Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Every weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your Wheaties.

Broderick Turner, L.A. Times: "[Kurt] Rambis, after picking up dinner, said he had been aware that [Phil] Jackson is open to the idea of having Rambis coach some road games next season in his place and that Jackson will make a decision on his coaching future in early July. 'This is not new to me,' Rambis, who was one of the final candidates for the Sacramento Kings head coaching job, said late Tuesday night. 'This is one of the many ideas we kicked around a little. The hardest part about the job is the travel. It's especially hard when you have physical issues. There's some travel that are particularly grueling. He can take tough road trips off. Phil is probably at a point where he is looking to wind his career down and I'm looking to wind my career up.' Rambis said the idea is to keep Jackson healthy for the long run and physically fit so the Lakers have a better chance at defending the championship they just won. 'Everybody benefits,' Rambis said. 'Phil remains fresh without having the season and the travel wear him down. It gives me valuable coaching experience. What the future holds beyond Phil, I don't know. But this keeps continuity of what we're doing, what we do defensively and offensively.'" [listen]

Eddie Sefko, The Dallas Morning News: "The Mavericks had no choice Tuesday but to stress patience — to themselves and their fans. Rival San Antonio used a pair of contracts similar in nature to Jerry Stackhouse's(notes) to acquire Richard Jefferson(notes) from Milwaukee. So why couldn't the Mavericks pull off such a deal? It wasn't for lack of effort. They had what president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson called a 'fairly active' Monday and Tuesday. And they will continue to try to use Stackhouse's contract as the primary chip in trade talks that they are confident will still pay off in the long run. 'There's a chance we could do something around the draft and probably an equal chance we would just carry it into July when a lot of the bigger deals are going to be discussed,' Nelson said. The Mavericks still expect to make a deal involving Stackhouse. Teams like Chicago (Kirk Hinrich(notes)), Detroit (Tayshaun Prince(notes)), Milwaukee (Luke Ridnour(notes)), New Jersey (Vince Carter(notes)) and Philadelphia (Samuel Dalembert(notes)) are looking to dump players with longer-term contracts."

Frank Isola, New York Daily News: "Gerald Henderson could emerge as the surprise pick of the NBA draft's first round, assuming the Knicks' top three targets — Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans — are off the board. The Knicks own the eighth pick in Thursday's draft and are trying to move into the top four in order to take Rubio, the highly touted point guard from Spain. Rubio, Curry and Evans are all projected to go in the top seven. When it comes time for the Knicks to make their pick, point guards Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday should both be available, but people familiar with the club's thinking claim that Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni prefer Henderson, a 6-5 shooting guard from Duke and son of the former NBA player — and former Knick — of the same name. The thinking among the Knicks' brain trust is that Henderson, unlike Jennings and Holiday, has the ability to step in and make an immediate contribution. Henderson, who averaged 16.5 points last season as a junior, is regarded a strong character individual with a high basketball IQ. In a majority of mock drafts, Henderson is projected to be picked either 11th or 12th."

Mike Monroe, S.A. Express-News: "Before Bruce Bowen(notes) arrived in San Antonio in the summer of 2001, signed by the Spurs as a free agent, he had played professionally in France, Rockford, Fort Wayne, Ind., then had stints in the NBA with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. No wonder, then, that a few hours after learning the Spurs had traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Bowen declared his intent to remain a San Antonian. 'This is home for us, and we've said this time and time before,' Bowen said at a brief news conference in the foyer of Yardley's Salon and Spa, the business he and his wife, Yardley, opened in 2008. 'I wouldn't do something like this (business) and then turn around and leave as soon as my contract is up.' Tuesday's trade wasn't a complete surprise to Bowen. He had heard last week that his name was popping up in trade rumors. [...] If the Bucks do waive Bowen, he will be free to sign with any team, but he made clear that his first choice would be to return to the Spurs, were they to offer him a contract. 'Absolutely,' he said."

Dave D'Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: "Think times aren't so tough? Then maybe you haven't heard the Nets are no longer going to scout opponents. You heard right: Paul Cormier, who was absurdly overqualified to begin with, was let go last week, because the Nets (and Spurs ... and Wizards) are no longer going to do any advance scouting. They'll rely on some kind of networking arrangement, with regional scouts who can punch in the play calls and sync it with video and send it along to the staff a day or two before they play Team X. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. Some people think it will save money. Others think it's idiotic. But that's just the start of things. Throughout the league, GMs are finding religion (you had to hear the guff Ernie Grunfeld put up with at the last Board of Governors meeting, for giving Flip Saunders 4/18M), and recognizing that their head coaches are so overpaid, there's nothing left in the budget for a full staff."

