Phoenix

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33.4483
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
-112.0733

NBA Trade Deadline

The NBA Trade Deadline was supposed to be relatively quiet, with the possibility of a few trades. And it looked like that would be the case leading up to last Thursday’s deadline of 2 p.m. However, the league saw a number of trades come in at the last minute of the deadline. The trades came in fast and furious, but not all were as good as they seemed while others were better than you might think.

Starting from the first and possibly the most overlooked trade was Portland acquiring Arron Afflalo from Denver. With Afflalo, Portland bolsters their bench with a player who was averaging 14.5 points per game and is an excellent defender. Portland had to give up Thomas Robinson and Victor Claver plus a future first round pick, but I still think this was a huge win for Portland. A team who advanced to the second round in last year’s playoffs, returned their core group of guys, and are third in the Western conference added a veteran guard who can defend multiple positions and shoots the ball well. I’ll go ahead and say this trade puts Portland as a dark horse in the West. Why? Because they have a star point guard in Damian Lilliard, not to mention he might be a little pissed off for being an All-Star snub. Granted he was chosen as a replacement, but I still expect Lilliard to play with a chip on his shoulder the rest of the season. And let’s not forget Lamarcus Aldridge is playing at a high level despite his thumb injury. So with a healthy Robin Lopez and Afflalo coming off the bench, this team stacks up well with the West’s best.

The blockbuster trade that got way too much attention in my mind was Phoenix shipping Goran Dragic to Miami. Don’t get me wrong, Dragic is an excellent point guard, and he knows how to produce. But let’s not get carried away here. He isn’t going to help Miami contend for the title this year and most likely not anytime soon. Dragic is posting 16.2 ppg, 4.1 apg, and 3.6 rpg while sharing the point guard duties with Isiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe. However, I don’t think he is worth the max contract he will be offered this offseason or the two first round picks Miami gave up on top of some rotational players. He can’t lead a team by himself and essentially that’s why you pay a player the big time money. That’s what scares me for this Miami team, Dwayne Wade is in the latter half of his career, and Chris Bosh isn’t the same player he was in his prime. (There is a serious concern in Miami that Chris Bosh may miss the entire season due to blood clots in his lungs. It is a very serious issue, so we wish Chris Bosh the best in recovering.) Having said all this, Pat Riley is a genius when operating his teams so I might be completely wrong in saying Miami was on the losing end of this trade.

The trade I liked the most came from team that desperately needed help. And that was the Oklahoma City Thunder. A few days ago, I wrote about how they might acquire Brook Lopez but honestly, he wouldn’t be a fit for a team that runs lots of isolations for their guards and perimeter players. Lopez is a back to the basket type player and I don’t know how he would have gotten his touches in the OKC offense. But that trade didn’t surface out instead the Thunder acquired Enes Kanter from Utah and DJ Augustin and Kyle Singler from the Pistons. In my opinion, Oklahoma City got better overall value than getting Lopez. Kanter is a legit 7 footer averaging 14 ppg and 8 rpg this season. Not to mention he’s only 22 years old. He will slide right into OKC’s rotation with Adams out with injury and Perkins no longer there. This allows Serge Ibaka to play his natural power forward position and stretching the floow out with his perimeter shooting improving. Plus Augustin can fill Jackson’s role as backup point guard and Kyle Singler has proved he can be a solid bench contributor.

On the other hand of this trade, I love what Detroit did. Stan Van Gaundy quietly got himself a steal in Reggie Jackson. Detroit gave up next to nothing for a player who is about to get his chance to be a starter on a playoff contending team. But let’s forget about this season, and look to the future. Detroit has two great guards in Jackson and Brandon Jennings, and arguably the best young frontcourt in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe moving forward. If they can convince Monroe to sign long term after his contract expires after this season, watch out for the Pistons. Van Gaundy has done a great job in his first season operating the team and I look for him to continue to build momentum for the franchise.

Those are the trades that had impacts on contending teams making a final push for playoff jockeying. Oklahoma City and Portland solidified their roster needs to contend in the wild wild west. But there were was one trade that caught my eye and can have a huge impact for a franchise.

