THE OAK AND THE WORM
If things go according to plan, the NBA stands to get
a lot more interesting in the coming months, and it's
got nothing to do with the All-Star Weekend or playoff
races. It's about two things: the Oak and the Worm.
Charles Oakley latching on somewhere seems imminent,
with the Rockets, Raptors, and Lakers all rumored to
be interested. Toronto probably has the biggest need
for a body in the middle. I wouldn't be particularly
thrilled about seeing Oak in the purple and gold, but
if that were to happen, at least we could be sure he'd
get his share of TV time.
Houston would be the best fit, no question. If Jeff
Van Gundy wants Yao to get more physical, what better
role model could there be? Charles Oakley is to
physical play in the paint what Paris Hilton is to
home porn. I can see it going down. Someone throws an
elbow at Yao in the paint, and Oakley smacks the guy
in the mouth. Then he smacks Yao in the mouth for not
throwing an elbow back, and we all grow as people.
As for Rodman, he's putting in his work in the ABA at
the moment. He pulled down 14 boards in 28 minutes in
his first game, and 8 boards in 19 minutes in his
second game before removing himself from the game with
some kind of a calf strain.
The Worm may or may not get himself back into NBA
shape. If he does, a team like the Lakers will take a
shot with him. But if he doesn't, if you were a team
like the Atlanta Hawks, what's the downside to taking
on Rodman, even if he's terrible? The team would see a
spike in attendance, and depending on how bad Rodman
is, could actually get worse without looking like
they're tanking to get the top draft pick. No lose
At this point, the Pacers look like the favorite to
come out of the East. Yeah, Detroit just had a sweet
run, but in the process of winning 13 of 14 games,
they gained a total of 0 games on the Pacers and then
were slapped around by them to end their streak. The
Pacers are now 3-0 on the year against their top rival
in the East.
So the question is, could the Pacers hang with any
team that comes out of the West?
Right now, the Kings are owners of the NBA's best
record. So let's see how the Pacers would match up
C. Vlade vs. Jeff Foster. Advantage, Kings.
PF. CWebb vs. JO. Webber, of course, is an established
All-Star. Jermaine O'Neal is averaging 20 and 10 and
has become one of the better big man defenders in the
league. I call it a wash.
SF. Peja vs. Ron Artest. What a fun match-up this
would be to watch. Peja's been arguably the best
offensive player in the league to this point, and
Artest is arguably the best defender. But he can
score, too. I call this a wash, too, but this match-up
would be the most pivotal in the series.
SG. Doug Christie vs. Reggie. Christie's a very good
defender and a good role player, but in the playoffs,
guys don't get any more clutch than Reggie. Advantage,
PG. Mike Bibby vs. Jamal Tinsley. Advantage, Kings.
I think the Pacers could match-up pretty well against
either the Kings or Spurs. On paper, of course, no one
matches up well with the Lakers, but it's so hard to
tell what they'll look like come playoff time. As it
stands now, the Pacers would be the East's best chance
to provide a competitive final since 2000 when they
took the Lakers to six games.
MILES AWAY FROM A GOOD DEAL
Darius Miles for Jeff McInnis and Ruben Boumtje
Couldn't the Cavs have gotten anything more valuable?
Like, oh, I dunno... a ball rack and a pair of
Jordans? An autographed 8 x 10 of Jack Sikma? A VHS
copy of Space Jam?
McInnis was the third point guard on a team where the
first two point guards aren't anything to get excited
about. The most attention Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje's ever
gotten came when Rasheed Wallace hit him in the
avocados with a basketball. I understand that the Cavs
wanted another point guard to get LeBron back on the
wing, but surely they could've picked someone up in
the offseason that was better and wouldn't cost them
It's not that I expect Darius Miles to net an All-Star
in return, but someone with that much athletic ability
shouldn't just be given away, I don't care how big of
a letdown he's been. He's still quite young.
For now, Miles finds himself buried on the depth chart
in Portland, behind Rasheed Wallace and Zach Randolph
for sure, and probably Ruben Patterson and Qyntel
Woods, too. It sounds bad, but there's at least a good
chance that 'Sheed and Patterson won't be Blazers past
the February 19th trading deadline, which would leave
very few headcases, enough playing time to go around,
and a good coach to learn under.
THE MIGHTY TEN
1. Sacramento. Eh, why not. They deserve a turn at the
top. Good luck winning a title with the league's 5th
worst defense, though.
2. Minnesota. Losing by 19 to Houston isn't the end of
the world, but it does mean you don't get to be #1
3. Detroit. 13 straight is impressive. A 14th against
Indiana might've gotten them the #1 ranking, though.
3(t). Indiana. Hard to rank them behind a team they've
beaten three times this year. So they're tied.
5. Dallas. Six wins in a row... could be starting to
6. San Antonio. Lost 4 of their last 6, 3 of them to
Eastern Conference teams (Atlanta, Indiania, Detroit).
