All-Star Sunday: Wrapping Up the Weekend

Darius Soriano —  February 14, 2010

[picappgallerysingle id=”311423″]

About the Saturday night festivities: Obviously I join all Lakers fans in their disappointment that Shannon didn’t put on a better performance in the dunk contest. I was hopeful that he’d provide fans with some memorable moments, but it just wasn’t in the cards for WOW. Analyzing what actually happened with our guy, I’d say that Shannon went for the safe dunk after he missed his ‘Statue of Liberty’ 360 attempt and then he had too much ground to make up when that safer, first dunk received a low score. Switching hands on dunks is not that easy, and Shannon definitely flashed his athleticism (especially on that alley-oop) but jumping really high isn’t really enough to impress the judges. There needs to be either some showmanship or some element of newness to the dunks that you do in that contest or everyone just kind of yawns and waits for the next guy’s turn.  As for the event overall, I thought it was pretty bad.  There weren’t enough good dunks and there wasn’t enough star power to carry the event.  Oh, how I miss the days of ‘Nique and Jordan or even more recently guys like Vince, Iguodala, and Jason Richardson.  Those guys were young, but still name players in the league when they competed and they brought a level of intrigue that made kept fans watching and wondering what would happen next.  This year, the only player that competed that is even a starter on his own team is Gerald Wallace and even he’s a pretty well kept secret to most casual fans.  I’m not saying you need Lebron in the contest to make it thrive (though that would be nice), but I think you need some names to keep fans intrigued.  I also think you either need more competitors or more dunks.  Two dunks from each competitor just isn’t enough and only having four guys means that you may lose a fan favorite (like WOW) early in the competition with little to show for it by the time the night is over.

As for the other events, I was really hopeful that Steph Curry would pull out the 3-point shootout but he just didn’t have enough in him to take out Paul “I make all the money balls” Pierce.  Pierce showed everyone, again, that he is dangerous with the ball in his hands and can bury shots with the best of them (I also thought the point that the announcers made about his competitiveness was a good one).  Do I think that he’s “one of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA”?  Umm, no.  But for all the talk from the announcers that Chauncey Billups is a “streak shooter”, I think that label really belongs to Pierce as he can get hot with the best of them and can find his groove rather quickly.  Pierce is one of the few players in the league that can start a game off very slowly with poor shooting and then turn it on in the 4th quarter and start making shot after shot.  I think he showed that level of shot making last night with his 20 spot in the finals.  As for the Skills Challenge and HORSE, I think both events could use a revamping – HORSE especially.  I think the players need to be encouraged to take more outlandish shots or they need to bring in players that will try those shots all on their own (Monta, Lebron, or even Farmar as shown with his pregame “warmups”).  As for the Skills challenge, I enjoyed watching Nash (and his antics), but the event is a tad boring and I wish they’d add something to it.  Maybe they could add an alley-oop passing ring to the other passes or maybe they could enforce different dribbling techniques into the weave portion (behind the back or spin move dribbles)….I don’t know.  But, I’d like to see a bit more spice in these events.

The other big news this weekend: It looks like the Dallas/Washington swap is going to happen.  The basics of the deal are Dallas sending Josh Howard and Drew Gooden to Washington for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood.  Obviously, this is a win for Dallas in that they get some really good players in this deal and the best player overall in Butler (Kobe thinks this makes Dallas a real contender for the West crown and “on par” with the Lakers).  Washington also gets the cap space that it wants as it goes into full rebuilding mode after a couple terrible seasons in a row.  My thoughts on this deal from the Dallas side are that it definitely makes them a better team. Many will look to Butler as the key cog and that’s natural since he’s the best player in the deal. But to me, it’s the inclusion of Haywood that makes this deal a strong one for the Mavs. They’ve really lacked an interior defensive presence and now they’ve got one of the better defensive bigs in the league to play against Pau/Bynum, Duncan, Boozer, and Nene in the Western Conference playoffs.  And if they were to reach the Finals with this team, Haywood would be more than just a speedbump against Shaq and Dwight. The only drawback I can see for the Mavs is that they’re still thin at SG and this puts Marion’s role in question. In crunch time will the Mavs go small with Kidd, Terry, Butler, Marion, and Dirk? Or will they play a traditional line-up with Marion at SF and Butler at SG (where both players are a bit out of position) with a Dirk/Haywood combo at PF/C? Or, will Marion sit completely so everyone can play their natural positions (with Butler at SF and Terry at SG)? These aren’t problems, per se, but they will be issues that need to be worked out with the Mavs coaching staff and getting that straight with only 30 games left in the regular season is something that will take some work and compromise from the players in order for them to truly gel.

