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Steve Nash Practices: Will He Help Lakers Rebound?

Lakers PG Steve Nash finally returned to practice today, resuming basketball activities for the first time since fracturing his leg on Halloween. He's only played in two games this season, and the Lakers have struggled in his absence, going 11-14 to this point in the season.

Nash and injured big man Pau Gasol are now closer to getting back on the court, and both seem to be targeting Christmas Day (or earlier) as their return dates. But with the Lakers already 7.5 games behind the Clippers in their division, and even further behind the Spurs and Thunder, Nash's return might be too little, too late.

Of course, you can't count out any team with Kobe Bryant at the helm. The Lakers need to focus on getting to .500 by Christmas Day, because that will put them precisely where they were last Christmas. Of course, that was Opening Day of the 2011-12 season, and every team was 0-0. LA has dug themselves into quite a hole, but if they are even and healthy by next week, they will have four solid months to climb back into the playoff picture.

In general, they are a more talented team than last year, but a surplus of talent is not always the best thing in LA. In a sense, the team this Laker squad most closely resembles is the 2003-04 Lakers - the team built around Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe, and new acquisitions Karl Malone and Gary Payton. That was a team built around veterans looking for one more shot at a ring, started off hot, and ultimately fell short due to a host of chemistry issues.

This team is like the inverse: they've started slow, and they've got their chemistry issues right from the start. With Kobe chirping at Pau Gasol, and with Andrew Bynum chirping from across the country, and with all of the coaching drama early on, it's clear that this team has some issues in composition. Of course, having a fantastic distributor like Steve Nash can solve a world of problems. He can run the pick-and-roll with Gasol or Howard, he can make sure the ball is in Kobe's hands when he needs it, and he can generally make his teammates better.

But a stress fracture in a lower extremity for a guy with numerous back issues and a 39th birthday fast approaching is not a great omen. Nash is a fantastic basketball player, and he has a knack for getting the most out of the guys around him. But so does Kobe - he just does it with tough love rather than pinpoint passes. It will be interesting to see how two floor generals can mesh.

It didn't exactly work with those 2003-04 Lakers, who had way too many personalities and came up against a Detroit Pistons team that was perfectly balanced. The old axiom in basketball is that the team with the best player tends to win, and the Lakers take the floor every night with four of the best 15 players of the last decade. An extended run is likely for this squad, and a positive January for a team reinventing itself in the middle of the season should get the Lakers into the playoffs. In a short series, with all of their talent and an increasingly comfortable Dwight Howard, and who knows what can happen.

But if Nash pulls up lame again, and Kobe continues to vent his frustration, this team has 2003-04 meltdown written all over it - and that's without even sniffing the Finals.

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French Authorities Reportedly Investigating Rape Claim Against Chris Brown

French authorities are reportedly investigating Chris Brown after a woman allegedly accused the R&B singer of rape. According to the French tabloid, Closer, a 24-year-old woman claims that Brown raped her in his hotel room.

The unidentified woman alleges that she met Brown at a Parisian night club in rue de Ponthieu, near the Champs-Elysées, on the night of Jan. 15 into Jan. 16, before heading back to his room at the La Mandarin Oriental. The woman also accused Brown’s bodyguard of abuse, Closer reports.

Brown was recently spotted taking in the festivities of Paris Fashion Week, and smooching rumored flame, Ammika Harris. The “Undecided” singer shared video from dance rehearsal in the French city over the weekend. He has not commented on the reported rape allegation.

Brown is currently embroiled in a separate civil lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Brown's friend, Lowell Grissom, during a party at the Grammy winner's home last year. Brown requested that the lawsuit be dismissed.

“For the last 10 years anybody who comes at him should know they're going to meet the full force of my firm,” the Virginia native's lawyer, Mark Geragos, warned in an interview last year.

The woman has since filed court documents on Jan. 7, asking a judge to block Brown’s request that she give up phone and text records citing privacy concerns. According to The Blast, the woman asserts that she already turned over hundreds of documents, including text messages, emails and medical records.

