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mavsfanforever
06-18-2003, 10:26 AM
Link (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/basketball/orl-sptbrewer16061603jun16,0,3043530.column?coll=orl-sports-headlines)

For a change, we could've had a Spurs-Mavs Finals
Published June 16, 2003
Five years of Western Conference dominance and amnesia over NBA history have many within the media believing that something must be done to create a more ideal Finals matchup.

Competition did re-enter the Finals this season. Still, there is the notion that the NBA could generate more interest if the league changed its seeding format once the 16-team playoff field is set. In this case, there would be no East and West, and the teams with the best records would be rewarded.

Asked whether this idea might be considered, Commissioner David Stern said: "I don't want to say it might, but everything is going to be considered. And if a team wants us to consider that, we're going to do it. That [competition] committee is going to have it."

The idea would be controversial and raise several more questions.

For instance, what about a Western team such as the Houston Rockets, who couldn't qualify for the playoffs in the West but still had a better record than some East qualifiers? Should each conference champion, regardless of record, get a high seed for winning the conference?

Why have two conferences, anyway? Or why not realign the entire league instead?

At the end, many would think, "Why break tradition?"

History says the West's dominance is merely cyclical. When Michael Jordan was the league's best player, the East dominated. The conferences swap power from time to time.

You could argue whether the gap between the conferences ever has been this significant, but the East will be back.

The opinion here is that if Indiana retains Jermaine O'Neal and grows up, the Pacers would become a dominant East team that could give the West some trouble. New Jersey will grow and stands only a couple of good personnel decisions from a title. Detroit has the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft June 26, which it will use on Serbian 7-footer Darko Milicic. If the Magic had some luck, Tracy McGrady could team with a star and make the Finals interesting.

Down the road, the young Chicago Bulls, with developing big men Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler, could be formidable. And if LeBron James comes close to his hype, he may be able to catapult an entire conference.

Stern would prefer to let the East grow. He didn't sound like a fan of reseeding.

"To me, it doesn't matter at all, but I'm respectful of those who have raised the issues, and we'll consider it with all other issues," he said.

In the meantime, let's have some fun. Let's look at how the playoffs would have played out how if there were seeds instead of conferences.

Van Gundy II

So Jeff Van Gundy is back in the NBA, with a team much different than those grind-it-out New York Knicks he did an admirable job coaching. Before he could settle in, people already were asking The Question: Can the defensive-minded Van Gundy be successful with a young, offensive-oriented team?

"As coaches, you always get labeled that you're a certain way," Van Gundy said in a conference call last week. "I would love to be labeled that I maximize the ability of my team and the players. Really, that is the job of the coach. You want to play to their strengths, stay away from their non-strengths and try to maximize their potential."

In other words, the Rockets are going to be playing some defense next season.

But at the same time, Van Gundy will be a good fit here. Houston needed a stricter coach to follow the successful Rudy Tomjanovich. Van Gundy will develop the Rockets' young players through discipline and a more structured system.

As much as he seems inflexible, you must remember that Van Gundy grabbed the Knicks' job after that team already was set. In Houston, he will get to mold a team. He may choose to do so differently than you think.

He understands that Houston has the tools to run and score, and so the guess here is that he will not limit the Rockets. At the same time, he will improve their half-court offense by making his team buy into playing off Yao Ming. And, yes, they're going to guard people.

"I don't really look at myself as a certain style," Van Gundy said. "I look at myself as trying to win big and using the players accordingly."

Layup Drill


Word is that Georgia guard/forward Jarvis Hayes may fall lower than anticipated on draft day. He is said to be struggling during pre-draft workouts. It could be a smoke screen, though. Teams are known to talk down players to try some trickery around this time to enhance their chances of picking a player they like. Hayes, who may be the most efficient perimeter scorer in the draft, will be a good NBA player.


LeBron James, the No. 1 pick-to-be, measured in at 6 feet 71/4 without shoes and weighed 245 pounds during the Chicago camp. He looks chiseled and moves so swift, but it probably wouldn't hurt him to trim about 10 pounds, especially if he is going to play the point in Cleveland.


Former Magic center Patrick Ewing, a Knicks legend, may reunite with Van Gundy in Houston as an assistant. The Rockets received permission from Washington to speak with Ewing, who was an assistant with the Wizards before they fired Doug Collins.


Future cap considerations could play a role in whether the Spurs really get serious about pursuing Jason Kidd this summer. Kidd will command a max salary, and the Spurs believe he and Tony Parker could play in the same backcourt. But consider this with the Spurs, who also need a big man to replace David Robinson: Stephen Jackson is a free agent, Manu Ginobili will be one after next season, and Parker will enter the last guaranteed year (the Spurs have two option years) of his deal after next season. That's a lot of money to invest in perimeter players, especially when there would be duplication in spots and a need for size. Solution? Pursue Jermaine O'Neal.

Mandyahl
06-18-2003, 01:34 PM
Solution? Pursue Jermaine O'Neal.
Please don't.