Drawing from its
network of NBA insiders--including scouts, coaches and front-office
personnel--FAST BREAK picked up this chatter from around the league.
are imploding, and there's only one answer: Trade Allen Iverson (right). They
can't win with him, so they need to see if they can win without him. Instead of
asking for Ray Allen or Paul Pierce or Vince Carter, they need to settle for
younger players--like Ben Gordon and Luol Deng [of the Bulls]--and spend the
next two years running the offense through Chris Webber while the talent
develops." ... "There are always rumors that if [ Celtics coach] Doc
Rivers is fired, they'll just shift [G.M.] Danny Ainge over to replace him, but
I don't think that'll ever happen. Since Day One, Danny has been telling the
owners that he doesn't want to coach." ... "I hear that the Blazers are
interested in hiring [Sonics director of basketball operations] Dave
Pendergraft in some front-office capacity, maybe to replace G.M. John Nash, so
that [coach] Nate McMillan can have his own guy in Portland." ... "Two
reasons why the Bucks are struggling: Teams are clogging the middle on T.J.
Ford and--unlike Chris Paul, for example--he doesn't have the ability to get
the ball in the basket when he's surrounded by big people. Also, Jamaal
Magloire is hurting them because he's a plodder who demands the ball and
detracts from their up-tempo style."
COMING BACK SOON:
It has been almost
three years since a motorcycle accident tore three ligaments in Jay Williams's
left knee and severed a nerve in his left leg, nearly resulting in its
amputation. This week, however, the 6'2" point guard--who also fractured
his pelvis in the accident--will move to Houston to begin full-time workouts
under former NBA point guard and coach John Lucas. A rehabilitation guru who
played a pivotal role in the comebacks of T.J. Ford and Vin Baker, among
others, Lucas hopes to have Williams ready for his return to the league by the
start of next season. " John Lucas is going to put me through hell, but hell
is where I need to go to get me where I want to be," says Williams, 24, the
2002 NCAA player of the year at Duke and No. 2 pick in that year's draft.
plans to be ready for the start of summer-league play in July. "I don't
know if I'll be the guy with a 43-inch vertical who's going to be able to dunk
over Yao Ming," says Williams. "But I'll be a smarter player."
And perhaps even
as good as he was in his one NBA season, when he averaged 9.5 points and 4.7
assists as a Bulls rookie. "I never thought I was going to be able to dunk
the ball again, but now I'm dunking," Williams adds. "I keep working
hard and surprising myself. For the first time I can see the light, and now I'm
reaching for it."
The most important, yet overlooked, story down the stretch is Tim Duncan's
plantar fasciitis. Few players have suffered bigger dips in back-to-backs than
the Spurs' big man, who averages 19.4 points in the first game but only 14.9
the following night. He experiences a similar dropoff on the boards, going from
11.8 rebounds to 9.1.
The daily speculation about a Kevin Garnett trade is almost lending an air of
inevitability to his exit from Minnesota, no?