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Thursday Bullets

  • Ted Green on SportsHubLA: "... to paraphrase from politics, I have seen Kobe Bryant, young man, and you, sir, are not Kobe Bryant. If the Chicago Bulls get ahold of this tape, they won't trade Ben Wallace's Afro-Sheen to the Lakers, much less half their team. Kobe is now shooting 33 per cent in the preseason, making him Kwame Brown with bigger hands. Or Kwame with no conscience. The World's Most Focused Athlete since Rocky knocked out Drago also suddenly looks not just disinterested, which is one thing in preseason, but disconnected. Raising the following questions: Having gotten exactly nothing he asked for in the offseason, such as help around him, is he still in a grand funk without the railroad? Has he looked around and realized that, like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day', he's still there with the Lakers and it's still the same place, same time, same day and about to be the same season? Is he not just telling the Lakers he wants out, but also showing them?"The suggestion that mid-season single elimination tournaments (we have been talking about this for a while, I'm fully on board) and a special section for passionate fans down near the court could to a lot to stir passion in the NBA experience.

  • Why it is that Mark Cuban should trade Dirk Nowitzki for Kobe Bryant, and why it is he likely won't.

  • Two things about that Antoine Walker trade: The first thing is that it's no secret that ESPN's Marc Stein broke that story yesterday. But was kind of cool was to see the man at work. All us ESPN.com NBA people were in a meeting when Stein kept rushing in and out on the phone, and then he borrowed a laptop to type up the story that broke the news. The second thing about it is that since it happened several people have emailed wondering why either team would do this trade. My best guess is that Miami, especially when Wade is absent, is badly in need of perimeter athleticism and scoring punch. (Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel explains the good and bad of the trade for Miami.) In that regard, Davis is more valuable than Walker, for sure. And Minnesota has a lot of young players -- Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, Gerald Green -- who can share the touches Davis would have had. Minnesota also some financal relief and a first-round pick coming. Just reading the tea leaves of the press conference and Marc Stein's coverage it seems the Timberwolves are not at all sure they are going to actually play Antoine Walker, which has to raise the possibility of a buyout. (FULL DISCLOSURE: Yes, when I first published this, I called Minnesota, um, Milwaukee. I used to live in Wisconsin. I know the difference. But I did have some temporary dyslexia. It's fixed now, and many apologies all around.)

  • To get Kevin Garnett to the Warriors, Chris Mullin implies in an interview with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, would have pretty much meant exchanging Golden State's entire roster for Minnesota's.

  • J.R. Smith's complicated off-season.

  • Eddy Curry could have a huge year -- I imagine he's still getting over his injury, and this time of year means nothing. But so far in preseason, Brian Cronin from Knickerblogger is not impressed: "... the Knicks just plain ol' look much better when Curry is not on the floor, as was the case once again in tonight's 103-90 victory over the 76ers. The spacing is better, Randolph looks more at ease, everything seems to click so much better when he is not on the court."

  • Et tu, Stuckey?

  • Chris Herrington of Beyond the Arc on Mike Conley, Jr.'s early returns: "I haven't seen anything in the preseason that changes my opinion of his ultimate future as an All-Star-level floor leader, but it may take awhile for Conley, which should be expected of a 20-year-old rookie point guard. His penetration and passing skills are already superb. His defense, shooting, and finishing ability need improvement." There has been a lot of talk about who's going to start -- Conley or Kyle Lowry -- but Herrington makes a case for Damon Stoudamire.

  • When you're entering the stadium, a security person (at least in the NFL) might pat you down to make sure you're not smuggling in bombs, or kittens, or whatever. A lawyer wonders -- are those pat downs legal?

  • I think we might see some more little trades shortly as teams negotiate to maneuver below the luxury tax. A lot of teams are just over that expensive line (the teams that are over subsidize teams that are under, so it's a double-whammy) but could be under with some tweaks.

  • Al Thornton learning to play power forward, too.

  • Mark Cuban's reflections on being bounced from "Dancing with the Stars."

  • The Dolans fail again to take Cablevision private.

  • FreeDarko, the book. Coming in one year.

  • What makes a "real" fan? (And does anyone think that's what Rudy Giuliani is for the Red Sox?)

  • Reflections inspired by a fire escape view, and Darcy Frey's classic basketball book "The Last Shot."

  • Toronto beat writer gets volunteers to run his fantasy team, and is not adjusting to the idea of rooting for Ricky Davis, Ron Artest, and Rasheed Wallace.

  • An unofficial ranking of the highest salaries in Europe. $1.7 million Euros gets you into the top ten. Worth noting though: typically European players do not pay income tax -- the team does -- and they get living expenses covered. So that's equivalent to a lot more in the U.S.A.

  • An honest attempt to describe Billy King's strategy in building the Sixers.

  • If you drive baseline, you better be ready to finish spectacularly, or pass to the far corner. A lot more options open up when you drive to the middle.

  • Rudy Fernandez is injured, and is replaced by 17-year-old international phenom Ricky Rubio, who plays very well.

  • The Atlanta Hawks get up close and personal with some Hurricane Katrina devastation.