— You ask, we (try to) answer.
A. The second round of the NBA playoffs are an interesting time. For some teams, just making it there is reward enough. I'd put the Grizzlies in that category and figure the Hawks should be there, too, considering few had them getting past the Magic in the first round.
By contrast, second-round elimination was a huge disappointment for the Lakers and Celtics.
So to get back to the question at hand: Is a dip in the standings but a second-round spot in the playoffs considered enough of a success for the Hawks to remain largely intact?
Foremost, the Hawks' options are limited, doomed to an above-the-cap existence even if Jamal Crawford's $10.1 million expiring contract is wiped from the books.
An argument could be made that the Hawks already have upgraded, first with the trade-deadline acquisition of Kirk Hinrich and then the playoff breakout by Jeff Teague in the second round.
But this, nonetheless, remains a team stuck in the familiar pattern of plenty of iso-Joe with Joe Johnson and the wild offensive swings of Josh Smith.
From this perspective, you will never win big with Smith because there never is any consistency with what you're going to get. Some games it is dynamic play at the rim, other times there are the mindless jumpers from closer to the 3-point line.
If the core remains Johnson-Smith, it probably doesn't matter what else the Hawks do. The second round will remain about as good as it gets.
A. First, even though Rivers re-signed for five seasons, I think the contract more was of a coach-as-long-as-you-like agreement, sort of like those rollover contracts in college sports. Basically, the job is Doc's as long as he wants to stay, with financial assurances that if a rebuild is necessary he still will receive the full $35 million.
The Miami link was one that only would have played out if Erik Spoelstra failed. I think it's safe to say that Spoelstra, at least for the short term, has passed his tests.
As for the New York job, Mike D'Antoni took the first necessary step in getting the Knicks back to the playoffs, so it just would have looked wrong to then entice Rivers as a replacement.
All of that said, I am surprised that Rivers re-upped so quickly, with no assurances that the Big Three core would remain intact for any substantial period.
The Celtics are a team without a center, and could be one with a limited bench, if Glen "Big Baby" Davis heads elsewhere in free agency.
But Rivers is so popular among players that his mere presence could entice free agents to come to Boston for less than they might otherwise receive elsewhere. He is a wonderful recruiting tool.
A. No, just exhaling after making the breakthrough against the Celtics that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James could not make the season before.
First of all, it hardly was as dramatic a scene as it was made out to be, and certainly would have been entirely muted had it come on the road.
But put aside the round and the opponent and consider that the Heat scored the final 16 points of that game, with LeBron personally scoring the final 10. Don't you think there is just a bit more Adrenaline buzz than usual after such domination?
The irony is the Heat will be forced to celebrate if they win the next round, with an actual trophy (I don't know why) presented to the Eastern Conference champion.
The difference is beating the Bulls won't carry the same emotional significance for Wade and James than what was accomplished against the Celtics.
A. He was, until the Spurs dominated the Western Conference during the regular season and then the Mavericks swept the Lakers out of the second round, after the Hornets made the Lakers sweat in the first round.
The timing could not have been worse for Shaw, who has served as Phil Jackson's right-hand man for years, even if he, too, did not have a high chair.
The fact that Jackson also has not come out with an overwhelming endorsement speaks volumes.
The sense that Shaw would be a choice that would placate Kobe Bryant could be a sign of the team moving away from pampering its aging superstar guard. Bryant's lack of practice time seemingly robbed the Lakers of needed continuity in the playoffs.
If the Lakers come close to anything resembling blow-it-up mode, Shaw could become collateral damage. That might be among the reasons why he is interviewing for the Golden State job.
A. Based on Kobe's performance this past season, I don't think he is slowing down all that much.
The difference is Jordan had a Hall of Fame presence alongside in Scottie Pippen. I'm not sure Kobe has had that definitive No. 2 presence since the departure of Shaquille O'Neal.
What Kobe needs is more of a support system. Yes, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum are nice players, but at this stage, Kobe needs a bit more.
It is why Dwight Howard makes sense on so many levels, if the Magic center, indeed, is attainable.
And remember, Kobe came to the NBA directly from high school, so he is a somewhat older 32.