Christmas came early for Donald Royal of the CBA's Idaho Stampede. Banished to Boise after being released by the Charlotte Hornets last summer, the veteran forward was invited to rejoin the NBA team Thursday. The Hornets had renounced his rights in order to clear salary cap room to sign free agent Bobby Phills. Royal won't rejoin the Hornets until Dec. 29, however, because NBA rules prohibit teams from re-signing players they renounced the previous summer until 55 days into the following regular season . . . Don't be surprised if Clippers free-agent-to-be Brent Barry signs with the Golden State Warriors. He told reporters it would "be nice" to return to the Bay Area where he attended high school and be closer to his mother who lives in Danville, Calif. Barry's father, Hall of Famer Rick Barry, had his best years with the Warriors . . . Mavericks boss Don Nelson smiled but declined comment on reports he offered Golden State general manager Garry St. Jean the head coaching job in Dallas before Jim Cleamons was fired . . . Heat forward P.J. Brown said he and fellow Louisiana Tech alum Karl Malone of the Jazz are no longer feuding because "it's best for the alma mater." . . . Bucks forward Tyrone Hill said he'll explore the free agent market at season's end . . . Antonio McDyess may be allowed to become a free agent so that the Suns can afford to sign Bulls malcontent Scottie Pippen . . . The 76ers may be growing tired of Allen Iversen's act. Phildelphia has reportedly contacted Toronto about Damon Stoudamire . . . NBA castoff Latrell Sprewell could be free to sign with any team soon, though his one-year suspension will likely remain in place. The players association is trying to negotiate a compromise with the NBA. Despite being sidelined for his attack on Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo, Sprewell is still the subject of several trade rumors. One deal has Sprewell signing with Miami on a $1 million contract exemption. The Heat would then trade him along with Isaac Austin or P.J. Brown to Sacramento for Mitch Richmond. Other possibilities have Sprewell signing $1 million salary exemption deals with Washington or San Antonio, who would then wait out his suspension and ink him to a megabucks deal . . . The Knicks are still offering Allan Houston to the Kings for the disgruntled Richmond . . . Bulls forward Dennis Rodman said the Lakers will win the West this season. "They should win the whole Western Conference, easily." The Worm didn't say if da Bulls would join them in the Finals . . . Rockets forward Charles Barkley said Seattle's Gary Payton is the second-best player in the league behind Michael Jordan. And who says, Chuck isn't humble?