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Dave McMenamin

Inside the Western Conference

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Veteran forward Russell, 38, out shopping for a team

By Dave McMenamin,
Posted Mar 2 2009 1:30PM

Bryon Russell hasn't played in an NBA game since 2006, yet the 38-year-old thinks he can still help an NBA team.

"For what I'll be able to do, I'm ready," Russell told in a phone interview on Sunday. "I'm perfect."

Russell and his agent, Darryl Floyd, have recently reached out to several teams, including Boston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers to try to secure a workout. Boston signed Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury last week, growing its roster to the max of 15, but the Suns, Sixers, Thunder and Lakers are all below the limit.

"[Joining Boston] would have been nice because they're missing a James Posey, which is somebody that I think I can get in and fill a void of what he does," Russell said.

The 6-foot-7 Russell, who averaged 7.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in his 841-game career with Utah, Washington, the Lakers and Denver, says he has been playing vigorously at gyms and recreation centers near his home in Calabasas, Calif., as well as at UCLA twice a week.

"It's the passion that I have for the game," Russell says. "I play every single day. I'm definitely ready to get back in it. My age might say it's different, but at this point and time I'm still looking better than some of the [players] that are out there, in my opinion."

After undergoing microfracture surgery in November 2005, the same procedure that prematurely ended the careers of Jamal Mashburn and Terrell Brandon and left guys like Anfernee Hardaway and Kerry Kittles shells of their former selves, Russell returned to play one game with the Nuggets in February 2006 before being traded to Seattle as part of a four-team deal.

Russell asked the Sonics to release him and stayed in Denver to help out as an unofficial assistant coach.

"My mentality was that if I do come back, I wanted to be healthy," Russell said. "I wanted to be 100 percent. I came back just to make the trade go through for Denver and I just went through a lull after that. I said, 'I'm just going to walk away for a minute,' which I shouldn't have done. I should have just rehabbed myself to death and then went from there, but I didn't. I just took three years off."

Whatever rust Russell may have, the experience of playing in two NBA Finals with the Jazz could make him more appealing. "If a team wants me that would be great because I know I can definitely help them," he said.

Suns All a Twitter

Shaquille O'Neal has made millions endorsing products like Reebok and Pepsi, but he says that his interest in the social networking site Twitter isn't some viral marketing scheme.

O'Neal, who goes by "The Real Shaq" on the site and has more than 200,000 "followers" to his feed, already has had his Twitter habits blogged about extensively from the time he picked up the tab for fellow Twitter users at a diner in Phoenix to the time his "tweet" read:

I'm at the fashion sq mall, any1 touches me gets 2 tickets, tag me and say yur twit u hv 20 min

"Most people are starting to see that it's big and starting to use it," O'Neal said. "I'm just showing people that I'm just like them."

When asked if the founders of Twitter have ever approached him about being a spokesman, O'Neal replied, "Not yet."

Suns point guard Steve Nash and interim head coach Alvin Gentry also use the site even though Gentry joked, "I just learned to play Pac-Man" to sum up his technological savvy.

Gentry credits his daughter, 24-year-old Alexis Gentry -- who runs the pop culture Web site -- for turning him onto the technology during All-Star weekend. She knew about Detroit's Allen Iverson cutting his braids via Twitter before Gentry heard about Iverson's new look from any of his plugged-in basketball connections.

Clips Can't Catch a Break

The same day that Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers called him a dog and's Bill Simmons wrote that he has been playing with a "how-the-hell-did-I-get-here? look," Clippers guard Baron Davis turned in his finest performance of the season -- 25 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds, four steals -- in a win against his former team, the Warriors.

"My body started feeling better and I was playing OK in stretches going into the All-Star break and coming out and I'm just starting to push myself a little bit more and the intensity is coming back as well as my overall health and strength," Davis said.

Two nights later, Davis had 16, five, seven and three in a win against the defending champion Celtics. But as things have gone for the Clippers all season long, L.A. lost rookie Eric Gordon to a bruised left shoulder in the Boston game and went on to drop its next two games to the Kings and Bobcats. Gordon was averaging 25 points in the five games before the injury and is now listed as day-to-day.

The Clips' injury woes have opponents taking pity on them.

"They were real shorthanded, I feel bad about that," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said on Saturday. "Injuries have affected us, but the number of injuries they've had to the quality of players is pretty tough to overcome."

What They're Saying

"For the price I pay for Lakers games, I can buy this place out for a Clippers game."
-- Boston forward and Los Angeles native Paul Pierce lamenting the cost of the "40 to 50" tickets he purchases for friends and family whenever the Celtics have a game in L.A. at Staples Center

"In a perfect world, I'd like to have [my jersey number] retired in all four or all five places, but you never know."
-- Phoenix center Shaquille O'Neal hinting that he doesn't expect to retire on the Suns. O'Neal has played for four teams so far -- the Magic, Lakers, Heat and Suns

"Me and Fish were talking about it a little bit after the game, and that's probably -- that could be -- one of the most athletic players I've ever seen. Just because the guy is on the bench the whole game and then gets in [his] first play of the game and dunks on somebody. That's crazy."
-- L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant recalling a conversation with teammate Derek Fisher about Lakers guard Shannon Brown, acquired from the Bobcats along with Adam Morrison for Vladimir Radmanovic

Behind the Numbers

0-23 -- The Sacramento Kings' record against the Eastern Conference this season.

60-32 -- Portland's lead with 2:07 in the first half of Sunday's Spurs-Blazers game. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 28-point margin is the largest first-half deficit San Antonio has faced in Tim Duncan's 12 seasons with the team.

78 -- Shaquille O'Neal's point total from his last two games -- both wins -- after scoring 45 on 20-for-25 shooting against Toronto and 33 on 13-for-18 shooting against the Lakers. That's the most O'Neal has scored in a two-game span since leaving the Lakers in 2004. By topping 40 points in the Raptors game, O'Neal joined Bernard King and Stephon Marbury as the only other players to record 40-point games with four different teams.


Luther Head (Houston), Drew Gooden (Sacramento) and Joe Smith (Oklahoma City) are all looking for a team to latch onto after being waived over the weekend ... Dennis Rodman is a contestant on the new Celebrity Apprentice ... "We feel like we're just one of those teams now that never gets rattled," said New Orleans' Chris Paul after the Hornets lost a big lead and battled back from four down in the last two minutes in New Jersey on Sunday. New Orleans has won four in a row after looking extremely rattled last week in an overtime loss that it fumbled away to the Lakers and a 14-point loss to the Jazz in which it only scored 12 fourth quarter points.

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