• This is a big week for fringe players around the NBA. Teams can start signing players to 10-day contracts Monday and all non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed Thursday for the rest of the season. A number of non-guaranteed players could be waived this week before the Thursday deadline. After Donald Sloan’s recent release, the only remaining Cavs player on a non-guaranteed contract is Samardo Samuels.
• As the Toronto Raptors continue to shop Andrea Bargnani, former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell isn’t helping his value. Mitchell told a Canadian sports website that he wasn’t allowed to push Bargnani like he was the other players because management didn’t think he was tough enough to handle it.
“I was not allowed to be that tough on Andrea because within the organization we felt he couldn’t take it,” Mitchell told Sportsnet. “And my whole thing was if he can’t take it then we can’t build around him.”
Bargnani was the top pick in a rather mediocre 2006 draft. He has always been able to score but is often injured, a liability on defense and now Mitchell is questioning his motivation.
“It’s not whether Andrea has talent, the question is Andrea needs to make up his mind and decide how great he wants to be,” Mitchell said. “Andrea needs to look in the mirror and decide does he really want to be a good player? Or does he just want to make his money and be one of the guys? It’s on him because the opportunity’s there. He just doesn’t seem like he has the passion for the game. It don’t seem like it’s important enough to him.”
• Boston Celtics rookie Fab Melo has spent most of the season in the Development League, but he was recalled to the Celtics this week … because of a concussion. Melo was concussed while walking through a door frame and was recalled by the team for treatment. Honest.
“What did you have, ‘Manny being Manny?’ ” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters in reference to the famous Manny Ramirez legend. “In five years, when Fab’s playing terrific for us here, we’re going to have some ‘Fab being Fab’ moments. It just took kind of a head start.”
• The Cavs’ rebuilding process has been slow and painful, but the Washington Wizards have been running on a treadmill for years. Now former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy told the Washington Post that he doesn’t consider point guard John Wall to be a franchise player and said that the Wizards don’t have anyone to build around despite having the first, sixth and third overall picks in the past three drafts.
“That roster doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know that even John Wall is a great player to build your franchise around. I don’t know WHO you’re building around, so it’s tough to even think about what the construction of your team is. That’s just a bad basketball team.”
• Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has set a Monday deadline to have a signed lease with a professional sports team — presumably the Sacramento Kings — or the city is walking away from efforts to build a new arena. Virginia Beach was always considered a longshot for landing the Kings, anyhow, in the event they leave Sacramento. Industry sources continue to insist that Seattle is the most likely landing spot if the team leaves.
• Phil Jackson and longtime girlfriend Jeanie Buss, daughter of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, were finally engaged during the holiday season. Buss posted a picture of the diamond ring on her Twitter account.
• Outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern has long tried to get the NBA to expand overseas. He told ESPN Radio there will be teams in Europe within 20 years. He won’t be there to see it. Stern is retiring Feb. 1, 2014.