The trade that had every NBA fan reminiscing the old days was Kevin Garnett being sent back to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young. Obviously Minnesota is going nowhere this season, but Kevin Garnett could be a valuable pickup for them in terms of leadership and locker room presence. Minnesota might have the best core of young players in the league. Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, and Gogui Dieng are all young talented players still learning their way in this league. The Timberwolves were lacking a veteran leader who can mold these young players into stars. That’s where Kevin Garnett comes in play. KG could be the perfect mentor for these kids since he was thrown into the same fire of the NBA right out of high school. He knows what it takes to become a perennial All Star and win NBA championships. So kudos to the Minnesota front office for making this happen.

And then there was the random swap of point guards that took place. Milwaukee sent Brandon Knight to Phoenix, Phoenix sent Isaiah Thomas to Boston, and Philadelphia packaged reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter Williams to Milwaukee. Brandon Knight was playing very well this season, so I was particularly surprised that the Bucks let him go and brought in Michael Carter Williams. I’m interested to see how Jason Kidd and company can mold the young Carter Williams into a legit PG. Brandon Knight could be a good compliment to Eric Bledsoe down in Phoenix so that could be something to watch for. As for Isiah Thomas in Boston, I just don’t get it. Boston should be in full rebuild mode, and Marcus Smart was their draft pick who could use some playing time at the point guard position so why trade for Thomas who can only play point guard. Thomas also is owed plenty of money after signing a lucrative deal just this offseason so that’ll take a hit on Boston’s cap room. These teams all made the headlines for acquiring players but I’m not sure any of them actually won their respective trades. I guess time will tell with them.

But wait, that’s not all! There have been reports Kendrick Perkins will be bought out by the Utah Jazz and the front runner to sign him is, you guessed it, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He would be a great fit for Cleveland, coming off the bench and giving them valuable minutes defending and rebounding the ball effectively. A few other potential bought out players include Tayshaun Prince and Thomas Robinson who could both be a great addition to any team. So the deadline might have passed, but a few teams could still be adjusting their rosters here in the next few days to gear up for the postseason.

NBA trade deadline rumors

While there are no NBA games until Thursday, teams will be extremely busy trying to bolster their rosters before Thursday’s 3PM EST trade deadline.

Currently, there are 22 teams still jockeying for playoff position and then there are the other eight teams who have basically given up on the season, but might have valuable trade assets. Some teams will be desperate to dump some of their salary in order to rebuild through free agency this offseason.

There are three big name players to watch in the next few days that may get traded-- Brook Lopez, Lance Stephenson, and Goran Dragic. Brooklyn has experimented with the trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez for awhile and have yet to find no real success yet. So the odd ball out, Lopez may find himself a new home this week.

Lance Stephenson has not been the addition the Charlotte Hornets needed so they too will be looking to get something in return for Stephenson. As for Dragic, he has made it pretty apparent he will sign elsewhere this offseason so Phoenix might as well get what they can for Dragic before he walks away.

There was a reported trade earlier this season that would have sent Lopez to OKC, Stephenson to Brooklyn, Jarrett Jack to Charlotte, and expiring contracts and young assets to Brooklyn. However it fell through at the last minute. But, it wouldn't be surprising if Oklahoma City's GM Sam Presti makes another phone call to Brooklyn to try to facilitate a deal for Lopez. He would solidify their frontcourt and help propel them into the playoff picture.

Phoenix faces the problem of having a plethora of point guards. Eric Bledsoe, Isiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic are all good point guards, but at some point, one of them isn’t being used properly. Goran Dragic seems to be the most likely to be traded this week because he has expressed interest in possibly signing with another team this offseason. Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers have continuously tried to pry away Dragic from Phoenix, so look for both of those teams to make another push leading up to the deadline.

As for Stephenson, it has been pretty apparent he wasn’t the fit Charlotte had hoped he would be. Yet Charlotte is still in position to make the playoffs so it would love to get talent back for Stephenson. And the Brooklyn Nets are one team that would love to bring Stephenson back home.

