Billups makes an instant impact
Here is the 2008-2009 preseason definition of the Denver Nuggets, straight from Webster's Mythical Dictionary of NBA Franchises: a
Now, here is the definition of
Round peg, meet round hole.
One of the game's most poised playmakers, Billups has excelled in his role as Denver's on-court traffic cop since arriving last month in a trade for
"I watched this team a lot the last couple of years," said Billups, a Denver native who played collegiately at Colorado. "This is my hometown team, so of course I took an interest in them. What I saw was a team that struggled in the fourth quarter. They looked messed up out there.
"Those kind of [struggles] are not going to happen with me out there. I won't let that happen."
Billups has shown his new teammates how easily he can shift from facilitator to scorer. In a 106-105 victory against the Clippers last week, he scored only seven points but chipped in 11 assists. Then, with
Billups said that in the days after his arrival, several Nuggets players told him he was "exactly what they need."
"It felt good to hear that," he said. "There is a lot of talent on this team. We just have to find a way to put it all together."
Billups also represents a philosophical shift by the Nuggets' front office. Denver was in full cost-cutting mode in the offseason, dealing starting center
"They could be a dangerous playoff team," a Western Conference scout said of the Nuggets, who have five consecutive first-round losses. "They have to find a way to avoid the Lakers, New Orleans and San Antonio in the first round. If they can do that, I can see them winning a series. And from there, who knows?"
That's fine with Billups, who reached the conference finals in each of his six full seasons with the Pistons.
"I came here to win," he said. "And that's the feeling I got from everybody, from management to the coaches to the players. We want to win a championship here."
Five games, five Golden State losses and a more than 2:1 turnover-to-assist ratio. Maggette's selfish play hasn't gone unnoticed by other players. According to sources, after the final buzzer against Boston, Celtics forward
"He just puts his head down and goes to the basket," an Eastern Conference scout said. "He doesn't even look to pass."
Word from team sources is that the Warriors are already regretting signing Maggette to a five-year, $50 million deal last offseason. When
Sick of hearing about
Marbury, who had an abrupt, 15-minute meeting with Walsh on Monday, has been told to stay away from the team until further notice. The two sides are still miles apart on a potential buyout. Marbury, who acts as his own agent, is willing to give up only $1 million of the $21.9 million he is owed this season, and the Knicks prefer to pay him about $15 million. Marbury and Walsh are unlikely to have any further face-to-face conversations. According to Walsh, though, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"Everyone has a telephone," Walsh said. "That's probably a better way to do it."
Here's my take on
There is no questioning the 7-footer's potential as an impact defensive player. In the second quarter, Oden had a textbook block of
There are no concerns about Oden's health, according to Portland coach
"I'm still developing, still learning," said Oden, who missed last season with a knee injury. "I'm getting in basketball shape."