That's not good.
7. Denver. Have been eating up on weak teams (Suns,
Jazz, Heat, Lakers) and losing to good ones (Mavs,
Kings, Spurs), but still, 26-18 gets them a spot.
8. LA Lakers. Lost to Phoenix, lost to Memphis, were
hammered by Dallas. And down they go.
9. Memphis. Probably not among the best teams in the
league, but they've been hot recently and may not get
another shot to crack the Mighty 10. So they get the
10. Milwaukee. If Michael Redd isn't an All-Star, it's
a crime. This team has no business being this good.
New Jersey. Booklyn, Jersey, whatever. I don't care
where the move, but if they moved out of the Atlantic
Division, they might struggle to make the playoffs.
Houston. Didn't do anything to deserve to fall out of
the Top 10, but I couldn't ignore Milwaukee or
Memphis. They'll get back in soon.
THE MEEK 5
25. Washington. Sure, they've won two straight, but
they're not fooling anyone.
26. Miami. Dwayne Wade's return should pull them out
of the Meek 5, but the fact that the rest of the team
is terrible keeps them in for right now.
27. Atlanta. It's never a good sign when opposing
players suggest moving the franchise.
28. Orlando. Each week, it gets harder to come up with
another description of how they bad they suck.
29. Chicago. Making a serious run at being as bad as
Orlando. A game and a half out of last. With any luck,
they'll get a great draft pick and spend it on a big
man straight out of high school, because that's worked
out so well for them in the past.
If you're the GM or owner of the Wizards, what do you
do with the world of (expletive deleted) you find
yourself in? And besides drugs, what has Christian
Laettner brought to the table lately? Why is he still
here? And what's the contract status of Kwame? Do you
keep him around given the wizards history of cutting
or trading players that turn out to have productive
careers elsewhere? I'm actually quite suprised they
haven't put Jarvis Hayes on the block yet.
- Tim O., D.C.
Alright, if I was the owner of the Wizards, one word
occurs to me: Sell. If I was the GM, the first thing
I'd do is call up Christian Laettner, fine him and
suspend him. For not sharing. And then I'd consider
hanging myself with Etan Thomas's shoelaces.
And if none of that worked, I'd go about the business
of righting the ship. The Wizards are bad, but they
aren't in terrible shape. They have assets (Arenas,
Stackhouse, Hayes, Kwame) and aren't in cap trouble
like some teams. The rest of this year for the Wizards
is about seeing what they have. Hayes looks like a
young stud, but they've got to figure out if Arenas
and Stackhouse can play well together, or if Kwame's
worth hanging on to. I think Christian Laettner is a
pretty good role player, and plays a smart game. He's
also one of Kwame's best friends and biggest
supporters on the team. Christian Laettner is the
least of the Wizards worries.
If I was a Wizards fan, I'd be terrified of letting
Kwame go. For reference, see: Wallace, Ben. Or
Wallace, Rasheed. Or Webber, Chris. Right now, his
trade value probably isn't the highest in the world,
so if I were GM, I'd definitely hang on to him for a
little while. These are the dangers of taking a high
schooler #1 overall. If you guess wrong, it kills you.
Absolutely kills you. Even if you guess right, and it
takes 4 or 5 years for the guy to develop, it still
Dude, you failed to mention that in that game in which
you quoted you loved Pierce's stats, he was nursing an
injured left hand. You failded to mention the recent
run of ALMOST triple-doubles over the past few weeks.
Paul is easily one of the top 10 players in the
league, arguably top 5. Give him some love. By the
way, love your work, keep it up!!! Cheers,
- Mark Linnett, Australia
First, thanks for the kind words and I think it's
awesome that I can disrespect your favorite player and
you can still love the work. And yeah, I know about
Pierce's hand and his #s, but he had the 4-point night
on the same day I got last week's question about
Pierce, so I ran with it. I meant no disrespect. More
on Pierce below...
You think you're pretty funny, huh? Paul Pierce had
ONE bad night. He fights through triple teams every
night because of how bad his team is. He's AVERAGING
23, 7, and 6. I vote for KG as MVP, but Pierce
deserves to be on there, regardless of his team's
record - they WILL make the playoffs in the East.
- Matt Ferrante
Easy, fella. I figured this would happen, and you're
right, I was being a smart-ass about Pierce. Forgive
me. Here it is for all the world to see: Paul Pierce
is an outstanding basketball player. But MVP
candidate? Come on now.
A brief list of guys to whom I'd give MVP
consideration over Pierce: KG, Peja, Baron, Tim
Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal, Jason Kidd. That's six. There
are at least a few more I'd include over Pierce, but
against those five, Pierce can't even make an
argument. So sure, if there are 7 players on the
ballot, by all means, Pierce might make the cut. This
isn't to say that Pierce doesn't have the talent to
ever be an MVP candidate, because I think he does. But
right now, the Celtics are too bad and there are too
many other candidates for him to be considered.
