Shane Battier Memphis Grizzlies

If you’re a free agent, do you play pickup during lockout?

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Shane Battier is a free agent and he’s going to have options.

The Memphis Grizzlies want him back as they try to relive their magical run. There are teams like the Clippers that could really use a three with his skillset. If you can defend — and Battier can — you have a place in this league.

But a lot of those options — and the money that comes with them — dries up if he gets injured before the lockout ends. He needs to stay in shape, to stay sharp, but playing pickup games may be too big a risk for free agents like himself, he told Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated.

“It’s even stranger for me because I’m a free agent, and that means I really can’t risk playing pickup basketball,” he said. “I remember a few years back in college, Christian Laettner came back and was playing with the Duke guys and tore his Achilles. I can just imagine playing a pickup game at the University of Michigan, going up for a rebound and coming down on someone’s foot. Plus I don’t have [NBA] health insurance right now, which would not be a good thing.

“I don’t know if I’ll be as sharp as I can be without being able to play pickup games. So I’m rooting for an early settlement.”

We all are. But it raises an interesting point — what will happen to the player that does get injured in some fluke way this summer, how will it impact their career. Normally an injury working out in September to get ready for the season would be handled by the team, now it could cost someone like Battier millions.

So he’ll watch the games at the Y this summer, thanks.

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.