Friday 5 12.7.12: Dive-bombing prey
In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with Ken Berger, the CBSSports.com senior NBA writer talks trade talk, the Heat's issues, and Kobe passing 30,000.
1. Pau Gasol is the Lakers Drama du jour of the week, but let's talk about his suitors. Are the Raptors truly ready to let Andrea Bargnani go? Do the Wolves really think Derrick Williams has value at this point? And are the Hawks seriously, for the 800th time, not going to trade Josh Smith?
KB: I don't think the Raptors are ready to trade Bargnani yet. But I do believe the pressure is mounting to win in Toronto, which might make Bryan Colangelo more willing to deal as the weeks go by. The Raptors have a a lot that makes sense for the Lakers -- not just Bargnani, but Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza. The question will be whether the Raptors believe Gasol will give them the boost they need to get into contention, and whether he's worth taking on $19 million next season. Dicey situation. The Wolves' role in all of this centers around Ricky Rubio's desire to unite with his fellow Spaniard. Rick Adelman, I'm told, is down on Williams, which means he's certainly available. But does a deal that includes Williams, Nikola Pekovic and a first-round pick make the Lakers better now? Not in my opinion. Due to Mike D'Antoni's strong affinity for Danilo Gallinari, I fully expect the Lakers to explore Denver's interest once they're ready to seriously discuss Gasol scenarios. As of now, the Nuggets have no interest in Gasol's contract.
2. Miami drops a second to New York in humiliating fashion after losing to the lowly Wizards. They're clearly coasting, but is there any concern that they're developing habits they can't fix with the new personnel?
KB: I think some of their problems are motivational in nature, but I also believe that there are schematic and personnel issues that are involved. Namely, they're bad defensively when Ray Allen is on the floor, and this small-ball thing isn't working. Rashard Lewis didn't see the floor except with his eyes Thursday night, because he can't guard, either. Look for Coach Spo to make some adjustments immediately in an effort to re-establish the defensive identity that was so important to their title run. Once he does that, he can always go back and tinker with small-ball and the like later.
3. Eight days from the NBA deadline of when newly-signed players are eligible to be traded, will the rest of December bring a flurry of trade talk or will it be clear skies for a while?
KB: There's always a flurry of trade talk. I think it's too soon for any of it to get serious. Once Dec. 15 hits and the trade market is enhanced with those trade-eligible free agents, teams have more options if they get to the 20-game mark and look at their roster and record and don't like what they see.
4. Kobe Bryant passes 30,000 points. Did him passing that mark mean anything to you?
KB: Tremendous accomplishment that really cements Kobe among the handful of greats who have ever played this sport. We've become so spoiled by his greatness that 30K didn't see like as big a deal as it really is. But in my mind, the bigger milestone will be passing Wilt and moving into fourth on the all-time list. Moving past other immortals, to me, is always more interesting and significant than hitting an arbitrary number of points. And given Kobe's Philly roots, his great appreciation for the history of basketball and the game's tradition in that city, I know that passing Wilt -- late this season or early next -- will carry incredible meaning for him.
5. Pelicans, Ken? Pelicans?
KB: My initial reaction was quite negative. But I've since learned on Deadspin (WARNING: link NSFW) that brown pelicans are actually ruthless badasses who dive-bomb their prey and steal baby ducklings from their mothers and swallow them whole. I may have to reconsider my position.
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