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Ian Thomsen's Fast Break


Tapping its network of NBA insiders--including scouts, coaches and front-office personnel--Fast Break picked up these bits of chatter from around the league.

"It's interesting to see that Chauncey Billups and Steve Nash have continued to get better so late in their careers. We used to say that you knew how good a player was going to be after his third or fourth year, but these guys--both of whom played in college--have continued to improve." ... "Right now Kobe Bryant is my MVP. That team is overachieving because he's scoring 30 a night." ... "The great thing about European players 10 years ago was that they came to the NBA believing that they needed to earn their place in the league. Now the young European guys have a sense of entitlement a lot like American players. Just look at Darko Milicic (above) and Vladimir Radmanovic."



Comparisons with Tom Petty and Hulk Hogan--and the impassioned pleas of fans everywhere--have not persuaded Clippers center Chris Kaman to trim his long, whitish-blond locks. "I get people yelling, 'Cut your hair, you freak!' Especially on the road," says Kaman, 23. "I've been growing it so long, I don't have the guts to cut it. I've been in the middle, debating, and I want to, but then every time I get the scissors out, I can't do it."

Kaman realizes that his long-hair days are growing short. "I'm going bald," he says. "My hair is really thin naturally, but my hairline's going back, dude. I'm hoping I've got five or six more years left; I think I've only got a couple, though." Has he considered Rogaine? "No, I'll let it go, man," he says. "It's natural."

His hairline has receded, but his game has grown. Handling the grunt work in a lineup of scorers, Kaman ranked in the top 20 in rebounds (9.0 per game), blocks (1.7) and field goal shooting (51.2%). "Some games I get the ball a little more if guys aren't shooting well," he says. "But my job is to rebound, block shots and play defense on the pick-and-rolls." In short, get in the opposition's hair.


3 Want to see playofflike intensity in the regular season? Force the losing team to fly commercial on its next trip.

2 Though Paul Pierce isn't going to be traded by the Feb. 23 deadline, it would surprise no one if the Celtics moved him for younger talent this summer. Instead, they should consider surrounding Pierce with veteran help--even if it means trading Ricky Davis and Al Jefferson--to hasten their revival.

1 The Pacers (21-18) should take their time trading Ron Artest. The best they can finish is No. 4 in the East, and at week's end they were a half game behind the Cavs for that spot.

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