Suicide lines: Alston's new number, Mikki Moore, Boozer


Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your Amish baked oatmeal.

Kyle Hightower and Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel: "New Magic G Rafer Alston wore No. 1 in his first start in Amway Arena since being acquired from Houston on Thursday. Because of the timing of the trade, he had to wear the team's spare No. 36 jersey during Orlando's win over Charlotte on Friday night. 'Not only was the number big, but the jersey was huge,' he said. 'A couple of [fans] actually asked me who I was because I didn't have my name on there.' The No. 1 has a lot of history with Magic fans, who remember both Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady both wearing it in their Orlando tenures. Alston wore No. 12 in Houston, but it is currently worn by Dwight Howard in Orlando. 'I told T-Mac that I was going to take his jersey,' Alston said. 'And I'm going to call Penny and tell him I'm dusting it off, too.'"

Marc J. Spears and Frank Dell'Apa, Boston Globe: "The Celtics are hoping to fill their need for a big man by winning the Mikki Moore sweepstakes. Moore's agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed the team has offered the center a contract, and said several other teams have done the same thing, although he wouldn't divulge their names. Moore is expected to make his decision today after clearing waivers and becoming an unrestricted free agent. 'A lot of teams are very excited about him, so it's a tough decision for Mikki,' said Bartelstein. If Moore, 33, selects the Celtics, they would sign him for the rest of the season."

Aaron J. Lopez, Rocky Mountain News: "An interesting development late Sunday in Milwaukee. It looked like free-agent big man Mikki Moore was going to decide on a new team by midnight, but his agent said that a final decision won't be made until Monday. Mark Bartelstein added that the Nuggets are still among the teams Moore is considering. The Nuggets could use Moore's size, hustle and experience, and you have to wonder if they made a stronger pitch after starting center Nene went down Sunday with a bruised right knee. The injury comes as forward Kenyon Martin is fighting back spasms and star Carmelo Anthony is playing with his own bruised knee."

Ross Siler, Salt Lake Tribune: "Jazz coach Jerry Sloan opted to hold practice to give Carlos Boozer one final chance to test his left knee before making his much-anticipated return tonight against Atlanta. Boozer was injured Nov. 19, underwent knee surgery Jan. 9 and has missed 44 games the last three months. 'You've got to use as much common sense as possible to get him back ready to play and hopefully have him play well,' Sloan said. Boozer went through the Jazz's full practice Sunday, saying beforehand, 'If everything looks good today, I'll play tomorrow.' He is expected to start tonight, in what would be the Jazz's first game all season at full strength as a team."

Real GM / Boston Globe: Bryon Russell is interested in making a return to the NBA, and his agent has had conversations with the Celtics, 76ers, Thunder, and Suns. Russell, who has been allowing a knee injury to heal, says that he's capable of playing 15-20 minutes a night. 'I want to help some playoff teams and get back into the game that I love,' said Russell of playing in Boston. 'I work out every day. The rust part can get worked out just by playing with the fellas. I wouldn't take away from The Big Three [in Boston]. I would love to play with them. I have nothing to prove. I want to lend a helping hand with the loss of [James] Posey by playing defense, knocking down jump shots, and basically playing the role of a Posey. I got some life in these legs. Now that the [trade] deadline is over, I think people are looking to add a veteran on their squad. I'm hoping I can provide that.'"

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: "Yao Ming leaned back in his locker and cracked jokes. Asked about Ron Artest’s 3-point shooting, Yao said, 'Nobody mentioned my 3-pointer.' And when told that the shot came after the shot-clock buzzer and missed anyway, he snapped his fingers in an exaggerated comic drat. The Rockets had taken their fourth consecutive win since a particularly demoralizing defeat in Milwaukee not quite two weeks ago when Yao was so angry he could barely speak, blowing out the Charlotte Bobcats 99-78 on Sunday at Toyota Center to push their home winning streak to seven games."

K.C Johnson, Chicago Tribune: "Derrick Rose is about as controversial as a librarian. So even though his response as to why he thought coach Vinny Del Negro had pulled him twice at abnormal times in Sunday's loss may sound boat-rocking, it isn't. 'I guess to give us a better chance to win,' Rose said. 'I'm never surprised when I come out. It's the coach's decision, and there's nothing I can do about it.' Del Negro first yanked Rose less than two minutes into the second half after T.J. Ford scored the Pacers' first two baskets. Rose also sat in favor of Kirk Hinrich from the 4-minute-22-second mark of the fourth quarter until 1:23 remained."

Jan Hubbard, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: 'Do you believe you will be a Maverick for life?' 'Mark knows I want to be,' Dirk Nowitzki said of owner Mark Cuban. 'That’s all we’ve talked about for the last couple of years. I’d love to stay here but I think we made it pretty clear that this franchise wants to win a championship. So at some point, if you can’t reach your goal, changes come with that. I understand the business. We’ve been trying for a lot of years now. If we lose in the first round again this year or next year, who knows what can happen? But I’d love to end my career here.'"

Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: "What to do? It's no secret the Bobcats would love to unload the remaining $13million-plus on center Nazr Mohammed's contract. He hasn't played in four games, and it's obvious coach Larry Brown is committed to Gana Diop behind Emeka Okafor. Moving Mohammed won't be easy; moving him without taking back a similar contract will be really tough. The past two trades, acquiring Diop and Vladimir Radmanovic, both add to their long-term salary obligations. There are some smaller things the Bobcats can do: Not making Sean May a qualifying offer (making him an unrestricted free agent) would avoid guaranteeing him $3.68 million next season. And cutting Sean Singletary before September would save nearly $500,000 against the cap."

Fred Kerber, New York Post: "Coach Lawrence Frank said he might make lineup changes to address the deficiencies on defense and on the boards, which recently was added to the list of problems for the Nets. They were out-rebounded 54-41 in Friday's 107-96 loss to the lowly Wizards (13-43). 'Just gotta keep playing,' said Vince Carter, the eight-time All-Star and most experienced Net. 'We have to raise our competitive spirit,' Frank said. One Net with a meaningful response was Bobby Simmons. 'I think the effort is there,' Simmons said. 'A few things night in and night out that hurt us, [such as] a box out, or contesting a shot. We've got to clean up a few things here and there. We gave up too many offensive rebounds last game.'"

Ron Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal: "Amid the losing, these youthful Grizzlies have a winning spirit and a hefty appetite for growth. 'We've got some competitive people,' coach Lionel Hollins said. 'We've got sponges — guys who want to learn. They work hard and you can push them. They'll do what you ask. Those are all positives. They want to learn how to win, and it's our job to keep teaching.' The Grizzlies are 4-8 under Hollins, including their current four-game losing streak [...] the Griz have shown improvement in several areas beyond player development. The most noticeable and appreciative change has come on offense, where the Griz are playing at a faster pace and with more motion without the ball. Hollins & Co. are scoring more points (96 ppg), shooting a higher 3-point percentage (.366) and averaging more assists (17.6) than before he took over."

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