Tonight’s Action:  I love the all-star game as it really is a supreme collection of talent all on one court.  It is a bit of a letdown that Kobe isn’t going to play, but we still get Pau in the game and as a hoops fan the Nash/Dirk reunion in the starting line up and seeing Deron in this game for the first time should be a joy to watch.  I’m also very excited to see Kevin Durant get some court time with the other elite players in this game.  He’s obviously one of (if not) the best young player(s) (outside of Lebron) in the NBA and I think he’ll prove that when he’s on the big stage.

My prediction?  Without Kobe in this game, the East clearly has the best player in Lebron.  You throw in the potential crunch time lineup of Lebron, Wade, Joe Johnson, Bosh, and Horford Howard (need that role player to do the dirty work) and I think they’ll give the West fits with all the versatility that that lineup could offer.  Could a crunch time West lineup of Deron, ‘Melo, Durant, Duncan, and Dirk overcome that group?  I’m not sure, but I’ll be watching and hoping for those closing lineups as, to me, those guys represent the best that each team could close a game with.  Final score? 128 – 121 East, with Lebron bringing home the MVP.  Comment away on what you think will be the outcome of this one.

Darius Soriano

Posts

68 responses to All-Star Sunday: Wrapping Up the Weekend

  1. First! I’m dedicating this to Warren anyways, hope Kobe gets well soon!!

    Shannon really disappointed yesterday. It’s not that I don’t love him anymore, but he really should have worked on some better dunks before showing up on national TV and embarrassing everyone that had been backing him since last year.

    Hope the game is fun today!! I’m especially looking forward to seeing Durant bang with the big boys.

  2. In addition to his lack of creativity and showmanship, Shannon’s quiet/humble demeanor worked against him. You do need to have some level of arrogance to win this thing. He had no swagger ala Kobe or J.R. Rider did in the past.

  3. Darius – ESPN is reporting that the Cavs/Suns are very close to swapping Amare for Hickson, Z, and a pick (as the basis for the trade, anyway).

    What are your thoughts on that?

    Believe it or not…I don’t think it makes the Cavs a better matchup against the Lakers. The Lakers big men can outscore anyone.

    Where the Lakers have trouble is strong, and/or rangy defensive bigs who can pound the Laker bigs into submission.

    If I remember correctly, the Lakers handled the Shaq/Amare combo when they were in Phoenix (and that was while Bynum was hurt).

    Adding Amare to the lineup changes the Cavs from a defensive team that gives LA fits, to an offensive team that the Lakers can outscore most nights.

    You don’t beat LA with offense (unless you’re Chauncey Billups and you get unconcious from behind the arc), you beat them with defense, and this slides Cleveland’s balance decidedly towards offense.

  4. As for Shannon, I think what happened was simple:

    He had a sweet 360 Statue of Liberty Dunk planned, followed by a windmill jam off an alley-oop from Kobe.

    When he missed the 360, he panicked and went into a shell…deciding to go for “safer” dunks.

    He said in a post contest interview that he planned on going with a windmill off the Kobe pass, but he felt like he was too high when he caught it and didn’t want to miss…he should have pulled it down like Nate Robinson and tried again rather than simply completing the inferior dunk.

  5. Burgundy
    That actually sounds about right, he definitely lost a lot of confidence after his first miss. I still think he should have just tried it again. Sigh the possibilities…

  6. My money’s on the East too. Although sometimes in these type of games it’s the fit that wins rather than the talent. Nash and Nowitzki might put on a real show in Dallas.

    Anytime you add a player of Amare’s caliber to an elite team, it’s a good move. In a strong defensive system, I expect his D to become better. Still, Amare can’t guard Pau nearly as well as Big Z did. As long as the Suns don’t buy out Big Z, I’m not terrified. But if Big Z returns and Mike Brown has the flexibility of Z, Shaq, Amare, and Varejao at his disposal…wow. Offense, defense, length, quickness, power…that frontcourt would have everything. And then there’s Lebron.

