Archive for September, 2008

Pacers hate Jamaal Tinsley

The Indianapolis Star (Mike Wells) reports: Jamaal Tinsley remains on the roster, but the Pacers have taken steps to distance themselves from the point guard. They’ve removed Tinsley’s nameplate from the locker he used at Conseco Fieldhouse and he is not expected to be at the team’s media day Monday. Jim O’Brien said Tinsley’s situation will not be a distraction. “I don’t see how it’s a distraction,” he said. “I’m just worried about the guys that have uniforms.” editor says: I think opening night for the Pacers at home, after introducing the players the team should place a giant Tinsley blow-up doll at halfcourt. Then, Larry Bird and the rest of the team’s front office staff can kick it. But seriously, I don’t get why the Pacers are handling Tinsley this way. Sure, he’s spent most of his time in Indiana getting injured, and making some mistakes. But when healthy he was pretty solid; worse than most starting point guards but certainly better than almost any PG who comes off a bench. Maybe he tried to rob Bird in the parking lot after a game or something.

Glancing at Pacers starters

The Indianapolis Star (Mike Wells) reports: Jim O’Brien said Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, the two leading scorers last season, will start and that he’d be “shocked” if Troy Murphy didn’t. T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack will battle to start at point guard, and Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster and rookie Roy Hibbert will fight for minutes at center. “I think T.J. and Jarrett both have the qualities of a starter,” O’Brien said. “They’re both going to play huge minutes. Another thing is, Jarrett brings toughness and energy. He’s not limited to the point guard spot. He can also play two-guard.” editor says: If TJ Ford doesn’t start he’s probably going to jump out a window. In his mind, he surely must assume the starting role is his.  I’d expect he’d be the clear favorite, and Jack will have to do really special things in training camp and preseason to change that.

Marbury may be gone within days

New York Newsday (Alan Hahn) reports: It has been believed since Donnie Walsh took over the Knicks in April that Stephon Marbury’s tumultuous days as a Knick were numbered. Now the matter is days from being official, Newsday has learned. Several persons with knowledge of the situation have indicated that the Knicks are planning to part ways with Marbury by the end of the week. One caveat is the approval of Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, who must sign off on yet another multimillion-dollar payoff for his NBA team. Marbury is in the final year of his contract, which is to pay him $21.9 million. The Knicks will likely place Marbury on waivers and, once he clears, begin negotiating a buyout. Marbury will then be free to sign with another team; the Miami Heat have a desperate need at point guard.

Wizards add 3 to training camp

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent forwards DerMarr Johnson, Linton Johnson and Taj McCullough.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released. But it’s quite likely that all three signings are just “training camp additions” with nonguaranteed deals. Chances are, all three will be cut during or after camp. But of the three, Johnson is most likely to stick, followed by Johnson. McCullough is a distant long-shot.

“DerMarr’s experience and versatility, Linton’s athleticism and defensive ability and Taj’s play with our summer league team gives them a chance to compete for a roster spot,” said Grunfeld.  “We’re looking forward to training camp as an opportunity to evaluate how they might fit into the mix at the small forward position.”

DerMarr Johnson (6-9, 210) is a seven-year veteran who has seen action with the Hawks, Knicks, Nuggets and Spurs.  He holds NBA career averages of 6.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 136 games.  A Washington DC native, Johnson was originally selected by Atlanta with the sixth overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft following his freshman year at the University of Cincinnati.  He averaged 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds for the Hawks in 2001-02, but missed the entire 2002-03 season after suffering four cracked vertebra in his neck following a car accident.  He returned to the NBA with New York in 2003-04 and spent the next three seasons (2004-05 through 2006-07) with Denver.  Johnson averaged 3.4 points in five games with San Antonio last season.