There’s many teams with valuables players for contenders. For example, the Denver Nuggets' season may not have went as they planned yet they still have plenty of talented guys a contending team may want their hands on. Arron Affalo, Randy Foye, and Wilson Chandler all have tremendous value for a team desperate for some help on the perimeter. Also their two star players, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are also said to be available this week. So at the right price, a team could get an explosive veteran player in either one of them.

Other teams are searching for a big man to bolster up their frontcourt and Brandon Bass of the Celtics would be a solid addition to fit that role. He is a terrific rebounder and can finish around the basket. Lakers big man Jordan Hill is also having a tremendous season despite the Lakers being near the bottom of the West.

Recently, Chicago has made Taj Gibson available in trade talk. With rookie Nikola Mirotic coming into his own, Chicago might be able to fill another hole in their rotation by letting Gibson go via trade. Gibson has great value in trade talks because he is a solid contributor off the bench, and could quite frankly start for plenty of teams around the league. Watch for teams like the Clippers or Blazers to look for a much needed big man.

Needless to say, there are plenty of intriguing options out there for teams in need of help. However, I don’t foresee any blockbuster trade taking place this time around. We already saw Rajon Rondo get traded earlier this season, and there isn’t any player as talented in trade talks. But a contending team can definitely find a missing piece this week and could change their fortunes come playoff time.

NBA trade deadline rumors

While there are no NBA games until Thursday, teams will be extremely busy trying to bolster their rosters before Thursday’s 3PM EST trade deadline.

Currently, there are 22 teams still jockeying for playoff position and then there are the other eight teams who have basically given up on the season, but might have valuable trade assets. Some teams will be desperate to dump some of their salary in order to rebuild through free agency this offseason.

There are three big name players to watch in the next few days that may get traded-- Brook Lopez, Lance Stephenson, and Goran Dragic. Brooklyn has experimented with the trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez for awhile and have yet to find no real success yet. So the odd ball out, Lopez may find himself a new home this week.

Lance Stephenson has not been the addition the Charlotte Hornets needed so they too will be looking to get something in return for Stephenson. As for Dragic, he has made it pretty apparent he will sign elsewhere this offseason so Phoenix might as well get what they can for Dragic before he walks away.

There was a reported trade earlier this season that would have sent Lopez to OKC, Stephenson to Brooklyn, Jarrett Jack to Charlotte, and expiring contracts and young assets to Brooklyn. However it fell through at the last minute. But, it wouldn't be surprising if Oklahoma City's GM Sam Presti makes another phone call to Brooklyn to try to facilitate a deal for Lopez. He would solidify their frontcourt and help propel them into the playoff picture.

Phoenix faces the problem of having a plethora of point guards. Eric Bledsoe, Isiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic are all good point guards, but at some point, one of them isn’t being used properly. Goran Dragic seems to be the most likely to be traded this week because he has expressed interest in possibly signing with another team this offseason. Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers have continuously tried to pry away Dragic from Phoenix, so look for both of those teams to make another push leading up to the deadline.

As for Stephenson, it has been pretty apparent he wasn’t the fit Charlotte had hoped he would be. Yet Charlotte is still in position to make the playoffs so it would love to get talent back for Stephenson. And the Brooklyn Nets are one team that would love to bring Stephenson back home.

There’s many teams with valuables players for contenders. For example, the Denver Nuggets' season may not have went as they planned yet they still have plenty of talented guys a contending team may want their hands on. Arron Affalo, Randy Foye, and Wilson Chandler all have tremendous value for a team desperate for some help on the perimeter. Also their two star players, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are also said to be available this week. So at the right price, a team could get an explosive veteran player in either one of them.

Other teams are searching for a big man to bolster up their frontcourt and Brandon Bass of the Celtics would be a solid addition to fit that role. He is a terrific rebounder and can finish around the basket. Lakers big man Jordan Hill is also having a tremendous season despite the Lakers being near the bottom of the West.

Recently, Chicago has made Taj Gibson available in trade talk. With rookie Nikola Mirotic coming into his own, Chicago might be able to fill another hole in their rotation by letting Gibson go via trade. Gibson has great value in trade talks because he is a solid contributor off the bench, and could quite frankly start for plenty of teams around the league. Watch for teams like the Clippers or Blazers to look for a much needed big man.

