Matt Barnes is a little crazy, but Laker fans are hoping he’s not lying. While working out Friday in El Segundo, Barnes was asked about all the rumors going around and whether he listened to any of them. He doesn’t, unless they are dealing with his own team. But this rumor does, and it’s a pretty big one. So it wasn’t surprising Barnes was asked, and then spoke on it. His answer was a little more revealing than everyone expected: “You know, I’ve been hearing [rumors about] Dwight. I’ve been hearing [rumors about] Baron [Davis in the event of getting amnestied]. I’ve been hearing stuff a lot lately. I’ve talked to both of those guys and they wanna be here, so we’ll see what happens.” It’s been rumored for a while now that L.A. is where Dwight really wants to be. Barnes is pretty tight with the big fella, and used to play with him in Orlando. So we believe him. As the season gets going, the rumors and speculation will only pick up steam. Orlando’s GM, Otis Smith, is starting to realize that now … We’ve been hitting all the best free agents with the top five teams most likely to sign them. But we didn’t even bother with Marc Gasol because it was thought to be a wrap: He was going back to Memphis. However, Indiana is now prepared to offer Roy Hibbert in a sign-n-trade for the Spaniard. They see Gasol as one of the game’s best centers, and would love to add Pau‘s lil’ bro and Jamal Crawford during free agency … Jonas Valanciunas was drafted by Toronto this summer knowing that he probably wouldn’t be able to make it over to the States this season. But now because of the major financial concerns his club, Lietuvos Rytas, has, it could be all up to the player. The Raptors called to say they would help negotiate something if Valanciunas decides to change his stance (He had said he needed more time to bulk up.) and come over early. We say ask Florida’s Patric Young if he’s ready. Valanciunas gave the future first rounder 30, 15 and four blocks this summer in the U-19 World Championships … The owners and union began negotiations to finally, officially, end the lockout. They didn’t plan on meeting today, but will continue to iron out the small points on Monday in the hopes they can have something finished for Wednesday. Then, a vote would go down Thursday so Friday could be the official start of training camps. In the meantime, NBA team executives and coaches will be allowed to start talking to players around the league starting Monday at 10 a.m. ET, and while the offers may start slowly as everyone is still trying to break down the new CBA details, they should pick up pretty quickly … Tu Holloway had 21 points and made some unbelievably big shots in Xavier’s 66-63 win over Purdue. The Musketeers came back from 19 down in the second half … Illinois jumped to 8-0 with a seven-point upset of No. 18 Gonzaga … Ohio State won easily, Marquette went into Wisconsin’s house and ended their 23-game home winning streak while Kansas, Michigan, Memphis, Saint Louis, Mississippi State and Pitt all won as well … UConn beat Arkansas 75-62 and freshman guard Ryan Boatright came off the bench to drop 23 points. If he starts playing like that this year, he just took the best backcourt in the country and supercharged it … Keep reading to hear about Kentucky’s proclamation as the best team in the country …
After watching Kentucky play volleyball against St. John’s the other day in blocking what seemed like 50 shots, we said this is the year Calipari finally gets his championship. Yesterday, the ‘Cats passed their largest test yet, beating No. 5-ranked UNC 73-72. Freshman Anthony Davis (seven points, nine rebounds), who was having a really quiet afternoon, came up with the difference-maker, blocking John Henson‘s (10 points, eight rebounds) short jumper with seven seconds left to get the W. Were we surprised? That final possession didn’t shock us. Kentucky’s defense in the second half was unreal, holding Carolina to just 29 points. You could almost see it coming (but was the game clock on TV slightly slow? Because it sure looked like Marquis Teague traveled before the clock hit all zeros.). But the final five minutes definitely caught us off guard. The Heels have to be pissed. They controlled the game for the first 35 minutes, hitting threes throughout the first half. Every time Kentucky made a run, UNC answered with a dagger trey. The Heels just have so much depth; With Reggie Bullock (eight points) and P.J. Hairston (11 points) off the bench, it gives them an added dimension, especially when those two are shooting the ball like they are this year (Hairston has hit half of his three-point looks). Compare that balance to Kentucky, who would’ve been down big if it wasn’t for Terrence Jones (14 points in the first half). Whereas UNC was scoring from all over, Kentucky couldn’t do anything outside of the paint. For most of the game, they looked predictable while the Tar Heels were pulling shots from everywhere, and scoring at the rim as well. Ironic then that it was Doron Lamb‘s (12 second half points) three with five and a half minutes left that finally gave Kentucky some breathing room and a four-point lead. The ‘Cats spent the whole game climbing uphill, and then miraculously out-executed the veteran visitors in the final two minutes … There was a crazy sequence in the final minute when Carolina got a big stop, and with everyone looking nervous not to mess up, Kendall Marshall threw a 40-foot cross-court pass. Bullock caught it and launched a contested moonshot from the corner that went in to make it a one-point game … It’s been said but it’s still amazing: two years ago, Davis was a point guard who was only getting recruited by Cleveland State. Now, he’s blocking potential game winners in the year’s biggest game. We can tell he really respected Tyler Zeller (14 points, eight rebounds). He called him Cody, his bro’s name, after the game. And when will people realize Zeller does the same move every time: A quick turnaround hook over his right shoulder … John Calipari is now amazingly 38-0 in Rupp Arena … Is this going to be the biggest gift on Christmas day or what? … We’re out like Herman Cain‘s presidential campaign.
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