Stein: Lakers may be interested in Kirk Hinrich. Laker fans, you may now be depressed.

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From ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

Keep an eye on Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich. If the Lakers can’t make a splashy move for the elite point guard they crave — a long shot at best at this point — and can’t swing a deal for top fallback choice Ramon Sessions, taking Hinrich and his $8.1 million salary into their $8.9 million Lamar Odom trade exception is a natural move to give L.A. some semblance of an upgrade in the backcourt going into the postseason.

The Hawks, as always, want to reduce payroll and would gladly take a future draft pick back for Hinrich, who’s no longer part of their plans. The Lakers, though, are rather skittish themselves about adding payroll these days, which is why they gave Odom away to the rival Mavericks in the first place and could actually prevent them from doing anything.

L.A. would naturally want Atlanta to take back some salary in a Hinrich deal, but there’s zero chance of that happening.

For the Lakers, the main reason to do this trade would be that they desperately need someone who can provide penetration and outside shooting, and Hinrich is indeed a point guard. On the other hand, Kirk Hinrich has not been playing basketball well. At all. Which is an issue.

Hinrich was an extremely promising young guard in the 06-07 season, when he scored 16.6 points per game on 44.8% shooting from the field and 41.5% from beyond the arc while playing excellent defense, but has been in a kind of downward spiral ever since. This year, the 31-year old Hinrich is averaging 4.8 points and 2.5 assists per game on 34.0%/23.7%/57.1% shooting, and has an abysmal PER of 7.17.

There’s a chance that Hinrich could re-find his old form playing with Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum, but this would be the definition of a desperation trade for the Lakers.

James Harden scores 61, ties Kobe Bryant’s Madison Square Garden visitor’s record (VIDEO)

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James Harden has been on a Wilt Chamberlain-level streak the past few weeks, it’s unlike anything we have seen in the modern NBA.

Wednesday night he topped himself.

James Harden scored 61 points against the Knicks. That would be:

• Harden’s career high.
• Tied with Kobe Bryant for most points scored by an opponent in Madison Square Garden (Carmelo Anthony holds the overall record at 62).
• A Rockets’ franchise record.
• His 21st consecutive 30-point game, tying Chamberlain for fourth-longest such streak in league history.

Oh, and Harden had the seal and dunk that sealed the win.

Harden also had 15 rebounds in the game. The last player to have 60+ points and 15+ rebounds in a game? Some guy named Shaquille O’Neal back on March 6, 2000, with the Lakers.

Harden is playing like an MVP — and the banged-up Rockets need him to if they are to have a chance to win every night.

Report: Wizards not trading Bradley Beal, but if team slips Otto Porter could be available

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The Washington Wizards have won 7-of-10 and have climbed up to the nine seed, just a couple of games out of the playoffs in the East. Without John Wall, the Wizards are making a push to get into the postseason.

Which impacts whether they are willing to trade players at the deadline.

The Wizards are not trading Bradley Beal — the most coveted of their stars — but might be open to Otto Porter trades if the team slides back, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Wizards star guard Bradley Beal is not going anywhere, which Washington has made adamantly clear, league sources told The Athletic. Depending on how the next week to two weeks shape up, the Wizards could look more aggressively toward moving Otto Porter. The Utah Jazz have been an interested suitor for Porter, league sources said.

History suggests the Wizards will not be sellers. The pattern for owner Ted Leonsis and GM Ernie Grunfeld has always been to think short term and make the playoff push, even when it was not the smart thing to do. We should expect that again. Maybe Washington crawls into one of the final playoff slots in the East, but is that the smart play?

Don’t expect the Wizards to move Porter, even if they wanted to finding a team to take on his $26 million for 13 points a game this season would be difficult (although Utah would be a good fit), plus Porter is owed $27.3 million next season and has a player option he very likely will pick up for $28.5 million two seasons from now.

Pacers’ Victor Oladipo stretchered off court after scary knee injury (VIDEO)

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Let’s hope this is not as scary as it looks.

Pacers’ All-NBA, All-Star guard Victor Oladipo was trying to defend a length-of-the-court pass to Pascal Siakam when Oladipo went down with a brutal knee injury were his kneecap was clearly not in the right place. Oladipo had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. The video is below, but be warned this is not pretty.

The team’s official announcement called the injry “serious.”

Oladipo is the Pacers’ best player and was a lock to be an All-Star reserve averaging 19.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists a game this season in Indiana. His efficiency had dropped his season as teams game planned more for him. Beyond that, you’d be hard pressed to find a kinder, more genuine person around the NBA than Oladipo.

Quickly the NBA community rallied on social media to Oladipo.

Grizzlies franchise burning down. Literally. They had a locker room fire Wednesday.

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Things have seemed like they are burning down around the Grizzlies the past few weeks: The team has lost 12-of-13 games and now long-time franchise stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are on the trade block.

Now the franchise is on fire — literally. They had a locker room fire in the FedEx Forum, which fortunately was small and no one was injured.

Fortunately, there were no injuries or serious damage.

But this seems about right for the Grizzlies lately.