Needless to say, there are plenty of intriguing options out there for teams in need of help. However, I don’t foresee any blockbuster trade taking place this time around. We already saw Rajon Rondo get traded earlier this season, and there isn’t any player as talented in trade talks. But a contending team can definitely find a missing piece this week and could change their fortunes come playoff time.

Though Steve Nash's career might be ending, he will go done as an NBA star

Steve Nash might have already played his last NBA game.

With back and nerve problems that will keep him sidelined the entire season, Nash may not have hoped for an ending like this, but he sure did have one heck of an NBA career.

Due to the primacy effect, it is easy to forget Nash won consecutive MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 with the Phoenix Suns. We are now seeing an aged Nash with a depleted Lakers team while his career is slowly coming to a close.  But at his prime, Nash facilitated one of the most high powered offenses we have seen in his time with Phoenix. That Phoenix team is known to have started the “up-tempo” style of offense we see so much around the league now thanks mostly to Nash.

Led by coach Mike D’antoni, Nash along with Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion averaged a league high 108 points per game. Nash was a double-double machine with points and assist well in double digits. The way Nash weaved through defenses with such ease and orchestrated this high octane offense was a thing of beauty. To truly see his underrated speed and skill of passing, he was one of those players you had to watch live in a stadium at least once.

And how can we forget Nash’s antics in the dunk contest with fellow teammate Stoudemire. Nash used his brilliant soccer skills to kick up the ball for an alley-oop dunk to Stoudemire. He used this creative side to create passing lanes that nobody thought existed and it was these little things that made Nash such a fun loving teammate and player to watch.

As his career may be coming to a close, Nash’s career averages of 14.3 points per game and 8.5 assists per game don’t tell the whole picture. He ranks third overall in total assists and tied first for an almost perfect free throw percentage. Nash is considered to be a lock for the Hall of Fame and its a shame his last few seasons are far short of hall of fame play.

If this truly is the end of his career, it sure was fun. Nash led arguably the best offenses in the league with Dallas and Phoenix for about six seasons in a row in the early 2000s. With all the accolades Nash does hold, lets hope he isn’t remembered by his last dying years of his NBA career and instead the Nash who blew us away by his speed and kept us guessing of what spectacular pass was coming next.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ season has been one of chaos and injuries, especially at the point guard position.

At the beginning of the year, future hall of famer Steve Nash was expected to run the show and maybe surprise fantasy owners by showing some flashes of his days in Phoenix as a member of the Suns. After all, he was ranked 79th overall before the season in Yahoo leagues, ahead of point guards like Isaiah Thomas, Jameer Nelson, Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke and so many more that have been much more valuable thus far due to Nash’s back issues.

Steve Blake was another guy that some expected to be a contributor at the point guard position for the Lakers. Like Nash, the injury bug bit him as well, as he battled a torn elbow ligament.

And then there was Jordan Farmar, who terminated his contract in Turkey to take less money to rejoin the Lakers, but struggled to stay on the court with a nagging hamstring injury.

With these three out, the Lakers were desperate to sign Kendall Marshall, who is just a year-and-a-half removed from being the thirteenth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In the 20 games Marshall played with his fellow point guards injured, he averaged 10.2 points and 9.3 assists per game, making him a great waiver wire pickup.

However, Nash, Blake and Farmar are all back now for the “Lake Show.” Farmar and Nash have received some rest here and there in the three games they have been available, and Blake has played in three straight contests.

The main point – it may be a little difficult for fantasy owners to determine which Lakers point guard will be the guy to own in leagues down the line.

Stemming from their days together in Phoenix, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni is a fan of Nash, saying earlier in the week: “He’ll start, and we’ll see where he is.”

Well, Nash has played and started in two of the three games he has been cleared to play in. On Tuesday, he played an unexpected 25 minutes, finishing with seven points and nine assists. He took a game off and returned to the starting lineup Friday, playing 28 minutes, scoring 19 points and dishing out five assists on his 40th birthday.

D’Antoni also made a case for Blake earlier in the week saying: “we need (him) on the floor, no matter what.”

Blake has been impressive in his three games back, averaging 8.3 points, 9.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds in a hefty 36 minutes per game. That includes a triple-double against Cleveland on Wednesday.

