Tuesday And-1 links: Plans to lure Kings to Virginia Beach appear dead

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like Alabamans love Nick Saban….

• Plans for an arena deal in Virginia Beach — to in theory bring in the Sacramento Kings — are dead. Basically, Comcast-Spectacor, which is reportedly going to be key in paying for the arena, could not work out an agreement with the Kings owners the Maloof family. With no deal in place the mayor of Virginia Beach said they are not going to go to the state and ask for $150 million to help build the arena. The mayor also said the city is pulling out of working on the deal for now.

• The Lakers are starting center Robert Sacre and Darius Morris in place of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol on Tuesday against Houston as the Lakers go small for Mike D’Antoni with their seven footers injured (Howard is out for the week with a shoulder injury, Gasol has a concussion and his timetable is not known). Going this way against Houston could backfire — Houston plays at the fastest pace in the league and are more comfortable up tempo than the Lakers.

• Along those lines, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak talks about how his team is not playing well. Stunning. The question is what is he going to do about it? Trade Pau Gasol? And if so do you push to do that at the deadline, or can he wait until the summer when there may be more options.

• Raymond Felton hopes to return to the Knicks lineup from a broken finger by the end of the month. Which is good, they miss him.

• In case you missed it by the way, the Lakers waived Darius Johnson-Odom.

• The Wizards cut Shelvin Mack but are keeping Garrett Temple for the season.

What player is the biggest NBA defensive difference maker, which team has the biggest drop off on defense when one player leaves the court? The Celtics with Kevin Garnett. Which was probably your first guess.

• The Sixers waived Maalik Wayns, then turned around and signed him to a 10-day contract.

• Should Chris Paul be the MVP? It’s up for debate, but if you are not including him in the discussion you are doing it wrong.

• Here is an interesting bit of basketball reasearch — adjusting assist totals for the bias of arena scorekeepers.

• Ben Gordon calls his three years in Detroit a “failure.”

• Some NBA players — Andre Iguodala, Jared Dudley, Nick Young — talk about the first time they dunked, and more.

• Udonis Haslem has decided to nickname himself Django.

• Here is another interview where Royce White tells his side of the story.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”