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Thursday Bullets

  • Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune: "... the Jazz had five chances to take the lead in the second half of Game 5 and couldn't come through once."

  • Steve Kerr talked coaching candidates with Fred Mitchell of The Chicago Tribune: "What's interesting is that there are no obvious candidates now. It's not like there are really prominent former head coaches out there. Once D'Antoni was off the market, it kind of changed things.'" If Avery Johnson, with his 74% career winning percentage, takes that as a slight, it would be understood. (And he got some razzing on TV last night.)

  • Marc Isenberg outlines the O.J. Mayo scandal in terms that let BDA more or less entirely off the hook. Isenberg points out that there is nothing at all illegal about paying runners, and whether or not Rodney Guillory told O.J. Mayo he worked for BDA is, as Isenberg points out, between Guillory and Mayo. At the same time, in his own excellent book Money Players, Isenberg advises against this brand of recruitment. One example: "Ideally," he writes, "the first agent you select will be the right agent. The key words are 'you select' the agent, rather than having the agent select you through becoming your 'friend' and giving you 'gifts.'" I don't think there's anything dishonest here. But I do think that Isenberg's response is a genuine reflection of an industry that can't decide on a reasonable set of standards to police itself. I'd suggest this test: If you're performing in a manner that you are proud of, brag about your recruiting practices to the media. If it's not something we can be proud of, don't do it. And if this is an industry that's so bad that you can't get ahead being fair, it's time to leave or join those trying to clean it up.

  • ESPN's Marc Stein on Rick Carlisle's introduction in Dallas. They'll be bringing back the team psychologist that the Red Sox use, who had been banished by Johnson. And Cuban says his pursuit of the Cubs is no indication that he'll sell the Mavericks: "Cuban stopped in the American Airlines Center hallway after the formal question-and-answer session to reiterate to ESPN.com that back-to-back exits in the first round and his well-chronicled interest in buying baseball's Chicago Cubs haven't dimmed his enthusiasm to own and operate the Mavs. 'Not at all,' Cuban said. His grand plan/fantasy is having both teams. 'I even told the Tribune Company [which is selling the Cubs] that basketball is still my first love,' Cuban continued. 'But the Cubs are a special opportunity and I would be just as excited to own them. The seasons barely overlap, so it's not going to be a problem." There was also talk of Josh Howard: "Coach and owner spoke at length about [Josh] Howard -- and favorably so -- in an attempt to dispel the idea that the Mavs' youngest core player will be moved. But Carlisle did acknowledge: 'This roster is going to change between now [and camp]. I'm certain of that.'"

  • TrueHoop reader Zed e-mails: "I've thought up a possibly elegant solution to the fouling problem: Replace the current 'continuation' rules with the 'advantage' rules from rugby. In rugby, a play isn't whistled dead at the moment of the foul, the referee will give the fouled team a chance to finish up the play to their advantage -- if they fail, then the penalty is assessed. This actually has multiple advantages: It would limit the usefulness of the Hack-a-Shaq technique, especially the fouls off the ball. It would also put a halt to the dangerous 'bear hug' style fouls (which exist pretty much only because of the continuation rules).

  • Brainstorming how best to get the Spurs to miss free throws.

  • Ryan Schwan of Hornets247: "Being prone to thinking about the Hornets, especially when I'm feeling amped after a big win and still wandering my house with a silly grin on my face at 1:30 am, I pondered the question, and there only seems to be one answer I managed to dredge up: Discipline. Other than maybe Detroit, you're not going to find a set of more disciplined teams in the NBA than the Hornets and Spurs. On the defensive side of the ball, these teams will rotate with a will, close out, attack the screens and generally work like dogs to throw out the best team defense they can muster. On offense, they run their plays, spread the floor and play unselfish basketball, passing freely but intelligently. Neither team makes mistakes often, with the Hornets turning the ball over less often than any other team in the playoffs. The Spurs have also proven to take care of the ball and cough it up rarely. Since mistakes are so rare in these games, all it takes is one flurry of turnovers and/or bad shots and the team is done because the other team isn't going to make their own series of mistakes to let them get back in." He follows that with a tidy list of the major mistakes of the series so far.