  7. I agree with snoopy and Z returning after 30 days to provide cle with a power-packed lineup is indeed a downer.

    I do believe phoenix should explore more options, options that do help them if they still want to compete come playoff time and in the long run. that is why i’d go for the iggy/samuel trade over the Z/hickson trade. but am not kerr and ferry ain’t my friend.

    I disagree with kobe saying dal is now at par with us. I think he was just pulling a leg or two. I mean, what words can he use in such a setting?

    What about Yahoo’s Woj suggesting we are in discussion with por over luke and sasha? Do we even contemplate dealing with portland? I mean their young guns are great but they don’t want sasha and luke. even if they got haywood, it would have been at the expense of some precious talent.

    Money on the East with a bigger margin. They’d run the West out cowboy stadium or and 1 them to foul trouble oblivion. Hoping pau does make an impact for purple and gold.

    Don’t feel so bad about shanwow today as yesterday. I am confident he can make a comeback on a greater stage. He is indeed a game dunker. Let him dunk there. GO LAKERS!

  8. Let Shannon use this no-show as motivation to do great things in-game, the stage where it really matters.

    Re: Amare

    This is an excerpt from Bucher’s Insider perspective.

    “…this is merely saber-rattling to get the Wizards to deal them the guy they really want, Antawn Jamison. So far, Washington has been looking around for a better deal, although a concrete one has not materialized. The dalliance with Stoudemire is Cleveland’s way of saying, ‘Don’t take us for granted. We may not be here when you get back to us.'”

  9. 7, we could get a bag of rocks for Luke and Sasha and I would be happy. Lopping $10M off next year’s salary total will make all those PG trades (Hinrich, Calderon, Harris, etc.) a real possibility as opposed to fantasy at this point.

  10. Fearless prediction: Kobe will play tonight, coming out to greet 90k fans with a bang. ;)

    Which leads me to a question, what happens if Kobe plays tonight? Does Jason Kidd have to sit down?

  11. McLovin is a Celtics fan. The world is dead to me.

  12. #3. Burgundy,
    When the deal was first rumored, I said that I think adding Amare hurts the Cavs defense while making them much more potent on offense. I really think that a Lebron/Amare P&R would be deadly and that the Cavs have enough shooting to provide the spacing to let those plays develop in a way that forces the defense to make hard choices. That said, Amare is an attack player and if he is paired with Shaq (who is exclusively a low block player) it limits STAT’s ability to drive to hole as often as he’d like. And, when paired with Varejao (who is a not an offensive threat) I think we’ll see a lot of big on big help rolling towards Amare.

    What makes this deal most interesting to me is the utter greatness of Lebron. If Lebron has proven anything over the years it’s that he has an ability to make the game easier for his teammates. Now, will the same thing occur for Amare? Can Amare thrive as a true second banana? I mean, in Phoenix, even though Nash is the engine the Suns’ offense is built just as much around the athletic skill that Amare possesses – his ability to hit the outside jumper, play post isolation, and be a devastating roll man in the P&R. Amare would get plenty of those same chances in Cleveland, but Lebron’s usage rate is one of the highest in the entire league (only below Wade and Melo and 10 points higher than Nash). Will Amare (who has a usage rate slightly higher than Nash) get enough touches as a “primary” player to be as effective as he is now – especially when paired with Shaq who happens to have an almost identical usage rate as STAT does now? I know that Lebron is a willing passer and does share the ball, but he’s also got the ball in his hands a ton and usually creates shots for every other teammate besides Shaq. Would that be the case for Amare as well? If so, will Amare be as effective? Will Mike Brown – not the most gifted offensive coach – find a way to blend all this offensive talent together to make it work? I’m not looking at this from a negative perspective – I honestly don’t know, but it will be interesting to see (to say the least) if this deal does go down. In a way, this is one of the reasons that I think Cleveland (as related in comment #8) would much rather have Jamison. He’s a player that is more comfortable playing off the ball and can excel as a spot up shooter in Cleveland’s offensive sets as they currently exist.

    In the end, I think the deal as proposed would be a huge talent upgrade, but the games aren’t played on paper and things do need to end up fitting to truly work. And this doesn’t even bring into question what would happen with Big Z (is he bought out? Not? If he is, that’s a lot of games he’s going to miss and then return. Would his role be the same? etc, etc).

