After two furious months of nights packed with basketball, the first evening of the All-Star break has given the league a chance to exhale. As usual, the celebrity game provided comic relief, and Kyrie Irving's MVP performance in the Rising Stars game provided the only mildly competitive action of the night. Here's what's up as the All-Star rumor mill gets going:
- Celtics team president Danny Ainge, who earlier this year left the door open to a major shakeup in Boston, will "only do things that help us in the long-term," he told Paul Flannery of Sportsradio WEEI. He said he won't make a trade before the March 15th deadline just to bring about change, according to the report. Elrod Enchilada of RealGM outlines a plan for if Ainge does decide to break up the team.
- The Lakers would seek significant return for Pau Gasol, and nothing appears in the works, tweets Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.
- Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com rounds up the latest on possible buyers for the Hornets. The group that appears to have the inside track is led by Los Angeles businessman Raj Bhathal and includes former NBA player, coach and executive Mike Dunleavy as well as Larry J. Benson, brother of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson.
- Tyler Zeller of North Carolina is currently the only college senior projected by NBADraft.net to be a lottery pick this year, but Pacers All-Star Roy Hibbert demonstrates why teams shouldn't overlook four-year college players, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast Sportsnet.
- Jason Kidd, who will be a 39-year-old free agent at season's end, is already seeing the least playing time of his career, averaging 28.3 MPG. Dirk Nowitzki tells Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he doubts Kidd will play in every game during a stretch of nine games in 12 days for the Mavs after the All-Star break.
- Mavs guard Delonte West will be out on the market again this summer after signing a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum with Dallas before the season. In a piece by Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News examining West's ups and downs, including his struggle with mental illness, he admits he's been affected by unsubstantiated rumors that he had an affair with LeBron James' mother two years ago. West again denies the claims.
- Ryan Anderson, a restricted free agent this summer, was overshadowed in the Vince Carter trade three years ago, is overlooked as Orlando talk centers around Dwight Howard, and is overmatched in the race for Most Improved Player against Jeremy Lin. Still, he continues his sterling play for the Magic this season, writes Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star wonders whether the lockout achieved its purpose, as players are still using their leverage to get to large markets, a culture of haves and have-nots persists, and two franchises remain in flux.