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Section 109: NBA Shootaround

December 29, 2009

Random thoughts on the NBA today.

Noticed in Sporting News Today that the Cavaliers had clawed their way to the top of the NBA Power Poll. The SNT poll is compiled by one of the best and most objective writers covering the NBA, Sean Deveney. In his summary of the poll, Deveney joined the chorus noting the toughness of the Cavs’ schedule, pointing out that the combined record of the teams Cleveland beat on their most recent trip was 74-46.

Is Rick Adelman one of the most underrated coaches in the NBA? I think so. How many guys could replace 7-6 Yao Ming with 6-6 Chuck Hayes at center and still have a record five games above .500? Houston has done a great job assembling a team of players who don’t get as much credit as they should because of their low-profile style: Battier, Landry, and Hayes, to name three. A great coach to mold them into a team doesn’t hurt, either.

The oppposite of low-profile: the player who provided the visual highlight for the Rockets was their rookie, Jermaine Taylor, who drove the lane for a LeBron-worthy slam in Sunday’s game. I thought he was in danger of sailing over the backboard when he jumped.

I believe the Tracy McGrady era is over in Houston, and maybe for the NBA. The Rockets staff clearly don’t think McGrady can help them. If they did, given the absence of Yao, they would have given him regular minutes and run plays for him ASAP. Instead, they suggested he stay home. McGrady came into the league at age 18 and his body seemed to be done after about 10 years — that was two seasons ago. If Houston doesn’t think McGrady can help, will any other team? Maybe by the trade deadline, as his expiring $23m salary can help a lottery team’s cap number. That doesn’t mean this unnamed team will play him. He’ll probably end up on his new employer’s inactive list, or the team will pull a Marbury and simply tell him not to show up.

Can you believe bloggers and media outlets are still writing about Cavs trades and where LeBron might end up next season? Live in the present, people. The one in which the Cavs are in first place and beating the best teams in the league.

Hawks previews:

As much as I hate back-to-backs in the NBA, I like back-to-backs pitting the same two teams against each other. I guess it’s the playoff vibe of reviewing what you did wrong the first night and fixing it the second. In baseball and minor league hockey, the home team often hosts the away team for multiple games, reducing travel costs. I wonder if the NBA has ever considered this?

I like the way Mike Bibby has refreshed his game in Atlanta. A lot of people thought he was over-the-hill, but it was really the Kings’ roster that was past its expiration date.

The money game: Joe Johnson is in his last contract year, earning $14m in Atlanta. Will the Hawks spend that or more to re-sign the eight-year veteran? Another key guy for the Hawks is Mo Evans, who has a player option for next year at $2.5m. That’s a bargain for a quality rotation player and he could probably get more somewhere else.

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