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Good morning. Let's basketball.
ONE MONTH AWAY: The trade deadline is one month from today. Will any big names move, or are we cursed to four weeks of "Marquis Teague for Toko Shengelia"? Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News says it will be "a little shocking" if the Pistons aren't active in his long look at who's on the table for Joe Dumars. Greg Monroe stands out as the obvious prize. (No offense to Charlie Villanueva.)
Meanwhile, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News pegs Rajon Rondo as likely to be traded. (Sean Deveney of Sporting News disagrees.) Lawrence also reports that the Pelicans will build around Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, meaning Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans are available.
SPEAKING OF RONDO: No. 9 returned to action on Friday. Paul Flannery documented the comeback, the challenge and the future for Rondo in a brilliant lead essay in the Sunday Shootaround. Also covered in the Shoot: DeMar DeRozan's All-Star hopes, the top five most intriguing draft prospects and the best quotes from around the league last week.
CANCEL THE DUNK CONTEST: Paul George won it on Saturday night.
NERLENS IN THE MIDDLE: In an interesting chat with Keith Pompey, Sixers coach Brett Brown insists that Nerlens Noel will be an NBA center. Lots of talk about the New Positionality.
FUNDAMENTALS OF CRAZY: John Wall's ridiculous circus shot, broken down.
BATTLE FOR THE 8TH SEED: The Nets and Knicks hook up for an ESPN afternoon game on MLK Day. The TNT doubleheader: Blazers-Rockets and Pacers-Warriors. Sign me up.
SUNDAY'S LACK-TION: A rather bleak Sunday docket, all told. Channing Frye blew up for 30 on 15 shots in the Suns' win over the Nuggets. Ryan Kelly can apparently play basketball. Two teams considered bad even by the standard of the East narrowly avoided overtime.
BUCKLE UP: O.J. Mayo pretty much pins Milwaukee's woes on Larry Drew. Brew Hoop's Jacob McCormick argues that young Bucks just happen to winning the battle for minutes.
KCP FOR ROY?: Is Detroit's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope making headway in the Rookie of the Year race?
CUE THE DISNEY LAWYERS: Pat Williams, founding owner of the Orlando Magic, confirms the team name was inspired by proximity to the Magic Kingdom and by "Walt Disney's magic personality." And here I thought it was about Matt Guokas' hair.
KOBE'S PATIENCE, OR LACK THEREOF: The Black Mamba makes it clear why he was involved in lockout negotiations for only like one day: "I went down, listened to the nonsense that was going on, said this ain't for me."
ROYAL IVEY'S PURGATORY: Darnell Mayberry with an interesting look at how Ivey stayed ready for an NBA call while unsigned earlier this season. (The Thunder have picked him up.)
Happy Monday. See you next time.