The Nets' contingency plan: Tyrus Thomas

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I don’t know if you heard (or saw via 10,000 ads from the team in NY/NJ area websites), but the New Jersey Nets want LeBron James. Pretty badly, apparently. I think they’d settle for Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, though. Breaking news.

Either way, the latest rumor trends don’t look to favorably on the Nets. Regardless of whether Chris Bosh ends up playing with LeBron James in Cleveland or with Dwyane Wade in Miami (or with whomever on the Bulls, or if any of them are wooed by the Knicks…), there’s one consistent theme: New Jersey seems to be left out in the cold. The Nets may have had an early lead on their metro counterparts in landing LeBron, but that momentum has completely dissipated.

Fear not, Nets fans. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, there is a back-up plan in place, and his name is Tyrus Thomas:

Restricted free agent Tyrus Thomas is on New Jersey’s radar as a fallback plan and could get a frontloaded offer sheet that would end his brief tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats, league sources said. New Jersey has discussed deals for Thomas in the past, and Nets general manager Rod Thorn has long been intrigued with the 6-foot-10 forward…Thomas has expressed a desire to keep playing for Bobcats coach Larry Brown, but it seems like owner Michael Jordan and GM Rod Higgins are willing to let Thomas get an offer sheet before making a decision on paying him. The Bobcats would have seven days to match after Thomas signs an offer sheet.

Obviously none of this is very fair to Tyrus. If the Nets strike out on the big free agents this summer, his signing will be viewed as a failure. The game plan was to bring in a huge talent via free agency, and that Thomas is not. Still, he could definitely help New Jersey should the Bobcats decide not to match, even if his long-term role with the team would be in question.

However, the bigger impact would be the Bobcats losing Thomas. Charlotte doesn’t seem too heartbroken over letting Raymond Felton walk, and they could very well feel the same way about Tyrus despite trading for him mid-season. Dropping both would be pretty substantial for a Bobcats team that’s always a little desperate for bodies. Sure, Boris Diaw is there and Gerald Wallace can play at the 4, but behind them, you’re asking Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, or DeSagana Diop to step out of their comfort zone to guard power forwards. Not. Good. 

James Harden wants Carmelo Anthony to get another chance in NBA

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The James Harden/Carmelo Anthony marriage in Houston (with Chris Paul as the third wheel) simply did not work out. It lasted 10 games and was more annulment than marriage, Anthony couldn’t/wouldn’t accept the role Houston needed him to fill.

The Rockets traded Anthony to Chicago on Tuesday, and after the Feb. 7 trade deadline the Bulls are expected to waive ‘Melo, making him a free agent.

There are questions around the league about where — and even if — Anthony will sign once he is a free agent. Plenty of fans don’t want their team to take him on, but ‘Melo has a supporter in former teammate Harden. Here is what the reigning MVP told ESPN’s Ian Bagley.

“I just want to see him hoop, see him happy, and I mean, he deserves it, honestly,” Harden said of Anthony on Tuesday. “Like, he’s put so much time and effort into this game that he should be able to hoop and still have fun playing the game of basketball.”

“Yeah, man. Melo is one of the best to ever hoop. He loves the game of basketball,” Harden said. “Some guys just do it just because they’re gifted or they’re athletic or they can shoot the basketball. There’s not that many players that like, love to hoop. … It kind of sucks that it didn’t work out. It is what it is. I just hope he finds somewhere where they can embrace him and he can still hoop. So he [gets to] make that decision that he’s done [playing].”

Probable lottery pick and injured Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland declares for NBA draft

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Vanderbilt freshman Darius Garland suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.

But that will actually accelerate his ascension toward the NBA.

Garland:

Garland still looks like a lottery pick. This draft is top-heavy, and a player as skilled as him likely won’t fall far.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is an excellent shooter. He also has the ball-handling, footwork and quick release to get his shot off against most defenses. He looks like he could become a prototypical lead guard in the modern NBA, a scorer who distributes enough.

Still, his torn meniscus hurts. Not only will teams want to know the status of his knee, he’s missing valuable developmental time during the college season. Garland still needs to refine his court vision, and it’d be nice if he clamped down defensively.

It was clear well before Garland enrolled at Vanderbilt he was on the one-and-done track. His injury allows him to drop the pretense of college basketball being a priority.

Report: Grizzlies will listen to trade offers for Marc Gasol, Mike Conley

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Last summer there was a lot of buzz around the league, the Memphis Grizzlies might finally end the grit ‘n grind era, trade their stars and embark on a needed rebuild. But then owner Robert Pera bought out two minority owners and the word quickly came down — forget a rebuild, this was a team that could win 50+ games and would make the playoffs.

After a fast 15-9 start to the season,  Grizzlies have lost six in a row and 12-of-13, having dropped to 14th in the West. Last week, those stars — Marc Gasol and Mike Conley — met with Pera face-to-face.

Now, Memphis considering trading Gasol and Conley, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

There will be interest from other teams, but getting a deal done in the 18 days before the trade deadline will be difficult. Especially considering both Gasol and Conley have huge salaries, and sources have said the Grizzlies have wanted to attach Chandler Parsons — who is owed $25.1 million next season and is almost unplayable — to any trade.

It’s very possible that these talks, especially around Conley, continue into this summer.

Gasol, who has seen his skills decline this season at age 34 (he has a 17.1 PER that is above average but the lowest since his rookie season, and his defense has not been nearly as good as it once was), is expected to opt out of this contract for next season, so any team that trades for him would want a wink-and-a-nod deal that they could re-sign him next summer. Big men are in demand, but will teams give up much for a potential rental?

Conley is a borderline All-Star point guard and a solid defender. Conley is averaging 19.8 points a game, 6.1 assists, is shooting 35.4 percent from three, and has a PER of 20.

Conley is making $30.5 million this season, has a fully guaranteed $32.5 million next season and an early termination option for 2020-21 at $34.5 million, and he will almost certainly not opt out and stay in the contract for that season. Not many teams can take on that much salary, no matter how good Conley is.

Former Kings executive pleads guilty to defrauding team out of $13.4 million

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former top Sacramento Kings executive has pleaded guilty to siphoning $13.4 million from the team to buy Southern California beachfront properties, according to court records.

The records show former chief revenue officer Jeffrey David pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of wire fraud and identity theft. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced April 15.

David was charged last year with forging the team president’s signature to divert sponsorship payments to a bank account he controlled.

Prosecutors say the scheme was uncovered soon after David left the Kings in June and accepted a similar post with the Miami Heat. The Heat said in September that the team and David parted ways..