TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the command of new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, the career of future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, the future of Lionel Hollins, high expectations for the Pacers and Bulls as well as the NBA Finals.
1. Masai Ujiri (Raptors): Watched the press conference on Tuesday. Let there be no doubt, he's in charge - 100 per cent. The added title of president of basketball operations and how he handled the questions about the presence of president Bryan Colangelo, as well as their relationship, said it all to me. He's his own man and he will make all the calls. He's got the bat and the ball. Very clear.
2. Jason Kidd: Wonderful run. Should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when his time comes. The consummate quarterback and leader. Made everyone he played with so much better. Outstanding two-way player. Great lateral quicks as a defender and incredibly quick hands. Would win a bunch of 50/50 balls and just had the 'knack' for making the big defensive play. I had a ton of respect for him as a player.
3. Lionel Hollins: Looks like it's over in Memphis for him as the coach. As crazy as this sounds, they're doing him a favor. You don't want to be where you're not wanted nor respected. It's pretty clear that the new Memphis ownership and management has their own ideas on how a team should be coached. It's their prerogative and good luck to them. Hollins has grown as a coach and is well thought of in basketball circles by players, coaches and executives. He'll be fine. It's got to be rough for him to build a team and turn around an organization and basically be shown the door. Crazy business. Onward and upward.
4. Pacers and Bulls: Something to really consider in the Eastern Conference next year. Danny Granger will be healthy for the Pacers. His scoring and polish would have been a big help to his team. Interesting to see if they keep him or trade him. He'll have suitors. Derrick Rose will be back with the Bulls. If that team is completely healthy, watch out. They'll be the second or at the very worst third best team in the East. One player can swing the balance so much in this sport.
5. NBA Finals (Miami in 7): I think the long layoff will be a challenge for the Spurs to overcome early on in the series. Too much time off and you lose your mojo. Nothing like playing every other day or, at the worst, every third day. I think if Miami learns anything from the Pacers series, it's the fact that when they're totally engaged defensively, like they were in Games 3 and 7, they are the best team in basketball. Well they better be because Tony Parker has been fabulous this season and throughout the playoffs. The Spurs don't wow you with anything that they do but they're remarkably efficient and sound. They find a way. The Spurs will find a way to win some games but, when the defining moments come as they usually do in a series of this magnitude, my gut tells me that #6 for Miami will have a major influence on things. Not going against him or his team. Enjoy all the action starting on Thursday on TSN.