We won't know the order of the draft until the May 20 lottery, but it's a good bet that the first four picks will come from my top four below. Note the dominance of teenagers ...
"Randolph has the most upside of anybody,'' an NBA scout said. "This guy, if you walked into his gym, you'd say, 'I'm looking at
"The Big Ten is an awful league, but he's been really, really good,'' the scout said. "He's a big, thick kid, a little short for a 2 but at 215 [pounds], he can play there. He shoots it with great range and he's not really selfish; he's a willing passer.
"When I saw him, I was disappointed in how he defended. But he will score in our league. I don't know if he has a chance to be an All-Star, but he's one of the rare guys as a young kid who can make NBA threes. He's going to come in and make that shot.''
"Though Rose isn't a great shooter, he's a better shooter than
"Everyone questions his character. He's immature, as he should be. But he's not malicious. His mistakes are magnified because he's the best player in the draft. But don't overevaluate a guy like this, don't look for warts -- do your due diligence, for sure. But unless he's done something really bad in his life, judge his character by the way he plays. He's having a better year than
Your points are well taken. Since their torrid opening month (16-4), however, the Magic have gone 24-19, and their best player has never won a playoff series.
I'm with you in one sense. I hate the clichés that come out after any championship game when the winners say "nobody thought we could do this'' and "we didn't get any respect'' and "the only people to give us a chance were these guys in this locker room.''
But this is how it works in sports: The most talented people try to pretend they're underdogs.
It's all about ambition. A lot of people in the league feel Detroit is the team to beat in the East, regardless of the Celtics' record. But that kind of talk doesn't help the Pistons, who have been good for so long that they need new sources of ambition. In this case, they've recast themselves as an underdog team trying to catch the great Celtics. I take it as a sincere attempt on their part to remain fresh. If the Pistons weren't able to turn their season into a come-from-behind challenge, they would grow bored -- like you.
Are teams going to vote in favor of a rule that prevents them from saving money? That's what you're asking them to do by outlawing contract buyouts.
As for the second part, please read on ...
I don't hear anybody accusing the Spurs of anything beyond luck and ingenuity. They didn't coerce
As for trading Barry and then re-signing him after he had been waived by Seattle, that has become a common ruse. In 2005, the Celtics reclaimed
These loopholes -- including one that the Mavericks used to revive
Any loophole that promotes movement of players and more provocative playoff races is a loophole NBA fans should love.
On the other hand, the salary cap and luxury tax exist to create equality among the big and small markets. The Mavericks could afford to exploit the loophole. The New Orleans Hornets, however, could not have taken on those costs, and that skews the system.
There will be calls to change the next collective bargaining agreement to prevent unnecessary cash from being spent on retirees like Van Horn. As for preventing someone like Barry from re-signing with the Spurs, an easy fix would be to ban him from participating in the playoffs with the team that traded and then re-signed him.
No, I am not campaigning on behalf of Thomas. But I don't believe it's guaranteed that he'll be fired either. The Knicks'
Thomas is finishing his fifth year with the Knicks, and it would not surprise me to see him return next season. Nor would anyone be surprised if he were to be fired this summer. But don't assume that he has no future with Dolan, because the normal rules don't apply to this franchise.
Now look at it the other way. What if Dolan believes that Thomas can still rescue the Knicks? If so, then the owner is looking ahead to the day he gets to say "I told you so'' to everybody. He has already invested heavily in Thomas, absorbing a ton of losses on the court and in the ledgers. If Dolan still believes in Thomas -- and I don't know if he does or doesn't -- then I think he'll bring him back. That's because, ultimately, it will be much more satisfying for Dolan to win with Isiah than with any other executive who might replace him.
It would drive a lot of Knicks fans crazy to see Thomas returning next season, but the Knicks don't belong to New York. They belong to Dolan, and he has the only vote on Thomas' future.
One more thing, for whatever it's worth. The Knicks won't hold the rights to their first-round pick in 2010. They dealt it to Phoenix in 2005 as part of the Marbury trade, and the Suns moved it onto Utah in a financial trade involving
"I have to be built up to a certain level,'' he said. "I've had a few times where I've lost my cool a little bit, but other than that I'm pretty much mellow. I say how things should be, and I give guys insight here and there by telling them some of the things they're doing wrong and doing right. Little things.''
"A lot of times, young guys may not know the significance of making the playoffs,'' he said, "and if you've never been to the playoffs, then you may not even care.
"You really can't explain it to them. But you try to give them a little insight and let them know how it is, how the crowds are. We haven't had a lot of big crowds. But if we made the playoffs, it would probably be a packed house every night.''
In which case the entire franchise might earn respect. "And that would help everybody out,'' Johnson said. "Winning cures a lot of things.''
"How many guys are capable of running your team, defending and making shots?'' an Eastern Conference executive said.
"He's a calming presence to those guys,'' a West executive said. "In some ways, he's an afterthought -- until he kicks your ass. You look at their starting lineup and he's their fifth-best guy. If Derek Fisher is your fifth-best player, that's a pretty good team. He and Kobe are two of the great clutch shooters in the game. When I look at Fisher, I also think he could be a hell of a coach someday.''