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COMBUSTIBLE INGREDIENTS

Oct. 24, 2005
Oct. 24, 2005

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Oct. 24, 2005

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COMBUSTIBLE INGREDIENTS

Here's why these pairings could strike magical sparks--or send their teams down in flames

MARRIAGE

This is an article from the Oct. 24, 2005 issue Original Layout

SEBASTIAN TELFAIR, PG, and JARRETT JACK, PG
Trail Blazers

WHY IT WILL WORK

Job competition is good, especially for Telfair, who's always been the Man. The cat-quick Telfair and physical rookie Jack provide new coach Nate McMillan with different styles and spirited practices.

WHY IT WON'T WORK

There can only be one "point guard of the future" in Portland, and first-round picks Telfair (2004) and Jack ('05) each can claim that tag. Lack of playing time for either could lead to some early-season sniping.

 

MARRIAGE

LARRY HUGHES, SG, and LEBRON JAMES, SF
Cavaliers

WHY IT WILL WORK

James and Hughes give Cleveland 49.2 points and 11.9 assists, and could be the most dominant perimeter tandem since Jordan-Pippen. Like those Bulls, with the rest of the roster you just fill in around them.

WHY IT WON'T WORK

Great players, similar styles, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Both players like to slash to the basket, and Hughes's three-point percentage of 28.2 does nothing to help Cleveland's shooting woes.

 

MARRIAGE

LARRY BROWN, coach, and STEPHON MARBURY, PG
Knicks

WHY IT WILL WORK

In Philly, Brown turned Allen Iverson into an MVP two guard. In Detroit he made Chauncey Billups into a Finals MVP point. Now back in his hometown, Brown will discover how to get the most out of Marbury.

WHY IT WON'T WORK

Not even the Big Apple has room for these two massive egos. Sniping that began at the 2004 Olympics carries over, and constant media pressure will lead to a press war that won't have a Broadway ending.

 

MARRIAGE

WALLY SZCZERBIAK, SF, and KEVIN GARNETT, PF
Timberwolves

WHY IT WILL WORK

No Latrell Sprewell means a return to the starting lineup for Szczerbiak. At 29 the Big Ticket knows that for him to have a chance at a ring, he must help Wally World get back to his All-Star form of 2002.

WHY IT WON'T WORK

Whether because of Szczerbiak's cockiness or his questionable shot selection, he and KG have never been on the same page. Garnett values loyalty, and Szczerbiak's trade demands this summer rankle.

 

MARRIAGE

JEFF VAN GUNDY, coach, and RAFER ALSTON, PG
Rockets

WHY IT WILL WORK

Reenergized by his escape from Toronto, Skip will happily dump the ball into Yao Ming when he's not dishing to his new running buddies Tracy McGrady and Stromile Swift in Van Gundy's promised up-tempo offense.

WHY IT WON'T WORK

Old dogs don't learn new tricks: Van Gundy is sure to revert to his trademark grind-it-out ways. Steve Francis bit his tongue for a season before being shipped to Orlando; don't bet on Alston's keeping mum that long.

 

MARRIAGE

PHIL JACKSON, coach, and KOBE BRYANT, SG
Lakers

WHY IT WILL WORK

Kobe is older, Phil is wiser, and Shaq is elsewhere. A triangle offense focused exclusively on Kobe has the 27-year-old poised for his best season yet. New center Kwame Brown supplies a crucial low-post presence.

WHY IT WON'T WORK

You can't unring the bell. Paperback addenda aside, Jackson's harsh words in his book The Last Season still resonate in Bryant's sensitive mind. If the season goes south early, so will this relationship.

TEN PHOTOSMANNY MILLAN (TELFAIR, JACK); MITCHELL LAYTON (HUGHES); GREG NELSON (JAMES, ALSTON); BOB ROSATO (BROWN); JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (MARBURY); GLENN JAMES/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (SZCZERBIAK); JOHN BIEVER (GARNETT); DARREN CARROLL (VAN GUNDY); ROBERT BECK (JACKSON); BILL FRAKES (BRYANT)