— You ask, we (try to) answer:
A: I'm not writing anyone off at this stage, nor am I planning for a coronation.
What the Lakers and, to a degree, the Celtics already have is something the Heat have to find through the first 82 games next season: chemistry.
Is the Heat's top three better than Kobe, Gasol and Odom, or Garnett, Pierce and Allen? You certainly could have a lively debate. But that's not the point. Each of those trios has shown it can thrive because roles are clearly delineated. That is where the Heat must get.
In the East, you won't know who the Celtics are until the playoffs. Boston already showed this season it could turn it up to another level in the postseason.
Then there is Orlando, which has something Miami currently has no answer for and probably won't find an answer for, in Dwight Howard. Put that type of post dominance together with the coaching savvy of Stan Van Gundy, and that is no easy out.
And in the West, he who doubts the Spurs often gets stung.
So, this is no foregone conclusion.
But it also is early, and the Heat is showing an ability to round out its roster with more than just low-end talent. Add a shot-blocker, a perimeter defender and a veteran point guard to the mix, and you might create the chemistry the Celtics and Lakers already have.
A: At this moment, it is difficult to put up much of an argument. Where others have cut and run, Kobe has stood and fought, even if he did challenge management several times along the way.
The respect for the single-team athlete is undeniable in sports. It is part of what made Larry Bird and Magic Johnson so special.
Still, if Mitch Kupchak wasn't gifted Gasol, there is no guarantee that Kobe also wouldn't have cut and run.
What LeBron needs is time out of the limelight. That ESPN special was not one of his better moments. He has to turn the focus back to the court, back to basketball, remind us of how special a talent he can be.
As long as he is not seen strutting down South Beach alongside Wade and Bosh, with each wearing red capes, I think his reputation still can be salvaged.
Cleveland never will forget. But the rest of the nation will undoubtedly tune in and show up when he again takes the hardwood stage.
A: There were plenty of complementary pieces added. Carlos Boozer should be perfect for the Bulls, with his post scoring. How anyone is going to grab a rebound against that team is beyond me.
And Al Jefferson is the perfect replacement for Boozer in Utah, considering Mehmet Okur is many things, but a post presence is not one of them.
Dallas also did its usual job of making the most of limited cap resources.
Then there are the Nets, who seemingly can't get enough of mediocrity. I have no clue what New Jersey is doing.
A: And back to the Heat we go.
It will be interesting, because if the Heat do approach 70 wins, because MVP is a regular-season award, someone from the team will have to receive consideration, although it could be a split vote.
I think MVP means a lot more to LeBron than to Wade, who can continue to cherish his 2006 NBA finals MVP trophy. And I think a third consecutive MVP for James will put in his mind that he made the right decision.
A: Because the Heat was the lone NBA team to clear enough salary-cap space to sign three max-level free agents. Even if Cleveland re-signed LeBron, the best it could have done was acquire Wade or Bosh in a sign-and-trade. It did not have the means to sign all three.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert thought he put the needed complementary pieces in place when he added Shaq, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. LeBron thought differently.
A: A fear of spending another half-decade in northeast Ohio without a championship.
A: I'm insulted. I call him, "Your highness."
A: And yet enough people watched to have the network next consider, "Jannero Pargo, The Decision."
A: It's interesting. That's one of the first things Pat Riley suggested when the league moved to allow zone defense. He said breaking down a zone takes more time than the current shot clock. But the last thing this league would want to do is give teams any reason to reduce scoring. So 24 seconds it remains.
A: After what Memphis endured at the beginning of last season, it would have to be the perfect fit. I don't currently see that fit around the league.
A: I would say no, and for this reason: I don't ever again think there will be three prime players available at the same time, who each are willing to leave significant money on the table, while there also would be one team that reduces its offseason roster to a single player. This appears to be a one-time-only process.