D’Antoni didn’t stop at Blake and Nash, adding that “Farmar deserves to play” too.

Farmar has only played one game recently, and that came Wednesday night against Cleveland when he played 33 minutes, scoring 21 points and gaining six assists.

That leaves Marshall, whom D’Anotni has said will “have to compete.”

With the simultaneous return all the point guards that were expected to play for the Lakers during the first half of the season, fantasy owners are most likely in a quandary on who to grab in their respective leagues.

Who knows what D’Antoni’s real plans are, but I would suggest going with Nash or Blake. D’Anotni has a man crush on Nash, so you can never count him out, and Blake is going to get his minutes at both the point guard and shooting guard positions. Each of these players will get you 3-pointers, assists, occasional rebounds and probably 10 points per game.

Farmar is still making his way back into the lineup, so I don’t think he is trustworthy at this point.

As for Marshall, if you were one to get him off the waiver wire, go ahead and drop him. He is essentially a fourth-stringer now and not going to see the floor as much, barring any more injuries to Nash, Blake or Farmar.

Preya Mangalat Patel, artistic director and choreographer at the Devi school of Dance in Austin, and her troupe will perform a special garba piece, a traditional Indian dance, during the staging of the "Little Red Chunari" at the Austin Scottish Ritt Theatre this weekend.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Preya Mangalat Patel began dancing at the age of four. Now, as artistic director and choreographer at the Devi School of Dance in Austin, Patel teaches a small group of young students Bharatanatyam — an Indian classical dance form.

Patel and her troupe will perform a special garba piece, a traditional Indian dance, during the staging of the “Little Red Chunari” at the Austin Scottish Rite Theatre this weekend.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Patel was introduced to dance by her mother who encouraged her to enroll in dance classes.

“My mother loves me a lot,” Patel said. “When I was young, she put me into whatever dance classes were available at that time.” 

When she was six, Patel met her guru — Kalashri Asha Gopal, founder and director of the Arathi School of Dance in Phoenix. Gopal was the only Bharatanatyam teacher in the small Indian community in Arizona at the time. As a young dancer, Patel lived to hear the beats and the rhythms and learned dance styles like ballet, tap and jazz, and other Indian classical dance forms like Mohiniattam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Odissi.  

“When you’re younger, you’re shown the moves and you’re told to show the right expressions,” Patel said. “But you are not necessarily feeling the dance. It was some time during my Arangetram that I truly fell in love with classical dance.” 

A proud moment for most classical dancers, Arangetram is the debut on-stage performance of a classical dancer that usually takes place when the dancer is 13 years old.

“Once I found the passion for classical dance, I realized the depth and the scope of it when it comes to abhinaya and telling stories,” Patel said. “I feel like I still have a long way to go.” 

Abhinaya, a concept in Indian classical dance, is the art of expression requiring a different set of skills and experiences. One has to be proficient at depicting expression and drama through dance.

Patel graduated as a dance major from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., in 1994. Shortly after, she decided to pursue a condensed, one-year program in cytology from a school in Las Vegas because she wanted space to pursue what she was truly devoted to.

“I chose to pursue cytology because it allowed me a lot of flexibility,” Patel said. “It allows me the freedom to be a mother and a wife, to dance and to have a job.”

Patel knew the kind of dance she really wanted to do all her life was Bharatanatyam. 

“You can be quite creative with [Bharatanatyam] if you have the time and if you have the passion for it while still adhering to the traditions of it,” Patel said. “You can find things that appeal to different audiences as well.”

Having studied under several gurus, Patel said she has learned from each one of them. 

“The more you are exposed to, the more you are able to find your own path,” Patel said. “That’s what sets you apart from other dancers.”

In 2007, Patel moved to Austin, and that was when she reconnected with her childhood friend from Phoenix, Sumana Sen Mandala, who had recently started a semi-professional dance group called Stage Sanchaar. Mandala and Patel, both students of guru Gopal, had completed their Arangetram under her.

Patel and Mandala performed together with the Stage Sanchaar troupe to raise awareness and funds for The Arts and Fitness Program for Young Children in Austin and in 2010 they staged a dance production titled “The Power of You.”