Linton Johnson (6-8, 205) is a five-year veteran who has seen action with the Bulls, Spurs, Nets, Hornets, Raptors and Suns.  He holds NBA career averages of 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 141 games after going undrafted out of Tulane University.   Johnson had his best statistical run when he averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds over the final 27 games for New Orleans/Oklahoma City after being acquired in a midseason trade with New Jersey.  Johnson averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds last season in eight games between Toronto and Phoenix.

McCullough (6-7, 227) averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds in five games with the Wizards’ entry in the 2008 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.  The rookie out of Winthrop averaged 11.6 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds as a senior last season and helped the Eagles to a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wizards’ training camp roster now stands at 17 players.  The team will hold camp from September 27-October 3 at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Wizards exercise option on Eddie Jordan

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has picked up the option on the contract of Head Coach Eddie Jordan, keeping him under contract through the 2009-10 season.  Per team policy, financial terms of the contract were not released.

“Eddie has done an outstanding job and has been instrumental in making us a perennial playoff team, so we are pleased to reward that success by picking up the option on his contract,” said Grunfeld.  “We are very excited about the upcoming season and feel that this team is ready to progress to another level under Eddie’s leadership.”

Jordan has compiled an overall record of 196-214 (.478) in five seasons as head coach of the Wizards and is currently the third-longest tenured head coach in the NBA behind Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz) and Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs).  He has led the team to the playoffs the last four seasons (making the Wizards the only Eastern Conference team other than Detroit to do so), compiling a 171-157 (.521) mark during that span.

“I’d like to thank (Wizards Owner) Abe Pollin and Ernie Grunfeld, my assistants and the players for their confidence in me and for putting the pieces in place for us to continue to build on what we’ve already accomplished,” said Jordan.  “This team has proven it can compete at an elite level, and I have high expectations for what we can achieve moving forward.”

Jordan, a Washington DC native, was originally hired by the Wizards prior to the 2003-04 season.  After his first year, he led the team to a 20-game improvement and their first playoff berth in eight seasons (as well as their first playoff series win since 1982).  The team has made the playoffs each year since.  Jordan represented the Wizards as the head coach of the 2007 Eastern Conference All-Star Team by virtue of the team having the best record in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break.  Jordan is third in total wins and total games coached among head coaches in franchise history and needs just seven wins to pass Wes Unseld and move into second place for total wins (behind Gene Shue).

Bulls add four to operations staff

The Chicago Bulls announced today the appointment of four individuals to its Basketball Operations staff, including Dave Severns as Assistant Coach for Player Development, Jeff Tanaka as Assistant Athletic Trainer, Justin Zormelo as Assistant Video Coordinator and Joshua Bonhotal as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Severns, 51, comes to the Windy City after spending the last 12 years at Nike as a player development coach.  While at Nike he worked with college players at its All-American Camp, Skills Academies and the Jordan Flight School.  Prior to Nike, he spent three years as the Video Coordinator at Fresno State University, two years as an Assistant Coach at Fresno City College and one year as an Assistant Coach at Chico State University.  Severns earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from California State University-Chico.

Tanaka, 37, brings more than 15 years of experience on the professional and collegiate levels to the Bulls. He spent the last 10 seasons as an Assistant Athletic Trainer with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League and spent the previous two seasons at the University of California-Berkeley in the same capacity.  Prior to his tenure at Cal Berkeley, Tanaka had four stints in the professional ranks, beginning with a training camp internship with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994.  He then spent two seasons as a graduate assistant with the 49ers (1995-96) before accepting a position as an Assistant Athletic Trainer for the NFL Europe Amsterdam Admirals in 1997.  After his time in Amsterdam, Tanaka spent the next two seasons at the University of California where he was Head Athletic Trainer for men’s basketball and the men’s and women’s swim teams.  Tanaka received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1994 and in 2001 earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from San Jose State.

Zormelo, 24, will begin his first season with the Bulls after spending last season as a video room intern with the Miami Heat.  Prior to his internship with the Heat, Zormelo spent four years as the team manager (three years as head manager) for the Georgetown University Men’s Basketball team.  He graduated from Georgetown University in 2006 with a B.S. in finance.

