LAS VEGAS -- Play time is over. All-Star weekend was an exhausting blast, but the pause button is about to be released, fast-forwarding the league into the time of year that really matters. Playoff spots and seeding will be up for grabs, and it's time to take it up a notch.
|The NBA's triple-doubles leader is on the trading block. (AP)|
That New Jersey is listening to offers for Jason Kidd and Vince Carter is no surprise. Team president Rod Thorn never says anyone is off limits, and his team looks to be in real danger of missing the playoffs in a season where it expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title. Four games under .500 and two games back of the Heat for the eighth and final spot, things are expected to get worse before they get better, sparking talk of the fire sale. "They have to do what's best for the franchise if the team is underachieving," Kidd said. "Business always gets in the way of basketball, so you just have to be happy wherever you end up and always keep your bags packed."
Who would be a better acquisition?
Total Votes: 8,428
The Lakers can definitely have Kidd if they're willing to part with Andrew Bynum, but he's considered too valuable a part of the team's future to be included in this deal. More likely, the Nets would have to take back a package involving Kwame Brown, which would be akin to waving the white flag on being competitive anytime soon.
Getting Kidd without giving up Bynum would set the Lakers up as a championship contender for the next couple of seasons, making the Western Conference all the more powerful.
"This team is young, and if you have the opportunity to bring a player like Jason Kidd in, that's something you definitely, definitely have to look at," Kobe Bryant said. "I hear all the talks going on. I don't know the seriousness of it or the possibility of it, but it's still exciting."
The Carter rumors also intensified over the weekend, with the New York Daily News reporting it had heard from a source that Thorn was trying desperately to move his shooting guard, who can opt out of his current deal at season's end. It's widely known that he's always coveted a chance to stay close to his Daytona Beach roots and play for Orlando, who would have the money to pay him with Grant Hill's salary coming off the books.
|Tuesday||Denver at San Antonio|
|Tuesday||Phoenix at L.A. Clippers|
|Wednesday||Cleveland at Toronto|
|Wednesday||Miami at Houston|
|Thursday||Chicago at Cleveland|
|Thursday||Miami at Dallas|
|Friday||Utah at Denver|
|Saturday||Denver at Dallas|
|Sunday||Chicago at Detroit|
|Sunday||Cleveland at Miami|
Although Carter has maintained that he hasn't decided what he's going to do this summer, speculation is that he fully intends on staying in Florida, adding to the likelihood he gets moved.
Memphis' Pau Gasol, who issued a trade demand in January, is still teetering on the edge between being moved and being forced to wait until summer to find a new destination. GM Jerry West is still trying to get the maximum possible for him, which isn't surprising. He's the best big man on the market, and although not worth both Luol Deng and Ben Gordon -- believed to be the current asking price -- he may end up springing one of them from the Bulls in addition to P.J. Brown's expiring deal and an assortment of picks.
Other names rumored to potentially be on the move are Gasol's teammate Chucky Atkins; Seattle's Luke Ridnour, with Atlanta a possible destination; the Clippers' Corey Maggette; Sacramento's Shareef Abdur-Rahim; Portland's Jamaal Magloire and Juan Dixon; and Detroit's Nazr Mohammed and Flip Murray.
Team of the week
The Dallas Mavericks have won nine consecutive games and face a challenging schedule as we return to action. The highlight is Miami's lone visit of the regular season Thursday, which will see the revival of the NBA's newest rivalry. Dwyane Wade took exception to comments from Dirk Nowitzki that Miami was handed the championship last season, and you can expect him to do everything in his power to make a statement at American Airlines Center. Nowitzki did his best to dispel rumors of a budding feud.
"It's over. I said something he didn't like, he said something I didn't like. Now we can concentrate on basketball," said the MVP front-runner. "There's nothing there. Of course the media is always going to blow things out of proportion. He's a great player."
Yes, the media constantly makes stuff up. Right. By the way, Mavs owner Mark Cuban is not expected to be in attendance, which is shocking considering the occasion, because of a previous commitment.
Team of the weak
The disappointing L.A. Clippers return to action hoping to right the ship after finishing the first half of the season as one of the NBA's biggest letdowns. Elton Brand's back should be sufficiently healed for him to get back in the mix as the team plays host to Phoenix and Golden State. Defending two-time MVP Steve Nash is expected to return from his shoulder issue Tuesday, making beating the Suns unlikely. L.A. is a half-game behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff seed out West.
Player to watch
You know Allen Iverson's ankle is truly an issue given how much time he has missed over the past few weeks, because there is no way that guy sits out, particularly in a new situation, unless he positively can't go. Sources told me Iverson's ankle might be worse off than originally feared, but it's expected he'll try to give it a go as the Nuggets get back to action with an excruciatingly tough week, visiting San Antonio and Dallas and playing host to Utah.