Howard Beck, The New York Times: "David Lee and Nate Robinson(notes) received qualifying contract offers last week from the Knicks, making both players restricted free agents this summer. The move was not announced by the Knicks, although it was considered a formality. The players’ agents confirmed that they received the paperwork just after the N.B.A. finals ended. The restricted free-agency designation means that the Knicks have the right to match any offer that Lee or Robinson receives after hitting the market July 1. Had the Knicks not made the qualifying offers by the end of this month, Lee and Robinson would have become unrestricted free agents. The one-year qualifying offer to Lee was about $2.7 million and to Robinson about $2.9 million, based on the rookie salary scale. If they do not sign with another team, or come to terms with the Knicks, they can accept the qualifying offers and become unrestricted free agents next summer."

Sam Amick, The Sacramento Bee: "With Thursday's draft drawing near and the Kings' workout schedule having been completed with Ricky Rubio's visit Monday, the deliberating about the team's No. 4 pick continued internally. And while their list of top candidates is believed to include Rubio, Memphis' Tyreke Evans, Syracuse's Jonny Flynn and Davidson's Stephen Curry, it appears Evans is heading the group entering the final days. Although the 6-foot-7 guard is not the true point guard the Kings had hoped for, his physicality, ability to get to the rim and dynamic scoring ways have enticed the team. He raised his stock in recent workouts, dominating in Minnesota before doing the same in Sacramento. Rubio, meanwhile, may be passed over even if he is available when the Kings' first pick arrives. The Kings were seen as ideal for Rubio in several ways — from the struggles of starter Beno Udrih(notes) last season to the California location. Yet the feeling may not be mutual, with Westphal saying that Monday's workout would not sway the decision."

Marc J. Spears, The Boston Globe: "While there has been talk around the NBA from several scouts that the Celtics have been shopping guard Rajon Rondo(notes), he isn't expected to be dealt. While unlikely, one Eastern Conference executive said the latest trade rumor included Rondo and forward Brian Scalabrine(notes) going to Memphis for guard Mike Conley(notes) and swingman Rudy Gay(notes)."

Paul Coro, The Arizona Republic: "From Joe Johnson(notes) to Tim Thomas(notes) to James Jones(notes) to Shawn Marion(notes), the Suns gradually have lost some of the length and defense that compensated for a fast, offense-oriented system's shortcomings. Length, defense and more will be available Thursday. The Suns' 14th pick in the NBA draft will come with choices at wing that other positions won't offer. Barring a tumble from a touted point guard, the Suns' 'best player available' approach could mean choosing among a wide range of swingmen. 'We're trying to cover the possibility that Grant Hill(notes) doesn't return,' Suns Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said of the 36-year-old free agent. 'Based on Grant's age, it's significant to look at the future.'"

Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: "That’s where Kevin Garnett(notes), after a month of rehabilitation in Waltham, continues his comeback from knee surgery. The good news, according to [Danny] Ainge, is that the Celtics forward 'should be 100 percent by the time we start training camp.' The date for Garnett’s return to the practice floor is a tad hazier. 'I don’t have that date,' said Ainge, the Celtics general manager. 'I’m actually meeting with my medical staff to get some updates. But the last I got before the weekend was that he’s doing great. He was up here before the weekend and he just went home to LA, and we set him up with physical therapists and trainers. [Trainer] Ed Lacerte and [fitness coach] Bryan Doo will be out there visiting him during the summer.' Ainge added that Leon Powe(notes), recovering from more extreme knee surgery, is 'doing real well,' but is not expected to be ready for the start of the season."

Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer: "The NBA draft is tomorrow, and the 76ers are remaining steadfast: They still plan to select a guard with the 17th pick. 'We are looking still for a perimeter player — a one or a two,' said Ed Stefanski, the Sixers' president and general manager. 'We have nothing on the board but guards.' Stefanski hedged his bet a little, saying that if a trade messed with the draft board, 'things could change,' but otherwise expect a point guard or a shooting guard to be added to the Sixers' roster by tomorrow night. Point guard is the team's more pressing need, with none on the current roster. Last season's starter, Andre Miller(notes), is an unrestricted free agent. But shooting guard — specifically outside shooting — is also a concern because Willie Green(notes) and Lou Williams, the only guards under contract, are more scorers than long-range threats."

Chris Dempsey, The Denver Post: "Nuggets center Steven Hunter(notes) is not expected to opt out of the final year of his contract, his agent Mark Bartelstein said today. 'As of right now we're not planning on doing anything,' Bartelstein said. The deadline for opting out of a contract is June 30. But Hunter is due nearly $3.7 million next season, money that is hard to leave on the table, particularly in the tenuous situation Hunter finds himself in. The Nuggets traded for Hunter two seasons ago, but chronic knee injuries largely have kept him off the court. He missed 30 games because of injury in 2007-08, and all of the 2008-09 season. Hunter said he would participate in summer basketball as much as he can to insisted he would be ready to play next season."

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