“Just as a good actor is able to get into the role, Preya as a talented dancer is able to get into the role,” Mandala said. “She is a versatile and beautiful dancer and she is very professional.”

During her involvement with Stage Sanchaar, Patel also met Minnie Homchowdhury, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer from India, who has been pursuing the dance form for more than 25 years. 

“Preya is a complete performer,” Homchowdhury said. “The stage loves her. She is well-versed in both the Western and Indian styles of dance.”

In October 2013, Patel started her dance school with seven students. She trains them in her guru’s style of Bharatanatyam and wants her students to be proficient and comfortable with the form before moving on to other styles of dance.

“I really enjoy teaching,” Patel said. “I’m becoming a better dancer being a teacher, because I tend to look into things deeply, wanting to
answer any question that can come from the students.”

For Patel, classical dance has been a significant part of her life and she believes dancing has kept her focused and organized. The only time she has spent away from dance was during her pregnancy and her move to Austin.

“I think as an artist, when you leave that part of you out for a significant length of time, you don’t even realize what’s missing until you put it back in,” Patel said. “As soon as I brought back dance into my life, I felt I was a better mom, a better wife and a better person. I was complete again.”

2013 NBA Mock Draft - Staff Picks

A few sports reporters compiled lists of who they think will be drafted in tonight's NBA draft. Here are their top ten and where they project Texas' Myck Kabongo will end up.

 

Sara Beth Purdy, Sports Editor

1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

3. Washington: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

4. Charlotte: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

6. New Orleans: Alex Len, C, Maryland

7. Sacramento: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

8. Detroit: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

9. Minnestoa: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

10. Portland: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

...

51. Orlando: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas

 

Christian Corona, Sports Permanent Staff

1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

3. Washington: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

4. Charlotte: Alex Len, C, Maryland

5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

6. New Orleans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

7. Sacramento: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

8. Detroit: C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh

9. Minnesota: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

10. Portland: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana

...

46. Utah: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas

 

Diego Esteban Contreras, Sports Issue Staff

1. Cleveland: Nerlins Noel, C, Kentucky

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

3. Washington: Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

4. Charlotte: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

5. Phoenix: Alex Len, C, Maryland

6. New Orleans: Anthony Bernnett, PF, UNLV

7. Sacramento: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

8. Detroit: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

9. Minnesota: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

10. Portland: CJ McCollum, PG, Lehigh

...

38. Washington: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas

PHOENIX  — No explosives were found on a Southwest Airlines plane that was diverted to Phoenix with 143 passengers on board, authorities said.

The FBI said Monday that an afternoon flight from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, landed in Phoenix after someone called in a bomb threat.

Laura Eimiller of the FBI's Los Angeles field office said Flight 2675 left Los Angeles International Airport at 2:12 p.m. and was heading to Austin before the threat was received by telephone.

F-16s were scrambled out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson to monitor the flight as a precaution as it flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, according to NORAD officials.

Flight 2675 landed safely at about 3 p.m., and authorities in Los Angeles asked Phoenix police to check out the possible threat.

The plane's crew and 143 passengers got off the plane and boarded several buses.

All passengers were interviewed by Monday evening, FBI special agent Manuel Johnson said in a statement. Investigators were making all efforts to identify the caller who made the bomb threat, he said.

The investigation continued Tuesday and no arrest has been made, Johnson said.

Sky Harbor spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said the plane was isolated on the tarmac away from terminals.

Flights took off and landed only on the airport's two south runways Monday evening due to the investigation, and some arrivals were delayed, Rodriguez said.

The passengers from the diverted plane were flown to Austin on another flight, arriving early Tuesday morning, Southwest spokeswoman Katie MacDonald said.

The plane that was diverted was returned to service Tuesday, she said.

NHL: Making a playoff case for each of the West’s bottom seven teams

Hang on to your hats, folks, because the destiny of several teams will come down to the last week or even day of the regular season. In the West, every team has a shot with 19-20 games left. Here’s a playoff case for each of the West’s bottom seven.

