Thursday morning one liners

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Our morning look around the NBA with stories worth reading and notes that are not their own post here at PBT.

The Celtics may have been closer to getting Chris Paul than you think.

Eddy Curry is about to sign a deal with the Heat. So, you can just start sizing them all for championship rings right now. (Actually, this is certainly a make-good contract for camp.)

how u? Roger Mason is likely to sign with the Wizards.

Jamal Magloire is about to sign with the Toronto Raptors (which would make him the first ever Canadian born Raptor).

Earl Watson may well be with the Wizards as a backup to John Wall.

Marquis Daniels is about to return to the Boston Celtics.

Terrico White is being let go by the Pistons, so if anybody needs a guy who can dunk….

T.J. Ford could be backing up Tony Parker with the Spurs.

Carlos Arroyo is interested in the Knicks.

John Wall says the Wizards’ goal is to make the playoffs this year.

Dwyane Wade enters this season lean after a training program with a black belt and former military pilot.

Pau Gasol is pretty much just trying to ignore the trade rumors.

After all the talk and meetings, maybe the Nuggets end up with Nene.

You want to know why all the star free agents gravitate towards the big markets? Check out the NBA television broadcast schedule.

Check out the Wizards’ new court. I like it.

A closer look at the back-to-back-to-backs (or, stop your whining).

One thing not in the new NBA labor deal — testing for human growth hormone (although it could be approved later). Not sure it’s a big problem in the NBA, but shouldn’t there be testing for it?

Speaking of human growth, the Celtics appear to be inviting Mike Sweetney to training camp.

There are things to like about Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley. He’s up front, for one.

More and more rumors of Big Baby Glen Davis being headed to the Hornets, although the Celtics are talking to him.

Maybe Jordan Crawford finds his footing with the Warriors.

Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide says he was not drunk when he called Dwight Howard to tell him the entire city of Orlando loved him.

The Associated Press has settled a lawsuit with NBA referee Bill Spooner for $20,000, after Spooner sued because an AP writer said he made a make-up call in an NBA game. The AP writer may have misheard the one conversation in question. But make no mistake, NBA refs do makeup calls all the time.

What was it like to cover the NBA lockout on stake out in New York? Howard Beck of the New York Times tells you.

Report: Hornets rookie Miles Bridges to compete in dunk contest

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Want to see more dunks like this and this?

Watch the dunk contest during All-Star weekend.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Miles Bridges, the No. 12 pick in last year’s draft, has quickly proven himself as belonging in the Hornets’ rotation. He’s active, capable of getting to the rim and picks up defensive concepts quickly.

But like most rookies picked in the middle of the first round, he hasn’t yet earned a national profile.

The dunk contest will be his opportunity to change that.

Bulls’ Wendell Carter reportedly out 8-12 weeks following thumb surgery

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Wendell Carter Jr. has had a strong rookie season in Chicago: 10.3 points a game, 7 rebounds, showing real strength and touch inside and getting 67 percent of his shot attempts in the paint. The advanced stats like him: He’s got an above average PER and Value over Replacement Player, something very rare for a rookie. He looks like a key part of the future in Chicago.

And he’s out for the next two-to-three months.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune first reported that Carter might have ligament damage in his left thumb requiring surgery, and that coach Jim Boylen said Carter was seeing a specialist. Shams Charania of The Athletic took it to the next step.

That’s a blow to his development but doesn’t really change the trajectory of a Bulls team that will pick high in next June’s draft.

This does not change the Bulls’ plans heading into the trade deadline — big man Robin Lopez is still available (but likely will end up a buyout candidate) reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Bobby Portis will get more run with Carter out.

The young Bulls have been hit hard by injuries this season.  Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Portis have all missed time, and Denzel Valentine has yet to play a game for Chicago this season.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis: ‘We will never, ever tank’

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Before the season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis stated his goals: 50 wins and the conference finals.

Washington is 19-26 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Time to shift priorities?

NBC Sports Washington:

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington:

The Wizards are too talented to tank right now. Led by Bradley Beal, they have a roster of capable veterans. They just traded for Trevor Ariza, making that even more true.

As bad as they’ve been, the Wizards are just 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position. They will likely miss the postseason, but there’s no alternative better than trying to get there. They’re too far down the road toward winning now to simply pivot into a rebuilding.

But what about if the Wizards get eliminated from playoff contention with games left in the season? They won’t tank down the stretch to improve their draft position? What’s the point of that?

And what about future seasons? Washington will have a tough time building a satisfactory winner after signing John Wall to a super-max extension that kicks in next season. That difficult-to-move contract almost mandates the Wizards prioritize the present. A healthy Wall is good enough to ensure Washington can’t bottom out – for now.

Wall be 32 in the final year of that deal. The Wizards could be in ruins by then. Taking the option to tank off the table would be a mistake.

To be fair, I’m not totally sure Leonsis is doing that. Owners almost never admit to tanking. Most deny it.

But this goes a level beyond. This is far more forceful than Leonsis had to be, which makes me believe it’s actually his plan.

That’s fine right now. Eventually, it could make a futile situation far worse.

Agent: LeBron James would play if it were playoffs

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LeBron James‘ agent, Rich Paul, gave a 3-6-week recovery timeline for LeBron’s groin injury, which the Lakers superstar suffered just over three weeks ago.

Chris Broussard on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday:

I was in contact with Rich Paul this morning, and he told me, if this were the playoffs, that LeBron would be playing.

The Lakers have gone 5-7 without LeBron, slipping into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference. What if LeBron feels Los Angeles could miss the playoffs without him? Would he return before fully healthy? That’s the big question.

Ideally, LeBron rests until fully recovered. Groin injuries can worsen and linger longer if played through. The only way for LeBron to get this completely behind him is sitting.

But this is also apparently an injury he could play through. It’d be hard for LeBron to watch from the sideline as the Lakers’ playoff odds drop precipitously.

Right now, they’re hanging in the mix. But any slump over the next few weeks will immediately turn attention to LeBron and how he’ll respond.