Kobe Bryant Dwight Howard

Lakers, Magic not talking Dwight Howard trade; Kobe is talking to him

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Only one thing — a potential Dwight Howard trade to the Lakers — is going to get talked about more than how lost the Lakers offense looks in the next 24 hours. With Los Angeles headed into Orlando for a Friday showdown, let’s do a trade update:

There isn’t one. The two sides are not talking. But Howard and Kobe Bryant are talking. So reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Lakers and Orlando haven’t had trade talks in “a while,” according to a person familiar with the teams’ thinking, putting a damper on proponents of a Bynum-for-Howard deal…. The trade deadline isn’t until March 15, but for now there’s no momentum on a deal between the Lakers and Magic.

As we have been saying for some time now, Orlando is still looking for ways to keep Howard in house, and their 10-3 start has fueled that hope. It’s not likely to work — unless you think this Ryan Anderson led surge can take them deep into the playoffs — but the Magic are not going to move Howard before the All-Star Game (Feb. 26) and maybe not after.

But while their teams may not be talking, Kobe and Howard are, the Times adds.

Kobe Bryant has had at least one in-depth phone conversation with Howard recently, even discussing how Howard might fit in with the Lakers’ scheme.

One person with knowledge of the conversation said Howard came away feeling as if he wouldn’t be the Lakers’ top option, for obvious reasons. It’s Bryant’s team.

Any Lakers package for Howard would be centered around Andrew Bynum, with other parts and picks likely. The Lakers will not give up Pau Gasol and Bynum.

Still that may be better than the Magic’s other options. The Nets offer centers around Brook Lopez and picks, but Howard is reportedly soured on that as the Nets are not a playoff team this season (and even a Howard trade would not be in time to pull them into the top eight in the East). The Dallas Mavericks are on Howard’s list but they don’t have good trade assets either, that likely would be an off-season move if it were to happen. The Clippers popped up as a rumor lately but a package based around D’Andre Jordan and Mo Williams is less attractive than the Nets offer.

Maybe another suitor will jump in with a “rent-a-Howard” offer the Magic like (a team where Howard may not sign an extension that is willing to take the risk). Or, maybe Orlando just keeps him.

Karl-Anthony Towns fakes out Luke Babbitt with spin move (VIDEO)

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 09:  Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts after hitting a basket against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 9, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Since he came into the league, Karl-Anthony Towns‘ offensive footwork has been unusually advanced for a rookie. He showed off his impressive moves again on Monday night, getting to the basket around Luke Babbitt with this spin:

Kobe Bryant throws down old-man breakaway dunk (VIDEO)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 8:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers defends against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 8, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Once upon a time, Kobe Bryant was one of the best in-game dunkers in basketball. Age and injuries have sapped him of his explosiveness, which makes it rare these days that he dunks at all. On his final trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers fans got a special treat of sorts, even if it was nothing like what we’ve seen from Kobe over the past two decades.

NBA local television ratings up, led by spike in Warriors viewship

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 30: Klay Thompson #11, Draymond Green #23, Harrison Barnes #40, Shaun Livingston #34 and Stephen Curry #30 high five one another in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 30, 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Everyone wants to watch Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Local television ratings for Warriors games on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area have spiked 120 percent since last season, according to data compiled by the Sports Business Journal. An estimated 209,000 people tune in to CSN Bay Area for the games (plus the numbers of subscribers streaming Warriors’ games through CSNBayArea.com also has spiked this season).

It’s all part of an overall upward trend in ratings for the league, although about half the league’s markets have seen ratings fall.

Overall, as the NBA enters its All-Star break this weekend, the league’s local telecasts are up 6 percent year over year, according to Nielsen. Eleven teams have seen gains in their local ratings this season, while 15 have dropped. Denver Nuggets games on Altitude are flat with last year….

Golden State’s average rating is high enough to rank third in the NBA, an impressive achievement for a big-market team. Three of the top four teams as measured by ratings play in small markets: Cleveland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Additionally, with a league-best 209,000 households on average watching Warriors games locally this season, Golden State is far outpacing the New York Knicks for their games on MSG (160,000 households) and the Cleveland Cavaliers for their games on FS Ohio (141,000).

Interestingly, ratings for the Lakers are down 16 percent year-over-year, despite this being Kobe Bryant‘s final season, according to the report. That impacts the Lakers in that their massive cable television deal with Time Warner does have ratings ties — the Lakers could get a little less out of this deal than anticipated. Still, the average Lakers’ broadcast draws 92,000 viewers, fifth largest in the league.

LeBron has Cavaliers ratings up 36 percent over a year ago. The three biggest drops in ratings percentage wise are Atlanta (33 percent), New Orleans (33 percent), and Washington (34 percent). The average Pelicans game draws 7,000 viewers, according to the report.

That discrepancy in local television viewership — and the money that affords teams in local television deals — you can be sure is something the owners will fight about more in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions. There already is some sharing of that revenue, but as the gap grows you can expect a push from smaller markets to grow that sharing model (the only time rich owners suddenly want socialism in their lives). Expect the players’ union to bring it up as well when the owners cry poverty.

 

Love returns to Cavaliers’ lineup after missing 1 game

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love, right, drives past Phoenix Suns’ P.J. Tucker during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 115-93. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will return to the lineup Monday after missing a game because of a bruised left thigh.

Cleveland hosts Sacramento on Monday night.

Love sat out for the first time this season on Saturday in a win over New Orleans. He was injured in the third quarter of Friday’s loss to Boston and didn’t return.

He is averaging 15.9 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Love participated in Monday’s shootaround. He is nearing a pair of career milestones, needing three points to reach 9,000 and three field goals to hit 3,000.