- John Canzano of the Oregonian writes that the Blazers have a tricky decision on the way regarding J.J. Hickson: “Depending on who you ask, forward J.J. Hickson either has to go before the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline. Or he has to be counted on as part of Portland’s long-term plan. Olshey is smooth, but he’s headed to his first dicey collision, and there’s not a simple way out. Consider that Hickson, who makes $4 million annually, is averaging a double double (12.2 points, 11 rebounds) this season. He’s well regarded by fans. He’s appreciated by teammates. Also, he’s an unrestricted free agent by the end of the season, and anyone who has ever spent any time around owner Paul Allen knows that he’ll be irked if Olshey loses the 24-year-old Hickson at the end of the season without getting something for him. That’s not the tricky part. Because even as the Blazers love Hickson, there are a number of league executives who don’t believe he has trade-deadline value beyond, maybe, a couple of future second-round draft picks. Sacramento waived him last season. Cleveland struggled to trade him in 2011, getting Omri Casspi and a conditional pick for him. Even after posting encouraging numbers at the end of last season, there wasn’t much interest in Hickson last summer beyond Portland, which signed him to that modest one-year deal.”
- The Wizards are the worst team in the NBA, but after their win over the Hawks on Saturday, they’re now undefeated with point guard John Wall in the lineup. Michael Lee of the Washington Post has the game story: “In the closing seconds of the third period, however, Hawks point guard Devin Harris was defending when Wall crossed up Harris with a dribble to get him off balance, then lowered his head and attacked the basket. Wall felt the contact, then tossed a shot off the glass and circled his way to the foul line, taking a few pats on the chest before making the free throw to give his team a 73-66 lead. ‘At the beginning, I felt like I had jiggly legs,’ Wall said. ‘A couple of my layups, I left short because I didn’t have my legs. Once I felt the comfort level in my leg I just started making plays.’ Wall said he didn’t feel any discomfort in his ailing left knee, but that bank shot opened his eyes to what would be possible later in the game: not only would be able to get inside at will but he could also finish when he arrived.”
- The Knicks are traveling to London to face the Pistons on Thursday, and it’s looking like they could have Iman Shumpert back as well, writes Fred Kerber of the New York Post: “Shumpert, who believes he ‘can relieve a little bit of the pressure as far as defensively being a presence… and just being an energy guy,’ said he feels great, admits he is not yet in NBA shape and is clearly “excited” and “optimistic.” Coach Mike Woodson, who said Shumpert will not play with the D-League affiliate Erie BayHawks after all, wants his 6-foot-5 guard to go through hard practices tomorrow and in London. ‘He’s been cleared,’ Woodson said. ‘If we get the two practices in … and there’s no setbacks he’ll be cleared probably to play in the Detroit game.’ ”
- Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal has a piece up on the potential breakup of the Grizzlies: “It was a spectacular night, and not just the ending, though that certainly helped. The Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs in overtime, 101-98, evening the season series at one win apiece. But this wasn’t just a single win. It was a demonstration of everything this team has been about. And it was a cautionary tale for anyone who would try to remake a team that the city has come to love. So it was that Lionel Hollins went on the radio Friday morning and said that he’d like to keep the team together at least this year. He then reiterated his position before the game. ‘I like my team, we’re 23-10; why would I want to break up a 23-10 team?’ he said. OK, but did he tell management his thoughts on the matter? ‘I talk to them about a lot of things, but that’s their call,’ he said. ‘If they didn’t hear about it this morning, they’ll hear about it tomorrow when you write a big, glorious column and I’ll get the notes (Saturday) when I’m in Dallas and I should have kept my mouth shut.’ “
- Dale Kasler, Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee have an update on the potential Kings sale: “Sacramento’s drive to keep the Kings took a dramatic turn Saturday when a new group, aligned with the owner of Downtown Plaza, proposed to buy the team and build a $400 million arena on the shopping center site. A source close to the situation said the group was lining up deep-pocket investors to work with the mall’s new owner, JMA Ventures, and present a credible alternative to the Maloof family’s efforts to sell the Kings to a group planning to move the team to Seattle. … Downtown Plaza has been mentioned at least twice before as an arena site, with City Hall staff members concluding in 2004 that it was likely too expensive. But Nead said a feasibility study performed recently by AECOM – an architectural-engineering firm that has designed several NBA arenas – showed considerable promise. Sources close to the Maloofs but not authorized to speak publicly say the family has been negotiating a possible sale to a Seattle group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen. Yahoo Sports and Comcast Sports Net have pegged the price at $500 million to $525 million. The family, through its spokesman Eric Rose, declined to comment on the situation Saturday.”
Dan Malone is a third-year journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He blogs on weekends for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.
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