THE LAKERS and the Bulls will both squeak into the playoffs but will be eliminated early. Mutually disenchanted with their seasons, the teams will renew trade talks that will eventually bring Kobe Bryant to the Windy City for the 2008--09 campaign.
ONE OF the two Celtics legends running teams, Larry Bird (Pacers) or Kevin McHale (Timberwolves), will resign at the end of the season. Meanwhile, former teammate Danny Ainge will be named Executive of the Year for his work in rebuilding the Celtics.
A LAST-MINUTE infusion of civic money will keep the SuperSonics in Seattle, and a strong All-Star Weekend will keep the wolves at bay in New Orleans. Alas, though, the summer will find the Grizzlies on the move out of Memphis.