Hornets and also a lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Suns.

The teams were still finalizing details, but sources said that Lopez, a restricted free agent, was returning soon from a vacation to take a physical for the Hornets. New Orleans had been working diligently for weeks on acquiring a center to play alongside No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, and give Davis some inside support.

Kirilenko has a buyout in his CSKA of Moscow contract that allows him to return to the NBA. He ruled out the Brooklyn Nets and Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov on Tuesday because the Nets simply couldn’t pay him beyond the veteran’s minimum of $1.2 million, sources said. Kirilenko has been searching for a deal that would pay him in the vicinity of $8 million annually, and Minnesota could have the cap space to do so.

Minnesota is signing another Russian, point guard Alexey Shved, to a free-agent contract. The T’wolves signed Portland restricted free agent Nicolas Batum to a $45 million offer sheet, but the Trail Blazers matched the money to retain him.

Kirilenko, 31, is eight years older, but would fill many of the same needs the Timberwolves were chasing when they went after Batum. After playing 10 NBA seasons with the Jazz, Kirilenko spent last season with CSKA Moscow, where he was named Euroleague MVP.

It’s said that a two-year, $18 million offer with a player option for a third season could close the deal for Kirilenko. It’s a far cry from the $17 million he was paid by the Jazz in 2010-11, but would be money well spent for a Wolves roster that could use a defender on the front line.

Report: Knicks In Lead For Nash

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin wearing the same uniform?

If the New York Knicks get their way, that’s exactly what’s going to happen in training camp.

The Knicks have moved into the lead to land Nash, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, using a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns to make it happen:

Nash and the Knicks are in the critical stages of discussions on a three-year deal worth between $27 million-$30 million to be executed through a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns. The Knicks would send rookie guard Iman Shumpert and multiple players – including Toney Douglas – to Phoenix for Nash, sources said.

Nash, a two-time MVP, has been enthusiastic about joining the Knicks’ core of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire.

… The Knicks also intend to match any offer restricted free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin receives.

The potential addition of Nash would be a game-changer for the Knicks and could vault them into the conversation of teams capable of legitimately challenging for one of the top spots behind the Miami Heat in the East.

Nash has history with Stoudemire dating back to their days in Phoenix, when the Suns were contenders in the Western Conference on a regular basis. He’d also be the perfect maestro for a Knicks offense that lacked one in the time before and after Lin’s rise last season.

Report: Howard For Bynum Up Next?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You had to know we’d get to this point sooner or later in the ongoing Dwight Howard trade demand saga.

For the player without a true peer at his position, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum is the closest thing to Howard when it comes to low-post operators.

With the Orlando Magic fielding calls from all over the league about potential deals, it only makes sense that they dial up the only other team in league with a big man capable of wearing the title of best big man in the game.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, that’s exactly the idea the Magic have as they plot the exit strategy for Howard:

The Lakers and Magic have had talks about a possible deal, and plan to talk further about constructing a trade. No deals are imminent, and the process has remained fluid as teams have begun to inquire with more serious offers for Howard.

Sources say there is one other trade scenario for a significant player that intrigues Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, but that target is unclear. Before the Magic would agree to consummate a trade for Bynum, they would need to know they could sign him to a contract extension, sources said. Bynum is entering the final year of his contract in the 2012-13 season.

What’s more, Bynum wouldn’t nearly be enough to satisfy Hennigan’s desires for a return on Howard. The Lakers would need to send draft picks and absorb long-term money off the Magic’s payroll, sources said.

They’ve had this conversation before, several times actually. The last time was at the trade deadline, before Howard signed away his right to enter free agency this summer. Bynum was experiencing arguably the best stretch of his NBA career while Howard’s season was just days away from ending with a back injury that required surgery.

There’s also that bit about Howard not wanting to play in Los Angeles or as second fiddle to Kobe Bryant. That would need to be addressed before any potential deals could get rolling. (The Lakers were initially on Howard’s preferred list of teams to play, along with the Nets and Mavericks, but disappeared after rumblings about a rift between Howard and Bryant began to spread.)