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Sports Notes - West Won't Rest as SHAQ & KIDD Return - MARCH 2008

Pau Gasol to the wild wild West - NBA photo

Jason Kidd returns to the wild wild West - NBA photo - Andrew Bernstein

Keith Van Horn returns to New Jersey - NBA photo - Glenn James

Shaq back to attack West - NBA NBA photo - Rocky Widner



James Loving - National Radio Text Service - Saturday March 1, 2008


All trades aren't made in heaven. When the Lakers traded Eddie Jones for Glen Rice at midseason on March 10, 1999 things came apart. Both were good players but the questions were would Rice fit into the Lakers system and why would the Lakers break up their team chemistry. The trade didn't work.



Now that the dust has settled after a series of mid-season trades the question is who made good decisions and who made mistakes. At this juncture the Los Angeles Lakers are experiencing positive results as the reeled off 13 wins in 14 games with their new addition of Pau Gasol. The seven footer fit right into the Lakers scheme of play and actually has taken it up a notch with his deft passing skills, good decisions and seemingly always being in the right place at the right time to gather in rebounds and being in position for plays.

Since the former Memphis Grizzlie joined the squad the Lakers improved their record from a + 17 wins over losses to a + 24. The Lakers were 28-11 when Gasol came on board and after his first 14 games with the team they recorded a 13-1 record and improved to 41-17. Gasol was also a big winner going from a team that had a 13-33 record when the trade was made.

Who would have though the Lakers would be in this position when only a few months ago Kobe Bryant was demanding to be traded and the Lakers woes were compounded only a few days later when Lakers owner the 70 something Jerry Buss was arrested for drunken driving while being in the company of a young girl in her twenties. With problems like these it seemed as if the Lakers organization was coming apart at the seams.

Kobe was disenchanted with Andrew Bynum but the 20-year-old seven foot center's development into a solid player this season has changed that. The result being the Lakers have overcome adversity and this Gasol trade has made them serious contenders for the West title.

The Dallas Mavericks acquisition of Jason Kidd should pay off as the season progresses. This is a strange trade that was refused by the Mavericks Devean George who was involved in the first trade offer to the Nets. He refused to leave and had a no trade clause in his contract. The deal later went through with former New Jersey Net Keith Van Horn coming out of retirement and returning to the Nets where he started his NBA career and he produced solid statistics during his five season stint (1997/98 to 20001/02). Stay tuned on his progress.

Being a point guard is demanding for running the team and creating a rhythm. In Kidd's first game with the Mavs he made 6 turnovers while grabbing nine rebounds, dishing out eight assists and scoring 11 points. As Kidd adjusts to the rhythm of his teammates the Mavericks will improve. That rhythm came to fruition as he dished out 17 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves. During his first six games with the Mavs he became more familiar with his teammates and he's turned out solid numbers scoring 61 points (10.1 ppg), 42 rebounds (7 rpg) while dishing out 64 assists (10.6 apg). At that point the Mavs had a 39-29 record.

Kidd's strength is his guts, leadership, decision making and is possibly the best rebounding guard in the NBA today given his lack of size. Though he's listed at 6'4" (1.93) I've looked him straight in the eye and he's not much taller than I if at all and I'm 6'1". Kidd has a career average of 6.7 rebounds a game which is better than some of the big men whose job it is to get rebounds.

Kidd is humble, conscientious and productive. He makes a team go and that could be the missing ingredient for the Mavs to make it to the West Finals. Kidd will make a difference but the Mavericks are low on muscle and that may determine how far the Mavericks progress in the playoffs.

The biggest trade noise was heard when the Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O'Neal. Critics including myself questioned if O'Neal will slow down the Suns pace and throw them off course for their title run. His often injured body also raises questions regarding how much can he contribute before he's struck down by another injury? Last season he played in less than half of the 82 regular season games making only 40 playing appearances. He played in only 59 games the previous season. The Suns have lost four of six games with Shaq.

The Cavaliers acquisition of Ben Wallace who was disgruntled with the Chicago Bulls is an on hold to see how well he, Joe Smith, Wally Szcerbiak and Delonte West blend in with the team and its leader LeBron James. Chemistry and rhythm will take time for all of these four new pieces to blend together as a smooth functioning unit. With that many new players it will take time. West may be the sleeper in the deal and turn out to be a very productive player for the Cavs.

All trades aren't made in heaven. When the Lakers traded Eddie Jones for Glen Rice at midseason on March 10, 1999 I went ballistic. Both were good players but the questions were would Rice fit into the Lakers system and why would the Lakers break up their team chemistry.

Rice is recognized today as being one of the NBA's greatest players but he didn't fit in with the Lakers and his career went on a downslide from that point. Prior to joining the Lakers he averaged over 20 points a game and was a member of the NBA All-Star team three consecutive years, 1996-97-98.

He spent a season and a half with the Lakers before being traded to the New York Knicks. Rice averaged 17.5 points a game in his first half season with the Lakers and dropped to 15.9 the following year before the trade to the Knicks. He played a season with the Knicks (2000-2001) and his average dropped to 12 points a game. He was then traded to the Houston Rockets where he was used sparingly and he averaged 8.6 and 9.0 in successive seasons. He signed with the Los Angels Clippers as a free agent on October 10, 2003 played 18 games for them averaging just 3.7 ppg before being waived by the Clippers January 16, 2004. The result was his NBA career was over.

The now 36-year-old Eddie Jones has been a solid player since that trade and is currently with the Dallas Mavericks as a role player averaging 20 minutes per game of playing time. Though he's averaging only 3.5 ppg this season he has a solid 15.4 career scoring average.

Yes all trades aren't made in heaven but some are made by utilizing sound judgment and logic. Stay tuned.......


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