Bonhotal, 25, will begin his second stint with the Bulls, this time in a full-time role. He served as the Strength and Conditioning Intern during the first half of the 2006-2007 season.  Most recently, he worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning in Winchester, Massachusetts. Bonhotal graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2006 with a degree in kinesiology.

Suns sign Goran Dragic

The Phoenix Suns announced today that the club has signed Slovenian guard Goran Dragic (GORE-on DRAG-itch) to a multi-year contract.

“It has been a lengthy process, but we’re happy to announce the signing of Goran Dragic,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr.  “He is a talented young point guard who we believe has a very bright future.”

Dragic’s rights were acquired by the Suns on June 26, 2008, in a draft-day deal with the San Antonio Spurs, who selected him with the 45th overall pick (second round).  Phoenix sent San Antonio the draft rights to 48th overall selection Malik Hairston, as well as a 2009 second-round pick and cash.  The 2009 pick was obtained from the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 3, 2005, in exchange for Zarko Cabarkapa.

Just 22 years old, Dragic joins the Suns with four years of international professional experience.  Most recently, the 6-3, 190-pound point guard spent the 2007-08 season with Union Olimpija in Slovenia and helped to lead his club to both the Slovenian League Championship and Slovenian Cup.  Against top competition in Euroleague play last season, Dragic averaged 9.7 points, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 13 games.  Likewise, he tallied 12.0 points, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 28 Adriatic League games.  A quick guard with a knack for getting to the basket, Dragic shot 60.9 percent from the field in Euroleague play and 61.0 percent in the Adriatic League.

The lefthander began play in Europe’s top leagues in 2004-05 with Geoplin Slovan and was named the 2005 Slovenian League Newcomer of the Year.  Dragic also received All-Star recognition in 2008 in the Adriatic League as well as 2006 in the Slovenian League.

The newest Sun has been a member of the Slovenian Senior National Team since 2006.  Dragic’s play during the 2007 European Championships in Spain included 28 minutes of action in the Slovenian’s upset victory over Tony Parker and France to win Group D of the tournament.  He was also a member of the Under-20 National Team in both 2004 and 2005.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim retires

Sacramento Kings’ forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim today announced his retirement from the NBA as a player due to a reoccurring knee injury.

“First of all, on behalf of the entire organization I want to thank Shareef for his contribution to the Kings and NBA both on and off the court,” said Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. “He has had an exemplary career as a player and citizen. It is unfortunate for any productive career to be felled by injury. However, no one can ever doubt Shareef’s effort, commitment or desire to excel. It is our intention to find a new role for Shareef with the organization as he begins the next phase of his professional life.”

Abdur-Rahim enjoyed 12 seasons in the NBA with four different teams (Vancouver 1996-97 to 2000-01, Atlanta 2001-02 to 2003-04, Portland 2003-04 to 2004-05 and Sacramento 2005-06 to 2007-08), amassing career averages of 18.1 points (.452 FGs, .297 3FGs, .810 FTs), 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game through 830 outings. His most productive season, statistically, occurred during the 1998-99 campaign in Vancouver when he averaged 23.0 points (.432 FGs, .306 3FGs, .841 FTs), 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game through 50 contests (NBA Lockout season). The following season (1999-00), Abdur-Rahim averaged double figures in both points (20.3) and rebounds (10.1) per game, in which he played in all 82 contests for the Grizzlies.

“I’ve been in a situation where I’ve been trying to get healthy over the last year and a half,” explained Abdur-Rahim. “I came to grips with the fact that, health-wise, I won’t be able to get back to the condition and level that is needed to play in the NBA. My right knee has become arthritic over the years and is to the point where it won’t allow me do the things and play at the level in which I’m accustomed to playing. As tough as it is to come to grips with, it’s the reality.”

