FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS
1. STEVE NASH and STEVE BLAKE (Lakers): Both players are back in the lineup Tuesday against the Timberwolves. Blake had played quite well before he went down and, fingers crossed, Nash (who turns 40 on Friday - Happy Birthday!) tries to see if he can play through Back pain and finish the season. This Lakers season has not gone well with the loss of Dwight Howard, the injury to Kobe Bryant, and of course injuries to Blake and Nash. At the end of the day, this is a franchise that doesn't deal well with losing seasons yet it might be a time to re-invent themselves for the long haul. How these two guys hold up will give them better insight into where things are headed, at least short term, in their backcourt.
2. PAUL GASOL (Lakers): Speaking of this franchise, I think this ship has sailed here. If you can get cap space, luxury tax relief and/or a draft pick, you move him. He still has value, yet I see it diminishing despite him averaging close to 20 points and 12 rebounds a game in January. There is a lot of chatter about the Phoenix Suns making a run at him. It'll be interesting to watch it unfold but bottom line, it would be best for Gasol and the Lakers for him to have a change of scenery.
3. GREG MONROE (Pistons): There are rumblings from the Motor City that they need to look long and hard at what to do with this guy. I really like his game. When given the proper system and supporting players, I feel he has the attributes to help you win. Is he a franchise guy? No, but a very good player? Yes. He's a positive building piece. I don't see how he can co-exist long-term with Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. I'm not a huge Smith fan, nor am I big on the Brandon Jennings bandwagon. These are guys that will get you numbers but I'm not sure if they understand what it takes to win on a nightly basis. Monroe can score in the post and has a solid face up game, he can really pass it and his rebounding and lane presence is sound. The Pistons need to figure out what their identity is because right now I see a team with a lot of parts yet with no semblance of the whole in mind. This is a team sport and when I watch them they don't look like one. Monroe is one of the few guys that gets how to play the team game.
4. RAPTORS at KINGS: You'll hear all the 'coach and player speak' about it being ‘just another game.' I don't buy it for one minute. Any time someone trades you, to some degree they've given up on you and think they can do better with someone else, that's the reality of sports. The Raptors have benefited greatly with the acquisition of the 'Sacramento Four' while Rudy Gay has played quite well for the Kings. Good for both sides. I expect a very intense game here tomorrow night in Sac-town. Can't wait. More importantly for the Raptors, it's a chance to clinch a winning west coast trip (currently 2-1) with a win here before heading to LA to play the very difficult Clippers on Friday. Take care of business. Won't be easy, a lot of emotion will be present.
5. CONGRATS SEATTLE: I have buddies from Buffalo that hit a Super Bowl city each year. Unfortunately, I've never been able to attend before. This year it worked. I was in Portland on Saturday night and went over to Seattle on Sunday morning before heading over to Salt Lake City to work the Raptors/Jazz game on Monday. My Super Bowl Sunday in Seattle was a total blast. A few quick observations: First, for the Raptors game in Portland, it was a wonderful turnout of Raptor fans from Vancouver area who made the drive over. Awesome support! And secondly, what a joke that an amazing sports town like Seattle doesn't have an NBA team right now. Everywhere I went I saw not only 12th Man signs for the Seahawks but 'Bring Back our Sonics' signs. I couldn't agree more. And finally, once again, I ran into a ton of folks from Vancouver, this time while I was in Seattle. Fun time watching the football game with them and their passion for hoops as well. I've said it a thousand times before and I'll say it again, we've got to get a team back in Vancouver as well. I travel all around North America and I feel pretty confident saying this, I have a very good sense for what makes a town a good fit for the NBA and there is NO doubt that Seattle and Vancouver fit my profile a whole lot better than many of the current NBA cities. You can fill in your own blanks. Maybe with a new NBA Commissioner in Adam Silver, this topic can be revisited again. It makes too much sense to me. Likely wishful thinking on my part.