If the Bulls had been willing to pay lots of luxury tax, it appears they could have had Pau Gasol. (Heisley says as much, too.)
In Memphis, there is word that the Grizzlies might not even spend their cap space this summer on free agents. It could let them bring in someone in a lop-sided trade like the Bobcats did with Jason Richardson. Or it could let them save some space for 2009. If I were a Grizzlies fan, I'd also be worried that the strategy might not be driven by basketball, but by a need to save money -- if the team is being vague about when it might spend again, after trading away the big star.
UPDATE: A fascinating in-depth look, from a high school coach, at how Pau Gasol will fit in the triangle.
Mike Wise of The Washington Post: "In the wake of Kobe Bryant using Caron Butler and Nick Young as pylons yesterday, it's apparent Gilbert Arenas is needed back soon for more reasons than just winning basketball games. The Wizards, people, are in dire need of resuscitating their Q-rating. ... Butler and Antawn Jamison, who have been carrying this team for much of the past three months, iced their knees on the bench in the final minutes realizing the harsh truth: They cannot win without injured Arenas forever, and they and their teammates aren't going to fill the building up without a showman like Gil the Thrill consistently in the near future. Make no mistake, the game sold out because of who was in town -- not who plays here."
Despite what you may have read in your local paper, Latrell Sprewell is not a Sonic.
Yao Ming -- not 100% choir boy. Although I'll say that I have met the man and he is gentle and friendly. Doesn't mean he doesn't talk trash once in a while.
Ray Allen's ankles: worth worrying about.
Between them, Portland's Kevin Pritchard and Seattle's Sam Presti have seven second-round picks. Neither one has the roster spots to sign all those guys, which means they have to trade some picks away, or find some international players who will stay overseas. They might want to consider perusing this handy-dandy list of the best NBA draft-eligible players in the EuroLeague.
One of the biggest names in European coaching, Pini Gershon, loses his job.
Sam Smith of The Chicago Tribune: "There's an old saying, compliments of baseball's innovative Branch Rickey, that it is better to trade a player a year too soon than a year too late. Yet every team, led by good and not so good executives, seems to make the same mistake: falling in love with its talent, waiting a year too long. The Bulls are being criticized for it now. It's the classic second guess. How would they have looked trading Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich after last season, when they went further in the playoffs than the team had in a decade? So what to do now? Still try a major move? After all, it looks like only Boston is a major issue in the East, with the Bulls already 3-0 against Detroit. Or do you stay patient, see where it takes you and then make your move after the season?"
Phil Jackson can be brutally honest. But he insists that we have not seen the best of Kwame Brown yet.
J.E. Skeets takes over for Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo's NBA blog. Even Skeets doesn't sound terribly sure about what happened.
Sam Cassell loves playing against Sebastian Telfair. Britt Robson of the Rake:
Trying to figure out what the Nets will do with Stromile Swift. If nothing else, they are getting more athletic.
Brian McCormick on the Pau Gasol trade: "If Bynum is out for the season, I think it is a great trade. Gasol fills Bynum's role, albeit differently and the Lakers have an opportunity to win a championship. However, when Bynum returns, I don't see how Odom, Gasol and Bynum fit together. If Bynum is out, the Lakers have the rest of the season to decide whether to keep Gasol and trade Odom or vice versa. However, if Bynum returns this season, they have to figure this out on the fly. The Lakers were a contender with Bynum; will this trade mess up their mojo when he returns? Again, I am not saying it is a bad trade. I am a Gasol fan. If the Lakers can trade Odom for some nice complementary pieces in the off-season, the Lakers have a young, deep, talented, expensive team that should be a contender for the next 3-4 years. As for Memphis, while most in the media laugh at their ineptitude, remember the Suns. Everyone said, at the time, that the Knicks stole Marbury from Phoenix and Phoenix barely got anything in return."
Bloggers on the Jumbotron in Oakland.
Dirk Nowitzki is decidedly more effective when Devin Harris is on the floor.
Chris Perkins of The Palm Beach Post: "Pat Riley said it's largely his fault his team isn't playing hard, and he said roots of that problem lies in him giving his veteran title team of 2005-06 too much respect. 'Your team really is a reflection of your coach,' he said. 'And what we're seeing in a lot of ways is me backing off in a way that's really reflected out on the court.' This wasn't the first time Riley has blamed himself for the Heat's rapid decline and this dismal season. Miami, at 9-36, has the worst record in the league a mere 19 months after winning the NBA title. Riley knows why. 'We, as a team, don't play hard enough,' he said. 'We haven't played hard enough in practice, we don't play hard enough in games. That's really my responsibility.'"
It wasn't long ago that the absence of Jermaine O'Neal was seen as a plus. Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The Indiana Pacers are having a difficult time filling the gigantic hole left in the middle by an injured Jermaine O'Neal. As entertaining as it has been to watch the Pacers get up and down the court, shoot a lot of 3-pointers and be one of the highest scoring teams in the league, when the game gets close or they need to pound the ball into the post, they find themselves in a no-win situation because their inside game is nonexistent without O'Neal. They're stuck trying to score on the perimeter or in transition, which is usually harder to do because defenses tighten up later in the game. Their post game will stay that way for the foreseeable future because it's uncertain when O'Neal will come back from his knee injury -- if he comes back at all this season."
Tim Buckley of the Deseret Morning News: "Their most-recent individual matchup was a dud. Deron Williams had 12 points and seven assists, but because of foul trouble he played just 29 minutes in a Jazz blowout win over New Orleans last November. Chris Paul -- taken one spot behind Williams in the 2005 NBA Draft, at No. 4 overall -- had 15 points and six assists, but shot only 5-of-12 from the field. Next meeting of the league's two hottest young point guards comes tonight at EnergySolutions Arena, and this installment has ratcheted stakes that could replace the fizzle with bona fide sizzle."