Comings And Goings At All-Star Break

The All-Star Game is about the stars, of course, but the All-Star break is about shooting stars, going in opposite directions. Once again, we see teams, players, coaches and general managers either enjoying a surge or suffering from stagnation.

Therefore, he’s a quick look at who’s going up and down heading into the break.

On the rise

* The Knicks: Forget the loss at home to the Nets; the Knicks have time to work on their chemistry issues and enter the playoffs (yes, they’re going) as an intriguing team. It’s all due, of course, to Jeremy Lin, the discovery of the decade, although now we’ll see how Carmelo Anthony gets with the program.

* Tony Parker’s Hall of Fame credentials. Seriously, he’ll have to be considered for Springfield someday. He has a few championships, a Finals MVP, All-Star appearances (including one this weekend), remarkable career consistency across the board and is enjoying a fine season (20 points, eight assists). Plus he’s only 29. Seems like he’s been around forever, but then, star players are like that.

* Kobe Bryant’s temperature: You know, Kobe’s “rant” about Pau Gasol and the Lakers and trade rumors had less to do with what he said and more to do with the state of the Lakers. If they were winning and squarely into the championship mix, would we even hear from Kobe? Of course not. But the Lakers have money concerns and besides, they’re trying to make a play for Dwight Howard. So Kobe should shut up and play and let this play itself out.

* Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry: He’s getting better by the month, the only drawback being his spotty shooting (41 percent), but Lowry is one of those under-the-radar guys who’s doing well for the Rockets. Go ahead and trash him for outplaying Lin in practice and convincing the Rockets to cut the guy.

* Suns point guard Steve Nash: The bad news is the Knicks don’t need him anymore. The good news is Nash is looking mighty springy at age 38 and doing well in Phoenix, thank you. In a recent three-game stretch he had 14, 17 and 16 assists. Plus he’s shooting 40 percent on threes. Which means his trade value is up, should the Suns try to get something for him while they can.

* Wolves center Nikola Pekovic: Imagine, if not for Lin, the most unexpected surprise would be found in Minnesota. Pek has been a lottery ticket for the Wolves, who just stumbled on a big man with soft hands. Score another for Kevin McHale, who drafted Pek (in addition to trading for Kevin Love) in 2008 before leaving the Wolves. Pek was a second-rounder who stayed in Europe before joining the Wolves just in time to catch passes from Ricky Rubio. After initially sitting behind Darko Milicic (!) Pek is averaging 17 and 10 in January.

Falling down

* The Jazz:  Just as many suspected, the Jazz were fooling us with a fast start. They’re 3-9 this month with bad losses to the Hornets, Warriors and the Knicks (during the height of Linsanity). They’ll need to upgrade their point guard and find a consistent scorer at the swing positions, both unlikely to happen in time to save Utah’s playoff chances.

* Bucks coach Scott Skiles: The Bucks are on pace to regress for the second straight season after making a brief-but-spirited playoff run in 2010. Skiles doesn’t deserve any heat for being called out by Stephen Jackson, a notorious bridge-burner, but the development of the Bucks has been slow. To his credit, Skiles has had Andrew Bogut on the floor for about 10 minutes.

* Raptors president and GM Bryan Colangelo: The son of an excellent basketball man (Jerry Colangelo) is having a rough tenure in Toronto with few signs of relief. DeMar DeRozan is shooting 40 percent, second-year big man Ed Davis can’t get major minutes for a soft team, Jose Calderon can’t be traded and Amir Johnson averages under seven points and seven rebounds. There’s no star in the making for a team that must rely on the lottery yet again. Does Colangelo have a future in that town?

* Blazers point guard Raymond Felton: He lost his starting job to Jamal Crawford, who’s hardly a point guard, which is a clear sign the Blazers will shop for one this summer. And that could mean Felton will be with his fourth team in four years next fall.

13 Comments

  1. Latigo says:

    With a brilliant guard in Rubio, a consistent power forward in Love and now a monster truck center in Pekovic… I see the Wolves becoming a very dangerous threat in the playoffs..

    Yes, they will make the playoffs. Injuries aside, I am very certain of it. Right now, they are still trying to really work on their chemistry as there has been a lot of suprises that has happened for this team.

  2. Matt says:

    Clearly this ‘reporter’ has not watched Toronto play AT ALL this year to call them soft. DeMar struggling is old news – have you seen his last 11 games i.e. February? Ed Davis doesn’t play much because he doesn’t play hard consistently enough for Coach’s liking. There are real changes going on in Toronto – all without their best player who they are 6-7 with.

    You’ll be one of the many next year to say, “We didn’t see this coming!”

    • Ian says:

      Couldn’t agree more with this. Many of the writers for NBA.com have no idea what is going on in the Raptor’s organization. DeMar has finally found his groove, Jose is playing out of his mind, and Ed is starting to perform better. The general consensus among Raptors fans is that Colangelo has the team on the right track to become competitive in a year or two.

      • TheKing6 says:

        Not so certain about Colangelo sticking around but Dwane Casey will. Have you seen what he’s gotten out of the Raps? WOW. Especially Bargnani who was playing like an All-Star before the injury. Casey and the Raps’ hard work is why they are giving top teams a rough time this season. It has nothing to do with Colangelo…but we’ll see who he picks in the upcoming draft. It’d be nice to have another strong swingman to play alongside Jonas V.

  3. prix says:

    Parker is definitely a hall of famer same with Nash..Kobe should shut up..Felton will be OK..Milicic is the next Kwame Brown..

  4. armin halvadzic says:

    For us europeans,Nikola Peković is no surprise. He was a great center for Partizan Belgrade,playing like a boss in euroleague. I’m just happy that his getting minutes he deserves and a chance to show what he can do. What’s good for him is also the fact that he has Darko Miličić with him on the same team and Darko speaks the same leanguge as Nikola and I’m sure he helped him allot with everything.

  5. charles says:

    The jazz and Lakers have one thing in common. They both have talented forwards that they can trade for a decent PG. Ramon Sessions, Goran Dragic and Luke Ridnour should be good targets to go after. Lakers don’t need the best PG because they are lucky enough to have Kobe. But they will get swept again if they stay the course. Jazz are going to continue their decline unless they get a decent PG – D Harris is just not doing it.

  6. Ben says:

    I feel a little sorry for Ray Felton. In New York he was nearly looking like an all star, and although I definitely feel that was his ceiling, I’d like him to get a chance to settle somewhere, and see what he can do. It didn’t seem like his form in Portland was that tragic, and indeed he played well in the very game he got replaced. I’d really like to get inside the heads of Portland management, and know whether the Crawford/Felton change was about strategy, or about being unhappy with Felton’s production.

  7. Kratos' rage says:

    Well i hope Tim Duncan does. He’s been quite on the down side this past couple of seasons but i know he still has it. I’m a huge fan of the guy and he’s still the main man for the spurs.

  8. Belizeboy says:

    BIG dissapointment with the Blazers this season but I knew that without Roy they would not be the same. And I can’t believe Tony Parker is only 29, must be his looks. Anyhow he is playing MVP caliber ball.

  9. Awed says:

    *Wolves center Nikola Pekovic: Imagine, if not for Lin, people would have had harder time making puns out of “Pek”-ing instead of “Lin”.
    “All he does is Pek” doesn’t sound quite right. :D :D

  10. Bev says:

    True, true and true !!
    I have to say, Shaun Powell you are such an excellent sports writer.
    This summary was short and to the point !! So well said.