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LeBron says he’d be good playing with Lance Stephenson, Mario Chalmers

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How badly does LeBron James want another playmaker on the Cavaliers’ roster so they can better match up with the Warriors?

How about bad enough to be okay with playing with this guy:

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The Cavaliers are working out a number of potential backup point guards and playmakers, including Jordan Farmar and Kirk Hinrich, plus they have reached out to see if players such as Deron Williams are available via trade. They still would love to get Carmelo Anthony, just not at the cost of Kevin Love.

However, two names stood out on the list circulated Tuesday: Lance Stephenson and Mario Chalmers. Not just because of their talent, or because they are free agents coming off injuries, but because of their histories with LeBron. However, LeBron said Wednesday those histories belong in the past and he doesn’t care, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I got a history with all those guys except Jordan,” James said after shootaround Wednesday, as the Cavs prepared for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “I got a history with Lance too, obviously. I got a history versus Kirk. I played him in a lot of playoff series. And I got a history with Rio [Chalmers]. … At the end of the day, Rio is recovering from his Achilles tear. I hope he’s been doing everything he needs to do just to get back on the floor. He loves to play the game.

“I’m a supporter of what this franchise wants to do, no matter what it’s doing. But my focus right now is to get our guys playing championship-level basketball.”

That’s LeBron and his “I’m not the defacto GM here” statements, but the reality is there is no way Stephenson or Chalmers get a workout without LeBron signing off on it.

Stephenson knows how to create for himself and can be a good defender when focused. Stephenson and the Pacers ran into LeBron and the Cavaliers twice in the playoffs, and in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals came the legendary blowing in the ear incident. Stephenson also tapped LeBron in the face in that series, and LeBron said he was not sure how he restrained himself. Maybe that is all in the past, but it makes for an interesting locker room dynamic.

LeBron played with Chalmers in Miami for four years, and LeBron yelled at Chalmers a lot in those days. However, Chalmers also is fearless in big moments and hit key shots for that team. Chalmers was playing the best ball of his career last season in Memphis when he ruptured his Achilles, the question is can he return to form?

Don’t expect the Cavaliers to make a rash move here, they can wait to see what plays out around the trade deadline.

Kings’ Matt Barnes reportedly surrenders to NYPD over nightclub brawl, got ticket to appear in court

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Sacramento Kings forward Matt Barnes turned himself in Wednesday to the New York Police Department in connection with a Dec. 5 fight at a Chelsea nightclub, according to the New York Post.

The hoops hothead Barnes turned himself in at the 10th Precinct station house and was issued a desk appearance ticket for misdemeanor assault — stemming from a brouhaha at Avenue nightclub in the early morning hours of Dec. 5 in Chelsea.

Barnes was released without bail, and will have to show up in a Manhattan courtroom at a later date.

A desk ticket is a common procedure in misdemeanor cases.

Barnes and teammate DeMarcus Cousins were at the club together on Dec. 5 when the altercation broke out. Barnes will fight this, his attorney has claimed any actions by his client were in self-defense. Police say video of the incident reportedly shows Barnes as the aggressor and choking a woman. Cousins has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident by police. Both Barnes and Cousins have already been sued in civil court over the altercation. One of the plaintiffs in the case alleges Cousins punched him, something Cousins’ people have denied.

Almost certainly it will be the offseason before Barnes appears in court. Rarely do these cases head to a full trial, they are generally pled out.

Report: Bulls not looking to trade Rajon Rondo before deadline

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A couple of weeks ago — after Rajon Rondo smacked Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler for calling out the Bulls’ young players for inconsistent effort and not caring about winning — it looked like Rondo’s days in Chicago were numbered. He had been pushed to the bench (and got a couple of DNP-CDs), his role was slipping, and now he had taken a shot at the teams two best players and unquestioned leaders.

But things change quickly in the NBA.

Coach Fred Hoiberg finally — and maybe more by happenstance than design — has found a role for Rondo leading the Bulls bench unit. It’s working. And with the Bulls still fighting for a playoff slot in the East (they are currently the seven seed, but only two games clear of nine-seed Milwaukee) if they find something that works they are going to stick with it. There were already reports the Bulls had no plans to buy out Rondo before the trade deadline, now Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report says not to expect them to trade him, either.

Despite Rondo’s benching and the public back and forth, no one should expect the Bulls to move him in an admission of roster-building guilt before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

Whether they wanted to or not, it was always going to be difficult to trade Rondo and his $14 million contract this season (although with just a $3 million buyout next season). In theory the Bulls would change their tune on Rondo for the right deal, but don’t expect Chicago to get an offer it would see as right. Other teams are not going to take on that salary for a point guard who can shoot, isn’t the defender he once was, and can be challenging in the locker room.

Will the Bulls buy him out after the deadline, as many around the league had suspected after Rondo ranted on Instagram? Not if Chicago is winning and he is playing a role in that. It is possible the Bulls live with this for the rest of the season if the big three veterans can just get along well enough.

None of this answers the big questions in Chicago, all of which lead back to the front office: What is the plan? If you’re going to build around Butler, you need to get more athletic and get better shooters because the guys you drafted to be that in the past few years are largely not panning out. If you’re going to blow it up, blow it up. Still, nothing will change with the front office personnel in Chicago, so the smart money is on more stop-gap measures.

PBT Podcast: What’s gone right in Washington with CSN Wizards’ insider J. Michael

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Since Dec. 1, the Washington Wizards have the best record in the East at 22-9. Their starting five — John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat — outscore opponents by 11.7 points per 100 possessions, which is better than the starting lineups of the Spurs or Cavaliers. After a slow start, the team has come around to what Scott Brooks wants to do, and the Wizards are up to the four seed in the East and still climbing.

Is this team on par with Toronto and Boston in the second tier of the East?

Are John Wall and Bradley Beal getting along? How big an Achilles heel is the bench? Will the team keep Otto Porter next summer?

I talk about all of that and more with CSNMidAtlantic.com Wizards Insider J. Michael in this latest PBT Podcast.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Let’s look back at the best plays from January in the NBA

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February is here, and that means more cold weather, the NBA All-Star Game, talking about Black History and a couple of key presidents that helped this nation become what it is, Valentines Day, pitchers and catchers report, and… oh, I think there’s some football game this weekend.

But before we get deep into February, let’s look back at the best plays from the NBA in January, courtesy the folks at NBA.com. There’s some game winner shots including from T.J. McConnell, some Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks, Chris Paul doing Chris Paul things, and on down the line.

You’ve got 10 minutes to enjoy this. It beats working on a Wednesday.