  • TrueHoop reader Mike: "Of the teams remaining in the playoffs, the Spurs (Duncan), the Lakers (Gasol), the Hornets (Chandler), the Jazz (Williams), the Pistons (Billups), the Magic (Howard) and the Cavs (LeBron) all have a top-three pick on their team. Which leaves the Celtics, the best team in the NBA by record, as the only team without a top-three pick on their roster. If Boston wins the championship this season it will be a historical year, the first in 25 years when the champ had no top-three pick."

  • If you're down five or six with half a minute left, would you be better shooting a three, a two, or the best available shot? Knickerblogger wants numbers. While you're at it, if, like the Cavaliers last night, you are down four with 40 seconds or so left, is it really smart to let the other team rattle off 24 precious seconds? Would you rather have the ball down four, five, or six with 39 seconds left, or the ball down four or more with 16 seconds left?

  • The Cavaliers have been good, by and large, defensively, even with Wally Szczerbiak on the floor. Last night he even came up with a big-time open-court steal. That's impressive. Mike Brown takes his licks at the offensive end of the floor. But working with an imperfect roster, the Cavaliers get big stops, and have been excellent, in general, in the playoffs.

  • A name for a new kind of shot: The Rondorunner.

  • A nice bit of Serge Ibaka video. (Via FreeDarko)

  • A web poll shows Kings fans willing to trade Ron Artest and Quincy Douby for Josh Howard.

  • Basketbawful tells us that twice in as many days a player
    -- first Arron Afflalo, then DJ Mbenga -- has managed to play precisely one second of an NBA game.

  • Joe Dumars describes Tayshaun Prince's big block of Hedo Turkoglu in a Pistons.com interview: "This was a mano-a-mano play. Hedo turned the corner and decided 'I'm throwing it down. I'm not going to try to lay it up. I'm not going to try to float it.' And that's a mano-a-mano thing you say to yourself on the court. And Tayshaun said, 'I'll meet you at the rim.' You have plays like that where both guys make up their mind that 'I'm going to impose my will on you.' Hedo made up his mind and Tayshaun made up his mind. Those are the most impressive plays. Because there is no surprise element here. It's one guy saying, 'I'm coming.' And the other guy saying, 'OK, I'll be there.' And that's impressive." (Via Detroit Bad Boys)

  • A blow to Team USA: Shane Battier won't play in the Olympics.

  • Brad Sellers, in retirement, as told by SuperSonicSoul: "Brad Sellers is not golfing every day as he anticipated in retirement, but is, instead, mired in the day-to-day tedium of municipal affairs of a small town 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland. Whether it's helping to build a $5 million apartment building for seniors or receiving a $1 million grant for neighborhood transportation planning projects, Sellers has put his energy into making his hometown a better place to live, so that other kids might enjoy the life he's enjoyed. It is thankless, tedious, and, quite frankly, boring to preside and attend meeting after meeting, with progress measured not in wins and losses but in words and amendments. It is the life of a city official, and it is a life to which few of us aspire."

  • Since neither trades nor draft workouts are allowed at this time of year, what are front office personnel up to these days? Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress interviewed four of them. One Eastern Conference director of player personnel wrote: "A big thing right now is the background research we do. Instead of targeting only the NCAA head coaches, I like to talk to some of the lower level guys there too, the strength and conditioning coaches for example, and the trainers. I try to find people without a vested interest in the players, for example speaking to the NCAA coach of a team that recruited the player out of high school, but may not have gotten him. The type of background info we look at? For example off the floor habits, work ethic, whether the player is goal oriented, what kind of student he is, the family background-all the little things that might help you."

  • Channing Frye with a little relationship advice: "Man, look, then whenever something goes wrong, just bring up the date night. Be like, 'Baby, we had such a good DATE NIGHT. Let's just not argue.' I don't know what it does. It's like coolant to a radio active bomb."