Five quick NBA thoughts on a Monday afternoon.
1. TORONTO RAPTORS (HUGE Week!): Four games back of the last Playoff spot with 26 games to play. Play at Milwaukee on Saturday night - the team they're chasing. How they perform Monday night vs. Washington, Wednesday at Cleveland and on Friday at home against the tough Indiana Pacers will set the stage for a big one on Saturday. No looking ahead or past anyone - take care of business and put yourself in a position to truly be in the discussion as a Playoff contender. Time to get it done!
2. KOBE/MARK CUBAN: Got a kick out of Mark Cuban's comments over the weekend that the Lakers should consider using the 'Amnesty Provision' on Kobe Bryant. Needless to say, Mr. Bryant didn't appreciate the 'Dis' from this Mr. Cuban character and went off for 38 points. Even if you don't like Kobe, you've gotta respect his ability to erupt and take care of business when anyone doubts him. He's a Bad Man - don't cross him. That's a dude you want on your side! Love it!
3. WALL WITH THE WIZARDS = IMPROVEMENT: John Wall - he's back! The Wiz are 12-9 with him in the lineup. Don't sleep on this squad. Big wins this weekend over two good teams in the Nuggets and the Rockets in a back-to-back scenario. The young back court of Bradley Beal and Wall is something to build with for coach Randy Wittman. They dug too much of a hole to make a Playoff run this season but if those guys continue to improve and GM Ernie Grunfeld adds a few more pieces this off-season this is a young squad to keep an eye on. No easy task for the Raptors this evening.
4. NBA TRADE DEADLINE: Last Thursday was boring! Biggest trade that was made happened earlier (Raptors trade for Rudy Gay). When the biggest trade was for J.J. Redick you know GM's are sitting back and really trying to get their head around this new economic system. The new punitive Luxury Tax has lots of teams buckling down and watching their spending. Major reset button being pushed for everyone, particularly agents and players - the old way of doing business is done. The top guys will get paid and the remainder of rosters will be built with cost containment in mind. It will be a lot like Hollywood movie budgets - the top two or three stars get big money and the rest of the actors and actresses work at a whole different income level and many at the scale wage. The days of seeing a seventh man on an NBA team making huge money will be gone in a few years as the spending habits change.
5. DERRICK ROSE (Bulls): Please tell your brother Reggie to keep his mouth shut. The last thing you need is your brother to make you look like you don't appreciate your teammates and the financial commitment of owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Please ask Reggie to review Point 4 above. The days of owners going cash crazy and living in the Luxury Tax are fading away. A new world is in place now. Get healthy and come back when you feel right - not any sooner. When you come back, you need to produce big time and I'm sure you will. To whom much is given, much is expected. The pressure on stars today to earn their keep and truly pull and lead a franchise to new heights in this new era will be intense.