9) Phoenix Coyotes (13-12-4): They’ve never really found a consistent stride so far this year, but they’ve been able to stay afloat in the West even without critical goal scorers Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal for several games. Once Vrbata returns the ‘Yotes will have that all-important scorer spreading the ice on the right wing. Mike Smith might be the most inconsistent goalie in the league, but when he’s on, he’s one of the league’s best. The ‘Yotes should look at last season’s finish as motivation. They peaked at the right time and were three wins away from the Finals. This is a playoff-caliber team.

10) Dallas Stars (13-12-3): Their season has mirrored that of Phoenix so far: ups and downs without much consistency. But this team can make the playoffs with its effective combination of young speedsters and a stabilizing veteran presence. Winger Cody Eakin and big defenseman Brenden Dillion have been absolute revelations for the Stars this season, and Jaromir Jagr seems to forget that he is 41 years old, currently leading the Stars in scoring. Kari Lehtonen has been a little inconsistent as of late, but has been by and large as advertised this season. The biggest question mark for the Stars is a constant defensive intensity. If they can establish that, they have enough offense to get into the playoffs. Dallas is also a playoff-level team.

11) Edmonton Oilers (11-11-6): I am in love with the offensive core of the Oil. They’ve been suffering in the standings for years but all that time in the cellar has finally paid off with established players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, etc. They are one of the league’s youngest teams, and are right up there with the league’s most entertaining. They, like Dallas, will rely on the spirited energy of their young legs to simply outskate their opponents. But they do have a lot of talent. Their forwards constantly circle around the offensive zone, the puck is never stagnant and they have the ability to just wear opposing teams down. Their defense has been spotty, but G Devan Dubnyk has been solid. They can be a tough out in the first round.

12) Nashville Predators (11-12-6): Pretty disappointing record for a team as well constructed as this one. Their offense has been anemic and their penalty kill ranks 26th league-wide: a self-destructive combination. Their blue line has clearly dropped a bit with the loss of star D-man Ryan Suter, yet they are still the league’s eighth best defense. They are leaning harder on their goalie, Pekka Rinne, than any team in the league leans on theirs, but if their offense can just become average they will be able to stay in games. Rinne is that good. They’ll be a lower seed at best, but elite goaltending can carry you.

13) Columbus Blue Jackets (11-12-6): If there was a “Most Improved Team” award, Columbus would get it. Sixteen games in and I thought they were done, but they have slowly clawed their way back into the playoff race. Although they have some exciting players, they are probably the least likely playoff team in the bottom seven. If anything, sheer momentum could slip them into the top eight.

14) Calgary Flames (11-12-4): They’ve featured a solid offense highlighted by Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay and Lee Stempniak, and their power play is in the league’s top 10. Their greatest concern is consistent goaltending – Miikka Kiprusoff has been in and out of the lineup this whole season. If he can re-establish himself in the pipes, they have they firepower to compete in a first round series.

15) Colorado Avalanche (10-14-4): Somehow they are in the bottom 20 in the league in every major category. Go figure. Despite their place in the standings, this team is not the worst in the conference. They have highly coveted centers Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and winger Gabriel Landeskog. G Semyon Varlamov needs to be better, along with everything else. But it really is a mystery why this team only has 24 points after 28 games. I think they are better than Columbus.

Hang on to your hats folks, because the destiny of several teams will come down to the last week or even day of the regular season. In the west, every team has a shot with 19-20 games left. Here’ s a playoff case for each of the West’s bottom seven.

9) Phoenix Coyotes (13-12-4): They’ve never really found a consistent stride so far this year, but they’ve been able to stay afloat in the West even without critical goal scorers Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal for several games. Once Vrbata returns the ‘Yotes will have that all-important scorer spreading the ice on the right wing. Mike Smith might be the most inconsistent goalie in the league, but when he’s on he’s one of the league’s best. The ‘Yotes should look at last season’s finish as motivation. They peaked at the right time and were three wins away from the Finals. This is a playoff-caliber team.