The Hornets need Mashburn bad, and when he comes back
we'll catapult up the list again. Until then, we will
shoot more bad 3's than a team full of Antoine
Walkers. This must come from coaching. Can't "Pink"
Floyd get some control of this poor shooting squad?
- Donnie Boy Riguez - New Orleans, LA
Hey, Tim Floyd is your head coach, and you aren't dead
last in the league. Be thankful.
Actually, I think Tim Floyd deserves a lot of credit.
He took an absolute beating in the media before the
year, and came out and had the Hornets smoking for a
while. I do think the Hornets will pull it together.
But let's look at the problem you mentioned.
Of the 15 guys in the NBA who have attempted the most
three pointers this year, three are Hornets. David
Wesley, Darrell Armstrong, and Baron Davis. Baron has
shot 382 three-balls. That's 90 more than the next
guy, T-Mac with 292.
And of the Top 15 gunners, here are the worst
13. Darrell Armstrong, .309
14. Baron Davis, .304
15. Antoine Walker, .278
Yeah, that's not good. This is a team with a cast of
excellent "dirty-work" guys and role players that was
forced to rely too much on one scorer. If you were
coaching the Hornets without Mash, what would your
offensive strategy be? Pound the ball into Robert
Traylor in the post? Having Jamal Mashburn back at
point forward will make all the difference for the
Hornets. I wouldn't worry too much. He'll be back by
February which is plenty of time to re-integrate him
to the offense before the playoffs roll around.
First, props to my boy Mikey at work, who this week
had the equivalent of a (disgusting medical procedure
involving a 10-inch pipe cleaner and a sensitive part
of the male anatomy deleted). Unsedated. Fully awake.
That's a man for you. Secondly, who would your
starting five be from the past 13 years? (90's and
00's) And also, who do you believe would be the first
pick of the NBA draft next year? Thanks.
- Luke, Virginia
Listen, I'm going to let it slide this time, but no
more descriptions of medical procedures, alright? I
know it's very exciting to see your pal's little
problem mentioned on a website as prestigious as this
one, but I don't want anyone to get the idea that it's
OK to e-mail me anything about medical procedures that
involve pipe cleaners. But sure, props to your boy. On
to the actual questions...
My starting five from 1990 to right now: PG - Magic.
SG - Michael. SF - Larry. PF - Tim Duncan. C - Shaq.
Toughest decision was at center, between Hakeem and
Shaq, but in the end, Shaq is just more dominating.
I'd love to hear about some other people's 1990 to
right now teams, however.
As for the draft, the consensus #1 seems to be Dwight
Howard. Here's what I know about him: He's big, crazy
athletic, looks amazing in workouts, and is a high
schooler, which means I wouldn't draft him #1 overall
even if his mother agreed to come to my house and cook
for me five nights a week as part of the deal. Taking
high schoolers is just too big of a risk. If you guess
wrong, it sets your franchise back 5 years. For
reference, see: Curry, Eddy, or Brown, Kwame.
Does the Mighty One think that maybe Vince Carter
leading the All-Star voting has little to do with not
having other good forwards in the east (Paul Pierce,
T-Mac, Artest) and more to do with the fact the
Canadians think voting is cool and Americans think it
sucks? I would like to see you give some props to the
Nuggets bench: Earl Boykins, Jon Barry, some huge
white guy that's really good, and some guy I'm
forgetting. If you would write about them I would know
Thank You. One of your biggest fans,
- C. Evans
Actually, Vince Carter leading the All-Star voting has
nothing to do with him competing with guys like Pierce
and T-Mac, because those two guys are listed as guards
on the ballot. Ron Artest is listed as a forward, but
his name doesn't carry near the juice that Vince's
does. As far as Canadian voting attitude vs. American
voting attitude, that's just way too controversial an
issue for me to touch. Let's all just try to get
As for the Nuggets bench, I've always been a Jon Barry
fan. He hustles each trip down the floor, creates
turnovers, gets the fans excited, and sticks the
three. Every team needs a guy like that. I think Kid
Rock said it best last year while being interviewed at
a Pistons game. "We're kickin' ass! We got Jon Barry."
Indeed. I think Earl Boykins is a great backup point,
and I was surprised that more teams didn't go after
him when he was a free agent this past summer. I think
he runs a game very well. Chris Andersen is the best
white guy from Blinn College to ever play in the NBA.
The few times I've seen him, he's struck me as
incredibly athletic with crazy hops. We'll be seeing
him in the All-Star Slam-Dunk competition this year.
Rodney White was a 2002 lottery pick that never lived
up to the potential, but has shown flashes here in
there. It seems like he's mentioned a lot in trade
rumors. And Ryan Bowen... what can you say about Ryan
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