Abdur-Rahim was a member of the gold-medal winning United States Olympic team in 2000 while still with the Vancouver Grizzlies. He was selected to the Eastern Conference NBA All-Star Team where he scored nine points in 21 minutes as a member of the Atlanta Hawks in 2002.

“Regarding my career, I’ve been really blessed and fortunate,” said Abdur-Rahim. “I’m thankful that I had basketball and was able to play in the NBA. There aren’t a lot of people who actually get to do what they grow up dreaming about doing. I’ve had that opportunity and I’m really thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the coaches, trainers, owners, front office people and friends I’ve made through my time in the NBA. It was a tough decision, but in no way am I bitter. I’m just really thankful and happy that I was given the opportunity to play in the NBA.”

On December 28, 2002, Abdur-Rahim became the sixth-youngest player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-point plateau when he scored 18 points at Washington at age 26, trailing only Kobe Bryant, Bob McAdoo, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with that distinction. He scored a career-high 50 points (including a career-high 21 field goals made) versus Detroit on November 23, 2001, becoming the first Hawks player to hit that mark since Dominique Wilkins poured in 52 points in 1991.

Selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies (now Memphis) as an undergraduate out of California with the third pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, Abdur-Rahim has a long-standing history of community service involvement. He was named by The Sporting News as the NBA’s Number 1 Good Guy for 2004 after funding the Reef House in Atlanta through his Atlanta-based Future Foundation with the purpose of assisting at-risk and underprivileged youth.

Stephane Lasme signs in Serbia reports: Perennial Serbian League champion Partizan has improved its roster for the upcoming 2008-09 Euroleague season by inking power forward Stephane Lasme to a one-year deal. Lasme (203, 25) arrives from the Miami Heat, where he averaged 5.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 16 NBA games last season, during which he also played for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBDL. editor says: I’ve seen Lasme just enough to feel that he could help an NBA team’s deep bench. A solid 9th-13th man worth giving a shot. The overseas experience should help him a bit.

Salim Stoudamire to Spurs

The Arizona Star (Greg Hansen) reports: Salim Stoudamire has escaped pro basketball’s burial grounds — the Atlanta Hawks — and now will play for a winner. The ex-Wildcat shooting star has signed with the San Antonio Spurs and is expected to replace the three-point shooting threat of Brent Barry and perhaps Robert Horry. editor says: A shooting guard in a point guard’s body, Salim is good at making it rain from three-point range. His attitude has been questioned over the years, though. But this could be a really good fit for him.

Quick East thoughts

The season is approaching, folks. Training camps open in around one week (I’m in Prague right now, haven’t looked at a calendar in a while. Tuesday I’m off to hang out in Berlin for a week, then about 8 days in Amsterdam. I’ll be back in New York City right around the start of preseason.)

In the east, the Celtics remain the best of the conference, though I wonder if Ray Allen will drop off a bit this season. They also need to improve their bench.

The Pistons bring back last year’s team, with Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups a year older.

The Magic still need to improve their backcourt.

The Cavaliers add scoring punch with the addition of point guard Mo Williams, but it’s still the LeBron James show with a supporting cast that will have to work very hard to carry their weight.

The Wizards must once again play without Gilbert Arenas for a while, though even with him they’re a lower-level playoff team.

The Raptors have to hope Jermaine O’Neal regains former All-Star form; it’ll be tough.

The 76ers added a star by signing power forward Elton Brand, and that should definitely raise them in conference standings.

The Hawks aren’t locks to return to the playoffs, but it’s good they kept Josh Smith.

The Bucks improved on paper, adding a pass-first point guard in Luke Ridnour, but more importantly, a legit good forward in SF Richard Jefferson.

The Knicks have the same talented yet flawed roster, but a new coach. Can Mike D’Antoni work miracles?

The Nets are rebuilding and aside from Vince Carter and young Devin Harris, everyone on the team who matters is young and in development.

