Darko expected to start tonight

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milicic.jpgConsider it a showcase for the European scouts whose teams will be bidding on his services for next season — Darko Milicic is expected to be in the starting lineup for the Timberwolves tonight against Dallas.

The reason for the sudden promotion is Al Jefferson is serving a two-game suspension for a drunk driving arrest. But the chance to start follows the increased minutes Milicic has gotten in Minnesota since he came over at the trade deadline.

Why Milicic alongside Ryan Hollins and Ryan Gomes in the frontcourt rather than, say, Hollins and Kevin Love as starters?

“I like Kevin coming off the bench,” (Wolves coach Kurt) Rambis said. “It could be just a short minute thing. I think Darko provides us somebody who can pass the basketball, and I like the things Ryan Hollins has done early in a lot of games. I like him being able to run the floor. They [opponents] don’t like to deal with his post sprinting, so hopefully that’s something we can take advantage of.”

Milicic has played 24 minutes a game the last couple, which frankly is more than his body is ready for after three months of never touching the court in New York. Rambis seems to be trying to play him into shape.

Milicic’s numbers in Minnesota are not really any better than they have been at any other stop in his seven NBA seasons — his below-average shooting percentage, inability to get to the line,  solid rebounding and excessive turnovers are all still there. He has yet to wow anybody.

But he is getting one last shot from Minnesota to change that impression

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.