Drawing from itsnetwork of NBA insiders--including scouts, coaches and front-officepersonnel--Fast Break picked up this chatter from around the league.
"Notice thatyou haven't heard a peep from the Cavaliers' owners this season? They realizedthey were hurting the team a year ago by getting too involved, and they'velearned their lesson." ... "The team that really helped itself at thetrade deadline was the Nuggets. They added two defenders in Ruben Patterson,who really gets after it against forwards as well as shooting guards, andReggie Evans, who also gives them toughness and rebounding." ... "Ibelieve the Lakers were trying to acquire Carlos Boozer [of Utah] at the tradedeadline. They were attempting to get Golden State or Denver to participate ina three-way deal." ... "I knew [Raptors rookie forward] CharlieVillanueva (above) was a back-to-the-basket guy, but I didn't know he was sucha good shooter. As Toronto improves, he should get better and better."
BIG BEN'SCHEMISTRY CLASS
The Pistons havebeen second-guessed for using the second pick in the 2003 draft on teenage bigman Darko Milicic, a DNP in 109 of 215 games before being dealt to the Magiclast month. Was it a blunder to take Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Chris Boshor Dwyane Wade, who were the next three players selected in that draft? Detroitcenter Ben Wallace (left) doesn't think so, saying, "We won a championship,and we had a chance to play for a second."
If the Pistonshadn't been infatuated with Milicic's potential, word around the league is thatthey probably would have taken Bosh over Anthony. Wallace believes that Anthonywould have been a greater threat to Detroit's balance. "To add anotherscorer, it could have affected the growth of Tayshaun [Prince], Rip [Hamilton],Chauncey [Billups]," he says.
Ultimately, anyof the other choices would have prevented the Pistons from re-signing theircore players and jeopardized the team's chemistry. "You've got to be ableto reward players for playing hard and being unselfish," says Wallace.
3 The injury toKurt Thomas is a killer for Phoenix. Even if he's able to recover from thestress fracture to his right foot by the playoffs, the Suns will be trying tointegrate both Thomas and Amaré Stoudemire at the last minute.
2 When willpeople start seeing the Mavericks as a bona fide title contender? Theirinevitable second-round series with the Spurs could go either way.
1 FYI MichaelJordan, here are teams that could be for sale in the next two years: Memphis,New Orleans, Atlanta, Orlando, Seattle, Miami, Charlotte, Sacramento andMilwaukee.
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J.P. MOCZULSKI/REUTERS (VILLANUEVA)
D. LIPPITT/EINSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (WALLACE)