Josh Childress expected to return to Hawks next season


While his former teammates struggle to find a way to deal with Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and the rest of the Orlando Magic, Josh Childress is basking in the limelight in Paris.

His team, Olympiacos, is in the EuroLeague Final Four taking place this weekend in the city of lights. He is a key part of the Greek squad that is one of the favorites, averaging 15 points a game (behind only former Nugget Linas Kleiza).

But when the game ends Childress has a decision to make — does he opt out of the third year of his deal and return to the United States, or does he stay one more year in Greece. The Washington Post caught up with him in Paris and from those close to him it sounds like he is coming home.

Childress has an opt-out clause in his contract that will allow him to return to the NBA this summer with no penalty or buyout. That, naturally, has led to rampant speculation in basketball-mad Greece that he’ll be back in the States this fall. Greek journalists interviewed here were virtually unanimous in predicting that he will.

The Hawks maintain the rights to the 6’8″ swingman, who was the key sixth man on an emerging Hawks team a couple years ago.

Atlanta has played hardball with those rights. The Hawks followed the pattern of a lot of NBA teams, low-balling offers to restricted free agents. The theory is that they can get him to sign their offer for less because other teams will not make an offer assuming it would just get matched. So the player ends up with the one low offer and nothing else of substance.

Olympiacos changed that dynamic for Childress. With Atlanta trying to lowball him Childress took off for Greece, for a three-year, $20 million deal (where the team takes care of his taxes, housing, car and more). The Stanford-educated Childress jumped at it.

“Listen — it’s been an excellent two years,” he said. “It’s been a growing experience, yes, but I never saw this as a temporary fix. I thought of it as a three-year deal, and it could very well end that way.”

After watching the first two games against Orlando, don’t you think the Hawks could use some more depth, a quality swingman off the bench? The real question is, how much are they willing to pay for that. We’ll know by July 15, when Childress needs to tell his Greek team what he is doing next season.

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.