  13. I completely agree with Snoopy from the last thread, it is just a sic joke on Mitch that any team (especially Portland) would take Luke and Sasha’s contracts off our hands, how awful can this world be, what did Mitch do to anybody to deserve this.

  14. Wow TNT is struggling tonight. Sound problems, going to commercial in the middle of an interview, and now Saiger pausing and restarting his interview in the middle (after presumably being told he just now got on air).

    I suppose this is what they call drama.

  15. Holy crap Usher and Quest already outdid The Who. NFL pay attention – this is how you put on a show.

  16. Why exactly did Usher do the intro? I mean, why not have Artest rapping?

  17. So Dallas gets a top small forward in Butler and a top defender at center in Haywood. They are now top 3 in the West. If Cleveland gets Amare they go from the best team in NBA to by far the best. And what does Jerry Buss have to say? Dump Sasha and Luke to make more money. Great , he only makes $30 million and year and chooses to do nothing about having the worst starting point guard based on stats in the NBA. Talk about quiting on your team. Nice effort there Jerry.

  18. ken: Easy tiger – that “by far best team” is still up for debate.

    Off topic: Being half Spanish and half Swedish, it was almost surreal seing those two flags next to each other at an All-Star Game. Thanks Pau and Jonas!

  19. Don t forget Cavs haven’t lost in 3-weeks with their 2nd best player Williams out. Add 20 and 10 from Amare
    with Williams and how can this team not be even better.

  20. If Cleveland includes Ilgauskas in a trade with the assumption that he’ll be bought out and they can re-sign him as a free agent, won’t they run into some bidding competition? It seems like there are plenty of teams that would welcome a defense-oriented big man. I would think there were a couple of teams in the East that would make the deal just to weaken Cleveland. (Cap space may be an issue; I’m not sure what the rules are for mid-season signings.) And if Ilgauskas turns down more money to return to Cleveland, it seems like teams can wave the “collusion/illegal trade” flag.

    I’m not sure that any of these trades really help Cleveland, but the whole “trade/handshake/buy-out/re-sign” stuff is getting out of hand.

  21. I’m not saying that they aren’t going to get better – but this isn’t fantasy basketball. It’s hard to tell how the possible inclusion of Amare would affect the Cavs, but I tend to agree with Darius here: It doesn’t strike me as a match made in heaven.

  22. Would anyone be able to help me out with a link for a feed please?

  23. As soon as Nash comes out, the West starts getting sloppy and turning the ball over.

    Rahat called it over at Red94. The All-Star game needs pass-first point guards or you end up with sloppy, unappealing play. Which was frequent during some of the Iverson games.

    I’m gunning for the West (I think the East will take it, but I’m rooting for the West). As long as Lebron or a Celtic don’t win MVP, I’m happy.

  24. Ken:

    When looking over a potential trade you have to make chemistry assumptions, the accuracy of which can vary wildly. Some assumptions are relative slam dunks; the entire world knew Pau would fit the triangle quickly and easily and it came to pass. On the other hand, some people argued vehemently that Shaq would make the Suns world championship material at the time or that Richard Jefferson would move the Spurs past the Lakers.

    With the Amare trade though, the projections don’t look as sunny. First you have to look at why Cleveland wins. As someone who has watched as many Cavs games as Lakers games, Cleveland’s offense may be flying high, but they win the games that count on defense. In close games (2 Atlanta games, vs. Miami, vs. us, vs. the Clips few others that aren’t coming to mind) the formula is remarkably consistent. Their offense grinds the game to a halt with Lebron using the whole shot clock before either getting a high % look or a shooting foul. And on defense Lebron shifts to the other team’s best player and actually starts playing physical defense (best kept secret in the league, Lebron plays the first 42 minutes completely allergic to contact on the defensive end, this is why he hasn’t been in foul trouble in years). Their bigs get physical (and get away with at least 2 fouls per possession) and their guards play aggressive up front on shooters knowing that they have Lebron + a big to cover their butts. It’s not rare for Cleveland to run off 4-5 minute runs where the other team just can’t score. Atlanta went about 9 minutes in the 4th without scoring in a game that they were the better team for 36 minutes. We got shut down for 4 minutes or so in the last game. Wade went almost the whole 2nd half without scratching in the last game. So on and so forth.

    Can Amare help this? He hasn’t proven to be an aggressive OR effective defender in the past. Gasol and Bynum have had him for lunch on multiple occasions. And if Amare takes up some of Varejao’s minutes, that can only be a bad thing for Cleveland since he’s by far their most effective defender.

