All-Star Reserves, Jason Kidd, the Spurs, and the Hornets

East All-Star reserves: Jose Calderon got robbed by a masked man named Richard Hamilton, who undeservedly stole his spot. Calderon is one of the best guards in the NBA right now, while Hamilton is a solid player who benefits from being on a very good team. Unfortunately the coaches making the decisions missed seeing Calderon completely killing opposing defenses this season, or they decided that Jose is a backup shining while TJ Ford is out. Either way, the East are going to miss Calderon’s abilities in the game. Chris Bosh (check), Caron Butler (check), Paul Pierce (check), Joe Johnson (check), Chauncey Billups (check) and Antawn Jamieson (hmmm, barely).

West All-Star reserves: As I’m writing this, I notice that Henry has a list of snubs going on True Hoop, many of whom I don’t think deserved to be in N’awlins anyway. I like picking David West, simply because the game is in NO and they’re currently the best team in the West, but you’ve got some big, big names staying home. Baron Davis is an All-Star just as much (if not more) than Brandon Roy right now. I admit that Roy has been truly great at times, but Baron is finally playing great in the regular-season, injury-free. I don’t have a major issue with Ginobli or Tony Parker right now. I don’t think Deron Williams is more deserving than Baron, Nash, or Chris Paul, so let’s not pretend that he’s been “snubbed”. An All-Star game without Shawn Marion or T-Mac will be far less of an air show than usual years.

Jason Kidd: First of all, the Nets have been trying to trade Jason Kidd for years. Remember the Lakers/Bynum deal that the Lakers (smartly) turned down? Kidd coming out and requesting (not demanding) a trade is not a shock to the system. He has wanted out of Jersey for a while, and the Nets have tried to accomodate him, but found few suitors. He’s spent the past season or two on the block, so what’s the harm in forcing the Nets hand? Only good can come of this.

Still on the subject of Jason Kidd, when did he become the Vida Guerra of the NBA? Everyone wants him. The Lakers, the Cavs, the Mavericks, the Blazers, the Nuggets (well, they should be, if they aren’t) and probably half the NBA have called up New Jersey to inquire about him. So what’s going to happen? Is Kidd going to get traded? Let’s consider how much he makes, according to HoopsHype. Off the top of my head, I’d bet that Shaq and KG make more, and likely Kobe. The result: I forgot Michael Finley (we forget that he’s getting paid by two teams, the Mavs and Spurs), Stephon Marbury (which is unfortunate for all but Stephon) and Allen Iverson, who probably still earns it. Oh, and of course, they all make around $20 million a season. Kidd is on the hook for next season, too, at approximately $22 million. My thoughts: you’d better be planning on winning a championship before next season is up because Jason Kidd is gunning for one final contract, probably at a slightly lower rate but still at a significant price for an over-the-hill point god.

So where is Kidd going? Anywhere? Thanks to LeBron and his straight-talk (“It’s that easy,” said James, referring to a James+Kidd=championship equation), I can see him going to Cleveland for a package that includes Larry Hughes and some clean towels, or maybe Dallas for a few expiring contracts, but that’s about it. I don’t think too many teams can afford to trade for Kidd, so while a lot of calls are being placed, not a lot of wheeling-and-dealing is going on behind closed doors.

San Antonio: A few things happening in San Antonio of late, and none of them terrific. Fortunately, the Spurs don’t feel the need to celebrate in January – the prefer to wait until June to do that. They just added (still unofficial, I believe) former Raptor, Blazer, and Grizzly, Damon Stoudamire. At first, it felt like Michael Finley all over again. Upon further review, I think Stoudamire, while still a legitimate NBA player, isn’t quite all that he’s cracked up to be. If Sam Cassell were available, there’s no question that the Spurs would have picked him up instead (if the Celtics didn’t get him) and I could name about 10 point guards, back ups on other teams, who the Spurs could probably get right now for a nominal fee instead of Mighty Mouse. Wouldn’t they rather have Earl Watson? Earl Boykins? Brevin Knight? Chris Quinn? I could go on, but haven’t got the patience to search rosters for scrubs better than Stoudamire.

The reason Mighty Mouse is coming aboard is because the Spurs don’t have any insurance for Tony Parker, who recently went down for the next few weeks (minimum) with an ankle injury. The Spurs are on a 9-game road swing, and have been playing .500 basketball the past 20-odd games (they’re actually 11-12 of late), with losses to Seattle and Memphis during that span. There have been whispers – crazy, insane, looney tunes whispers that go by the name of John Hollinger – that the San Antonio Spurs could miss the playoffs. They’re hurting more now than they have ever been hurting in the regular season this century, and even though the Spurs care little for the regular season, they still win 60 games every year. At this point, they’re off that pace, with signs of them losing even more games as Parker heals and Stoudamire learns to run things. Hear me now: the San Antonio Spurs will not miss the playoffs this season. Short of a tragic “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” incident during a team meal, the San Antonio Spurs are not missing the playoffs. Period. STEPHEN A. SMITH. PERIOD. ANOTHER PERIOD!

New Orleans: The best team in the NBA, or the surprise team of the season? Neither. First, let’s address the “best team” meme of the past week: Let’s first remind ourselves that there are teams with better records than the Hornets, namely Boston, Detroit and Phoenix. They’ve had a good stretch, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that they’re not a top-tier team quite yet. Sure they’ll win 50+ games, but certainly not 60. Not in the second half of the season, when the Spurs, Suns and Mavs kick it into high gear.

Now, let’s address the “surprise of the NBA season” meme: huh? I can’t believe that I heard the PTI guys (it was actually Tony and Lebatard) talking about this team being a “surprise”. Let’s remember who the Hornets have: Chris Paul, one of the best PGs in the NBA, possibly the best right now; David West, as of ten minutes ago an All-Star; Tyson Chandler, a top-5 center in the NBA (in case you didn’t notice, getting New Orleans 12-12 every night while shooting 60% from the floor and he’s only 25!), and Peja is getting 15 points and shooting 45% from deep. Their bench (Morris Peterson, Rasual Butler, Jannero Pargo, Bobby Jackson, Melvin Ely…) is very good. This is not a surprise by any stretch. They haven’t surprised people who pay attention to the NBA, but I guess some people forget just how good a team can be when all their pieces are healthy. The past two seasons were riddled with injuries, so I can understand why they’re being labeled a surprise. But don’t let it happen again.


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