Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: "If the Pistons could get Stoudemire for Rasheed Wallace (and his $13.6 million expiring contract), young Amir Johnson and a draft pick, I'd do it now. So would Dumars, I bet. The problem is, the market for Stoudemire, 26, is ever-expanding, or at least the rumor market is. There's also some risk, with Stoudemire's contract up after next season. But hey, if it doesn't work out here and he bolts in 2010, no harm done, the Pistons are back where they figured they'd be, with salary-cap space to pursue others. And I'm sorry, there's no risk in dealing Wallace, Johnson and a pick, if that's what it would take. I'd be surprised if Phoenix GM Steve Kerr settled for that, especially with many suitors — Golden State, Chicago, Miami, Portland, among others. But because Phoenix is shamelessly trying to shed Stoudemire to avoid the luxury tax and save money, anything is possible."

Tim Kawakami, Mercury News: "The Warriors want to punch some life into this season, with season-ticket renewals set to go out soon. The fastest way to do that is to add a young big player who fills their huge need for scoring in the middle. 'They’ve gotten very active with the Stoudemire stuff,' said one NBA source, referring to the chase for the Suns’ young big man. Apparently, the talk revved up today and the Warriors were either in direct contact with the Suns or the Warriors’ executives were telling other teams that they were. Either way, the Warriors want in on the Stoudemire discussion, and if they don’t get him by the Feb. 19 trade deadline, most NBA sources presume that they will try to get involved with any other available young power forward/center, if they aren’t already."

Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times: "If Steve Nash is as unhappy as he seems this season, the Suns soon might need a point guard. The Suns have an option on Nash next season, after which he would be a free agent and could look to rejoin former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni in New York. Nash also could head home to Canada and play for the Toronto Raptors, who might move Chris Bosh before the deadline. Nash's situation could put Kirk Hinrich in play for Stoudemire. 'It's one of those things that's out of my control,' Hinrich said. 'I just try to go out here every day and do my job and do it the best I can. You never know what to believe and what not to believe. There's always so much talk, especially this time of year. You just try not to focus on it.'"

David Aldrige, "Almost no one has picked up on the real story behind the shopping of Amar'e Stoudemire in Phoenix, and Tyson Chandler in New Orleans, and the impetus of many teams to be active before the Feb. 19 deadline. It has nothing to do with basketball, no matter what you hear about Amar'e's lack of defense and Chandler's history of injuries. This year, the trade deadline is being influenced like never before because owners who've lost millions in the plunging U.S./global economy are determined not only not to be luxury tax payers, but to cut costs as much as possible as quickly as possible, with no intention of allowing their team's salaries to ever rise near the tax threshold in the foreseeable future. In the last week, I've heard of a half-dozen owners whose personal fortunes have been slashed significantly by the recession."

Marc Berman, New York Post: "Mike D'Antoni told reporters after yesterday's practice he did not realize the club had a foul to give in the closing seconds of Sunday night's heartbreaking 109-108 loss. D'Antoni is known to be as stubborn as a mule, so to fess up was proof he had no legs to stand on. While refreshingly candid, D'Antoni sensed player unrest and felt compelled to admit his goof. D'Antoni failed to address the issue of fouling in the huddle before Portland's Brandon Roy, taking the in-bounds with 4.3 seconds left, knifed through three defenders for the buzzer-beating lefty scoop shot that rolled in. 'I screwed up,' said D'Antoni, whose Knicks (21-29) carry a four-game losing streak into tonight's game vs. Jamal Crawford and the Warriors. 'It's not my philosophy not to foul. There's no reason not to. It probably won't happen again. I messed up. They beat me up. There was a lot of groveling. I told them it's my responsibility. I've lost one, they've lost 28.'"

Britt Robson, On The Ball: "How does a large-legged, 265-pound athlete come back from a torn knee ligiment? On the plus side, Jefferson's game has never been about foot-speed or leaping ability. On the down side, that fancy footwork of his isn't strictly mental; it requires a lot of pivots and twists, and a sharp quickness at a certain moment. Bottom line, will Jefferson ever be "good as new"? That's the sobering question confronting this franchise. But we won't know for many months, and idle punditry feels pretty self-indulgent at the moment."

Mike Freeman, "Great win, Los Angeles. Congratulations. You win a lot of big regular season games, Los Angeles. But while you may fool some of the ex-player suck ups at ESPN, you're not fooling me again. We've seen this movie before. The Lakers and Ko-Me Bryant will impress in the regular season, maybe even get to the Finals. That's what they do. Then the postseason will arrive and they'll get bullied and punk'd by one of the tough teams from the East. Just like last year. If the Lakers play Boston in the Finals, they'll get smoked. Just like last year. Los Angeles still doesn't possess the inside toughness to beat one of the great teams from the East when it really counts. So congratulations, Los Angeles. You've earned a title. Best team in the regular season."

Ivan Carter, Washington Post: "Caron Butler hasn't appeared much this season and it's one of the reasons why he, along with Antawn Jamison, was passed over as a reserve for the Eastern Conference all-star squad. The Wizards (11-40) have won consecutive games only once all season and own the fewest wins in the league along with the Sacramento Kings, a team that also does not have an all-star representative. 'Like I've said, I know I'm an all-star,' said Butler, who has scored 30 or more points eight times this season, which is already a career high for the seventh-year forward. 'Obviously, the record don't prove that and that's why we're in the position we're in, myself and Antawn. But we're going to continue to perform as all-stars and lead this team.'"

Doug Smith, Toronto Star: "The last thing most NBA coaches have to do is encourage players to shoot the ball; most, in fact, would like to have some way to zap an electric current through the body of a guy who takes a contested jumper early in a shot clock. But when Jay Triano and Jason Kapono sat down for a little chat on the weekend, the message being delivered from Raptors coach to player was something along the lines of 'shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot some more.' And if there are defenders within breathing distance? That's not a problem. 'I spoke to Jay and Jay said he felt fine with me trying to look for my shot and — not forcing things — but just try to get shots up, whether it's good, decent, marginal,' Kapono said yesterday. 'As long as it's in that realm, he's all for it.'"

Real GM: "Charles Barkley will reportedly return to TNT as an analyst soon after its airing of the All-Star Game on Sunday. Barkley, who faces a drunken-driving charge after a Dec. 31 arrest, took a leave of absence from the network last month. 'It wasn't a hard decision for me to give him some time off to get his legal matters straight and to get his personal life in order,' Turner Sports president David Levy said. 'The question is, when is the right time to bring him back? There is no magic answer to that. It's just a gut feel.'"

The Oklahoman: "The Oklahoma City Thunder mascot will be a bison and will be unveiled at the Thunder's Feb. 17 home game against the New Orleans Hornets, sources have confirmed."

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H/T: Rob Mahoney at Hardwood Paroxysm.

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