Scotto: Nets Want Raptors, Not Bulls in Playoffs

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1909fuhgeddabouditThe Nets and Bulls are on course for a potential rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series.

Is this the ideal scenario for Brooklyn? As they say in the borough, “Fuhgeddaboudit!”

It’s been a frigid winter in Brooklyn, and a trip to the “Windy City” could dampen any hopes of the Nets springing ahead to the next round.

Scotto: Phil Jackson Rejuvenates Carmelo Anthony, But Will Melo Stay?

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Phil JacksonThree years ago, New York literally rolled out the red carpet for Carmelo Anthony upon his arrival at Madison Square Garden while blasting “I’m Coming Home” by Diddy.

On Tuesday, as Phil Jackson’s career officially came full circle, his introductory press conference soundtrack included “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” by Bon Jovi and “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen.

Once the offseason begins, the nearly $130 million question is if Anthony and Jackson will return New York to the glory days by performing a new duet called, “Who Says You Can’t Stay Home?”

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SH Blog: Stern Direct Elect to Hall of Fame; ‘Melo Willing to Take Pay Cut to Build With Knicks; Bulls Will Not Trade Boozer

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SternWith all eyes on NBA All-Star weekend, thanks in large part to the marketing vision of David Stern, the league takes this focused opportunity to make several announcements.

One of which is who will be elected into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014. 

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SH Blog: Marion wants age requirement to be higher to enter NBA, Boozer unhappy with role

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SteveBlakeNashSH1The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the unluckiest teams in the league in terms of having to deal with an endless number of critical injuries, particularly to their list of point guards.

It’s one thing to miss your starting point guard. It’s another to then lose your backup point guard and your third string point guard. That’s precisely what happened to these Lakers, with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all going down with significant injuries. They became desperate and picked up Kendall Marshall from the D-League, which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both parties. Fortunately for their list of injured guards (not so fortunate for Marshall), they are all looking to make a comeback as soon as Tuesday night, from Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all practiced Monday and will be available to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, barring any setbacks.

“They’re good,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I think they’re all ready to go.”

D’Antoni made sure to hedge a bit on the status update, however, and with as snake-bitten as his team has been, one could hardly blame him.

“It’s possible,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see how everybody wakes up, but there is a possibility all three could play.”

The coach said he wondered if Nash, out since Nov. 10 with nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, would ever make it back to the court.

“With the age and how his back is, yeah, I definitely [wondered],” D’Antoni said. “Again, it just shows his perseverance to overcome whatever just to play. He wants to play, obviously. And he’s done an unbelievable job to get himself ready up to this point and we’ll see how it goes.”

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Abrams: Which NBA Players Will Be Traded? Odds Say …

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moneyintrashThe offshore sports book Bovada recently published odds on certain players to be traded at any moment this season, which has created a bit of a buzz in the NBA sports betting industry because of its intrigue.

Some offshore sports books have offered these type of proposition bets in previous years, but with the early intrigue and excitement of this upcoming season I believe the exploration of these particular players and their teams’ current situation is definitely of note.

As many of you know, sports books in Las Vegas are not allowed to offer these types of bets because they are not officially scored in the nightly boxscore, which is just one of the reasons why the offshore sports books offer such large intrigue to many bettors across the nation and the world.

Here is the list of players on which odds were offered before the season began Tuesday night:

GayPlayer: Rudy Gay

Position: SF

Team: Toronto Raptors

Odds: Yes (6/1) & No (1/10)

Gay has been a member of the Toronto Raptors for a little over 270 days since his trade from the Memphis Grizzlies, and Toronto has already had discussions about what it could potentially get for Gay in a deal this season. Gay’s odds are very interesting, but you would assume they are a little bit higher than most on this list because of two reasons. One would be Raptors new general manager Masai Ujiri, who is a deep thinker when it comes to rebuilding a team and will look up and down for a deal that may get his team closer to the top sooner rather than later – which does not necessarily mean a deal for Gay. Two would be the fact Gay is currently taking up $17.8 million on Toronto’s cap, and you would have to find a team on their way toward the top to take on that contract. I would say Dallas, Chicago or Cleveland could be destinations for Gay, but keeping money off the books that are not expiring contracts may be more valuable for these teams than acquiring a scoring wing.