    And that’s assuming that Amare’s offense stays consistent. History has already shown that he doesn’t play his best with Shaq and that an aggressive Shaq cannibalized his stats. Can he play with Lebron, an extremely high usage player (as noted above)? We don’t know that. There are definitely negatives to be found in adding Amare to the Cavs. Then there are the intangibles. Amare has a bad reputation as an attitude man and might not fit in on the Cavs team (which looks like the most fun team to play on in the league).

    Sometimes a good defensive environment and a good team environment (and don’t forget 60+ wins) can turn a guy around and make him something he’s not. But the point is, this isn’t a sure thing for the Cavs, not by a long shot.

  25. give it to pau!

  26. Kobe looks like he is having fun in his suit with Melo, I am glad he is not playing, we have Pau to enjoy tonight.

  27. Gasol owning lee

  28. *Deron Williams!

    *I think I should have estimated a higher point total.

    *Are David Lee and Zach Randolph birthed from the same basketball mother? Seeing them play it’s like they have the same exact game.

  29. I see some of your points. I wonder if the up and down offense of the Suns hurts everyone’s defense and more of a half court offense might also fit Amare who can shoot over anyone. With another offensive outlet for James alone with Williams and Shack taking up space, I see more options for Cavs and less doubles on James. Hard to imagine a All-Star starter can make Cavs worse!

  30. Can somebody PLEASE kidnap Kobe’s wife?
    We need him to play in the ASG, this is getting so boring, even the 100k crowd seems more amazed at the stadium than the players.

    All-Star has KOBE written all over it.

  31. Really Ken??? Really??

  32. It’s amazing – Kobe gets the biggest ovations even when he’s in a rivaling city and not playing. That’s being a true superstar for you;)

  33. Amare has a PER of 23.4 this season, with an opponent’s PER against of 20.2. According to 82games, the Suns score 1.4 points more when Stoudemire is off the floor, and they also give up 3.4 less points on defense. All in all, Amare has a net production of -4.8 (all per 100 possessions). The Suns all shoot about the same percentage (54.1% on versus 54.2% off) with and without Stoudemire, but allow their opponents to shoot 1.2% better when Stoudemire is in the game.

    This is pretty important considering the Cavs are 2nd in offensive efficiency while 5th in defensive efficiency. Is adding Amare really going to make their offense that much more potent? And will it outweigh the points they give up due to Amare’s lack of D?

    Right now, Anderson Varejao plays the bulk of the minutes at PF, averaging nearly 30 a game. Varejao is also 3rd in +/- this season, so if Stoudemire cuts Varejao’s minutes from 30 to 15, that takes away a huge element of the Cavs game.

    Overall, I don’t think it’s so clear cut and dry that Stoudemire makes the Cavs a better team. Between all the chemistry issues and the possibility that Stoudemire will ruin their defense while adding only marginally to their offense, I’m not so sure it’s worth the risk for the Cavs.

  34. OK So then we want them to make the trade. Correct?

  35. I think as Laker fans we would prefer to see Amare in Cleveland than Troy Murphy, who I would think is far more of a matchup issue for us. It’s a similar story with Antawn Jamison, although he has similar defensive shortcomings to Stoudamire.

    If Z is involved in the deal, then gets the buy-out/30 day treatment, it certainly SHOULD strengthen the Cavs overall, but at the expense of how much chemistry?

    On a related note, would any of these deals be enough to keep LBJ in town at the end of the season if/when they still don’t win the title?

  36. Tonight there have been some great dunks by James and Howard, huh?

  37. Kevin Durant’s game is ideal for All-Star “competition” isn’t it? He’s an effortless scorer in the regular season, and with minimal defense he just fills it up.

  38. The only guy actually playing defense is… Zach Randolph?!

  39. My MVPs, without looking at the #s, but more on impact – Wade or Williams.

    The West is really lacking a dependable 4th quarter killer right now. Too many jumpshots, whereas the East is attacking.

    The East is basically playing the Olympic team.

  40. Wow Williams has gone all downhill. That foul was embarrassing.

    Storybook ending; Karl should run a play for a Dirk three.

  41. What a bonehead-play:D

    Wouldn’t it be great though if Kobe now limped in just for the final possession and nailed the three in the face of Lebron?

