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| Jan. 4, 2006

NBA columnIn the latest edition of The NBA Through Travis-Colored Glasses, some NBA notes to bring in the New Year:

So Bob Weiss, now formerly of the Seattle Sonics, was the first NBA coach this year to get the axe (I know Stan Van Gundy is gone, but technically, he resigned). Big surprise, as I mentioned in this very space a few weeks back that his job status was tenuous at best. I know Nate McMillan is a pretty darned good coach, but I'm not sure that Seattle would be much better with him at the helm this year, either. Last year was nothing more than an aberration for the Sonics, and until they get some legitimate low post scoring, they can forget about ever being truly relevant in the West.

The next question is of course, who will be the next coach to get shown the door? If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on Kings coach Rick Adelman.

Things just keep getting crazier in Indy. A rumor recently surfaced that the Pacers might be interested in signing our old friend Latrell Sprewell -- who by the way is still looking for a job to feed his family. Signing Spree would essentially be the team's way of replacing Ron Artest, thus allowing the team to move Artest for draft picks and expiring contracts. Not to playa' hate here, but if a 35 year old unemployed shooting guard is who you have pegged to replace a player just two years removed from being NBA defensive player of the year . . . Let's just say that your franchise has some issues.

On Monday night, the New York Knicks beat the Phoenix Suns 140-133 in a very entertaining triple-overtime basketball game. And how about the play of Stephon Marbury, who poured in 32 points, 10 assists, and 5 boards? If only Marbury could play one of his former teams every night. Despite Marbury's big night against the Suns, I still expect the Knicks to move him if they can find a taker before the deadline next month.

I was quite saddened to see Damon Stoudamire rupture his patella tendon a few days ago in Portland. The injury brought a premature end to perhaps the best season of Stoudamire's twelve-year career, and came on the heels of an exquisite performance against the Los Angeles Lakers (which of course no one noticed because of the Kobe Bryant shenanigans). Here's to hoping that Damon makes a healthy return to the court next year. And with Stoudamire out for the season, the Grizzlies have reportedly emerged as a primary suitor for Nuggets (and former Memphis) guard Earl Watson -- Stay tuned.

Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls, whose stock was as high as ever coming into this season, has been struggling of late. So much so, Bulls coach Scott Skiles has considered bringing him off the bench. And if Hinrich was trying to make a case for staying in the starting line up on Monday against Milwaukee, his 3 point, 2 assist, and 4 rebound performance in over 37 minutes of play was less than convincing.

The Utah Jazz is quietly making a push in the Northwest division, just a half game out of first place heading into play Tuesday night. Of course the Northwest may be the worst division in the NBA, and ultimately I believe Denver and Minnesota will compete down the stretch for the division title -- with Denver coming out on top, assuming that Minnesota doesn't win the Artest sweepstakes. That said, don't count out the Jazz and Jerry Sloan's seemingly archaic -- yet amazingly productive -- offense.

Not that I'm an honorary member of the fashion police or anything, but I loved the fro that Ricky Davis was sporting against the Sacramento Kings last week.

I know many of you out there think that I'm a Laker/Kobe hater, but all I try to do is call a spade a spade. You have probably already read my feelings about Kobe's recent antics on another website. I will say this though, now that Kobe has been suspended, he really can't win. If the Lakers were to lose both games to the Jazz, people would say that Kobe's suspension cost his team two victories. However, if the Lakers were to win both games, people would say that the team is better without Bryant and his ball domination. I am as big a critic of Kobe's as anyone, but you can't have it both ways people. Either the team is better with him or better off without him.

I find it comical that both the Lakers hometown announcers, and numerous tandems of TNT and ESPN analysts, often remark on air about Kwame Brown's incredible strength -- as if that's supposed to make up for the fact that he's a terrible basketball player. All I'm saying is that I'm pretty sure that guy's like Magnus Van Magnussen (ESPN Strong Man Competition) and The Rock are pretty strong guys, too. Should we give them some baggy shorts and a headband, and see how they fare in the NBA, too?

The recent free fall of the Washington Wizards caught me off guard a bit. I really thought that this team could do some damage in the East this year, and they still might if they get some of their issues ironed out in the near future. While there may be a number of reasons why the team is struggling, Gilbert Arenas is not one of them. Arenas had a superb month of December averaging over 32 points per game, including a 47-point performance against the Miami Heat. Arenas needs some help though, and Antawn Jamison is one guy that has to step his game up. He's been firing blanks lately on the offensive end, and defenders have been routinely beating him to the basket on the other end of the floor.

The well has run dry for this week. Thanks for reading, and here's to a wonderful 2006 for your favorite NBA club.

IHave a take about what you just read? Contact Travis at travismheath@msn.com... Travis Heath is a doctoral candidate in psychology, and a freelance writer. Travis currently resides outside of Denver, Colorado, but he has spent time in Washington, Nebraska, and both Northern and Southern California. He is also a self-admitted sports addict, with his primary vice being the NBA.

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