A few bits and pieces from around the league, bullet-style!
- Interesting pull-together from Chris Sheridan at ESPN right here. He's also covering Team USA, and interviews 21 basketball writers from around the world to get their take on Team USA and whether they'll win the gold. The consensus seems to be that they're certainly looking good, have a great chance to do so and the big test will be against Spain or Argentina (way to go out on a limb, guys). Still worth a read. It is an insider story so you'll need to have a name and password.
- Not sure if you noticed, but the New Orleans/Oklahoma Hornets gave GM Jeff Bower a 5-year extension this week. Kind of a bizarre move. Bower took over in October, meaning he didn't draft Chris Paul, although he did orchestrate the trades for Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic. The Chandler move was nice, but they drastically overpaid for Stojakovic, and you could make the same argument about the Bobby Jackson acquisition. Here's my thing with this move: why? Were other teams banging down the door to sign this guy away from the team? I doubt it. He'd already had one GM stint with New Orleans, this is currently his second shot. I have no problem with the contract length -- if you've got a good front office guy, lock him up -- but I just don't see what he's quite done to justify being considered that yet.
- ... And speaking of GM contracts, can we please just get this over and hand Kevin Pritchard the job? I have this inane fear that Steve Patterson is hoping to have the job himself, which is why it hasn't been given to Pritchard. Let's hope that's not the case.
- I still can't believe that Atlanta gave Al Harrington away for a non-lottery pick. So they'll give Joe Johnson "max" money but they won't pay Al Harrington $9 million per year (which is what he got from Indiana)? What on earth is going on? Billy Knight is seriously starting to give Isaiah a run for his money as "worst GM on the face of the earth". Nice that they're both in the same conference.
- ... And speaking of Indiana, I really like the way they've retooled that team. They've cut some of the fat and become more athletic, two things that any regular reader knows I am huge fans of. Harrington's addition lets them either put him at PF, slide O'Neal over to center and start Danny Granger or go bigger with Jeff Foster in the middle, O'Neal at PF and Harrington at SF. Not to mention that they've also added Marquis Daniels whom will certainly push Jamaal Tinsley for the starting PG position. And by "push", I mean "likely take over". Let's not forget that they've also got Crazy Stephen Jackson on their team. Can you imagine a Daniels-Jackson-Granger-Harrington foursome running the floor? YIKES. They've got a good coach, athleticism all over the floor, high-quality depth but a clear 8-man rotation, shooting, size ... say what you will about Larry Bird's GM skills, he's done a very nice rebound job with this team. I like Indiana to fight for a top-4 seed in the East next season ... and maybe even win the Central.
- Finally, reading recommendation -- and no it's not a book. If any of you aren't reading Paul Shirley on ESPN, you're missing some high-quality stuff. Read one or two of his diaries and you'll be hooked. You can find his most recent chat here, and a column archive here.
That's all for now. I'll turn it back over to Lochi for another hail of columns as Team USA strides to get back on track. Their next game against Germany is at 3:30am PST on Wednesday (the bracket by the way is right here for those interested) , and then it's on to the Final Four for a likely date versus Greece. Let's go, red white and blue!