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Monday Bullets

  • Remember when everyone agreed the Grizzlies made the worst trade in the history of the NBA? If they had kept Pau Gasol, would the Grizzlies be better off today? Also, remember that they haven't even stopped collecting everything they got in that deal. UPDATE: A pretty amazing set of interviews about Gasol -- featuring Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, Mike Fratello, Andrew Bynum, and Gasol himself. A highlight is when Jackson calls Gasol "nifty."

  • The Nets brought in a special guest to talk to the players, and they actually watched him stick himself in the face with a needle. Intentionally. It was a mind-over-matter thing, but it's not practical advice for Brook Lopez, who starts at center for the 4-42 Nets, and jokes that people long since stopped letting him use sharp objects. (Via Nets are Scorching)

  • Sixer fans hate most things, but especially Kobe Bryant.

  • Wayne Winston has something to day about how every team is doing in his adjusted plus/minus system. For instance, he says that the Celtics' offense has been terrible when Kevin Garnett is in the game.

  • Honestly, this is as amazing as it is useful. Handy dandy visual maps -- built on google maps technology -- that show how every team acquired every player.

  • Before getting MRSA -- a bad kind of staph infection that kills thousands of people every year -- Mike Gansey seemed to be on a path to the NBA. Just before making it, though, his health was destroyed. Three years later, however, he's still working hard, and was just named the D-League player of the week.

  • Riiny Ngot, a former "Lost Boy of Sudan," and a basketball player, once decided never to tell his life story again. He has reconsidered. Monty Mosher of the Chronicle Herald says: "While playing basketball in New York, he was persuaded to go to a school to speak. He got halfway through and emotion overtook him. He pledged never to do it again. A week later, an 11-year-old girl in that class sent him a letter. Her mother was dying, her father was in prison and Ngot had given her hope. He changed his mind that day about sharing his experiences." Here he is talking on video.

  • Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement: "James and Wade will get everything they want this summer, because each is clearly an elite player capable of leading a team to the championship. Bosh and Johnson (who are viewed on a level just below James and Wade) are likely to receive max, or near-max, contracts. But what about the next tier of free agents, which includes Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Rudy Gay? If you're a team owner who views a hard cap in 2011 as your salvation, are you going to risk an eight-figure salary on a player who isn't likely to carry your team to the championship? If a hard cap is the new reality, then everyone in the league will be taking a new view of player salaries. "I want to be careful about calling this collusion, because that's illegal," said agent David Bauman, who represents Ron Artest and other players. "But I do think it's being strongly suggested to teams that they should not give out long-term deals because the next CBA is going to look drastically different.''

  • Spurs fans will be glad to read this part of John Hollinger's (Insider) story, which reminds that Antonio McDyess has always taken a while to warm up: "Forward Antonio McDyess, who had his fourth straight double-figure scoring game Sunday after putting together just six in the first 41 games, has some of the most extreme splits in basketball over the past three seasons. 'We used to give him so much slack in Detroit,' said Denver's Chauncey Billups, who played with McDyess for the Pistons, 'because the first half of the season we'd be like, 'Where you at, Dice? Summer's over man, c'mon, let's go. Christmas has passed, it's Valentine's Day now, let's start playing.''"

  • A lot of times when people talk about referee incompetence, they talk about a blown call here or there -- which is something every referee does at every level of the game. But there was some real referee incompetence when the Blazers played the Rockets on Friday night. You know how a team's in the bonus after their opponent's fifth team foul in the period? At one point, LaMarcus Aldridge was fouled, and he did not get the free throws he should have gotten. (Instead, the team got the ball out of bounds, and scored.) A few minutes later, the referees realized the error, and huddled for ages. Then they gave Aldridge two free throws, in a dead ball situation. He hit them both. But this was all wrong, right? Portland had already been "paid" for that foul with possession of the ball. That was the wrong payment, but it was valuable nonetheless. Paying the team again, with the free throws, might have been fair in theory, if it was accompanied by a free possession for the Rockets, which is just so weird it would never happen. At halftime (who knows what happened, but I'm sure it was stressful) Aldridge's two free throws were then wiped from the record, and Houston won a close game. Through it all, probably not much harm was done. But that was certainly and undeniably some incompetence in how the game was run. If something like that happened in the playoffs people would freak out.

  • Teams hit a ton of 3s against the Pistons, which may be in part because they spend a lot of time sagging into the lane to stop layups.

  • The Hawks are the Celtics' kryptonite, but the Magic are the Hawks' kryptonite. Playoff matchups are going to matter even more than usual in his year's Eastern Conference.

  • You know the Bobcats must be a good defensive team if they can miss 13 straight shots and still win.

  • Mark Cuban on what the government can do for small businesses.

  • Carmelo Anthony may have been out, but Kenyon Martin was outstanding.

  • Suns fans consider some trade scenarios for Amare Stoudemire.

  • The Clippers can't win without Chris Kaman. Earlier in the season, they had almost the same thing where they were terrible without Eric Gordon. That starting five is good, but only when intact.

  • Mike Miller is wearing an amazingly distracting jacket. I think he's talking about playing basketball on this video, but mostly I'm just looking at the jacket.

  • Statistical plus/minus is a different animal than plus/minus or adjusted plus/minus. It's a way of taking a player's boxscore stats, and then using them to guess at how that player would impact a game. Here's a look at some rankings from this season.

  • David Berri says the season's best sixth men to date have been Manu Ginobili, Anderson Varejao and Kyle Lowry.