The Bulls have the same team as the last few seasons, though Ben Gordon remains unsigned. Will they play like the good Bulls from two years ago, or the disappointing ones from last season? Flip a coin, because they’re capable of going either way.

The Bobcats have nice swingmen in Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace, plus Emeka Okafor, but everyone else is young and in development.

The Heat could make a leap in the standings now that Dwyane Wade is healthy, plus Shawn Marion needs a new contract, and Michael Beasley doesn’t like losing. The supporting cast is still extremely weak, though.

The Pacers always do a bit better than expected. The bad news is, almost nothing is ever expected. Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavey and TJ Ford are very nice players, though. They may surprise a little, but not a lot.

I’ll share quick West thoughts tomorrow. Right now I’m off to hike up to the Prague castle. I’ll be right here in about an hour.


Bogut should be healthy for camp

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Charles F. Gardner) reports: Andrew Bogut is scheduled to return to Milwaukee from Australia this weekend, and the 7-foot center is expected to be ready for the opening of the Milwaukee Bucks’ training camp Sept. 30. Bogut suffered a badly sprained left ankle while competing for Australia against the U.S. during the Beijing Olympics, an injury suffered when he got tangled up with Team USA star Kobe Bryant. But a magnetic resonance imaging exam showed no serious damage, and Bogut has been rehabilitating the injury in his hometown of Melbourne for nearly a month.

Arenas now might be out until January

The Washington Post (Paul Tenorio) reports: One day after having minor arthroscopic surgery to clean out debris in his surgically repaired left knee, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas posted a 2,210-word blog entry yesterday in which he said he will likely return from the procedure between mid-December and early January — several weeks later than the early December return he originally set Wednesday morning. “I know time frames are dicey, but they said anywhere from mid December to January 1, I’ll be back by then at 100 percent,” Arenas posted in the entry. “I should be, if everything goes well. So that’s the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza present I’m hoping for.” editor says: Maybe Gilbert is such a good blogger that people who enjoy reading what he writes are sneaking into his home at night, taking out tiny hammers, and lightly slamming his left knee while he sleeps, softly enough to avoid waking him, yet hard enough to do additional damage over time. Anyway, to repeat myself, the Wizards aready know how to play without Gilbert. Eventually they’re going to forget what it’s like to play with him.

Utah Jazz forward Kyle Korver will participate in a fundraiser on September 19 in an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the longest kickball game ever played.

The Kyle Korver Foundation is sponsoring the 25-hour kickball game marathon with the goal of raising $10,000 for the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in North Philadelphia.  Korver, entering his sixth NBA season, has worked closely with the Mission and the underprivileged kids in the surrounding community for over two years.

Adam Bruckner, assistant coach of the Philadelphia Kixx (National Indoor Soccer League, and youth director at the Mission, is spearheading the event.  The game will be played at Capitolo playground (9th and Federal), which borders the famous cheese steak stops of Pat’s and Geno’s in South Philadelphia. The event is free of charge for spectators and fans are encouraged to cheer on the tireless participants.

Each team will have a roster of 20 players, and Guinness rules require that four males and females be on the field at all times.  Players will be allowed to substitute and rest, but the game will be played continually for more than 24 hours.

As multidimensional as the forward is as an NBA player, Korver is even more so as a person. The forward continually finds time to participate in a myriad of charitable activities, and in 2006 he established the Kyle Korver Foundation as a way to streamline all his charitable efforts and focus on making a positive impact on the lives of underprivileged children.  The Foundation will match any funds raised through pledges for the night, and the money will go towards building a recreation room and learning center at the Mission (6th and Green).  The Kyle Korver Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity and donations will be tax deductible.

NBA fines Michael Beasley $50,000

Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat has been fined $50,000 for his involvement in an incident at the league’s Rookie Transition Program earlier this month, and for his initial failure to cooperate with a league investigation of the matter.

Beasley was involved in the same incident for which Miami’s Mario Chalmers and Memphis’ Darrell Arthur were previously fined.

