New Podkast: ESPN The Magazine's Chris Palmer

With the trade deadline expired and the Lakers suddenly playing like two-time defending champions, it felt like as good a time as any to record a new batch of ear candy. Our guest? Chris Palmer, who covers the NBA (and action sports!) for ESPN The Magazine, one of our favorite dudes in the biz. Here are the talking points.

- With Palmer taking time out from his Academy Awards party schedule, we discuss the trade deadline's madness. The Lakers stood pat while several teams went to the mattresses.

How much better did Oklahoma City become with the acquisitions of Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed. And by extension, did Boston become worse by altering the tried and true with Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic? How threatening is Portland with Gerald Wallace? New Orleans with Carl Landry? Memphis with Shane Battier? Denver without Melo and Chauncey? All the angles and implications of this souped up Western Conference are examined.

Meanwhile, did the Lakers do the right thing by rolling with their "A-minus" roster, as Chris would grade it? In his estimation, yes.

"I love what the Lakers did. Doing nothing is exactly what they should have done. They don't have to worry about chemistry issues. They don't have to worry about working new guys into a very difficult offense to learn. Let's keep it moving.

"This team has won two championships. It's built to win another. Don't tamper if it's working fine for you."

- Deron Williams' migration eastward won't make the Nets a playoff team ... now. But down the road? Chris talks about the statement made by this splashy deal.

- Chris makes a case for the Cavaliers' willingness to take on Baron Davis in exchange for a potentially high draft pick. He offers solid points, but we're not buying them.

- With Palmer off the phone to seek out a Walmart, Brian and I talk about the Lakers' red hot play since the All-Star break (and this was before the Clippers walloping). Is this a sure-fire sign of the "corner" turned, "switch" flipped or whatever cliche' you prefer? Ask us next week. To a man, they're performing better and this is typically the time when the Lakers crank things to another level, but a season this inconsistent, often for inconsistent reasons, requires more proof for reassurance.

- Along these lines, two strong games (three, if you count his performance against the Clips) by Ron Artest are analyzed. Suddenly, Ron-Ron is playing decisive, confident basketball. Maybe he's no longer dealing with the anxiety of a mixtape about to drop. On a related news, Brian also reveals his ignorance of hip hop slang.