Last week I lost one two teammates and I gained one. As I scrolled through ESPN.com last week, I saw the breaking news that Justin Reed and Mike James were being traded to Houston for Juwan Howard. I guess this is the really hard part of the business of NBA basketball. When you go to battle with the same guys every day you get close to them. I’m going to miss Mike and Justin. Clearly, Houston loves Mike James and almost signed him last summer. I think that Justin Reed is only really lacking the right opportunity. It seems like he played really well here for us, especially when he got extended minutes.
Today, I was in Rochester Minnesota giving a “Life in the NBA” talk at Rochester Athletic Club. I can’t remember how many times people asked me if Kevin Garnett was going to get traded, but it was a lot. I really think that there is not going to be any trades involving Kevin Garnett. I sure hope not. I know for a fact that Kevin loves Minnesota and he likes the guys in the locker room. But I’m also aware the realities of professional sports and that from a business standpoint, anything can happen to anyone. The thing about Kevin is that he makes everyone around him better. Three years ago, Sam Cassell had an all-star season, Sprewell had a great year and many other guys on our roster had career years. When you have someone like Kevin Garnett on your team, everyone is going to benefit.
"That’s what happens when they go small,” Kaman said. “They get hurt in the post. Inside, they don’t (match up). They know that. They want us to match up with them. You’ve got two 3’s (small forwards) guarding a 4 (power forward) and a 5 (center).”
The Phoenix Suns are beginning to re-define the way NBA basketball is being played. Starting in 1999, the NBA was really a strength league in some ways. When I first got to the Lakers, Phil Jackson’s “Performance Enhancement Coordinator”, Chip Schaeffer, told me that in the Western Conference you had to be ready for a lot of great, tough, big men. He went down the list and named the following players: Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Tim Duncan, Vin Baker, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki, etc.
Now it seems that the Suns have completely bucked the trend. A few years ago, Boris Diaw was playing point guard for the Atlanta Hawks. Now he is starting at Center for the Suns. But the real reason why the suns can get away with going so small can be found with one person–Shawn Marion. Shawn Marion is about 6’7 or 6’8″ and skinny, but he is one of the best rebounders in the entire NBA. People around the leauge say that Shawn Marion jumps as if he’s on a pogo-stick.
If the Suns win this series, look for other teams around the league to use the draft and free agency market to find a way to get “smaller, faster and quicker”. If the Clippers win this series, all of the experts will come out of the woodwork and say “Well, once again, we see that ‘small ball’ can’t win a championship in the NBA.'”