In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with Ken Berger, the CBSSports.com NBA Senior Writer talks how far the Bulls can go without Rose, what the Knicks do next facing an early exit (again), and who's in the lead to take over the Bobcats.
1. Who's impressed you the most so far in the playoffs?
The Lakers and Spurs. L.A. is really tough to deal with when Bynum is playing at such a high level, and with so much aggression. The Spurs, though they had the easiest first-round matchup, continue humming along.
2. Do we have a legitimate, "needs to be fixed" tanking problem?
This season, we did. I think the prevailing feeling among league executives is that what transpired over the last month of the regular season was a disgrace on many levels, but there's also a recognition that this was a weird season that perhaps accentuated the temptation to tank. So part of me wants to evaluate the issue over one more full, 82-game season before taking any drastic action. But having said that, I think we can all agree -- and many team executives I've spoke with agree -- that the onset of phantom injuries and losing on purpose for better draft position has to be addressed. I mean, the Warriors traded a legit 20-point scorer and for a guy with a broken ankle who wasn't going to play for the rest of the season. Quite a few credible ideas have been floated to deal with this problem, such as a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in each conference and changing the draft lottery -- perhaps even enhancing revenue sharing or luxury tax payments to teams that make the playoffs as opposed to those that don't. Clearly, there's an overriding problem that needs to be addressed by the competition committee.
Absolutely not. I think. At this point, it should be all about Miami and Boston, which has a chance to be an epic series if the Celtics can get Ray Allen's ankle healthy. The Bulls are good enough and connected enough defensively to get past the Sixers, but without Rose, it's going to be a major chore to dispense with the Celtics -- much less the Heat. I think the Bulls would push both of them -- Tom Thibodeau and Rose have instilled a no-nonsense, no-excuses approach -- but the reality is, you can't overcome the loss of your best player and the reigning MVP.
4. Where do the Knicks go from here?
Back to the Garden to get their clocks cleaned again Sunday? After that, it's going to be a long, eventful offseason. The coaching question is pretty simple: See how much money it would take to get Phil Jackson to come aboard, and then give it to him. Then there's the issue of whether the roster can be tweaked in ways that would make the Knicks championship contenders. If the Knicks have to use the full mid-level on Jeremy Lin, they can't have Steve Nash -- or much of anything else on the free-agent market. Amar'e Stoudemire is virtually untradeable. So does Jackson think he can win with a core of Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler? Can he run the triangle offense with Jeremy Lin as his point guard? All serious questions that will have to be answered, but clearly, the Knicks are in for another tumultuous offseason.
5. Paul Silas was quietly relieved of duties this week. Who are your best bets to take over that train wreck?
Well, Silas' son, Stephen, is on the list. But that wouldn't be a very inspiring choice for a franchise that badly needs a big name and proven coach to stabilize a dreadful situation. Of the two unemployed Team USA assistants, Nate McMillan and Mike D'Antoni, McMillan certainly makes the most sense. I see D'Antoni as a better fit in Washington, where he'd have the point guard he needs to run his system (John Wall) and a legit pick-and-roll big man in Nene -- plus a young, athletic roster. The brief working relationship that Charlotte executive Rich Cho and McMillan had in Portland shouldn't be discounted. But let's face it: The Bobcats job is not very attractive, depending on how the draft lottery works out. Short of landing No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, it's hard to envision the Bobcats being able to attract a proven winner to a franchise that has taken rebuilding to new depths.