Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold on Derek Fisher: "He became a player that superstars looked to for guidance but role players saw as one of their own. He was part player, part coach. Part clutch performer and part motivational speaker. He was an iron man on the court (not missing a game in 6 straight seasons and counting) and iron willed off it. Competitive as all get out and willing to do whatever necessary to win. This endeared him to his teammates and Lakers’ fans, despised by other fanbases, but respected all the same. During this past off-season, he led the players union with dignity and dogged determination. He spoke of sticking together, of fighting for what was fair, and for not backing down in the face of what would surely be a deal that would be remembered as a defeat. He did this not because he necessarily wanted to, but because he was chosen to by his peers. Chosen to represent all players as the head of their union and fight for their interests.Gaining such respect doesn’t just happen on accident. It happens because of an abundance of character and leadership ability. Players from opposing teams and those that shared a locker room with him saw these qualities in him. He was yin to Kobe’s yang of leadership style. The one that could smooth off the rough edges of a biting critique. The person that could turn a harsh phrase into a useful plan of attack to implement in the next game, on the next possession. And now, with him gone. A void must be filled. Who steps in at this point is anyone’s guess. Maybe Gasol – a player of long tenure and equal thoughtfulness is the guy. Maybe Bynum’s youthful honesty and emerging game will command the respect of his peers. And, of course, Mike Brown and Kobe will need to step in and be the guides that move this team forward."
Benjamin Polk of A Wolf Among Wolves: "Everybody loves March Madness and you can hardly blame them. The frantic, frayed late-game possessions; the mad, ten-man scrambles for rebounds and loose balls; the blood-thinning, oxygen starved comebacks; kids holding hands; grown men shedding tears: this stuff is truly compelling. But I will tell you now that I’m perfectly content sticking with the NBA, even as the tournament rages on. For one thing, the players are better at basketball and I really appreciate that. But for another, even your average NBA game carries a certain narrative richness, a structural depth that the college game really can’t match. Matchups evolve over the long course of the game. Players surge and regress. Momentum wavers and shifts many times over."
Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell says the Spurs have telegraphed their future with one little Richard Jefferson trade: "In the summer of 2013, the Spurs could have a cap number just north of 30 million. This coincides perfectly with the new CBA -- the market on players should dramatically re-price itself in 2013 and it appears the Spurs will have significant leverage on that market. This is nothing short than a transparent rebuilding strategy. But, unlike most rebuilding strategies, the Spurs will enjoy the privilege of contending right up to the moment the team decides to begin again. ... Look to the Spurs to offer Duncan an eight figure contract for next season, but I suspect they keep their options open for 2013. ... On the Court Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are the winners here. Their playing time will increase. ... Stephen Jackson will play more of a limited role than many fans expect. He’s a great fit for the Spurs in terms of guile and moxie, but he is unquestionably on the decline. The Spurs love wings that are positionally versatile on offense and defense. Captain Jack can defend multiple positions, and he can play multiple positions on offense, including advancing the ball and running as a small four. Jackson is a great fit for Popovich’s system. Jackson provides the Spurs with more size in their backcourt and insurance in the event of another Manu Ginobili injury. All wins. ... But beyond that, Jefferson is a vastly superior three point shooter. It’s not only a question of percentages (.421 vs. .278), it’s also a question of shot selection. Jefferson is more disciplined than Jackson, to put it mildly. I like Jackson. This is a good deal. It’s just better long term than short term; it’s better off the court than on it."
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game on Jason Kidd: "I understand that his influence goes well beyond the box score. I know that he spaces the floor and has a great understanding of how to operate a high-functioning offense. But we can only give Kidd so much benefit of the doubt before pondering why his highly esteemed passing skill doesn’t result in more assists or actually create all that many easy buckets."
The Lakers have another deal fall apart under unusual circumstances. And this time the unusual circumstances are the Timberwolves.
All in. Three out of three Magic bloggers believe Dwight Howard will re-up in Orlando beyond next season.
Tyreke Evans' jumper is hurting. Somebody call a doctor!
Rightly noted: Corey Brewer is always smiling. Love that. It is sometimes taken as weakness, but that's a crock. He's tough as nails. His dad just died, for crying out loud. Every night he scraps with far beefier opponents. And he's always smiling.
What the Nuggets got in JaVale McGee. By the way, McGee is the epitome of a player who fails at the "optics" of the game. He makes very noticeable, obvious-to-all, brain-dead mistakes. So, that is a sin of politics. However, even when you count up all those whoppers, he's still very productive. McGee's not the best defender, but among the things PER captures, including all those gaudy turnovers and misses, he's a top-ten NBA center already, ahead of Al Horford, Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol etc. I'm not saying he is more valuable than those guys, or that statistics have all the answers. I'm saying those blooper reels can cloud your vision. If you watch the whole game, there's a lot more to him than some mistakes. And if he made similarly harmful, but more subtle mistakes, he'd take far less guff.
Colin McGowan of Cavs: The Blog: "A lot of experts are calling this a coup for the Lakers, but I think a lot of experts haven’t seen Ramon Sessions play much basketball. He’s a good backup and a subpar starter, certainly better than Steve Blake or Derek Fisher, but the gap between him and Kyle Lowry is lake-sized. He can score, sometimes in bunches, and he’ll have the odd game where he racks up double-digit assists. He’s ball-dominant, totally capable of having a five-turnover nightmare of a game, and asking him to check a talented guard is like putting duct tape over the mouth of a geyser. I think he’ll be fine in LA, and they’ll be happy to have unburdened themselves from Luke Walton’s albatross-ish contract, but getting a first-rounder and moving up some eight spots in next year’s draft is more valuable to the Cavs than any contribution Sessions would have made over the coming years."