10) Dallas Stars (13-12-3): Their season has mirrored that of Phoenix’ so far: ups and downs without much consistency. But this team can make the playoffs with its effective combination of young speedsters and a stabilizing veteran presence. Winger Cody Eakin and big defenseman Brenden Dillion have been absolute revelations for the Stars this season, and Jaromir Jagr seems to forget that he is 41 years old, currently leading the stars in scoring. Kari Lehtonen has been a little inconsistent as of late, but has been by and large as advertised this season. The biggest question mark for the Stars is a constant defensive intensity. If they can establish that, they have enough offense to get in to the playoffs. Dallas is also a playoff level team.

11) Edmonton Oilers (11-11-6): I am in love with the offensive core of the Oil. They’ve been suffering in the standings for years but all that time in the cellar has finally paid off with established players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, etc. They are one of the league’s youngest teams, and are right up there with the league’s most entertaining. They, like Dallas, will rely on the spirited energy of their young legs to simply outskate their opponents. But they do have a lot of talent. Their forwards constantly circle around the offensive zone, the puck is never stagnant, and they have the ability to just wear opposing teams down. Their defense has been spotty, but G Devan Dubnyk has been solid. They can be a tough out in the first round.

12) Nashville Predators (11-12-6): Pretty disappointing record for a team as well-constructed as they are. Their offense has been anemic and their penalty kill ranks 26th league-wide: a self-destructive combination. Their blue line has clearly dropped a bit with the loss of star D man Ryan Suter, yet they are still the league’s eighth best defense. They are leaning harder on their goalie, Pekka Rinne, than any team in the league leans on theirs, but if their offense can just become average they will be able to stay in games. Rinne is that good. They’ll be a lower seed at best, but elite goaltending can carry you.

13) Columbus Blue Jackets (11-12-6): If there was a “Most Improved Team” award, Columbus would get it. 16 games in and I thought they were done, but they have slowly clawed their way back into the playoff race. Although they have some exciting players, they are probably the least-likely playoff team in the bottom seven. If anything, sheer momentum could slip them into the top eight.

14) Calgary Flames (11-12-4): They’ve featured a solid offense highlighted by Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay, and Lee Stempniak, and their power play is in the league’s top ten. Their greatest concern is consistent goaltending – Mikka Kirprusoff has been in and out of the lineup this whole season. If he can re-establish himself in the pipes, they have they firepower to compete in a first round series.

15) Colorado Avalanche (10-14-4): Somehow they are bottom 20 in the league in every major category. Go figure. Despite their place in the standings, this team is not the worst in the conference. They have highly-coveted centers Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and winger Gabriel Landeskog. G Semyon Varlamov needs to be better, along with everything else. But it really is a mystery why this team only has 24 points after 28 games. I think they are better than Columbus, and they will be in the hunt at end.

 

NASCAR: Five Sprint Cup Series drivers to watch this season

With two races already completed, here’s a quick look at five drivers to watch in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season.

Jimmie Johnson

It wouldn’t be wise to count out the five-time champion. He’s looking for his “six-pack,” and his Daytona 500 victory was a good start to getting it. Johnson had a shot a victory lane last weekend in Phoenix as well, finishing second. He’s currently the leader in points, and a smart early-season pick for the championship.

Brad Keselowski

The defending Sprint Cup champion is off to a strong start, with back-to-back fourth place finishes in the first two races of the season. The Penske Racing organization switched from Dodge to Ford this season, a move Roger Penske said he did to keep his teams competitive. So far, Keselowski seems to be fairing alright.

Kevin Harvick

After finishing in the top 10 of the final standings the last three seasons, Harvick is in his last season with Richard Childress Racing. He has driven all 12 seasons of his career for RCR, but will move to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Will he finally be able to win a championship at RCR in his last season?

Danica Patrick

Before the season, Patrick caused a media frenzy after announcing she is dating fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. She then proceeded to win the pole at Daytona, and made history with her eighth-place finish. But she blew a right-front tire in Phoenix and finished 39th. Expectations are high for the former Indy driver in her rookie season, and the hype is here to stay.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR’s 10-time most popular driver went through a detox diet in the offseason to slim down and make his firesuits fit a little better. Maybe it helped, as he finished second at Daytona and fifth at Phoenix, a strong start for a driver still looking for his first championship.

Last year’s Kobalt Tools 400 champion, Tony Stewart, will look to defend his title at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 10. Television coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. on FOX.