lowryPlayer: Kyle Lowry

Position: PG

Team: Toronto Raptors

Odds: Yes (2/1) & No (1/3)

Different player, same team. The fact that another Raptor is on this list is just another reason why “NBA-heads” are pretty sure Ujiri is going to shake things up pretty soon in Toronto. If the Raptors do not start off on a good note, things may change pretty quickly. Lowry is a completely different animal than Gay for a multitude of reasons – one being Lowry’s price tag is about $11 million less than Gay’s and may be easier to trade across the league if injuries thin a team at point guard. Lowry may be intriguing to a few teams considering his contract is an expiring one, and a contender may be interested in renting his services to make a run. Here is a list of possible destinations, IMHO: Warriors, Heat (not really talented point guard, but a need), Pelicans, Spurs (probably a long shot) and Wizards.

boozerPlayer: Carlos Boozer

Position: PF

Team: Chicago Bulls

Odds: Yes (1.5/1) & No (1/2)

It seems like Boozer has been discussed in trade rumors for the past two to three seasons, even though he had only been signed as a free agent by Chicago in 2010. Boozer has two years left on his contract that pays him approximately $15.3 million per year, which is a tough contract to trade away unless you are adding assets or an incentive for another team. With $14.25 million left on Luol Deng’s expiring contract, I fully expect Deng to be a bigger asset for teams than Boozer will until next season, when his expiring deal will be an asset for contending teams a few months into the season. People have discussed such deals as Boozer for LaMarcus Aldridge or the possibility of a blockbuster trade of Boozer, Jimmy Butler and assets for Kevin Love. But if you ask me, it will be tough for the Bulls to deal Boozer this season.

(RELATED: AMNESTY PROVISION: WHO STILL HAS IT; WHO DOESN’T? A TEAM-BY-TEAM LOOK)

grangerPlayer: Danny Granger

Position: SF

Team: Indiana Pacers

Odds: Yes (1/2) & No (1.5/1)

Granger and the trade market go hand-in-hand. He played only five games in 2012-2013 and is expected to miss the first three to four weeks of this season. Trading Granger and getting some sort of equal value from another team would be tough for the Pacers. Indiana made the Eastern Conference finals last season basically without Granger doing anything, so they are definitely not going to rush him back, especially after adding depth in Luis Scola and Chris Copeland this offseason. Granger currently has one year at $14 million left on his expiring contract, which makes him a potential deal chip if he can ever string together 10-15 games of action to show other teams there is the possibility of playing time.

asikPlayer: Omer Asik

Position: C

Team: Houston Rockets

Odds: Yes (1/3) & No (2/1)

Many people believed the signing of Dwight Howard over the summer for the Houston Rockets meant the inevitable exit for Asik, who even thought so himself at first. When the signing went down, Asik went public, demanding a trade out of Houston because he did not want to play behind Howard on the roster. Two months later, Asik is still in Houston, the Rockets have two really good centers on their roster – and are playing them alongside each other. Asik has two years and $8.3 million per year on his contract, but the positive is the fact many teams across the league have a need for a productive center and a deal is a possibility if GM Daryl Morey and the Rockets ever wanted to pull the trigger. The 1/3 odds on Asik to be traded is more about the public perception than it is Houston’s point of view. From an outsider’s perspective, people are a bit shocked Houston has not yet pulled the trigger on a deal to send Asik somewhere for players and draft picks to strengthen other parts of their roster. But only time will tell what Houston wants to do.

Evan Abrams covers basketball gambling for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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