UPDATE: The Palm Beach Post (Chris Perkins) reports: “According to NBA sources, Beasley was in a hotel room with Chalmers, Arthur and two women when the incident took place, but he might have been hiding. The incident occurred when hotel security investigated a smoke alarm going off. When they used a pass key to enter the room, they smelled marijuana. No drugs were found, and Chalmers and Arthur denied using any. Beasley intially was cleared by the NBA, but apparently came forward later.”

Orlando Magic to unveil new uniforms

Early Tuesday (September 23) afternoon the Orlando Magic will reveal the new team uniforms.

Magic All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw will participate. The event is taking place at Cheyenne Saloon at Church Street Station, the same location where the Magic’s inaugural uniform was revealed in 1989. (120 W Church St .; Orlando, FL 32801).

This is the 20th Magic season in the league.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced forward Al Jefferson has suffered a mild sprain of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) in his right knee. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam taken yesterday at TRIA Orthopaedic Center in Bloomington, Minn. confirmed the injury. Jefferson is expected to be sidelined for 2-3 weeks and is expected to be ready by the start of the regular season.

In 2008, his first season with the Timberwolves, Jefferson averaged 21.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.4 apg and 1.5 bpg, all career highs.  Jefferson was one of only four players in the NBA in 2007-08 to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.  In four seasons in the NBA, Jefferson holds career averages of 13.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 0.9 apg and 1.1 bpg.

Celtics to visit White House Friday

On Friday, September 19, the Boston Celtics will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with President George W. Bush and receive recognition for winning the 2008 NBA World Championship. Celtics players will be accompanied by coaches, ownership, and members of the front office for the event. Head Coach Doc Rivers, Executive Director of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ainge, as well as Team Co-Owners Irving Grousbeck, Wycliffe Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Bob Epstein are expected to be in attendance.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., President Bush will address members of the team and guests in the White House’s East Room. While on stage with the President, the team will present him with a personalized team jersey and autographed team ball. editor says: Just keep Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis away from the president’s buffet table and everything will be alright.

13 training camp signings reported here

Brad Ames of Priority Sports informs editor Jeff Lenchiner that the following players will be in the following training camps:

Eddie Gill: New Jersey

Trey Johnson: Phoenix

Ronald Dupree: Cleveland

Frank Robinson: Atlanta

Linton Johnson: Washington

Antywane Robinson: Philadelphia

Jared Reiner: Philadelphia.

Britton Johnsen: Utah

Matt Freije: Milwaukee

Luke Jackson: Portland

Rob Kurz: Golden State

Chris Alexander: Oklahoma City

Darryl Watkins: San Antonio

The Detroit News (Chris McCosky) reports: Pistons president Joe Dumars, speaking to a media assemblage in Lansing Wednesday, made it abundantly clear that he won’t apologize, rationalize or make excuses for not pulling off any blockbuster deal or radically altering his roster this summer. “I said we would look to make changes but we wouldn’t do a bad deal,” he said. “The deals that were presented were not good deals for us. You don’t make deals so you can walk in here on a day like today and say, ‘Hey, we made a deal.’ You want to resist that, and I did and I make no qualms about it.” … “There’s nothing to patch up,” Dumars said. “I’m the one who was upset, so who do I need to patch things up with? It’s been good. Guys understand that six straight years of making the conference finals and going to the NBA Finals only twice isn’t enough and I am not going to rest on that. What you do is keep pushing, keep moving forward.” editor says: The Pistons were successful last season. They won 59 regular season games, second only to the Celtics. And they did well in the playoffs, losing to those same eventual-champion Celtics. True, Rasheed Wallace is getting old, as is Chauncey Billups, but it’s not like a breakup was actually necessary. Detroit can still ride the current core for another season, but ideally they find another Rodney Stuckey, in the form of a forward or center. That would help. Anyway, if they keep the current roster I think they’ll still win 50+ games this season and finish second or third, fourth at the worst, in the Eastern conference.

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