  42. And yet Snoopy, the West would’ve had a decent shot if not for Deron “I foul when the score’s tied” Williams.

  43. Actually NVM; the East is also handicapped by Dwight “I also foul during a tie” Howard.

  44. Man, Dirk’s got no killer instinct. You’ve got Howard up in the air; just jump when he’s landing and you’ve got a wide-open three for the win.

  45. Tied game with 7.7s left, isn’t this just great, let’s go to overtime.

  46. Jesus christ…and that look on KG:s face makes it even worse.

  47. God damnit Billups.

  48. wow, wow, terrible shot by Anthony.

  49. Bahhh that was terrible. They should have brought Kobe in there for that shot.

  50. Did you see Kobe’s face on the sidelines after Melo’s shot? You could tell he was like, “man, I would’ve drilled that!”

  51. comon how did karl not give it to dirk

  52. David Stern made a mistake; Wade had 11 assists, not 11 rebounds.

  53. Happy for Wade. I’m surprised he doesn’t get booed in Dallas.

    For such a powerful guy, you’d think David Stern could get a speechwriter. That one was actually good for him, but he always seems to slip-up anytime he presents something.

  54. Snoopy: That always amazes me as well! If I was a public figure like that, I’d pull out one of these babies every time I was to speak in public:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQWxgnFc1fk

    The streets of Dallas are too crowded with ballers, or something;)

  55. It was a fun game to watch and Wade earned the MVP, 5 steals and a good all around game by him… and 108,000 fans in attendance, record setting for a basketball game indeed.

  56. Good game. Really made up for last night.

    How cool is it that Kobe received the loudest cheers both during the players’ intro and the USA Team intro.

  57. Here’s an idea…….

    Make the slam dunk contest a variation of horse. Each guy gets to do a dunk, and the rest have to dupe it, no props,helpers, nada. The judges/fans could score each dunk, except for the original dunker. They would all have one less score than dunks. This would get us away from the silly props, etc. Most of the creativity has been done. Let’s have a different kind of fun with it.

  58. What do you guys think of PT distribution for both teams?

  59. Hey Darius, what about an open thread about all the trades happening until the trade deadline is passed?

  60. Another Cavs Rumor: This one from the LA Times

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    “If Cleveland and Phoenix are unable to work out a deal, the Cavaliers reportedly have agreed to acquire Indiana forward Troy Murphy for Ilgauskas and Hickson. The team that picks up Ilgauskas would probably waive him, allowing him to go back to Cleveland in 30 days while providing salary-cap relief.”

  61. 57, that’s a great idea. A combined horse slam dunk contest. Maybe I’ll put it into a post just so we can prove you claimed the idea first :P.

  62. Zephid, I think a couple of little known basketball players, some old guy who thought he could shoot well, and an aspiring food chain with a clown as their mascot thought of the idea first. Check it out… Oh btw, you may have seen it during some football game about a week ago. (either last saturday or sunday not sure)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24todfsGLCg

    Don’t you love the power of sarcasm? It always grabs you for a split second and makes you say- “Is this guy serious?”

  63. sorry for the double post-
    Any ESPN insiders have any detail about the 3team trade rumor with blazers/ lakers/ bulls? Thanks in advance.

  64. Actually, what I really liked was how Deron Williams really opened up his game. Watching him in the Utah offense, he is all business and very little flair. When let loose he can bring the flair. I think that sort of stuff is the most fun for the weekend.

  65. @63

    The Lakers would end up with Kirk Hinrich, the Blazers with Tyrus Thomas and Sasha Vujacic, and the Bulls with Adam Morrison and assorted other bits and pieces.

    However, I don’t see Portland taking on Sasha as that doesn’t really make sense, however I do see Chicago taking on Adam & Sasha to make the deal happen if it’s within the cap. Not sure about the #’s however as I’m not familiar with all that.

  66. It’s good to know that George Karl’s crunch-time inbounds plays still display the same brilliance as they did in last season’s WCF.

  67. 63. An exec from an eastern team was totally speculating that this could be part of a three-team trade with Lakers, Blazers and Bulls, sending Tyrus Thomas and Sasha to Portland, Hinrich to the Lakers, and Adam Morrison plus some Blazer players to the Bulls.

    Another GM said that there is no way that Portland would take on Sasha’s salary.