Weekly Countdown (cont.)
4 Questions rescued from the spam
4. While I agree that Kobe should certainly be in the MVP conversation, I question the "leadership" qualities you ascribe to him. Is it leadership to have a surly disposition for 48 minutes every game? Is it leadership to constantly be snapping at teammates on the way to the bench during every timeout? Is it leadership to be visible irritated after every play that doesn't culminate in a Kobe shot attempt?
I can hear your Boston accent clearly, Dave. But when Andrew Bynum went down, Bryant took over. After the years of criticism he's received for not elevating the play of his team, it's only fair to point out the positive impact he's creating.
3. So you're basing an MVP choice on six games when LeBron James has been killing the entire year? Yet another writer who is making an excuse as to why LeBron shouldn't win the MVP. That's ridiculous.
2. I don't understand how you suddenly forgot how many injuries the Cavs have sustained this season, and how well they have still done. Apparently Kobe is a better leader because he gets the job done when his center isn't around, but LeBron doesn't. How many more Cavs injuries and victories will it take you to figure out that you should be writing this about LeBron, not Kobe?
If you go back and look, you'll find I've been calling LeBron the presumptive MVP for weeks now. All I'm saying is that Kobe is back up there with him. It's a long season and there will be more changes and developments to come.
1. Any chance the owners and players could work out a system where each player was paid a certain percentage of the team's income, rather than a set salary? This would make an instant salary cap, and maybe reduce some of the competition for higher dollar amounts.
That doesn't work because the New York Knicks' income is more than double the income of the Sacramento Kings. The NBA needs to find a system that enables the small markets to compete with the local media deals of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
3 Moves worth considering this summer
Unfinished trade talks at the deadline often lead to something concrete in the summer. Some of the deals below were discussed in recent days ...
3. Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland. It's understandable that Cleveland didn't complete a deal with Phoenix this week, because bringing on Shaq would have forced an entirely new style on the Cavaliers with only two months remaining until the playoffs. The Cavs will keep Shaq in the back of the mind throughout the postseason. If things don't go well in May or June, if they think they need a big move to shake things up, then this could make for a spectacular pairing with LeBron.
Shaq would need to go to a team that plays to his pace. Another potential home would be the Pistons, who could try to sign-and-trade Rasheed Wallace to Phoenix while acquiring Shaq to fill the cap space vacated by the expiring contract of Allen Iverson. The Pistons could go into next season with an admirable starting five of Shaq, Antonio McDyess, Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey -- and still have plenty of cap space in 2010 when Shaq's contract expires.
2. Chris Kaman to Oklahoma City. In lieu of Tyson Chandler, is Kaman the Thunder's center of the future? Kaman has a lot going for him. He's a team player who defends, rebounds, blocks shots and doesn't demand the ball, plus he can score in the low post. The Thunder (or another bidder) would need to resolve doubts about Kaman's health after he missed 26 games last year and 40 so far this season. But his contract ($34 million over the three seasons ahead) is similar in annual salary to Chandler's, though Kaman's runs one year longer.
1. Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson to Portland. The Trail Blazers could become contenders next season by reuniting the leaders of the Nets' former NBA finalists. After negotiating with Milwaukee for Jefferson on and off for the past two weeks, the Blazers could trade him into their summer cap space while sending Travis Outlaw or other young talent to the Bucks. Then they could do a sign-and-trade for Kidd, sending another young piece or two to Dallas. Coach Nate McMillan has great respect for Kidd at both ends of the court, and his size would enable third guard Jerryd Bayless to share the backcourt with either Kidd or Brandon Roy. The Blazers generally don't like to relinquish their young talent, but this summer will be the time to make a big move.
2 Potential buyout signees
2. Mikki Moore. The 33-year-old 7-footer averaged 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds with New Jersey two years ago, and last year gave Sacramento 8.5 and 6.0. He was bought out by the Kings on Thursday. He could wind up in Boston, especially if the Celtics fail to land ...
1. Joe Smith. The ultimate teammate, well-liked by players and coaches alike, the 6-10 former No. 1 pick is coveted by Boston (where he has a close friend in Garnett), Cleveland (for whom he played against the Celtics last postseason) and San Antonio. The 33-year-old Smith has yet to be bought out, but he'll likely be making jump shots, rebounding and defending for some title contender this spring.
1 Bit of news
1. John Paxson is staying as Bulls GM. Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf is being honest when he says he wants Paxson to stay. What many people fail to realize about Paxson is that he is no NBA "lifer.'' When he stops working for Reinsdorf someday, he won't be looking for another job to keep him in the league. He is managing the Bulls because of his affinity for the franchise and its owner, so when Reinsdorf says nice things about his GM it only makes Paxson feel all the worse that he has yet to deliver a title contender to his owner.
This is a long-winded way of explaining that Paxson is in the business for good reasons. If the Bulls ever do get back on their feet, it will be a fine story.