 

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Spotify Testing Feature That Allows Users To Mute Certain Artists

Spotify users will be able to mute certain artists, for their listening pleasure. The streaming company introduced a “don’t play this artist feature” as apart of a new IOS app update, according to Thurrott, which got its hands on an early version of the feature.

The block button allows listeners to banish specific artists from their personal music libraries, and stops them from popping up in automatically curated playlists, and other pages on the music streaming app. In order to utilize the mute feature, users clicks on the menu above an artists’s page and selects the “don’t play” option. The feature doesn’t work for songs that the artist may be featured on, the Verge reports.

The update could be a middle ground for Spotify as it faces increased pressure in wake of the #MuteRKelly movement, and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly  documentary. A Change.org petition calling for Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube to remove R. Kelly’s music from its services is close to garnering 150,000 signatures.

Last year, Spotify briefly removed Kelly, XXXTentacion and T-Kay (a Texas rapper convicted of murder) from featured playlists due to the company's hateful conduct policy. “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions -- what we choose to program -- to reflect our values,” the company explained in statement to Billboard last May. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."

Spotify abandoned the plan after pushback from fans of the artists singled out, and industry heavyweights like Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony Tiffith, whose label imprint is home to Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolBoy Q and more.

Tiffith reached out to Troy Carter, Spotify’s global head of creator services, and threatened to remove his artists’ music from the streaming service. “I don't think it's right for artists to be censored, especially in our culture,” Tiffith told Billboard. “How did they just pick those [artists] out? How come they didn't pick out any others from any other genres or any other different cultures? There [are] so many other artists that have different things going on, and they could've picked anybody. But it seems to me that they're constantly picking on hip-hop culture."

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The Internet Reacts To Carmelo Anthony Being Traded To The Chicago Bulls

According to a tweet sent out by ESPN's Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations to the Chicago Bulls. However, he will likely not play any games.

"Anthony won't play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers," tweeted Wojnarowski. "...it is possible that franchise holds off on waiving him until the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Bulls could include him in a one-for-one trade, but can't aggregate his contract in another deal."

Since today is a national holiday (Jan. 21), the official word will reportedly be held off until tomorrow. Wojnarowski reports that his "best bet" would be to wait it out until the trade deadline (Feb. 7) to find another opportunity with another team.

The Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash to the Chicago Bulls, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

The NBA office will not execute the trade today because it's a holiday, league sources tell ESPN. To clear the way for Kenneth Faried to sign and play tonight in Philadelphia, Rockets had to waive to James Nunnally. Trade call on 'Melo will likely be Tuesday. https://t.co/Oo2IA0nsJP

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

Anthony won't play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers. https://t.co/Oo2IA0nsJP

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

Social media caught wind of the news, and reacted with shock and of course with laughs via some hot takes.

"Melo is revolutionizing the 'farewell season' by signing a contract with each NBA team before he retires, truly ahead of his time," one tweet read, while another said "Melo is being held hostage by teams. Hopefully this means Liam Neeson will have a movie saving him come out around the trade deadline."

Check out some tweets below.

Melo is being held hostage by teams. Hopefully this means Liam Neeson will have a movie saving him come out around the trade deadline.

— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) January 21, 2019

Melo stans: THE BUUUUUUULLS? pic.twitter.com/Y9nYBgNFuX

— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) January 21, 2019

[email protected] fans looking at GM Lebron when Melo becomes free agent. pic.twitter.com/wJy3ujSAIH

— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) January 21, 2019

Carmelo Anthony will not play a game for the Bulls, but it is possible that franchise holds off on waiving him until the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Bulls could include him in a one-for-one trade, but can't aggregate his contract in another deal.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

For Anthony, his best bet is waiting until the Feb. 7 trade deadline to find his next team. He can wait for roster spots to open, trades to happen, etc, that'll create the best opportunity for him. Anthony wants to find a place to contribute. https://t.co/cRgbMalvTl

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

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